Category Archives: Scripture

One Day Closer

Without a doubt 2016, was the hardest year of my life. As the year was drawing to a close and we began marking significant days that would not include Jonathan, part of me was just eager for the year to end. His absence at all of our holiday celebrations and even the ordinary days is an unimaginably painful hole in our lives.

Jonathan 6/2012We did some special things around Christmas to make sure Jonathan would be a part of our celebrations. There were definitely some tears on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning, but we were together as a family and it was good. It was healing.

So when New Year’s Eve rolled around I was surprised that the thought of starting a new year without Jonathan was harder than spending our first Christmas without him. Somehow it felt like we were moving further and further away from him.

Here now a week into 2017 and I have not been able to shake that thought. Yesterday we marked 10 months exactly since he was received home by his Creator. So many of Jonathan’s friends are experiencing major life events like weddings, engagements, new babies, new jobs and birthdays. These are wonderful things and we are sincerely happy for the families who get to experience them. At the same time, these events are very real and painful reminders that we will never experience those things with Jonathan. Left alone with those thoughts, it would be easy to slip into a pit of despair and bitterness, but God. God is so gracious to pursue and pull me back out of that pit. Day by day, minute by minute He does not let me stay there long.

This morning the nagging thought of 10 months without him popped back into my head. In many ways, time has stood still for us since March 8, 2016. In other ways, it is moving faster than ever. I could not help but think that before we know it, it’ll be 11 months and then a full year without him here. Then two years. Then five. Further from the last time we saw Jonathan and spoke to him; heard his giggle. Further from the last time any of us received one of his super tight, warm hugs that always spoke louder than words.

Then this morning as the rain was falling outside and I was trying to shake the cobwebs out of my head to get ready for the day, God graciously gave me an epiphany. We are not moving further away from him. Today we are one day closer to seeing Jonathan again. It is so simple, yet it makes all the difference. My soul immediately felt lighter. What a gracious and merciful gift from a loving God. Praying that you also would possess this gift.

Ephesians 2:1-9

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  Ephesians 2:1-9 ESV

Social Media + Grief

Since Jonathan’s accident, I have joined a few closed Facebook groups for bereaved parents and others who have lost someone close to them. Sometimes I need a safe and semi-private place to vent the thoughts that seem so crazy in my head. Those groups have been helpful (at times) to make me feel understood and not so alone. These are parents who know the pain of my loss. However, I also see so many people there who are drowning in anger and pain and bitterness. It breaks my heart. I occasionally try to share where my own hope comes from. Often, I just have to take a break from them altogether at the risk of being pulled in to their despair in my own fragile condition.

Over and over the one thing that remains consistent in these groups is grieving parents who are chastised for not only how, but also how long, they are grieving their children. I just read a post of a mom who buried her 2-year-old son two months ago and this morning someone commented on her FB profile pic (of her and her baby who is now gone) that she needs to “stop living in the past and move on.” After two months. TWO MONTHS!!! I just don’t understand this. It feels so cruel.

I get it that social media seems to give people the platform to say whatever they want to with very little consequence, and if we chose to participate in social media we open ourselves up to that – it is a risk we take. What’s even worse is that many of these grieving parents are also being told things like this to their faces. From their own parents, or siblings or even spouses. From people who they considered to be their most intimate family, friends and supporters.

I am learning that grief is such a long and hard journey. One that is as unique to an individual as each person experiencing it. No one should tell someone else how to grieve, much less how long to grieve. I have heard that our grief will last as long as the love was deep and then some. I can say for myself that I will miss my son until the moment we are reunited in our Father’s house, not a minute less.

What these parents are going through has been so different than my own journey. In the almost 10 months since Jonathan joined his Savior in heaven I have not experienced any overt attacks like that. I have no idea if those things are being said behind my back, and I try not to care if they are.

This is not to say that I have not felt hurt by things people have said. There have been some words that have pierced my already broken heart like a hot knife. However, I know that it was not the intent of those people to hurt me. I truly believe that the majority of people mean well. They sincerely want to help and be supportive in some way. They want me to know that they are hurting with us or at least for us. At times words just fail them so they either don’t say anything (this can leave me/us feeling isolated/ignored) or they trip over the words and things just come out wrong. I try my best to assume only good intent and have compassion for those who fumble in this area.

As someone with the Spiritual Gift of Mercy it was initially hard for me to understand that empathy does not come naturally for some people. I generally have no trouble hurting with or entering into another’s pain, and I often feel drawn to encourage hurting people. I think that Romans 12:15 might be engraved on my soul. A friend and close confidant who has walked with me over the last few years (and even more so in the last few months) explained that some people have to work fairly hard at showing empathy and compassion. It is very taxing on them, but they might be the first person to step in and meet some other kind of need: physical, financial etc. Understanding that was probably one of the most helpful pieces of advice to interact with others over these last several months.

I can’t expect people to automatically know where I am at or what I need on any given day. So, I have become more bold to speak out about what I need. I feel freedom to tell some people a better way if something they have done or said hurts me. I have found that my vulnerability draws people in and then we move towards deeper connection.

As far as social media goes, I am always happy when my Facebook memories include Jonathan. Remembering him makes my heart smile. In a month or a year or even 10 years from now if anyone feels the needs to unfriend or unfollow me because social media posts remembering my son make you uncomfortable then I’ll say “so long” and wish them well. If anyone ever feels the need to berate me publicly for wanting to keep my son’s memory alive, well we can just part ways right now.

grief

Never on Sunday

Chick-fil-A Meal

I saw this story on Matt Doan’s blog and liked it so much I swiped it…

Check it out: Never on Sunday

Primacy Beach

Another really meaningful place for me on our Israel Tour was the Primacy. Actually, before we arrived I had no idea what significance the place had – I had never heard of it.
You might be familiar with the passage – John 21. It is after Jesus is resurrected and He appears to the disciples and makes them breakfast. This is believed to be the rock on which Jesus served that breakfast.

Church of the Primacy

Church of the Primacy

Just like most places in the Holy Land a church was built upon it – which for me takes away a little bit of the authenticity.

inside the Church of the Primacy

inside the Church of the Primacy

Nevertheless, standing on the shore of the Sea of Galilee hearing about how Jesus commisioned Peter after his denial was amazing.

Sea of Galilee at Primacy Beach

Sea of Galilee at Primacy Beach

Peter’s life was changed forever once he finally realized who Jesus was. This was the moment of Peter’s true conversion. I have read this passage countless times without much thought. Standing here it was like I was hearing it for the first time. I was touched deep down in my soul.

Rock of the Primacy

Rock of the Primacy

“He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You ” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep.”   John 21:17

I will never read this passage the same way again.

Gethsemane

Not having the time or energy to fully debrief my Israel trip right now, I wanted to share the most meaningful spot of our trip. It has special significance today…

Gethsemane - 2000+ year old tree

Gethsemane - 2000+ year old tree

I look at this ground and this trunk of an olive tree estimated to be 2000+ years old and I wonder is this where Jesus prayed to His Father? Is it here that His sweat became like blood as He agonized over what was about to take place? Luke 22:44

Olive Tress in Gethsemane

Olive Tress in Gethsemane

The Garden of Gethsemane was THE most moving spot of our entire trip for me. The very moment we entered the gates I was overcome with emotion. Then as Eric taught there and Matt lead worship I was almost sobbing uncontrollably. I could not breath. I tried to pray but could barely form the words. It is as if He gave me an ever so slight glimpse of what He felt as He was here. I hope that I never forget what that felt like. Thank You, Jesus
 

Powerful Video

Not that it takes much to bring tears to my eyes and a lump to my throat, but this video is very powerful and really speaks to my heart.

Dear Heavenly Father,

I pray that Your Truth is sweeping across our nation and being firmly embedded in hearts. May the hearts of those who know You be convicted into action. Voting is our right, our duty and something we are called to do. It has never been more important to use our voices.
For those who don’t know You, Father we know You can influence them as well. Bring them to Yourself. Remove the scales from their eyes. Show them Your truth.
Allow people to look past personality flaws and personal opinions. We are ALL broken. Yet we hold dear to Your promise in 2 Corinthians 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Allow the Truth of what You call us to do to penetrate hearts and minds. Help us to protect those who cannot protect themselves for today and generations to come by putting into office those who would protect life and protect marriage.
Our next president will elect members of the Supreme Court. Father we pray that he would recognize that responsibility for what it is meant to be. That members would be appointed to protect our Constitution and not to legislate from the bench and use it as a vehicle of their own agenda.
Allow the principles that our country was founded on to prevail. Our founding Fathers were guided in Your Truth Father, please allow that passion to be reignited.
I commit this election into Your hands as I recognize Your Sovereignty and know that You are in control. I pray this all in the mighty name of Your Son, Jesus Christ.
Amen.

Abortion, Marriage, the Supreme Court and Jesus Christ

I have certainly been standing on my Election soapbox here on this blog recently.
Posting things that I read, hear or receive which resonate with me are the way I share my voice. I feel like doing it here is less confrontational that say forwarding an email or even having an in person conversation about these things.
People can either choose to read it or not.
Not that I can’t stand up for my values. For those of you who are my friends, you know that I am very much lead by my emotions. Therefore topics so emotionally charged like abortion and same-sex marriage are hard for me to talk about in a non-emotional way. This just feels safer.
I don’t for a moment consider myself better than anyone. We are ALL broken, fallen sinners. I choose to live my life in surrender to God and I believe that the Bible is His infallible Word. I believe that it is living and as relevant today as it was when it was first recorded.
God has put it on my heart to share the following message that I recieved this morning. It is very long, and graphic at some points. Many of you will just move on without even reading it, which was also my first reaction. Thankfully I read it all the way through and now feel compelled to share it. Maybe you will take a little bit of time to read it and allow it to work in your heart.
   

From Snopes.com:  http://www.snopes.com/politics/soapbox/huntleybrown.asp
Claim Editorial by pianist Huntley Brown explains why he won’t vote for Barack Obama.
Status: True. 
Last updated:   15 October 2008
Origins:   Huntley Brown is, as described on his web site, “a Christian concert pianist whose versatile repertoire includes classical, jazz, gospel, reggae and many other styles.” An e-mail to Mr. Brown about the item reproduced above, an explanation attributed to him about why he would not be voting for Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election, drew the following response 

Yes, I wrote this e-mail. I was responding to my friends who asked me to vote for Senator Obama because he is black. It was not my intention to send it around the world. I did not post this e-mail or send out any pictures attached. I wish they had not done that.
My friends did not ask me to vote for Senator McCain which explains why my e-mail was geared towards Senator Obama. My e-mail was not meant to influence public opinion in any way, but simply to share with my friends my views on why I could not vote for Senator Obama.
I have problems with both candidates, but the differences I have with Senator McCain are pale in comparison with the ones I have with Senator Obama. For the record, I am not a politician. I am not a Democrat or a Republican. I am a Christian independent who just loves the Lord.
If Senator Obama wins he can count on my prayer support every day. I tell my friends it’s like a family where you have different opinions, but you love each other just the same. I love and appreciate Senator Obama but our views are diametrically opposed.
If I knew my e-mail would have generated this much interest on a national level, I would have left out a few points.

I don’t want people to think I am against gay people or against people who have had abortions. (I am not) We are all sinners saved by grace but we need to have some absolute laws to govern society or else we will self destruct.
What has really bothered me is our beautiful black women constitute only 6% of the population, yet they comprise 36% of the abortion industry’s clientele. Obama has done nothing to stop this. Most people don’t know that the leading abortion providers have chosen to exploit us blacks by locating 94% of their abortuaries in urban neighborhoods with high black populations. Obama has done nothing to stop this?
To be honest I can’t wait to vote for the first black President but it has to be a person who shares the values I read in the Bible. Thanks for checking to make sure my e-mail is legit it is.
The sad part is I have been getting hate mail and my family is being harassed. As you can imagine not everyone is happy with my e-mail. God bless you richly.


Dear Friends,

A few months ago I was asked for my perspective on Obama, I sent out an email with a few points. With the election just around the corner I decided to complete my perspective. Those of you on my e-list have seen some of this before but it’s worth repeating…
First I must say whoever wins the election will have my prayer support. Obama needs to be commended for his accomplishments but I need to explain why I will not be voting for him.
Many of my friends process their identity through their blackness. I process my identity through Christ. Being a Christian (a Christ follower) means He leads I follow. I can’t dictate the terms He does because He is the leader.
I can’t vote black because I am black; I have to vote Christian because that’s who I am. Christian first, black second. Neither should anyone from the other ethnic groups vote because of ethnicity. 200 years from now I won’t be asked if I was black or white. I will be asked if I knew Jesus and accepted Him as Lord and Savior.

In an election there are many issues to consider but when a society gets abortion, same-sex marriage, embryonic stem-cell research, human cloning to name a few, wrong economic concerns will soon not matter. We need to follow Martin Luther King’s words, don’t judge someone by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I don’t know Obama so all I can go off is his voting record. His voting record earned him the title of the most liberal senator in the US Senate in 2007.
NATIONAL JOURNAL: Obama: Most Liberal Senator in 2007 (01/31/2008) To beat Ted Kennedy and Hillary Clinton as the most liberal senator, takes some doing. Obama accomplished this feat in 2 short years. I wonder what would happen to America if he had four years to work with.

There is a reason Planned Parenthood gives him a 100% rating. There is a reason the homosexual community supports him. There is a reason Ahmadinejad, Chavez, Castro, Hamas etc. love him. There is a reason he said he would nominate liberal judges to the Supreme Court. There is a reason he voted against the infanticide bill. There is a reason he voted No on the constitutional ban of same-sex marriage. There is a reason he voted No on banning partial birth abortion. There is a reason he voted No on confirming Justices Roberts and Alito. These two judges are conservatives and they have since overturned partial birth abortion. The same practice Obama wanted to continue. Let’s take a look at the practice he wanted to continue:

The 5 Step Partial Birth Abortion procedures
A. Guided by ultrasound, the abortionist grabs the baby’s leg with forceps. (Remember this is a live baby)
B. The baby’s leg is pulled out into the birth canal.
C. The abortionist delivers the baby’s entire body, except for the head.
D. The abortionist jams scissors into the baby’s skull. The scissors are then opened to enlarge the hole.
E. The scissors are removed and a suction catheter is inserted. The child’s brains are sucked out, causing the skull to collapse. The dead baby is then removed.

God help him. There is a reason Obama opposed the parental notification law. Think about this: You can’t give a kid an aspirin without parental notification but that same kid can have an abortion without parental notification. This is insane.
There is a reason he went to Jeremiah Wright’s church for 20 years. Obama tells us he has good judgment but he sat under Jeremiah Wright teaching for 20 years. Now he is condemning Wright’s sermons. I wonder why now? Obama said Jeremiah Wright led him to the Lord and discipled him. A disciple is one in training. Jesus told us in Matthew 28:19 – 20 “Go and make disciples of all nations.” This means reproduce yourself. Teach people to think like you, walk like you; talk like you believe what you believe etc. The question I have is what did Jeremiah Wright teach him? Would you support a White President who went to a church which has tenets that said they have a …

1. Commitment to the White Community
2. Commitment to the White Family
3. Adherence to the White Work Ethic
4. Pledge to make the fruits of all developing and acquired skills available to the White Community.
5. Pledge to Allocate Regularly, a Portion of Personal Resources for Strengthening and Supporting White Institutions
6. Pledge allegiance to all White leadership who espouse and embrace the White Value System
7. Personal commitment to embracement of the White Value System.

Would you support a President who went to a church like that? Just change the word from white to black and you have the tenets of Obama’s former church. If President Bush was a member of a church like this, he would be called a racist. Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton would have been marching outside. This kind of church is a racist church.

Obama did not wake up after 20 years and just discovered he went to a racist church. The church can’t be about race. Jesus did not come for any particular race. He came for the whole world.
A church can’t have a value system based on race. The churches value system has to be based on biblical mandate. It does not matter if itʼs a white church or a black church it’s still wrong. Anyone from either race that attends a church like this would never get my vote.
Obama’s former Pastor Jeremiah Wright is a disciple of liberal theologian James Cone, author of the 1970 book A Black Theology of Liberation. Cone once wrote: “Black theology refuses to accept a God who is not identified totally with the goals of the black community. If God is not for us and against white people, then he is a murderer, and we had better kill him. Cone is the man Obama’s mentor looks up to. Does Obama believe this? So what does all this mean for the nation?
In the past when the Lord brought someone with the beliefs of Obama to lead a nation it meant one thing – judgment.

Read 1 Samuel 8 when Israel asked for a king. First God says in 1 Samuel 1:9 “Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do.” Then God says 1 Samuel 1:18 ” When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, and the LORD will not answer you in that day.” 19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. 20 Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.” 21 When Samuel heard all that the people said, he repeated it before the LORD. 22 The LORD answered, “Listen to them and give them a king.”

Here is what we know for sure. God is not schizophrenic. He would not tell one person to vote for Obama and one to vote for McCain. As the scripture says, a city divided against itself cannot stand, so obviously many people are not hearing from God. Maybe I am the one not hearing but I know God does not change and Obama contradicts many things I read in scripture so I doubt it.

For all my friends who are voting for Obama can you really look God in the face and say; Father based on your word, I am voting for Obama even though I know he will continue the genocidal practice of partial birth abortion. He might have to nominate three or four Supreme Court justices, and I am sure he will be nominating liberal judges who will be making laws that are against you. I also know he will continue to push for homosexual rights, even though you destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah for this. I know I can look the other way because of the economy.

I could not see Jesus agreeing with many of Obama’s positions. Finally I have two questions for all my liberal friends. Since we know someone’s value system has to be placed on the nation,
1. Whose value system should be placed on the nation.
2. Who should determine that this is the right value system for the nation?

Blessings,
Huntley Brown

God’s Design for Marriage

Genesis 2:18 – 24

18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.”
19 So the Lord God formed from the ground all the wild animals and all the birds of the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would call them, and the man chose a name for each one.
20 He gave names to all the livestock, all the birds of the sky, and all the wild animals. But still there was no helper just right for him. 
21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep. While the man slept, the Lord God took out one of the man’s ribs and closed up the opening.
22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib, and he brought her to the man. 
23 “At last!” the man exclaimed. “This one is bone from my bone, and flesh from my flesh! She will be called ‘woman,’ because she was taken from ‘man.’” 
24 This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.

 

November is coming

My friend Traci sent me this email today. it is one of those “pass it on” kind and I wasn’t sure how I felt about doing that, for one thing – it’s pretty lengthy.

I don’t know who Chris Perry is. I don’t even know if I agree with all of the remarks made in this statement. While I do have a very bad feeling about him, I will confess that I haven’t personally learned that much about Senator Obama. The opinion I have formed of him is mostly superficial (i.e. that way he speaks, the things he does – like canceling a visit to wounded soldiers in Germany when he found out he couldn’t take his camera crews in). Frankly, at this point I am really not that excited about either candidate.

The following statement does make a very important point. Why are we not crying out to our Lord and Savior on this matter? I for one, feel strongly that we are not helpless in this. How about you?

 

Prayers Needed by Chris Perry

I was very dismayed when, recently, a family member of mine said to me with great resignation that Obama will take the presidency. These words came from someone who in the past has been a great prayer warrior. What is happening was my question??? Why are we Christians settling and not issuing a battle cry, falling to our knees and taking our country back? We allow ourselves to be stripped of the right to pray at school functions and in school, we have the 10 commandments removed from government places and are told we cannot pray in school, all the while providing public prayer places for Muslims. What in the world is going on and why are we being apathetic? Why aren’t we praying? Our God is a mighty God who is waiting patiently for us to raise our voices to heaven to stop the tide of the anti-Christ actions in our world today.
Now we find we have a charismatic candidate for president who does not respect our flag and refuses to wear one on his lapel except when it becomes politically expedient and whose own wife and pastor profess to have strong anti-white feelings, and we sit back and say “it is a given, we can do nothing.” There has never been a time in 2000 years that we can do nothing, never a time that we must sit back and allow the evil in men’s and women’s hearts to take over our world. We should be very afraid because our apathy is leading us to perdition.

It is time for all Christian Americans to raise the battle cry and take our nation back. Maybe McCain on his own cannot defeat Obama, but our God can and He will if we take to our knees in prayer and raise a mighty cry to the heavens to “Save us O Lord.” We have the power to change the course of this election and to keep a man as suspect as Barak Obama from leading our country to who knows where with his message of “change” – a change which I fear will be away from our Christian ideals and away from Christ and further away from one nation under God to one nation under Allah.

We are great at passing stories and pictures around the internet, but where are our prayers and prayer warriors praying to stop this tide ofBarak Obama? God parted the red sea, Jesus raised himself from the dead, and we can bring our country back to its Christian roots and stop the move to the rise of Muslims in our country. We can stop our country from being “under Allah,” but we must begin to pray, to pray as if our country and our lives depended on it, because they do. We can stop all these atrocities against God’s commands that have taken root in our country through something as simple as sincere prayer, a call to God to deliver us, to forgive us our sins of apathy and to protect us from the evil that is upon us.

Okay prayer warriors, here is your challenge, start those prayer chains. Get the spiritual power working on our behalf and stop Barak Obama the proper way, by calling on our God to save us from the deception that charismatic preaching he is using to lead us on the wrong path. Stop those who would take God out of our country and our government. Raise up good men to lead us and protect us. George Bush is being buffeted because he has fought a holy war against the evils that attacked us. But we should not rest on our laurels and allow ourselves to be taken further off the path of Christianity and to have God removed from our presence in our schools, courts, government and businesses. Invite God into the fray. Ask that His power rest upon us and give us the victory. Ask him to raise up a might army to defend us and to protect our country as he did in days of old. Let us be victorious beginning NOW. The battle is His but we must call on Him without ceasing and unite our voices and hearts in prayer and fasting.

Please pass this around to all people of prayer that you know and maybe, just maybe a more eloquent person of prayer will write something better and more inspiring and even the rocks will shout that Jesus is Lord and our Mighty God is with us, bringing the victory for us and ultimately for Him.

2 Chronicles 7:14
If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

Local Bible Study

Massada

Massada

Noah and I are discussing the possibility of me going here next March.

What an amazing experience to study the Bible from the places where the stories actually took place. We’ll see what happens.