Thursday, August 22, 2013

"Real life"

In my last post, I ended by saying that this life is not really our "real" life; we are here so briefly.  The life that we will live for eternity is what is most important.  Jesus said, "Do not store up for yourselves treasure on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."-Matthew 6:19
As for me, I'm not concerned with having treasure there, I only want to be there, at the feet of my Master.
What a privilege it will be to kneel before Him!  Eternity is a long time and what waits for us there is beyond our imaginations.  This world will be difficult:

Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: "If anyone would come after me, his must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.  What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?  Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?  If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in His Father's glory with the holy angels.- Mark 8:34-38

What is it to lose your life for Christ?  One immediately thinks of the martyrs, but I believe here Jesus is talking about the way we live our lives.  Do we live for Him, making Him and the gospel our top priority, or do we spend the majority of our time on earthly cares and concerns?  Of course we must care for our families, work, etc., but when we lose our lives for Christ, we put Him and His work at the top of the list.

My pastor said something interesting the other day.  He said, "If all Christians lived as you do, what would the church be like?"  Something worth considering, as all of us together make up Christ's body here on earth.

So let us shine the light of God's love at every opportunity.  No one lights a lamp and hides it in a jar or puts in under a bed.  Instead, he puts it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light.- Luke 8:16

When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said, "I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will  never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."- John 8:12

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is- His good, pleasing and perfect will.- Romans 12:2

I can tell you from my own experiences that when I set aside myself and follow God's will, that is when I have peace even in the most brutal storms life can dish up.  There will come a time when we have no more troubles, no more sadness, no more pain; when we leave this world and go home to where we belong.
In the time we have left let us continue to bear fruit for His kingdom.

Let us also remember that we cannot do this in our own power.  Our salvation is by grace alone, and the power within us is the Holy Spirit.  He gives us strength and courage that we don't have in ourselves.
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.  For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering.  and so He condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.-Romans 8:1-4

No matter our current circumstances, if we are in Christ, we are not alone.  Nothing can separate us from Him!  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?  As it is written:  For Your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, not any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.- Romans 8:35-39  This is one of my favorite verses.  It is such a comfort to know that nothing can separate us from the love that my Savior has for us!

It's so important to remember that his world is not our is a temporary place, a faint shadow of things to come.  Many people worry that we may be entering the last days, but whether that is true or not, we will certainly have a last day of our own...most of us have less than one hundred years.  Every so often it's good to take a good hard look at ourselves and our priorities.  It's so easy to slip into the cares of this world, and it's easy to put off sharing the gospel... we don't want to offend, do we?  Share in love.  Plant seeds.  God will water them, and you just might be surprised at who comes to meet you when you enter the Kingdom that you thought weren't listening.

Here's a beautiful song about what is in store for us when we leave here.  I hope you enjoy it and it brings you hope, because one day there will be a day with no more tears or suffering.
Wishing you blessings.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

An adventure with Magdalene Hope...and how I got stuck in San Diego

Hello friends!

I'm home after another adventure...last Monday I went with Magdalene Hope (the ministry I belong to that does street outreach to prostitutes) to San Diego, about four hours from where I live.  It has been a goal and a dream for some time that we would have a safe house with a program in place to help them improve their lives.  This has finally happened!  The ministry has purchased a home, and now all we need is to get it up and running.  Our first young lady is currently in a shelter waiting for us to open.

So, we were traveling to San Diego to meet with the director of a house that has been up and running for some time to get ideas about programs to put in place for our house.  We met at the church at 5:45 a.m. to begin the trip and I felt terrific.  I'm so glad to be a part of this ministry.  We did a Bible study on the way and my spirits were high.  I felt fine when we got there, but about halfway through the morning presentation I began to feel extremely cold.  I thought maybe the air conditioning was just high, but by the time we broke for lunch...I had to run to the bathroom and empty my stomach.

Great, just great.  I am very private about my illness in that while I may talk about it, I really don't like anyone to see me that way.  But I couldn't even begin to hide it.  I went to lie down in the back of the church van and my stomach kept emptying....luckily I had a cup from my coffee earlier!  What made it unusual was the amount of pain I was having.  Only a few times have I had pain like that.  I stayed in the van while everyone else went back in for the afternoon session and it got worse from there.  By the time they came back, I was losing my self control and moaning, which was very embarrassing to me.  They rushed me first to an Urgent Care, who said I needed a hospital.  I was very lucky that they got me right in at the hospital, but none of the medications seemed to be working.

I was extremely blessed to have one of my friends in the back with me.  She rubbed my back, prayed for me (as did the rest of the group) and kept me covered in warm blankets as I was still freezing cold.  I needed to be transferred to another hospital that took my insurance, and the group stayed until they were sure that the transfer went through and I'd be admitted.  I can't put into words how grateful I was for their love and support....yes, I can.  The love of Christ is what they showed.  Before they left, they all layed hands on me and prayed for me one by one.  Through the pain, I could feel the Spirit.

To make a long story shorter, I'm back at home now.  My mother, who lives a few hours from San Diego, came to pick me up and I spent a few days recuperating at her house.  While there, I read a book that I must recommend.  It's called Safely Home by Randy Alcorn.  It talks about the persecution of Christians in China, and I must say that after reading it, I felt truly ashamed.  With all my freedom, how much do I really do for the kingdom?  One of the most touching scenes in the book is when one of the main character is jailed for owning a non authorized Bible and attending an unauthorized church.  Many Chinese Christians meet in house churches, because the authorized churches are not allowed to teach certain fundamental beliefs.
Anyway, so now he's in prison, being beaten and tortured.  So what does he do?

He offers the jailer to clean the floors in the cells.  And as he does, he spreads the gospel to the other prisoners.  He tells his friend that he is so grateful that God has provided him a ministry!

And I complain about my stomach and don't get up to write on the computer and spread the message about God's love because of my trifling pain.

No more!  I pray God will give me the courage, the strength of character, and the promptings of the Holy Spirit to share Him with all who need to hear about Him.

I think I've shared this song before, but it's been on my mind all week; I was singing it to myself in the hospital.  It's in Hebrew, but here is the translation:

Those who trust in God are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken, but stands forever.  As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds His people...Psalm 125 1-2
Another point the book made is that this life down here on earth is not our "real life."  Our real life begins when we leave the shell of a body we currently inhabit.  I believe that with all my heart.
So let us make the most of each day, reaching out in Christ's love, to those who need His forgiveness and His Holy Spirit to live the life that our Father has called us to.

Please pray for the success of Restoration Ranch, the name that has been chosen for Magdalene Hope's house.

Wishing you all blessings in Christ!