Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Courage Under Fire

One of my favorite movies is Courage Under Fire with Meg Ryan and Denzel Washington. It's not that the leader in this movie shows a complete lack of concern for herself, but that she shows complete concern for doing what is right for those who depend on her, no matter what the cost.

I have a friend right now who is living a life of courage under fire each and every day. She has breast cancer. She was diagnosed last September and began a treatment program which was all natural. She lives a very healthy, natural life style, so it goes without saying that chemotherapy and radiation would hold no appeal to her.

For nine months, she followed the regime of a naturopath who had had success before in helping the body to cure itself of cancer, but last month, her oncologist informed her that her tumor was growing and that she absolutely needed to have the tumor removed along with 80% of her breast to "hopefully" ensure the removal of the cancer.

I know the first few days were hard on her, but this friend of mine, this remarkable friend, met this foe head on with her held high with trust in her maker and His wonderful creation, her body, to be able to defeat this enemy.

It's funny, as people have approached her and asked her how she is, she quite frankly has said that she's fine with such transparency, that it's impossible not to believe her. And, when someone would ask about her husband and her son, her response was that they were fine as long as she was fine. Was this strength of hers a put on? No, I don't think so. Was she being strong for them? Maybe, partly. It was a heavy load to carry, but she did it, and she did it very well.

When the doctors brought out word that all had gone well with the procedure, my heart felt much lighter and happier, but I could not stop the tears that came because I feel so blessed to have been a witness to such courage and strength.

I only pray that God will give me strength and courage like my friend had to face whatever lies ahead in my future.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Celebrate or Mourn? Which Would You Choose?

There is a verse in the book of Ecclesiastes that caught my attention just a couple of months ago, and for the past 24 hours, it has been rolling around in my mind.

Ecclesiastes 7:2-4 says: 2) It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting; for that is the end of all men and the living will lay it to his heart. 3) Sorrow is better than laughter for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better. 4) The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.

Everyone likes a good party, don't they? And just how many people do you know that look forward to going to a funeral? These verses are saying that mourning and sorrow are better than feasting and laughter because they cause us to reflect wisely on the brevity of life.

Yesterday, I attended a funeral; and I have to say that it caused me to reflect the rest of the day about the person who died. My daughter's paternal grandfather died this week at the ripe, old age of 89. He would have been 90 in November. I must confess, I don't believe that I have ever attended a funeral quite like this one. On Wednesday evening, family and friends gathered to pay their respect, and comfort to each other. While there were a few tears, they were, indeed few. Most people were not overly emotionally distraught over this man's death because they all knew 1) that his health had been so compromised in the past year that he had been wracked with pain and discomfort and 2) he was in heaven, rejoicing with Jesus on his arrival. It's hard to be selfish and sad when you think of it that way.

During the funeral, approximately 40 minutes was dedicated to people giving their statement of love and admiration for this man. From being a loving, Godly husband for 65 years;to being an excellent example of how to be a husband, father and grandfather to his children and grandchildren;
and finally to being a first classs example to his family, friends and church family on how to live your life for Christ, by being involved mentally, physically and spritually in his church for his "whole" life. The praise flowed freely, and I could attest to whatever was said because I had actually seen his life in action because I was his daughter-in-law for 15 years!

You didn't have to be around this man very long to realize that he was dead serious about his relationship with God, the salvation of others, and that he was genuinely living his life under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

He was a giver. If you had a need and he had something to fill that need; he gave it.

He was a lover. He took care of his ailing wife with a tender care and love until the day they took him away to Hospice; he loved his children, his grandchildren, his church family, and offered love and acceptance to many who crossed his path over the years.

He was a cook. It never failed; if you stopped by his home on any given day, he would have some delicious little treat like zucchini bread, bananna bread, pie, home baked cookies, or the like, to offer to you; and if you ever went to his home for a meal, you could rest assured that when you left, you would be full and well satisfied.

He was a craftsman. This guy could take a piece of wood and turn it into a handy little item for your home or a cute little toy to play with. He could also build just about anything. He built his own home and helped his son build a room addition for our home.

He was a game player. He would take care of his grandchildren and play games for hours with them, or he would invite church families over and play cards or board games with them.

He was a gardener. This man had one of the most beautiful gardens I had ever seen up until the time he went to an assisted living care center just about 8 or 9 years before his death.

He was a singer and played the piano by ear.

He was a peacemaker. I remember when his son and my marriage was starting to disintegrate and he and my mother-in-law and took me to lunch and asked if they could help in any way and was this what I wanted. They truly cared and wanted to be of help to us, not just stick their noses in our business.

There were numerous stories about how he had helped people in tight spots, by giving money, food and love to those in need. There were stories from his children, his pastors, his grandchildren, life long friends and acquaintences about his ability to serve, give and love.

I was so humbled as I sat and listened to the testimony about this man's life. It hit me that because of him and his love for Christ which he passed on to his children, my life had been dramatically changed, too.

When you leave a funeral like that, you can't help but wonder what your own personal legacy will be. What will the words spoken at your funeral say about you? Will anyone know that I loved Christ and that my life was all about glorifying Him?

I want to live for Jesus! My prayer today, Father, is that you will set me on fire for you, your Word and and the purpose of Christ...the salvation of your people. Fill me with a boldness to proclaim your name; open my mouth and let my praise and thanksgiving for all you have done and continue to do for me each and every day of my life flow out; compel me to teach others about you. Let me not rest until I have fulfilled the purpose that you created me to accomplish.

Thank you, my friend, for being an inspiration to many even in death. I feel that the ceremony held in your honor more than likely touched someone or maybe even several or many who heard your story yesterday. There you go, continuing to affect lives for God even when you're really no longer here with us.

I am sure that the moment you heard the words, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant", that you knew your life had been worth the living. May it be the same for us.

1 Cor. 2:9 says But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. Wrap your brain around that for a minute, would you? We have never seen or heard or imagined the things God has prepared for those who love Him. I know this: my friend, my daughter's grandfather, my former father-in-law, is this moment enjoying whatever they are, and I am so happy for him because he lived his life for Christ and earned it!

Praise God for true faith and love for him and the example they provide to us.

Once again, God's Word proves to be true. There is no party I could have gone to yesterday that could have inspired me to give more of my life for Christ than attending this funeral did.

Thank You....

I dreamed I went to Heaven, you were there with me.
We walked upon the streets of gold beside the Crystal Sea.
We heard the angels singing, then someone called your name.
You turned and saw this young man, and he was smiling as he came.
He said, "Friend you may not know me now," and then he said, "But wait -
You used to teach my Sunday School, when I was only eight.
And every week you would say a prayer before the class would start.
And one day when you said that prayer,
I asked Jesus in my heart."

Thank you for giving to the Lord,
I am a life that was changed.
Thank you for giving to the Lord,
I am so glad you gave.
Then another man stood before you, he said "Remember the time,
A missionary came to your church, His pictures made you cry.
You didn't have much money but you gave it anyway.
Jesus took that gift you gave
And that's why I'm in Heaven today"

Thank you for giving to the Lord,
I am a life that was changed.
Thank you for giving to the Lord,
I am so glad you gave.
One by one they came, far as your eyes could see.
Each life somehow touched by your generosity.
Little things that you had done, sacrifices that you made,
They were unnoticed on this earth
In Heaven now proclaimed.

Thank you for giving to the Lord,
I am a life that was changed.
Thank you for giving to the Lord,
I am so glad you gave.
And I know up in Heaven you're not supposed to cry
But I am almost sure there were tears in your eyes
As Jesus took your hand and you stood before the Lord
He said "My child look around you,
Great is your reward."

Thank you for giving to the Lord,
I am a life that was changed.
Thank you for giving to the Lord,
I am so glad you gave,
I am so glad you gave.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Road to Righteousness or My Way, My Truth and My Life?

How many who are called by His name are on the true road to righteousness? Is it possible that many of us have believed the lie of the enemy and are, indeed, on a path called "MY way, MY truth and MY life? Jesus did not come to bring a message that was easy on our ears. As Elizabeth at The End Time pointed out in her blog post just the other day, the gospel of Christ can incite people to the point of murder because it is so hateful to those who hear it.

The gospel of this world says that this is our best life now, but the gospel of Christ says that our best life is yet to come. 1 Cor. 2:9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. Go here for more information on what heaven will be like.

The gospel of today says that alcoholism is a "disease". But Ephesians 5:18 says: And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit... I know two someones right now who are alcoholics and their lives are miserable. They love to drink, they hate to drink. Their health is compromised, and last but most importantly, their families are compromised. Because the word "disease" has been applied to alcoholism, it looks better, sounds better; is easier to "swallow" (pun intended), so to speak.

The gospel of today tells us that God does not judge or punish His children and there is no hell. But scripture tells us: Psalm 50:6 And the heavens shall declare his righteousness: for God [is] judge himself. Proverbs 3:12 For the LORD corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child [fn] in whom he delights. 2 Peter 2:4 For God did not spare even the angels when they sinned; he threw them into hell, in gloomy caves and darkness until the judgment day. Look around you, do you see disrespectful children, parents who are harried and worn and stressed out from dealing with their children, schools who have lost control of the children? Why do you suppose that's happening? Could it be lack of punishment, correction, and poor judgment on the part of parents and authorities?

The gospel of today says that there are many ways to God, but Jesus was very explicit in saying that HE was THE WAY, THE TRUTH and THE LIFE (John 14:6 Jesus told him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.) Like it or not, the government of America was indeed, based upon Biblical concepts of the Judeo-Christian religion. It was a sound foundation. God did bless America and the world hated us for our way of life which has historically been so different from the rest of the world. Now, it seems that it is the desire of our government and (from what I can see/hear) many of the citizens, our need to be liked and appease others is bringing about its downfall. There is one way, one truth and one life and the one who leads us down that path is as hated today as He was 2000 years ago when He was crucified on the cross in Jerusalem. No one, ever, has affected the world like Jesus Christ did when He came and dwelt among us, and He is coming again, soon, to finish what He started.

The gospel of today says that it is okay for men to marry men and women to marry women. Scripture tells us in Genesis 2:24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. It was God's original plan for the family to be made up of a father, a mother and their children which resulted from/in their being one flesh.

Further, the Word of God says in Jude 1:4-7 that false teachers have crept into the church and turned the grace of God into "lasciviousness" and further deny the only Lord God, our Lord Jesus Christ....

I believe this chapter of Jude is saying that satan is deceiving many people by planting false teachers in churches (and other places where spirtual guidance is given), and telling people what they want to hear concerning things they take part in and embrace despite knowing within themselves that it is wrong.

That's right, that's what I said. I think there are wolves in sheeps clothing located throughout the church, telling people what they want to hear in order to get them into their church and keep them there and out of the reach of the truth.

Today's gospel tells people that God does not want them to suffer or deny themselves anything. They are entitled to happiness because they believe in God. But the Word of God tells us that Christ told those who would follow Him to DENY THEMSELVES, take up THEIR cross and follow Him (read: live as I lived). Jesus did not exercise His will at any time during His life. He ALWAYS did as His Father directed Him and never acted on His intiative. We are to do the same.

I recently started hearing the word "negative" associated with my name, by people I care a lot about. Never have I been told before that I am negative, and this only began when I started pointing out (to these people that I care a lot about) what was happening all around us and that I thought Christ would be coming soon to judge the world. That's what happens when people want you to tell them what they want to hear. The problem becomes yours, not theirs.

If this post has hit a nerve with you, know that you are not alone. We ALL want to live according to our wants and desires. We are all intent on getting our way. We are ALL sinners in need of God's grace, mercy and forgiveness. It is not possible for us to live up to God's expectations of holiness, sinlessness and perfection. THAT is where Jesus comes in. He, alone, led a perfect life, without sin, completely dependent upon His Father. If we ask Him to forgive our selfishness, our rebellion against God's laws, our desire to live according to our own will and ask Him to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Every day it becomes more and more clear to me that I can't do it on my own and that I have no righteousness of my own. I have put myself up against the Ten Commandments, and I have failed them all. Who knows what other dastardly deeds I am capable of doing?

But, if we are truly repentent and truly want Jesus to effect change in our lives, He will send His holy spirit (the comforter) to live within us and help us live "the way, the truth and the life" that He has planned for us. The only REAL advice I have to offer you is this: Don't believe me. Don't believe anyone. Find out for yourself, and the only way to do that is sit down, pray that God will reveal himself and his word to you, and then READ IT ALL (not just the parts that make you feel good about yourself) for yourself.

May God bless you with a greater revelation of who He is today.