Friday, March 04, 2005

The day is at hand

Rom 13:11
And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.


Facing death has a way of trimming off all the nonessential interests and distractions we usually allow in our lives. When we realize that our time on earth is coming to an end, priorities get realigned and those issues and conversations that are most important to us tend to percolate to the top. All the nonessentials are stripped away.

Our church has been praying for a woman named Shari, who has been suffering from a rare disease of the lungs. In a very short time this healthy 30 year old wife and mother has slowly regressed to the point where, last Wednesday night, I received word from her father that they were removing her tubes and life support. She was unresponsive, her kidneys had shutdown, she was cold to the touch, and a fungus had formed in her blood. It was time to pull the plug. The doctors were preparing to give her a dose of Morphine and in a very short time, they were certain she'd slip behind the veil into the arms of the Lord.

That night, during our midweek service, our church fellowship (among many others) prayed for her. Conscious of how close she was to death, I hoped Shari had been able to communicate that which is most important to those she loves. We all hope for that. At a time like that, all our priorities are set and there is no time to waste on trivial conversation.

I've just learned that, for whatever reason, the doctors held off on that morphine shot. And Wednesday night, Shari began opening and closing her eyes. She began to rally.

Though very weak, Shari motioned for her mother. Her mother came to her bedside and Shari asked for a piece of paper with the alphabet letters on it. Slowly and carefully, she chose the letters that were most important to her at that moment. She was writing a message to her little boy. One letter at a time, she spelled out, "God loves Sam."

May we follow Shari"s example as we redeem every moment for God's glory.

Rom 13:11-14

And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ.



P.S. Please continue to pray. In the last update I received, her mother explained what was happening to Shari and wrote her options out on paper, “Dialysis- Yes or No” Shari pointed to "yes," then her mother asked her if she was wanting to fight. Shari again chose "yes." As you can see, she's responsive. It seems her kidneys are functioning again. Please pray that God continues to heal her!

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Back to the feet

Rom 12:12-13
" ... continuing steadfastly in prayer ..."

It never ceases to amaze me how the Lord works. While reading this passage this morning, I was meditating on this point: "Continuing steadfastly in prayer." Steadfastly. What exactly does that mean, I wondered?

Meanwhile, the phone rings."Private caller," the caller ID says. I think, That's interesting. Surely the idea of continuing steadfastly means to make it a priority and not let anything interrupt me from it. So I continued steadfastly letting the answering machine get the phone.

Then I looked up the word in my Zodhiates word dictionary: "steadfastly; to endure, to tarry, to remain, to persevere." The phone rings again--"private caller" comes up on the screen--and I think, Come on man, continue steadfastly, don't let it pull you out.

Then I remembered the passage about Mary and Martha and how Jesus told Martha in Luke 10:41-42, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her."

You're so busy (in the kitchen) Martha; Mary has chosen the better place (at My feet). I thought Yes, that's what I'll write in my blog--that the best place for us to be is at the feet of Jesus, continuing steadfastly in prayer (and it is, no doubt).

But then the "private caller" strikes again and, being more determined now, I stay strong. Let it go Dave, let it go, you're doing good, man; keep the focus.

I'm beginning to blog and the phone rings again. Same caller. Finally I'm thinking OK, OK, I can't stand it. You win, I'll answer it.

And you know what? That private caller was a brother who wouldn't give up--a brother with whom I just had the most wonderful time in prayer. It didn't start out that way; he doesn't know I was feeling a little impatient when I first answered. But as we prayed together the most amazing thing happened; The Lord fired a passage at me:

Luke 18:1-8
"Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, saying: 'There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying,"Get justice for me from my adversary." And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, "Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me."

'Then the Lord said, "Hear what the unjust judge said. And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?"'"

God sent me a real life example of persistence ... through a brother who wouldn't give up.

May we be those who are found continually at the feet of Jesus ... until we see mountains crumble.

Continue and keep on continuing (present tense) in steadfast prayer.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Strength

Rom 11:17-18
...And you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them (the natural branches), and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree...


I love a stack pancakes with butter. I'm not talking about just a single pad of butter on top, but a couple of pads of butter on each pancake in the stack and finally, one of those scoops of butter on top of the hot stack with warm syrup running down the side and dribbling on the plate in a big buttery, syrupy puddle. You gotta have a big glass of cold milk with that. Can you taste it?

My favorite kind of syrup is real Vermont maple syrup that comes right out of the tree. It's so much better than the imitation kind that there's really no comparison. If you live in Vermont, you know the image well of cans hanging on the sides of maple trees with the syrup dripping from the tree trunk into the can.

That's the best place to get your syrup: right from the tree.

The same is true in our Christian life. The fountain of blessing, the source of life, is found in Jesus Himself. Our strength and encouragement and power is found not so much in mere talk about Jesus but in Jesus Himself. He's what we need--not something artificial or imitation. All is found in Him.

Eph 6:10-11 "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might." Beloved brothers and sisters, we are never stronger than when we are utterly dependent on Jesus. Jesus said, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." 2 Cor 12:9.

Whatever challenges or trials or uncertainties or dilemmas or ventures you find yourself facing, may you find your strength in Jesus.

Taste and see that the Lord is good.