Posted by: glorifyhim1 | May 16, 2015

A Gentle Answer

A Gentle Answer

 

Sometimes I get angry. The nightly news is generally full of stories that can make my blood boil in a minute, from grave injustices to abuse and murder. Just this week, in discussing one such story with a friend, I remarked: “Just give me a broom and introduce me to this person!”

 

Perhaps you’re like me. Sometimes you get so mad, you would just like to take the matter into your own hands and administer your own kind of justice. But, alas, I was immediately convicted of my justice-seeking attitude. As James reminds us so well: “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” (James 1:19-20, NIV).

 

God desires righteousness in your life and mine. This is not a righteousness that saves us, however. We are saved when we confess our sins, repent, and place our faith and trust in Christ. At that time, we are declared righteous as we are covered by the righteousness of Christ. But at that time also, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell within us and to work within us to convict and transform us and to continually help make us more righteous. Paul explained this to the Romans (see Romans 5:17-19). As believers are sensitive and yield to the Spirit’s guidance and work in their lives, they can become more righteous and will look more like Christ. This is the righteousness God desires.

 

Paul described characteristics of those believers who walk according to the Spirit’s guidance. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23a). I don’t think my anger could fit into any of those characteristics. Sometimes, as believers, we forget that even when we’re right, there is also a right way to respond. Kindness and gentleness, love and goodness, the very nature of Christ needs to permeate all that we do. When we respond with anger and harshness, hate or ridicule, we not only make enemies of those who disagree with us, but we do so in the name of Christ. No matter how right we may be, our lack of kindness and caring does little to witness to someone who needs to know the loving, gracious, merciful Christ that we know.

 

Perhaps we, too, could use the reminder that Paul gave to Titus to give to the church that Paul had planted in Crete: “Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men” (Titus 3:1-2). Similarly, Paul taught Timothy: “Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will” (2 Timothy 2:23-26).

 

As believers in Christ, the way we respond to others reflects on our Savior and Lord. Responding to those who oppose us with gentleness and respect does not mean we turn away from the truth or forget who we are in Christ. Peter addressed this issue when he wrote: But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).  When we respond with gentleness and respect, we help others not only hear what we have to say, but we demonstrate first-hand Christ’s unconditional love. And in the process, we just may have the opportunity to not just win an argument, but more importantly, to win a brother or sister for Christ. I think a gentle answer is worth it. Don’t you?

 

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1).

 

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | May 9, 2015

A Lesson From Mama

A Lesson From Mama

 

This weekend we will be celebrating and honoring our mothers. Although my Mama has been gone for over twenty years, there’s probably not a day that passes that I don’t either remember something she said, perform some task she taught me, or wish I could seek her opinion or guidance. But although she taught me oh so many things, one of the most important things I learned from Mama was not something she actually taught me. Instead, it was something she gave me. Mama loved me with all her heart.

 

As a child, I quickly learned that not only did Mama take care of me, but that she valued me. She was always there for me. She didn’t give up on me when I messed up. She still believed in me when I failed. And she was always my biggest supporter, rejoicing over my simplest victories.  Mama was someone on whom I could always count and depend. I learned a lot about what love really looks like as I both felt Mama’s love and as I watched her love others. There was no pretending, no hypocrisy, or anything fake about Mama’s love. And now, years later, I realize how much her love helped me to better comprehend God’s love.

 

One of my favorite Scripture passages is Romans 8:35-39. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: ‘For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.’ Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” This verse has reminded me over and over as I’ve faced challenges in my life that God values me, too. He is there for me. He loves me and there is absolutely nothing that can separate me from His love. And I can’t help but feel that it was the love I had received from Mama all my life that helped me to grasp the completeness of Christ’s love for me.

 

You see, Mama modeled Christ’s love (as identified in the following Scriptures) as she loved me …..

 

  • fiercely (see 2 Chronicles 16:9)
  • protectively (see Psalm 31:20)
  • sacrificially (see John 3:16)
  • unconditionally (see Romans 5:8)
  • joyfully (see Zephaniah 3:17)
  • faithfully (see Psalm 86:15)

 

She loved like Christ!

 

I’m so thankful for my Mama’s love and for the lesson I “caught” as I watched her model Christ’s love to me and others. Aristotle has been quoted as saying: “God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.” May we love others that way, too, truly valuing one another and serving as conduits of Christ’s ever-present, enduring love.

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | April 28, 2015

The Lord Is My Shepherd

The Lord Is My Shepherd

 

This week I had a biopsy performed on a thyroid nodule. While the thought of having a needle poked into this gland situated at the base of the throat is somewhat disconcerting, I think what concerned me most was not being able to swallow during the procedure. It’s funny that I rarely even think about swallowing, but tell me I can’t and I immediately want to swallow.

 

As I thought about how to keep from swallowing, it occurred to me that thinking about it actually made me want to swallow. I needed to have my mind fixed on something else. That’s when I decided that the best way to keep from thinking about swallowing or what was happening during the procedure would be to go over Scripture and praise choruses in my head. I was armed and ready!

 

I decided I would begin with the familiar Psalm 23 which begins: “The Lord is my Shepherd.” My doctor explained that before he pricked my neck with the needle, he would tell me to swallow. Then he would perform the procedure and remove the needle.  There would be six needle pricks and I could swallow between each one. Thus it began. I swallowed, closed my eyes, and thought “The Lord is my Shepherd ….,” but I think the end of verse 2 – “He leads me beside the still waters” – was the farthest I ever made it throughout the entire procedure. For the most part, I could barely collect my thoughts and begin reciting the familiar words in my head until it was time to swallow and begin the process again. The entire procedure probably lasted no more than 30 minutes. But as I left the office, the sweet phrase “The Lord is my Shepherd” was still running through my mind – and my heart!

 

Later as I thought about all of this, I couldn’t help but wonder: Throughout most days, on what do I fix my mind?  What do I think about? Do I focus on problems or worries? Do I rehearse hurts and ponder anger? Or is my mind fixed on Christ, my Lord, my Shepherd? Do I take my problems, worries, hurts, and anger to Him and allow Him to lead me and walk with me through them? Isaiah 26:3 tells us: “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” Likewise, Paul told the Colossians: “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2). And Jesus, Himself, taught His disciples that even in ominous times to keep their eyes on Him (see Matthew 14). Peter could do the miraculous – walk on water – as long as he kept his eyes on Jesus. When he looked away, however, and concentrated on the wind, waves, and the storm, he began to sink.

 

The Lord is my Shepherd. I can fully trust Him – even when doubts, anxieties, fears, and troubles come. He knows me. He laid down His life for me. He leads me. He restores me. He comforts me. He is with me. How I rejoice that I can fix my mind on these precious truths! Yes, the Lord is my Shepherd!

 

“The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord
Forever.”

(Psalm 23)

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | April 15, 2015

Everyday Reminders

Everyday Reminders

 

Have you ever had the privilege of watching a young child – or even someone young at heart – encounter something totally new? I have been blessed to witness many such sweet moments with my kids and with other kids as well. But, somehow, I had forgotten what it was like until I was reminded a couple of weeks ago.

 

I had the joy of watching my 1-1/2 year old grandson, Benji, on his first trip to the zoo. It was so much fun to watch his reactions to the different animals. He peered curiously at the sleeping lions. He pointed and laughed at the flamingos, definitely one of his favorites. He observed the alpaca with a little trepidation as it munched food from his hand. He responded to the giraffes with curious wonder as they approached the viewing platform and returned his stares. From the elephants to the zebras, from the turtles and snakes to the meerkats, Benji was in awe!

 

Benji feeding alpaca

Benji feeding alpaca

Benji with giraffe

Benji with giraffe

Benji enjoying his favorite - the flamingos

Benji enjoying his favorite – the flamingos

Looking for flamingos

Looking for flamingos

Flamingos!

Flamingos!

 

How easily we lose such wonder. As we age and face the responsibilities of life, more times than not, we allow our worries and problems to eclipse our sense of wonder. I’m sure God knows that about us. After all He made us. The Psalmist David declared: “For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:14). So, in His mercy and love, God finds ways to remind us, to help us sense the wonder once again. And why does it matter? Because it is in the wonder, the awe, the inexplicable, and the unexpected, that we see God and are reminded of Who He is. He is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe (see Colossians 1:16-17). He is the God of all power and might Who can do anything (see Jeremiah 32:17,27). He sees us and knows us (see Genesis 16:13-14). He is our Shepherd (see Psalm 23:1), our Refuge (see Psalm 46:1-3), our Peace (see Ephesians 2:14), and so much more! And it is God “who alone does great wonders” (Psalm 136:4a). In the midst of our everyday routines, problems, and heartaches, we are reminded that this God of wonders is with us.

 

As I watched Benji, I couldn’t help but exult right along with him over the wonder of God’s handiwork. But I also found myself rejoicing in the wonder of Benji, himself, the child for whom we had longed and prayed. I was reminded of a faithful, merciful God Who had brought us through some hard times, blessed us with some good times, and Who was and is with us at all times.

 

2015-04-03 13.54.50 As I watched our sleepy little fellow on the ride back home, I worshiped God and thanked Him. Once again, my Father had gotten my attention and reminded me that He is the God of all Wonder whose mercy, faithfulness, and love endure forever and ever.

 

 

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | April 8, 2015

After Easter

After Easter

 

This past weekend believers around the world rejoiced and celebrated the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Yet after that very first Easter, Jesus’ closest followers were found sorrowful, confused, and afraid. They had walked with Jesus; listened to His teachings; watched Him as He healed the sick, calmed the sea, and even raised the dead. The disciples had listened as Jesus prepared them about His coming death and resurrection. Mark tells us that Jesus “began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again” (Mark 8:31). Yet when the events Jesus predicted actually came to pass, they failed to believe.

 

  • Luke records that when the women took the news to the disciples that Jesus had risen, the words of the women “seemed to them like idle tales, and they did not believe them” (Luke 24:11).
  • Mark records that Jesus appeared to two of them as they walked into the country. These two then “went and told it to the rest, but they did not believe them either” (Mark 16:13).
  • One of the disciples, Thomas, was not present when Jesus had presented Himself to the others. When they told Thomas they had seen Jesus, he replied: “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe (John 20:25).

 

In fact, even when Jesus Himself appeared where the disciples were gathered, Luke tells us: “Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, ‘Peace to you.’ But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit” (Luke 24:37).

 

Why do you think the disciples were slow to believe? While we are quick to question their lack of belief, in all honesty, aren’t we a lot like them? Sometimes, we don’t believe either – and for many of the same reasons.

 

  • The disciples were afraid. They were hiding because of their fear of the Jews. Does fear sometimes cause us to reject and, thereby, not believe what God has told us in Scripture?
  • The disciples didn’t always understand or comprehend Jesus’ teachings. Does our lack of understanding contribute to our unbelief?
  • The disciples had their own scenario of how things were supposed to work out. They were envisioning Jesus as reigning as a victorious king – not dying like a thief on a cross. When my ideas about what I think my life should be are rearranged by God’s plans and purposes, am I challenged to believe God?
  • Thomas wanted to see before he would believe. Does my lack of sight keep me from believing?

 

Do we allow our fear, our lack of understanding, our plans and desires, and our lack of sight to keep us from believing God? Easter reminds us that God had a plan. As Paul told the Galatians: “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law,  to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4-5). After Easter we’re reminded that we have a choice. Do we believe? Do we believe the prophets who foretold God’s plan long before Jesus was born? (see Isaiah 9). Do we believe Jesus who came to do what we could not do for ourselves? (see 1 Peter 3:18). Do we believe the eyewitness accounts of those who saw Jesus alive after the crucifixion? (see John 20-21). Do we believe the truth of God’s Word that we, too, are chosen. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,  just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love” (Ephesians 1:3-4). And do we believe that God has a plan for each of our lives? (see Jeremiah 29:11).

 

Those early disciples were slow to believe, but as they were confronted with the truth of Christ’s death and resurrection, they became fearless and totally committed to doing what Christ instructed them to do. Will we do the same? Will we choose to believe, take Christ at His Word, and be totally, completely committed to Him? I pray that I will.

 

 

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | March 28, 2015

When Faith Answers

When Faith Answers

 

One definition of faith by Merriam-Webster is “a firm belief in something for which there is no proof.” Rather than define faith, the Bible describes what faith does. “Now faith is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1) or as the NIV translates: “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” True faith is marked by confidence and assurance – not so much because of what we believe but because of the One in whom we believe.

 

This week many of us were surprised by God. We have been praying for a young man who is in the process of battling leukemia. He has been in the hospital for around two months undergoing rigorous chemotherapy which hopefully will result in a 0% production of leukemia cell blast and thereby make him a candidate for a bone marrow transplant. Earlier this week, biopsy results indicated that he was, in fact, at 0% production. Unfortunately, however, instead of being able to rejoice over the biopsy results, he was in ICU facing another battle as infection in his body resulted in septic shock.

 

To say his situation seemed dire is practically an understatement. He was placed on life support and listed in critical condition. Yet, as all who knew this young man or who had heard about his battle, prayed, prayed, and prayed some more – a miracle began to unfold. Even the doctors were baffled that although there was 0% white blood cell production, his body was beginning to heal. The color was slowly returning to his face and his body seemed to be responding to the antibiotics. This young man’s battle is surely not over; he has a long way to go. But for those of us praying, the hopelessness we felt as he was taken into ICU has now been replaced with expectation and renewed hope.

 

I wonder. Why were we surprised? As I thought about this I was reminded of the story of Peter when King Herod began to harass the church. He had already killed James, the brother of John, and then he seized Peter and put him into prison (see Acts 12). But while Peter was in prison, God sent an angel to deliver him and bring him out of the prison. Peter went straight to the house of Mary where many were gathered to pray for him. However, when Rhoda went to answer the door, she heard Peter’s voice and, without opening the door, ran to tell the others that Peter was there. But they didn’t believe her. Finally, as Peter continued to knock, they opened the door to see him. And “they were astonished.”

 

I’ll be honest. I cannot help but be both surprised and astonished when God answers prayers in such spectacular ways. Why is that? When I have fully surrendered my life to Him, when I believe with all my heart that my God can do anything, when I fully trust Him in every area of my life – why should I be surprised or astonished? And then it occurred to me. I’m not surprised because I doubt that God could or would act. I sincerely believe that my life, my world is in God’s hands and I trust Him totally and completely. Could it be that the answer of faith cannot help but be overcome with wonder and amazement when what we know in our hearts is suddenly, unexpectedly seen with our eyes?

 

As Hebrews 11:1 teaches, we learn that faith is “confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” When what we believe through faith, not by sight, suddenly becomes a visible reality, we cannot help but be astonished! When God makes visible what the Spirit has confirmed to us in our hearts, faith answers with giddy excitement and wonder. Look and see! God did that!

 

But, sometimes, as we all know, we do not see the miraculous answers. We believe. We pray. But loved ones die, innocent victims suffer, and evil triumphs over good. The writer of Hebrews acknowledged this as well. “Others were tortured …. Others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented – of whom the world was not worthy” (Hebrews 11:35b-38a).  But faith answered. Through faith they endured affliction. And in faith, they died with confidence and assurance – “confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

 

The answer of faith places our hope, confidence, and assurance in God alone – not in what we may be able to see or understand. But every so often, God chooses to surprise us with the miraculous and we stand astonished and amazed! I thank God for these special surprises that encourage us, that renew our expectation and hope, and that remind us of the confidence and assurance we have in Him. And I thank Him that when we don’t see the miraculous, when the surprises don’t come, we can still stand astonished and amazed because we have Him. He is our hope, our confidence, and our assurance – forever – when faith answers!

 

So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight.”

(2 Corinthians 5:6-7)

 

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | March 20, 2015

Thank You, God, for Spring!

Thank You, God, for Spring!

 

After a rainy, wet, and even cold day yesterday, I stepped out on the porch this morning to see the sun’s golden rays breaking through the scattering dark clouds. Almost immediately, the phrase from an old anonymous hymn sprang to my mind.

 

“When morning gilds the skies,
My heart awaking cries:
May Jesus Christ be praised!”

 

It seemed that everything – the dazzling sky and the dripping leaves and wet grass; the melodious chirping of robins, bluebirds, and sparrows; even the raucous cries of the crows and the funny antics of the scampering squirrels – seemed to cry out in praise to God. And I, too, couldn’t help but say: “Thank You, God, for Spring!”

 

Oh, how I need Spring!

 

I need to see the daffodils and yellow violets, the azaleas and rhododendrons.

 

I need to hear the wavering chirp of the bluebirds; the sweet whistle of the stunning red cardinals; the cheery song of the robins; and the soft, cooing laments of the dove.

 

I need to hear the calls and laughter of children playing outside in the early evening.

 

I need to feel the warm sun and soft, warm breezes on my skin.

 

I need to smell the pungent scent of wild onions and the sweet, fragrant blossoms of the early honeysuckle.

 

I need to see baby chicks and baby ducks and watch young squirrels at play.

 

I need Spring!

 

King Solomon voiced his appreciation of Spring as well. “For lo, the winter is past, The rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; The time of singing has come, And the voice of the turtledove Is heard in our land” (Song of Solomon 2:11-12). I think we all need Spring and if not for the joys of the season itself, we need Spring for the heart.

 

Spring reminds us of newness and life and points us to our Creator God who spoke everything into existence and set it all in motion. Yet, as we can look around us and see,  God’s perfect creation was corrupted by sin. God, the Creator, however, also became God our Savior. Through His sacrifice, He made it possible for us to be forgiven and even in this broken, sinful world, to know newness of life – through and in Him. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). God works in us to strengthen us and to make us new, to transform us to better bear and reflect His image.

 

The newness and revival of Spring reminds us that God is in the business of making everything new. Just as He works to make us new, His Word assures us that one day this world will be made new, too. God spoke through Isaiah, His prophet, saying: “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth….the voice of weeping shall no longer be heard in her, nor the voice of crying” (Isaiah 65:17a, 19b). Just as Spring brings fresh joy, wonder, and anticipation to our suffering world today, it also reminds us of God’s precious promise to one day make all things new. On that day, there will be no more sickness, pain, suffering, separation or death. There will be no more weeping or crying. It will be life as God intended.

 

Do you ever wonder what that day will really be like? “But as it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him’” (1 Corinthians 2:9). While we cannot really fathom all that day has in store for us, I look forward to it with all my heart. For me, personally, I like to think of that day as eternal Spring – where indescribable joy, wonder, and life reign – and where I can forever praise God and say: “Thank You, God, for Spring!”

 

“In heav’n’s eternal bliss
The loveliest strain is this,
May Jesus Christ be praised!
Let earth, and sea, and sky
From depth to height reply,
May Jesus Christ be praised!”

(Hymn: When Morning Gilds the Sky)

 

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | March 9, 2015

Cancer Did Not Win – Again

Cancer Did Not Win – Again

 

A few years ago I stumbled across an anonymous poem that is widely circulated among networks and organizations that seek to provide encouragement to individuals and families that struggle with cancer. This poem – What Cancer Cannot Do – reminds us that in spite of the horrible nature of this disease that robs individuals and families of so much, there are just some things that it cannot do.  I blogged about this poem in 2010, but, the words I wrote then are just as true today. I have included some excerpts from my earlier blog below in honor of my dear sister-in-law, Wanda Hart, who lost her battle with cancer this past weekend. But as I think about all the things Wanda left us, I am reminded that there are some things that cancer just cannot do.

 

What Cancer Cannot Do

Cancer is so limited

It cannot cripple love

It cannot shatter hope

It cannot corrode faith

It cannot destroy peace

It cannot kill friendship

It cannot suppress memories

It cannot silence courage

It cannot invade the soul

It cannot steal eternal life

It cannot conquer the spirit.

–Anonymous

 

 

As horrible as cancer is – “It cannot invade the soul…It cannot steal eternal life.” While few things in this life are secure, believers can rest in a quiet confidence that no matter what battles we must go through on this earth, our eternal lives are secure in Christ. Apostle Paul reminds us of this in 2 Corinthians 5:1, 6-8: “For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.”

 

While we may weep over our loss on earth, we can rejoice that our dear family member and friend is now safely home where there is no more suffering, no more death or dying. She is experiencing the victory that those of us here on earth can still only see by faith. She has already won the battle!

 

Wanda actually won the battle when she accepted what Jesus had already done for her years ago on Calvary when He “gave Himself a ransom for all” (1 Timothy 2:6). Jesus won and secured the victory for all of us when He died on the cross for us and rose from the dead. “But thanks be to God, who give us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).

 

I feel very blessed and privileged to have known Wanda. She was a devoted wife; loving mother, grandmother, and family member; and caring friend.  To us, today, it may seem like cancer has won. Yet believers in Christ know that today, our sweet family member and friend is more alive than she has ever been. This past Saturday, she exchanged corruption for incorruption and mortality for immortality. “So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written; ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’”(1 Corinthians 15:54). Cancer may have ravaged Wanda’s physical body, but it was incapable of invading her soul or stealing her eternal life. The battle she fought is now over, but it did not end in defeat. It was swallowed up in victory –  victory through her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Cancer did not win – again!

 

 

 

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | March 5, 2015

Loss, Peace, and Promise

Loss, Peace, and Promise

 

 

Wednesday, March 4, was the 37th anniversary of our first daughter’s birth – and death. In some ways, it seems so surreal that it has been 37 years. Some of those events seem as fresh as yesterday. In other ways, however, time has helped soften the blow and the gaping hole that consumed me during those early years. But I’ll be honest, the closer I get to heaven, the more I can’t wait to finally meet her. I feel that I have so much to say to her that I really won’t know where to begin. But I surely want to tell her how she changed my life.

 

Because of her I really came to know Jesus. Oh, I knew Him before, but not with the depth, passion, and love with which I know Him today. Her loss was the most painful thing my young life had experienced. And while I didn’t understand, while I didn’t have all the answers, I could feel God’s Presence with me and His assurance that He loved me.

 

Thirty-seven years later, I still don’t understand or have all the answers. Oh, I’ve studied the Scriptures, read commentaries, books, and Bible studies that have debated and tried to answer all the “why” questions. I still don’t have a “perfect” knowledge or understanding, but I have peace. I have peace that the God who formed my daughter also numbered her days. (Job 14:5, Psalm 139:16). I have peace that the God who can do anything chose not to intervene in the events that contributed to her loss. (Jeremiah 32:27, Luke 1:37) I have peace that the ways of this all-knowing (1John 3:20), all-powerful (Jeremiah 32:17,27), just and righteous (Psalm 89:14) God are totally unsearchable (Romans 11:33). And I found that this peace did not come from understanding. Instead, it pretty much found me when I finally came to the place where I just relinquished it all to God, in total surrender, and just said: “God, I trust You. This belongs to You!”

 

One day I hope to tell my daughter that because of her, I sought God with all my heart. I went seeking answers, but instead of answers I found Him. Because of her, I’ve had the privilege and joy of walking my whole life – not with a Sunday morning God – but with a day-by-day, I’ll meet you in the trenches, God. I’ve been the recipient of His love and faithfulness, His mercy and His grace. He’s taught me and convicted me. He’s led me and guided me. And over the years, little by little, He has placed within my own heart a living hope, a deep desire for His kingdom to come on earth as it is in Heaven – when the world will finally be what God created it to be from the very beginning.

 

But as much as I look forward to one day meeting my daughter, I do have one regret. We didn’t give her a name. She is simply known as “our infant daughter.” At the time of her birth, we were told by the funeral directors that normally a stillborn infant was not given a name. Much has changed since that time, but this has bothered me much over the years until God reminded me of a special promise found in Revelation 2:17. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.” My daughter will have a name given to her by Jesus, Himself – a name that will reflect her perfectly!

 

Jesus will also give new names to you and me, names that will reflect our unique identities in Christ. I wonder what my new name will be. I think of all the ways my identity is wrapped up in my Savior – I’m forgiven, I’m covered in His blood and righteousness, I’m surrounded with His Presence, I’m hidden in Him! I can’t imagine what it will be like to finally meet my Savior, the One who loved me enough to die for me, the One who has walked with me through the toughest, hardest times of my life, the One who surrounds me with hope and precious promises, the One who is my strength, my song, my salvation (Isaiah 12:2). What joy it will be to receive my new name and to join my precious daughter in singing praises unto Him through all eternity.

 

 

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | February 28, 2015

Made Worthy

Made Worthy

 

 

I’ve always loved the story of Zacchaeus, the “wee little man” who climbed the sycamore tree to see Jesus. As a child, however, I was more enamored with Zacchaeus trying to see Jesus than with Jesus actually seeing Zacchaeus and inviting Himself to come to  Zacchaeus’ home. Zacchaeus was rich, a chief tax collector, and apparently not someone the crowd viewed as worthy of Jesus’ time and fellowship. As Luke recounts:

 

“And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.’ So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully. But when they (the crowd) saw it, they all complained, saying, ‘He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner’” (Luke 19:5-7).

 

The crowd complained about Jesus’ choice. They viewed Zacchaeus as a sinner. Were the tax collectors not often guilty of taking for themselves a high percentage of what they demanded from the people? Why would Jesus choose to fellowship with Zacchaeus? Why, indeed?

 

I think Jesus chose Zacchaeus for the same reason that He chose me – and for the same reason He chose you. I think Jesus chose Zacchaeus for the same reason that He chooses both the best of us and the worst of us.

 

Jesus doesn’t come to us because we’re worthy. He comes to make us worthy. He doesn’t come to us because we’re without sin, but because we’re covered up in it. He doesn’t come to us because we deserve Him, but because we need Him – desperately.

 

It seems that Jesus sees something in each of us that we can’t see in ourselves. Could it be the image of God in which we were created? While nothing in us may be worthy of Him, every single human life has infinite value and worth to Him. In fact, after Zacchaeus joyfully declared that he would give half of his goods to the poor and that he would restore fourfold anything he had taken from anyone falsely, Jesus replied: “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:9-10).

 

Jesus sees us in all our unworthiness, but that’s exactly why He came – not to chastise, condemn, or tear down. He came to seek and save us – to do for us what we could not do for ourselves. He came to make us worthy. Zacchaeus responded to Jesus in haste. He came down from the tree and received Jesus joyfully. The prophet Isaiah exclaimed: “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels” (Isaiah 61:10).

 

I never cease to be amazed that I have been made worthy. I am clothed and covered with Jesus’ blood and righteousness. He came to me just as He did to Zacchaeus and invited Himself to come in. But what if I had refused? What if instead of receiving Him joyfully, I had bemoaned the fact that I was a sinner, that I didn’t deserve what He had to offer, that I just wasn’t good enough to allow Him entrance? The fact is – I was a sinner. I didn’t deserve the goodness of Christ. And I surely wasn’t good enough. But that’s exactly why, like Zacchaeus, I needed Christ! He clothed me and covered me – He made me worthy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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