God Remembers for Us

It happened again yesterday as I was in my classroom. Each Thursday we have speakers come to share information helpful for families and have translators. A group came yesterday to share with us. One of the women seemed familiar to me. I looked at her but she looked away. I sat down at my desk trying to place her.

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No this isn’t one of those romantic stories. It is a story those who have been through a health ordeal might relate to. It has been 25 years, but some of my experience still lingers. I was sick and part of that was partial amnesia. I could remember family and family history. I could remember high school and such. But for the years immediately before I got sick my memory has holes in it especially involving the church I went to and the people I knew there.

So I talked with her and asked if we had gone to the same church years ago. She told me we had, so I explained to her about my partial amnesia and asked her what her name is and if she knew me. I asked her what her maiden name was and it still didn’t register. We had a nice chat.  I had to ask her one more question- “Was I nice to you and was I helpful?” She smiled and said yes.

The memories of my time with that church are vague such as coming out of the prayer room before the worship service and praying with people. I have not worried about remembering those times because of a promise in the bible in Hebrews 6:

“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 everything we do serving him. I have simply accepted that he will take care of that for me regarding those years and it has freed me up to pursue serving him on the path he has me on now.

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But every once in a while, I run into someone from those days and I want to make sure everything is okay between us. It isn’t unsettling to me anymore like it was twenty years ago. I just have a few questions to make sure we are okay.

My experience highlights a wonderful truth we can all hold on to. None of us remembers all of the things we did serving God, loving his people, and showing his love to those who don’t know him. However, God remembers all of it.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

 

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Looking to an Eternal Future Gives Hope

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This was the view from outside my building yesterday. It snowed Friday evening and Saturday morning. It was a good snow for making a snowman. I did get out for a little while, but spent most of the day relaxing after a busy first week back to teaching after my winter break. During a cold snowy winter day, people often wish for spring to come and bring things back to life.

When we have something to look forward to, it can help us to not get too down about the problems of our current situation.

A post I read yesterday caused me to think of the passage in Hebrews 11:

Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.”

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If I were to only look at my present situation, it would get me down and perhaps I would stay down. But thinking about my eternal future in heaven and how I want others to join me there, gives me the motivation I need each day to get out of bed, put up with the pain and stiffness throughout my body, and not focus on other problems. There are refugees and immigrants in my city who I want to share the love of Christ with.

The post I read was by a new blogger, Grace and Pink. It was a bit of a light hearted reflection on the fact that heaven awaits those of us who have come to Christ. You can read it by clicking on- The Log.

Jesus taught that we should invest in our eternal future, not to earn it because it is the gift of God to anyone who will come to trust in Jesus, but rather to store up for our eternal future. Jesus taught about in Matthew 6:

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Everything in this life is temporary. I remember when I received my van in 2009 how excited I was to be blessed by others donating it for my ministry. Now it is 13 years old and wearing down. But I did put it to good use giving people rides to church, rides to the airport, and helping people move. I also took people to the Immigration Office for U.S. Citizenship test. So though the van is wearing down, the lives I was able to touch because of it will be remembered. Hebrews 6 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”

So then the question is really more about what my focus is on. Is it on my current circumstances? The daily pain? The financial struggle month to month of being in ministry? The struggle with depression? Oh my, if my focus is on those things, throw in the towel.

But my focus is on the Lord. He has blessed me with a life full of meaning and purpose. He has forgiven me. He has changed my life. Best of all, I have an eternity in heaven with him and all of those who know him. That makes getting out of bed and facing the day and the problems in life worth it all.

Thank for reading. God Bless

 

 

Immanuel- God with Us- Never Letting Go of Us

Last  night I watched the movie Grace Unplugged. It is a Christian movie which was okay. However, I predicted the story line through the whole movie as to what would happen next and also the ending. I have to admit I somewhat dismissed it but I did enjoy the song at the end- You Never Let Go.

This morning I slept late getting up at 8. Yes that is late for me 🙂 . I woke up with that song in my spirit and began to think about the truth of the song. When God comes into our lives, when we receive Jesus as our Savior, God will never let go of us. He takes hold forever. He stays with us through all of the ups and downs in this life and welcomes us to our heavenly home upon our death.

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So after reflecting back on the movie, I shouldn’t have been so cynical. Even though it was predictable, it accurately portrayed how God never lets go especially if we get off the path. God is relentless in his pursuit of us.

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A few days ago, we celebrated the birth of Jesus, Immanuel-God with Us. Jesus leaving his throne in heaven to become a human baby shows the lengths God will go to in order to pursue us. Others may come and go in our lives. People will disappoint us at times. But Immanuel- God with Us will never leave us.

Family problems? God will never leave you.

Depression? God will never leave you.

Financial problems? God will never leave you.

Chronic illness? God will never leave.

Mess up and sin again? God will never leave you.

He won’t let go of us even when we at times let go of him. He will stay with us and pursue us. He is eternally constant.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

 

Music Mondays Christmas Eve Edition- Immanuel by Michael Card

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Merry Christmas to all of my followers and readers. My prayer is for those who read my blog today to experience the presence of Jesus as they celebrate Christmas.

With today being Christmas Eve, I would like to share a song by Michael Card- Immanuel. This is my all time favorite song at Christmas time and one of my favorites all year.

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I love how Michael Card weaves the promise of  Immanuel in Isaiah with the birth of Jesus in Matthew where Jesus is referred to as Immanuel. The song also includes the truth of Romans 8:

“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us,who can be against us? “

and

 “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor 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.”

Whatever situation this Christmas finds us in whether it be happy times with family or times of struggling with depression, illness, family problems, financial problems, Jesus is God with us. He will never leaves us. Nothing can separate us from him.

This song has deep personal meaning for me. When I was sick and looked like I was dying many years ago, I would listen to this song and at times it would seem like hours I was with the Lord in his presence when it was actually only for the length of the song. This song helped me keep going, getting up in the morning, and not giving up even though I was in pain.

This evening and tomorrow it is Jesus coming as Immanuel, God with us, that we are celebrating.

Thank you for reading. God Bless. Merry Christmas.

Immanuel- God with Us=Hope for us

We only have two more days until Christmas. Time has gone by so quickly. For most people today and tomorrow will mean being busy with last minute preparations, shopping, and then of course the big day.

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This year I have felt the Lord lead me to focus on Jesus being Immanuel-God with Us. Because of what I have experienced in life, the thought of Immanuel being God with us is especially meaningful. Because Jesus is Immanuel-God with us, there is hope for us in any situation we face, any problem we face.

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I have experienced Jesus doing the seemingly impossible for me on more than one occasion. He intervened for me in the 1990s when I was sick and dying. After that he helped me put my life back together.

He has given my life meaning and purpose to the point that when I see people from my distant past and tell them what I do now, they are amazed by the change in me. He reached down and picked me up from a wasted life in my early twenties and now I have a ministry.

Last summer I struggled with depression due to living with autoimmune problems. He lifted me out of that pit and got me back on track.

A blogger I follow shared a post yesterday that really resonated with me. Savannah Wall wrote- When You’re Homesick For All That You Were Before Depression. It is a meaningful  post I recommend reading.

When problems and deep valleys come into our lives whether it is an illness, loss of a loved one, or depression, our lives are changed. We change, We can find ourselves wishing to be who and what we were before the life altering experience.

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That is why I am focusing on Jesus being Immanuel-God with us and have shared about it this Christmas season. Because with Jesus, we always have hope. As Corrie Ten Boom who survived a Nazi concentration camp once said:

“There is no pit so deep, that God’s love is not deeper still.”

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Survived The Doctor’s Visit :)

The saying I came, I saw, I conquered, does not exactly apply to me when it comes to my annual check up with the doctor. Yesterday I went for my annual check up and it was more like I came, I was seen, It wasn’t too bad, so I survived.

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It may sound funny to others that I have what doctors call white coat syndrome meaning I see a doctor of any kind and I have a lot of anxiety. After all, I have had wonderful times traveling to other countries and traveling alone is no problem for me. Walking the streets of a city in another country is my version of going to Disney World.

My appointment was for 2:15. I arrived ten minutes early and sat in the waiting room until they called my name at 2:45. Then I sat in the exam room until 3:30 when the doctor came in. But I had my iPad with me, so I read some bible verses, checked my facebook and instagram, and read some sports news on ESPN.

The good part is that she is a Christian, so as we discussed things she understood. One of the things was discussing depression and anxiety. There is a stigma in some churches about getting help with depression and anxiety. My doctor understands that. So I felt free to discuss the issues with her. When I told her I offered to resign my ministry because I realized I did indeed need to take the medication prescribed, she understood. Fortunately when I offered to resign this past summer the pastors said- “It’s medical no need to resign,”

Occasionally I share a post like this because while I am a man of faith, I also believe it is important to keep it real. Being a Christian does not mean one’s life is perfect. As we share our struggles, out faith can be more real to others.

Maybe when I go for a follow up next month, the anxiety won’t be as bad. 🙂

Now I am off to do much less stressful things like meet with people from other countries to teach them English.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

 

 

Immanuel- God’s Grace in Our Weakness

Living with a chronic condition is a constant battle. Autoimmune problems can wear a person down not just physically, but also spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. Genetic disorders can make life challenging and also wear on a person.

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As someone who is living with four autoimmune issues, I understand the drain, sometimes daily drain, of living with a chronic condition. Though no one is sure what the issue was for Paul the apostle, he shared about it in 2 Corinthians 12:

“Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Others have speculated what exactly it was. My purpose is not to join in that discussion. My purpose is to focus on the truth of what God told Paul- ‘my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Jesus came to bring us grace and truth. We can receive God’s grace through Jesus. There is saving grace to be forgiven of our sins. There is also grace for living this life with its struggles. God is with us in the struggles of life. That is really what Christmas is all about- Immanuel God with us because Jesus was born as a human baby to be our Savior.

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I have many mornings that I wake up fatigued, but by looking to Jesus in prayer to start my day, he gives me strength to show and share his love with those I will see each day. I am inspired by others who face life’s struggles with God strength.

One blog I follow is by Lily of retrospective Lily. She has Friedreich’s Ataxia a genetic condition that causes her to need a wheelchair. She shares about her disability in her post Strength Is Not Always Literal.  Lily loves Jesus and lives for him. She draws strength from Jesus as she lives with her disability.

Another blog I follow is beautybeyondbones. She shares about her recovery from Anorexia in her Read This First page. She also shares about her recovery from Ulcerative Colitis an autoimmune problem. In her blog she also shares about her faith in Jesus.

Whatever we face in life, chronic illness, depression, family struggles, financial difficulties, God’s answer is Jesus who is Immanuel. Immanuel. Jesus, has all power. He may choose to move the mountain for us or he may choose to give us strength to climb the mountain. Either way, we are not alone. He is always with us.

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Thank you for reading. God Bless/

Whatever the Problem, It Is Not Permanent.

It is coming. Two weeks from tomorrow it is coming. What is it? My next doctor’s appointment. What’s the big deal?

I have what doctors refer to as white coat syndrome meaning when I see a doctor, I feel anxious. Something about hearing doctors say things in the past like, ‘your liver test is not good’ or ‘your cholesterol is 413’ or ‘we don’t know what us causing your pain, we need to run more tests’. Something about going to seven different specialists in one year, or having lost memory because of being sick etc etc.

This life is full of ups and downs. For some there are not as many downs and for some, like me, it can seem like one prolonged down. I understand being sick, regrouping in life, having depression, wondering what the future will hold and how to get there.

I can’t imagine going through what I have in my life without Jesus being with me. He is the reason I get up and get moving on a day that isn’t a good one. He is the one I seek in prayer for strength to show his love to refugees and immigrants.

I am learning not to focus on the down times or the problems such as waking up with a neck so stiff I need a heating pad for an hour before I go teach. I wish I could say I always manage to not focus on it, but then I would be lying. But there is another focus that is stronger. JESUS.

In any situation, Jesus is greater. Sometimes he moves the mountain and sometimes he helps us over it. Ever situation in this life is temporary. The only permanent reality is our eternal destiny with Jesus. That mindset is what has been the most helpful for me to remember that whatever happens, it is temporary. I have an eternal home to look forward to. I am just passing through this life hoping to bring others with me to the eternal home. I love how Hebrews 11 describes the people in the Old Testament.

All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them”

They had their eyes on their eternal home and that kept them going through all kinds of difficulties.

Whatever we face in this life, it is temporary. I like the way Kristina Kuzmic put it in one of her videos regarding the struggles she went through in life. She told herself this isn’t permanent, it is only right now. It was her way of reminding herself the pits in this life are not permanent.

So dear readers, if something starts to feel overwhelming, maybe take a breath and tell ourselves this isn’t permanent. Maybe I will try that at my appointment. 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless

 

God’s Christmas Lights

I don’t give a lot of importance to dreams but every once in a while I have one that stays in my spirit and causes me to pray. I know that God communicated through dreams with Joseph in the old testament and to Joseph the earthly step-father of Jesus, but I hesitate to put too much emphasis on dreams. However, Sunday night one came to me that was so vivid that Monday morning I had to pray.

In the dream there was light coming out of my hands to touch people in darkness to heal, set free, strengthen, and encourage. A dark figure was held at bay but kept lurking around the people. Then the light beamed through my chest and the dark figure was gone. There was more to it. It was so intense.

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Dreams can represent something that is on our minds.

What has been pressing on me in recent weeks is the darkness that exists in our culture these days and what our response should be. Perhaps I am more sensitized to it than most people it because I spend so much time with people who have been oppressed.

There are so many people around us who have broken lives. People suffer with depression, anxiety, eating disorders, past trauma, family problems, chronic illness just for some examples.

The question for all of us who follow Jesus is if we want to be his light in the darkness of this world. We are entering the time of year that is supposed to be filled with joy yet so many experience the opposite. They are around us all of the time if we will just open our eyes and our spirits to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

We can choose to be vessels of healing. It can be through healing moments of acts of friendship. It can be through meeting someone for coffee who is struggling and listening. It can be through inviting them into our homes or visiting them in their homes. It can be through helping with the holidays for them.

It is definitely through praying for them because Jesus has all power, but we don’t. We can go to the one who has all power in prayer on behalf of the suffering.

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So at the time of year that many people put up Christmas lights outside and put Christmas lights on Christmas trees, let’s remember the most important lights for people to see at Christmas- US. As Jesus said in Matthew 25:

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Jesus told us we are the lights of the world. He is the light of the world and wants to shine through us. We can be the true lights at Christmas and all of the time in this dark time we live in.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

 

Music Mondays- Noel by Chris Tomlin sung by Lauren Daigle

The older I get, the more important the true meaning of Christmas becomes to me. Yes this is a time of year for Christmas parties, shopping, Christmas lights and Christmas trees. All of that is okay, but do not have much meaning for me.

Having been through all of what I have in this life the only meaningful part of Christmas for me is why we have Christmas. Celebrating and remembering the birth of Jesus and what it means for all of us is what I care about. I still want to be amazed by the miracle of the birth of Jesus being born of a virgin. I want to only be in awe of the fact that Jesus left his throne in heaven to be born a human baby to be our Savior.

So I did it. I searched for Christmas music on youtube. I love the song Noel and found this recording by Lauren Daigle one of my favorite artists. I love the lyrics inviting to come to Jesus at his nativity:

Noel, Noel
Come and see what God has done
Noel, Noel
The story of amazing love!
The light of the world, given for us
Noel

The invitation is for all. Suffer with illness? Come and see what God has done. Suffer with depression? Come and see what god has done. Suffer with addiction? Come and see what God has done. Family difficulties? Come and see what God has done. Whatever our plight in this life is, come and see what God has done.

My hope is to reflect the hope, love, and joy that is found in knowing Jesus to others during this Christmas season.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.