Only Jesus by Casting Crowns
And I… I don't want to leave a legacy
I don't care if they remember me
And I… I've only got one life to live
I'll let every second point to Him
All the kingdoms built, all the trophies won
Will crumble into dust when it's said and done
'Cause all that really matters
Did I live the truth to the ones I love?
Was my life the proof that there is only One
Whose name will last forever?
Heartache, loss, change, transition tears and goodbyes characterized my life in the last few months. There is joy too in the people I've loved, the activities accomplished and that "finished well" my time in Tuxpan. I felt my heart being ripped out as I packed up my house, sent my dogs to new homes, and leave behind the beautiful friendships I have in that city. I've struggled to accept God's peace and joy in the midst of it all, trusting that His plans are for the best. That He will give me a "hope and a future." I know my eyes need to be fixed on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, and on the heavenly home, the reward that will last forever and that will never be taken away from me. That doesn't make my pain any less real, but brings hope that He will make it worthwhile, that this is good for me as I learn to hold lightly to the things of this world.
In the end, it's about Jesus, and only Jesus. When I first heard the song I rebelled, I DO want to be remembered, I do want those whose lives I've invested in remember the crazy gringo with the red pickup truck who loved on lots of kiddos. Yet, it's true. What do I want them to remember? What has been my life's purpose, is it not to point them to Jesus? Only He lasts forever, only He can change hearts and bring peace. Did I point them to the God of love, forgiveness? Pain and heartache are all around us. Maybe tomorrow this will seem so far away and it won't hurt anymore. God is the same, yesterday, today and forever. Meantime, I'll have the opportunity to point a new generation to Jesus. My prayer is that indeed when all is said and done, my life will be a proof that there in only One who will last forever. May I point to Him...Only Jesus.
Saturday, February 10, 2018
"Do you believe God can do a miracle," asked the visiting pastor to the group of children at the Alpha and Omega children´s home in Poza Rica (Mexico).
"Yes", they shouted back in unison.
"Then start praying and fasting and you´ll see what God can do."
Thus, the children began a ten day fast, following the example of Daniel in the Old Testament, they ate only fruits and vegetables.
The need was evident, and it was huge. The boy´s dormitory was literally falling apart, and they were afraid it would cave in at any minute. It was the first building to be constructed when the home was founded over twenty-five years ago. The girls’ dorm was newer and had been improved over the years, but the boy´s house needed to be completely torn down and rebuilt. However, where were the funds to come from for this endeavor? With around sixty children living on the premises, finances were tight. That´s when the visiting pastor challenged the youngsters to put their faith in action by prayer and fasting.
Eleven days later the children celebrated the end of the fast with a thanksgiving party. They still didn´t know the answer to their petition but believed God would soon provide.
A week later director Obed and his family went on vacation. He shared the need with the people he was visiting, and they joined in praying for the miracle.
A few days after Obed returned to the home, he called together the children, the workers and volunteers. After a prayer, he called the boy´s house father to the front and said, "I have great news for you, we can now begin tearing down the dilapidated boys ‘dorm!"
After the joyful ruckus the news caused calmed down, Obed explained that a Christian brother in another county heard about the need and, despite his own illness and many needs, donated a large sum of money to build a new house for the boys. God heard their prayers!
I was awed and amazed when the children told me this story with such joy and enthusiasm. They aren´t the only ones whose faith was strengthened!
"“Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive thekingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” (Mark 10:13 NKJV)
Thursday, January 4, 2018
FAMiLY indeed a precious word, for those of us who are blessed with a loving one. Not that all families don't have issues, mine included. However, each one is unique and designed by God, mine included! I am partial to mine of course, with all their quirks, hang-ups and positive points. My earthly dad is no longer with us, going on five years now. Dad had a fun sense of humor, and was a big to tease, yet struggled all his life with insecurity and inadequacy. It was a rough time for him growing up with a super demanding father, yet he overcame to be a loving dad to my brother and me, making sure he spent time with us, on bike trips, vacations and long walks. He loved God deeply, even in, and through, his doubts. To the end of his days the Bible was open on his lap, his prayer notebook was ragged and torn at the edges from constant use. After a long illness, he passed on peacefully to be with the perfect father who loved and knew him before the foundation of the world.
Mom is nearly 87 and going strong. Slowing down a bit and gets exasperated when I try to take the role of mother instead of daughter! A hard working woman all her wife, faithful to my dad to the end, going where he went, loving him through trials, lost jobs, moves and hardships. She held the family together with a strong personality, determination and patience. Not overly affectionate in her manner, but shows love through those actions that speak louder than words. Her love for God is evident to all who know her and, now that dads gone, has taken up his prayer notebook representing those people, organizations and loved ones before the throne of God. Faithful, committed, intelligent. I remember when, in her 50s, (which seemed so old to me at the time) she took a computer class to learn how to use these new-fangled machines and got an A, I was impressed! Not many in her generation not only finished college, but went on to get her master’s in library science. My parents taught us the value of education, and I thank them for pushing me to get mine. I also learned the importance of commitment (church doors open, there we were!) and keeping one's word. FAITH- COMMITMENT-RESPONSIBILITY- EDUCATION are values they taught and reflected in every day life. My mother the librarian and my father an avid book reader, made sure we had plenty of books around and to this day I enjoy reading a good book. At times in my childhood I wished I had a stay at home mom. I was envious of my friends who had a mom at home and plenty of home cooking when they got home from school. I understood later on that due to her constancy in jobs, the family’s needs were always met.
After seven years of marriage my parent’s fears they would never become pregnant, my one and only favorite brother, Paul came along. He was big meanie to me when we were kids. He delighted in making fun of me, even sitting on my chest and plummeting his little sister. I was mortified when his friends mimicked me saying, "Paul, daddyyys heeereeee!" amid their quaffs. However, I also have great memories of playing with his GI Joe soldier figures, Christmases with his model train set and riding our bikes to the pool on sweltering summer days in the Ohio valley. I thought I hated this big brother of mine, until he went away to a boarding school, and lo and behold, I missed him. Turns out my “enemy” is my friend. Before I left for the mission field this enemy-turned-friend took me out to dinner and apologized for the mean things he did to me when we were kids. I love him anyway because he's my brother, but so much more as my brother in Christ, mentor and example of a godly man.
About twenty eight years ago this friend married and brought into our family a new friend and the sister I never had, Heather. When he called me to tell me he was in love, I was a bit than skeptical. He had after all dated several ladies over the years. I soon came to realize this was for real and fell in love her also. She has the gentle and quiet spirit of a woman who fears the Lord. As a faithful prayer warrior, God gives her the strength and courage to deal with patients who have terminal illnesses. Though she and Paul originally planned serving the Lord overseas in a Norths African country, God gave them filed ripe for harvest in Brooklyn.
A year into their marriage, their first son and my nephew David was born. I met him when he was three months old and it was thrill to hold that little baby boy on my lap. When I was going through a difficult time in my life, I found joy in seeing him grow, taking his first steps and saying his first words. Now, a strapping young man of nearly 28, we are proud of his commitment to our Lord Jesus Christ and his desire to become a pastor, returning to Brooklyn when he graduates to serve the church community that shaped him.
Two years later, a second son, Daniel was born. Danny, like his pop-pop, developed that sense of humor and love of life. He also inherited the brains and is working on his PHD, also desiring to serve God now and in the future.
Living out of the country, I missed the growing up years of these boys. Yet I thank God for them and am so proud of what they are becoming, counting it a privilege to be called auntie.
That’s it, for now anyway! We wait to see what young ladies will grab the hearts of Dan and David, adding nieces to my family. As much as I love them, I thank our loving Heavenly Father for the much bigger family of faith. When I can’t be with my flesh and blood family, it’s the spiritual family that sees me through. Family teaches me what it is to be part of God’s family where there is neither male, nor female, Greek, nor Hebrew, slave nor free or black or white. He loves each of His children unconditionally and forever. When our earthly family lets us down, as it will. Papa God is there to hold us tight and see us through. Thank you dear Father, for families.
“For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:14-19
Monday, January 2, 2017
JANUARY 1 2017
A new year, new beginnings, but what is a year in God’s calendar? After all, a day in His sight is as thousand years, and a thousand years is as a day. Life passes buy with the speed of a freight train “life is but a vapor…vanity (mere breath), all is vanity (mere breath).” I sometimes feel dizzy, other times a bit cynical as the days march relentlessly on. “Only one life will soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.” We’ve all heard this little ditty, yet it is true. I’m not usually one for New Year’s resolutions, but here it is. Psalm 73 will be my psalm for this year:
Truly God is good to (me-Rebekah), to such as are pure in heart. I must keep that truth before me. To believe that no matter what, He is good. The psalmist then pours out his frustration, anger, hurt at the prosperity of the wicked. They have life so easy, always prosperous, no problems, getting away with “murder” (literally), bragging about their wickedness, shaking their fists in God’s face, laughing at God and defying Him blatantly. That hasn’t changed in the last millennia or so.
The psalmist feels (as I, we often do) that his own walk of integrity, of purity has been in vain. He is greatly vexed, doesn’t understand and is angry with God. (It is comforting to know we can pour out anger and frustration to God, at God and He allows it, understands.) I too find it disconcerting, confusing, scary too as I read about the infernal war in Syria that seems to be unending, read horrific testimonies of precious believers persecuted, threatened beaten and imprisoned because they take a stand for Jesus, hear of those who have lost everything for walking with Him, children without parents, suffering everywhere….doesn’t God care, will He act? Where is He? I wonder and agonize.
The writer admits it is too painful for him, he can’t get a handle on it all. UNTIL, (thank God for the until) he goes into the house of God, spends time in God’s presence, meditates on the final destiny of those who commit atrocities, defying God. Only then he understands; God will arise, it is a slippery path the wicked are on, they will pay the consequences, God is not slumbering, only waiting, patiently until the time to act. The psalmist now recognizes his foolishness, and is vexed over his attitudes. It’s like he too has awakened from sleep, or is now seeing through glass clearly where before all was clouded and shady. Now he can say-
Nevertheless I am continually with You: You hold me by my right hand, You will guide me with Your counsel and afterward You will receive me to glory.
Glorious truth, God knows our hearts, He understands and does not condemn our doubts, even our rantings.
Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon the earth that I desire besides You,- cries out the writer. My friend Mirna says we read this part wrong, it is God speaking to us, “Nothing I desire on earth beside you”, God desires me, I am His highest treasure!
My heart and my flesh may fail; but God (BUT GOD!!) is the strength of my heart and my portion forever….But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord God, that I may declare all Your works.
That’s it, my New Year’s resolution, to desire God above all else, to be near to God, to trust in Him, focus on Him. Then I will proclaim, share and even shout about His wonderful deeds and about this amazing God. But how am I to draw near to Him? Distractions, problems, and sins get in the way. Doubts and fears such as the writer of this poem describes. It is God who will do it. I don’t even know how to “let Him” take charge, I try and try and fail and fail, perhaps I’m trying too hard. What is my part?
Be near to Him, spend time with Him in His word, talking, listening. Have an attitude of prayer throughout the day, turning my thoughts to Him, conversing with Him. If I did that before I speak or act, I’d probably get into a lot less trouble and relational difficulties!
Spending time in solitude with just God, no television, internet, books, or even people to distract. Go to a place where it is just God, a retreat at the beach, in the mountains or maybe in a monastery!
Another way to be near to God is to see Him in others, focus on family, beloved friends, brothers and sisters in Christ and those I meet as I walk through life. To really see them and hear them as God’s precious creation.
That is my resolution and goal for 2017, to be near to Him. Make Him my desire, my chief joy, like the pearl of great price, my greatest treasure. I know it won’t be easy, I will trip up along the way. But my precious Lord, He alone knows my heart. I pray he will enable me, to draw near to Him, to be gentler, kinder, patient with myself and others. I can’t do it alone, I know, so pray with me that He will change my heart so that my doubts, fears, worries and sins will fade in the light of HIs presence. Tune in next year to see how it turned out! Happy New Year!
Monday, December 19, 2016
SING TO HIM, SING PRAISE TO HIM,
TELL OF ALL HIS WONDERFUL DEEDS, GLORY IN HIS HOLY NAME,
LET THE HEARTS OF THOSE, WHO SEEK THE LORD REJOICE!
(I CHRONICLES 16:9-10)
“Christmas is a time to think about Jesus, Christmas is a time to praise His holy name, Christmas is a time to think about Jesus, let us praise Him for what He has done...” (Bill Daub)
Let us praise Him for WHO HE IS!”
Wars and rumors of wars, people struggling with health needs; cancer, depression, illness, financial needs of friends, ministry partners, a ministry center kicked out because of one person’s greed, poverty and hunger, my own sins that discourage and anger me….
When will it all end? Is there hope? YES, o Yes! God is still on the throne, His praises sing out, His work goes on. His anger lasts but a moment, His favor a lifetime. He was angry with me, but has turned away His wrath, He is in the midst of us, Immanuel, GOD WITH US.
He is not a distant God, away out there, but He cares, sees, knows and is involved. Evidence is all around, when I take the time to look; a school is built in Iraq to help war torn and weary citizens, donations are collected to help a needy family in Tijuana, documents are being examined for a permanent solution for the rehab center, churches are planted, scripture translated, clinics with doctors and nurses giving their time and money to help the needy, a friend is declared cancer free, another will find the strength to go on and church members donate thousands of hours and thousands of dollars to create a free event as a Christmas gift to their community. In my own life I have seen His mercy, grace and provision in countless ways. His name is exalted through His servants all over the world. Many who never would have heard or been open to the gospel are now seeing His love and care through His children who serve them.
Yes, Christmas is a time to think about Jesus and praise Him for what He has done, is doing and will do. Fix your eyes on Jesus…wait and see what He will do. Praise His holy name and rejoice, because our salvation is at hand!