There are many thoughts that come to mind when we think of Dying. What will happen?  What will it be like. Is there a heaven,  or hell? You may have others that you would add. Whatever those questions may be there can be a comfort that comes when we God show us the answers. 

My father-in-law is dying of cancer.  It is a painful thing to watch someone you love go through this process. I have been amazed at the grace with which he is walking through this journey. I don’t believe that God would put cancer on anyone for ANY reason. And I believe with all my heart that God has the power to heal him.  For whatever the reason this has not happened. What has happened though is still a miracle!   My father-in-law is a godly man so full in the knowledge if where he will be and grace that this has brought makes me somewhat jealous.  Dad is an example of faith and hope because there is no question in him about dying, only the firm understanding of knowing where he is going,  and that is to be with his Father in heaven. 

To anyone who may be reading this you have questions and a fear of dying I hope this will give you a desire to seek where this peace comes from. 

Matthew 10:39 states: He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.  

This applies to anything in life. Anything we try to hang on to OR cling to we will eventually lose.  But when we let it die it will come back in a fullness and completeness that would not have happened if we had not allowed it to die. 

Dad gets this. I love him all the more for this lesson he is teaching me. And I love my Savior so much for teaching it to him! 

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Connection? (part dos)

connected

In my last blog I spoke of the vital importance of being connection to a life giving source.  If a tree branch becomes disconnection from it’s source (the trunk and roots) it will eventually die.  I believe that it is no different for us when it comes to our relationship with God.  If we choose, or allow, ourselves to disconnect from our Source we will eventually die spiritually.
In looking at my statement above I want to focus on the word BELIEVE.  In John 20:29 Jesus makes this statement to Thomas;  Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.”
We hear the phrase at times; “I will believe it when I see it”.  It is so much easier to believe this way.  Why believe something if we can’t see it?  I recall a time when I shared with a friend years ago that I had jumped my 3 wheel ATV 63 feet through the air.  He refused to believe me!  “I will believe that when I see it”, he said.  So I took him to the place where I had made the jump and showed him the tracks where I left the ground and landed again.  That could be anyone’s tracks is all he responded with.  I actually had to make the jump again before he would believe me!  And this was not easy as the first jump had nearly made me pee my pants!
Thomas did not believe the other disciples has seen Jesus.  The pain of having his Savior with him and then losing him would not allow him to believe.  Jesus, in His grace, allowed Thomas to have his request to “see to believe”.  Many of us choose not to believe because it is too painful to allow that.  We may have prayed for God to take something from our life or the life of a loved one and it did not or has not happened.  So we choose not to believe.
I am sorry this has happened.  I understand this kind of pain.  Please hear me when I say this;  “The pain of disconnecting, of deciding not to believe, will become greater than the pain you are experiencing.  Eventually our spirit dies and we die on the inside.
Jesus is the source of Life that we need!  Unbelief will separate us from the Vine we so desperately need but cannot see because of the pain that envelopes us.  Believe me when I say this; as you choose to BELIEVE you will SEE!  As you believe you will see Jesus our savior in so many things.  In people, in circumstances and in the strength that you find to go and live each day for HIM!
BELIEVE AND CONNECT….
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Connection?

connected

 John 15:5 –  “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.
If you break a branch full of leaves, full of life, beautiful and bright off from the tree it is connected to it does not take long and that branch begins to wither.  Its color will fade and slowly departs from it.  Within days it is dried and dead, lacking any of its former qualities that made it so wonderful.
When any of us first connects ourselves to the life vine of Jesus Christ it is so obvious.  We are bright and full of the brightness of life that only God can give through his Son.  We are firmly connected and receiving all the life giving supplements that a tree would be giving it’s branches to keep them strong and healthy!
Then the newness wears off.  It is in this time that we either mature in that connection or we become distracted, needy, or hurt by what life throws at us and we disconnect.  Just as the life slowly drains out of the beautiful branch of the tree the life that God put in us through His Son Jesus slowly fades and the fruit we once boasted has died.
It takes a conscious decision to remain connected.  To be that branch that remains firmly attached to the life giving force of our amazing Creator.  And life, in all its beauty and ugliness, remains full and we continue to produce the fruit that we were intended to produce.  Disconnect and die….sadly.
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Abandoned?

What happens when we fail to be abandoned to the Lord?  In our pursuit of Him we allow the things in this natural world to restrain, refrain and dampen our complete abandonment to the plan and vision He has for us?
Jesus says in Mark 10:29-30
29 “Yes,” Jesus replied, “and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property, for my sake and for the Good News, 30 will receive now in return a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and property—along with persecution. And in the world to come that person will have eternal life.
 
How often have I stopped for my wife, my children or maybe for fear of being provided for (so my job)?  Or when the persecution that Jesus speaks of comes does that stop my abandonment?  
 
It is only in complete abandonment to the Love of God deposited in us by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5) will we be spurred on to complete His call in each of our lives.  As we do this our trust on the One who created all will grow.  We will give our Lord opportunity to step in and handle the situation as only he can.
 
So, what happens when we fail to be abandoned to the Lord?  We may never know.  His love does not change nor can we be separated from it (Romans 8:38-39).  But, we may miss knowing Him in a way that could never happen without that abandonment.
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Are You Leading?

leading

This is a message to men, husbands, fathers who struggle to lead in their homes.  As we are faced with an ever increasing attack on the sanctity and importance of family and strong godly marriages the struggle to lead in the face of these attacks is also increasing.  I find myself feeling incapable of leading through this barrage of ungodly influence in my home.  Even being sucked into and leading my family into a state of being desensitized to what my God, our Lord, expects from us.  Recently my heart has been pained by the realization that, in my weakness, I am allowing myself to lean away from leading my family in a Godly way to taking the easier route of working more and medicating with TV, food or just general business.  For others or us it might be sports, hunting, pornography, drinking or whatever our drug of choice might be.

It is time for us to stop!  Not only is God looking for men who will lead with a pure and godly heart, He is gently leaning in to nudge us and help us see that He is there to help us in the process.  Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-30; “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”  This scripture makes it clear that Jesus, our Lord and our God, does not expect for us to do this alone.  So I am going to say to you the same thing that God has spoken to my heart.  Stop trying to do it alone!

Let’s face it.  Leading our families towards God in the face of what this world we live in throws at us can seem impossible.  But you have a Father who loves you and will lead you.  Lean into HIM.  Be intentional about making time for your Father to speak to your heart.  Humbly submit yourself before Him and you will find there the strength and the courage to do what might seem impossible.  James 4:7-8 teaches us this; So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Come close to God, and God will come close to you.

Last of all, lean on each other!  We can do this!  With God’s help and encouragement from one another we will defeat the enemy as he desperately attacks the foundation of marriage and family.  Join me!  Fight this battle!  Our family’s lives and future generations are depending on us.

Father, help us to lead our families.  Help us to lead with courage, strength, wisdom, humility and tenacity.  In Jesus name, Amen.

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Injustice?

justice

It is amazing the amount of insensitivity we see in the world today.  Connect this with a lack of customer service found so many of our service industries and we can all find ourselves, at one point or another, feeling the injustice of being treated like we don’t really matter.  If you are like me and have a hyper-sensitivity to injustice then you may find all to many opportunities to want to fight for justice.

In my last post I left you hanging with one of these experiences where I wanted Justice but ,as He often does, God was trying to show me what I really needed to be seeing, or what really matters.  Let’s pick up where I left off

I looked at the young man behind the counter and quickly prayed for God to give me the words to say to this young man who was so obviously struggling.  “Jim (not his real name), I said, “this is no coincidence that we are both here right now.  It would be easy for me to continue to be angry about how I am being treated but I know that God had a bigger plan and He wants you to see His nature in this.  God is pursuing you through me and He wants you to know that He loves you.”  I could tell Jim was having a hard time with all of this so at this point I stopped and took out my business card and gave it to him and said, “Call me, any time.  I would love to get together and talk about this or if you need anything call me.”  He shook his head slowly and I gathered up my things and left.

God taught me something that day.  In fact the next morning as I thought about and prayed about the whole experience God spoke these words to my heart, ‘Is justice more important that salvation, mercy, or love?’  Sometimes in the heat of the moment we often forget about the things that really matter.  In Philippians 1 Paul is writing a letter to the church of Philippi  and he makes this statement;  For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. 

It is easy to forget in this crazy world we live in ‘what really matters’.  People matter, love matters.  Springing out of this amazing love for us is God’s desire that we would spend eternity with Him.  So next time you are tempted to ‘make your case’ when you are treated unjustly listen to what God might be speaking to your heart.  You may be there for an entirely different reason, one that Really matters!

As I write that one week later I still have not heard anything from Jim.  That is ok though.  I know the seeds we planted and I trust God to continue what He started through me.

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Justice?

justice

Recently I had an experience with a company, a place of business that was, well, let’s just say less than desirable.  I was lied to and treated like I was ignorant.  And then when I took it to the corporate level and asked for help in the matter it was even worse.  Initially they told me exactly what I wanted to hear.  They were stunned by how I had been treated in on of their retail locations and promised that action would be taken.  I was told I would receive a phone call within 24 hours with an answer.  Then I waited and…..nothing.  I called them again and this time their true colors come out.  The conversation went in circles at the customer service level.  And when I asked for a supervisor I was put on hold and no one ever picked up!  I was frustrated and furious.

I am sure that many of you have experienced this kind of treatment and probably, like me, felt a strong sense of injustice well up inside.  “I am going back to that retail location and demand that this be made right” I thought.  I arrived at the store and noticed right away that the same young man was working.  Ironically, as frustrated as I was with the situation, he had been on my mind since I had seen him and I had been praying for him.  I went in and began to talk with him and as before he was very pleasant and understanding.  But he needed to call his supervisor for an answer to the situation.  He tried over and over with no answer on the phone.  He apologized and said he would try again in a few minutes.

As I sat there I felt an overwhelming sense to pray for this young man.  As I pray I knew God was prompting me to ask him if that if today was his last day on earth would he go to heaven or hell.  So I said, “Can I ask you a question?”  “Sure”, he responded.  And I asked him the question that God had put on my heart.  His eyes dropped and he said, “No I don’t”.  I said, “Do you want to Know that you are going to heaven?”  “I am not sure I even understand what that means” he said.

Just then his phone rang and it was his boss calling back.  He told him what I was asking and the injustice began all over again.  I felt anger well up inside of me again and argued with this person who felt perfectly ok with treating his customer’s like dirt.  As I did I sensed God tapping on my heart and I stopped.  “Listen, I said.  I am going to forget the whole thing and leave it the way it is.”  I know, you (the reader) are thinking, “You can’t do that!  If you let them get away with this they will just continue to treat people with injustice”.  Trust me, I was fighting this thought!

I looked at the young man and spoke what was on my heart.  “Listen, it is not mistake that I am here going through this experience with you.  What is happening here is not what really matters.  What matters here is YOU and the crushing weight that is on your shoulders.  GOD is pursuing you!”

He looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, “I don’t know what to say”……to be continued.

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