There is Hope in Our Mourning, Part 2

Last month I shared about our hope in knowing we will see my brother again when we get to heaven. This month, I find myself being reminded that when unexpected tragedy strikes, that hope is still alive to carry us through. This time, though, the news is still so very fresh.

Just over a week ago, a family gathered for worship in their little country church in Texas. It was a small church very much like where I grew up. As the associate pastor stepped up to bring the message, a gunman entered the sanctuary and hit nearly everyone inside with a bullet. Many were wounded, and 26 were killed that day – 10 victims representing 3 generations of the Holcombe family – including a baby yet to be born but already given nickname by older siblings.

My friend JoCheryl Holcombe’s brother was the one preaching that day. She lost half her family in a matter of seconds. I won’t go into the devastation – this part is within reach for us to imagine.

What I find harder to imagine is the unspeakable peace the remaining family members have been experiencing this week. Even they are astonished. But why should we be surprised? The world was praying for this family. They felt it. In fact, one family member commented to another, “did you feel it?” As they compared notes, they found that ALL of them felt a wave of peace wash over them the day after this horrible loss.

 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

There was no natural explanation for this peace. But there was a supernatural one. God promised to send the Holy Spirit as our comforter and advocate. The prayers of so many surely moved the Spirit to be present in the hearts of those who were mourning.

Memorial Crosses at Sutherland Springs Baptist Church – Photo Getty Images/Scott Olson

The intention was defeat and destruction, but this horrendous act unleashed a torrent of love and goodness. I hope and pray this family will see fruit from this story for decades to come.

Today, the Holcombe family laid to rest their 10 family members. Yes, it was gut-wrenching, but it also was a testimony to the fact that these folks who so tragically lost their lives will live on through their story. A story of hope and love, and the knowledge that they are together in heaven now, and this is not the end.

Here are a few words written by JoCheryl in a public post on Facebook – I don’t think I could be so eloquent nor gracious at such a terrible time….

we made it through this day…i’m sad, but you know…i’m also filled with bliss because of LOVE, and…i’m actually filled with so much love, and friendship and memories and the joy from being around authentic awesome people whose faith is stronger than any tragedy…so proud of my brother, who i will miss so much…but oh WOW!!!! his awesome family…and my parents who exemplify joyful living, who know how to be strong and tender, joyful and heartbroken at the same time. as the days get easier, i want to write a few stories about those who have left and the rest who are left behind…so much inspiration…

yeah, my guts were wrenched today, but there were so many people there with their arms around us holding us, the comfort far outweighed the sorrow!

i am so grateful for the thousands of people who stood in line for hours, some only to get turned away because there was no more room, i am so grateful for all the people who drove HOURS to get here from all over Texas, (some drove 10 hours, and waited in line only to get turned away at the last minute ) i am so grateful for all the people who were there that i didn’t even get to see…i am so grateful for all the professionals who took a chaotic, unprecedented, event of enormous proportions and turned it into the most amazing beautiful celebration with the most poignant creative touches.

i am grateful for friends and neighbors, who hosted the most amazingly delicious meal and country gathering that was filled with love and joy, perfection and beauty.

i am grateful for old friends and new friends, and i am grateful for love that spans a lifetime…i am grateful that we have forever!

i am grateful for all the local and county police and sheriff’s departments and DPS for keeping the press away and coordinating traffic and managing a procession that stretched from one town to the next and still kept coming.. we had no intrusions as we celebrated and mourned.

i am grateful for the streets lined with people who stopped their days, held their hands over their hearts in vigil for that long procession paying tribute to my family, for all the signs along the highway, for all the flowers along the route, for the mountains of cards, for all the hugs, gifts and expressions of love, for the beautiful memorial at the church in Sutherland Springs where my family members graduated to heaven.

this was an awful thing but it was also awesome because love is eternal and we will all be together again. may the love unleashed today be ever present in all our lives

as i reflect on this last week i can say that there is absolutely no way a person could ever imagine what it has been like, i pray nothing like this EVER happens again to anyone…it should not have even happened this time…

so, when you think of those you love and it feels like you have forever, just remember you don’t, but then again, YOU DO! make this life matter, our soul is the only thing we take with us when we are done…it’s worth tending, it’s worth making meaningful deep connections and living each moment in the fullest most meaningful way. BECAUSE everything can change in a holy instant.

i love you all, thank you for making this so much easier for my family..i feel like i have thousands of new family members.

Our hope is not in this life, but those remaining still have to live this life without 10 members of their family, and it will be so very hard. Please continue to pray for the families of those lost in the tragedy in Sutherland Springs, Texas.

More info here: Houston Chronicle Article

Click here for Financial help for the Holcombe family

 

Letters From Gladys

I’ve dreamed many dreams that never came true …

I’ve seen them vanish at dawn.

But enough of my dreams have come true,

thank God,

to make me want to dream on.

I’ve prayed many prayers when no answer came …

Though I waited patiently and long.

But answers have come to enough of  my prayers,

thank God,

to make me want to pray on.

I’ve trusted many a friend who failed me,

And left me to weep all alone,

But enough of my friends have been true blue,

thank God,

to make me want to trust on.

I’ve sown many seeds that fell by the way for the birds of the air to feed on.

But I’ve held enough golden sheaves in my hands,

thank God,

to make me want to sow on.

I’ve drunk the cup of disappointment and pain.

I’ve gone many days without song.

But I’ve sipped enough nectar from the roses of life,

thank God,

to make me want to live on.

(Author Unknown)

old letters in the vintage arrangement

In my mind, retirement always belonged to “those older people” who had passed their most useful days of ministry. We lovingly watched as others entered this stage of their lives, never really anticipating that one day, we too would belong to that group. This past fall, however, my husband and I retired from our pastorate, having completed 46 years of ministry in the Body of Christ, and the Foursquare Church in particular.

As retirees, the amount of concessions afforded us is amazing! Restaurants, parks and hotels give us discounts; magazines are published specifically for us, and the health field directs its attention to us in a constant barrage of new medical plans to supplement Medicare. We are forced to make new decisions concerning our lives and future. Change seems to be a constant for us, and it fills many of the prayers we pray.

Recently, in the apartment building where we live, the need to remain open to change even in the small details of life, was illustrated for me. It was a Monday morning and I had filled the washing machines in our community laundry, when a retired lady came in, looked at me with anger and said, “I have lived in this apartment building for twenty years, and I have always washed first thing on Monday mornings. You have ruined my day!” I returned to my apartment praying, “Oh Lord, keep me flexible. Don’t let me become rigid and unable to flow with life’s changes, small or large.”

In relating to the Church, we are happy to submit to the leadership of the younger generation, for this is right. But at the same time, we are still Salt and Light; Jesus made us that, and that we will be until He calls us “Home.” We thrill when a soul is born again. We rejoice in the victories of the Church, and we encourage the younger pastors who have taken our place to preach the Word, pressing toward the mark for the prize of the High Calling of God in Christ Jesus.

We also request your understanding. In your ministry to us, please don’t expect us to totally change, for there are some things that we do cherish. We are still moved by some of the old songs that have sustained us down through the years. We love to hear a preacher proclaim those proven truths of God’s Word and stir our hearts with eloquence and anointing. Most of all, we need your care and support as we face what might be the most challenging time of our lives.

The poem which I have included above must have been written by someone who has walked along the pathway of life some distance and learned from that walk the things that are truly important. I know they express my sentiments at this time in my life.

A Retired Shepherd,

           Gladys

(This article first appeared in the “Letters From Gladys” column in Foursquare Advance Magazine, 1989, and again on the LifewordsToday blog in February, 2016 – we are reposting it today because the message is timeless. We are happy to report she was vibrant in other forms of ministry for another 20 years until God called her Home in 2009.)

 

There is Hope in Our Mourning

This past weekend would have been a milestone birthday for my brother, Ron. He was supposed to turn 65 on Saturday. But he’s not here.

Ron passed away suddenly in his sleep 6 years ago. He was not yet 59 years old. The same age as I am this year. Let me tell you, there’s something about passing up your older brother in age that messes with your mind. It feels unnatural, like a moment in time has frozen for him, but for you it marches on.

Ron was my older brother, and my sister Karen‘s little brother. He was the beloved uncle to Nikki and Kristin (all 4 of us are contributors to this Lifewords Today blog.) We miss him terribly, but there’s this overwhelming sense that his death was not the end. We do not mourn as the rest of the world mourns, this I know for certain.

After our parents both passed away, Ron used to amuse me by talking about how long it felt mom & dad had been in heaven. He would talk about the scripture found in 2 Peter 3:8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day” and then ponder out loud that if mom and dad have been in heaven for a year, it just felt like a couple of seconds to them. We would laugh, and I would especially laugh because he actually did the math on this, but math is just not my thing, so I would have to take him at his word.

As the days went on, he talked about heaven more and more. And sometimes I wonder, was God preparing his heart to go home? As I thought back on those conversations, the news of his death was softened just a bit. The Comforter had come, and revealed that there is so much more to look forward to.

In the aftermath of his death, my nephew Kary expressed his lament in a beautiful work of art that he later gave to me, and I cherish it deeply. I move it from place to place in our home so I always have a new perspective and a reminder of my brother’s impact while on this earth. As Ron’s birthday weekend was approaching, I noticed I had placed the sculpture next to a beautiful seashell and a photo of Half Dome in Yosemite. Two of Ron’s great loves on this earth were the sea and Yosemite, and I share that love with him.

If I do the math right, Ron has been riding the perfect wave in heaven for just a couple of seconds now. When we get there he will greet us with a smile, and show us the most perfect pristine beach. And it will be glorious. We miss you, Ron, but we know we will see you again.

 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.  1 Thessalonians 4:13-14

SUFFERING

suffering/synonyms: Acute bodily or mental pain. Distress may be physical, but it is more often mental, referring to any deep anxiety, or the external circumstances that may produce it.  Misery is extreme suffering or abject hopelessness, as from sorrow, great loss, poverty, or the like.

Why is suffering allowed by God?

That question has been asked by believers and non-believers alike…….the difference is, those who know God know that He is a balance of justice and mercy.  Sin came into His perfectly created world because of the disobedience of Adam and Eve.  So because of that first sin, all of creation (including you and me) is waiting for the healing that will happen when Christ returns.

Last Sunday I sang at a church in the Tampa, Florida area.  At the fellowship meal afterwards I met a 43-year old mother of 3 who was still having therapy after a triple by-pass heart surgery 3-months ago.  She had no warning, only tightness in her chest.  She has MS, her husband travels for his job during the week, her father had just been diagnosed with cancer, and she has 3 boys ages 5-12 years old.  She thought the tightness in her chest was stress from life’s challenges.  The weekend her husband was home he encouraged her to go to the ER, but she refused….he insisted.  They sent her home.  The pain started then and she went back.  This time she was in surgery within the day with 100% blockage in one artery and 90% blockage in two others.  Post-surgically in the hospital one of her lungs collapsed.  Of course many prayer warriors were lifting her up in prayer…..and she is recovering wonderfully.  But, why would this godly young woman already dealing with MS have to suffer like that?

She is radiant with the love of Christ, and is a strong witness to her doctors, nurses and therapists.  She gives God all the glory for His healing touch.

I have experienced pain physically and emotionally in my lifetime, but I’ve never really suffered.  How about you?  If you have, according to the definition at the top of this blog, how have you handled it?

Right now there is an abundance of suffering in Texas due to the devastation of hurricane Harvey and the ensuing rainfall that is still causing flooding.  I can’t even imagine what that must be like.  There will be human suffering, distress and misery there for a long time.  Our prayers, finances and when possible, physical help, are with them.

There really is no way to end this blog on this subject because human suffering will always be with us.  But I must encourage you that God is a loving and compassionate God, and His heart is broken as He sees the ongoing suffering of human kind.

The Apostle Paul suffered much as he shared the Gospel of Christ.  He wrote in Romans 8:18 “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us…”

God sent His Only Son, Jesus, to this world; part human due to His birth from a virgin, so that He could feel and understand what we go through as humans.  In the book of Isaiah, chapter 53, we read what was written about the suffering of Christ 700-years before His death on the cross.  Verse 3:  “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.”

Dear God, help us to “rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.  Romans 5:3-5

Photo: Gisela Giardino, Flickr Creative Commons

OUR Hope

Mary is a former pastor’s wife who served the Lord and people for decades. She is in her 80’s now and is a resident in the Good Samaritan Center nursing home in the memory care unit. Because this nursing home is part of the retirement village where I now live, I have the opportunity to visit the dear ones who have been placed there.

When I enter the memory care unit behind locked doors, I notice Mary among others whom I greet. She has a beautiful, soft countenance (unless she is in pain~then a frown shows). Our greeting of one another usually begins with a song! Mary has a strong alto voice and an extensive repertoire of hymns. When I begin to sing the following hymn she joins in with perfect harmony:

“Sing them over again to me, wonderful words of life.
Let me more of their beauty see, wonderful words
of life! Words so freely given, wooing us to heaven,
beautiful words, wonderful words, wonderful words of life.”
(Philip Bliss 1874)

Although Mary’s brain is being ravaged by a terrible, debilitating disease, she still knows her God, her Savior, and the Holy Spirit’s comfort.  I don’t mean to single Mary out because most of the dear ones who are spending their evening years in this nursing home have a relationship with Christ.  As we sing together she is ministering to me, to the other residents, to the nurses, CNA’s and housekeeping workers; that there is HOPE for our future if we are secure in Christ our Savior.

One evening as I was leaving, most of the residents were already in bed for the night; I heard a strong voice coming from a darkened room down the hall.  I peeked in and saw Mary on her bed with both arms raised high and singing, Blessed Assurance………”This is my story, this is my song…..Praising my savior all the day long.   This is my story, this is my song….Praising my Savior……all the day long!” (Fanny Crosby 1873)

Oh God, help me to never forget the HOPE I have in You.  No matter what comes my way, I know, that I know….that You are  real, You are alive; You care.  You sent your Only Son to die and shed His blood for me for the covering of my sins.  One day You will come again to this earth and take me home to be with you forever.

hope

This is the HOPE that changes everything that I think, feel, say and do. I pray you have this HOPE as well, because it surely makes life fulfilling.

Titus 3:4-7  “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His Mercy.  He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the HOPE of eternal life.”

Re-post from July 2014

Are you Delighted?

delight [dih-lahyt]

1. a high degree of pleasure or enjoyment; joy; rapture: 2. something that gives great pleasure:

When is the last time you were delighted? Reread the definition above and really think about that for a minute. Unfortunately it’s an emotion that may be in short supply lately.  It’s an emotion I truly didn’t enjoy very often until a toddler started calling me grandma.

There is nothing like having a little person in your life who brings joy and wonder. His enthusiasm for EVERYTHING is over the top.

And he DELIGHTS me.

“Watch dis, gramma!” “Gramma, let me show you!” “I wuv you, gramma.”

Such music to my ears.

Every time I find such joy in my little guy, God gently reminds me that he feels the same way about me. And I am amazed.

“For the Lord takes delight in his people;
    he crowns the humble with victory.” Psalm 149:4

“the Lord delights in those who fear him,
    who put their hope in his unfailing love.” Psalm 147:11

“The Lord your God is with you,
    the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
    in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
    but will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17

Rejoice over you with singing! Oh! Doesn’t that make your heart just sing?

Let’s take it a step further: If we also delight in Him, God says He will give us the desires of our hearts! What?

Just this morning, I was playing with my grandson Luca & things got really silly. Doing something as simple as throwing a ball back and forth had us in giggling fits. We were delighting in each other. And you know what? There is no desire of his heart I would withhold from him when such delight is going on.

“Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Philippians 4:4

God desires that two-way relationship with us. When we take delight in Him, it makes His heart sing and burst with joy. Remember, He actually rejoices over us with singing! imagine yourself as a child with a daddy who is so in love with you that he delights in every little thing you do!

Father and daughter laughing and bonding

Our lives are so filled with trouble and angst that I know it’s hard to think about taking delight in anything some days. But what if we did? Find the smallest thing to start with, and see it with new eyes. Begin to change your outlook. Take delight in God, and He will take even more delight in you. Don’t miss out on walking in that kind of freedom…

And see what happens to your life.

Little Shoes for a Big Purpose

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“What’s the story about your favorite pair of shoes?”

Kind of an unusual question for church, but every week the Question of the Day provokes some interesting getting to know you conversations with those sitting nearby. It’s a tradition at Fellowship Monrovia, where I attend services.

I turned around to chat with the woman behind me, thinking about mentioning the snow boots I bought in college more than 30 years ago and still own.

With a huge smile, she shared her shoe story:

My favorite pair of shoes was my very first pair, when I was 10 years old. I was in an orphanage in Greece during the war, and needed shoes. They traced around my foot on a piece of paper during my birthday in July, and then asked my sponsor in America for the money. That Christmas, I received my first pair of shoes. They were so precious to me! I polished them every night before putting them away in the box. I loved those shoes!

Oh.

Yeah, I had no shoe story after hearing that.

During the rest of the service, I couldn’t stop thinking about that precious Greek lady and her shoe story. I knew I needed to know her.

We met for coffee last week, and through tears she told me of her heart for the Greek orphans, even now. There is no public money available for them. If an orphanage is no longer funded, those little ones are in the street. What she told me is a story repeated countless times in countries around the world.

Meeting someone like this, who has lived a good life because a family cared enough to adopt her is inspiring. Her work now is dedicated to the children in Benjamin House, and she carries on the work that one person inspired in her by providing a pair of shoes.

Small beginnings for very big things. It all started with a pair of shoes for a 10 year old little orphan girl, provided by someone who had never met her.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”   James 1:27

 

If there is a God, why is there struggle and pain in this world?

If there is a God, why is there struggle and pain in this world?

This is a question that is asked frequently. People have a hard time wrapping their minds around the fact that if there is a so called “God” who is loving and caring why would he allow people to go through such horror and pain?

Consider this…

God gave us free will. He is not demanding us and calling out orders from heaven. Of course, yes, He does have a plan for us and wants us to live a life of love, but he does not force us to do so.

It started in the Garden of Eden. God said to Adam and Eve they could eat from any tree in the garden, except for the Tree of Knowledge. They were given choices. They were given the free will to decide which tree to eat from. When they decided to eat from the tree of knowledge, God was there but he did not force them away. He allowed them to make that decision.

In Genesis 2:16-17 it tells us, “And the Lord God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.’”

The opportunity was given to them to make a decision but he also told them what would happen if they chose a certain tree.

“Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

“The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”

You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (The devil’s temptation to make the wrong decision)

“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it (her decision). She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it (his decision).”

Genesis 3:1-6

There is evil in this world, and the evil was in the garden. The devil came as a serpent and tempted Adam and Eve. They gave into that temptation and in their own free will chose to eat from the tree of knowledge. They were given a chose. God wasn’t forcing them to choose what he wanted them to do. He stood back and allowed them to decide.

There is evil that we face now. Things happen to people that are not deserving of it. People are robbed, raped, murdered and they didn’t do anything wrong. How can God sit back and watch that happen?

It breaks God’s heart to see his children struggle, in pain, hurt. During those times of pain, what do you do? Do you search for anything to help you? Are you desperate for an answer, comfort, someone to take away the pain?

God is waiting with open arms for you to run to him. To cling to him. To cry out to him. To ask him for help. I don’t believe it’s a matter of God allowing bad things to happen because there is evil in this world, but he does wait for us to make a decision to draw near to him during those times. Following God does not mean life will be easy and nothing bad will ever happen to you, but it does bring you comfort and peace knowing the ALL POWERFUL GOD is on your side and fighting for you. He will bring the enemy down. He already has, but we as humans are tempted and create a way for the devil to get in and torment us. God never wanted that to happen, but he gives us a chose——to follow him, or to follow the ways of the evil one, the ways of the world.

What do you choose?

807a28c94045772dc0c9119335067ee6 Psalm 23:4

I Have Fought the Good Fight…

There’s something about celebrating the life of one who’s gone to heaven before us that makes us evaluate EVERYTHING. Am I right?

I find myself mulling over the questions: Will I be missed? Will people cry? Will my life be worth celebrating? Will my legacy live on? What is my legacy, anyway?

Our family suffered a loss last week when our cousin Steve went home to heaven. It wasn’t unexpected, Steve had suffered the ravaging effects of Muscular Dystrophy for nearly 40 years. But oh, the hole that is left by his passing.

I was fortunate to travel to Oregon to be with family at this time, and witness the great outpouring of love for my cousin. The family had beautiful tributes to share, but it was the comments made by his ham radio buddies that really got to me.

After being diagnosed at age 13, Steve immersed himself in the ham radio world. Before the internet was even a glimmer, he had acquaintances around the world. Ever friendly, ever helpful, Steve became a bright light in the community, even going on to win awards for his skills too numerous to count. He shared recipes for his favorite foods and “traveled” the world by talking with friends and strangers on his radio, and looking at photos on his computer. He was noted for being the first ham radio operator to make contact with the Space Shuttle, among so many other accomplishments.

Steven Richard Kelly ~ March 13, 1964 - August 4, 2016

Steven Richard Kelly ~ March 13, 1964 – August 4, 2016

This was a man who hadn’t left the house for probably more than a decade, and now I’m hearing story after story of how he had helped design landscaping, a radio tower, and even a kitchen or two. In the midst of his own pain and what appeared to outsiders to be isolation, Steve pushed past the limits of his diagnosis and used technology to reach out and make a difference in the lives of others. He lived the life he was given to the fullest he was able.

As I sat there listening to his friend’s tearful tribute, I was in awe of this man and felt very sorry I hadn’t made a point to spend more time with him each time I came to town. Obviously this is my loss.

Which brings me back to the task at hand… taking inventory of my life.

If I had a diagnosis rendering me housebound, would I proceed to make such a difference in the lives of others that they would pack the house for my memorial service? My thought right now is that I would waste an awful lot of time feeling sorry for myself and searching for a way out of my predicament.

Steve never did that. He knew where he was going, and he knew where his strength for each day came from. He didn’t complain about his lot in life, he made the most of it.

I believe God gives us glimpses like this to snap us out of our own complacency. We all can remember those who have risen above their circumstances with such a force of character it’s impossible to ignore. And impossible to avoid. Take a moment to think back on that person you know, and use their inspiration to go and change your world… and just maybe that world will say they are better for having known you.

Live the life you are given to the fullest you are able.

Thanks for the reminder, Steve. Tell everyone hi for us and keep that heavenly party jammin’ until we get there!

” I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.” 

2 Timothy 4:7-8 (NKJV)

 

 

Train Up a Child…

In California, we are often rocked by an earthquake. Sometimes it is no more than the shuddering of the ground under us, other times it is more forceful. In places around the world, people are continually reminded of Jesus’ words that one of the signs of the last days would be earthquakes in various places. (Matthew 24:7)

However, there is another shaking that affects us, no matter where we live. It is the crumbling of our value systems, an age of violence. That too, is prophetic. One columnist has called it “an ever-expanding junk culture.”

Parents of young children, especially Christian families, have only to look about them to discover that it will take extreme vigilance to train up their children in the way they should go. Prayers of faith must be followed by the training of our children in absolutes and disciplines. The potential for good or evil is present in every child, whether it be a Ted Bundy who was introduced to pornography at the age of 12, or godly training in the home that will produce a Billy Graham. What one learns as a child will set life-consuming direction.

One area of vigilance must be regarding television. Mine is not the only voice raised in protest to a constant barrage of filth aimed at the minds of our children, even on prime-time programming. Seemingly innocent Saturday morning cartoons are not so innocent anymore.

Recently, a mother wrote Ann Landers, telling of a toddler in Boston, MA who has been stabbed 17 times by a five-year-old. Ann blamed it on what the child had seen on television. Another wrote regarding the influence of Garbage Pail Kids, which are not only promoted on TV, but can be purchased in a pack of chewing gum. The cards often depict children in violent actions, in vivid detail.

A fourth grade school teacher asked her students to write an essay on how they would like to celebrate Halloween. Eighty percent of them expressed the wish to “kill somebody.”
Just think of how many youth spend hours before the TV on Saturday mornings and are impacted by such media while mom and dad sleep in, or occupy themselves in other activities.

This is also the age of the security system. We have them in our homes, our businesses, our cars, and yes, even our churches are installing them. We are guarding against the thief. Security systems is big business today!

May I remind us that Satan, the thief, is alive and well. His job is to steal, kill and destroy, as Jesus warned in John 10:10. His target is our children and our homes. But do we not have the outline for security in God’s Word? God left the finest training to the home. He prescribed vigilance and diligence in the training of our children when he commanded Israel to teach the commandments to the children; to talk about them day and night. And I say, “God bless the godly men and women who devote themselves to the training of the children in the home and in the Church.”

bedtime bible stories

The President of the United States has asked that we created a kinder, gentler nation. The place to start in creating this is with the young.

We must value the child. God does!

Gladys

“For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places.”  Matthew 24:7 ESV

 

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10 ESV

 

This article by Rev. Gladys I. Johnson first appeared in the Foursquare Advance magazine in 1989, in her Letters From Gladys column.