Entering Eternity~

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As you may know my blog thoughts are always pulled from profound (and sometimes simple) lessons that I learn from real life. That being said, I have sat on this blog as I reflect on the passing of a good man……a great man….and the impact of his life on me personally.

Steve Stern passed away triumphantly this week gaining a free body in the process.  We are all so joyfilled by that knowledge; yet we are saddened that he ever had to fight the beast ALS at all!! So joy and sadness collide!

There is no justice that I could ever do to honor his passing than to lead you to the last blog post of his amazing and courageous bride.  So, I will direct you to her blog– let her thoughts simmer in your soul as you consider the end of your life and the difference between a hope in salvation and eternity, and an end without it.

There is a profound difference.  A precious life is not longer with us BUT his legacy, his impact will be endless–you just watch! God trusted him with ALS.

Please read~ it will rock your spirit!

On The Day You Flew

Abundantly Grateful~

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Today when I awoke from my soft, comfy bed I made my way to the kitchen for a cup of warm coffee.  I sat down in a quiet space and picked up my Bible, which I am free to leave sitting on my coffee table~ I read and prayed freely.

Later in the day I drove on safe roads while I made my way to a grocery store with an incredible assortment of groceries; never once did I have to fight anyone for the “last” of any item.  So many choices.

Towards afternoon I had the freedom to enjoy a few television shows without having government control what I could watch; even read a fun magazine freely. Not once did I fear for my safety today!

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Today I didn’t wake up in a worn-torn area where bedding and warmth are impossible to find.  I did not have to drink dirty water out of an old plastic container because there is nothing else available.

Today I didn’t have to rummage for a few pages I had found from an old bible; hiding away in a dark corner just to read their words of life; praying not to get caught.

Today I did not have to walk to the old dump to rummage for bits and pieces of edible food along with many others without viable ways to feed their families.

Today I wasn’t inundated with Government rants and photos of leaders plastered on every large building wall. I wasn’t warned that if I wasn’t 100% compliant with my Government I would stand the chance of losing my life.

This is why I am thankful to be an American.  Though we are not a perfect nation and we are continually challenged with ongoing issues; we are still enjoying so many freedoms that others around the world would never dare to dream for!

This 4th of July~ I am abundantly grateful for those who fought for my freedom.

The Rules of the Club~

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I was about 5 years old when my parents began to attend a wonderfully energetic Assembly of God church.  Each week a large choir belted out anthems while attenders sang along with hands raised in worship; engaging, emotional, and even a little bit loud! We went to church early each Sunday for Sunday School, coffee and goodies in between, and then the larger church service till noon; we would return again in the evening for another engaging service as well as popping in on Wednesday nights for classes and connection. Those were the expected rules of attendance. I am grateful for my heritage and the many things I learned over the years. But, there were many rules for those in the club:  no dancing, no alcohol, no playing cards, no going to the movies, no wearing pants to church, etc.  None of the rules were damaging except that I was convinced they were “God’s rules” in order to be acceptable to Him.

Imagine my surprise when, as an adult, when my husband and I pastored churches and eventually began to Coach pastors from every denomination and non-denomination.  I began to see that each church group has their own rules for their club.  The “rules” weren’t necessarily harmful but it was important to know what the rules were in order to be fully accepted into the “club”. Often the rules were non-negotiable.

About 10 years ago I met a young gal, pierced and tattooed.  A really kind-hearted, friendly young gal.  We chatted a bit each week as she shared some of the challenges she was experiencing in her life; I would always encourage her to find a church to attend in hopes that she would find the answers she needed for her life.  I was really excited the day she expressed that she had been to church over the weekend. With teary eyes she spoke of how the songs that had been sung really touched her heart, the teaching she heard really made her think and long for something new. At the close of the service there had been an opportunity for anybody wanting a fresh start to come to the front to pray with a leader there.  She said she almost ran to the front.  As she shared her vulnerable heart that day, the leader looked at her as tenderly as she could and let this young girl know that God did really love her BUT that those piercings and tattoos were truly not acceptable.  She left the church brokenhearted that day.  Oops…She did’nt know the rules of the club.

Certainly any organization–churches or businesses –will have their own personality, themes, rules, and ways to navigate ongoing interactions.  My only caution would be this:  Let’s be careful that we don’t keep people out or at a distance because they don’t abide by all the rules that have been established. Let’s not let our “rules” keep others from knowing and experiencing the gracious and inclusive love of our God.  Let’s make sure the rules we establish are truly from Him.

…..one thing I know for certain, her tattoos and piercings didn’t matter to God. I think He cried that day.

 

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She danced~

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I love the Christmas season!  I love celebrating the birth of our Lord.  I love the fun, the food, and all the wonderful traditions, but I really love singing Christmas carols! Last night was so enjoyable as the Worship Team at my home church led us in some amazing renditions of all my favorite songs; it was wonderful.

However, singing the songs wasn’t the only element that filled my heart last night.  What also filled my heart was this adorable little girl standing in the front row with her daddy; filled with all the awe and wonder you would hope for a little child to have. As the songs were sung she danced and danced and danced.  This precious little one didn’t care who was looking, if her moves were acceptable, if someone was bothered by her passionate little dance.  Nope~~ she just danced with all the joy that was inside her little heart.

Watching this sweet display brought me to sweet tears as I realized that many of us, myself included, have lost the freedom to simply “dance” in our lives.  So often we worry about how we look, what others may think; we fear the thought of criticism. Have we lost our sense of awe and wonder? Have we become so adult, so appropriate, that we rarely “dance” in life at all?

I have been pondering all of this since last night and an interesting verse came to my mind: Matthew 18:3 says  “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”  Hmmm….  Perhaps it’s time to “dance” again!

Dance like there’s nobody watching,
Love like you’ll never be hurt.
Sing like there’s nobody listening,
And live like it’s heaven on earth.
– William W. Purkey

Good Politics

 From the barrage of television ads, to the continual news feed running 24 hours a day on-line, on radio, and in print; Politics are on the forefront of all our minds.

I am so grateful to live in a nation where I been given the freedom to cast my vote for the leader I feel would be best suited for the challenges we are facing in the United States. Our freedom to vote is also a responsibility that I take seriously at both the local and countrywide levels.

However, I have also watched this freedom cause conflict between neighbors, co-workers, family, and even those in our churches. I am left to ponder what God’s perspective might be in the way we express our freedoms.

Romans 13;1 states: “Every person must be subject to the governing authorities, for no authority exists except by God’s permission. The existing authorities have been established by God.”

Philippians 2:1-5 expresses; “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.”

In 2 weeks the votes will be cast and we will move forward with whomever has been chosen to lead by this free nation; I pray we will join hands as a country, regardless of our differences, to express passion and care for what we do and for those we have the responsibility to care for.

1 Timothy 2:1-3 expresses this so well; “The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know. Pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well so we can be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation. This is the way our Savior God wants us to live.” ( The Message )