Don’t Wait for a Calamity to Seek God

My amazon order arrived in a brown cardboard box with crumpled newspapers used as packing filler instead of the plastic bubbles they usually use.  Curiosity forced me to check what newspaper lay wadded up and stuffed into my box.  Pensacola News Journal, Friday, March 3, 2017 > PNJ.com .  I pressed the paper flat to see what, if anything, looked interesting.  Glancing through the articles, I noted a question and answer column by Billy Graham, “God has given us everything.”

I assume this article did not come from Billy’s pen recently.  Yet his words in this article give timeless reminders.

Q:  I don’t want to offend you, but why should I bother with God?  My life is going along just fine without Him.  In fact, He’d probably make me stop doing a lot of things I enjoy doing if I did turn to Him.  — D.T.

A:  Let me ask you a question:  What do you suppose would happen to you if God didn’t “bother” with you?  In other words, what would happen to you if God forgot all about you or ignored you or refused to have anything to do with you?

I’ll tell you what would happen:  Your life would end immediately, before you finished reading this sentence.  We are dependent on God for everything, and because He loves us, He supplies us with absolutely everything we need for our lives.  He not only created the world and gave us the physical laws by which it operates, but He also actively sustains everything in it — including us.  The Bible says, “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”  (Colossians 1:17)

Yes, you can leave God out of your life — but why would you?  Don’t be deceived; life isn’t always going to be the way it is right now for you.  someday sickness or loneliness or death will catch up with you.  Why wait until then to turn to God?  The Bible warns, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12, NKJV).

I urge you instead to discover just how much God loves you.

He not only takes care of you, but He sent His Son into the world to give His life for your salvation.  Don’t ignore Him any longer, but open you life to Christ today.  The Bible says, “How shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation?”  (Hebrews 2:3)

*****

Today, December 15, is what we call my daughter’s “Crowning Day” — the day she died — now nine years ago.  She asked Jesus into her heart when, at age 11, she attended Circle C Camp in Delevan, NY.  From that day forward, she had a superhero to lean upon, to help her through the tough times of life and disease.

As Billy Graham explains above, having God only a prayer away will bring comfort and answers when the storms of life buffet our lives.  Only God can bring peace in the midst of calamity.  Grateful for the life and faith of Karin Michelle Walsh Faulkner.

Sept. 28, 1973 – Dec. 15, 2008

 

 

 

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Ann Voskamp — “Why God Doesn’t Heal People We Love? [Brutally] Honest Psalms #3”

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A blog I follow ->  Ann Voskamp <annvoskamp@aholyexperience.com>   <-  is unique, healing, intuitive, instructive, and just plain beautiful.

Today’s post brings special meaning to me.  Sometimes I feel like God replicates Job’s life in mine.  While my family is torn apart by disease, death, and divorce, God heals all the ills of other families.  However, I get to see how God can turn bad things into something beautiful for Him.  I hope this blog post will feed you as it fed me.

“What if: God’s purposes are not so much for me to understand His plans: His plan is for me to understand Who He is. And He is my Peace.”

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Being a Good Samaritan Can Be Life Threatening

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The Garden City Skyway Bridge Carrying The QEW Highway Across The Welland Canal At St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada

August 25, 2006, 7:34 a.m.

Statistics say that most fatal accidents happen close to home.  Thirty minutes into a twelve hour drive, we were cruising across the Skyway Bridge in St. Catharine’s, Ontario, in the left lane of three.  After cresting the peak of the bridge, the car in front of us hit the median sending it into a death dance across all three lanes.  It tipped back and forth on two wheels at a time, spun 360 degrees, continued to cavort and spin until it hit the concrete median again bringing the car to a stop facing us.  I prayed aloud for protection and continued to pray silently throughout the ordeal.  The other cars behind and around us fled on their way out of danger, while my husband stopped behind the stricken car and turned on our flashers.  I exclaimed, “Get out of here!”

He replied, “We have to provide protection for that car.”

The driver emerged thrusting his fists into the air and stomping his feet on the pavement.  He looked as if doing a ritual dance.  I insisted, “We are going to be killed sitting here.”

“He is going to be killed if we don’t stay.”

I pulled out my phone to call 911, but, so shaken by the situation, I had difficulty punching in those three numbers in the right sequence.  After three tries, I finally dialed successfully.  Calling 911 in an emergency situation usually proves frustrating as they ask useless questions such as, “How did it happen?” as well as important questions which, in my nervous state, I neglected to relate – “Which direction?”  I wanted to scream when she asked, “What kind of car?”  What does it matter?  As I asked my husband for the make, she questioned, “Is it maroon?”  At first, we thought they must have a camera on the bridge, but later we realized someone apparently called before we did.

The victim came to my husband’s window in obvious shock and distress.  My husband assured him, “You’re OK, buddy; you’re OK.”

The traffic continued to fly across the bridge with a couple of cars coming upon us so quickly that they had to slam on their brakes and my husband inched forwards to avoid being backended.  I wanted to get out and flag traffic, but my husband thought it too dangerous.  The victim handed us his CAA card to call for assistance.  I was so frantic that I could not dial the number and told my husband to do it.  Two more cars came up behind us, fishtailing to stop in time as we moved farther forward with me shrieking while watching the scene in my visor makeup mirror. I remembered information I have heard:  Never stay in a stopped vehicle, even if you are on the shoulder!  Sitting cars are often hit and the occupants killed.  Get out of the car!  We had no shoulder to be on!  I jumped out of the car.  I did not intend to die sitting there with my back to my killers.

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Garden City Skyway, St. Catharines ON

The inner shoulder did not measure more than eighteen inches from the roadway to the concrete barrier separating the two sides of the road, but it afforded enough room to stand and swing my extended arm in half circles pointing to the right lanes.  Cheerleading provided good preparation, but I wasn’t smiling in this hurrah.  It was easy, and the cars responded appropriately.  Then a semi truck came over the ridge in the middle lane.  Because the roadway makes a turn to the right on the downside of the bridge, the truck blocked the view of our sedan with flashing lights from the faster cars in the left lane.  To make sure they could see me, I moved a few more feet up the shoulder gesturing frantically.  If I had not been signaling, no doubt we would have been killed.

A tow truck arrived first and parked in front of the damaged vehicle giving me no break from my duty, although his flashing yellow lights helped.  At least fifteen minutes passed from the moment of impact before a police car arrived.  As he stopped in front of me, I uttered with emotion, “I am so glad you are here!  I was sure we would be killed.”

He replied, “This is a good place to die.”

Both the policeman and the victim thanked my husband for stopping.  We thanked God for our lives.

 

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Seven Biblical Reasons Why Singing Matters

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Steve Rebus reblogged this post from Dr. Peter Cockrell — and I am reposting.

Have you ever wondered why God desires for his people to sing? What role should singing play in the life of a Christian? What is it about worshiping through song that is so important to God?

You may not know it, but God has already answered these questions in the Bible.

Seven Biblical Reasons Why Singing Matters

The seven reasons below answer these questions and unpack more important truth about singing in the life of an individual Christian and the church.

1. When you sing, you obey.

Singing isn’t an option in Scripture. It’s a command:

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3:16)

And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart… (Ephesians 5:18-19)

God’s people are more than just invited to sing; we are commanded to sing. When we sing, we’re doing what God asks of us!

2. When you sing, you dig deep roots in the Word.

Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly…singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs… (Colossians 3:16)

The Apostle Paul lays out this exhortation to let God’s Word dwell in us richly, and then, he tells us how to live out that command. The first, of course, is teaching. But the second, is singing!

Singing is one of the two chief ways in which God’s Word dwells in us richly.

And, as we observed in the last point, singing is a command. But this command comes with a promise: As we sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs together, we are promised that the Word of Christ will dwell in us richly, which is what we should crave as believers!

Our singing is more than a warm-up for the sermon or a filler in the service. Colossians 3:16 is clearly laying out for us that: Singing stands alongside of preaching as one of the two great ways that God has ordained for his Word to dwellrichly in each one of us!

C.J. Mahaney calls church singing “Take Home Theology” because the best songs we sing together serve as a 3-minute, easily memorizable, deeply biblical summary of important truths from Scripture. Take for example, “In Christ Alone.” There, in an easily memorizable form, you’ve got a thorough theology of the cross of Jesus Christ with clear and practical applications that you can use for your life this week!

3. When you sing, you build up others.

First, you build up fellow believers when you sing:

Note specifically here in Ephesians 5:19 that it says: “Addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs…”

We see the same thing in Colossians 3:13-16: the exhortation to sing comes on the heels of bearing with one another (v. 13a), forgiving one another (v. 13b), putting on love (v. 14), being at peace as one united body of Christ (v. 15), and teaching God’s Word to one another (v. 16).

When we do what the Bible says and sing together as a church family, we are hearing confessions of faith all around! We are hearing hundreds join with us and sing, “In Christ alone, my hope is found!” We are hearing hundreds of testimonies of faith all around us!

Also know that as you sing, you’re helping unbelievers. In Psalm 105:1-2, the Lord is calling the Israelites to be a light unto the nations, and to do this he tells them: “Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works!”

Think of the impact on someone who doesn’t know Christ to hear those hundreds of testimonies, those hundreds of confessions of faith as we sing together! This is why Pastor Tim Keller says in his book Worship by the Book:  “Good corporate worship will naturally be evangelistic” (219).

4. When you sing, you make war.

Chances are you didn’t connect singing and warfare together, but it’s a theme visible in Scripture. In Colossians 3, Paul is challenging the Colossians to literally put sin to death in their lives, to kill sin. So all the commands to love and peace and forgiveness and teaching and singing are attitudes and habits of the believer that will kill sin!

We see the same thing in Ephesians 5, the command to address one another in song comes right on the heels of “[make] the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16).

And the more you think about this, it makes total sense: What posture must be more hated by the evil one than the posture of a believer who is singing? I can’t think of many stances you can take that identifies you with Christ and against Satan more than eyes, heart, mind, and voice lifted to heaven in song!

It’s very hard to lie, be greedy or to look at something inappropriate when, you’re “singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart” (Ephesians 5:19). Simply, a heart that’s doing that will not easily give in to temptation.

A singing heart is a heart at war with the work of the evil one and the power of sin.

5. When you sing, you are spiritually strengthened for trial.

Often times, we think only of singing when we’re happy and times are good, but singing bringing strength for trial comes out in Acts 16. Paul and Silas are unjustly imprisoned for the sake of the Gospel, and what do they do while they’re in prison? Sing! (Acts 16:25)

And this truth is confirmed in the lives of persecuted believers throughout history. Hear the words of one pastor recently imprisoned for his faith:

…When we were in prison we sang almost every day because Christ was alive in us…they put chains on our hands and feet. They chained us to add to our grief. Yet we discovered that chains are splendid musical instruments!When we clanged them together in rhythm, we could sing, ‘This is the day (clink, clank), this is the day (clink, clank), which the Lord has made (clink, clank), which the Lord has made (clink, clank). (persecutionblog.com)

Our persecuted brothers are showing us the truth we see in Acts 16 with Paul and Silas. Singing strengthens you and helps you persevere in the face of trial. If it can strengthen them in the face of these trials, what can it do for you?

Even in suffering, sing!

Nina Walsh:  YES!  I agree with this!  As we watched our 35 year old daughter lying in a hospital bed slipping away from us, we sang to her for hours.  It comforted us and, if she heard us, I am sure it comforted her. 

6. When you sing, you walk a God-designed pathway to joy.

Here is a sample of what the Psalms say about singing:

  • Psalms 5:11: “Let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you.”
  • Psalms 9:2: “I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.”
  • Psalms 51:14: “Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.”
  • Psalms 59:16: “I will sing of your strength; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. For you have been to me a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress.”
  • Psalms 63:7: “For you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.”

If you still don’t believe me, here’s a clincher from James 5:13: “Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise.”

As you study Scripture on this point, you’ll notice that sometimes singing gives birth to joy and sometimes joy gives birth to singing. But persistently in Scripture, joy, and singing are bound together. You can’t study one of those two biblical themes without encountering the other.

If you struggle for joy…sing! If you are joyful…sing! In God’s perfect design and understanding of the human condition, he has bound joy and singing together for his people.

The first six reasons get summed up with this:

7. When you sing, you glorify God.

True obedience, deep roots in the Word, building up others, making war against Satan and sin, persevering, finding joy in God: All these things bring glory to God, which is each person’s chief goal and purpose.

Colossians 3 and Ephesians 5 bring this out simply but powerfully, telling us to sing “to God” and “to the Lord” because he is the object of our praise. Ephesians 5:19 says, “singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart.” It is to him and about him that we sing!

Singing has such a unique way of bringing your heart, soul, mind, and strength together to focus entirely and completely on God. In an age of distraction, singing grabs the attention of all our senses and focuses us on God.

In Revelation 7:9-10, the Apostle John describes a glimpse of eternity with a great multitude of people from every tribe, peoples, and languages singing before the Lamb, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

Eternity awaits.

On that day, will you be one of the great multitude that no one can number, singing the song of the Lamb, singing his praises? I hope you’ll be there, singing the song of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

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A Legacy of Love and Fate

Today, September 28, is the birthday of my daughter, Karin Michelle Walsh Faulkner.  Nine years have passed since we last celebrated her birthday in 2008.  This day will always be dear to my heart, stirring warm, sweet memories.  She enjoyed birthdays more than most and held a high standard for how she wanted to celebrate.

September 28, 1989, she turned 16.

We “adopted” Elsie McCollin, a local senior citizen who had no living family, as a surrogate grandparent and included her in holidays and other family functions.  On Karin’s 16th birthday, we invited her to our home.  Elsie stood from being seated on the sofa and, as she walked over to Karin, she removed the engagement ring she had worn since age 18, and placed it on Karin’s finger saying that it needed to be on the hand of a beautiful young woman.  Her fiancé had gone off to war and never returned. He served  as one of the unfortunate members of a troop known as Doolittle’s Raiders in WWII.  We found ourselves stunned that she would relinquish the most precious piece of jewelry she owned.

Karin wore the ring on her right hand until her final admittance to the hospital, December 9, 2008.  To keep Elsie’s memory alive and in the family, we gave the ring to our son’s wife.

 

 

 

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God Meets Us In Our Desert

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Last week before going to bed, I read some Facebook posts of people with whom I no longer have regular contact.  I found what I read to be upsetting.  Then I had even more disturbing dreams about these people.  I awoke feeling dejected about these broken relationships.

Last week was the first day of my new year in CBS (Community Bible Study).  We had a guest musician lead us in a couple of songs; one which I had not heard before.

Cartoon Desert

Desert Song

Video   (don’t skip the video!!!)

This is my prayer in the desert
And all that’s within me feels dry
This is my prayer in the hunger in me
My God is a God who provides

And this is my prayer in the fire
In weakness or trial or pain
There is a faith proved
Of more worth than gold
So refine me Lord through the flames

And I will bring praise
I will bring praise
No weapon forged against me shall remain

I will rejoice
I will declare
God is my victory and He is here

And this is my prayer in the battle
And triumph is still on it’s way
I am a conqueror and co-heir with Christ
So firm on His promise I’ll stand

I will bring praise
I will bring praise
No weapon forged against me shall remain

I will rejoice
I will declare
God is my victory and He is here

All of my life
In every season
You are still God
I have a reason to sing
I have a reason to worship

I will bring praise
I will bring praise
No weapon forged against me shall remain

I will rejoice
I will declare
God is my victory and He is here

And this is my prayer in the harvest
When favor and providence flow
I know I’m filled to be emptied again
The seed I’ve received I will sow

Songwriters: Brooke Ligertwood

God sent this song for me.  I was in a desert.  It is time for the refiner’s fire to burn away all the impurities of these relationships which are not meant to be.  These relationships will only cause grief.

God spoke to me through this song.  Though breaking ties is difficult, I have a reason to sing; I have a reason to worship!  God intended it to be this way.  In the end, triumph will come and I will have experiences to “sow” with others who face similar situations.

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Angels in the Graveyards

A few years ago, two alive and healthy angels took on the task of sprucing up the tombstones in local cemeteries.  These widowed angels began the project when they found moss growing on the not-very-old grave markers of their spouses.  In the process of returning a few times to complete their task, they noted many neglected stones had the names and information obliterated by the growth of moss, lichens, and fungi.  They found the task of scrubbing, not taxing, and provided rewards.  It gave them a fun outdoor activity resulting in the improvement of the appearance of the cemetery.  Their greatest benefit—they anonymously helped others, including the deceased.  Even though family members, when visiting their loved one’s graves, may not realize their family stones have been cleaned, these angels still reveled in the fact they had bestowed a random act of kindness.  Cleaning the stone of a baby whose name had been obscured by moss fed their motherly inclinations.  They felt if their identities and deeds became known, it would diminish their generosity.

Historians and genealogists enjoy touring graveyards and reading stones. We can learn amazing things in a cemetery, sometimes comical.  While perusing the local cemetery, the stone of a classmate’s parents caught my attention. They included not only their birth and death dates, but their marriage date.  Knowing the age of their son, I chuckled to note they obviously “had to get married,” as it was termed in those days.

One of the angels told me, “I like doing things that make a difference.  Like shining shoes or ironing.  You can see what you have done.”  They certainly left a few cemeteries sparkling!

Since these angelic beings are no longer able to continue their work, if your stones need cleaning, follow these instructions — http://www.iscga.org/how-to-clean-a-gravestone.html

 

 

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