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The Heart

Hearts in Concrete

Sunday would be a day like no other. My family left for church ahead of me, something that a family in ministry sometimes does, because we all have to be at church at different times. With limited time during the week, sometimes grabbing that last minute coffee , throwing a load of laundry into the machine or spending a little more time with the dogs, needs to be done.

Just for a little backdrop, we live out in the country and it takes quite a bit of time to get to our home or to get to one of the main roads. Just recently, the water company began construction on a new water line that needed to be added to our community so that it can provide the new homes or future homes with water. These new zones have come with road closures and detours. So what would normally take about 5 minutes to get to our house from the main entrance of our neighborhood, now takes about 10 minutes. The closest EMT station is about 30 minutes away, then you add on the construction and you are looking at 40 minutes. Well, Christy, this is not that big of a difference. And in the big scheme of things, it probably isn’t, unless it means the difference between life and death because the new construction might become an obstacle for the EMT’s, firemen, or police officers  who have not traveled that route and have to get to people that are in dire need. And on this day, God knew that I was going to need them in the area sooner.

I had woken up a bit more tired than usual, but did not think too much about it, mainly because I am a very active person and I always seem to be on the move. Going to sleep late and waking up early have become a norm for me, so again, nothing unusual about me being a little tired. I said goodbye to my kids who left before my husband and then said goodbye to my husband who left before me.  I then began a mental countdown of how much time I had left before I began my drive to church. I was already dressed for the day and went outside to throw away the recycled items.  As I turned to head back inside the house, is when a curtain of black fell over my right eye, leaving me completely blind. I also began to feel rather dizzy and sick to my stomach all at once. Little did I know that my blood pressure was at an all time high. My normal numbers are 90/60, so them climbing to 152/88 was extremely high for me or for anyone really. My pupils were highly dilated and I became helpless.

I was able to get to my phone, call 911, call my husband and daughter during this entire process. Praise the Lord that I made it inside the house, because the concrete outside would not have been forgiving if I fell on it. I pondered driving myself to the doctor, thank goodness that I did not. Remember earlier when I said that all of the new construction might thwart time, and what would normally take the EMT’s 30 minutes to get to our home, only took 5 from the time that I spoke with them to them pounding on my door. They said that they were already in the area because of another call and were able to get to me right away. Coincidence? I think not. Thank You Lord for knowing that I was going to need them on that day and sooner than later. Not too long after the EMT’s arrived and shared that I needed to get to the hospital right away, my husband came on the scene and of course, he is the one that I wanted to take me to the doctor. In hindsight, I really did not think that the situation was as bad as it could have been or it actually was.

We arrived to the hospital and not even a minute later, I was bombarded by doctors and nurses that were flocking in from all over the place. Every speciality was there and they began to work up what seemed like a mountain of assessments. I was poked and prodded in every location and direction that they could get a hold of. I was then wheeled to Ophthalmology, the eye doctor, where my eyes were put through a slew of numbing dilations to see if there was any sign of hemorrhaging in my eye. To their surprise, everything appeared to be in tact and working normally. Test after test were run and a shadow fell over me and them as to what could be causing this abnormal loss of sight.

Just when I thought all of the testing was coming to and end, a slew of others would begin. The next machine that they rolled into my room, the one that I think really had me realize just how precious my life really is, admire the creation of God and see a piece of how He has intricately knitted me together, was the echogram machine. This magnificent machine was rather large in size and the work that it did could magnify something within us that is so small onto a screen so clearly. It was such an amazing machine, that it didn’t have any need or use of the measly little EKG lines that were placed upon my chest when I arrived at the hospital. This machine came with its own wiring and gadgets needed to go a little deeper than what the EKG could pick up on.

It was here when the technician began looking for any probable cause as to what might check me into a luxury stay at the local hospital. It was then that I saw it. Not only was it clear as day, it was right in front of me, shouting, here I am, look. No, I am not talking about what caused my vision loss or the aneurysm that I would later find out that I had. It was in this moment that I saw something so magnificent as the machine that was magnifying it. It was the radiance of God found in this one location that “for of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever…” rests (Romans 11:36). It is the place that daily pumps the blood of joy, sorrow, pain, love, and regret straight to a person that calls Jesus their Lord and Savior. It is the place where Jesus draws us near to Him and offers forgiveness of sins for a life that is undeserving and gives His life freely for the ransom of my sins.  It is the place that houses the Holy Spirit and according to Ephesians 3:16-19 is a place “that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” It is a place where time can flow for the next 10 years or for only the next few seconds leaving the question, if it were to stop today, do you know if you would spend eternity with Him?

As I continued to lay on the hospital bed, watching the blood flow through each chamber, I was quickly reminded of just how precious life is and how short our numbered days are. I woke up that morning thinking it was a day like any other day and after being tossed into a reality check, I was quickly mistaken. Sometimes, God needs to get our attention, and most of the time, He does so in a still small voice. Other times, He needs to get us off of our feet and remind us that we can do nothing apart from Him. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End to everything, including this fragile life.  Have I done all that I can to share with my family and friends about God and His wonderful heart, that out of it flows love (oh, so much love), joy, peace, patience (oh so much patience), kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control that He sent His Son to die a death, a death that He did not deserve, and offered Him up freely for you and for me, “…that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16)?

Father, I am so humbled by Your great Love that flows down from Heaven and into my life. Thank you for letting me physically see the love that went into creating me and the love that flows from a heart that was once broken in sin, but has a redemptive purpose to live in this life for as long as that is thanks to Your Son Jesus. I didn’t die that day in a hospital room and I am not sure what day You will call me home, but until then, until my heart stops pumping the blood through my entire body, I will continue to live and serve You my Lord and do it giving You all of the honor, glory and praise. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

 

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Just Keep Swimming

Quote Of The Day

Just Keep Swimming

Story of the day:  Just Keep Swimming

     In the Movie, Finding Nemo, a little fish named Nemo gets caught by some divers and is taken to live in a dentist’s aquarium.  To Nemo, being stuck in the tank is pretty trivial compared to not ever seeing his father again.  Little does Nemo know that his father is going to all links to try and find his son so that he can bring him home again.  Through rough waters, sharks, jellyfish, and unknown territory, Nemo is finally reunited with his father, but it was because of consistant perseverance. 

     One line from the movie that is a great reminder of this type of perseverance is when Dory says to Marlin (the dad), “Do you know whatcha gotta do, when life gets you down?  Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.”  And even though these words come from a little fish, these words are a great reminder of what we should do once we…

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Time to Reflect

Story of the day: Time to Reflect

In the last few months, my last two seminary classes have proven to be very challenging and yet at the same time very re-warding. Through this time period, I have had time to reflect on all the hours spent studying and trying to figure the theological perspectives that I have had to come across. Though I can say that seminary is very intensive, I have learned a great deal about God and myself. There are so many great life lessons that I have encountered and hopefully will be able to share with you all.

Have you ever had a sense to want to go out and conquer the world? I know I have and yet God’s timing is not my own and a sense discouragement seems to radiate throughout my life. I know that doing things for His Kingdom are just that, for His will. Anytime that I try to add my own timeline or idea of what needs to be, I always seem to mess it up. As harsh as that sounds, I know that God knows what is best for my life and if I just hand over the reigns, things always seem to go a lot smoother and when I least expect them to. I know that when I wait on God in my life, it is His perfect time and will for me no matter what challenges that I may face.

Eagles are known for soaring. They glide in the air. The amazing thing about eagles is that they don’t work that hard to hang in the air like they do. Eagles depend on o wind gust and updraft.

When an eagle catches the wind, he can soar for a long time, just pausing over now and then to flap his wings a bit. An eagle doesn’t fly, furiously beating the air with his wings. If it did, many of them would probably poop out because their wings are too heavy to do that for any length of time. They rest on the power of the wind.

Many people are tired of furiously fighting their way through life, trying to do the best that they can. God would have us to catch the wind. He wants us to link into His will so that we don’t have to struggle unnecessarily where He’s provided a way. His commandments are not burdensome.[1]

Quote of the day: Tony Evans

“Have you caught the wind?”

Bible verse of the day: Matthew 11: 29

“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.”

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father,

I come to You today knowing that Your Will for my life is a perfect plan and no matter how hard I try and get things done on my own timeline or with my own wind, I will be working for my will. Today I take Your Yoke for my life and learn all that You have to offer for me and my family. May my soul find rest this day.

 

In Jesus Name I pray,

 

Amen


[1] Tony Evans, Tony Evans’ Book of Illustrations, [Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2009.] 137.

 

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Funny Friday Quote: Things that are checked

Funny Friday Quote:  Things that are checked

Spare tire:  The one you check the day after you have a flat.

Short Cut:  A route on which you can’t find anybody to ask where you are.

Sign at the auto repair shop:  Try us once, you’ll never go anywhere again.

Automobile:  A machine that runs up hills and down people.

Bible verse of the day:  Psalm 71:3

“Be to me a rock of refuge, a strong fortress, to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress.”

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father,

I thank You for being my solid rock and the foundation for which my life is built.  Protect me this day and guide me in Your Way that I may continue to grow in You.  I love You and thank You for this blessed day!

In Jesus Name I pray,

Amen

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“We were created to put our love to work”

Story of the day:  “We were created to put our love to work”

In The Pursuit of Excellence, Ted Engstrom writes:

I was cleaning out a desk drawer when I found a flashlight I hadn’t used in over a year.  I flipped the switch but wasn’t surprised when it gave no light.  I unscrewed it and shook it to get the batteries out, but they wouldn’t budge.

Finally, after some effort, they came loose.  What a mess!  Battery acid had corroded the entire inside of the flashlight.  The batteries were new when I’d put them in, and I’d stored them in a safe, warm place.  But there was once problem.  Those batteries weren’t made to be warm and comfortable.  They were designed to be turned on–to be used.

It’s the same with us.

Quote of the day:  Ted Engstrom

“We weren’t created to be warm, safe, and comfortable.  You and I were made to be “turned on”–to put our love to work, to apply our patience in difficult, trying situations–to let our light shine.”

Bible verse of the day:  1 Peter 4:10 (NIV)

“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.”

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father,

I pray that You light a fire under me each and every day so that I don’t get comfortable where I am.  May the bar in my life continue to be raised as I serve You.  I ask that You show me areas in my life where I have become complacent so that by Your Grace it can be changed.  I love You and thank You for this blessed day!

In Jesus Name I pray,

Amen

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Live it! (Part 2)

Story of the day:  Live it! (Part 2)

So we finished off Live it out! (Part 1) where Quan was allowed to clean out the dirty cells of where he was being held.  It was here that Quan showed servanthood towards the guard and was willing to do even the medial tasks so that another could see Christ through him.  From this point on, several weeks have gone by in which Quan chooses to continue to serve the guard.  Notice how God was able to use his Christlike service to witness to those around him.

Ben stood in the chilly winter air.  As usual, he waited nervously, trying to keep warm and to will Quan out of the black hole, that would be his cell.  Someone was being led out of the building now, a frail, older man with a pronounced limp and yellow skin, as if he had jaundice.

Ben watched the man, who for some reason was walking toward him.  He felt his heart freeze. “Quan?”  He tried to disguise his horror.  They touched right index fingers through the fence.  “You smell like…..soap.”

“Yes.”  Quan beamed, his face and voice surprisingly animated.  “This is better than I smelled last time, yes?  I have wonderful news!  You must tell my family and house church.  God has answered prayer.  He has given me a ministry!”

“What?”

“I go from cell to cell, bringing Jesus’s message.”  But thought you were in an isolated cell.”

“God opened the door.  I go to the other men.  Most have never had anyone else come into their cell except to beat them.  I help and serve them as I clean their cells.  I bring them the love of Jesus.  Twelve men I have visited.  When I left their cells, six I did not leave alone.”

“What do you mean?”

“When I left, Jesus was with them.  Three were already believers, one of them a pastor.  He had known my father, Li Tong!  Three more bowed their knees to Jesus, who promises never to leave or forsake them.  When I walk by their cells on the way to clean the others, I sing to them, ‘Heaven is my fatherland.’ When I finish cleaning all the cells I will start over.

“The guards let you do this?”

“The smell that used to cling to the guards is almost gone.  Their shoes are not ruined.  The prisoners are excited to no longer be alone.  Excited to realize that even if they die here, they will have eternal life.  Excited that God has not forgotten them, that this world is not their home, that they will find release.”

“Sounds more like a revival meeting than a prison.”

“Those in prison are not so distracted as those outside.  They think about death more.  They ask, “Is this the day?”  They do not put so much hope in their plans and successes in this world.  I tell them about Jesus and Heaven, and they listen eagerly, much more intently than most free men I speak to in the locksmith’s shop.  (in Safely Home, by Randy Alcorn, Tyndale House, 2001, 276-277).

The story of Quan is a great picture of laying down one’s fleshly wants and to serve just as Christ did for others.  It was his serving that opened the door for sharing the truth of Christ.

Quote of the day:  Woodrow Wilson

I would rather fail in the cause that some day will triumph than triumph in a cause that some day will fail..”

Bible verse of the day:  Mark 10:45

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank You for teaching me all about having a servant’s heart.  It is through this story today that I am able to see just how important it is to die to my flesh and live with a humbled attitude.  I pray that my heart continues to soften each day and that the love for people continues to grow.  Father, I pray for those that don’t know Your Son, Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior.  I pray that they not rest until they do and that their life is forever changed.

In Jesus Name I pray,

Amen

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Live it! (Part 1)

Story and Quote of the day:  Live it! (Part 1)

I read this great article the other day and I found it full of Truth, inspiration, and lots of love, showing how one can shine Jesus by Living it out.  Randy Alcorn tells the story of a fervent Christian named Quan.  He was unjustly thrown into jail for publicly proclaiming his faith in China.  He writes:

Quan whispered into the darkness words hidden in his heart.  “I know that my Redeemer lives and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.  And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh, I will see God.  I myself will see him with my own eyes-I, and not another.  How my heart yearns within me!”

The guard peered into Quan’s cell through the little barred window, which was two handbreadths across.  Long used to the darkness, Quan could see the contempt in his eyes.

“Stop smiling!” he yelled.

“I am not smiling,” Quan said.

“Yes, you are!” shouted the guard.  He rattled the door, but moved on to the next cell.

Suddenly, Li Quan stood and pressed his face against the bars. “Guard!” Quan called.  When he didn’t come, he called louder.  “Su Gan!”

The guard came back and rattled the door violently.  “Who told you my name?  Be silent or I will come in and make you silent!”

“Su Gan, sir, please, I have a request for you.”

“Unless you can pay me, I can nothing for your requests.”

“Can I do some labor for you?”

Quan saw in the jailer’s eyes surprise mixed with contempt.

“This prison is so filthy,” Quan said.  “There is waste everywhere.  The rats and roaches feed on it.  You are not a prisoner, but you must feel like you are.  Su Gan has to breathe this foul air, to walk carefully because of what oozes out of the cells.  Li Quan can help you.  Let me go into the cells one by one and clean up this filthy place.  Give me water and a brush and soap, and I will show you what I can do!  My father, Li Tong, was a street sweeper, a great cleaner of the ground.  The finest in China.  And I am my father’s son! [Alcorn, Rnady.  Safely Home.  Tyndale House, 2001. pgs. 273-274]

Quote of the day:  Mary Nordstrom

“It is our privilege to have world evangelism as a passion, not our responsibility to have as a burden.”

Bible verse of the day:  Titus 2:7 (NKJV)

“in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility,”

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father,

Oh to have a servant’s heart like Your Son Jesus.  I pray that my heart is full of love, compassion, and truth ministering to those around me.  Father, reach into my soul and fill it with Your mercy and grace that my life mirrors who You are and what You have done in my life.  I love You and thank You for this blessed day!

In Jesus Name I pray,

Amen