February 2008


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These are they who have come out of great tribulation
They have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb
They have come through much sorrow into great jubilation
They’re redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.

anniv.jpgFebruary 25. It went down in my history two years ago as a sad day. A day that death came and robbed the world of a truly beautiful and precious woman.Gramma. It’s hard to believe it’s been two years since she left. It seems longer than that, yet the pain of her sudden departure is still so fresh that whenever I sit down to pen my most precious memories of her, it is through a haze of emotion, my thoughts smeared with tears.

There’s the memories of the times I managed to claim the coveted seat next to Gramma at church, being little enough that my lace-frilled ankles hardly extended past the edge of my chair, and softly paging through her big, worn, blue Bible that took up my entire lap and then some.

The taste of her summer staple—cucumber salad, is still a pungent memory to my taste buds. Not to mention her amazing strawberry shortcakes.

anniv-2.jpgThere are so many sweet things that come to my mind when I remember her, and the beauty of her smiling face will never be erased from my mind.

She was one of those people who managed to touch my life without even trying to. She laughed when I laughed, cried when I cried. She supported me through every phase of my life. There were times I was making foolish choices and wrong decisions, yet she never stood in my way; instead she loved me and prayed for me, and hugged me when I came through—a little wiser with a praying and perceptive Gramma to thank. How I appreciated her.

As the years took their toll and her health began to fail in a major way, I watched Gramma grow stronger. She was a tenacious woman. She loved the unlovable, reached the unreachable, and lived a life of constant giving. I’ll never forget the times I stayed with her when she was sick, helping her pay bills, listening to her favorite program with her—Unshackled (produced by Pacific Garden Mission), and listening to her talk. I had so much to learn from her.

Scripture tells us that God will make all things new, and that our mortal bodies will put on immortality, and that there will be no pain or suffering in heaven. It thrills me to think of Gramma dancing around heaven, no longer leashed to an oxygen tank, no longer struggling for breath; having a new body and singing with a voice as strong and clear as the angels. But when I get there, I hope Gramma still has those smile lines on her face. They added so much charm to her beauty here on earth, that I want them to be on her radiant face next time I kiss her cheek.

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Tomorrow morning if you wake up
and the sun does not appear
I will be here
If in the dark, we lose sight of love
Hold my hand, and have no fear
‘Cause I will be here

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I will be here
When you feel like being quiet
When you need to speak your mind
I will listen
And I will be here
When the laughter turns to cryin’
Through the winning, losing and trying
We’ll be together
I will be here

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Tomorrow morning, if you wake up
And the future is unclear
I will be here
Just as sure as seasons were made for change
Our lifetimes were made for these years
So I will be here

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I will be here
And you can cry on my shoulder
When the mirror tells us we’re older
I will hold you
And I will be here
To watch you grow in beauty
And tell you all the things you are to me
I will be hereI will be true to the promise I have made
To you and to the One who gave you to me

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Tomorrow morning, if you wake up
And the sun does not appear
I will be here
Oh, I will be here.

by Steven Curtis Chapman
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img_2480.jpgIf God’s goodness is looked for primarily in turns of fortune then the verdict on his heart towards us will always be pending on a new set of facts. We will, then, become either a judge (“How can God be good, if he let my son die?!”) or a bargainer (“God, I’ll know you are good if you bring my husband back to me”). God does not seem to show his goodness to those who peer through the lens of a skeptical examiner or a demanding negotiator. The Evil One uses the pain and confusion of a fallen world to shadow doubt over God’s goodness.

Allender
Bold Love

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“John Eldredge?” The guy at the dinner table declared incredulously, “I read two pages of his book. The guy is cracked!”

I had good reason to be skeptical of the author when this book arrived in the mail after hearing many such assertions of him and various questions as to his character. But I read the book, and more than just two pages of it. I read it in its entirety, and then turned around and read it again. So allow me to settle this once and for all. John Eldredge is not an author that one can read but two pages of. If that’s all you read, you will miss his point entirely and come to conclusions he never intended to give.

Eldredge’s way of writing is deep and thorough. His style is much like a journey. He has to start at the bare-bones beginning and walk through the whole journey with you, or you will not grasp his ultimate point.

The first chapters deal with the necessity of our desires. He encourages his reader to realize their deepest longings and to be aware of their desires. God gives us desires, and when we attempt to squelch them and silence the longings we have, we murder our potential. He introduces his book with the statement,

There’s an old proverb I’ve come to love and appreciate very much. “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23). The wisdom of the passage is simply this—to lose heart is to lose everything. Because everything that makes a life worth living flows from the heart. Intimacy, romance love. Adventure and meaning and purpose. Courage and sacrifice and joy. The list could go on and on. We need this wellspring of life within us if we would live and not merely “get by”.

If one were to put the book away after the first few chapters, they might come away with the assumption that Eldredge is shallow and wishy-washy and thinks everybody else should be too. Or, they might wallow in self-pity because Eldredge woke up all these wants in their lives but left no fulfillment. Keep reading.

Eldredge continues. He disseminates the ordeal of unfulfilled longings, and then he deals with the hard blow of death. He wrote this book in the aftermath of a tragic death that claimed the life of his close friend and accomplice at a time when he felt he needed him most. The trauma and pain of a sudden death was still fresh to him. His disposition of heaven was remarkable, and brought it closer to reality than it ever had been before for me.

As I continued through each page and chapter, the temporal, earthy desires in my life took second place with a passionate desire to know and obtain the ultimate: Christ Himself. My pre-conceived notions and shallowly-set convictions were replaced with a craving to know God for who He is.

He begins the book by spelling out the secret of the heart, then deals with the dilemma of desire, the dare to desire, the disowned desire, the imposters of desire, the thwarter of desire, and then the great restoration. In reading this book, suddenly the focus of desire turns from the material, physical and mental needs and wishes we have to a deep desire for God. To know Him, to love Him.

Eldredge then goes on to encourage the reader to become alive, and enter more deeply into desire. But had he ended his book on that particularly profound note, I would have been disappointed in him. Because there is a time and place where we have to be willing to let go and surrender, even to those things that are closest and dearest to us. He states,

With a chosen loss, we place on the altar something very dear to us, something innocent, whose only danger is in its goodness, that we might come to love it too much. It is the act of consecration, where little by little or all at once, we give over our lives to the only One who can truly keep them. Our walk with God is not to be some set path of rules and regulations, rather it is a grand adventure. A quest that grows more thrilling the more we get to know Him; one where His desires becomes ours. Why settle for something less? Why live a life less than fulfilling?

In essence I think I could sum up Eldredge’s point of the whole book in two words. “Get Real”. God is so real, we need to get real about Him. Go with God. Go where He says go, and He’ll go with you. It will be scary sometimes, but you will be free in Him.

God is calling to you through the desires of your heart. How you respond will set the course for the rest of your life.

 This book may be purchased at CBD–
Desire: the Journey We Must Take to Find the Life God Offers

Sometimes we go through trials that are so hard to bear
We lift our face toward heaven, “God, are You really there?”
I’ve asked that same question, and I’ve been down that road
Looking back, I now can tell you, He’s always let me know,

There is HOPE
So hold on,
There is
HOPE
God has sent me here to tell you,
There is
HOPE
And He knows just what you’re going through,
And what the future holds
As long as
JESUS lives,
There is
HOPE.

He was bruised for our transgressions, nailed upon a tree
He cried out to the Father, “Why have You forsaken Me?”
But through this suffering Savior He brought healing to our pain
And the One who raised Him from the dead can restore us all again.

He promised he would share our sorrow and bear our heavy loads
This road we are traveling will one day turn to gold.
 
As long as JESUS lives, there is HOPE

 

{AS SUNG BY LEGACY FIVE}

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