3 Day Quote Challenge Day 1- Music Mondays- I Can Only Imagine Sung by Aliyah Moulden on The Voice

Wow I woke up and found that while I was sleeping, I had already had my best day for views and visitors and ALSO that I have been nominated for the 3 Day Quote Challenge by Amy Blount in her blog A New Life.  You can click on her name in blue to visit her great blog where she shares about her life overcoming difficulties with her faith and being a mom. I enjoy reading her posts and think you will too. The 3 Day Quote Challenge is for a blogger to write a post 3 days in a row using a quote that means something to them.

So for my first quote in the 3 day quote challenge I would like to share one from Billy Graham one of my heroes of the Christian faith. “My home is in heaven. I’m just traveling through this world.” I try to have this perspective on life and after having been through 2 health crises in my life the reality that God has a far better home waiting for me gives me the desire to live for him in this life. This also leads me to one of my all time favorite songs for Music Monday I Can Only Imagine.

I Can Only Imagine was written by Bart Millard and originally recorded by Mercy Me. Aliyah Moulden sang it on the show The Voice in May 2017. Her father died when she was in infant, so it is no stretch to think that as she sang, she might of thought of her dad being in heaven. I love the song whether it is the Mercy Me recording or a cover by someone else because the song reminds me that this is much more beyond this life. As someone who has had one serious health crisis 20 years ago and another one not quite as serious more recently, the realization that there is so much more waiting for us in heaven is a blessing I cannot adequately describe in words.

 It is Monday which means one of my favorite TV shows will be on this evening. I love watching The Voice but perhaps for a different reason than most. Yes, I enjoy the singing and watching the performers, but the thing I love most about the show is seeing the coaches, musicians themselves, mentor the performers on the show.

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I think I should mention that I am not a country music fan. It just simply hasn’t been a genre I have enjoyed, not that I have anything against it. So Blake Shelton is a singer whose music I have never listened to unless he performs on The Voice and I have never bought any of his CDs or downloaded his songs from iTunes. However, I am impressed with how he cares for singers on his team, mentors them, and is all in for them. The connection he has with each of them is obvious. As a result, I often find myself voting for people on his team.

So I hope you have a blessed Monday and that maybe this video helps you along on a Monday. God Bless and thanks for reading my blog 🙂

For the 3 Day Quote Challenge I would like to nominate Ana who has the blog Beauty Beyond Bones where she shares about how her faith helped overcome eating disorder and also about her life. I have learned a lot from her blog and think you would enjoy it too.

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Surprise Reunion Reminded Me There Will Be Reunions in Heaven/Remembering My Father

Each year the 3rd Monday in April marks an anniversary that most of us would not want to have and each year at this time I tend to get a bit down and reflective. In fact, I haven’t been able to write the short story yet that I usually post on Tuesdays for my other blog, encounterswiththeancients.com, because my creative side gets stymied when I get down. I think part of why I get bogged down with this is that it was mostly me with my father in his final days. Yes I helped him to be in contact with my siblings, but there are many parts of his final days I have never shared. I carry them with me in my memories and there they will stay. I want my siblings to be free of it. But a surprise blessing today reminded me that reunions do happen.

Last week I shared about seeing the movie I Can Only Imagine and the memories it evoked for me of my father and how God worked a miracle for me to be able to help him find peace with God in the final year of his life- Forgiveness from me led to my father receiving forgiveness from God.

It was the third Thursday of April 2009 that the decision was made for my father to be placed under hospice care. He deteriorated quickly and by the next day, Friday, it looked like it would be very soon for him to pass away. I was able to use my cell phone on speaker for him to hear and speak with my older brother and younger brother living in other states. On Saturday he rebounded, but on Sunday he started to decline again.

Throughout my life with Jesus, when there was something Jesus wanted to show me, many times a song would be in my spirit. There was a song in a musical at my home church on Palms Sunday that year and one of the songs was Life Goes On about the truth that for those who believe in Jesus life does go on for eternity.

On the Monday morning my father died, God woke me up with that song in my spirit and I knew what it meant. I got up and got ready then I drove to his nursing home. While I was driving there, they called me on my cell phone to tell to get there as soon as I could. When I arrived, he was comatose and not responsive. I sat down and read from 1 Corinthians 15 to him as he was dying. His last breathe was while I was reading the part about the seed that falls into the ground. Only a few days later did it dawn on me how fitting it was for him to die at that moment because he loved rose gardening. But his story does not end there. He is in heaven now.

This afternoon I had a surprise reunion with my friends Isis and Eduardo from Brazil. They came to the U.S. to take their daughter to Disney World and decided to come to Lincoln to see old friends. They contacted me and we met for coffee this afternoon. I met their almost 4 year old daughter Julia. It was a wonderful reunion with precious friends with hugs and shared memories. The kind of reunion that puts a smile on your face.

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When I came home, I sat down and it dawned on me what had happened. God blessed me with the surprise reunion and reminded me there will be wonderful reunions in heaven. One day I will see my father again and there won’t be labels like alcoholic. Only two souls enjoying heaven because of God’s grace in Jesus. There will be many other reunions in heaven.

This isn’t Music Monday, but I want to share the song with you that was in the musical at my church- Life Goes On.

 

Easter- Jesus Is Alive.

It is Easter Sunday, my favorite Sunday of the year. Why? Because the resurrection of Jesus means that his death for us did indeed accomplish what Jesus set out to do which is to die for all of our sins. Jesus took death and wadded it up like a piece of paper. Death had no power over Jesus. He is alive forevermore and he wants to share that with us!!!!

I am posting this on Sunday morning before I go to church. I am looking forward to celebrating Jesus’s victory over death for us. Because he conquered the worst that can happen to us, death, we have hope in every situation.

He wants to share the power of his resurrection with us for eternal life and also for situations in our lives now. I remember when my father was in Alcoholics Anonymous. There is a line in their ‘Big Book’ that says, ‘there is one who has all power, may you find him now.’ Jesus is the one who has all power and he wants to set us free from problems in this life like addictions, broken relationships, eating disorders, and other problems. He came to give us life. He came to give us his resurrection power so we can be free from sin in our lives, to be freed up to forgive, to live healthier lives emotionally, mentally, and psychologically.

I have experienced myself how Jesus can help free us. He freed me from addiction 30 years ago. He freed me from the tangled web of mind games in my family. He freed me from death when I was dying 25 years ago, so I could serve him longer in this life. There are so many other examples from my life of how Jesus shared the power of his resurrection to help me. As I write this, I pray for those who will read this to experience the power of the resurrection in their lives, to receive his love, grace and mercy.

I would like to share this music video by Kristene DiMarco with you. My hope is it blesses you.

God Bless and Happy Easter- HE IS RISEN!!!

Good Friday and Easter Approaching

It is hard to believe Easter weekend is almost here. One week from today we will be observing Good Friday to remember the suffering and death of Jesus on our behalf followed by Easter Sunday as we celebrate Jesus defeating death for us.

This year I have been thinking a lot about what the authentic first Good Friday and Easter experience would have been like for those who lived it. Even some people who usually do not get much notice from the first Good Friday/Easter get my attention like Simon of Cyrene who was forced to carry the cross of Jesus or the Roman Centurion who said, “Truly this was the son of God.”

What thoughts would they have had? What feelings about the drama would they have had? Those are things that have been on my mind a lot this year.

So, next week my posts in this blog and also in my fictional short story blog encounterswiththeancients.com will focus on the people who lived through and experienced that first Passion of our Lord.

My prayer is to grow closer to Jesus as we go through the week we remember the Passion of Jesus.

Jesus Laid in the Tomb- His Followers Despair and Lose Hope

Good Friday and Easter Sunday deservedly receive a lot of attention. They are the pivotal events in not only Christianity, but also in History. On Good Friday we remember His sacrificial death for us. On Easter Sunday we remember how He defeated death for us through His resurrection. But what about the day in between Good Friday and Easter Sunday? The day when Jesus’ body laid in the tomb. His followers were in despair. They had lost hope. They thought it was all over and done with and their beloved leader was gone forever.

I have been to the funerals of loved ones and friends. Looking into a casket is perhaps the most solemn experience we face in this life. That and watching a loved one die. I was with my father when he died. He died while I was reading from the bible to him. When my father died, I did not despair. That was because over a year before he died, I was with him while he made peace with God by trusting in Jesus. I had so much peace about where my father went to that I taught my class that evening, but I had the benefit of knowing the rest of the story which is that Jesus conquered death through His resurrection.

There are other moments in life that might we feel all hope is lost. We look at our life obstacles and wonder if there is anyway that we can find that job, get out of debt, experience our loved ones finally getting their life turned around, recover from an illness or any other of life’s seemingly unending problems. We at times are like the followers of Jesus on that Saturday between the first Good Friday and Easter Sunday. It is as if we are on the outside of the tomb lost in despair.

I often wonder how His followers felt that Saturday. What it must have been like for those who washed His body and prepared His body for burial. They had forgotten about how Jesus called Lazarus back from the dead only days before Jesus entered Jerusalem. They had forgotten how Jesus had told them that He would die and that He would be raised from dead. They had lost hope. We do the same thing. We lose hope even though we have the rest of the story. We know that Jesus defeated death. His resurrection proves that He has power even over our worst enemy. When we face life’s difficulties, it is too easy for us to lose hope and not keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.

On this Saturday between Good Friday and Easter, I would like to encourage you to think about your problems and then remember that He has all power. His resurrection is the proof that we too will one day enjoy the benefits of heaven, and also that He does have all power. He is more than able to help us to overcome our difficulties.

Greater Love Has No One Than This- to Lay Down Their Life for a Friend

On this day, Good Friday, I am taking time to reflect on the death of Jesus and its implications for me and for all of us. Two things always come to my mind as I reflect on the crucifixion of Jesus, my own sin which He died for and His love, His unfathomable love for me and for all. Jesus spoke of this kind of self-sacrificing love when He said, “Greater love has no one than this to lay down their life for a friend.”

There are inspiring stories of people giving their lives for others such as soldiers who throw themselves on a grenade to save their friends or of mothers in crisis while giving birth telling the doctor to save their baby even if it means the mother losing their own life. When I hear these stories, I am inspired by their examples of true love for another or others. There is much discussion about what love is these days in America. The kind of love Jesus is talking about encompasses not only family/brotherly love but something far greater. Jesus is talking about the kind of love God has for us. He uses the verb agape as He speaks about greater love. Agape is the Greek word for God’s unconditional love. Jesus showed us the unconditional love of God when He died for us. Jesus, God’s one and only son, died for us.

An awe inspiring thought for me is the fact that Jesus knew what was going to happen to Him before He was arrested, put through a joke of trial, and was crucified. He knew what was going to happen and went anyway. In John 18 we read, “Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?” He went out to meet those who were coming to arrest Him. There was a detachment of soldiers that had come to arrest Him which would have been at least 400 men armed with swords and spears. Lethal danger was approaching, Jesus knew it and went out to meet it. He has all power, so He could have stopped it, but He went out to meet it. He knew that He would be tortured and crucified on a cross. He knew that He would die a terrible death and He went out to the detachment of soldiers and allowed them to take Him away to what would lead to His death. Why?

Why? Because He loves you and me. His love is the love of God, self-sacrificing, unconditional, reaching out to those who suffer, reaching out to people like me who are unworthy of His love. This evening when I go to Good Friday Service at church, I will reflect upon and remember that Jesus loved us so much that He died for all of our sins because He wants us to be with Him for eternity in heaven. He died for us to pay our penalty for our sin. We do not deserve His sacrifice, but because of his love, He gave it for us. That is true love.

Visits by Jesus After His Resurrection- Ghosts Don’t Eat

While I do not believe in ghosts, I realize there are people who do. Some might be tempted to think that Jesus’ followers saw a ghost when He appeared to them after His resurrection. There were two occasions when Jesus appeared to His followers that He did something ghost cannot do. He ate food.

In Luke 24- “40 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet.[f] 41 But while they still did not believe for joy, and marveled, He said to them, “Have you any food here?” 42 So they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish and some honeycomb.[g] 43 And He took it and ate in their presence.” Jesus ate food in front of them to show them it was indeed Jesus and He was in His body. On another occasion in John 21 we see, “15 So when they had eaten breakfast” in reference to Jesus eating breakfast with his disciples. He not only ate with them, He even cooked the breakfast of fish and bread that He ate with them.

Jesus showed His followers the proofs of His scars from His wounds and ate with them to demonstrate that He was risen from the dead in His physical body. He displayed the fact that He had defeated death. He took on our worst problem, which is death, and defeated it through His resurrection.

It makes me think about the problems I may face in life from time to time and compare them to the worst thing we will all have to face someday which is death. It makes my problems seem not as monumental. It also helps me to realize there is hope in every situation because the one who conquered death, Jesus, has also made a promise. He said, “I am with you always….”

Christmas Season- Joy to the World Leads to Joy for Jesus

In the summers of 2009 and 2010 I was able to travel to Brillion Wisconsin for 4th of July family reunions. The summer of 2010 was also a time to celebrate my nephew’s graduation from high school. Family reunions can be a time of joy for those who are able to attend. It was good to see my brother and his family in Wisconsin, my brother from California, and my sister and brother who live in Lincoln. We had fun with fireworks, a lot of good food, and seeing places like Lake Michigan.

At Christmas time we celebrate Jesus coming as a human baby. We celebrate God the Son who is eternal stepping down from His throne in heaven to become a human baby. When I think about this, I realize it truly should be Joy to the World as the song goes. But what about Jesus? Was there joy involved for Him?

In Hebrews 12:2 it says about Jesus, “who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God”. Jesus came to die for us. There was joy for Him, not in being crucified on the cross, but something else set before Him. I have been pondering this because Jesus was seated at the right hand of the throne of God before He came as a baby. There seems to be something more in play here. Then when I consider Philippians 2 where it talks about how every knew will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord it seems to shed a little more light on the joy Jesus would feel because of enduring the cross. Jesus is not egotistic like we are, so the mere fact that all people will bow to Him does not seem to suffice as the sole reason for His joy. God gave us freewill, so the thought of Jesus taking joy in the fact that all people would bow to Him and many not out of choice, seems to not fit.

Then I think about how in Psalm 166 it says ” 15 Precious in the sight of the LORD  Is the death of His saints.” Our death is precious to Jesus? That could seem sadistic until we consider this fact. In this life we think of death as going away somewhere. In the eyes of Jesus our death means we come home to Him. The joy for Jesus was not just that He would be seated at the right hand of God. It was also that WE WOULD BE THERE WITH HIM. We can be home with Jesus forever. This causes great joy for Jesus. It makes His sacrifice worth all of the pain that we could be with Him forever in a place we cannot comprehend. We can only know that it is far better than this world.

Christmas Season- Joseph’s Fading from the Scene/Jesus Our Sympathetic High Priest

The loss of a loved one is one of the most sorrowful times we can experience in life. The grieving process is difficult to go through. We have deep valleys and conflicting thoughts. Our grief can seem overwhelming one moment and then we think we will be okay. I will never forget sitting with my father as he died. I was reading the bible to him when he drew his last breath and passed away. Jesus gave me the strength to take care of what needed to be taken care of that day and then still teach my class that evening. Yes Jesus gave me the strength, but it was not easy. The death of a parent is hard to endure.

The last mention of Joseph in the bible is the time Joseph took Mary and Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem when Jesus was twelve. Jesus stayed behind and the caravan started back without Him. Joseph and Mary hurried back and found Jesus in the temple asking questions and sharing from the scriptures and amazing those who were there. When asked why He stayed behind Jesus replied, “did you not know I had to be in my Father’s house?” Jesus was not being insensitive. He was reminding them of who He is and the reason He came. There is a silence to this story that jumps out at me. This is the last reference to Joseph in the bible. He fades from the scene as Jesus and His Father in Heaven take over the story. Mary is mentioned in passages after this, but not Joseph.

This shows that Joseph would have died between the time Jesus was 12 and the time Jesus began His public ministry some 18 years later. Jesus would have experienced the death of His earthly step-father, Joseph, and Mary’s need for comfort from her son after the death of her husband. Jesus would have also taken over as provider for His family and protector of His mother. Jesus understands our grief and the complexities of taking care of those left behind. He understands how we feel when we are grieving and at the same time concerned for those who need us to take care of them.

If you are grieving, please remember that Jesus understands your grief. He is our Sympathetic High Priest who is able to sympathize with us in our weakness and He invites us to come to Him for rest for our souls. We can pour out our grief an sorrow to Him because He cares for us. We do not need to be alone in our grief and sorrow.

Happy Birthday in heaven to my father Gary Kohrell

January 6th is my father’s birthday. This year will be the first time he celebrates it in heaven. This is something I never thought I would be able to say with confidence because for many years he did not want to hear anything about Jesus or God from me. We did to have a very good relationship for a long time due to various reasons. I have previously written about how after I expressed forgiveness that we were able to talk about Jesus and pray together.

I was able to with him when he died and comfort him by reading from the bible to him and praying. He was not alone which was important to me. Now he is experiencing the glorious wonders of heaven. He is with Jesus and much better off than we are. I can say this with confidence not based on my father and how he lived his life since that is not what the decision is based on. God decides based on if we accept His son Jesus. It is a free gift God offers to all who will receive His son Jesus.