Archive | March 2013

May I Have Your Heart?

Calvary

Calvary (Photo credit: Dunc(an))

So what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing Himself to the worst by sending His own Son, is there anything else He wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us ~ who was raised to life for us ~ is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ‘s love for us?  Romans 8:31-37, Msg

Precious Lord, is there anything You couldn’t or wouldn’t do for us? You forgive our sins ~ every one. You heal our diseases ~ every one. You redeemed us from a fiery reward ~ saving our lives. You crown us with love and mercy ~ a paradise crown! You wrap us in goodness and eternal beauty. You renew our youth ~ we are always young in Your presence and all this bounty is but a tip of the “eternal iceberg.”  Psalm 103:2-4, Msg, paraphrased

To understand Your great Love, Lord, we are admonished to focus on Calvary where You paid the ultimate price for sin with Your own life. And even while suffering not only the weight of our sin, but the torturous cross, Your thoughts were only about us:

Printed over Him was a sign: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS, one of the criminals hanging along side cursed Him:  “Some Messiah You are! Save Yourself! Save us!” But the other one made him shut up: “Have you no fear of God? You’re getting the same as Him. We deserve this, but not Him ~ He did nothing to deserve this.”

Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when You enter Your kingdom.” He [Jesus] said, “Don’t worry, I will. You will join Me in paradise.”  Luke 23:38-43, Msg.

As sorrowful as Your suffering makes me, Jesus, I am totally amazed that You could think about someone else at such a time. After all, just taking a breath was excruciating. You had to push up against those spikes in Your feet to take a gulp of air. You Loved so much that You put aside Your pain to answer the criminal who deserved what he got. But he died knowing that he would rise to a new life when You come in the clouds of glory.

How awesome You are, Jesus. How can I not love You? How can I not give You my heart, my all? I plan to have all eternity to thank You, love You, adore You, and sing praises to Your Holy Name!

~shared from “Shattered by Suicide”

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Forgiveness

Repent and turn from all your transgressions.  Ezekiel 18:30

Hallmark has a movie produced in 2007: “Crossroads ~ A Story of Forgiveness” starring Dean Cain and Peri Gilpin. If you have not seen it, perhaps you will be inspired to search for it after reading this blog. I first saw it some years ago and it made an impression on me. Here’s the story in a nutshell. Watching may provide a greater blessing, but I shall try to hit the high points in the story ~ hopefully drawing you in, not spoiling it for you.

The movie is based on a true story. A father witnesses the death of his wife and daughter killed before his eyes in a horrible auto accident.  Shock and suffering led to rage, vented by the younger son on his father.  Grief does that.  The young teen had nowhere to turn after losing his mom; the only person he felt had really understood him.

The father was determined that every piece of evidence be thoroughly examined and all witnesses questioned, for he was certain that he had seen another car plow into the one that held his precious wife and daughter. Eventually it came to light that two teenage boys had been racing and one of them had crashed into the victim’s car which rolled and burst into flames.

Finding out that it was just a kid of eighteen, like his older son, he asked if he might be allowed to speak with the young teen alone.  With tears of remorse, the young lad sobbed out his story.  He knew he was guilty and deserved to spend much of his life behind bars, but no matter how many years he lived in prison, none of it could repair the family he had crushed by his own thoughtless actions.

Unbelievably, this father asked for and received special permission to take the young man to the high school the kid attended so he could tell his story in front of students and faculty during their assembly.  The results were astounding and the two were invited to visit other schools and do the same; hoping to impress upon young minds that this can happen to anyone. They are not invincible. Carelessness causes accidents which create serious injury or death.

Opening day of the trial, the father asked if he and the young man could approach the benchThe Judge gave his consent.  The father spoke quietly to the Judge saying that he knew the young man was probably going to jail for many years. “But Sir, what would that accomplish?” he asked the Judge.  “We have already shared our story in several schools which has done much to bring awareness to the teenagers. Wouldn’t it serve the community better if we could continue to do this, Your Honor?”

The Judge responded, “You realize that you are asking me to drop the charges?”

Yes sir, I realize that,” replied the father. “I have forgiven him,” he said, placing a strong arm around the teen’s shoulders. The young man’s face first showed surprise, then disbelief, contrition and then sudden deep love for his benefactor.

At that moment I heard the soft voice of Jesus speak to my heart. “I did that,” He said. “That father represents Me.”

Suddenly this TV portrayal of a father and his family and their grief took on a whole new meaning.  Pictured in him was Jesus Christ, the one who stepped in and paid the price for the young man’s crime setting him free! This story was timely in my own life. Forgiveness is not easy, but . . .

This Jesus, who is our Creator, Friend, Forgiver, Redeemer, Judge and King, can forgive all sins including murder.  Sin is sin in the eyes of God.  He alone knows the hearts of those He created.  He is the only one who can help us with the issue of forgiveness. He, alone, is the only One I trust to judge me and my family.

Change the way you think and act, and turn to God to have your sins removed.  Acts 3:19

Char-boiled

Give thanks to the Lord, because he is good; his love is eternal. Psalm 136:1, GNT

He opened the back door like any other day, but this day was different. A heat wave nearly knocked him backwards. Carefully he stepped foot in the house, wishing he could remember where the fire extinguisher was. Where there was heat there should be flames licking their chops, but he saw none. The heat quickly drew him to the stove where a pot sat on a red-hot burner. Looking around for something to protect his hands, he grabbed the pot and took it out to the garage and then quickly returned to scout for any other hot spots, but fortunately that was the only one.

No one was home. The person he had questions for had not arrived home yet, but he would be ready for her. He opened up the house to get some fresh air flowing and to cool the place off. Relieved that the house had not burned to the ground, he dared to relax just a little.

Blackened Ginger Orange Chicken

Burnt offering (Photo credit: George)

Meanwhile, the lady in question finished up a routine day at the office and even made a stop or two on her way home, having no idea what awaited her. Apparently she took the right amount of time getting home which gave his heart rate time to return to normal, and allowed time for kinder, gentler thoughts about the questions he wanted to ask her when she arrived home.

Innocence shows on the face, don’t you agree? You can always tell when children are withholding truth, especially if they have a face covered in chocolate as they answer, “Nope, I didn’t eat any “chocolate chip cookies”.

I must have looked innocent too. So he asked me, “Did you perhaps leave a burner on when you left for work this morning?” I gasped. My hands flew to my face. I was in full alarm mode. He quieted me down and said it was all okay . . . now. But he was curious what I had planned for dinner because it didn’t look edible.  We went out to the garage and peered into the pot. The stainless steel pot had completely burned through the bottom. And to one side was a small black nub; all that remained of the pot of yams covered with water and set on high to boil a few minutes before I left for work. I had failed to turn off the burner and it remained on high heat for eight hours!

God performed a miracle and saved our house. It could have been ashes. Instead the only ash was in the pot. Potatoes and pot are easily replaced.

I will give them a crown to replace their ashes, and the oil of gladness to replace their sorrow, and clothes of praise to replace their spirit of sadness.  Isaiah 61:3

Claim a larger blessing

The Trials of Life

Through God we will do valiantly.  Psalm 108:13

No chance at all if you think you can pull it off yourself. Every chance in the world if you trust God to do it. Matthew 19:26                                                                                                                                    

I am including a devotional from someone who has lived a long and busy life working for His Lord. Certainly he has known pain and suffering, but like us, he knows there is a greater purpose which we may not yet understand. Something thought-provoking to chew on today.

“There are two ways of getting out of a trial. One is to simply try to get rid of the trial and be thankful when it is over. The other is to recognize the trial as a challenge from God to claim a larger blessing than we have ever had.

Sometimes God removes our trials, and it isn’t necessarily wrong to ask Him to do that. But often the trials remain, and when they do, we should accept them and ask God to teach us from them.

As Peter Marshall once put it, ‘God will not permit any troubles to come upon us, unless He has a specific plan by which great blessing can come out of the difficulty.’

During the suffering, the tests, and the trials of life, we can choose to draw near to God. A. B. Simpson once heard a man say something he never forgot: ‘When God tests you, it is a good time for you to test Him by putting His promises to the proof, and claiming from Him just as much as your trials have rendered necessary.'”

~ Billy Graham

On your mark . . . get set . . .

NYC Marathon 2008 - the winner! Brasil

(Photo credit: Marcos Vasconcelos Photography)

I am not a runner. I was not born with a graceful athletic body with long lithe limbs, a love of tireless training and the natural high that comes after crossing the finish line. But the spiritual runner Paul describes in Philippians, any of us can be one. As he says here, he forgets what is behind and strains toward what is ahead, Philippians 3:13.

Paul has quite the resume if you read from the beginning of chapter 3. But he says that once God called him on the Damascus Road he accepted the call and was singular in purpose for the Lord which grew into deep spirituality and the success of his ministry. He put out of his mind all the distractions he once knew and he stretched out like a runner in a race who strains toward the goal with body bent forward and hand and foot outstretched. Single-minded dedication. No time for regretful backward glances.

Paul is keeping his eyes fixed on the goal. He knows that he or she who pushes to win sees little else but the objective. We are poised on the edge of glory, the cusp of eternity. We must strain toward the goal like an athlete who has worked for this day. Don’t be turned aside by applause or insult, don’t relax, don’t stumble, don’t stop. We must continually press forward until the goal is reached and we have pushed through the tape marking the finish line.

Therefore, whatever God calls you to do, in all the work you are doing do the best you can. Give it your all. Live and work each day as if you were doing it for the Lord (Colossians 3:23), He is your Master and CEO who will supply the grace and strength of an athlete and soon we will cross the final finish line and heaven will be ours.

Encourage one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:18

Give time and love

Love Worn

Love Worn (Photo credit: Creativity+ Timothy K Hamilton)

After 21 years of marriage, my wife wanted me to take another woman out to dinner and a movie. She said, “I love you, but I know this other woman loves you and would love to spend some time with you.”

The other woman that my wife wanted me to visit was my MOTHER, who has been a widow for 19 years, but the demands of my work and my three children had made it possible to visit her only occasionally.
That night I called to invite her to go out for dinner and a movie. “What’s wrong, are you well?” she asked.

My mother is the type of woman who suspects that a late night call or a surprise invitation is a sign of bad news. “I thought that it would be pleasant to spend some time with you,” I responded. “Just the two of us.” She thought about it for a moment, and then said, “I would like that very much.”

That Friday after work, as I drove over to pick her up I was a bit nervous. When I arrived at her house, I noticed that she, too, seemed to be nervous about our date. She waited in the door with her coat on. She had curled her hair and was wearing the dress that she had worn to celebrate her last wedding anniversary. She smiled from a face that was as radiant as an angel’s. “I told my friends that I was going to go out with my son, and they were impressed, “she said, as she got into the car. “They can’t wait to hear about our meeting.”

We went to a restaurant that, although not elegant, was very nice and cozy. My mother took my arm as if she were the First Lady. After we sat down, I had to read the menu. Her eyes could only read large print. Half way through the entries, I lifted my eyes and saw Mom sitting there staring at me. A nostalgic smile was on her lips. “It was I who used to have to read the menu when you were small,” she said. “Then it’s time that you relax and let me return the favor,” I responded. During the dinner, we had an agreeable conversation – nothing extraordinary but catching up on recent events of each other’s life. We talked so much that we missed the movie. As we arrived at her house later, she said, “I’ll go out with you again, but only if you let me invite you.” I agreed.

“How was your dinner date?” asked my wife when I got home. “Very nice. Much more so than I could have imagined,” I answered.

A few days later, my mother died of a massive heart attack. It happened so suddenly that I didn’t have a chance to do anything for her. Sometime later, I received an envelope with a copy of a restaurant receipt from the same place mother and I had dined. An attached note said: “I paid this bill in advance. I wasn’t sure that I could be there; but nevertheless, I paid for two plates – one for you and the other for your wife. You will never know what that night meant for me. I love you, son.”

At that moment, I understood the importance of saying in time: “I LOVE YOU” and to give our loved ones the time that they deserve. Nothing in life is more important than your family. Give them the time they deserve, because these things cannot be put off till “some other time.”

~shared by an MOS mom on her fb page

This entry was posted on March 23, 2013. 2 Comments

Life is like tossed salad

A salad platter.

A salad platter. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Google salad recipes and the choices are limitless. And so are dressings and toppings. Then there are elaborate choices at restaurants where there is a variety to tempt any palette. Do you have a favorite? The son I lost to suicide did. His all time hands down favorite was Three Bean Salad. If I knew he was planning a visit home, I’d be sure to mix it up to marinate and chill to have a perfect blend of flavors. And then watch him enjoy.

In some ways, tossing a salad is like life. There is a little “lettuce alone”, some bitter “memory” herbs, “teary-eyed” onions, croutons for the hard experiences we face, plenty of color in our veggies choices to brighten up the day and a spritz of lemon tartness to balance the flavors in our memory banks. Indeed, we are a mix of joy, sadness and everything in between.

As in salad, we are as simple as we are complex; as interesting as we are plain. In my ministry that God and I do together, He sends me people who have also known loss and we grieve together. It’s not all sadness or it could become unbearable, but it is a mixture of all that we find in our lives. We face each day with broken-but-mending hearts, because of who He says He is. He gives us the strength to go on no matter what our circumstances are.

Like Three Bean Salad, our colors, textures and flavors get marinated together as we live each day in the strength of Jesus. And how blessed all those in whom you live, whose lives become roads you travel; They wind through lonesome valleys, come upon brooks, discover cool springs and pools brimming with rain! God-traveled, these roads curve up the mountain, and at the last turn—Zion! God in full view!  Psalm 84:5-7

Daily Chat

Broken Heart

Broken Heart (Photo credit: Gabriela Camerotti)

Dear Jesus,

You and I have been chatting back and forth for a long time now. Perhaps I should clarify that a bit . . . I do most of the talking while You listen. I have told You over and over that I want to be more like You. I desire to share the same close relationship You have with Your Father. You have told me that it is possible, but I first must let go of everything and give it to You. I must trust You completely . . . instead of hashing and rehashing each day’s events and concerns.

Am I supposed to say something like, “Jesus, You already know all my problems today, so I am asking You to handle them. Thanks!”

But that sounds too simple ~ way too easy. Are You sure there isn’t more I need to do or say first?

“No, My Child,” He answers kindly. “I Am the same yesterday, today, and forever. You can trust Me with all your heart and lean on Me for understanding. I’ve got your back . . . and front. Now all I need is permission to have all of your heart.”

Love,

Jesus

Hebrews 13:8; Proverbs 3:5, paraphrased

~from “Shattered by Suicide”

Cradled in His Hand

Hand

(Photo credit: yorkville)

Be merciful to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and my body with grief. My times are in Your hands; deliver me from my enemies and from those who pursue me. But I trust in You, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.” How great is Your goodness and in the shelter of Your presence You hide me. Let Your face shine on me and save me in Your unfailing love.  Psalm 31:9-20, paraphrased

Heavenly Father,

You are teaching me that trusting is everything, but life is hard. The enemy is always lurking nearby to rush at me in a moment of weakness and sabotage our relationship. Please keep me filled with the rich current of Your love, for You are the only Power Source that will make a permanent difference in my life.

I trust You to continue holding me in the palm of your hand and up close to Your heart where I fall asleep, warm and content.

If You wake me each morning with the sound of Your loving voice, I’ll go to sleep each night trusting in You. Point out the road I must travel; I’m all ears, all eyes before You  Save me from my enemies, God ~ You’re my only hope! Teach me how to live to please You, because You’re my God. Lead me by Your blessed Spirit into cleared and level pastureland.  Psalm 143:8-10, Msg

~from Shattered by Suicide