Beautiful Post by a New Blogger-AN EXPERIENCE OF LOSS — Sunrise Friday

The tightness in my chestFelt like the bones that were meant to protect my insides turned on meI couldn’t breathe anymoreI could see the trees swaying from the window in the corner but it seemed like the air meant for me to live was goneI bent down for a secondI needed to remind myself to […]

AN EXPERIENCE OF LOSS — Sunrise Friday

Jesus Wept

The shortest verse in the bible is John 11:35 that says- Jesus Wept.

Picture that Jesus the Son of God, the person who walked on water, calmed a storm with a few words, healed numerous people, and who created the world, WEPT.

His friend Lazarus had died. But Jesus knew he was about to bring Lazarus back from the dead. So why did he weep?

He saw the sorrow of his friends the sisters of Lazarus. He felt their pain. Jesus can empathize with our pain. So he wept.

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Yesterday I had a tiny bit of an understanding about why Jesus wept. I was at the funeral of a young woman, who was my student and friend, and I saw the overwhelming grief of her little sister who wept and cried out for her sister. I saw her mother overwhelmed with grief.

But I knew something. My friend had prayed with me to trust Jesus. Even though she had turmoil and depression, she had faith. I am certain my friend is with Jesus in heaven now.

But I also know something else. It is the reason that when I attend funerals for people who know Jesus, I am not overwhelmed by grief. In fact the day my father died as I sat with him, I taught my class that evening. Why? Because my father had prayed with me to be at peace with God and ask Jesus to forgive him.

What is the something else? When I was sick and close to dying in July 1995, one night I prayed. I told Jesus that if he wanted to take me to heaven it was okay but that more people needed to heard about him. Then I felt a hand on my shoulder and was filled with peace. I lived alone at the time. I felt his presence so deeply it was as if I had one foot in this life and one in the next. I will never forget being in his presence like that.

So when my fellow believers die, I know how wonderful they have it in his presence.

But yesterday as I saw my friend’s mother and little sister overcome with grief, I teared up for them. I plan to visit them and follow up with them to share about my friend trusting Jesus and where she is now. But I felt their grief.

It was a tiny glimpse into why Jesus wept.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Saying Goodbyes- Jesus with His Followers

I have had the privilege of joining many special meals for special occasions. Some of them have been goodbye dinners for people leaving my city to return to their countries after completing their education. Those have been especially poignant moments as friends realizing they will probably never see each other again say goodbyes.

In such moments, we share what is on our hearts. We long to be with the people who have been important to us.

I will also never forget my friend from Korea who died of stomach cancer in June 2006. I was one of his spiritual advisers from the day he was diagnosed until the day he died. Many times he would confide in me that he was not concerned for himself because he knew Jesus. His concern was for his wife and three children. I was with him and his family the night he died. I leaned down and whispered in his ear that I would help them. It was the last time he smiled in this life.

Jesus knew he was going to die. He knew he was going to be arrested, tortured, and crucified. He also knew he would defeat death through his resurrection and return to his throne in heaven. Jesus wanted to prepare his disciples, the men he had been mentoring, for his death, resurrection and return to heaven. In John 14 he told them:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

He was reassuring them that he would come back for them to bring them to heaven to be with him. But Thomas said what would have been on our minds by saying- we don’t know the way so how can he get there.

Jesus answered:

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

He told them that he is the way to heaven. We only need to know him because he is the way.

Jesus proved that when on the third day he rose from the dead in a glorified body. He defeated death for us.

As we go through this time of uncertainty, we can say- My Redeemer Lives. Because he lives I can face tomorrow.

Nicole Mullen sang it so beautifully in her song Redeemer. I would like to share it with you. Thank you for reading. God Bless.

What Does Jesus Want for Us?

One of the reasons I love reading through John in the bible is because he gives us a deeper look into Jesus through the conversations Jesus had with people such as the Samaritan woman at the well, and Nicodemus coming to him at night.

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The conversation Jesus had with God the Father before his crucifixion reveals something that was on the heart and mind of Jesus and still is. It deals with what Jesus wants for us. In John 17 we read:

“Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world”

Have you ever stopped to think about the fact that Jesus wants us to be with him in heaven?

Jesus want us to see him on his throne and enjoy being with him for all eternity. It is not for his own ego. He knows for us to be with him in heaven and to experience heaven with all of its splendor free of pain, sorrow, and troubles, is the best thing for us.

That is why Psalm 116 says:

“Precious in the sight of the Lord
    is the death of his faithful servants”

The pain of death and the circumstances of our deaths are not what is precious to him. What is precious to him is us coming home to him for all of eternity free of the troubles of this world, free from sickness, free from despair.

So what does Jesus want for us? He wants us to be with him for all of eternity. 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Music Mondays- Fighting for Me by Riley Clemmons

“You will never stop fighting for me
When I can’t fight for myself
Every word is a promise You keep
Cause You love me like nobody else”

“You stand up for me
In the darkest night
When my faith is weak
You’re still by my side
You will never stop fighting for me
You will never stop fighting for me”

I love the lyrics to Fighting for Me by Riley Clemmons. Jesus will never stop fighting for us. He will never leave us. Even when things seem darkest in life, Jesus is with us. With Jesus, we always have hope.

When we feel weak, he is there.

When we struggle, he is there and has all power to help.

If we have depression, anxiety, or any other mental health issue, he says “Come to me all who are weary…”

If we doubt the future, Jesus is already in our future.

If we feel alone, Jesus never leaves us.

If we are sick, he is the great physician.

Jesus has all power. He defeated death for us, so there is no problem too big for him.

He will never stop fighting for us while we are in this life. When they day comes for us to pass to the next life, we can be with him forever in heaven. Jesus has it all covered. 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

When Hopeless Meets Real Hope

So many times in my life the situation looked hopeless from a human perspective.

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There was growing up with an alcoholic father and a mother with an untreated mental illness who was highly manipulative.

There was the experience of getting sick and almost dying.

There was the process of having to rebuild my life after my 3 years of being sick and recovering.

So many other examples from my life that would cause others to think at many times in my life that things looked hopeless.

BUT

With Jesus there is always hope.

1 Peter 1 says:

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”

With Jesus, we can have a living hope because he defeated death. Think of it. He conquered death. If he can conquer death, he can help in any situation. There is always hope for us with Jesus.

Ali of mynotsopoeticstories.wordpress.com is a new blogger I follow. She shared in her first post about how Jesus came to her and brought her hope in a beautiful post- Amazing Grace. It is an excellent post to read and be encouraged by.

I know how it feels to feel there is no hope. I also know what it is like to meet Jesus and have him change my life. I know what it is like to have Jesus do the seemingly impossible in my life.

Whatever situation we are in, whatever problem we face, Jesus can and will work in our lives. He is hope because he defeated death for us and he invites us to come to him. n Matthew 11 he said:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

His invitation is for ALL. No one is excluded from his invitation. His arms are open wide.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Music Mondays- Hope by Emily Brimlow

So I lift my hands to the God that guides me
To the one that finds me
Even in my darkest days he walks beside me
Singing songs of freedom
Always singing songs of life
And they’re leading me out of the darkness
And they’re bringing me into the light
Hey, He never said it would be easy
You know, He never said we would be safe

I love the lyrics to the song Hope by Emily Brimlow. I had not heard of her or her music until a few days ago when Carly of believing-beautifulcom.wordpress.com shared about it in a comment with me.

The song has an upbeat melody, but the lyrics are deeply profound. The message being that no matter what happens in this life, we have hope because of WHO we hope in not what we hope in.

Jesus has promised to always be with us and he never breaks his promises.

If we struggle with depression, anxiety, or any other mental health issue, Jesus is with us.

If we have illness, Jesus is with us.

If we have financial problems, Jesus is with us.

If we have doubt, confusion, Jesus is with us.

If we experience loss of a loved one, Jesus is with us.

We have HOPE in any situation because of WHOJESUS.

I hope this song blesses you like it did me. And please check our Carly’s blog. Thank you Carly for telling me about the song. 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Goodness of God in Hard Times

I want to thank my little sister Dawn of drawingclosertochrist.com for sharing this video with me of the Evans family discussing faith and loss. It is a wonderful video as they get very real about the loss of a family member and talk about the goodness of God.

Jesus said in John 16:

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

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We are not guaranteed a life free of problems and God is not a person we can manipulate to do whatever we “claim”. Jesus promised to always be with us and that in the end we will have victory in him because we have eternity in heaven to look forward to.

But the reality for the majority of Christians alive today means living with hardship, persecution, trials etc.

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Tony Evans does an excellent job of explaining the goodness of God, sovereignty of God and difficult times in a balanced way and did so the day after a family tragedy. I highly recommend taking 30 minutes out of your day to watch this video.

Legacy

I plan to return to sharing about my city and the different people groups in my city next Sunday, but felt I should share something Jesus reminded me of today. It has to do with being remembered after we die or as some would say legacy.

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First let’s consider how many millions or more of people who have lived and died throughout history who came to faith in Jesus or in the God of Israel before Jesus came. There is no way we can come to a number that is even in the ballpark.

Then consider how many of them are remembered in this life today. Even people who lived only 100 years ago, most are forgotten by now in this life. I don’t want to sound gloomy, but when I visit my father’s grave, I often think about the bodies buried in say 1910. No one is there to visit their graves.

It is an extreme minority of people who were part of the church even only 100 years ago who are still remembered today

Legacy is a fleeting thing. If I have any legacy in this life, it will be gone within a generation.

Doesn’t sound very hopeful or upbeat for a Sunday post, does it?

That gets me to my point. There is a legacy that we can enjoy for all eternity. God keeps it for us. Hebrews 6:10 says:

“God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.”

God remembers for us and he remembers vastly much better than we can. He remembers every little thing we do to show his love. God is eternal, so our legacy is eternal. This life is temporary, so any legacy in this life is fleeting.

All of the things that are clamored about and hyped in the media such as the Hollywood Walk of Fame or a Sports Hall of Fame will be gone when Jesus returns. It is nice to be honored in this life and my point is not against such honors, but only that such honors are temporary experiences.

Our true significance comes from knowing Jesus and God our Father. It is from that relationship that we show God’s love to others and God will never forget it.

So why work for temporary honors when we can seek what is eternal. God will remember EVERYTHING for all eternity and we can be with him for all eternity.

What are your thoughts about “legacy”?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

A Tale of 2 Songs Represents the Battle in Our Minds

It is always in the back of my mind. The experience of dying and then recovering because of Jesus. The valley I went through in the 1990s stays with me as a reminder of God’s grace and also as a reminder of my need for Jesus.

How can I forget the battle in my mind that two songs represented. There was the song that seemed like a siren call to death and the song that represented Jesus and that he came to give us life.

There was the hopelessness of the song Streets of Philadelphia by Bruce Sprngsteen with lyrics that extolled death such as”

“I walked the avenue, ’til my legs felt like stone,
I heard the voices of friends, vanished and gone,
At night I could hear the blood in my veins,
It was just as black and whispering as the rain,
On the streets of Philadelphia.”

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When I heard that song, it was a reminder that death was lingering around for me.

But then I would listen to the song Immanuel by Michael Card. There were times that as I listened to it at home that t felt like I was in the presence of Jesus for hours when it had only been moments. With lyrics like:

” Immanuel our God is with us
And if God is with us who could stand against us
Our God is with us
Immanuel”

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That time in my life serves as a reminder for me that it is so important what we allow into our souls and spirits especially for people who struggle with depression/anxiety. Due to living with chronic illness those can be an issue for me.

Jesus said in John 10:

” The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

Jesus breathes life into our souls and spirits. He does not want us trapped down by depression, anxiety, despair, or darkness. But we need to cooperate with him by choosing what we allow into our souls and spirits. If we let darkness in, then darkness wins the day. If we let the things of God in such as worship music, the bible, friends, fellowship, then we receive the breathe of Jesus into our souls and spirits through the Holy Spirit.

Being vigilante is so important, so we do not get dragged down.It starts with the beginning of our day, By seeking Jesus in the morning, my days are much better.

Dear reader, Jesus does not want you to be trapped or bogged down. He wants to breathe new life into you each day. 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless. This video is Immanuel by Michael Card. I hope it blesses you. 🙂