Why not me?

ID-100180787Last night, my husband had a really bad headache.  He does get migraines, but this was different–just a bad headache.  It started at supper and he took a pill. Later, after picking up kids in the church van, leading Wednesday night prayer meeting and taking kids home, we were watching some TV when I looked over to see him holding his head. The pain was worse, so I got him another pill. I decided to sleep in the guest room and went there after kissing him good night, leaving him there all curled up in a pathetic ball with the covers over his eyes.

It’s now 4:19 AM and my brain is in overdrive. What if he… I should go and check on him, but I don’t want to awaken him, but what if he’s…

Such a morbid thought, but isn’t it possible? Why not me? The hurricanes just snuffed out lives–someone’s husband or father–why not me?

What would I do? More morbid thoughts, but it may be true, or will be true, someday. I hope it’s not today. He’s only 59.

An amazing statement came into my life recently and I can’t give credit, but this morning, in the wee hours of the day, sitting at his desk, they have new meaning:

God doesn’t give us grace for our imaginations.

I can’t even imagine what I would do. Tom and I may be weird, but we play these things through our minds every once and a while.  He, like most men, always says that he’ll die first and he’s probably right.

I think these thoughts are haunting me because –

  • We just remembered 9/11 this week. Sixteen years ago.  That doesn’t seem possible, but I’m sure anyone who lost a loved one on that day feels something different about the day.
  • 9/12 is the anniversary of my own father’s death. It’s always a hard day, mainly because I don’t want to ignore it but I’m never sure what to say, especially to my mom. I write the date on a piano student’s practice notepad and think, what’s today’s date? Oh yeah, the twelfth–the day my dad died, but I don’t say anything.
  • We went to a funeral this past Saturday. It was an untimely death even though his grandmother was 74. Less than a year ago she was healthy. Then the dreaded news came–cancer. Her husband is quite a bit older than she was and he probably never thought he would be facing that day. As I came to him during the viewing, he asked ME how I was doing! And then, after I asked him how he was doing, he said, “Good.  What are you going to do?  It’s how it is, and you just have to accept it.” WOW!

So, I’m heading back to bed. I may slip into our bedroom and just listen. I’m sure he’s OK…

… but if he’s not, I know only one thing, but it’s a really, really, BIG thing:

God’s grace will be sufficient for the day, no matter what it brings. He’s already taught me that. We carry burdens and heartaches. We have scars from past wounds. We’re made of tough stuff, although the bottom line is that God created us from dirt and when under pressure, it crumbles. But …

God’s grace will be sufficient.

I’m thankful that I can’t speak from experience on this one, but don’t we believe that faith is the substance of things hoped for, THE EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN (Hebrews 11:1)? Can you believe this wonderful, precious promise and the One who promised it for whatever you are facing today? Will you let the strong arms of Jesus carry you through?

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, 
Stand in his strength alone; 
The arm of flesh will fail you, 
Ye dare not trust your own.

Bart Millard

 

 

 

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Death—the great preserver!

This might sound like an oxymoronic statement, but let me explain.  Think about JFK.  What do you picture? A man in his eighties or a man in his prime?  That youthful face will always be remembered because of his untimely death. Even our Savior is never pictured as an older man because His substitutionary death took place while He was in His thirties. Sort of an unusual thought, but there is a lesson to be had.

Death—the great preserver.  During this time preceding the death and resurrection of our Lord, we may do activities which help us to better understand and appreciate the gift given to us because of Jesus’ great sacrifice. Some will reenact His brutal death, walking down the Via Dolorosa, carrying a cross; but even so, can we ever truly understand the whole meaning of His death?  Can we truly understand that His death is our great preserver?

Because He died, we live.  It’s that simple, and yet so complex! One of the most profound verses in the Bible is Isaiah 53: 10:

Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin

The sin-debt needed to be paid, and all the blood of lambs or bulls could never pay it!  They simply served as a reminder to the sinner that one day, the Lamb of God would come and be that sacrifice which would satisfy the debt we owed to God for our sin.

Recently, I heard some disturbing news concerning Ronald Reagan, Jr.. He is a long-time atheist, and in a commercial,he openly states that he’s not afraid to burn in hell. How sad. I wonder how many burning buildings he has run into to prove his statement? He will not be preserved, no matter who his father is or how nice a person he is. Jesus’ blood has not been applied to his account; therefore, what he does not fear will happen, or the Bible is not true. He will burn forever, experience eternal death in the lake of fire.

And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. Revelations 20:14,15

These words were not written to scare or harass anyone, but to warn. Consider this: if a man brutally raped and then savagely murdered your child, would you want him to walk free? Suppose he didn’t believe in our courts of law. Does that exempt him from the law?  How much more then are we guilty before a holy God because our very nature is sinful.  Have you ever noticed that we do not work to teach our children to do bad things but good? We sin because we are born as sinners, and whether we want to admit it or not, sin is our biggest problem!

I’m so thankful that my soul is forever preserved because of the death of Jesus Christ on a cruel Roman cross.  I’m thankful that we serve a merciful God who saw our need and willingly sacrificed his own Son for our sakes!  I praise Him for a new heaven, a new earth, and a home in heaven!

May this Resurrection season find you resting in the fact that you saw your need for a Savior and called out to Him to save you, or may this be a precious time for you to also be “resurrected” as you trust the only One who can save you: Jesus Christ!  The Preserver of Life is waiting for you!

And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. 2Timothy 4:18

But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: John 1:12

 

 

Ready to Die? Really?

ID-100180787Several years ago, there was a pastor who was having difficulties in his ministry—so much so, that he was moving to another ministry.  At that particular time, we were at a highpoint in our ministry.  I remember one of our children saying, “How can they be so excited about leaving?  I’d die if we had to leave our ministry.”  About three years later, we found ourselves in a similar situation, and that child’s words came back to me.

At the time of the opening scenario, we were fulfilled, prospering, moving forward.  Yes, there were difficulties—there are always difficult moments in any occupation.  (My personal opinion is that they are multiplied in any ministry situation because our enemy more aggressively attacks any progress for our Lord.) But we knew that we were right in the center of God’s will, and we were content to be there.

Three years later, God allowed circumstances which made it nearly impossible for us to stay.  There are several lessons to be learned:

  1. Could I understand the feelings of the other pastor and his family before going through the same circumstance? No, I could sympathize with them, but until I went through that struggle, I didn’t fully understand it.  Now, for any of you who are ministry people: Do know that, Lord willing, you will never go through every trial which your people have to face.  That doesn’t mean that you can’t minister.  We are only the messengers for the Great Comforter!  He has the answers!  Praise the Lord.  But it is true that we can empathize better having gone through trials ourselves.

Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. 2 Corinthians 1:4

TRIALS STRENGTHEN US AND MAKE US BETTER MESSENGERS FOR JESUS CHRIST.

  1. When the trial comes, God WILL give you the grace to go through it. Before we went through the trial, we couldn’t really understand God’s grace upon that pastor and his family, but their testimony prepared us for “our turn!”

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

IT’S GOD! IT’S GOD! IT’S GOD!

If you think you can do it apart from the grace of God… well, all I can say is, “Wow!”

  1. Are you ready to die? This is not a salvation post, but as two different suffering women have been recently placed on our prayer list: a pastor’s wife and a missionary’s wife—BOTH AROUND MY AGE—I was very rebuked for thinking that I was ready to die.  I often told the Lord that I was ready for the battles to be over.  I would glibly say, “Yep!  I’m ready to go!”  Yes, I love my husband, and children, and grandchildren, and mom, and all our family and friends, but I truly felt that if the Lord wanted to take me, I was ready.  But as I’ve prayed for these women and their families, and it has become intercessory prayer—putting myself into their place—I’ve realized that I don’t know what I’m talking about!!!

Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge,shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing2 Timothy 4:8

EVEN SO, COME LORD JESUS!

THAT is what I’m ready for—I want Him to return.  I want the battles to be over.  I want all my loved ones to enjoy heaven and the millennium together.  I’m NOT ready to go it alone, BUT if I listen to my own words, I can rest in the fact that if that is His will for my life: that I meet Him in 2016—He will give me the grace to bear it!

I hope that is half the encouragement to you that it had been for me!  Life—it’s worth the living!  Live it for Jesus!

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 1 Corinthians 13:12

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Your Living Legacy

defaul17Our lives are ordered by the Lord, and He does this through people and circumstances which He sends our way. This week has been a flurry of activity in a kaleidoscope of directions, which is probably true for most of us; however, dealing with death does not drop into the schedule every week.

A dear friend from our church died yesterday. Her life was a constant challenge to me. She was diagnosed with MS shortly after her marriage, and her husband left her. She has been in a wheel chair for years in a little apartment filled to the brim with penguins—she loved penguins! Whenever we would visit her, we came away with a smile. Dannah had a mission to make everyone smile.

While sorting through her things last Saturday, my heart was heavy. Life would soon be over for Dannah. In many ways, that was a relief. For the past six months, she’s been in and out of hospitals and on death’s door often, constantly in pain.

Is it by accident that I’m reading through Ecclesiastes right now? I think not! Chapter one says, One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever. (4) Chapter two has these words of wisdom: For there is no more remembrance of the wise than of the fool forever, Since all that now is will be forgotten in the days to come. And how does a wise man die? As the fool! (16 NKJV) These verses capture the sense of Solomon’s struggle. Is there anything new under the sun? What is the meaning of life? By chapter three, he’s changed his direction of thinking: To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: And by the end of the book, he’s gained the right perspective: Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. (12:13)

But as I sit here today, looking back over my activities of the week, I have to wonder, or ponder, or think through that big question: What is the meaning of life? Does it lose meaning when it seems to be all drudgery, monotonous, or mundane?
I have found that it helps to think about my grandparents. They were farmers and gardeners, carpenters and housewives. They never traveled much or were “movers and shakers” in their communities. They lived, worked, raised kids and corn and cows, and died. That doesn’t sound very complimentary, but believe me, I’m glad they did live and raise kids, or I wouldn’t be here!

Life is good, even in the worst of circumstances. God is good and ALWAYS does what is right. I just finished reading Job, and certainly don’t want to be a “miserable comforter,” but sometimes we just need to “stop it!” (You need to watch this little clip of Bob Newhart, and you’ll understand!

God sends us through the valleys and then gives us the strength to reach the mountain tops! Then we rejoice and enjoy the view…and slide back down! (Or Satan pushes us!) But that’s okay because we are alive! We are living, and life is for the living! Enjoy it, make the most of it! Spend time with people, especially those under your roof! And know that quality time may look like a waste of time to you, like sitting and chatting with your two-year-old while he eats his lunch!

Make your living legacy count, so that when you’re at death’s door, you can look back down over the trail you’ve forged, and you can rest in the arms of Jesus with no regrets! Wow! That’s a tall order! How do you do that? …one step at a time!

This poem was written by Dannah in 1995.  She still had twenty more years of living to do!  Please, take the time to read it.  It’s long, but it’s a great perspective builder!

At The Road’s End

At the road’s end, there lies a peaceful rest:

A rest that is eternal and better than Earth’s best,

A place that’s sheltered and protected from unrest of any kind,

A place where pain and suffering you will never find,

A place that is cradled in the hollow of His hand,

A place where you can always hear the celestial angelic band.

A place where a medicine chest, upon the shelf so full,

Will never again cause havoc and treat the body so cruel.

Twisted, withered, and missing body parts will be restored,

And never again will I need my shiny transfer board.

The wheelchair that supports me and speeds me along the way,

Will no longer be part of me when I reach that happy day.

That place is surrounded by beauty and quietness,

where naked eyes and open ears will experience the bliss.

No crutches, nor braces, nor aids of any kind.

No surgery, no chemo, or such as the likes you’ll find.

There will be no death or loss of life,

There will be no stress or strife.

A place where true peace will reign among all men,

A place where prejudice and hate will n’er be round again,

A placed where the landscape is covered by pure white,

I can hardly wait to see it, t’will be an awesome sight.

A place that will be illuminated completely from within,

A place that will not be corrupted by death and sin,

A place that is both an ending and a beginning,

A place so perfect in all respects, it sets my mine to spinning.

A place where every race, gender, and nation

Will be reunited with each and every predeceased relation—

Oh, what a joyous celebration will be spread

Without a single worry, fear, or dread.

No need to look backwards over your shoulder,

No need to fret the morrow, for you shall never wax older.

Finally set free, no more irons, no more fetters,

No more hassles with bills, no more vile and hurtful letters.

Never another lonely tear from the corner of my eye shall fall,

As I open wide my eyes to see those dear ones, one and all.

As they approach me, surround me, and welcome me with glee,

I gaze into those loving eyes of the One who died for me,

And suddenly, and awesomely, I finally understand

Just why my grief and suffering was just a part of the Master’s plan:

For every teardrop, hurt, and sorry was tailored for that eternal gain.

And so as I travel those final few feet,

I draw my last breath as my Savior I meet.

Don’t be distraught, you’ll miss me I know.

Don’t be discouraged, instead let your faith show.

Be happy for me, I’m whole once more,

No wheelchair, no tethers, not one little sore,

Please excuse me, I much to explore!!!

Just wait till you get here, you’ll adore it I’m sure.

If you are wondering just where your prayers and thoughts to send,

I have forever established my residence in that place—AT THE ROAD’S END.

1/95 Dannah L Kegler

The Dream of Death

ID-10069943Last night was another one of those nights when I dream that I died.  It seems to be a reoccurring dream, and not one that I enjoy!  It’s not that I’m afraid of dying, I can say that I’m 100% sure that I’m going to heaven.  You may say, “Wow!  How can you be so sure?”  In this day of easy believism, and a Christianity that wears too many odd faces, one truth is still as sure as the God Who gave it to us: Jesus Saves!  I stand on the rock of His promise: For whosoever shall call upon the name of the LORD shall be saved. Romans 10:13

I admit, at rare times, I do have doubts.  Yes, I remember the night that I read a tract alone in my bedroom.  I remember ticking off the statements: 1. Do you know that you are a sinner? No problem there! 2. Do you know that the wages of sin is death and separation from God? Yes. 3. Do you believe that Jesus died on the cross for you, to take away your sins? Yes.  Have you ever asked Him to be your Savior? …That one stopped me.  I hadn’t, but I did that night.

Now, based on the Word of God, I am a born-again believer.  You may notice that I rarely use the term Christian in my blogs.  Many claim to be Christian, as opposed to being Muslim, but that is not true Christianity.  We are not born into God’s family because our parents were Christians or because they took us to church, or because we were baptized or took communion.  John 1: 12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.

I would say that most born-again believers doubt their salvation at one time or anothe. Questions like:  Did I say the right words?  Did I really mean it?  Did I believe enough? I…I…I…Do you see that all these questions concern what I did, not what Jesus promised.  I DID what He required and that settles it, but there’s more.  When I doubt my salvation, I first talk to God about it.  He reminds that He meant what HE said.  Then I do a life check: 1. Do I love to read God’s Word? Yes. Do I love to be in His house whenever the doors are open? Yes.  Do I love telling others about Him? Yes.  Does God answer my prayers?  Does He give me peace in my heart?  These are all outward fruit of the Spirit of God dwelling in me. And then I sigh a big sigh of relief. Yes!  I’m going to heaven when I die!  I asked and He came!  Praise the Lord.

Are the dreams still scary?  Yes, not because I’m afraid to die, but because I want to live!  This morning I laid in bed and just thanked God for giving me one more day!  He didn’t have to, and as much as I want to see Him face to face, as much as I want the trials of this life to be over, as much I’m ready to REST, I more ready to live!

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live;

yet not I, but Christ liveth in me:

and the life which I now live in the flesh

I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20

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Absolute Surrender

So, I’m heading east on Route 973, a beautiful drive through the countryside, noticing how all the fields are steaming.  After two days of snow (eight inches in some areas), we’ve enjoyed some beautiful sights, albeit strange: like snow on the ground in the mountains, and subtle bright green  leaves on the trees – a beautiful combination!

As I watch the steaming fields, I can’t help think about the fact that God uses the word ‘vapor’ to describe our lives. “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” Jas 4:14  Those thoughts are particularly on my mind because I attended two funerals last week, and heard of a young man’s death just this morning!  We take life for granted, and often live as though it isn’t a reality that we may meet today!

As I’m heading down the road, I come to a recent road closing.  I say recent because there were no detour signs.  The road was closed and there was nothing to do but to turn around.  Now, my pastor-husband preached on “Absolute Surrender” this past Sunday, so I’m enjoying talking to the Lord, thanking Him for the fact that for once, I am not in a hurry, and that the delay will not cause a problem. (By the way, you can listen to Andrew Murray’s book: Absolute Surrender on the web. http://librivox.org/absolute-surrender-by-andrew-murray/ – I HIGHLY recommend it!)  I’m working on the absolute surrender thing when I drive past the cemetery where one of the funerals I attended took place.  I did not go to the graveside, so I swing into the parking lot and walk over to the fresh grave.  Cemeteries are great places to put live into perspective!  This one is at the church that I attended as a child.  In the distance I can see the church where this dear lady attended as a child.  She was born in this little town, lived here, raised her children and now is resting here until Jesus returns.  Perspective!  It’s a beautiful place – peacefully situated in the foothills of Pennsylvania.  I wander around a bit and come to another grave.  It is the parents of an old friend that I have determined to visit for the past five years that we’ve been in the area!

As I pull into her driveway, my heart is racing.  I haven’t seen this woman since junior high school!  I’m hoping to share the Gospel with her, but there is no answer so I leave a tract and a note. I’m anxious to see if she will call – we were best friends in elementary school!

Absolute Surrender – I wouldn’t have passed the cemetery if the road wasn’t closed; ; I wouldn’t have stopped at the cemetery if my older friend hadn’t died.  I wouldn’t have thought of my friend if I hadn’t stopped at the cemetery. God leads our paths.  Are we paying attention?

Now, the story would have been better if my friend had been home and I witnessed to her and she trusted Christ, right?  Our part in absolute surrender is to yield to the Master’s leading.  He is responsible for the outcome!

Only to be what He wants me to be,

Every moment of every day.

Yielded completely to Jesus alone

Every step of this pilgrim way.

Just to be clay in the Potter’s hands.

Ready to do what His will demands.

Only to be what He wants me to be,

Every moment of every day.

 

Life and Death

This morning I received the very sad news of a college friend’s death.  She had been battling cancer, and left behind her husband and two teen sons.  How tragic!  She had accomplished so much in her lifetime; I always felt intimidated by her success.  Now, she’s gone – I can’t seem to comprehend it.

How do we deal with death and dying?  I can’t help thinking of the verse: “Oh death where is thy sting?”  As a Christian, we know that death will not be final, but there is a sting in death.  It hurts to think of a loved one being separated from us.  I can’t even imagine it!  Somehow, it doesn’t seem fair that I was celebrating the life of my grandson while this dear friend was grappling with death and dying.

Please forgive me, but I must share my heart with you, even though I feel as though I know nothing about sorrow.  I’m not the one to write about this:  I have lost my grandmother and my father, but in both situations, they were having such physical difficulties, that I was relieved to see the suffering end.

Is there any hope or peace apart from the grace of God?  No, a thousand times – NO!  He is the only One that we can turn to in our time of need.  Who could possibly give us any answers concerning death other than the One who conquered death for us?  In times like these, we understand Horatio Spafford’s words:

When peace like a river attendeth my way,

When sorrow like sea billows roll,

Whatever my lot, Thou HAS TAUGHT ME to say:

It is well, IT IS WELL with my soul.

How do we know that God’s grace is sufficient to make our souls ‘well’?  We don’t know, until we need to know!  I can’t explain it, dear friend; but my simple faith has leaned on those Everlasting Arms time and time again, and has found peace in time of sorrow, strength in time of weakness, provision in time of want, the answer to every question, forgiveness for every sin, a friend in time of aloneness.   He IS the All-sufficient One!  What an amazing truth that He can also be my VERY BEST FRIEND as well.