A friend of mine lost her grandfather last year. While in Florida helping out, her Grandmother gave her a wrinkled, torn piece of paper on which her Grandfather had written a poem. Beautiful and simple:
By dying, I live.
By surrender, I win the victory.
By giving, I am made rich.
By kneeling, I stand firm.
By weakness, I am made strong.
By fasting, I am made fat.
By selflessness, I am made satisfied.
By praying for others, I am blessed beyond measure.
By serving others, all my needs are met.
By comforting the lonely, I receive fellowship.
By praising the Lord, I receive high honor.
By being a fool in the world’s eyes, I am made wise by the Lord.
By not seeking my own comfort, I receive all my satisfaction.
By dying to self, I will live forever.
She also writes about the difficulties of the family situation following her grandfather’s death, but also about how the Lord was using her and about the life that her grandfather built:
These last few days have been hell on earth for her [grandmother], and it has been almost unbearably hard to watch it happen. I say “almost” because, through it all, our Father has been faithful to guide and comfort us. He has been using my mouth to speak His Word to her in an amazing way. It seems that Scripture comes forth without any effort on my part to seek out the right word for the moment or to recall verses memorized in Sunday school. I open my mouth, or rather, my mouth opens and out come these words–His Words, apt and true, sometimes ones that I didn’t even know I’d memorized.
He also continues to remind me that the house I’m living in, the subject of the new debate, was built by a godly man, my great-grandfather, for the purposes of raising his family in a God-honoring way. Every nail was hammered into place with that purpose. In my grandma’s despondency, I was pushed to remind her of this. This house is God’s. It always has been. I have seen the enemy trying to infiltrate and subvert, taking advantage of the death of my grandfather, pillar of faith that he was, but the enemy has no place here. This place was consecrated to His service then, and we will fight to keep it that way. This house will not be a stumbling block or a millstone but a sanctuary.
I found a box of letters that my great-grandmother wrote to her sister at the turn of the last century (1901 mostly). I also found a book written in 1848 Proverbial Philosophy: A Book of Thoughts and Arguments. Right up my alley. I intend to read its fragile and fragrant pages with care. And lastly, I found a some poetry from another relative written in 1880. All so interesting and enlightening. Be jealous.
I am sleeping in the room in which my dad spent his first few months of life. His crib was by the window where my dresser now stands. That’s kinda cool.
My grandmother has been sharing much of her wonderful marriage and life with my grandfather. Each new story leaves me both hopeful, eager, and in pain.
Can you be a Christian your whole life, and realize one day that you’re actually not? Charo Washer grew up Christian and was married to a missionary for over a decade before she realized that she wasn’t actually saved. It’s not just a cute, catchy little prayer that “saves” us. Time and again the Bible tells us that if we are truly saved, we will show it. Not because we are saved by such works, but because when Christ comes into our hearts, he changes us. It can’t be any other way. Our old selves were dead in sin. If we are born anew, and made to be more like Christ, then how could we possibly be, act, live the same as before. Our thoughts, priorities, actions, feelings change. Not overnight, but they’re moving in a certain direction. Though not even all people who outwardly look like or profess to be Christians really are. Jesus spoke very clearly about this:
(Matt 7: 21-23) “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
In fact, Paul calls on us to take a good look at ourselves: (2 Cor 13:5)
“Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?”
The America version of easy salvation can become stale and legalistic. We often make it seem like a legal contract, made on our behalf by a very kind uncle. We get a nice inheritance, but we’re disconnected from the actual transaction. That was done 2,000 years ago by a very nice man, who suffered a little bit. Since most of us haven’t done anything we think is terrible – like murder – and since we’re generally good people, we often feel that’s it’s quite right for us to receive that inheritance.
As the speaker in the third clip points out, when God convicts us of our sin, it becomes personal. It’s so easy to just repeat the mantra that “we’re all sinners.” It’s an easy out, and it doesn’t make us think much. But do we truly understand that we’re sinners? No, not really. It’s only when God opens our eyes to the hurt and pain we’ve caused to Him, to those around us, to ourselves, that we begin to understand our fallen state. Only then can we truly repent. How can you ask for forgiveness if you don’t think you’ve done anything wrong? One of the ways that we know we’ve been saved is when we begin to hate the sin that we once loved.
Charo Washer went through the motions for decades, not because she wanted to, but because it was what she was supposed to do. God finally opened her eyes, after listening to her husband’s sermons for years. Three ten minute installments. The first two are Charo’s story, and the last is commentary. Well worth the listen:
A friend of mine recent wrote this note and put it up on her facebook page. I asked if she wouldn’t mind sharing here. From an outside perspective, it might seem like a trivial matter, but it’s millions of little ways like this that God interacts in our lives. I especially like one of her concluding thoughts. If God cares so much about us that he takes care of little details, how much more, then, does he care about the big things.
the small stuff.
i totally should be asleep right now. but i just had an amazing experience (well, you may not classify it as “amazing” but then again you aren’t writing this note, now are you) and i felt the need to share it with whomever may happen to stumble upon this little section on facebook. so here we go.
first let me preface why i classify my “experience” as amazing. so i have been spending alot of time in the gospels lately-doing a little studying on the life of Jesus. (I am also reading “Just like Jesus” by Max Lucado- i highly recommend it and any other book by him) but anyway, I was reading the other day about a man who came to Jesus (well, there are several of these stories in the bible) and asked Him to heal his servant without Jesus actually having to come to his house and personally see or touch the man- and Jesus was glad to heal the servant because of that master’s faith- HIS TRUE BELIEF THAT JESUS COULD AND WOULD DO IT. Also, there is another passage that really supplements stories like this (and the one i am about to explain)- It is in Mark, and Jesus is talking to the disciples about having faith about the things they can do with the power of God…like telling a mountain to move for example. He tells them that if they truly believe that they can do it (or have received whatever they have asked for in prayer) then it will be done for them. Ok, so that is powerful. As I was driving home tonight- super late and in the COLD and RAIN, i remembered that I didn’t have my access card to get into my apartment building. (I lost it-again. responsibility is definitely not my best quality) I also had 3 big laundry bags full of clothes that I needed to get into my apartment asap- and there are never ANY spots after like 9pm in my parking lot…which means i was going to have to park across the street and walk the whole way back (with the previously mentioned conditions still in effect). So remembering what I have been reading in the Word, I just started asking God if he would not only provide a parking spot for me in the good lot, but that someone would be around to let me in to the building. (At like 1 am on a Sunday night- my chances didn’t look good…at all). But I chose to believe in what God COULD do for me and not what seemed likely. Well what do you know, I pulled up and BAM- parking spot right outside my door. Might as well have had my name on it. Once I got all of my bags out of my car, I walked up to the door and just stood there- having complete faith that someone was going to come out. And sure enough, not 1 minute later, two girls walked out of the door on their way to wherever people go at 1 am on a Sunday night. I just grinned and walked right on in.
All that to say…if God cares that much about me getting a good parking spot and literally opening doors for me to get inside my apartment, how much more does he care about things like internship opportunities for the summer, who I am going to marry, where I am going to live after law school, how I am going to pay off my loans, etc. etc. The main thing I feel like God is trying to teach me right now is what authentic faith should look like in my life- and any other Christian’s life for that matter. It’s not only knowing that God wants the best for us (which He does- and that is very important to know), but also believing that those good things ARE FOR SURE GOING TO HAPPEN FOR THOSE WHO BELIEVE IT! I guess my point in making this an open note and not just one for the journal is to encourage anyone who may be struggling with what God can/wants to do in your life. God loves each of us the same (thank goodness, because I can think of ALOT of people who “deserve” His love more than I do) and if he loves all of us the same, he wants to give YOU that good parking spot (or whatever you are praying and believing Him for) just as much as he wanted to provide it for me. That’s my favorite thing about God- he isn’t limited in His resources of what He can do for us-heck, he created all of this. Of course it’s His to give away!
“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, BELIEVE THAT YOU HAVE RECEIVED IT, and it will be yours.” -Mark 11:24
I hope you smell what I’m steppin’ in here. It just made my night and I couldn’t help but share. I hope this encourages someone out there who may be pondering what God is all about like it did for me.