Turnstiles

320px-Turnstile.alewife.agrWhat good are Birthdays now and then,
Except to think what might have been;
Unless we know of Whom we’re born;
Who brings New Life, each day, each morn.

Whose Eyes, to See; Whose Ears, to Hear;
Whose Mind, to Understand
How we, so small, so lost in time
Are part of His great Plan;

Whose Hand directs and Opens doors;
Whose feet have walked the earthly moors,
To lead us where we could not go;
To unveil Truth we did not know;

To bring us through each day, each year
Until we’re brought so very near
To face the last Turnstile ~ The Cross;
To Enter, leaving all the dross;

To Turn and See how self lived life
With those from whom we sought advice ~
And Standing behind, One who’d wait and stay
Very Close every step of the Way.

Running beside us in The Race
Toward The Father’s Resting Place
Where now we’ve Come, and with a New Start
Each day, all of Life ~ in the Center of God’s Heart.

(For son, Andy’s 34th birthday ~ April 25, 1996)
Image Source: Turnstile

Life in Death

Beautiful-ButterflySleep did not come easily last night.  My flesh was warring against my spirit.  My joy and peace had been disturbed by yesterday’s activities.  This old soul is no longer able to handle a lot of stimuli; and last night brought to mind many things, good and bad.

It was Emma’s birthday.  The youngest of our six grandchildren, she turned to a beautiful eleven years.  Since we had overslept the morning hour when we usually call I had to keep reminding myself that we still needed to wish her a happy birthday.  Later when we called she had not gotten home from school.

Lee returned my call after work to talk about celebrating on Saturday.  The conversation turned to the latest report from Brad’s uncle Mike, concerning his wife, Brad’s aunt, Zoe, who is dying of cancer.  Her family and friends were talking  about Mike’s Facebook posting about the ordeal they have been going through.  While he has always been private about his personal life he is now speaking freely about things that perhaps Zoe should read.  He speaks so well of her and her Christian faith since he knew her at the age of fourteen.

Jerry has a Facebook account that he never uses, but whenever there is something that we need to know we have access.   As I read I was impressed by Mike’s writings, and, at the same time, my thoughts of losing my family members were beginning to recycle.

During the evening we tried two other times to reach Emma; and it wasn’t until later, after Jerry had gone to bed, that Lee called us from Zaxby’s.  Sadness turned to joy again as we sang “Happy Birthday” and talked to Emma.

As I lay down to sleep my thoughts of Zoe and Emma intermingled ~ thoughts of the older and the younger; thoughts of death and life.

Zoe celebrated her 62nd birthday in January.  Two months later Emma is celebrating her eleventh.  As I have thought about these two girls I remember Zoe from her own witness of life in Christ.  I had never known anyone with this name; and as names have fascinated me I looked up the meaning of Zoe when I first met her.

“Zoe means “life” in Greek. From early times it was adopted by Hellenized Jews as a translation of Eve. It was borne by two early Christian saints, one martyred under emperor Hadrian, the other martyred under Diocletian. The name was common in the Byzantine Empire, being borne by a ruling empress of the 11th century. As an English name, Zoe has only been in use since the 19th century. It has generally been more common among Eastern Christians (in various spellings).”

Because Zoe had done seminars for caregivers she was helpful to me when I knew that we would be taking care of my mother who had Alzheimer’s disease.  Then she and I were in counsel together to help Mr. Roney, a member of my church, when he needed to find help to care for his wife.
She and I both were caring for our mothers at the same time.

Zoe’s body is giving way to death.  She is not walking in the “valley of the shadow of death;” but is now experiencing the darkness of the cavern of death. Christ has lived in her as His own witness. The life of Christ within her is carrying her through to eternal life with Him.

Zoe’s life in the flesh is waning.  Emma’s life is only beginning, and we have seen the same life of Christ within her since a very young age.  She has expressed her faith verbally and through her obedience to Him; in her desire for His word, in prayer and in her relationships with others.  Like Zoe she is comfortable with speaking to others about her faith, and in putting hands and feet to her faith by helping others.
She and her sisters, with Lee, have helped Zoe with cleaning since she has been too ill to do things on her own.

Sony Camera 1st roll 010_2Emma was with us two days a week when Mother was living with us.  Even at the age of three Emma knew how to comfort Mother when she was sad.  She has a wisdom that only God could give.

When Jerry had the three surgeries on his leg, including his amputation, she was as helpful and gracious as any adult would have been.  Nothing was bothersome to her.  She always took these things in stride, even watching the wound treatment and dressings.  She, like her mother, and like Zoe, have many friends.  We all see something rare in her; a life that only God can give; life in Christ, which transcends all of death.

Christ came to overcome death with life. The enemy wanted death for us.  Through it God brings us to Him for eternity.

It is natural that death would keep us thinking about death; but the Spirit of life in Christ brings us beyond those thoughts to think of Him.

We can rejoice in Him even as we think of losing Zoe.  I will always remember her and her part in my own life; and continue to watch what He is doing in Emma and the lives of our family, our church, and within this world; for His own glory and our joy. 

God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
He that hath the Son hath life;
1 John 5:11-12


(As I was writing this Lee called.  I thought she was going to say that Zoe had died.  Instead, her news was about a worse death.  A friend and neighbor she had known since middle school had killed herself.  Because of this and two other suicides of people I knew in the last few months I will share a follow up with another article that I wrote two weeks ago entitled Self-Destruction.)

Product Recall (Part 2)

The Resolution

There is a resolution—and only one—to the problem of the human heart that is hardened to, and unresponsive to its Creator; it is His, and His, alone.

“A new heart also will I give you; and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.  And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.” Ezekiel 36:26-27

“And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the LORD: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart. Jeremiah 24:6-8

These are the promises of our God, the Almighty Creator and sustainer of all His creation, especially His people.

The Warranty

“I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from Me. Jeremiah 32:40

With the new heart comes a new warranty—an everlasting covenant for life. The original covenant with Adam depended on his own obedience to the covenant.  It only proved that man couldn’t live alone; we cannot live without the daily presence and power of God.  Life no longer depends on our working to sustain the covenant of life in ourselves, but on our trust and faith in what He has promised to do in us through His Son, Jesus Christ, and the power of His Holy Spirit.

“I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts,

and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”  Hebrews 8:10

The warranty is written on the new heart, and so it can never be lost.  And we can never be lost to God.  The new heart is registered in heaven.

“Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself.”

And this is the testimony, (the warranty) that God gave us eternal life,

and this life is in His Son.

Whoever has the Son has life;

 Whoever does not have the Son does not have life.” 

1 John 5:10-12

 Spirit of the Living God, Fall Fresh on Me

(Join us for daily devotion agoldentreasury.com)

 

The Path of Grief

The path of grief begins with a loss, usually the death of a loved one. Since my first post on grief, “Grace for Grief,” I hope that you have followed other posts.  They have been indirectly the beginnings of this path that I believe can be part of your experience to get through and triumph over your grief. (Example: articles on the Lord’s Day.  Part of healing is through our obedience to His commands.  This includes our worship and fellowship with His people.  Grace ~ A Realm, speaks of Christ living in you, to bring you through everything in this life.)

“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows,
and acquainted with grief.”
Isaiah 53:3

This blog is for the proclamation of God’s grace.  Everything that we write is intended to be wisdom and comfort for those who read.  You will find Jesus Christ, the Lord of grace, in each article. He is the one to follow through this path of grief.  He has been there, and will lead you through. So, even though an article may not have the word “grief” in it, it will still minister to your heart, and be a means of His grace to get you through.

The path of grief is not something we chose to take, but is placed before us.  We must rise up and follow, else we will become stagnant.  Life will no longer have meaning.  There are many cases where the persons left behind grieve themselves to death. They refuse to take the path that will lead them through their suffering. There are others who have by their own hand taken their own life.  In these cases, the reality of life was never in Jesus Christ, but in whatever was lost.

A path is based on promises.  There are signs posted along this way of grace, and He has said that He will always be with you.

A path is going somewhere.  There is an end in mind, and at some point the end will be in view.  Herein is the hope that keeps us going.

A path can take different turns.  There may be resting places at times, before you go on.  These times will test your faith, and work patience, and faith in you.

A path is mapped out individually for each of us.  Your grief may not be like someone else’s. But know that your heavenly Father in His sovereignty has a special plan and way for you.

A path is sometimes lonely.  Even those who have experienced the same kind of loss may not know how to get through, nor help you get through it.

A path is not a race track; the time it will take to get through will be according to His timing.

A path has places of interest that you have never seen before.  These are pointed out as you take the Father’s hand and walk with Him.

This path of grief is a narrow path.  There is no room to turn around.  When you commit to follow Jesus Christ, He expects your own self-denial for the duration.

“Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths.
Lead me in thy truth, and teach me:
for thou art the God of my salvation;
on thee do I wait all the day.”
Psalm 25:4-5

I cannot promise that in following this blog you will be triumphant over your grief, but the promise is from the Father Himself, that in your following Christ, His Son, He will bring you through—to His glory and your joy.

In the grace and love of Christ.  ~  Fran

   
The first opening of our Camellia—the beginning of winter;
Into the depths of the cold season this shrub
which has become a tree
will be filled with these beautiful blooms.

Through DEATH to NEW LIFE

Who in this life desires to face death’s door?  Who has the faith to believe that new life is on the other side?  Those who are in pain and agony may be the only ones who are  truly ready to answer this question.  While in good health we tend to shun the idea; death is not something we like to think or talk about. But we must.

If God is true, then we can look at all of this life in light of His promises.  What does His Word teach us about death?  What does the Bible say about life after death?

What is truth?  What is fiction or heresy?  We must each settle these questions in our own hearts and minds, based on what we have read or heard from other people, our own experiences with the deaths of loved ones, and/or by faith in God’s Word. It is the understanding of these things that enable us to die, or to endure the grief in the loss of our loved ones.

What I believe will keep me steadfast in hope when I face that door. How I live now is preparing me for death to this life and the “immediate passing into glory.” (SC)  Faith, through the grace of Jesus Christ will enable me to accept Jerry’s death if he dies before I do.

God teaches us in many ways—specifically through His Word; but He works in His providence to reveal His intervention in our lives and the lives of our loved ones. My brother was at death’s door twice before it was opened.  Five months ago when he had complications from gall bladder surgery, in ICU for 6 weeks, he was not ready to go; his wife nor his doctor (who was a good friend of the family) were ready to let him go.  He was placed in two other facilities, heavily medicated for pain, paranoia, and depression, before being brought back to the hospital for the amputation of his toes.  This was the final trauma that enabled him to face, and desire this opening and passing through this door.  Death was the only truth, and hope, left. The mystery on the other side was drawing him to embrace his death and to submit to it.

God blessed, during these five months, for my sister-in-law, alone without her husband, to experience His care for her.

My dad died on Labor Day seventeen years ago.  Friday, following that Monday, Jerry’s nephew’s daughter was born—a message that life goes on, even when one is taken from us.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself

and take up his cross daily and follow me.

Luke 9:23

There is a death that must take place in this life—death to our own way of life and the desires of the flesh.  The eternal life that awaits the believer beyond the door of physical death begins now.  We experience it here on this earth, in the everyday trials, pain and agony.  New life begins the moment God’s Spirit births us into His kingdom, and it transports us beyond this wilderness into His glory for eternity.  For this truth, and in the reality of this promise, we rejoice now, and evermore in the Lord, Jesus Christ, who has opened this door of grace for those who follow Him.

“I AM THE DOOR…” John 10:9