Tag Archive | Faith

How Much Time Do You Really Have?

Can the end of time be near? I am not a scientist or a prophet, but I read the Bible and books on prophesy. I heard that during both World Wars people expected Jesus to return at any moment. I would have thought so, too, if I knew the Nazis murdered eleven million Jews. Do you understand how significant that event became? Many times through-out history, Jewish people have been the target of hate and murder, but they still exist. What does that tell you? It tells me God loves them, and even though most didn’t accept His Son, He still loves them and has a plan for them. That’s the kind of God He is. He is a God of love.

Why do I believe the end is coming soon? If global warming is true, then why has Boston had record-breaking snowfalls? Is that global warming? Maybe it is. Maybe the weather changes are part of the birth pangs recorded in the Bible. Why have there been many more storms through-out the world lately. What about the increase in earthquakes and floods? Why have mountains blown their tops, so to speak. Birth pangs? A thought worth considering. A century ago people rarely traveled more that about fifty miles from their homes. Now a trip across the world takes less time than it might have taken our ancestors to travel fifty miles. Birth pangs of the end of time as we know it? It could be. At least think about it. Consider the present times and then consider what the Bible says:

Jesus said in Matthew 24, “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming “I am the Christ,” and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these things are the beginning of birth pangs.

“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time, many will turn against the faith and betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of many will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to the nations, and then the end will come…For then there will be great distress unequaled from the beginning of the world until now – and never to be equaled again. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened….

“At that time the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the earth to the other.”

I believe Jesus Christ came to earth in the body of a man and the spirit of God. As promised throughout the Old Testament, Jesus signified the perfect Lamb, the only one who could sacrifice for the sins of believers. If a friend gave you a gift card for your favorite restaurant, wouldn’t you spend it? The death of Jesus became your gift card for eternal life. You can accept that truth, ask his forgiveness, and join his spiritual family or you can choose not to. For your sake, I ask that you read the Gospel of John so you will understand the truth. You can’t work your way to heaven. If you could, Jesus would not have been sacrificed on the cross. Your faith in his gift saves you, not works.

Is this true? Will you be ready? Are you willing to take the risk? What stops you?

If this blog has brought you closer to a decision to become a member of God’s family or if you have any questions, please comment.

Don’t Be a Shame Sponge

Don't let your self feel like this poor sponge.

Don’t let yourself feel like this poor sponge.

Did you experience physical, sexual, and/or emotional abuse as a child? If so, you may feel a deep shame that makes it hard for you to believe you are as worthy as other people. It may even make it difficult for you to feel loved. Abuse is a direct attack on a person’s dignity. You had no way of knowing that, so you may have become a “shame sponge.” Did you soak up the dirt and shame that belongs to the abuser? If the person who hurt you was a family member, you may have added shame upon shame. After all, the family member who abused you may also be the one who took care of you. You needed the abuser in order to live. It created a confusing double bind. You couldn’t see the abuser as bad, so you saw yourself as bad. Even if the abuser was not a family member, the loss of dignity may have caused you to feel shame. Of course, there were other strong emotions, too. We will discuss those on another post.

The shameful feelings come from the lies planted in your mind and spirit, whether intentionally or unintentionally, by the abuser. Truthfully, no one is perfect, but you are not worse than others simply because of abuse. Even if you know that, you may not feel it. The perpetrator, however, should feel shame for hurting you, an innocent child. Changing the thought patterns and feelings developed in childhood requires some soul-searching work. If you haven’t received counseling, I recommend it. You can also help yourself by changing the messages you give yourself. Say, “Self, you are just as valuable and worthy as everyone else. The person who hurt you is the one who deserves the shame.” Telling yourself one time is not enough. You need to do it every time those old feelings stir your soul. It may feel like hard work, but it is worth it.

I am a Christian. I believe shame came into the world through Adam and Eve. They disobeyed God and hid in the garden to hide the shame they felt because they had no clothes. Fig leaves didn’t cover their shame. They needed more to cover their naked bodies. God confronted them and out of love covered them with animal skins. With the law of Moses, God began the practice of sacrificing lambs and other animals for the forgiveness of sins. The Bible says, “In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed by blood, for without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins.” (Hebrews 9:22 NIV) Finally, Jesus Christ, the perfect Son of God came to earth as a baby. He showed people how to live, and He died for our sins. He took our shame. Anyone who accepts the gift of His sacrifice and follows Him will have eternal life in heaven. Even it you don’t believe in God, the shame you felt and may still feel doesn’t from the abuse belongs to the one who abused you, not you.

Tidings of Convicting Rain

Mom B's 96 birthday with Eddie 010It started out as a short morning walk down the green belt near my house. I didn’t know deep conviction was going to rain on my heart before I got home. I walk on this green belt several times a week and usually speak to the neighbors I pass. Sometimes it is a simple hello to a runner and sometimes I stop to admire an adorable child or a cute puppy. I might warn those I pass if I see a snake on the trail. That day I saw a rabbit and told the person behind me to look for it. I like to start a conversation if I am not in hurry.

At the end of the tree-lined trail I could see the black western sky. It reminded me of the color of the sky in Memphis the day the so-called Hurricane Elvis came out of nowhere. Even the local news stations missed the warnings. It tore a path of trees and power lines down the center of Memphis and many homes were without electricity for weeks. The wind was so strong the window panes in our house rattled. No one should be out in that kind of weather, so I warned the  people I passed on my way back home.

As I rounded the corner and passed the little playground by the lake, a guilt storm hit me. I find it so easy to tell others to look for a cute rabbit or a half-hidden deer, but not so easy to tell them to look for Jesus. I find it so easy to warn them about a coming storm, but not so easy to tell them accepting Jesus protects from the storms ahead. These thoughts convicted me, but I still fall back into old habits. I need to form new habits of sharing the good news every chance I get.

How about you? What convicts you?

Mom B's 96 birthday with Eddie 006

I Finally “God” It. You Can, Too

I  accepted Jesus when I was twelve years old, but I didn’t understand what He did for me. In my forties I finally understood the words “grace” and “mercy.” I wonder how many people who have been in church all their lives without seeing the whole picture.Let’s start with creation. Adam and Eve listened to the serpent, Satan, and sinned by disobeying God’s command not to eat the forbidden fruit (Genesis 2:16-17, NKJ). They sewed together fig leaves to cover their shameful nakedness. People today still keep trying to solve their problems without God. God killed an animal to make the skins to cover them(Genesis 3:6-7, NKJ), so He had to shed the blood of the animals. God told the serpent, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed, He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.”  This was a prophesy. The seed of woman is Jesus, the Son of God. When God brought the Israelites out of Egypt, he set up the sacrificial system using the blood of unblemished animals instead of  people to satisfy God’s requirement for justice. This points us to Jesus.

When Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before his death, I believe He felt the shame of the sins of the  entire world. Can you imagine how emotionally painful that must have been? The next day the soldiers pierced Him with a sword, whipped Him, and nailed Him to a cross until He died.  His blood, the blood of the only perfect One, was shed for the forgiveness of our sins. “Without shedding of blood there is no remission.”   (Hebrews 9:22b NKJ) But Jesus did not stay dead. He rose and many people saw Him alive. For those who accept the gift of His forgiveness, He gives us grace, a gift we sinners do not deserve,  and He gives us mercy instead of the eternal punishment we do deserve. He died for us because He loves us enough to pay for our sins. (John 3:16 NJV)Have you told God you believe this? Have you asked Him to forgive you of your sin sand make you His child? If not, now could be the time. Talk to God and tell Him you are sorry for your sins and believe Jesus died for you and will forgive you and make you His child.

You can pray right now to become a member of God’s family.

 

Regrets: Re-think, Release, Relax

 I was part of the sandwich generation, hash to be exact. I took care of my sick mother for sixteen years while my children grew from toddlers to college students. We stopped counting how many times I left my family to take her to the emergency room. She lived with us most of that time, but finally moved to a senior housing facility,which she enjoyed.The Saturday night before she died was just like any other, except it was raining rhinos and elephants.  I knew she didn’t feel well. In fact, I had taken her to the doctor the day before. That still small voice kept telling me to go see her. Instead, I cleaned out a chest of drawers in my guest room. After church the next day, I called to check on her. She was worse. I promised I would take her to the emergency room, but I waited until after dinner. The doctor admitted her. At least fifty times before, I stayed with her until she went to her room, but not this time.  I went home and went to sleep. At five o’clock the next morning the ringing phone jarred me out of bed. The calm female voice said, “Your mother is not breathing. She is in Code Blue. Do you want us to try to resuscitate her?”

Even though she had an advanced directive I said, “Yes, please,” and jumped into my clothes. She died before I arrived. I’ll never forget the way they left her body in that hospital room. With her head thrown back from the attempts to revive her, she looked like an old rag doll tossed aside by a pre-teen girl in search of a boyfriend. I regretted that I couldn’t tell her good-bye.

Five days later we went to Florida on a college visit with my daughter. I  ignored my grief during the day, but at night my mind kept rehearsing the two days before my mother died – the “what if’s”  kept me awake.  I thought, “What if I listened to the still, small voice that told me to go see her on Saturday. If I had gone, she might have lived.” NO!” I was believing a lie. I had to rethink my regrets. I finally concluded that it was my mother’s time to die. God called her home the moment she took her last breath. When her spirit left her body the pain left, too, and God replaced it with joy.

Hebrews 12:1-2 (NIV) speaks about that:                                                          “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

I had no power over death or the shame and regret I  felt for ignoring the still, small voice. God took my mother to heaven at the time He appointed for her to die and Jesus took my shame on the cross. When I rethought my regrets, I released the shame, and relaxed. I miss my mother, but I know Jesus has her safely in His arms. I also learned to listen and respond to that still, small voice. Regrets can be a weight that ensnares us. Give them to Jesus and set yourself free to run the race of faith.

Help for Grieving Children

When there is a loss in the family, whether due to divorce or death of a family member, children tend to feel like it is their fault. Professionsals call this belief system magical thinking. In the movie, Home Alone, Kevin wished his parents would disappear. Then he woke up the next morning and found them gone. He believed his impulsive wish had come true. He thought his momentary desire caused the permanent loss of his entire family. Although he found resourceful ways to fight the bungling thieves, Kevin believed he was alone in the world and tried to make the best of it. When his family returned, he leaped into their arms with joy. That example shows how children process loss. They need to know it is not their fault that there was a change in their family. The adults in their lives must help them know the loss is not their fault, but in a way they can understand. On this blog we will spend some time examining ways to help grieving children. We will also discuss things parents and churches can do to help raise emotionally and spiritually healthy families. I invite you to share ideas of your own and to ask questions about family issues. We can work together with God to build a better family, whcih helps to build a better world.