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Doctors-Suggest-ER

A thin curtain separated us. We weren’t eavesdropping but the soft sobs from the young man behind the curtain made us fall silent. The young lady with him recounted the details that led to the ER visit. Our health concerns were very real, but they paled in comparison. We couldn’t speak.  It broke our hearts to hear his story and his suffering. I began to pray for him and I couldn’t stop my silent tears as his weeping continued. “Dear Lord, he’s so young, younger than my sons.” I wanted to reach out to comfort him but I felt helpless to do more than pray and weep. 

I couldn’t reach this young man, but God could through my prayers. I thank God for the wisdom and skill of doctors and nurses knowing I’d just be a blubbering mess. The whole ER floor was quiet. Everyone was aware of his pain.  

Everything comes into perspective in those moments.  An ER experience will make you think about the frailty of life. It’s as though there exists a thin veil between life and death. We are a few breaths, a few heartbeats from eternity. I’m not being morbid or dark, it is reality. We can’t bridge the gap between life and death, but there is Someone who has; His name is Jesus. His death for us bridged the gap between our sinfulness and God’s holiness. Jesus removed the barrier of sin that separated us from Holy God. Jesus opened Heaven and eternity to all who believe and receive Him as Savior and Lord.  Death was defeated at Jesus’ resurrection but death like a snake with its head cut off, still bites and writhes.  

I’m comforted by the fact that we do not walk alone.  Romans 8:35-39 tells us that nothing can separate a believer from God. Nothing! And God so loves that young man. Jesus was acquainted with our grief, suffering and the frailty of our human bodies. He willingly became human, suffered and overcame death and the grave. He has the ability to heal and He may, but if he doesn’t, He walks through it all with us. He never leaves us. He promises! That is my hope as a believer. And one day He will make all things new and whole! Our Spirit was made for eternity, our bodies are not. Believers will receive immortal, imperishable bodies (1 Cor. 15-50-55). We will be transformed into His perfect image. We will exchange flawed imperfection for perfection and we will see our maker face to face. No more death, no pain, no grief! No weeping! Nothing, nothing now or in eternity can ever separate us as believers in Jesus from God’s love. Not death, nothing! And it is this hope we hold onto as we live this life He’s given us.

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How-Big-Is-Your-God

We worry, will I have enough? We worry about our health, our loved ones and our future. We worry about what will happen next, what will happen if, and rob today of the peace and joy we could have in the very present now. But God says, “Do not worry, I am your source.” He says, “Depend on me!” 

In Matthew 6:25-27, Jesus tells us, 25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[e]?” 

And He tells us in Matthew 6: 33-34, 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” 

Unfortunately, simply hearing do not worry doesn’t make us worry less when they hang over us like a gray storm clouds. However, there are some verses that help refocus our thoughts on how wonderful and great our God is. These verses give us direction and help dispel the dark clouds of worry. 

Philippians 4: 4-6  describes the best way to handle worry and anxiety:

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness[d] be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” And I need the peace He gives.

Redirecting my thoughts by renewing my mind helps me combat worry. 

  • I ask God to open my eyes as I read the Bible. Personally, reading the Psalms, like Psalm 18, 27 or 37 helps me.  
  • I’m reminded He is Almighty God and recalling all He’s done for me in the past encourages me to trust Him now.  
  • I praise Him for who He is, that He is greater than any problem I have now or will have. Praise lifts the weight of worry as I’m assured He’s working on my behalf.
  • I ask for forgiveness by agreeing with God that worry is a sin, it is unbelief. 
  • I ask for what I need, for wisdom and for direction.
  • I thank Him for His faithfulness and ask for His peace.  

If Jesus is our Savior, we don’t need to worry, we can trust Him. I love the saying by Bill Keane that puts it all in a proper perspective, “Yesterday’s the past, tomorrow’s the future, but today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present.”  Today is God’s gift to us. If we seek God’s kingdom first, He says He’ll take care of the rest. Don’t worry, He’s got this! How big is your God?

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As a church, we took up a special offering with the plan to give it all away. Part of what we did is give families, who were part of our gathering one Sunday, an envelope with $50 with the instructions to:

  1. Accept the money.
  2. Decide who to give the money to.
  3. Give the money.
  4. Briefly tell us the STORY.

Over the course of the next number of weeks we’ll use this blog to tell some of those stories. Most are brief but each one reflects a heart to give. We did this as part of our annual Be Rich Campaign (Rich in good deeds, that is). Each story is kept anonymous.

______ and I decided to help a random person at Walmart and pay towards their layaway. I went yesterday, and was just going to do it randomly but God had other plans. A lady was standing there with cash and I asked her if she was paying on her layaway and she said yes. I said “well, I’m going to help you with that.” She just looked at me, and I told her about our church and what we were doing.

She immediately started bawling. She said that on her way up there she had been praying because she only had so much money and needed an extension on the layaway.  She hugged me and thanked me over and over. We exchanged names, and I gave her a card from our church.

The story doesnt end there though…

She had $64 left on it that she would pay this Saturday and then get her stuff. I told my Mom about what happened and what the church was doing. Today, we went back up there and my Mom paid the woman’s layaway off! The woman will get an email saying it’s paid for. The lady said that me helping her was so God…and I believe that too!

 

32166-with-you-always

Isn’t it funny how a phrase suddenly comes back from long ago and you experience the same warm feelings when you first heard it? I can almost hear our former pastor say, “Ain’t God good!”  In Texas, just know, we often use “Ain’t”, for emphasis, like an exclamation point! My first pastor and his wife were missionaries in the Philippines for many years before he became my pastor. He made such a wonderful impact on my family.  Today, God used a different kind of missionary. He changed a lightbulb and reminded me of that phrase!

It all began this last week when my husband’s persistent infection required IV antibiotics and a hospital stay. A hospital stay is grueling, no rest, lots of pokes and waiting, waiting, waiting! We’d gotten the good news – no MRSA nor Sepsis.  Not so good news-he had a local, stubborn infection and we’d be guests in this austere, expensive room for a few more days. Two nights with very little sleep had begun to wear on me. Worry seems to seep into the cracks and crevices of my mind when I’m tired. Lots of prayers were being said and I know God’s answering them. It’s the waiting for healing and improvement that wears on you. 

It so happens that the bathroom lightbulb burned out and we’d reported it.  Matthew from building maintenance brought a light bulb and changed it out. Before he left he stood at the foot of the bed and told us his story. It was an amazing story. He was from India, had lived in Iraq, and in Saudi Arabia. He had escaped death more than a few times and wondered why he’d been spared. He had tried to drown out the questions, worries and misery with alcohol. He questioned why, and then God showed him in John 14 about Jesus and the Heavenly Father’s love. He told us about his father, his Heavenly Father. He talked to us about how Jesus tells us over and over not to worry, that He’s got this. He reminded us of how our Father has it all in His loving hands. He reminded us that Jesus said, “I am with you always.” I have never heard a better testimony or sermon preached at the foot of a hospital bed. And he prayed with us.  God brought the light of His truth and sent His message of love in the form of a man who changed a lightbulb. He told us that the hospital is his mission field and has been for 29 years. In the course of his everyday work, God sends him to hospital rooms and he brings light. He also goes back to India and spreads the light of God’s love there. When he left our room that old sweet, familiar phrase from the first missionary I’d known came to mind.  We thanked God for sending Matthew and marveled how God so faithfully sends his messengers just when we need them.

It reminded me that we are all on a mission as believers. We’re missionaries -bearers of the light of God’s truth, the gospel of Jesus Christ. We simply need to tell someone what God has done for us, that He’s a good, good Father and of His passionate, everlasting love expressed through Jesus Christ. It only takes one shining light bulb to dispel the darkness! And doesn’t God have a sense of humor? It almost escaped my notice, our Dr. was named Dr. Emanuels – like Emmanuel – God with us. “Ain’t God good!” Can I get an Amen?

 

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Is the Church Relevant?

I know that greater minds than mine have debated this subject recently and my thoughts on it aren’t scholarly or theological in nature. Throughout the world there are Christ followers who are part of the universal church. What do I mean by church? It’s a gathering of Christ followers, believers that come together to worship Jesus together. What about the local church and those who gather together to worship? Is it relevant to you? Your answer maybe “No” for various reasons. Someone might have offended, hurt or rejected you or, perhaps, you have no interest in knowing about God or Jesus.  Permit me to tell you my story of why the church is relevant to me.

I was taught about God and Jesus from an early age but we didn’t go to church very often. Neighbors and relatives took me sporadically and I attended vacation bible school in the summer.  My story with Jesus and the church started right before my 16th birthday. Like most teenagers, I had questions about what was true and what I really believed. Two Campus Crusade for Christ volunteers visited me and explained that Jesus must be Savior and Lord of our lives and what that looks like.  Shirley, one of the volunteers, helped me understand my new life in Christ and encouraged me to find a church. A friend from school told me about her church and I went with her. I was like most teens looking for a place to belong, to fit in and to make friends. The people of that church taught me and mentored me. I found people who genuinely loved me, not for anything I had to offer except who I was. And they encouraged me and my new friends included me.  Later, when I married the church taught us, as a couple, practical ways of handling life, marriage and struggles.  Loving individuals helped us raise our two sons to love God and love others.  

People in Bible believing churches are just people, some disappoint, some don’t but they’re like you and me. We all need a lot of grace, mercy and forgiveness.  I’ve had a few brief periods of my life that I thought I’d had enough of church and people and wanted to call it quits! But Jesus and other believers never gave up on me. Each time I’ve met believers who worship, share life together and study God’s word.  They make my life better and inspire me to be a better person. That is what a church really is- a group of people worshiping Jesus in Spirit and in Truth together, growing and encouraging each other. Church is about people, not institutions or buildings. It’s not a particular denomination or a brick and mortar building.  The Bible says that we are the living stones He uses to build His church and that Jesus is the head of the church. We need each other and we are reminded not to neglect coming together for worship. The Bible speaks of the Church as Christ’s bride, and that He’s coming back for her. Jesus hasn’t changed His mind about the Church, his bride, being relevant. I hope you’ll consider that, after all, His opinion is the only one that truly counts.  

Be rich 2018

As a church, we took up a special offering with the plan to give it all away. Part of what we did is give families, who were part of our gathering one Sunday, an envelope with $50 with the instructions to:

  1. Accept the money.
  2. Decide who to give the money to.
  3. Give the money.
  4. Briefly tell us the STORY.

Over the course of the next number of weeks we’ll use this blog to tell some of those stories. Most are brief but each one reflects a heart to give. We did this as part of our annual Be Rich Campaign (Rich in good deeds, that is). Each story is kept anonymous.

As we left church that day we spent the car ride home discussing how to use the money to help someone in need. I opened the discussion with the kids on how our church entrusted us with “the envelope of money” and that we needed to come up with a plan to spend it.  We shared ideas and came up with a plan to incorporate an idea from each of our shared thoughts. The results: Our Crew would deliver blankets, playing cards with hand written notes on the box, water bottles, candy canes and hamburgers to the homeless.

There was so much excitement and anticipation leading up to the actual delivery of the goodies. Even days after our initial conversation on how to spend the money and purchase of the items, the kids continued to share new ideas on how we could serve and help others. Delivery of the items was so much fun and eye opening for our kids. Our first stop was McDonalds where we bought 25 hamburgers, then we drove around and passed each of the items out. Our intentions were to give to the homeless and we did but we also passed out candy canes and burgers to people at bus stops, a security guard, a woman in a parking lot, and even a dog! After everything was passed out I asked the kids what they observed and without hesitation they responded with “we made them smile” “we made them happy”. What I noticed – Not only were the recipients happy and grateful, but so were we. This made my Momma heart happy, thank you for giving us this opportunity and pushing our family to step outside of our comfort zone and give with an open mind and heart.

 

be rich 2018

As a church, we took up a special offering with the plan to give it all away. Part of what we did is give families, who were part of our gathering one Sunday, an envelope with $50 with the instructions to:

  1. Accept the money.
  2. Decide who to give the money to.
  3. Give the money.
  4. Briefly tell us the STORY.

Over the course of the next number of weeks we’ll use this blog to tell some of those stories. Most are brief but each one reflects a heart to give. We did this as part of our annual Be Rich Campaign (Rich in good deeds, that is). Each story is kept anonymous.

We gave it to _________________. __________ has been working hard in their recovery from depression and has been low on income for the past year or so.