Father

What is a father?

I wanted to know if a father is someone who gets drunk and withdraws ignoring a person.

I wanted to know if a father is someone who abuses.

I wanted to know if a father is someone who doesn’t show up for important events and moments.

I found a father, not my birth father, but a father who has never and will never abuse, will always be there for not only important moments, but all moments.

My new father changed my life and adopted me because of his son Jesus and Jesus dying for me on the cross.

My new father empowered me to be able to forgive my earthly father and gave me the opportunity to help my earthly father make peace with God a year before my earthly father died.

What is my heavenly father like?

His love is so immense for us that he sent his one and only son to die for us on the cross, so that we could have forgiveness and eternal life.

His love for us is pure, empowering, never ending, always present, and passionate.

His love is jealous for us. He does not want to and will not share us with false gods.

His love for us endures pain, the emotional pain of letting his one and only son be crucified for us.

Our Heavenly Father WANTS you.

Our Heavenly Father WANTS us.

He wants to love us, cherish us, forgive us, protect us, heal us, free us, and empower us.

This song by a Catholic monk, John Michael Talbot, focuses on Jesus on the cross speaking to Our Heavenly father while Jesus was on the cross. Please listen to it and let the realization that Our Heavenly Father endured his son being tortured and crucified for us because he LOVES us. Happy Fathers Day to all the dads out there.

 

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Memorial Day-Remembering My Father and Those Who Served

It is Memorial Day here in America. A day originally set aside after the Civil War to honor those who died fighting for our freedom and has also become a day to remember loved ones we have lost. When I was a child, Memorial Day was always on May 31st regardless of what day of the week it was on. It seems the further away we got from World War II, Memorial Day began to lose some of its meaning here, which I think is sad. Memorial Day was changed to be on the 4th Monday in May to allow for a three day weekend and it seems that now it is more about the start of summer. However, it is important to me to remember those who served fighting for our freedom. Our freedom did not come freely. Thank you to all who served and fought for our freedom.

My father served during the Korean War. I have previously written about my dad and how he came to Christ after I expressed forgiveness to him when he was in the hospital. You can click on this link if you want to read it- Forgiveness from me led to my father receiving forgiveness from God.

One surprise for me and something I would have never thought possible until it happened was that my father’s funeral was a Christian funeral with my pastor doing the service. He was buried with military honors.

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When I visit his grave I see the graves of so many who served our country. It is a somber moment that also causes me to feel gratitude for their service and appreciate the freedom I have. Think about what the world would be like if the Allies had lost World War II to the Nazis and Japan. Think about how our former enemies in World War II are now our friends. Think about how much better life is in South Korea than in North Korea.

I appreciate our freedom in this life and the fact that in America I am free to worship God as I choose. I do not worry about government troops coming in to arrest people simply for worshiping Jesus. But the ultimate freedom is the freedom there is in Jesus, freedom from sin, freedom from eternal judgement, free to be who God created me to be. This makes me think of the praise song, I Am Free.

This Memorial Day let’s remember the reason we have the holiday and remember those who served as well as enjoy a three day weekend with picnics, barbecues etc. Let’s also remember the one who gave his life for all of us on the cross-Jesus.

Home? Where is it?

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So many songs heard about home, so many friends talked about home, where is home? Searching for home, tried different places, different groups, different people, searching for home.

Home as a child was a house with no comfort, no real sense of belonging, no feeling of fitting in. A house that was full of uncertainty, anxiety, dread.

Ran away from there as a teen, but did not think it was running away from home because there was a house not a home.

Bounced around from apartment to apartment but did not feel they were home even though had them to myself.

Home? Where is it?

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Learned about the one who loves us enough to die for us. Learned we can call God father. Then learned Jesus taught that if we follow him that he and the father will make their home with us. What? Why do they want to make a home with me? Don’t they know me? Of course they do and they want to be with me. Don’t completely understand but have peace for the first time.

Free at last to explore and find home wherever I went because Jesus and the Father are with me wherever I go. Home is in Brazil. Home is in Romania. Home is at church. Home is when I visit diverse people. Home is everywhere I go because everywhere I go Jesus and the Father are with me, but home is not a place. Home is belonging. Home is love, laughter, shared life, memories.

Homes are in many places and with many people for me until my journey here ends and then I will finally and forever be home. Home in heaven with Jesus and the Father. We journey in this life as pilgrims searching for what ultimately can only be found in heaven with Jesus and the Father- Our Eternal Home.

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Scars- His Scars to Heal Ours

 

12 scars on my body tell stories of my life. Some are from surgeries like the  scar from an appendectomy when I was 21. Some are small like the small scar next to my left eye from a freak accident while setting up an outdoor activity for kids at church. The tiny scars from arthroscopic surgery on my right shoulder in 1990. The scar on my stomach when I was attacked by a dog when I was 12 is symbolic of the upheaval in my youth. The two inch scar on my left hand from a surgery to repair damage when I had a hand injury in 1996 represents my health struggles of the 1990s.

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Scars represent our wounds that have healed. Some heal over correctly but some wounds that ‘heal’ over leave places that will never be the same and sometimes not work well.

But what of the scars from wounds no one can see? The scars from being abused. Scars left from struggling with addiction. Scars left from being victimized. Scars from broken relationships. Some wounds go so deep into our souls that we wonder if they will ever scar over the way physical wounds do when they heal.

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One day He told Thomas to reach out and touch His scars from the nails that pierced his wrists and the scar from the soldiers spear that pierced his side. His scars are still there to show us His love. Having all power, he could have stopped his crucifixion, but His love for us made Him lay down His life for us.

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He says to all of us, “Look at the scars on my wrists and feet. Look at the scar in my side. My scars are for your scars.”

His scars are there because he wants to bring healing to our souls and spirits. His scarred wrists reach out to us saying, “Come to me all who are weary and find rest for your souls”

One day I reached back to his hands extended. I reached back to find rest and healing from my past as the son of an alcoholic father and mother with mental illness. Rest, oh yes rest, from the anger, confusion, doubt caused by my own sinful reactions to life.

The hands on his scarred wrists long to hold our hand and walk in this life with us. Jesus is reaching out to you. Will we take the hand offered in love and friendship offering healing for our souls?

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.

 

Forgiveness from Me Led to My Father Receiving Forgiveness from God

So I had another post written and saved in drafts to use but then I did something today after my morning class. I went to see the movie I Can Only Imagine. This is not a movie review. It is me sharing about how forgiveness led to my father, who was an alcoholic, coming to know Jesus in the final year of his life partly because I told him I had forgiven him a long time ago. I guess that is the point of a movie, to make one think about life. I am still kind of in the midst of memories flooding my mind as I write, but as with other things in my life, my hope is that by sharing even one person can be touched and helped.

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My intention is not to recount my father’s sins and shortcomings. I think when I say alcoholic it says enough and you can fill in the blanks. He did get sober and live sober the last almost thirty years of his life, but he never was able to talk with me directly for the making amends step. I would see him but there was no real conversation or connection even after he got sober.

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The path I chose for my life was to follow my Savior Jesus and try to live for him. It was a choice my father never seemed to approve of but the only approval I was seeking was that of my Lord Jesus. I tried to share my faith with my father at different times but he never wanted to hear it.

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In February 2008 I received a phone call telling me my father was in the hospital and that it was dire. I got there and found out his heart was weak and that he needed a quintuple bypass if they could get some other issues under control. I was alone with him in the room and felt it was time to talk. The first thing I told him was that he knew what I was about to share with him, but there was something he needed to know first. I told him I had forgiven him a long time ago. When he heard me say that, tears came trickling out of his eyes. Because he knew and felt I had forgiven him, he was open to the rest of what I wanted to share. After sharing with him about Jesus, I asked him if he wanted Jesus to forgive him and that if he did to give a thumbs up because he couldn’t speak very well. He raised both hands high in the air to give two thumbs up.

The following 14 months, he was in and out of the hospital. He was living in a nursing home. I visited him three or four times a week in the nursing home and spent a lot of time with him in the hospitals. Each time I would visit, I would have my bible in my hand and he would point to my bible wanting me to read to him. Then he would put his hand up for me to hold his hand while I prayed with him. I was basically his pastor the last 14 months of his life.

There were small blessings along the way during those 14 months such as when nurses, nursing assistants, or housekeeping workers from other countries would come into his room, I would ask them where they were from and the greet them in their language. In those hospital rooms, my father caught a glimpse into my life.

So maybe this posting is only cathartic on my part. My hope is it helps at least one person to have hope for their loved ones that seem lost to them and to realize that with Jesus, miracles can happen and not give up praying.

 

 

 

 

Jesus Appearing to Mary Magdalene Gives Me Hope

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When I think about the appearances of Jesus after his resurrection, the one that gives me the most hope is when Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene. That might sound strange coming from a man, but for me it is not a man/woman thing. It is an outcast being honored thing.

The first person to do something is the one we remember. Who was the first person to walk on the moon? Most people would be able to say Neil Armstrong. Who was the second? think, scratch our heads- Buzz Aldrin was but his name does not come so readily if at all. Who was the first President of the U.S.? That should be easy- George Washington. Who was the second? Wait not a history buff!!!  answer John Adams.

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I know Paul wrote that Jesus appeared first to Peter, but that is easily explained. In those days only men could testify in court. Sad but true. When we read one of the time Jesus fed thousands it says- The number was about 5,000 men besides women and children. They only counted the men UGH. Furthermore, Paul was focusing on the apostles in 1st Corinthians and concludes with himself.

However, the first PERSON Jesus appeared to was Mary Magdalene. We know Jesus delivered her from seven evil spirits but we don’t really know anything else about her before Jesus came into her life. However, it is safe to conclude that she would have been an outcast of some kind. After Jesus delivered her, she was welcomed into the group even hanging out with Mary the mother of Jesus.

Jesus did NOTHING by ACCIDENT. Every act was intentional on his part. He could have chosen to appear first to anyone he chose, but he chose to appear to Mary Magdalene. This gives me hope because I identify with her more than the apostles. The reason is because my life before Jesus I was an outcast. I was the alcoholic’s son. I was the teen who got into trouble acting out in reaction to an alcoholic father and mentally ill mother. I was the cold-hearted salesman in my twenties. When I first started going to church and trying to pray to Jesus, my prayers would start with something like- “Lord I am a jerk”

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Jesus appeared first to his follower who was the lowliest before Jesus and when he said her name after his resurrection, she recognized him. It would like if today he appeared to someone, it would be the person who is an alcoholic, a person who struggles with depression/anxiety, a person who struggles with an eating disorder, a person who- you can fill in the blank. He gave her the job of going to tell the men. There is a message in that. I hope to meet Mary Magdalene in heaven and learn more about her. For now, I just feel blessed and filled with hope that Jesus cares for the lowliest people like me and can turn our lives around.

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Music Mondays- What A Beautiful Name By Brooke Ligertwood

First of all I want to thank those of you who are following my blog. In recent weeks my followers have grown to now over 50. That may not sound like a big deal for bloggers with a large following, but after the previous four to five years of living with Celiacs symptoms, one of which is foggy brain which shut down my creative side, to get back to this blog means a lot to me and so do those who follow me. SO THANK YOU!!!

Music has helped me through so many ups and downs in life. Last year was one of those times of mostly downs in my life as I went from doctor to doctor to find out what was wrong. I have had other periods in my life when worship music really helped me to keep my focus on God through the dark times in life. There have also been numerous times that God has guided me or shown me something as I have had my times of prayer, coming into his presence.

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So I wanted to start doing Music Mondays for a way to share songs that have meant a lot to me. The songs might be worship songs, Christian music or secular, just me sharing something that has meant something to me in hopes it lifts you up on a Monday. Who doesn’t need a pick me up on a Monday?

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If I share a link for a video, it will only be from the musicians website, from youtube via their website or ministry’s website, or VEVO on youtube.

The first song I want to share is one that perhaps many of you have heard. It is a song that is very fitting for this season of having just celebrated Easter. The song is ‘What A Beautiful Name It Is’ written and performed by Brooke Ligertwood of Hillsong.

When people are dying, they express what is on their hearts. I remember a friend from Korea who had cancer. I met with him to pray several times during the last four months of his earthly life. Each time he shared with me that he was no concerned about himself, but he was very concerned about what would happen to his wife and three young children.

In John 17 the prayer of Jesus before his arrest and subsequent trial, suffering and crucifixion is recorded. Jesus is praying to the Father. Jesus knew his impending suffering was about to begin. In his prayer we see what was on his heart. Jesus prayed in John 17:24- “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.” Jesus himself said that he wanted us in heaven.

There is a wonderful line in the song “What A Beautiful Name’ that goes, ‘You didn’t want heaven without us, so Jesus you brought heaven down’. Jesus wants us to be in heaven with him, so he came to show us God the Father, teach us about God, and in fulfilling his mission to die for our sins and defeat death for us all because he wanted us to be able to be in heaven with him.

Think about it, Jesus WANTS you and me to be in heaven with him. He wants to share heaven with us. Last year as I went through a year of pain, doubt, confusion, and stress of many doctor appointments and tests, that thought helped me to not go down the spiral staircase of despair. That is why this first Music Monday I want to share this song with you. I hope it blesses you as much or more than it has blessed and continues to bless me.

I would love to to know what songs lift you up or what picks you up on a Monday.

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.