A Dark Room: My Heart & Abortion

Having held my lifeless stillborn daughter in my arms almost 35 years ago can bring a rising level of emotions to my heart when I consider the current scenario being played out in the SCOTUS Roe v. Wade “leak” and upcoming ruling.

My heart. Yes, . . . that’s the key word in the previous sentence. Years ago, I heard someone say, “The heart of every issue is an issue of the heart.” What gives that principle gravity is the words of the Lord Jesus Christ when He said, For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person (Mark 7:21-23). What Jesus describes here is the fallen condition of our heart.

Described in Jeremiah 17:9, The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

The heart, as referred to in the Word of God, is not the vital human organ that pumps blood throughout our bodies; that keeps us going, moving, breathing. The heart is summed up in all that we are . . . our emotions, our will, our mind. Proverbs 4:23 reminds us that the heart determines the course of your life (NLT).

The whole of the abortion issue is one of the heart. Man by his very fallen nature has a heart that is selfish, short-sighted, manipulative, greedy, lazy, hedonistic, irrational, unreasonable, murderous, wicked, covetous, sensual, proud, corrupt, deceitful, faithless, ruthless, confused and much more.

Romans 1 describes the heart that refuses to acknowledge God as “foolish” and “darkened” (1:21).

The world’s response to abortion, those who perform abortions and those who have an abortion are simply . . . following their heart. Since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3), the hearts of the children of man are full of evil, and madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead (Ecclesiastes 9:3).

Now, I have just described my own heart. All of the above characteristics dwell within me, too. The only difference . . . at the age of five, based upon the truths of God’s Word and by His grace alone, Christ came to live in my heart, took up residency within me, and now I do not live the Christian life, Christ lives His life through me (Romans 3:23; 5:8; 6:23; 10:9-13; John 14:17-23; Galatians 2:20; Philippians 1:21; Colossians 1:27).

As a disciple of the Lord Christ Jesus, the worst decision I can make each day and throughout the day is to follow my heart, to go my own way. Man left to himself destroys himself and those around him.

The only way to overcome the battle that rages within me, my heart wanting to have its own way, is to surrender to Christ within me. He is life and has the words of life (John 6:68-69; 14:6; Matthew 11:28-30).

The answer to the abortion issue and the downward spiral of my heart is the gospel, the person of Jesus Christ.

As I think back to those days after the stillbirth of Ashley Marie, I am oft reminded of the dear lady who Denise visited in the hospital three months later who had experienced the same. When my wife walked into that room filled with sorrow and pain, she entered into the darkness of that dear mom’s heart when she said, “I just went through the same thing three months ago.” Then and there, Denise was able to share Christ with her.

Because of the condition of my heart, I can empathize with all in this world who are for abortion at any level. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God (2 Corinthians 4:4). Each of these need Christ. Each of these need someone to share the message of the gospel with them.

Especially needed is the dear mom who now lives with a broken heart, the painful scars of her decision to have an abortion. For you dear lady, there is forgiveness at the cross of Jesus Christ. To the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He [God] made us accepted in the Beloved. In Him [Christ] we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace (Ephesians 1:6-7).

Today, may we have an opportunity to enter into that dark room of a heart filled with sin, sorrow, pain, and brokenness and share the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ.

Today, will you turn to the light in Christ alone and be set free from the dark room of your heart?

Overcoming Discouragement in Ministry #11

Two marriage failures. One sexual abuse. One suicide.

I heard about these four tragedies in a two day period. These were all ministry leaders.

Only the Lord knows all the facts about each of these scenarios, but the following is for certain:

  1. These sins could have been prevented.
  2. The heart of every issue is an issue of the heart.
  3. Men in ministry are not above temptation.
  4. The root cause is unbelief in God which leads to discontentment which leads to discouragement which leads to despondency/depression which leads to despair.

This is why I have written these several recent blog posts about overcoming discouragement in ministry. As I heard of the aforementioned moral failures, my heart ached. I wept. I realized again how susceptible I am in my own heart to fail. Everyone of us is one decision away from bringing reproach on the name of Christ, destroying our testimony, marriage, family and ministry.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9)

Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. (1 Corinthians 10:12-14)

Ministry is made up of two worlds, public and private. Public ministry life has its share of hurts and struggles which brings the temptation to deal with it in a sinful way in the private world, where there is no accountability.

Will you read the following from Paul Tripp and soak your soul in the grace of God, the Lord Jesus Christ Who has brought deliverance and rescue to us all?

“Why do I struggle with the same sin over and over again, and how can I break the cycle?”

Someone submitted this question not too long ago. I could feel their discouragement through the email. Have you ever felt stuck in a cycle of sin, seemingly unable to break a pattern that dishonors the Lord and reaps a harmful harvest?

I know I have, and when I do, my mind immediately jumps to Romans 7. “For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.” (vv. 18-19)

So what do we do when we hit that wall? I think Romans 7 provides us with some practical steps and encouragement to break the cycle of sin.

The first is this: Don’t sign a premature armistice agreement with our sinful nature.

As believers, the Bible declares that our heart of stone has been removed and replaced with a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26). Yes, we are new creatures, and yes, the controlling power of sin over us has been broken … but the presence of sin remains.

I think many of us have seriously underestimated the drama, the power, and the depth of remaining sin—how deep it is inside of us and how it infiltrates every aspect of our being. There is a tremendous moral and spiritual war still raging on within us.

I am surprised by how many Christians, myself included, live with a peacetime mentality. While we might be active fighting our culture or protesting outside evil, some of us seem to expect the luxuries and leisure of peace in our heart—where the war rages most fiercely.

And then suddenly, we get surprised or discouraged when sin starts winning!

Don’t misunderstand: because of the wonderful atoning work of the Prince of Peace, the war between God and us has ended. And when Christ returns, our struggle with sin and the Enemy will be complete. But until then, a battle of hostility inside us still rages. Perhaps the problem is that we think that the adversary within—remaining sin— has been conquered long before it actually has.

In the middle of this spiritual war, there’s a second thing you must do: Don’t argue for your own righteousness.

Perhaps the biggest and most tempting lie that all of us tend to embrace is that our most significant problems exist somewhere outside. This is partially true because, in a fallen world, people sin against us and we experience bodily pain and suffering. The Apostle Paul experienced both of these and doesn’t minimize them by writing about them elsewhere in Scripture, but in this particular passage, he’s only concerned about his own sin and heart. He doesn’t argue for his righteousness.

On the contrary, in Romans 7, Paul locates his struggle inside himself. He knows that when you argue for your righteousness, you convince yourself that you don’t need the grace of God—the only thing that can protect you from sin.

“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8)

Are you feeling discouraged in your battle with sin? At first glance, Romans 7 can be a pretty discouraging passage! Paul exclaims, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?”

But the passage doesn’t end there: “Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

Eternal rescue has been supplied, but rescuing grace is still necessary every day. What we have received in Christ, we still desperately need. Romans 7 calls us to be aware and serious; the war for our hearts is not over. Our need for a conquering Savior has not ended.

Reflection Questions

  1. What sin have you conquered or left behind by God’s grace since becoming a believer? How have you become a new creation by being in Christ?
  2. What sins or weaknesses do you find yourself still struggling with? When was the last time you wrestled with the flesh because of it? What was the outcome? Do others know of this consistent battle?
  3. Are you more committed to fighting the sins of the culture than you are fighting remaining sin in your heart? Why is the latter more of a danger to you?
  4. Consider a recent time when you deceived yourself by arguing for your own righteousness. Who, or what, did you blame? How did you justify your selfishness or sin?
  5. What does the daily rescuing grace of Christ look like in your life? How can you pursue it today? Be specific.

Ministry friend, if I can be a listening ear for you with a heart of compassion and truth, please contact me at bcbcpastor@comcast.net. Let me help you before you become a statistic.

From a pastor’s heart!

dale

Overcoming Discouragement in Ministry #9

McAfee Knob AT

Do you feel a sense of guilt when you take time to go on a date with you wife?

Does guilt grab ahold of you if you are playing in the backyard with your children and a church member drives by?

If that church member stops to say hello, does a feeling of guilt lead you to give a reason or excuse for taking time to enjoy your children?

Does guilt consume you while on vacation?

When the day is done, do you deal with guilt because you didn’t get all of your boxes checked or those visits made?

GUILT….an emotion that can create ongoing discouragement in ministry.

How do you deal with it?

1. If you have started your day in prayer seeking the Lord’s will as well as surrendering your plans to His leading, then rest in His sovereign care and direction.

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the Lord upholds him with His hand (Psalm 37:23-24).

The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord. Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established. The Lord has made everything for its purpose (Proverbs 16:1, 3-4a).

2. Live to please the Lord, to glorify Him, and realize that you will never be able to please everyone in your congregation. Furthermore, they cannot always please you either. Yes, you are an example to the flock and they are watching you, but if you live to honor the Lord (1 Corinthians 10:31), then you have lined up with the highest standard. So respond with humility and grace. Neither pastor nor parishioner should have a standard for the other that they themselves are not living up to. Be gracious and give others some latitude.

3. Your freedom from the fear of man will be a testimony to your people as you interact with them in love and compassion. Lead them to see that for all of us, our expectation, our hope must come from the Lord (Psalm 62:5).

The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe (Proverbs 29:25).

4. Your identity is in Christ alone in Whom you are accepted. Spend some time soaking your soul in Romans 6-8 and Philippians 1.

To the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved (Ephesians 1:6).

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me (Galatians 2:20).

Ministry friend, remember that we live in a sin-cursed world that will never work right. So, rest in the promises of God, rest in grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, and rest in Matthew 11:28-30, Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am [f]gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.

Blessed Redeemer

1 Up Calv’ry’s mountain one dreadful morn
Walked Christ, my Savior, weary and worn;
Facing for sinners death on the cross,
That He might save them from endless loss. [Chorus]

2 “Father, forgive them!” thus did He pray,
E’en while His lifeblood flowed fast away;
Praying for sinners while in such woe–
No one but Jesus ever loved so. [Chorus]


3 O how I love Him, Savior and Friend,
How can my praises ever find end?
Thro’ years unnumbered on heaven’s shore,
My tongue shall praise Him forevermore. [Chorus]

Chorus:
Blessed Redeemer! Precious Redeemer!
Seems now I see Him on Calvary’s tree;
Wounded and bleeding, for sinners pleading—
Blind and unheeding— dying for me!

In Him (Christ) we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and understanding. (Ephesians 1:7-8)

He has delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:13-14)

But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:5-6)

Good Friday – The Crucifixion (Mark 14:53-15:41; 1 Peter 1:18-21; Luke 22:47-53; 23:39-43; John 19:1-37)

[“Blessed Redeemer” written by Avis B. Christiansen]

The Why Questions

Why doesn’t it stop? Why doesn’t God do something? Why does God allow this to happen? And the questions continue.

Today’s thoughts are a follow-up to Tuesday’s blog post, Bob Saget, Covid & Bronx Fire.

The “Why Questions” have been uttered for centuries and many without answer. Interesting enough, if our questions were answered, because of the next day of our lives producing more questions, we would never be satisfied.

Instead of focusing on the answers to the “why,” let’s focus today on the following:

Death is certain. You say with perhaps a look of wonder or a scowl, “Wow! That’s an encouraging first point!” Hebrews 9:27 declares, It is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment. Man has no power to determine when he is born nor when he dies. Try as hard as you can to survive, the days of your life here on earth are known and determined by God (1 Samuel 2:6; Job 1:21; Psalm 139:16). Since these things are true, you are not ready to live until you are ready to die.

Life is in Christ alone. As I said in the previous post, my heart aches and is grieved by all the sin, tragedies and deaths in the world. I have watched folk die, believers and unbelievers. I have had to console and comfort the broken-hearted. I have preached the funerals of my stillborn daughter, my parents and of friends. The greatest comfort of all is knowing that I will be reunited with these folk in Heaven because of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:3-4) and the promises of the Word of God (John 3:16; 14:1-6). Since Christ is life, true life and the assurance of eternal life is only found in Him.

God’s mercy is continually extended. God could have wiped out Covid months ago, but He is permitting it to continue for reasons known only to Him. The same could be said about the Bronx fire and other tragedies. God does not give us explanations. Through each tragedy, He is reminding us of His mercy in giving man an opportunity to consider death, eternity and free gift of salvation through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. As I heard years ago, “The greatest tragedy on earth today is not a tornado destroying your house, or a death in the family or financial loss. The greatest tragedy everyday is that someone died and is in hell because they rejected the person of Jesus Christ.”

Friend, would you click on the verse links and read the following:

Ephesians 2:1-10 – The richness of God’s mercy

Titus 3:4-6 – The mercy of God in salvation

1 Peter 1:2-3 – God’s great mercy

2 Peter 3:9 – God’s mercy displayed

As I said in the previous post, this messed up, sinful world won’t always be this way (Revelation 21:1-4). Today, instead of focusing so much on the why. turn your eyes toward the Who, the mercy of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ! You are not prepared to live until you are prepared to die. Will you spend your eternity in heaven?

Bob Saget, Covid & Bronx Fire

On the last day of 2021, Bob Saget reflected on the passing of 99 year-old Betty White by saying, “She always said the love of her life was her husband, Allen Ludden, who she lost in 1981. Well, if things work out by Betty’s design — in the afterlife, they are reunited. I don’t know what happens when we die, but if Betty says you get to be with the love of your life, then I happily defer to Betty on this.”

According to worldomenters.info, as of Monday, January 10, 2022, Covid has been the cause of death of 861, 021 people in the USA and 5,511,396 in the world.

Sunday morning, fire broke out in a Bronx, NY, apartment complex killing 17 people. Eight of them were children. “It was absolutely horrific,” Firefighters Association President Andrew Ansbro said. “I talked to many veteran firefighters who said it was the worst fire they had seen in their lives. They were doing CPR on people outside. It was absolutely horrific. Members operated with upmost heroism. Unfortunately, not all fires have a positive outcome. It’s horrible. This fire will be with these members forever.” (abc7ny.com)

This world is filled with suffering and sorrow. It is not supposed to be that way.

Then why so much agony, angst, fear, disappointment, and death?

As God created the universe, He saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day (Genesis 1:31). Upon creating man and woman in His own image (Genesis 1:26) and from the dust of the ground (Genesis 2:7), He placed them in the Garden of Eden, blessed them, and . . . said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Genesis 1:28).

What went wrong?

Sin. God gave man a freewill to choose and being tempted by Satan, he chose to go his own way and plunged the whole world into sin (Genesis 2:8-3:24). Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—for sin indeed was in the world (Romans 5:12-13a). You see, the world is totally broken because of sin.

Is there any hope for us? Is there anyone who can forever correct the sin problem? Will it always be this way? My friend, just as the world is completely broken by sin, Jesus is the complete answer for every sin, every wrong, every heartache, and every act of unrighteousness (Romans 5:14-21).

Covid constantly produces fear and reminds us of death. Man, even in his God-given mental capacity, has not figured out how to eradicate this pandemic. Yet, in the midst of it all, I hear these hope-filled words of truth at the tomb of death, Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live (John 11:25).

Sadly, mankind will continue to face fatalities due to such things as faulty space heaters and apartment doors that are designed to close in case of fire. Remember, the world is broken. Man cannot produce a perfect environment because we are imperfect creatures due to our sin. But there is hope! For where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 5:20b-21). The answer is the perfect Son of God (John 3:16-17; Ephesians 2:1-10).

Yes, there is immense pain and suffering in this world, and Jesus experienced it all (Isaiah 53; Hebrews 4:14-16). He bore the sin of the whole world, yours and mine (2 Corinthians 5:21), and He rose from the tomb to conquer sin and death (Matthew 28:1-10; Acts 2:24; Revelation 1:18). God wants you to have the security and assurance of eternity in His presence in Heaven (John 14:1-6).

My heart ached as I read Bob Saget’s statement about the afterlife. My friend, you can absolutely know where you are going. You do not need to hope that “things will work out by Betty’s design — in the afterlife.” You must not “happily defer to Betty on this.”

This sinful, broken world won’t always be this way. Please take time to read the scripture passages given above. There is eternal hope (confident expectation based on the promises of God in His Word); there is eternal assurance all found in the person of Jesus Christ. Please defer to Him!

Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:1-4)

In the School Of COVID

“Sometimes we have to experience misunderstanding from unsympathetic friends in order to learn how to minister to others.” These were part of Warren Wiersbe’s commentary on Job 16:4, that resonated in my heart.

Seated by the fireplace reading, grounded again for the third Sunday in a row due to COVID, I found myself replacing the words “unsympathetic friends” with “COVID.”

“Sometimes we have to experience COVID in order to learn how to minister to others.”

How blessed I have been to be healthy for over two years with no colds and only my typical back issues. I’ve been hiking, running, navigating ministry through the pandemic, on and on and on! Then . . . everything changed in one day. Symptoms which led to a positive test, feeling miserable, infusion, recuperation.

What did I need to learn again? I needed a fresh reminder of what it looks like to be a minister of mercy/compassion just like Jesus as demonstrated in the parable of the Good Samaritan. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ (Luke 10:34-35).

What does that look like? Well, here are some thoughts, in random order, that I jotted in my journal to remind me in the days to come.

  • Life changes so quickly . . . live in the moment. That may be all that’s left here. (James 4:14-15).
  • If the Lord nudges you to minister to someone, go. (Luke 10:34)
  • There are times when you are feeling so bad you do not have the energy to pray beyond, “Lord, help me!” If you are strong physically and spiritually, be sure to pray for those who are weak and weary. They need your intercession (James 5:16). Perhaps, call them . . . not to chit-chat but to simply say, “I want to pray with you, and then I’ll end the call.”
  • Ask the Lord to give you wisdom as to something beyond “If you need anything, call me!” 99% won’t call (I’m usually one of those); don’t want to be a bother or an inconvenience. Here are a few acts of service that I was blessed to receive recently: 1) Bring a meal. 2) Send a text saying, “I’m out at the store. What can I bring you?” or “I’m at Dunkin. Want a donut and coffee?” 3) Do some project around the yard or house. It was a refreshment to hear the lawn mower crank up in the front yard. 4) Drop by with some cookies/snacks or leave something in the mailbox or on the front porch.
  • Having said that, accept other’s offers to minister to you. The other night a meal was brought to our front door. Before departing, the gentleman said, “It sure feels good to be on this side of the door” (the giving side).
  • Send a text every other day or so. Sometimes the one who is suffering may not have the strength to read it and respond, but don’t be afraid to reach out, either. Perhaps a card of encouragement in the mail.
  • Store up the Word of God in your mind for times like these, when you’re too sick to read or listen to anything.
  • Consider the caregiver. He/she has picked up the ball for two people all the while serving the ill. They need encouragement and help, too.

How blessed to have a wonderful wife, our dear immediate family and loved ones, close friends, and our precious church family!! Most of all, oh, the goodness of God in the midst of stuff like COVID!

Yes, “sometimes we have to experience “COVID” in order to learn how to minister to others.” Thank You, Lord, for being patient with me and teaching me again to be moved with compassion.

Cooped Up At Christmas

I am so glad my wife and I like each other.

We have spent many hours together this month due to my bout with covid.

So what have we done to merry up Christmas and keep our marriage on the scenic route?

  1. Trust in forgiveness and the grace of God. When you are not feeling well, you can be demanding and words can have an edge. Throw in our hearing issues, and . . . . Therefore, just like every day of marriage, you must rest in the grace of God and forgive, not apologize.
  2. Give each other space. My wife has taken up the hobby of water color painting. She has received refreshment from going to her craft room in the afternoons and/or evenings and losing herself in a winter scene.
  3. Read Paul David Tripp’s, Come, Let Us Adore Him: A Daily Advent Devotional, that our daughter gave to us.
  4. Go for a drive just for some sunshine and a change of scenery. My wife’s Jeep is good for that. Now that I am gaining ground, I feel like driving. So, I’m her chauffer dropping her off at the door as I wait in the car.
  5. Movies. Denise and I are not TV watchers, but we have joined the ranks as we viewed many Christmas movies as well as some others. In the early going of this bout, I had to just sit and be still. No movement. We enjoyed White Christmas, Mrs. Miracle, The Christmas Edition, Elf, The Christmas Lodge, It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, Christopher Robin, Father of the Bride, It’s a Wonderful Life (my very first time), etc. Miracle on 34th Street awaits.
  6. 12 Days of Christmas. Denise and I have shared in this way of exchanging gifts several times over the years. For twelve days, before going to bed, we give a gift to each other. In the early days, we kept it to around $1-5 gifts. Of course, inflation has struck and it’s around $1-$20. How did I shop? Thank you Amazon delivery and Walgreen’s curbside pick-up services!
  7. Listen to hours of Christmas music via Amazon Music on Alexa. This has helped with a light-hearted atmosphere all through our home.
  8. Enjoy the fireplace at our meals.
  9. Share with each other what the Lord said to us through our daily Bible reading or sermon podcasts. This has been a blessing of joy, tears, conviction, challenge and encouragement.
  10. Nothing much. A few days, my wife was on her own. Well, she had Liza Jane, family communication, friends and the rigors of being a sweet caregiver. But as for us, some lonely hours.

Well, here it is two days before Christmas, and we still like each other! (And love one another, too!) God is so very good. Merry Christmas!!

I Am Thankful . . .

Yesterday, my cousin in West Virginia forwarded the following to me. Here’s a portion of that email, written by Larry Pratt, for your encouragement on this Thanksgiving Day.

__________________________

Several years ago a good friend of ours, Mary, shared this following
email. It was found on a relative who had passed on. He had it printed
on a card that he carried in his wallet.

His name was Jim. He is dead now, but his message lives on. I hope
you enjoy it.

I am thankful . . . . . .

. . . . for the mess to clean after a party because it means I have been
surrounded by friends.

. . . for the clothes that fit a little too snug because it means I have
enough to eat.

. . . for a lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning, and
gutters that need fixing because it means I have a home.

. . . for all the complaining I hear about government because it means
we have freedom of speech.

. . . for the spot I find at the far end of the parking lot because it means
I am capable of walking.

. . .for my huge heating bill because it means I am warm.

. . . for the lady behind me in church who sings off key because it
means I can hear.

. . . for the piles of laundry and ironing because it means I have clothes
to wear.

. . . for weariness and aching at the end of the day because it means I
have been productive.

. . . for the alarm that goes off early in the morning because it means
that I am alive.

. . . for all the right and wrong in the world because it means I can tell
the difference.

_______________________________

May we, too, find our lives lived with an attitude of gratitude, a heart full of grace and words of continual praise to our God!

I will praise the name of God with a song, And will magnify Him with thanksgiving (Psalm 69:30).

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations (Psalm 100).

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever (Psalm 107:1).

HAPPY, BLESSED, PRAISE-FILLED THANKSGIVING DAY!!!

Dale

Burdened, Not Amused

The longer I strolled through the amusement park, the more burdened and sad I became. Everywhere I turned, people were trying to fit in, wanting to be accepted, living a lifestyle of sin, provoking their children to anger, flaunting their assumed freedom, living for the moment, trying to buy happiness, bowing down to the idols of their heart, motivated as described in Jeremiah 17:9

Then, the next morning while reading Ephesians 4:17-19, my mind was transported back to the day before and those dear soul’s greatest need . . . the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ!

Why? Because they are living in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness (4:17b-19).

If it were not for the grace of God, Ephesians 4:17-19 would describe me. But, how marvelous is the mercy and grace of God that has transferred me from darkness to light! As an old song written by Rusty Goodman says,

Had it not been for a place called Mount Calvary,
Had it not been for the old rugged cross,
Had it not been for a man called Jesus,
Then forever my soul would be lost,

The change this world needs can only be found in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ!! But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast (Ephesians 2:4-9).

Protesting on the street corner, shaking your head in disgust, or responding in anger or arguing will not change sinful hearts. These dear souls, just like you did, need someone to love them enough for God’s glory to share the love of God through the cross work and resurrection of Jesus Christ that can radically change their life for eternity. Real life and adventure is only found in following Jesus Christ!

If you are searching today, my friend, read these scripture verses again and again until your eyes are opened to see your condition before God. Watch the video “How can I go to Heaven?” at the top of the sidebar.

I share this because I care for you. No critical judgment toward you. Jesus is the only way, the truth and the life (John 14:6) Everyone must go by the way of the cross or forever be lost, . . . and Jesus Christ did all that was necessary for you to have a life worth living here and for all eternity!