Why?

Why do people hurt each other?  Why do people want to kill others who oppose their viewpoints?  Why does a tower building burn causing so many deaths?  Why do children bear the brunt of adult mistakes?  Why would a youth kill another youth?  Why would people think they can hurl hurtful words at each other?  Why do people get ill and die?  Why do car accidents kill so many?  Why are their wars?  Why is their divorce?  Why is there so much hate in this world?  Why do we have to put up with another’s hate?  Why is their racism?  Why are there those who have and won’t share with those who don’t have?  Why is their hunger in this world?  Why does crime happen?  Why do people lie to each other?  Why?  It is simply my friend…because we live in a fallen world of sin.  There are two forces in this world and a fight that we can’t always see between good and evil, between the army of heaven and the army of hell that plays out in our daily lives.  But I have good news for you all!  Jesus wins.  Yes, Jesus won already but poor old Satan doesn’t acknowledge it yet!  How can this be?  Why doesn’t Satan know he has lost the war?  I think he does know.  I think he knew he lost and that is why he is so angry and wants to take as many souls away from God and Jesus as he can while he can.  I think he knew he wouldn’t win after he tried to tempt Jesus.

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.  The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”  Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ”

Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple.  “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:  “ ‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’ ” Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ”

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.  “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”  Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’ ” Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.  Matthew 4:1-11, (New International Version or NIV).

Jesus knew how to handle Satan and the way He did it was to recite scriptures from the Old Testament to counter every temptation.  We can learn from that can’t we?  Yes, the battle was won by Jesus and Satan left when Jesus told him to go.  Satan will leave us too if we will just tell him to go.  As far as I know this is the only time that Satan confronted Jesus while Jesus lived on earth.  I am sure that Satan was watching Jesus from afar and certainly we see many of the demons that were speaking to Jesus asking Him to leave them alone.  We also see many sinful people trying to end Jesus’s life and ministry.  Why didn’t Jesus wipe out Satan while Jesus was living here on earth?  I wish I knew the answer to that.  I don’t know why God is so patient except that He wants all of us to have a chance to be followers of Jesus and be in heaven.

The truth is that some questions just can’t be answered yet.  Why people have to die in the first place is one of those questions.  But if you think about it, would you want to live forever with evil still in the world?  I know that I don’t want to.  Another question that has no answer on this side of eternity is why people have to suffer from tragic illnesses.  Why does our youth have to battle terrible diseases or be disabled?  I just don’t know the answers.  But one thing I do know is that God is watching everything and taking it all down and I know that God will be fair and so will Jesus Christ.  Fair…the word means so many things to so many people but when I think of the word fair I have to be honest and say that I want God to be patient just a little longer because I have those I am praying for that are not saved.  I want God to give them plenty of opportunities to repent because I think that would be fair.

Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires.  They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.”  But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water.  By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed.  By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.  The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.  But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.  Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.  But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.  2 Peter 3:3-13, (NIV).

I am thankful to know that God is patient and doesn’t count time as we do.  I am thankful that Jesus came and died for my sins and rose again to beat Satan in that great battle, (Revelation 12) and will come again to bring judgement to all humans ever born on this earth (Revelation 22:12).  I also know that Jesus did this for you too.  I think in my own life I have stopped asking why things happen or why God allows bad things to continue happening to people who I know.  The truth is there may not be a reason but if there is I am pretty sure we will learn why it happened when we get to heaven.  And then I doubt we will really care anymore, after all Jesus will wipe away our tears (Revelation 21:4) and that is something I look forward to, don’t you?  No more tears ever again.  No more pain ever again. No more lack of understanding ever again.  No more sin ever again.  Wow!  What more can I say?

Until next time…Katherine

Ninety-Nine Years

Last week two special people died and both were ninety-nine years old. One was a dear person to me, my Grandmother’s sister, and the last of her family to be called home. The other was the man I remember from childhood who owned our small town’s grocery store and he had a soft heart for kids like me who might not have enough pennies to buy a piece of candy so he gave us one for free. Both people were committed Christians and both people impacted my life and the lives of many others during their ninety-nine years on earth. I am sure that they are both glad to be on their way to glory and no longer trapped in worn-out bodies here. It makes me think of how they lived through so many changes from their birth to their death. Both were probably born in their grandparent’s home, I know my great-aunt was born on the family homestead. Does the younger generation even understand the word homestead? I doubt it. A homestead was a small amount of free land given to people who promised to work the land into a farm and improve it to the point that it fed a family and provided a good livelihood. Nebraska has many homesteads and a hundred years ago was filled with many homesteaders. These pioneering families worked hard all their life. They would have not had the luxury of such things as indoor plumbing or electricity until many years after they had developed their homesteads. They had the choice of working hard, and planting large gardens filled with foods that could be canned and preserved to use in winter when no crops could grow because of frozen ground and snow, or they could starve. They were the happiest people I ever knew, those homestead pioneering families. Maybe having nothing except their own two hands and a good set of brains to think with was why they were so happy. Maybe we need to get back to our pioneering spirit stripped down to nothing but the basics in life, family and land to work to feed our family. The Bible was often their favored book to read and study, and church was important not only for learning more about God and Jesus but for social activities too. Family meant something to them and was treasured. Ninety-nine years is a long life to live.

My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments; For length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you. Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good repute in the sight of God and man. Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body and refreshment to your bones. Proverbs 3:1-8, (New American Standard Bible or NASB).

The promise to us all is that if we want to live a long and contented and joyful life with mostly good health then we need to seek the counsel of God and obey it! Solomon gave this advice to his sons many years ago and some of his sons didn’t follow it and didn’t live long lives. Sometimes for reasons we don’t always understand God cuts a life short and calls a Christian home sooner than we might anticipate. But for most of us we can be assured that we will live well into old age if we submit our life to Jesus Christ and obey. I have many in my family that have lived well past eighty years and all were Godly men and women. I am encouraged by the witness of their lives. These two special people lived what they believed and we all should do the same.

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. Psalm 23:1-6, (NASB).

Do we live our lives as King David who is the author of this psalm? He was certainly not always righteous and he committed some pretty serious sins, but he also repented with remorse and never repeated those sins again. This was the first chapter I ever memorized and had it not been for attending my friend’s Vacation Bible School every summer I might not have gotten the whole thing memorized. They had this verse every year I attended as a goal for us to memorize! I think it has carried me through many times over the years since then. I love this passage because it really does give us a glimpse of what a Christian’s life should be. Sheep don’t worry about anything except wolves, water, and grass. They know that their protector is the sheep herder and all will be well. We also know that our protector is God and all will be well so why worry about everything? I have seen many of my family members die and I have been with many people as they died. The one remarkable thing I notice about death is that the Christian dies with a smile on their face and the one who I know absolutely was not a Christian died with a frightened look on their face. I felt sad for those who were frightened because it was too late to show them how to have peace with God. What promise is given to us and what promise is fulfilled when we die, we go to live in God’s house forever and ever and ever, but only if you follow Jesus Christ and are covered by His blood.

At that time Jesus said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. “Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight. “All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:25-30, (NASB).

These two saints came to Jesus and after living on earth for ninety-nine years they now are with God. I don’t think they even knew each other here on earth. They were not perfect people but they were people who knew where to take their burdens and lay them down. I hope that my life is a beacon of truth as theirs was to me. I hope that my life points people to Jesus too. What more can I say!

Until next time…Katherine

Father’s Day

Happy Father’s Day!  What do these three words mean to you?  For some of us who had honorable and loving Dad’s we think about them and all that they taught us and all they mean to us.  If our Dads are living we probably have been shopping for a card and a gift.  I always loved getting my Dad a card because it was one time a year when I could really show him how important he was to me and how much I loved him.  But my Dad is with the Lord, and has been for a number of years and I do miss him although I also believe that God was very kind to take my Dad from this earth before he had to lose his health or his mind.  I also think about my son-in-law who is a really great Daddy to my granddaughter.  I am so thankful that he is patient and loving with her and also strict when she needs to be disciplined.  In many ways he reminds me of my own Dad and I know my granddaughter has a loving coach and advocate in her corner for life.  It warms my heart.  But not everyone has a Dad or has a good relationship with their Dad.

To those who feel a little tug on their heart this time of year because they don’t have a loving Dad in their life I want to say that I fully understand.  It is not easy to express your feelings about Father’s Day when you haven’t had a Dad due to circumstances beyond your control.  I hear you.  I know how angry you may feel if the relationship is strained.  Let’s be honest, there are some really crappy Dad’s out there who have made serious mistakes in life and some are just not people you even want to know or people who are safe to be around.  I hear you.  All I can say is that you really need to forgive them if for no other reason but that Jesus demands you to do so.  But it doesn’t mean you have to be around them, if they are toxic, forgive them but stay away from them.

You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?  And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?  Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.  Matthew 5:43-48, (New International Version or NIV).

Love is hard sometimes because it is something Jesus commands us to do to everyone.  God loves everyone and waits patiently for sinners to repent and come to Him and that is an act of love.  Jesus died on a cross and was mistreated severely before death because of love for all humanity.  When we think of how much God and Jesus have done for each one of us and for those who don’t love them, we understand the need to forgive a dead-beat Dad.  It is hard, but you are not alone in doing this forgiveness thing because the Holy Spirit will help you.  Again, forgiving doesn’t mean hanging out with that dead-beat, we often have to let that person go and trust them to God’s capable hands.  Two outcomes are possible when you leave vengeance up to God, either that dead-beat will repent and change their life and make an effort to repair your relationship with them or they will die in their sin and be in hell for an eternity.  There is no in-between for them but you have a Heavenly Father who will deal with this person so you don’t have to!  Take comfort in that!  You just need to be sure that you do all you can to forgive and not hold a grudge or try to seek your own revenge.  God says it is His job to seek revenge.

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.  Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.  Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.  Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.  Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.  Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.  Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.  Do not be conceited.

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.  If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.  Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.  On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.  In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.  Romans 12:9-21, (NIV).

I have seen in my own life that when we lose someone or never had someone like a Dad in our life that God sends role-model mentors into our lives.  If you will take a good evaluation of your life I think you will find people who really encouraged you or taught you things you needed to know that has become a part of your education for life.  Sometimes these people are in your life for a long time and sometimes they are there for just a short time but you look back upon them with gratitude for taking the time to make an impact upon your life.  Now it is your turn to be that mentor and encourager, are you doing that?  I hope so because you may be the answer to someone else’s prayers.  You may be the answer to my prayers.  Life is never easy but always worthy when we live it for Jesus!  Right?  So how do we deal with that Dad who hasn’t been good to us?  I think this is a good place to start.

Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.  “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.  Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.  Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.  Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.  Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.  Ephesians 4:25-32, (NIV).

The best way to handle a Dad who is less than he should be is to be honest with yourself on how you really feel about him.  Let the anger you might be suppressing come out into the open and if you need to seek help in doing that then go to your pastor for counseling or to a professional counselor or even just a good friend.  Talk it out but keep in mind that anger can become sinful and the devil loves to use our anger to spawn all kinds of sins.  Don’t let him do that to you.  Get rid of any bitterness and then let it go, forgive and walk away knowing that God will take care of the rest.  To be honest Christ has forgiven so much sin that we committed and when we get that perspective then we can forgive others more easily.

Whatever the three words Happy Father’s Day means to you I hope that you will move forward in life knowing that you have a Heavenly Father that deeply cares about you and will take care of you with loving kindness.  Enjoy the day.

Until next time…Katherine

The World Of Child-Like Thinking

I recently had the pleasure of spending a day with my granddaughter who is four years old.  She loves to come to Grandma’s house because I have all the old Disney movies on VHS and to her they are perfect!  She and my son always watch movies; Mulan is one of her favorites.  In case you are not up on the latest Mulan is a story from China about a girl who wants to fight in the Chinese Army and can only do so if she pretends to be a boy.  And my granddaughter likes it very much.  My granddaughter has some Chinese blood flowing through her veins as her Mama is half-Chinese.  Later in the day we were talking and I told her that I was her Grandmama.  She told me I was her Grandma and that her Grandmama lives in Japan.  I explained to her that her Great-Grandma lived in Canada and that she used to live in Hong Kong and that was a part of China and not Japan.  She would not believe it…her Grandmama lives in Japan!  Trying to convince her of the truth was impossible so I let the subject drop.  I thought we had a pretty cute conversation and her point got across, I am not her Grandmama because I am her Grandma!  Okay, little grass-hopper, I believe you.  This, as cute as it is, really is a great example of how a young child thinks.  They are putting to words how they view their world.  She knew that she had a Chinese Grandma somewhere in the world but couldn’t remember where so she assigned her to a country and it was Japan!  Of course she was wrong but I couldn’t get her to change her mind!  We adults are often as wrong as she was about the things we believe especially when it comes to what we believe about God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  That is why the Apostle Paul said we need to grow out of babyhood and into adulthood as Christians.

Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.  As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.  But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”   Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear.  For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.  He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.  Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.

Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.  For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.  For, “All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever.”

And this is the word that was preached to you.  Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.  Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.  1 Peter 1:13-2:3, (New International Version or NIV).

An adult Christian, one who is full of maturity, is going to realize that life as a Christian requires more than just loving our enemies or saying the sinner’s prayer.  A mature Christian is going to be aware of the darkness in this world, the evil that goes on and the battle that rages in our thinking and actions and will learn to not give in to such darkness.  A mature Christian will be much more patient and holy and righteous and produces good fruits and good deeds.  A mature Christian will be ready to tell anyone who asks why they are a Christian. An immature Christian won’t know why they believe what they believe and won’t be capable of explaining why they believe because they don’t really know what they believe.  An immature Christian can be easily deceived and led away from Christ.  That is why we need to be mature, to grow up as Christians in our faith.  It is a life-long process similar to the process of a baby growing into an adult.  We will stumble and fall but we keep going and we keep learning and we grow deeper and more mature.  But if we don’t grow more mature, then we will be like my little granddaughter and not believing in the truth and not listening to what is really true.  What more does the Bible have to say about immaturity?

I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you.  But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue.  Brothers and sisters, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults.  In the Law it is written: “With other tongues and through the lips of foreigners I will speak to this people, but even then they will not listen to me, says the Lord.”  Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers; prophecy, however, is not for unbelievers but for believers.  So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and inquirers or unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind?   But if an unbeliever or an inquirer comes in while everyone is prophesying, they are convicted of sin and are brought under judgment by all, as the secrets of their hearts are laid bare. So they will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!”  1 Corinthians 14:18-25, (NIV).  

There comes a time when we need to let go of our fascination with only one part of the Gospel and move on to deeper things.  Tongues is certainly a gift of the Holy Spirit but the Apostle Paul saw Christians who were concentrating on only tongues and nothing else and he rightly points out that an emphasis on tongues was not helping spread the Gospel as was the command from Jesus (Mark 16:15-16).  We are given tools by the Holy Spirit to help us in the work of the church and while tongues help to speak to someone who doesn’t speak our native language, it wasn’t doing much good in the church when others didn’t understand what was being said.  Better to preach (prophecy) and teach than to speak tongues.  That was the point, that there comes a point when you have to give up your childishness and focus on yourself, and look to the good of others.  There is something more we need to learn about childish thinking.

People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them.  When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.  Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”  And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.  Mark 10:13-16, (NIV). 

There is a place for child-like thinking and that is when we come to Christ that we have the faith that a child does that God will provide everything for us that we need.  My little granddaughter has that kind of faith in her parents.  She knows that her Mom and Dad will feed her and take care of her and have her best interest at heart.  She doesn’t always like to obey them but in the end she does submit to their instruction because she has the faith that they know what is best for her.  That is what God expects of every mature Christian.  We will come to a point that we understand that everything we have belongs to God because He is the one who provided it for us and gave it to us.  We need to come to a place in our faith where we understand that the education we received to get the job that we have to build the career that we want is all a gift from God.  We need to come to the point that every coin and paper money that we earn is a gift from God.  We need to come to the point of understanding that our family, our home, our car, our cat, our dog, and everything we own on this earth was given to us.  Everything we have achieved on this earth is all a gift of provision from God.  That is how we are to think as a child.  Until then we are self-centered and disobedient and stubborn and resistant against God.  Growing up in Christ, in our faith, is required and when we do we become more child-like in our thinking.  What a paradox!

Until next time…Katherine 

Lightning Bugs

I just saw my first lightning bug of the season and what a wonder this little natural flashlight is!  June in Nebraska always brings out the lightning bugs, those little fly-like creatures that blink a bright light as they go about their business in the back yard.  Like so many in my generation I spent hours outside in the evening as a child.  I knew when the street lights came on and the lightning bugs began to fly that it was time to head for home.  My brother and I loved catching them and putting them in a jar with some grass in it and the lid would have small holes punched so that air would flow in and allow the bugs to breathe.  We made a homemade flashlight and just before going to bed our Mom and Dad would help us let the bugs go into the clear Nebraska night.  What joy it was last summer to introduce my granddaughter to the little bugs.  Like so much of God’s creation they are simply little miracles!  She thought they were neat but not as neat as the movie she wanted to watch.  Aww!  Well, how can a lightning bug compete with Mulan!  God gives us so many reminders of how special we are and His creatures are certainly one of those reminders.  The lightning bug reminds me of Christians in this world.  We are a light that shines for a small amount of time, a blink in eternity.  Jesus reminded us that we are the light in a darkened world.

You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden.  No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.  Matthew 5:14-16, (Holman Christian Standard Bible or HCSB).   

You, dear Christians, are the light in this world and only Christians can bring light into the darkness of a sinful world.  But where did we get this light and why is the light that we have only for Christians?  So glad you asked.

Now some Greeks were among those who went up to worship at the festival.   So they came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and requested of him, “Sir, we want to see Jesus.”  Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.  Jesus replied to them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.

“I assure you: Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains by itself. But if it dies, it produces a large crop.  The one who loves his life will lose it, and the one who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me. Where I am, there My servant also will be. If anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.  “Now My soul is troubled. What should I say — Father, save Me from this hour? But that is why I came to this hour.  Father, glorify Your name! ”  Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again! ”  The crowd standing there heard it and said it was thunder. Others said that an angel had spoken to Him.

Jesus responded, “This voice came, not for Me, but for you.  Now is the judgment of this world.  Now the ruler of this world will be cast out.  As for Me, if I am lifted up from the earth I will draw all people to Myself.”  He said this to signify what kind of death He was about to die.

Then the crowd replied to Him, “We have heard from the scripture that the Messiah will remain forever.  So how can You say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this Son of Man?”

Jesus answered, “The light will be with you only a little longer.  Walk while you have the light so that darkness doesn’t overtake you.  The one who walks in darkness doesn’t know where he’s going.  While you have the light, believe in the light so that you may become sons of light.” Jesus said this, then went away and hid from them.  John 12:20-36, (HCSB).

The light that Christians have and only Christians have comes from Jesus because He is the Light that overcomes the darkness of evil.  He got it from God because He and God are the Holy Father and the Holy Son.  God will honor the light that is in us because we are servants of Jesus Christ.  No other religion will get you to heaven because they do not have the Light of truth since they do not have Jesus Christ.  Why is this important?

Then Jesus cried out, “The one who believes in Me believes not in Me, but in Him who sent Me.  And the one who sees Me sees Him who sent Me.  I have come as a light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me would not remain in darkness.  If anyone hears My words and doesn’t keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.  The one who rejects Me and doesn’t accept My sayings has this as his judge: The word I have spoken will judge him on the last day.  For I have not spoken on My own, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a command as to what I should say and what I should speak. I know that His command is eternal life.  So the things that I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me.”  John 12:44-50, (HCSB).

The message is clear.  Jesus is the Light which is holy and good and righteous and truthful and that Light has whipped evil, which is Satan and his legions of followers, in the final battle and one day yet to come Jesus will judge every person who has ever lived on earth and find them either ready for heaven or ready for hell.  Evil’s days are numbered and one day all evil will depart and will be no more.  If, however, you don’t believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that He was born, died, and came back to life then you don’t have any light, not even a little shimmer.  Darkness is in charge of so many things of this world right now and yet one day evil will have no more power and will be condemned for eternity to the fiery pits of hell.  There is one more thing to know about darkness or evil.

But I will continue to do what I am doing, in order to deny the opportunity of those who want an opportunity to be regarded just as our equals in what they boast about.  For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.  And no wonder!  For Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.  So it is no great thing if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their destiny will be according to their works.  2 Corinthians 11:12-15, (HCSB).

Be very sure that you are not being deceived because there are many who are not Christians but who pretend to be.  Even Satan tries to look like he has the light in him.  That is pretty frightening if you really think about it.  No wonder so many get lead astray because they are not sure of exactly what they believe.  Dear Christian, the way to keep from being deceived is to study God’s Word and learn from honorable teachers the real truth.  Not everyone who says that they believe in God is going to be in heaven.  Belief is not enough but you have to have faith and put your faith into action.  That means you will have good deeds, good fruit, good things that you do for the Kingdom of Heaven, for Jesus Christ your Savior, for God who recognizes the light of truth in you that comes from knowing and serving Jesus.  So let the lightning bug remind you of the light in this world.  You and I have that light and we shine brightly in the darkness.  If we could put all of us in a jar like I did the bugs as a child we would have an even brighter light for the world to see to find their way out of the darkness and into forgiveness and grace and eternity.  Awww, but we already have a jar, it’s called the church!  As a group we shine brighter and I think that is the whole purpose of the local churches, to be a light in our communities!  Go forth and shine, dear friends!

Until next time…Katherine

Naomi And I Have A Lot In Common

I just love the Bible story of Ruth and Naomi.  I think it is such a lovely story of love and loyalty and bitter times turned to better times and a happy ending.  Most people focus on the younger woman Ruth in the story and she is certainly worthy of our praise but I can truly identify with Naomi, the older woman.  Naomi was taken from her homeland to a far off land to live.  While she was there her husband died and she raised her two sons to manhood and they married Moabite women.  It must have been a happy time for Naomi, but then one son died and soon the other son died as well.  Naomi was left alone in a foreign country with no family left except her two young daughters-in-law.  She needed to make a decision as to what her future should be.  Let’s read about Naomi.

Now it came about in the days when the judges governed, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the land of Moab with his wife and his two sons.  The name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife, Naomi; and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Bethlehem in Judah.  Now they entered the land of Moab and remained there.  Then Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, died; and she was left with her two sons.  They took for themselves Moabite women as wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. And they lived there about ten years.  Then both Mahlon and Chilion also died, and the woman was bereft of her two children and her husband.

Then she arose with her daughters-in-law that she might return from the land of Moab, for she had heard in the land of Moab that the LORD had visited His people in giving them food.  So she departed from the place where she was, and her two daughters-in-law with her; and they went on the way to return to the land of Judah.  And Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go, return each of you to her mother’s house. May the LORD deal kindly with you as you have dealt with the dead and with me.  “May the LORD grant that you may find rest, each in the house of her husband.” Then she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept.  And they said to her, “No, but we will surely return with you to your people.”  But Naomi said, “Return, my daughters. Why should you go with me? Have I yet sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands?  “Return, my daughters! Go, for I am too old to have a husband. If I said I have hope, if I should even have a husband tonight and also bear sons, would you therefore wait until they were grown? Would you therefore refrain from marrying? No, my daughters; for it is harder for me than for you, for the hand of the LORD has gone forth against me.”  Ruth 1:1-13, (New American Standard Bible or NASB).

Like Naomi I spent several years living in a foreign country far from my homeland.  And when I wasn’t living overseas I spent many years living in states far away from Nebraska and my extended family.  I can identify with Naomi as to how hard it is to be away from family and friends while following her husband to a foreign land.  Like Naomi I lost my husband, not through death but through divorce and like Naomi I also am feeling too old to remarry.  Now Naomi lost her whole family except for the two wives of her sons.  She never even got to have the pleasure of seeing grandchildren as her sons died before this could happen.  I live far distances from two of my four children and my parents and siblings are all deceased so I feel alone like Naomi at times.  Naomi had Ruth and I have a son who is adopted and lives with me still. I can certainly identify with how Naomi felt about Ruth and wanting the best for her as I want the best for my son.  Naomi decided to leave the foreign land of Moab and return to her home just like I returned to Nebraska.  Yes I can see similarities between my life and Naomi’s.  She was determined to return home knowing that her family may not take kindly to her precious Ruth.  She does her best, though, just as I try to do my best in rearing my son.  She wanted Ruth to have a secure future as she knew that in her era women alone were not very financially secure.  Ruth was young enough to remarry even if Naomi herself felt that she was not and so she made a plan and Ruth followed her instructions completely and soon the plan came into its own.

So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife, and he went in to her. And the LORD enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son.  Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed is the LORD who has not left you without a redeemer today, and may his name become famous in Israel.  “May he also be to you a restorer of life and a sustainer of your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you and is better to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.”  Then Naomi took the child and laid him in her lap, and became his nurse.  The neighbor women gave him a name, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi!” So they named him Obed. He is the father of Jesse, the father of David.  Ruth 4:13-17, (NASB).

I find this story to be fascinating in so many ways.  But the fact that King David was Naomi’s great-great-great-grandson is full of wow-factor.  We all know that Jesus was born into King David’s line of genetics and I think that is a beautiful part of this whole story.  Out of death and devastation came King Jesus!  Wow!  What an honor for Naomi.  She had to have been overjoyed to finally be a Grandma and be the primary caretaker of little Obed.  I wonder what God has in store for me and for my son and my daughters, sons-in-law, and my granddaughter?  I am so thankful that God took such good care of an aging single woman named Naomi because it gives me hope and inspiration.  If God cared that much about Naomi then I am sure that He cares that much for me and for you.  Come to think of it I believe that God gave my son to me knowing full well that I would be divorced and alone.  Like Ruth my son is very loyal to me and very loving and kind.  He is such a great helper and I do so appreciate him and love him and want what is best for him.  It won’t be long and my son will be an adult and I want him to have a good life, a secure life, and a contented life.  I guess the best thing I can do is follow Naomi’s example.  She was always encouraging to Ruth and a source of comfort and she helped guide Ruth with how to handle life.  Remember for Ruth Bethlehem Judah was a foreign country.  Naomi helped teach Ruth how to thrive in Bethlehem and I can follow her example as I help my son to learn to thrive in Nebraska.  Naomi must have been a strong woman and I need to be strong as well.  There are so many similarities between Naomi’s life story and mine and I hope my life story has a happy ending too, just as it was for Naomi.  I hope the ending of your life story will also be a good one!

Until next time…Katherine

 

To The Man Who Broke My Heart

It has been nearly ten years and I just want to say thank you.  I never realized just who I really am until you broke my heart.  We married rather young and I had no experience dating or with relationships and I thought you didn’t have any experience either.  I jumped into our marriage thinking that the loneliness I was experiencing would fade away.  After all you were my prince and I was your princess and we would live happily ever after.  I was so positive that we would build our life together and it would be a good life, a solidly built life grounded in Jesus Christ.  So I worked hard and so did you to make the rent and pay the bills.  I tried so hard to make you happy.  You were a challenge for sure and it wasn’t until after our marriage that I realized you were the most negative person I had ever known.  My positive attitude seemed to balance us and carried us through many difficult times.  I guess every person who enters into a marriage has some expectations and I expected you to be the person to save me from loneliness and you seemed to expect that I would save you from negativity.  As the years passed by we added three beautiful children to our home and I was busy and so were you.  I had no time to think about what I needed or desired.  I was too busy helping our children to have a good family life and helping you to build a career.  We worked together as a team and accomplished the rearing of three to adulthood and you into two careers.  And then we adopted the most precious little guy from China and my time was once again not my own.  Little did I realize just how much you and I both had changed and how our lives would change forever.

I can’t hate you because hate is not something I care to do; it takes far too much energy.  I would so much rather forgive and for the most part I believe that I have forgiven you, although you have never asked me to.  But what I want to tell you and probably will never have the chance is thank you.  Thank you for our children because they are lovely and I adore them.  Thank you for the challenge to my life.  I thought I would die if you ever left me, but I didn’t.  Your leaving me has actually helped me to develop my own life and my own likes and dislikes, something that had never really happened before.  I also finally finished my education and proved something to myself and to our family that I am not as dumb as I always thought I was.  In the past ten years I have grown up and blossomed into my own and I like who I am.  I can eat what I want when I want to and not wait for you to come home and I do what I want to do and not take into consideration your likes and dislikes.  I can spend an evening doing what I want to do and not worry about what you are thinking.  I can laugh or cry or dance or play the piano or visit family and friends without working around your schedule.  I can eat chili and do without having to make fried rice for you.  I go to church and Sunday School and learn as much as I can about God.  I can feel a freedom that I never felt ever and while I do not go wild I do enjoy it.  But most of all I want to say thank you because I now know who I am and what I believe and feel stronger than I have ever felt.  I see life with the eyes of truth and not with rose-colored glasses.  I see reality and not fantasy.  I have no regrets and my conscience is clear.  I was not always easy to live with and now I see why because now I know the whole truth and that is such a relief.  Thank you for breaking my heart because God used you to make me stronger and wiser and more faithful to Him.

Thank you for more than thirty years of friendship and I wish you well in your life.  I know you will never read this but to those who do I hope that they will see the good in God and how He has worked in my life, through good times and not so good times.  While I do not really relish living out the “golden years” alone I know from the past ten years that I will be fine because God will watch over me and meet my needs whether they are financial, emotional, physical, or spiritual.  What more does a person really need?  With God all things are possible even forgiving the man who broke my heart.

 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.  I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it.  I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength.  Philippians 4:4-13, (New International Version).

Today I rejoice.  Today I can think about the thirty something years of marriage to the man who broke my heart and I can rejoice and I can remember the lovely and the true and noble memories.  Today I can live in peace.  Today I can say that God has given me the strength to move forward in life and so I rejoice.  To you who broke my heart I say thank you because had you not left nearly ten years ago I would never have learned the most important lessons in my life.  I have learned that money and things do not define me.  I have learned that pride goes before a fall just as Proverbs says.  I have learned that joy is so much more lasting than happiness.  I have learned that God uses many situations to teach and mold and perfect.  I have a lot more to learn and I seek God in everything I do and that is a blessing.  Thank you for breaking my heart because it has made me stronger than I ever thought possible.

Until next time…Katherine