Mothers for Prodigals

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Precious in His Sight


Tomorrow is Memorial Day in the United States. It is set aside to commemorate American soldiers who died in war. Many families will remember their loved ones who gave their lives in service for their country. I personally want to thank all who have honorably served our country.

This weekend I am remembering my dad who died nine years ago on the twenty-sixth of May. He served our country during World War II, but he didn’t die in service. Health issues took his life at the age of 77 and we buried him on the Saturday of Memorial weekend in 2005. Most of his life was spent in service to his Lord and Savior as he pastored several Lutheran churches for about 50 years. 

Dad left a legacy of faith for his family as well as many churchgoers. One day after his death, the pastor of my parents’ church stopped by my mom’s house. As he chatted with us, he asked to see my dad’s Bible. Glancing through it, he discovered a number of highlighted verses that he could use in his sermon for my dad’s funeral. One verse in particular stood out for me from Psalm 116—Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints (verse 15 NKJV). I knew my daddy believed in the name of Jesus and would live eternally with Him. But I personally gained comfort from the verse knowing that while my family and I gathered around my dad’s hospital deathbed, Jesus’ spirit was assisting my dad through death to life eternal. 

Martin Luther, the man who sparked the Protestant Reformation, said that death is not death but simply sleep for believers. He knew the sting of death lessened with increased faith in Jesus Christ. Luther understood what Paul stated in the fifteenth chapter of First Corinthians. It says:

But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (verses 54-57 NASB).
Jesus died thousands of years ago on a cross for the sins of the world and we remember His death on Good Friday. Thank goodness we can celebrate a more glorious day in the observance of Easter when we glorify His resurrection. He overcame death with His resurrection and those of us living on this side of it can praise Him on Sundays and everyday for what He’s done for us. 

What do you memorialize? Who do you remember? Scripture is full of the Lord’s remembrances of the Israelites and His covenant with them. The Word continually tells us that God remembers His people, those who believe on His name. God's Word also reminds us to remember Him. Use the following verses to commemorate your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and know that He always remembers you.

“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Exodus 20:8 (NASB) 
But you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day. Deuteronomy 8:18 (NASB) 

Seek the Lord and His strength;
Seek His face continually.
Remember His wonderful deeds which He has done,
His marvels and the judgments from His mouth, 
O seed of Israel His servant,
Sons of Jacob, His chosen ones! 
He is the Lord our God;
His judgments are in all the earth. 
Remember His covenant forever,
The word which He commanded to a thousand generations,
The covenant which He made with Abraham,
And His oath to Isaac.
1 Chronicles 16:11-16 (NASB)

When I saw their fear, I rose and spoke to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people: “Do not be afraid of them; remember the Lord who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives and your houses.” Nehemiah 4:14 (NASB)

“Remember that you should exalt His work, Of which men have sung. Job 36:24 (NASB)

I will cause Your name to be remembered in all generations; Therefore the peoples will give You thanks forever and ever. Psalm 45:17 (NASB)

I shall remember the deeds of the Lord; Surely I will remember Your wonders of old. Psalm 77:11 (NASB)

He has remembered His covenant forever, The word which He commanded to a thousand generations, Psalm 105:8 (NASB)

And He remembered His covenant for their sake, And relented according to the greatness of His lovingkindness. Psalm 106:45 (NASB)

And in that day you will say, “Give thanks to the Lord, call on His name. Make known His deeds among the peoples; Make them remember that His name is exalted.” Isaiah 12:4 (NASB)

......and as the women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living One among the dead? He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee, saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.” And they remembered His words, and returned from the tomb and reported all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. Luke 24:5-9 (NASB)

Memorial Day is a day to remember fallen loved ones. It can also be a day to remember Jesus and all that He’s done for us. Give Him praise for His blessings and thank Him for salvation in His name. And remember—you are precious in His sight as you live and when you die!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Joyful Agony


When anxiety was great within me,
    your consolation brought me joy. Psalm 94:19 (NIV)


My insides churned with anxiety, generating a recipe for disaster. Within my heart mixed death, separation, despair, worry, panic, and torment while tears wet my face. How could I go on living? The weight of anguish was unbearable.

I numbly stepped out into the night air, straining through bleary eyes to locate my car. Dad lay dead inside the hospital and we had a funeral to plan. My summer break began in a way I never imagined. Why, Lord, why did You take my daddy? 

I got no response, or maybe I didn’t listen as dread made my stomach queasy. The future family get-together would force me to face our daughter. Please, Lord, help us not to have a showdown. Her choice to be with a boyfriend who controlled her life left us all in turmoil. We experienced a death of innocence with our college-aged daughter through her choices, infrequent visits, and many phone fights. A death of any kind wreaks havoc. God, it hurts so bad!

The Lord slowly began invading my life with His love through friends and family, or maybe I began to listen. His gentle peace trickled into my ravaged soul. I read His words of truth, grasping for help and realizing His faithfulness. “I am with you always,” Jesus said to me like He said to His disciples. I began to feel His presence, even while the agony remained. He walked alongside my sadness, sometimes carrying me, and I experienced a bittersweet existence with Him. Thank you, God, for depositing joy within my agony. 

Jesus must have experienced joyful agony at times, especially while walking the lonely road to crucifixion. He suffered rejection from friends and physical pain from Roman soldiers, yet His Heavenly Father stood close by, indwelling Him with strength and joy. He paid a bitter price for us all and received a sweet reward for His obedience. He came to earth to die for you and me, trading His righteousness for our sinfulness. His resurrection from death paved the way for our resurrection into eternal life and allows us to rise above our pain while on earth. 

Are you experiencing anxiety? Let the Lord’s truth invade your pain and allow His peace to reign. His joy will comfort you.



Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day






And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Luke 2:7 (NASB)

So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. Luke 2:16-19 (NASB)

And His father and mother were amazed at the things which were being said about Him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed—and a sword will pierce even your own soul—to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” Luke 2:33-35 (NASB)

Now His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. And when He became twelve, they went up there according to the custom of the Feast; and as they were returning, after spending the full number of days, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. But His parents were unaware of it...... And He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and He continued in subjection to them; and His mother treasured all these things in her heart. Luke 2:41-43, 51 (NASB)


Therefore the soldiers did these things. But standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. John 19:25 (NASB)


The Gospels are full of the story of Jesus. There are a few passages giving the story of His mother. She gave birth to a child she loved. I'm sure she worried about Him and prayed for Him. Those of us who have children understand her motherly emotions. Scripture tells us she treasured in her heart the things concerning her Son. And we are told she stood at the cross as her son died; I'm sure her heart was breaking.

For all the mothers who are experiencing happiness as well as heartache, KNOW, without a shadow of a doubt, that God loves you for loving His children.  May He strengthen you and give you peace as you treasure in your heart the love of your children. Continue lifting up your children in prayer and trust our Creator with their lives!


The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. 
2 Corinthians 13:14 (NASB)

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Jesus Understands Your Pain


The North Carolina mountains occasionally summon me home. I’ve lived away from them for a long time, but my heart soars when I visit. There’s something about the grandeur of the hills that resonates with me. It’s as if those mountains wrap me with security and fill my soul with serenity. As my spirit climbs the mountain heights, contentment and peace infuse my being and I feel sheltered, safe, and strengthened.

I remember a special time years ago when I visited the mountains at Lake Junaluska with my mother and mother-in-law for a woman’s retreat. When we arrived, I experienced all those mountain top highs, along with the valley lows. I longed for my daughter to be present with us, but I remembered our strained relationship. Suddenly depression grabbed hold of me and threatened to destroy my weekend in “God’s country.” I determined to fight against the sensation of sadness, so I planned an early morning outing at Lake Junalunska’s amphitheater near the lake. 


Sitting on the steps of the amphitheater gives the audience a glorious view of the mountains. The water even reflects the beautiful hills. What makes this place exceptional is the cross; it’s placed on a rock platform within the seating gallery overlooking the entire area. Tranquility surrounds the site. I eagerly anticipated dawn’s early light as I planned to meet with my Lord Jesus the next morning in that sacred spot.


Waking up in the darkness, I tiptoed around our luggage as I dressed for the day. Then I hurried down the stairs and quietly exited the building. Briskly I carried my burdens down the hill to the cross. Entering the amphitheater I found a place to sit and began talking to God. 

As I prayed, I scanned the spectacular landscape and felt the glory of the Lord surround me. Off in the distance the mountains rose in strength and the water’s reflection displayed their beauty nearby. Glancing down into the water, I reflected on my life, the joy and the pain. I let go of my burdens and praised God for His faithfulness. When I looked up at the cross, I saw a bird peacefully perched on the horizontal bar and I pictured myself resting in the arms of Jesus. Words poured from my mind as I penned the following poem from my heart.


RESTING ON THE ARM OF THE LORD

There stands a big white cross overlooking a beautiful lake.
It reminds me of Jesus the Savior who died for everyone’s sake.
Guardian of God’s creation, it eases many an ache.
Like the bird who sits upon it, I’m resting on the arm of the Lord.

Images of personal hurt appear in my mind’s eye,
As the sun rises over the lake, reflecting earth and sky.
The cross stands as a reminder that my Father dwells on high.
Like the bird who sits upon it, I’m resting on the arm of the Lord.

We’re told there will be trials throughout the journey of life.
Daily we need to meet with God in order to contend with strife.
He shows Himself to be faithful, as a gallant husband to his wife.
Like the bird who sits upon the cross, I’m resting on the arm of the Lord.

DDC  
9/16/07

Are you burdened with a load of depression? Know that Jesus understands your pain! Find a quiet spot (it doesn’t have to be mountains; it can be your favorite chair) and pour out your heart to your Lord and Savior. Be silent before Him and listen to His words of peace. You’ll soon discover you’re resting in His arms. 


Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27 (NIV)
By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.
There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit! Romans 5:1-5 (MSG)
AMEN! Thank you, Lord Jesus, for your grace and peace!