Monday, January 26, 2009

Life in Death

How strong is your faith? Do you truly have faith in all the attributes of God? I was challenged with these questions on the last day of our Medford tournament. When the news arrived that Jodi had lost her baby, I was crushed. I knew how much the Kruses wanted that child. They had nearly given up on the hope of ever having another baby, but God had blessed them and she became pregnant. But then God took that child away, three weeks before it was about the enter the world.

I was angry. Why had God done this to them? What was His plan? Could I even believe that this was His plan? I was deeply challenged, and mad. Then when I got into my round, and saw that I had to talk on the grace of God, it came to me, as like a voice in my head. God said "can you trust in Me, even when your emotions tell you not too?" God wanted to see how much I believed in His grace. Yeah, sure, I was able to study it and talk about it, but did I truly trust in it? Could I talk about even when I was being challenged in it?

It was then that I realized that God's grace was clearly seen in it all. God had given them this child. He had allowed them to build a relationship with this child for eight months. All of this was God's grace towards the Kruse family. While I talked about it in my round, there was this voice in my head that kept saying "praise Me for the child, it was by My grace that they spent eight months with it in the womb, praise Me."

God took this little child, this child that no one had yet seen, and built all of our faiths up through it. God wanted to see how much we really believed what we were saying. Right then and there I finally came to realize the full meaning of His grace, sovereignty and holiness, like I never had before.

Now we all thank God for what He did through this little child. Our tournament took on a different aspect based on the work God did through this child. Jodi's prayer had always been that her children would further the kingdom of God, and even this child, that would never live to see this world, changed the lives of so many people. We became a closer body of Christ. We had each other to cry with, and to pray for, and I thank God for that!

Even in the death of this beloved child, we saw a new aspect of life!

As I was writing this post this song came up-

Blessed be Your Name
Blessed be Your name in the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name
And blessed be Your name when I'm found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed be Your name

Every blessing You pour out I'll
turn back to praise
And when the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be Your name when the sun's shining down on me
When the world's "all as it should be"
Blessed be Your name
And blessed be Your name on the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name

Saturday, January 10, 2009

What Have You Suffered?

We do not know who it was who had this dream, quoted in the Presbyterian Survey. But the unknown dreamer could be any one of us, could it not?

I saw in a dream that I was in the Celestial City—though when and how I got there I could not tell. I was one of a great multitude which no man could number, from all countries and peoples and times and ages. Somehow I found that the saint who stood next to me had been in Heaven more than 1,860 years.

“Who are you?” I said to him.

“I,” said he, “was a Roman Christian; I lived in the days of the Apostle Paul, I was one of those who died in Nero’s persecutions. I was covered with pitch and fastened to a stake and set on fire to light up Nero’s gardens.”

“How awful!” I exclaimed.

“No,” he said, “I was glad to do something for Jesus. He died on the cross for me.”

The man on the other side then spoke: “I have been in Heaven only a few hundred years. I came from an island in the South Seas—Erromanga. John Williams, a missionary, came and told me about Jesus, and I too learned to love Him. My fellow-countrymen killed the missionary, and they caught and bound me. I was beaten until I fainted and they thought I was dead, but I revived. Then next day they knocked me on the head, cooked and ate me.”

“How terrible!” I said.

“No,” he answered, “I was glad to die as a Christian. You see the missionaries had told me that Jesus was scourged and crowned with thorns for me.”

Then they both turned to me and said, “What did you suffer for Him? Or did you sell what you had for the money which sent men like John Williams to tell the heathen about Jesus?”

And I was speechless. And while they both were looking at me with sorrowful eyes, I awoke, and it was a dream! But I lay on my soft bed awake for hours, thinking of the money I had wasted on my own pleasures; or my extra clothing, and costly car, and many luxuries; and I realized that I did not know what the words of Jesus meant: “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Mark 8:34).

Now, with the New Year, make your life more productive for Christ!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The '08 Christmas Season

This past year we had a most wonderful Christmas season. God has enriched my life with such a wonderful, loving and caring family. The joy to be able to spend time together in one another company, without any strife or degree of separation, but to be able to soak in the unity, and godly fellowship with each other was such a blessing.

On Christmas Eve, my mom made a delicious dinner for our family and Grandpa Ken and Grandma Dot joined us. Then we opened presents and enjoyed some hot cider.

We had a wonderful time getting together on Christmas day, sharing a potluck meal, exchanging gifts, and playing a wild game of "White Elephant"! Dad gave an awesome mini sermon on the song "Joy to the World" and then we all sang it together.

Then on the following week, my family traveled down to northern Cali, to share Christmas with Mummu and Papa Dean. We had the most scrumptious dinner, and then we opened presents!

All-in all, it was a fun-filled Christmas week.
And in it all I was continually reminded to look back at the meaning of it all. The fact that "Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." (Phil.2:8)

Christ came to earth, so that He could become the perfect sacrifice in order to accomplish the redemption of Adam's fallen seed, and this is what we were celebrating!