Tribulation

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Kyosahnim Miron gives CJ a “10” for his full split.

For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. Matthew 24:21 (NASB)

     First, let me say congratulations to my grandson, Christian Insley (I call him CJ) on earning his brown belt in karate. It was so much fun watching him spar last week. He’s a real go getter.  Is it okay to brag about our kids and grandkids? I think God knows how much delight they give us. Their achievements have nothing to do with us. We didn’t earn them. They did. Yet we tend to glow with that reflected glory. I do think in a way that’s a picture of God. He also takes delight when we, his children, do well.

Don’t you wish sometimes that God had made a way for us to earn salvation? So many colors or stripes on our belt, and we would know for sure we were saved. Unless, of course, we did something to have one of those stripes taken away.  Like boasting about it. Then we’d be in trouble.  See, God knows our nature. We like to boast. We like to take credit. Probably that’s why He didn’t do it that way. There’s only One Way to heaven-Grace through faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ.

I’ve spent the last several months studying Revelation with my Sunday afternoon Bible study group. We finished this past week. Not coincidentally, Pastor Derek Spain started a series on the end times just the week before, so now we’re working to connect Matthew, Daniel, and Revelation together to get a more complete picture of the events I believe will occur soon. Of course, the disciples thought the same thing more than 2,000 years ago.

The biggest point of contention seems to be whether a pre-trib, mid-trib, or post-trib rapture will occur. As my friend Liz Marbut says, “It doesn’t matter. I just want to be on the first trib out!”

The Bible never uses the word “rapture.” We get the phrase from 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 when the dead in Christ and those who are yet alive will be caught up together in the clouds to meet Christ. Chapter five says the “day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night.” Matthew 24 describes the “coming of the Son of Man” as “just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west.” This certainly sounds like two separate events to me. One is hidden and one is highly visible to all.

Personally, I believe in a pre-tribulation rapture. God set the precedent when He saved Noah and his family before the flood and when He saved Lot’s family from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.  But, I don’t believe everyone who calls themselves a Christian will be on that boat. The book of Revelation starts with messages to the churches. The message to the church at Philadelphia promises “because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.”

On the other hand, the message to the church at Laodicea warns them to “buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.” These are the Tribulation saints-those who “buy” the white robes and the eye salve. They will have to pay for them with their lives. Many of them are probably already church members. Some may even be pastors and teachers. But they have never fully surrendered their lives to Him. So, they will go through the Great Tribulation.  No, salvation still cannot be bought or earned. It comes only by grace through the shed blood of Christ. But there are always consequences to sin. So, if you haven’t fully surrendered to Jesus, I encourage you to “be on the first trib out” by doing so today. It’s the only way to get that “black belt”. God bless you all.

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Luck

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And we know that God causes all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28 (NASB)

St. Patty’s Day is this Friday. It’s also my ex’s birthday. Happy birthday, Wade.

For some reason, we associate St. Patrick with luck. Do you have “the luck of the Irish”, or are you more like “if it weren’t bad luck, I’d have no luck at all.” What is luck anyway? Is the universe filled with random chance that determines our fate? That’s what the Deists believed, (or so we are told nowadays). They said God was the Creator God who set everything into motion, and then left us to our own devices to determine what we would do with it. The idea gives birth to luck playing a huge part in our fate.

I don’t think so, and I wonder how anyone who has ever read and understood the Bible could honestly think that. The Bible tells me that God knows the number of the hairs on my head (Matt. 10:30), and that He keeps my tears in a bottle (Ps.56:8). This tells me there is no detail in my life too small for His attention. He leaves nothing to chance. I think the way He has orchestrated my life is proof.  I’ve shared the stories of the yellow bricks and how I met Lynellen Perry before, so I won’t bore you with them again, but these are just two examples of the many times God has shown His direct intervention in my life.

Did you know St. Patrick wasn’t Irish? He was taken to Ireland as a slave, and he escaped six years later and went back to England. But after he was converted, he felt the need to go back to Ireland and share the gospel with those who had enslaved him. He is credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland. That isn’t luck. It’s pure Christian devotion. It’s using a bad situation to bring God glory.

So, was St. Patrick being sold into slavery good luck or bad luck? Obviously it was a bad thing. Slavery is a horrible evil. Yet God used it for good to millions of people. God can turn a curse into a blessing if we let Him. Many of the best evangelists have turned stories of addiction and despair into testimonies of hope and redemption. When I split with Wade (not by my choice), I thought my life was over. I thought God could never use me again. It wasn’t true. It was a bad thing. Yet God used it to bring me to a new place, give me new friends, a new purpose, and a new mission. I may not be like St. Patrick, but I can share the good news of my Messiah and His salvation wherever He sends me.

God bless you.

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Childhood

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Jesus Loves the Little Children

But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. Matthew 18:6 (NASB)

     I may be wrong, and I have been about so many things in this life, but I think my kids would agree that they had a pretty idyllic childhood. And compared to so many others, I guess I could say the same. I spent most of my summers on the Rappahannock River swimming and going crabbing. Yes, I had more arduous chores than most kids other than Amish would ever dream of nowadays, but my dad did put his foot down that my first job was education, so there were limits even to those.  I was never physically or sexually abused. And no, I don’t consider a spanking abuse. I had a few of those, though to be honest, not many. I was a fairly compliant child.

My spring and fall evenings were spent outside swinging or chasing fireflies, or playing tag or baseball with all the kids in the neighborhood. Winter snow meant sleigh riding on the steep hill beside my house. It was the steepest hill anywhere near us, so everyone brought their sleds to join in the fun. It was usually one of the last roads in the county to get scraped, I think.

We had a large (for the time) black and white console TV that sat in the corner of the living room, and most Saturdays were spent (after other chores were done) watching Disney cartoons and westerns like Roy Rogers, My Friend Flicka, and Sky King (while I was doing the week’s washing and ironing, of course). I loved Saturday TV. Did you know that Walt Disney never owned Disney productions? He couldn’t because he had been dishonorably discharged from the army for defacing a jeep by drawing a mouse on it. I’ll bet someone wishes they had that jeep now. It would be worth a mint. He was a man who truly had a heart for children. I think he must be turning over in his grave these days.

The point is, for the most part, I was allowed to be a child. When I married, I was so innocent I was beyond naive. I was completely sexually ignorant. Wade referred to me as the “40 year old virgin” long before there was a movie by that title, and long after I was married and had three children. By that, he meant I still looked at life with the innocence of a child. I don’t know whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing. I know now that there are some things I should have seen that I didn’t. I think now that innocence was God’s way of protecting me when I was a child and even as an adult. I still don’t like watching movies with foul language or sexually explicit scenes. I know I would rather have that kind of innocence than the premature sensuality that I see most kids developing nowadays because of all the sexual imagery they are being exposed to long before they are ready to handle it.  Kids should be kids! They shouldn’t have to be exposed to the garbage adults are pushing on them today.  Political agendas should never enter into determining a child’s world other than to establish its safety and security. We must protect our children. It’s our God given responsibility. It’s why He created the family.

 

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Time

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For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1 (KJV)

     Can you believe spring is almost here? Does it seem like Christmas was two months ago to you?  Maybe it’s just me but January and February have flown by so much faster than they ever seemed to when I was younger. A week goes by, and I think, there’s no way that happened a week ago. And yet, at the same time, there are some days I wonder if this day will ever end, simply because I’m tired or my back hurts, or whatever. I don’t know if this elastic view of time has anything to do with my forgetfulness lately, or it’s the inevitable progression of time on my body and my mind. I’m getting old, and there doesn’t seem to be much of anything I can do about it. My dad used to say he didn’t have Alzheimer’s; he had “half-heimers” because he only forgot things about half the time. I’m getting to feel the same way.

We’ve been studying Revelation in our Sunday afternoon Bible study recently, and Sunday, we were talking about God’s view of time. Some of our people take the literal view that creation was six thousand years ago, and took place in six 24 hour days. Others believe the “day” mentioned is a representation of a period of time, and the earth could be millions of years old, but most of these do believe that since the creation of man and the entrance of sin into the world, there have only been about six thousand years.  The Bible does say that to Him a thousand years is like a day, (Psalm 90:4) so my answer to that question is that I don’t know for sure. But I do know that if my God wants to create it in six 24 hour days, He’s perfectly capable of doing so. Even many scientists now agree that the order of creation given in Genesis is correct although they wouldn’t call it creation. They think it evolved over time. If my memory is any example, things don’t evolve. They devolve. But I’m getting off the subject. See, that’s what comes with age. We lose focus.

So, back to the point; is God’s view of time elastic? I think so. But I don’t think it’s in the same way mine is. He doesn’t forget anything except forgiven sins, (and aren’t we glad he puts those as far away from Him as the east is from the west.) No, His elastic view is to accomplish His purposes. From Creation to His Return to set up His Kingdom and judge sin once and for all, He has one goal—the salvation of as many as will choose Him. Wow! Don’t you wish we could be that focused? From His point of view, He sees every detail. He allows some things, and sends angels to prevent others. He gifts those who would perform His mighty works, and He sets stumbling blocks and crossroads before those who have yet to choose Him.

And yet, even with His single-mindedness, He never forgets His children. His promise is that “all things work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to his purposes.” (Romans 8:28) By that, He means all things; not just good thing, and not even just bad things. He takes it all and stirs it up like minestrone to make us into the men and women of God that He can use to bring more people into the kingdom.

My friend Rachel Nyambi wrote a beautiful poem recently about a river with two banks. No matter where the river flows, those banks stay together just like God sticks right with us no matter where the river of our life takes us. He’s only a prayer away. That’s one thing I never want to forget.

 

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Love

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Love is patient and kind, love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful. It does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a (KJV)

      Tomorrow would have been my godmother’s birthday. Her name was Lillian Holmes, and she was probably the person who made the greatest impact on my life. She loved me. I miss her so much. She died when my own daughter was just a baby, but I can’t help but still think about her on this day, and so often throughout my year. Other people may look up to movie stars or sports figures, but Mama Lil was always my hero. I have no doubt she’s in heaven singing with the angels now, and I will see her again one day. Without her, I don’t think I would have ever known what love is.

Yes, I called her Mama Lil, as did most of the rest of the people she knew. Mama Lil had raised 53 foster children, including my older brother and me for the first four years of my life. My dad was in Korea, and my mom worked nights at Bill’s Barbecue in Richmond, VA., so we lived with Mama Lil and Daddy Harry and their family.  Mama Lil and Daddy Harry had already adopted two of her foster children. They were sisters, Patsy and Jackie. I think there may have been other children coming and going on a temporary basis when we first came, and I remember many adult children visiting throughout the years with their own children, but as far as I know, we were the last permanent residents. (At least permanent in the sense we lived there four years.) Jackie married my cousin as a young teen and had two children. The marriage failed.  Jackie and the two boys also returned home and lived with Mama Lil and Daddy Harry until Jackie remarried when I was a teen. So her world knew her as Mama Lil, even though she’d had no biological children, or if she did, they were already in the arms of Jesus. It’s so sad to think there are so many babies aborted each year when there are so many women out there like Mama Lil. All they’ve ever wanted is a baby to hold in their arms and shower love on like she did with me.

Even after my dad came home and we moved away, most of my summer months were spent with Mama Lil and Daddy Harry down at their home on the Rappahannock River. And when my parents divorced when I was sixteen, Mama Lil and Daddy Harry moved in with my dad to help take care of us. They didn’t move out until my dad remarried.

My mama always claimed I was Mama Lil’s favorite. It was her excuse for not loving me herself. Can a child ever have too much love in their life? I don’t think so. I think my mom’s view of love was skewed, as is most people’s view of it. 1 Corinthians gives us God’s definition of love. Mama Lil’s version of it came as close as any I’ve ever seen on earth. She was kind and giving. Her love took action, saving lives of children in desperate situations. No, her love was not perfect. Only Jesus’ was perfect, and yes, maybe I was her favorite because I was the last baby girl, and maybe it was because she sensed I needed love so desperately. All I know is how much I praise the Lord for putting me in her path, and how much I thank Him for her mighty example to me of how to love.

 

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Works

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Don’t Do Nothing

     These words were written up on the screen in large letters Sunday morning at church. It was the theme of a great sermon preached by one of our associate pastors, Glen Rowden. (I hope that’s right. Please forgive me if it’s not.) We have quite a few associate pastors at our church, and we don’t often get to hear some of them preach, so it’s always interesting to hear what they have to say when they do. Glen is in charge of our connect groups, and he’s an incredibly funny guy. He’s about ten times more animated than most of our preachers, so there were a few times I was afraid he was going to go splat, right across the front five rows of the sanctuary. He didn’t, but anyway, he got his point across with a morbidly funny story about a rabbit, a cat, and a hawk; oh, and a wife with a wicked moral to the tale. I won’t steal his thunder, but you can hear the story for yourself at http://www.Hebronchurch.org.  The point of the story was “all it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” I think I’ve heard that before.

Sometimes it seems like evil is triumphing in our world today. The statistics are frightening. Christians are being beheaded by ISIS and other groups, crime is rampant, and abortion and other ills abound. But what can we do about it? Can we really make a difference? After all, I’m just one person, or at least that’s what we tell ourselves. There are over six billion people on this earth, and most of them are headed straight to hell. No, we can’t save all of them, but what if we can help save one of them, or two, or three, or four, or more?

God created us all for a purpose. He called us to Himself, and gave us different gifts to achieve that purpose. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God has prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” I’ve heard so many people say, “I don’t have any gifts or talents,” or “If I have any spiritual gifts, I sure don’t know what they are.” Baloney! If you don’t know what your gifts are, ask your friends. I’ll bet they know. So what if you can’t get up and speak in front of a thousand people? Maybe God never called you to do that, but He maybe He did call you to take that cute little blanket you crocheted to the unwed mother down the street as a way of telling her Jesus loves still her. Or maybe He is calling you to speak. You might start with a neighbor, or a friend, simply sharing your story of what God has done for you. It could change their life and yours. I took a public speaking class in high school. Every time I’d have to get up to speak, my voice would go up an octave, I’d be so nervous. So, can you imagine my fear the first time I spoke to a church? But sometimes God does call us to face our worst fears.

Our “something” can change with the seasons of our life. That’s okay. For years, I felt called to work with children. They were my passion. I still teach them in VBS every year. Now I teach Senior Adult ladies, and ESL, and I tutor a young man on Tuesday afternoons. It’s much easier on the nerves. At least I’m still trying. I honestly believe that the minute I finish whatever my purpose here on earth is, the Lord will take me home. I’m ready to go home, but as long as He has something else for me here, I’m willing to stay too.

Our Connect Group lesson Sunday was on Gideon. We’re studying Judges this month. Don’t you love the synchronicity of God’s work? It’s like He always weaves things together in such wonderful ways to make us know that it was all in His plan. What if Gideon, or Deborah, or Samson had done nothing. What if they’d just sat back and said, “I’m just a nobody. I can’t do anything. I’m too afraid? They were all poor. Deborah was a woman in a completely male dominated society. Gideon was afraid. So was Barak. They weren’t perfect. Neither are we. But when God called, they heard and obeyed. So must we. Do something. Don’t do nothing. Find the thing God calls you to do, and do it.

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Prayer and Praise

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Hear, O kings, give ear, O princes, to the Lord I will sing; I will make melody to the Lord, the God of Israel. Judges 5:2 (KJV)

Our Sunday morning Connect Group lesson was on Deborah this week. Deborah was the first (and only, as far as we know) judge of Israel. One of the ladies said we didn’t talk much about Deborah in Baptist churches because it didn’t quite fit in with the Baptist doctrine of not allowing women in leadership roles in the church. What do you think? Is she right?

Because of my research for my novel, Woman of Light, I was able to give the class some background information that wasn’t in the text. First, in Hebrew, Lappidoth is a feminine plural noun, so it is not likely to be a man’s name. Even Matthew Henry agrees it’s not. Thus, wife of Lappidoth means what? The word literally means candles or torches. A few scholars have suggested it may have been the name of a city, but no such city has ever been found.

According to the Talmud, Deborah was the wife of Barak, the general. If you think about it, this makes a lot of sense. It explains so much about the story. Why would any upstanding Hebrew man of that day let his wife go off for months with another man? Why would the great general of the Israelite army care what a woman said in the first place? Why would he insist she join him? Maybe it’s because he knew and trusted her judgment and had seen her faith in action. Maybe he’d seen the power of God in her life. Rather than indicating a lack of leadership on his part, it may have meant he wasn’t afraid to take a back seat to her if it meant victory for Israel.

Some scholars think that Deborah was a candle maker. They believe Barak had been a poor man, but Deborah’s candles made him rich enough to become the great leader of Israel who would later become their general. A few have even suggested that she was the model for the Proverbs 31 woman.

To me, the greatest lesson of this story was the power of prayer and praise. All of Judges 5 is a song of praise sung by Deborah and Barak after the battle at Mt. Tabor. It echoes the songs of Miriam and Moses, and is a foretaste of the beautiful songs of Mary and Elizabeth that proclaim the coming of Jesus, the long awaited Messiah. So many of our older folks fuss because churches don’t have hymnals nowadays, but what they don’t realize is that, relatively speaking, hymnals are a new invention. Long before hymnals, people praised the Lord in song from choruses or scripture put to simple tunes they’d memorized. These Biblical praise songs came from an overflow of emotions wrought by personally witnessing the immense power of God, and responding to it in the only way possible—praise for His Holy majesty and merciful grace.

Today, our world is in chaos. We are such a divided nation, we can’t even enjoy a football game (not that I watch football, because I don’t) without dissecting every nuance of people’s words and actions looking for something to find offensive. We need healing, and it’s going to take a miracle. We’re in a battle, and the enemy is us. We need to look up, lift our voices in prayer and sing praise to our Redeemer, for He is near, and He waits for our call.

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Hope for Humanity

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But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.                  1 Corinthians 13:7 (NASB)

     When I read stories like the recent attacks on Donald Trump’s ten year old son Barron, or other examples of celebrity viciousness against the family of someone they hate, I have little hope for humanity. We have become so spiteful we would take our anger out on innocent children. Why? Fear. They are afraid of Donald Trump.

But I must admit, if the tables had been turned, and they were for the last eight years, we too would have also been afraid. I was horribly afraid of what Hillary Clinton might have done to our country. I don’t think I would have attacked her children or grandchildren, but I would have spoken out. We are all called to speak out against what we perceive as evil.

The left does now see Donald Trump as being the personification of evil, They have been convinced he’s the reincarnation of Hitler. One of my ESL students told me last week that he hated all Mexicans. I assured her he didn’t; that his goal was to keep terrorists out of the country, but I know I didn’t change her opinion. It was too deeply ingrained. The odd thing to me with the comparison to Hitler is that Trump is pro-Israel. The terrorists he wants to keep out of the country are Islamic, arch-enemies of the Jews whom Hitler slaughtered to the tune of six million.

Of course the other slaughter Trump has pledged to fight against are the 60 million babies aborted since Roe vs. Wade. Did you know that “Roe” is now a pro-life activist? That’s what happens when someone meets Jesus Christ.

So, no, my hope is not in Donald Trump. He’s just a man, flawed just like the rest of us. I do believe he’s going to try to do everything in his power to turn the country around, but only God can do that. Our hope cannot be in any man, but in Christ alone. He is the One Who “makes a way when there seems to be no way.” He is the one Who can save us from ourselves. The Bible teaches us in Jeremiah 17:9 that “The heart is more deceitful than all else…” Only when we align ourselves with His will can we truly know Hope. He is our Hope. He’s the One we put our faith in. He’s the One who shows us how to love the unlovable and forgive the unforgiveable. He is the answer to every question we have. He’s the Way through every problem we encounter. I’ve been through the fire, and I know it’s true. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and the only Hope for humanity.

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Forgiveness

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FORGIVENESS HEALS A BROKEN HEART

And my people, who are called by My Name humble themselves and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their broken land. 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NASB)

     I spent Monday morning at the Atlanta March for Life. It was a great morning. David and Jason Benham gave the main address. These are the guys who were promised a show on HGTV, but lost it because the left labeled them as being “haters.” What was their so called “hate speech?” They said that marriage was between a man and a woman, and that babies in the womb had a right to live. They gave an excellent speech. It was all about love and forgiveness. Their dad was there. He was the one to lead “Roe” of Roe vs. Wade to Christ. She’s now an avid pro-life speaker.

Earlier, a brave woman, in her testimony, confessed that she had recently met her 40 year old son after trying to abort him, and then had given him up for adoption when she was unsuccessful. She said she was a Christian at the time, but had made some bad choices, and felt she had no other option. Her son’s name was Michael Moore, and he was the same gentlemen who had been playing such great music for us during our worship time. When he finally met her, his first question to her was if she knew his Jesus. He and his adoptive family had been praying for her. I couldn’t help but wonder how much such amazing talent has been lost to our world because of abortion. How many Beethovens or Mozarts, Einsteins, or whatever the field of greatness? But even more I wonder, were some Billy Grahams or Lottie Moons also lost? What might the last forty years have looked like without the horror of abortion? How did we, the church, let this happen? God forgive us!

Forgiveness is a topic I’ve thought a lot about recently. Our sermon series this month at Hebron Church has been on forgiveness. In the model prayer, (more commonly known as the Lord’s prayer), Jesus asks, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” In other words, “as much as,” or “in the same manner that” we forgive is how we’re to ask God to forgive us. Do we really want God to be as stingy with His forgiveness as we are with ours? My Windspree novel series is all about forgiving the seemingly unforgiveable. The lady yesterday, Mrs. Noble, had no doubt from the time she met her son that he had forgiven her. He’d had a great life, knew the Lord, and focused on thanksgiving that she had given him life. Still, it had to be a shock to him to learn that she had not chosen life for him. She’d chosen abortion. It was through God’s divine intervention that she’d failed, and he’d been born three months early at a time when survival at such an early stage was extremely rare.

I confess I’ve had my own battles with forgiveness. Betrayal by those you love the most is the hardest to forgive. And sometimes you have to do it over and over as new betrayals surface. I’ve been reading a lot of Steven James this month. I’d met Steven a couple of times at BRMCWC, and he’s an extremely charming man, so I’d expected his novels to be lighthearted and funny. They’re not! They’re dark and suspenseful. One of his characters in Placebo says that betrayal is the nature of human beings. The character is a serial killer, so I hope she’s wrong. But I do agree that it’s certainly in our nature. It’s something we have to fight in order to be everything God wants us to be.

A friend was complaining about her sister not speaking to their mother. The mother is ill, and she couldn’t understand how she could do that. I reminded her she’d not spoken to her mother herself for over a year. I asked how she could condemn her sister for something she’d done herself. She thought the situation was different then. But was it? We all have a tendency to justify our own lack of forgiveness. God doesn’t see it that way. He forgives us. He expects us to forgive others. And He warns that if we don’t, our prayers are hindered. An unforgiving attitude is a chain that holds us back from God’s provision. We need Him. So we must forgive, not for the sake of the other person, but for our own. Do you have any chains holding you back? If so, do yourself a favor.  Confess them, forgive as many times as necessary, and get on with your life. That’s what I seek to do daily. I’m not always successful, but I’m still working at it, and He’s still working on me. God bless.

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Love Languages

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For God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16 (KJV)

     The introductory question in our Connect Group lesson Sunday morning was, “If you knew this was your final chance to speak to someone, what would you say to them.” The question   referred to a speech or lecture, but it reminded me of my final conversation with Kara in the hospital before she died. My last words to her were, “I love you, Sweetheart,” and hers to me were “I love you too, Mama.” Other than, “Do you know my Jesus,” which I knew Kara already did, I honestly can’t think of anything more important I could have told her or she could have told me. People need to know we love them. Unfortunately, we don’t always say it enough, or maybe we don’t say it in ways they get the message.

Several years ago, Gary Chapman wrote a book called The Five Love Languages. One of mine is gifts. I was thrilled because I got a couple of belated Christmas gifts Sunday morning from friends I hadn’t seen since before Christmas. I love receiving gifts, especially unexpected ones. I still remember a birthday present a Sunday School teacher gave me when I was little, a box of Whitman’s chocolates. Why would I remember that? Because people seldom remembered my birthday—they remembered it was my mom’s birthday, and one of her kids, but they didn’t remember which one. That Sunday School teacher told me she loved me. Maybe that teacher was one of the reasons I came to love Jesus early in my life—through her, God spoke my love language to me. Jesus loved me. When I thought no one else did, Jesus still loved me. And much more than a box of chocolates, He gave His only Son–to me, for me, to die in my place, so that I could live forever. What a gift He gave!

The sad thing is I’m not nearly the gift giver I used to be. I don’t have a lot of money these days, but that never stopped me in the past. When Kristina was a baby, I stayed up for days hand sewing a doll for her that was bigger than she was. I crocheted gifts, or held Princess House parties and toy parties, or did whatever else I could to earn nice things to give away to my loved ones. I think I slowly learned that few others spoke that love language. They really didn’t care. But God still cares.

The world is in a mess. We need to let people know we love them. We’ve got to tell them God loves them. Somehow. Some way. We’ve got to find a way to reach out to them and speak their love language. With some people, it’s easy. It’s just saying I love you.  But I wonder if with these, because it’s so easy, it means far less? I don’t know. To me, love costs something. It cost God so much. It cost His only Son. I lost a daughter, so believe me, I know how much it hurts. It must have broken His Heart like nothing we can imagine.

Lord, help me to find ways to let people know I love them and You love them today. God bless you, my friends

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