The Return

Mimi & Laura

Mimi & Laura

 

Earl and I spent the first weekend in April enjoying a return to the Morrow Presbyterian Church (MPC).  MPC was celebrating its 50th anniversary, and we were graciously invited to attend.  Earl was the Pastor at MPC from October 1999 – March 2006.

Morrow Presbyterian Church was the first church of my personal ministry as a pastor’s wife.  I have good memories of the wonderful Christian fellowship I experienced there.  I learned how to be a pastor’s wife.  I learned how to appreciate God’s many different people.  I learned patience and compassion.  I learned how to love others, but also how to grieve with them.

 

 

The pastor that answered the call after we left has now served for 6 years.

John & Tamara Callahan

John & Tamara Callahan

John Callahan and his wife, Tamara, made us feel welcome.  They opened the doors of the church to former members, pastors and current members.  The church had a Saturday evening of live music and strawberry shortcake and a full Sunday morning worship service with recognitions and a catered BBQ lunch afterwards.

 

 

 

 

 

Earl, Sheila and Allen

Earl, Sheila and Allen

 

The most Spirit-filled moments for me were the hugs, kisses, encouragements and acts of kindness that Christians express to each other.  Though 8 years had passed from the time we left our ministry at MPC, at times it felt like only 8 minutes.  We still knew almost everyone.  We still felt the call to minister and to befriend, and we still felt the love.  We still felt a deep sense of family.

I expressed to many people that Earl and I may have left MPC to fulfill the call of God elsewhere, but we could not permanently leave a church any more than we would leave our families.  We may be called to serve somewhere else, but we never leave behind those whom we love in Christ.  Earl and I still pray for the people, we pray for the leadership of the new pastor and his wife and we pray that MPC will make disciples of Jesus, and that they will follow Him faithfully.

 

Worship Service

Worship Service

 

 

Hebrews 10:24-25 - “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

MPC is a church of good works, habits of encouragement and a church that meets together to stir up one another to love.  My prayer is that all God’s churches are “Reflecting Christ Together” (the motto of MPC).

 

 

 

 

Libby and Mary

Libby & Mary

Sharon Goza

Sharon

Theresa, Susan and Audrey

Theresa, Suzanne & Audrey

Earl and MaryAnn Warlick

Hannah, MaryAnn and Earl

MPC Commemorative Coaster

MPC Commemorative Coaster

Shiela, Bob, Fred, Helen & MaryAnn

Shiela, Bob, Fred, Helen & MaryAnn

Libby and Jackie

Libby

Georgene and Alan

Georgene and Alan

Pews filling

Pews Filling

Debbie V and Susie G

Debbie and Susie

Frank, Shirley and Virginia

Frank, Shirley and Virginia

Connie MaryAnn Debbie and Susie and all the strawberry shortcake

Debbie, Connie, MaryAnn and Susie – Strawberry Shortcake

Courtney Wall

Clate & Courtney Wall

Bob and Gail Hardy

Bob and Gail

Bruce Steve and Ken

Bruce, Steve and Ken

Arrah and Stephanie

Arrah and Stephanie

The Prayer Journal

Replica of the prayer journal

1 Timothy 2:1&3 “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men….This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour…”

Fifteen years ago upon becoming a pastor’s wife, I determined that the prayer requests coming in from our parishioners were far more numerous than my mind could possibly keep in order and maintain.

An avid reader, I was shopping in a book store, and I found an entire section of journals.  Some of those blank page journals were very attractive to me.  One of my favorites was a red leather journal with the antiqued paper that had the burned look to the edges.  Oh so lovely.  I determined that I had to have one, but was unsure of exactly how I would use it.  It stayed in my nightstand for quite some time.

One evening, when a prayer request came to my attention, I was trying to find something on which to write.  I pulled open that drawer and saw the journal.  Inspired, I knew that my journal should be used for the prayers of God’s beautiful people.  Where I could hold them in my hands, lift them up to God and pray vigilantly for the good, the bad, and the hurt – to ask for God’s answers.

A couple years ago, a wonderful seminary student came through the Sunday receiving line after church services.  He was hurting; he had received a blow in his personal life and reached out, asking for prayer.  I told him I would immediately begin praying for him and would add him to my personal prayer journal.  He asked about it, and I explained to him what I did.  He was extremely grateful to know that I was sincere when I said that I would pray for him.

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” James 5:16

How often do we tell someone that we will pray for them and promptly forget to do so?  It can become routine to tell someone “I’ll pray for you.”  It’s almost an off-the-cuff response by Christians because, well let’s face it, it’s easy and who’s going to know if you actually prayed?  But let me tell you, people know a sincere heart and attitude, and they also know those that are just giving lip-service.

This past Sunday, another parishioner came through our receiving line after services.  Sarah gave me the biggest hug.  She proceeded to tell me that when she heard that I had been experiencing severe back trouble the week before and was incapacitated, she said: “I prayed for you, I prayed hard for you”.  Her sincerity was so apparent, I knew without a doubt that she indeed did pray hard for me.

Several prayer journals later, I have a new favorite journal.  In December 2012, one of my favorite friends gave me a LIFE journal that she had made especially for each member of our women’s Bible study group.  Our circle is named LIFE (Living in Faith Everyday).  Since December 2012, I have been using this journal for prayer offerings to the Lord.

Prayer Journal 2014

Last night a dear friend asked me to pray for her and her family due to some employment issues that have been brewing.  They are being affected emotionally and spiritually, and they want God’s intervention.  I was more than happy to add them to my prayer journal.  I thank God that He has given me the will and the desire to go to Him in prayer for the people in my life that ask me.  I pray also that they will know for certain that I will lift them up to our awesome God.  For we can rest in the promise that God grants us about our prayers -

1 John 5:14-15 “And this is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.  And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.”

God’s Review of My Spiritual Performance 2013-2014

JIPC Welcome Center

JIPC Welcome Center

I sit here on vacation, on New Year’s Eve 2013, reviewing the life I have led this past year.

Recently, I put in a request for a review of my work as a Controller of a company of which I have been employed for the past 14 years.  It had been three years since my last performance and salary review.  I put together a summation of some of the important issues that I have handled including expense cuts, employee relations, business deals, and the monetary gains that I have accomplished for them.  I highlighted all the good that I felt I had done and the plans that I have for the future.  Needless to say, I did NOT include anything that I felt was a underachievement or loss experienced by the company due to my performance.

The purpose of a review is usually to give some feedback and to plan for what training one might need, what skill areas to develop further, and how one might be better utilized in the workplace.  It is also to evaluate how one’s relationships with the supervisor/boss and fellow employees are going.

Not only do we expect to be rewarded in our work by salary consideration, but we’ve had reviews and expected rewards throughout our entire lives.  Look back to your education, report cards and graduation achievements as well as sports banquets and trophies.

Yet how often do we review how we’ve performed in the past in our Christian life and what goals we have for the future in our spiritual life?

Jesus stated:  “And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak”(Matthew 12:36, NLT).

Paul stated: “For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body” (2 Corinthians 5:10, NLT).

And Jeremiah stated: “But I, the Lord, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve” (Jeremiah 17:10, NLT).

So what kind of relationship do I have with THE BOSS?  How am I doing with the plans that God has for me?  Have I met the goals that He has set for me over the past year?  Is there additional training that I need to go through in 2014?  Have I earned any other praise or rewards from God in addition to the free gift of eternal life?

I pretty much deserved what I received in my work performance review this year.  I did receive a raise! But in my Christian life, I believe that I have failed far more than I should have in the work the Lord gave me to do.  I succeeded in my career BECAUSE I put that first over the past six months due to circumstances.  But in so doing, I have put some of God’s work on a back-burner.  I feel like I haven’t put forth enough effort in personal relationships with my fellow parishioners that I normally do.  And I have felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit within me – knowing I have failed in fully utilizing the gift of hospitality, which God has given me.  I have grieved the Holy Spirit; I feel it in my poor soul.

And yet, I have accomplished some things in my 2013 Christian walk.  I have read His Word daily and read the Bible in its entirety.  I have participated in small group Bible study and Christian fellowship.  I have ministered to Earl as my husband and my pastor as well as to those within the church who have had pastoral needs.  I have visited those hospitalized and in hospice.  I have fed the hungry at the Charleston Shelter and volunteered my time at the James Island Outreach Food Bank and remained a board member.  I became the liaison on the Charleston-Atlantic Presbytery Presbyterian Women’s  Team.

Yesterday, I went with Earl to visit a woman named Libba whom we dearly love from our previous church.  Her husband Floyd passed away in recent weeks.  He was one of the members of the pastor nominating committee that brought Earl to that church in 2006.  He was a dear man, full of the Spirit and a determined follower of the Lord.  Our visit with Libba brought tears to both Earl’s and my eyes.  These are the kind of ministries that I know God wants me to do more.  These personal visits with the elderly are what bring a smile to my soul and bring joy deep within me from the Holy Spirit.

Visiting Parishioners

Visiting Parishioners

I have reviewed my Christian performance for 2013, and I have made plans for 2014.  The elderly are my passion.  Spending more time with people and offering them the love of Jesus is my New Year’s resolution.  I believe my relationship with God will grow a little deeper and a lot stronger as I bend my will even more to His will.  And on that glorious judgment day, I pray that I will hear, “Well done, My good and faithful servant.”To each of you -  Happy New Year and may your life be full of the work of the Holy Spirit and the blessings from our God on High!

God on Vacation !

Taking God on Vacation

Earl and I went on a glorious vacation for almost three weeks in June 2013.  We had a wonderful time just being together and seeing 12 of our country’s national parks.

As many pastor families know, taking a vacation is extremely important and necessary.  But usually a pastor’s vacation still consists of phone calls, emails, and texts to and from members of his or her church.  There can even be some stress from not knowing how their flock is doing.  How are those doing who are sick, hospitalized, jobless or depressed?  Will they need spiritual help from the pastor while he or she is off taking a long, 2 week vacation?

In Genesis 2:2, we are very familiar with the creation account that after creating for six days, God rested on the seventh.  But of course this isn’t to suggest that God was tired or needed to rest.  In fact, God never rests.  John 5:17 represents the Father as continually working to preserve and to redeem the created world through His Son. The text in Genesis simply means that God ceased from His creating and dedicated the seventh day as a sacred day for all of us to worship Him, honor Him, and to rest ourselves.   

So while we took 2 weeks to rest out of 52, and vacationed across this glorious country of ours, putting 7,000 miles on the car, entering 17 states (some a couple times) and spending 19 days away from home, we brought God on vacation with us.  Each day we praised God for this absolutely stunning and geographically diverse land that we call our country.  We are very blessed to call this beautiful land our home, and we intend to take the time to eventually explore all our national parks. 

Continental Divide

Continental Divide

So each day, Earl and I praised and worshiped God by reading scripture and contemplating what it was that God was saying to us through the scriptures.  We each have adopted a reading plan to read our Bibles every year.  Then when I took my Bible out while he was driving and told him that I was going to read my daily reading, Earl asked me to read that he wouldn’t miss his daily reading.  Each day we talked about the scriptures that I had read, and Earl even had me write down some ideas that he felt God had given him to preach.  It’s amazing how God can take a few minutes during your vacation and inspire you.  With His beauty all around us, and His Word permeating our ears, we felt the presence of God with us on vacation.  God doesn’t need a vacation and never takes one.  We do need a vacation, but never away from God.  God is always at work - focusing all His efforts on the preservation and redemption of His world.  And He uses each of us where we are, whether at home, at work or even while on vacation, to accomplish His will.

Never take a vacation from God while you are on vacation!

Rocky Mtn National Park

Rocky Mtn National Park

Big Bison

Big Bison

Earl - Mt. Rushmore

Earl – Mt. Rushmore

Don’t Look Back !

Earl - Sea of Galilee

Earl – Sea of Galilee

Lately I have had a preoccupation with Lot’s wife.  The Bible doesn’t mention her name, though some Jewish traditions indicate that her name was Edith (Adith or Ado).  But I can’t help but wonder, why after being told by the messengers of God, “Escape for your life!  Do not look behind you, ………” (Genesis 19:17), did she still look back?

Reading in Genesis before this event, you get the basic idea of why God was angry with Sodom and Gomorrah.  The cities as God states in Genesis 18:20 states, “And the Lord said, “The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave.”  Due to their unrepentant sins, God’s patience was tested to the point where He could not look upon the evil – thus He determined to end the evil by destroying it.

Lot lived there along with his wife and two daughters.  The messengers of God came to Lot’s house and spent the night, but not without the sins of the city affecting Lot’s family and his guests.  Lot pleaded with the men of the city to not act wickedly.  They had demanded to have sexual relations with his guests.  As Lot contended with the men at his door, the men of God reached out to bring Lot back into the house, and they struck the men of the city with blindness.

So Lot, his wife, and two daughters were escorted out of the city and were headed for Zoar.  Once there, God rained down brimstone and fire from heaven and in verse 26 “But his wife, from behind him, looked back; and she became a pillar of salt.”  The more I thought about this story, the more I realized that the same directive from God is given to every Christian.  Don’t look back. 

There have been times in my life where I have looked back on the decisions that I had made, and I’ve cried out to God, repeatedly.  I’ve sat crying, beating myself up for years over the decisions that not only affected me, but others around me – others that I love and adore.  One such time was the decision to divorce my first husband.  Though it wasn’t working for us as husband and wife, my children were put in a horrible position.  My one time decision has affected the decisions that they have been making for 17 years.  I see it, I sense it, and I’ve been told by them that it has.  That hurts!   It’s raw!  It’s life.  We ALL make decisions, but once made, we have to reconcile ourselves with God and ask Him and Him alone, where do I go from here?

My son - Craig

My son – Craig

Throughout the New Testament, we are told not to look back.  Luke 9:62 Jesus states “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”  In Philippians 3:13, “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet, but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead.”  And look at Hebrews 10:39 “But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.” And finally,  Peter 2:21-22 “For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment delivered to them.  It has happened to them according to the true proverb, ‘A dog returns to its own vomit,’ and ‘a sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire,’”

God pulls us out of our old lifestyle and forgives us and offers us a new life.  He pulls us out of a life that perhaps was controlled by other things that we were sucked into – not knowing how to get out.  The amazing thing is, God has a plan for us.  What He asks is simple.  Don’t look back.

Don’t look back on that sinful past, that sinful lifestyle, those sinful friends, and those bad decisions.  Don’t look back on mistakes made, decisions that affected not only you, but others.   Don’t look back on the pleasures of sin, but rather look forward to the promises of a new future with God.  You can’t be useful to the Lord today if you’re still feeling guilty about the past.  God uses those past hurts, failures, and mistakes to strengthen us to become the people He wants us to be today.

My Daughter - Maddie

My Daughter – Maddie

My decision and my cry to God eventually brought a new life to me.  I have not looked back since.  God gave me the great gift of forgiveness, which not only was granted from Him, but also from my children.  He gave me one of the greatest of gifts – Earl.  He is my spiritual leader even as my husband.  I will follow him anywhere because I believe God directs Earl, and Earl always responds with trust in Him.   I have to believe that perhaps Lot’s wife was looking back with regret, for having to lose a lifestyle that she enjoyed.  Why else would God turn her to a pillar of salt?  Perhaps she had no remorse.  Perhaps she had not asked for forgiveness.  Perhaps she had turned away from God’s call in her life.  God told Abraham that He would save anyone found righteous in the two cities.  I believe that out of all those people, only three were righteous in God’s eyes.

And He was Grieved by Their Misery

I hope you are experiencing a year of Bible study with daily devotions or a one-year Bible reading program.  As I’ve previously quoted in Be the One in Ten Christians That Have , only 1-3 in 10 Christians have ever read their Bible in it’s entirity. 

Everytime I read the Bible, important messages pop out at me and some I’ve never heard.  It’s like listening to Earl’s sermons every Sunday twice, (I stay for both services).  Sometimes I completely miss something the first go-round and pick up on it the second pass.  I used to just think that I was at fault in some way – was I not paying attention?  But no, that is not so.  Let me share with you how God works through the Holy Spirit to enlighten us, and even when we need to hear it!

God the Father created, Jesus saved, The Holy Spirit enlightens, directs and guides.

Mother's Day 2013

Mother’s Day 2013

On May 12, 2013, Earl preached the sermon, How to Recognize the Holy Spirit .  I wanted to share that sermon with you via the link, because I believe it will enlighten all who read it about the exact relationship The Holy Spirit has with us – if only we would listen and be led by Him.

Part of The Holy Spirit’s obligation to us is to help us know God better.  The Holy Spirit came after Jesus ascended into heaven and as promised by Christ, The Holy Spirit came to remind the desciples of all that Jesus had done and said and this is where we get the words of the New Testament.  When reading the Bible, The Holy Spirit will reveal or enlighten us to what we are supposed to hear at that time in our life.  He guides us in our learning of our Creator and our Savior.

So getting back to my daily Bible reading….long way around, I have experienced sadness and grief over the illnesses of folks in our church and the passing of some very young people that the loss is far too hard to comprehend.  I have had conversations with people who blame God, other folks that cannot comprehend how a loving God could possibly allow such things to happen.  They are angry, and some individuals that I know have even turned their backs on God. 

While praying and asking God for help in these extremely difficult cases, I asked God for guidance in how to bring His peace to grieving people.  Was there anything that I could say or would I make it worse?

My God, who created me, also gave me a Savior in Jesus Christ, so that I don’t have to pay for my sins.  God then gave me His Spirit to help me as I traverse along this life on earth with all His other created beings.  But we all have choices to make about where we go, who we have as friends and what we do – and a myriad of other choices.  All these free choices can sometimes bring us friends or enemies, peace or consternation, wellness or illness, good or evil.  And the entire fall of creation brings with it dire consequences even when we are obeying God.  Jesus said we would always have the poor and hungry among us – that there would always be wars and natural disasters.  Even Jesus being perfect, suffered hunger and terrible storms in His life due to the sin of the world.

But as I was reading Judges 10:15-16, I found a message that the Holy Spirit used to speak to me. “But the Israelites pleaded with the Lord and said, “We have sinned.  Punish us as you see fit, only rescue us today from our enemies.” “Then the Israelites put aside their foreign gods and served the Lord. And he was grieved by their misery.”   Not only is God with us in all that we go through in this life, but when we admit our sinfulness and repent, God grieves for us.  He may even step in and remove the consequences, but even if He chooses not to do so, He will help us through it.  He will lead us to where we have to go to do our Father’s work.  We can be strong and courageous in this life when we rely on His presence to pull us through the seemingly inpossible.  We can give Him praise and glory for the pit we’ve found ourselves in, not just resentment, anger and dismissal of His love and will for us.

So as I pray for people who find themselves in such difficult times, and as the Holy Spirit gives me opportunity, I will remind them that God grieves with us in our misery.  Maybe they will feel the presence of God surrounding them, uplifting them and holding on to them.  I pray that they will feel Him pulling them through the hardships with all the tenderness of His tears and the strength of His love, leading them and guiding them to a fuller and stronger life in Christ.

Submissive Christian Wife

Ephesians 5:21 ” Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

Recently, I attended a wedding rehearsal for a couple of which my husband, Earl was going to marry the next day.  The bride was stunning, and she was the daughter of a wonderfully gentle and kind couple that are members of our church.

Rehearsal Dinner

Rehearsal Dinner

At the rehearsal dinner, after finishing a delectable meal, the groom’s parents stood and toasted the couple and asked if anyone else had anything to say.  Family and friends stood and told stories and wished them the best, and then a lovely young woman in her mid-twenties stood and offered the couple some advice.  She said that the Bible has the answers to all life’s questions and whenever she needed to know something about marriage and relationships, she looked in her Bible.  For instance, if she wants to know about love, she reads 1 Corinthians 13, and if she wants to know how God created a man for a woman, she reads Genesis 2: 21, and if she wants to know how the marriage relationship between a man and woman is supposed to be, it can be found that a wife is to be submissive to her husband from Ephesians 5 and that a husband is to love his wife and give himself up for her.  I was genuinely pleased by her public stance and her commitment to her friend (the bride) to help her see what God calls for in a marriage relationship.

Many women get their backs up whenever this topic is broached.  But surely it is only because they don’t really understand the profound spiritual nature of what being submissive really means.  Being submissive does NOT mean being a doormat nor does it mean to simply being subject to the passing whims of her husband.

The New Testament teaches that marriage serves as a symbol of the relationship of Christ and His Church.  In the marriage relationship, it is the husband’s privilege to portray the headship of Christ over the family by his loving and sacrificial leadership.  It should be in this case, be the wife’s privilege and high calling to submit to her husband who represents the head of the household  and together to be submissive to the Lord Jesus Christ as the church Head.

Read Ephesians 5, but read the entire chapter, not just the section about the wife’s role.  Ephesians states all the character traits that the husband must work toward in order to even begin to come close to what Christ desires for his as the head of the household.  For the wife, there are perhaps two requirements in the whole chapter, to submit and to respect.  Submission is the voluntary surrender of our rights and self-interest for the benefit of others and for the glory of God.  Paul indicates that Christians, without exception, are to “be subject to one another.”  In this regard, if husbands are truly subjecting (submitting) themselves to the will of Christ in their lives and are leading their family in a Christ directed manner, then wives should not try to deviate from that path nor be an obstacle in her husband’s pursuit of that goal.

One must respect and honor a husband that is walking in step with Christ.  But the husband has a directive in this as well, beyond all that is stated in Ephesians 5, the Bible states, that he should seek her advice, as Elkanah and Abraham did (1 Samuel 1:23; Gen. 21:12), and yield to her when she is right.  A wife, who is wise, will give wise counsel and tell her husband how she feels and what God may be placing on her heart.  A husband should take his wife’s counsel to mind before making decisions for the family and then once a decision is made, the wife should honor her husband’s Christ-led decision.

I am very headstrong and opinionated, but I can tell you this, I have a husband that takes his life and lays it down for the sake of Christ.  He walks the walk and talks the talk.  He studies and prays hour upon hour every day.  I love him, trust him, respect him and most of all, will follow him in any and all major directions that he feels called by God to make.  This is not only being Biblically submissive on my part (which I did have to learn by the way) but a very, very wise move.  For I know God has called me to be a helpmate to Earl (Genesis 2:20), to walk beside him in his ministry, and minister to him, to serve him and to care for him as he helps lead others to Christ.  Therefore I gladly surrender, sacrifice and serve under Christ’s authority through my husband over this house for I see him daily doing the same under Christ and for our ultimate good.

50…..And Still Counting

50th Birthday Cake

50th Birthday Cake

“Aging is not ‘lost youth’ but a new stage of opportunity and strength.”
Betty Friedan

I turn 50 this coming April 15.  I am more excited than a child at Christmas.  My family thinks that I may have a screw or two loose in my head.  But I say it’s a 35 year goal finally come to pass.

That’s right, I have been wanting to hit the big 5-0 since I was 15 years old.  I’ve never looked at aging as something to grieve.  Now that 50 is so near, I now wonder expectantly, “well what’s after that?” 

I do not agree with much of what Betty Frieden has to say, but I have to agree with the above quote.  I’ve never looked at aging as lost youth.  I’ve always looked at it as experience gained – a sense of wisdom attained – an opportunity to learn and better other people’s lives.  At 50, I am hoping to love more richly, deeply, and more compassionately.  I’ve found that being a Christian makes all those worthy goals mine because those were Christ’s attributes.  Because of Him, I can move forward in life with confidence and assurance.

I have found that aging is addressed with favorable tones in the Scriptures.  The first promise in Exodus 20:1, “Honor your father and your mother so that you may have a long life in the land that the Lord your God is giving you”.  Whew, I sure am glad that I put my parents’ opinions of me in the forefront.  I still do to this day. 

Mom and Dad

Mom and Dad

In Deuteronomy 5:33 “Follow the whole instruction the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live, prosper, and have a long life in the land you will possess.”  The Lord shows favor to those who live a moral life.  One who takes the Word of God and absorbs His teaching and lives a life based on those teachings will be blessed with long life.  See also 1 Kings 3:14 “If you walk in My ways and keep My statutes and commandments just as your father David did, I will give you a long life.”

In the Bible, those who are aged are perceived as being wise, resourceful and valuable.  What they have, they are supposed to share for the good of everyone.  We are to offer to our children, our fellow brothers and sisters and all of society, our very experiences and give them wise counsel to help them avoid our pitfalls.

Most all who know me, know that I am drawn to the silver foxes who came before me.  I adore being around those who have lived life longer than I have.  I love to listen to the stories of their youth and the experiences of their lives.  The history that they’ve lived can truly help develop the future decisions of those that they bless with their knowledge.  The elderly are to be respected and cared for, and they deserve kindness.  We all have a responsibility to the generation that came before us whether they are family members, church members or neighbors.

Aging is a positive part of life.  We are to accept the blessings and responsibilities of aging with gratitude.

The Rain Came Down, Did His People Persevere?

It is 5 AM, and it is Palm Sunday.  The only thing I hear is rain – a torrential downpour.  This is the beginning of Holy Week.  Earl is already in the shower, and I have to swing my feet off the bed and get down to the kitchen to get his breakfast cooking.  It’s part of my ministry, and I’m happy to do it.  I persevere to make sure that the work that the Lord has given me gets done.  But it’s raining, and it feels like sleeping weather.  My feet still hit the floor, and I get started.

I have to study a little more.  I’m teaching the Sunday school lesson.  I worked on it yesterday, but I’m not feeling confident with what I’ve got.  Yet I must persevere, I can’t present what God does not intend.  Clean up the kitchen, sit down and study.  I look out my window to see lightning, and I hear the resulting thunder.

Shower, dress, but no, the dog will not go out in this rain.  Can she cross her paws for the next 5 hours?  I open the door, it’s raining so hard that there is a fog-like consistency in the air.  The dog backs away.  A thought  runs through my head, will God’s people persevere and come to chuch today?  It’s raining so hard.

I realize that I can’t go through the newly created pond at the bottom of my entry stairs in my shoes.  I quickly change into my Duck shoes, throw the high heels in a bag and grab the umbrella.  Will the umbrella actually open?  Oh please Lord, let the umbrella open.  It does.  Thank you Lord!

As I drive through the streets, the meer couple of miles to the church, God begins to speak to me in my mind.  I’ve learned to listen.  Today it is not His quiet voice, but a strong voice that tells me to tell His people to persevere.  Dear Lord, will your people come to hear?  So here is what He told me in my thoughts.

Spring Blooms

Spring Blooms

I give you the rain.  You receive the fresh aroma of Spring.  I nourish the ground for all My nature to grow.  My gifts to you include the beautiful gardens, flowers and trees – lawns so lush – vegetation so green.  My water helps to provide all that for you.  You have water to drink and shower and clean.  My gifts to you.  I give you My Word so the pastor can speak.  He’s been provided with a sermon to nourish My people – to offer their worship – lift up their voices.

God is good.  He gives many good gifts.  Let us not use those gifts as excuses not to come and worship.  I was pleased to see all those whose worship of God meant more to them than the possibility of enduring the rain and getting a little wet. His people do persevere.

Our pastor, our music department, our staff, our ushers, Sunday School teachers - as well as all those who prepare the coffee and refreshments - all worked really hard to be sure that the ministries that God entrusted to them were carried out.  They persevered through the rain.  And we were all blessed this rainy, stormy, Palm Sunday, 2013.

“Therefore, we ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God for your perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure.” 1 Thessalonisan 1:4

Dying Is Not Just an Ending But a Beginning

Glimpses of Heaven by Trudy Harris, RN.  I have just finished reading this amazing journal of the experiences of a faith-filled Christian who has served in Hospice care.  Trudy Harris heard her call from God and took the gifts He offered her and went to work as His servant.

The final paragraph of the book reads, “Dying is a very natural part of living.  It is not an ending, but a beginning.”  She shows death to be a transition into the life God has promised to all of His children.  He wants us to eventually come home to be with Him after we finish the work that He has created us to do.  “He loves us-believe it.” 

Dying can be very scary, especially for those who do not know God our Creator, Jesus our Savior, and the Holy Spirit, our Director.  But Trudy Harris witnessed of God to all those with whom she came in contact.  Many came to faith in God through her conversation, care and prayers.  Trudy Harris reflects Christ.  You can feel it in the stories.  You are in awe of her and pray to God to be more like her.

My mother Diana, is also an RN.  Long retired, but she still renews her license.  My mother worked in emergency rooms, operating rooms and on the floors of  hospitals and private doctors’ offices.  My mother is the first person that I call when I am given a diagnosis by my doctor.  She researches, questions and gets answers.  She comforts and loves those that come to her.  Every family member counts on her medical knowledge and insight.  I see Christ reflected in her.  I also hear hope.

My husband Earl, Senior Pastor at James Island Presbyterian Church, recently gave a sermon entitled, “The Roman Road.”  One section of the sermon hit me at the time that he stated it, and I was reminded of it again as I read this book.  He said, speaking of the church, “We are a hospital for sinners – not a Hospice for sinners.  As much as Hospice did for my personal family – and I love the work of Hospice – and not everyone who enters Hospice also dies in Hospice… But by simple analogy, a church is not a place for sinners who have no cure and are made to feel comfortable until they die.  The church is a hospital where patients are made better by the Great Physician and live eternally.”

The church is for healing and recovery.  A place where all sinners go to be made well.  We come to be cleansed by the Spirit of God through the work of His Son, Jesus Christ.  In the church, I also see hope.

Trudy’s book offers the reader a glimpse into the final days, hours and moments of those who are ready to leave this earth and transition into life eternal.  To read about those visions comforts the reader and gives knowledge to the believer that when God calls us home, He blesses us by His Holy presence.  When God calls us home to begin a new life with Him, it is not frightening.  It is more than we can possibly imagine.  And that is why I believe in God’s living hope.

“And how shall they preach unless they are sent?  Just as it is written, “HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GLAD TIDINGS OF GOOD THINGS!”  Romans 10:15

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