You Have Access to the Heavenly Realms

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Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us
in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he
chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy
and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons
through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise
of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. Ephesians 1:3-6

My file cabinet is stocked with lessons I have prepared from Ephesians 1 about being chosen before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before Christ. Some of the files contain notes on our identity with Christ; chosen, predestined, adopted in love. But, somehow I have missed the fact that Christ has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. It is quite an amazing concept to recognize and live victoriously with the fact that we have access to the heavenly realms today!

Both blessings and battles take place in the heavenly realms. We know Satan is the prince and power of the air (Ephesians 2:2) and he operates in the heavenly realms where the ultimate spiritual battles take place. At the same time, Christ has already won the battle and He sits as Victor in the heavenly realms, “…far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.” (Ephesians 1:20-21)

Is there a burden on your heart, a temptation gripping you, a discouragement that is dragging you down? It is time to place your thoughts and battles in line with the truths in Ephesians, “Christ has blessed you with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.” You have been raised up with Christ and are seated with Him in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 2:6-7).

Ponder this:

Eternity is already in session. If you want to go into heaven-go now. You have access. -John Ortberg

J. Vernon McGee says it this way:

You are in the heavenlies in Christ even when you are down in the dumps. Everyone who is in Christ is seated in the heavenlies in Him. That is the position He has given us.

Consider This as you memorize Ephesians 1:3-6

Would I react to daily trials, temptations and turmoil differently if I recognized my position with Christ in the heavenlies?

What would it take for me to remember and access every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms today?

Give God the Praise

God has chosen you to share in His blessings. He has given you the means to not only survive, but thrive through this life. Take some time to thank Him for who He is.

Meditate on the Verses

Spiritual lessons and themes are popping out of these three verses. Circle key words, jot notes on the margins of your Bible,

What do you learn about the character of God?

As you memorize and chew upon the book of Ephesians this year, take notes about the character and actions of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit from these verses.

Stop and talk to God about His character. Do you think accurately about the God you love and follow? Praise Him, thank Him and ask Him to help you know Him more deeply.

Study Further

Did you notice the words “blessing” and “blessed” are used 4 times in these verses? “Blessing” is a word we hear commonly used throughout the day. Do you have a clear understanding of its meaning? Spend a few minutes doing a word study on the original language and meaning of these words.

It’s not about Me!

Although Christ has chosen to richly bless us with every spiritual blessing, and give us the means to live a victorious life, it is actually not about Me!

As you meditate on these verses, look for the why. How many reasons do you observe why God has chosen to bless you? For whose purpose?

Leave a comment and share your thoughts as we memorize and learn God’s Word together.

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Practical Tools to Help you Memorize Scripture

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All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:15-16

Here we go, friends! This week we are embarking on a great adventure as we memorize Scripture together. Some of you have always wished you could do it while others have put it off for months. (or years?) Now you have made the commitment! I know you can do it.

Why do you think the discipline of memorizing Scripture is so difficult? Maybe because of that very thing-discipline. It is a good question to ask yourself in order to get past any mental hurdles that may try to get in your way the next few months as we memorize the book of Ephesians!

This week we begin with Ephesians 1:1-2. To boost your success I want to share some practical tools to help you memorize Scripture.

Scripture Typer App

The Scripture Typer App is a multi-sensory Scripture memory tool. It involves reading, writing, and most likely talking to yourself. You simply enter your verses and the Bible version of choice (I prefer ESV) and it sets you up for reminders and practice runs. I gave it a try last night. In spite of my son sitting next to me watching the Planes movie and singing loudly in my ear, I was able to master the verses in fifteen minutes.

The app feels like a game. You type in the first letter of each word as you read the verse. This is good repetitive practice as you familiarize yourself with the Scripture. The next level prompts you to fill in words and highlights what you miss. (Seeing your mistakes is a good memory builder!)

I tested my memory again this morning while in the waiting room of my doctor’s office. I got it down! It’s a fun way to practice this spiritual discipline in between all of those little down times you have in your day. Thanks for letting me know about this app, Michelle!

By the way, I timed myself because I knew once I set my mind to get down to business, it wouldn’t take too long. I will remind myself of this when I try to make the excuse of not having enough time!

Spiral Index Cards
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I have been carting around these spiral index cards since my college days. I often purchase several of them and pass them along to girls who want to know God’s Word well.

It’s simple-write your verse on the card and carry it with you in the car or prop it up at your desk. I like the brightly colored cards-because colors are motivators, too! Your small group can easily trade the cards to test each other.

You may choose to use the 3-4 colors in the spiral to categorize your memory verses. For instance, orange is for verses about courage and green is for verses about God’s character, etc.

Visual Reminders

Most of us are visual learners and we need visual reminders of our goals! Make a practice of writing your verse or the first letter of each word in the verse on a sticky note. Stick it on your mirror, your steering wheel, your cupboard, your coffee pot.

Another great use of the sticky note is to write the reason you are memorizing Scripture. When reminded of the value of something we are more likely to invest in it. Make your note short and personal, for example: “Bonnie, you want to speak God’s Word accurately in the last days!”

What memory tool works best for you? Leave a comment and let the rest of us know how you are doing. Be confident, sister and Keep Pressing On!

To stay up to date with the Ephesians Scripture Memory updates and encouragement be sure to fill out the email subscription on the right hand side of this page. **If you have signed up for emails and have not yet received them, please let me know so I can correct the glitch for you!

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I Can’t Write Their Story

 

Once upon a time 

I reached for the steaming hot ducky felt rice bag for the umpteenth time.  “Thank you, son” I weakly whimper to my fourteen year old.

Lying helpless in bed is not the Mom-image I dream of being for my boys. In spite of the storybook family image I try to write for them over the years, I finally resolve, “I can’t write their story.”

While my youngest boy perfected the ability to stitch straight seams in his 8th grade class, I am certain he never imagined his Mom would be getting so much use from the ducky bag he made.

Up and down the stairs he runs as he takes care of me, commenting how the bag stinks now. Zapped so many times,the rice burns beneath the soft flannel duckies. I place the bag on my gut where bright red burns have created a design the doctor thinks may never go away.

It’s the middle of summer and I have spent weeks in painful misery and long hours in the E.R. I’ve experienced too many blood tests, cat scans and increased doses of ox-codeine than I care to count.

This is not the plan I envisioned for myself or family this summer. The boys and I were going to cook from Alton Brown’s cookbook together. I hoped they would teach me how to lift weights in the garage. I took for granted sitting in my lawn chair cheering on the soccer team, taking videos of their swim meets and watching them improve their stroke.

Instead, I am an absent mom and my husband has taken on the role of Mr. Mom in their summer frolics.

I certainly never planned to listen to the family laughing and splashing in the backyard or conversing around the kitchen table from the misery of my darkened bedroom. I roll over saddened, maybe even ashamed, as I watch my boys walk quietly past my door.

“Please take him out of the room” I whisper to my husband as he shuffles our boy with special needs away from his mom. I can’t bear the thought of him being confused or anxious as I groan and weep in pain.

“Feel… better…. Mommy” he carefully tells me.

This is not the perfect family story I wrote for my children. I don’t want them to have a helpless mom. They shouldn’t have to take care of me at their age. They shouldn’t have to completely care for themselves throughout the day.

I should be vibrant, energetic, interacting with them. I should.

I should be cooking for them and driving them for milkshakes.

I should.

I should.

Wrestling with pain…Wrestling with “should’s”… Wrestling with God…

He stills my heart.

He reminds me this is what I prayed for over the years. I ask the Lord to grow character in my boys, to make of them godly men. I ask Him to orchestrate opportunities for them to rely on Him in a deep and personal way.

This is their opportunity to experience disappointment, even fear and worry — then learn to lean on and listen to their Heavenly Father.  They need to witness the hand of God, to experience their own answers to prayer.

It’s what makes faith real.

On my sick-bed I relinquish to God my rights as Mom. I confess my delusions to control the fine details of my children’s lives. 

Jesus, You be their Master Teacher.

Step into my children’s lives when I cannot and should not.

A sickly Momma is not the image I create in their story. But, God is working with them to create His own story in their lives.

He weaves their joys, disappointments and life experiences for His own good pleasure.

I don’t want to get in Your way, so Lord I am letting go–again–today.

“Be assured, if you walk with Him and look to Him and expect help from Him,  He will never fail you”-George Mueller

Friends, it is almost a year since my surgery and diagnosis of Crohn’s Disease. I have taken time to get my life back in order and enjoy a pain-free summer with the family. Now it’s time to share with you what God keeps trying to teach me at my bedside.

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Faith Conversations with my Teenage Boys

Despite the long hours this mom-on-the-go spends in her vehicle, and the uneasy sense of my rear growing four times its size as a result from sitting so long every day, I do enjoy van-time with my kids. The daily detailed stories, questions and practical faith conversations are shared freely in the confines of our cushioned metal cage. But recently I notice, the boys are more quiet in our daily drives. I wonder if its due to their teenage testosterone or if they are doing more internal thinking. But no, with one glance over my shoulder I understand its those darn smart phones. The addictive games and texts are pulling them in to cyber play, drawing them away from life’s in-the-moment interactions.

Beside me in the passenger seat sits my fourteen year old son. He is nurturing his new smart phone. To my dismay, this has become a common scene. His conversation of late has been centered around his praises and concerns for his new treasure.

“How is your precious?” I asked in a friendly manner.

Huh?

“I think you are going to make a great Daddy one day.” His face twisted in disgust as he looked at me curiously. “When you were a baby, your Dad and I loved holding you and patting you and talking to you and talking about you. We adored you.”

Yea?

He was still wondering where I was going with this.

“You seem to be nurturing your own precious cell phone that way. If you take care of your own children like your precious phone, you will also be a great attentive Dad,” I say with a voice of encouragement.

Oh. Uh-oh.

He got it. Similar conversations have taken place over the course of his young lifetime. It has been our parenting intention to model the futility of loving things–how easy it is to place the temporal above our love for God and others.

I pulled the van slowly into the garage and gently added, “All things will pass away, my boy. Only God and people last forever. Love them more than your technology.”

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Life is hard but God is Good

Be Still

Do you ever have those moments when things are going so well in your life that you wonder, “When is the crisis coming?” It used to be a “doomsday” feeling that lurked over my head in my younger years. Life experience has taught me it won’t actually be the end of the world when crisis comes my way. Yes, life is hard, but our God is good!

Contrary to popular opinion, life is not about making me happy and easing through the years. This topic of conversation has cropped up frequently this month as different generations of women in my life are able to relate. Life is about becoming more like the image of God and I have a long way to go! He gently and kindly chips away my rough edges. He allows only what I can handle through the strength He gives me.

It is during these times of crisis when emotions, stretched like a worn rubber band, force me to rely heavily on the Lord to get me through the day in one big emotionally healthy God-honoring way. One day I’ll learn to rely on Him so fully every day that it doesn’t take a crisis to get me depending so desperately upon Him!

Only last month the thought crossed my mind, “When is the next crisis coming?” Sure enough the hard times were lurking around the corner. Pausing in our dark garage with a heavy heart, I sat in the van and pondered the last ten years of my life, “Has life become easier or harder?”

Yes and yes, I decided.

Yes, life is easier because I have learned to manage my emotions better. I have learned to”let go” sooner. I have learned contentment in the simple phrase, “It is what it is”. I have learned to turn to friends and experts when we need a life jacket to help us stay afloat.

I have learned to sit still and know that God is God. Trusting fully in God’s character and His good  hand in our life provides a deep source of peace. Even experiencing joy in the midst of pain!

And yes, life is harder. I am often stretched beyond my resources and beyond my experiences. When my kids are involved in the crisis, the letting go of anxiety and deep emotional investment is even more challenging. You parents know what I mean. You carry the anguish of your kids’ struggles like a thorn in your flesh. The ache in your heart isn’t going away any time soon. The challenge to give our kids over to the Lord is an ever-evolving exercise of faith.

But, it is all good. God is always good.

A favorite author of mine, J.I. Packer, adds his perspective on the goodness of God:

“…you recognize that God is the author and source of all the good that you have had already, and all the good that you hope for in the future.  This is the fundamental philosophy of Christian prayer. The prayer of a Christian is not an attempt to force God’s hand, but a humble acknowledgement of helplessness and dependence. When we are on our knees, we know that it is not we who control the world; it is not in our power, therefore, to supply our needs by our own independent efforts; every good thing that we desire for ourselves and for others must be sought from God, and will come, if it comes at all, as a gift from his hands. In effect, therefore, what we do every time we pray is to confess our own impotence and God’s sovereignty.”  J.I.Packer, Knowing and Doing the Will of God

In the midst of your trial friend, are you willing to submit your anxiety and pain to the goodness of God? Will you join me in the humility of prayer that does not attempt to control or force the hand of God? Let us learn together how to fully acknowledge our helplessness and dependence upon Him.

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The Lord tests the heart

“Fire tests the purity of silver and gold,
but the Lord tests the heart.” Proverbs 17:3

The fire of the crucible is never meant to destroy the silver. The intense heat of the furnace will not destroy the gold. Fire improves upon precious metals, refining and purifying them. Likewise, the Lord tests our heart.

He allows the heat of our trials to refine our character and purify our heart. Will You test our hearts, Lord?

A wrong has been done against our child and we are in the midst of a battle for justice.  We are his protectors. We are the voice for our special needs child when he is unable to speak for himself.

The world fights injustice by productive means, but its justice also has the tendency to act out with vengeance or silly lawsuits. We cannot get caught up in the actions of the world. On the contrary, we are vessels of Christ and He desires to shine His light into this darkness.

I am very certain He has a larger purpose in mind for the situation we find our family in. We are just along for the wild ride. In the pain and discouragement of events exposed, we are willing to do what He wants us to do.

The problem is we don’t know exactly what He wants to do with all of the details of the event. But we do know the Lord will direct our steps. And when He does make clear to us what actions to take then we act with bold faith. No matter how personally uncomfortable it is to tread upon unfamiliar territory, the discomfort cannot be our guide.

So please Lord, keep our hearts in check. We acknowledge our hearts can deceive us. When injustice is carried out against our flesh and blood mankind has the potential to go overboard in response. We have no desire to push people to their breaking point in the name of justice. And we absolutely have no desire to shrink back, sweeping the injustice under the carpet.

Help us act in just and purposeful ways which reflect Your heart and honor You without our flesh messing it up!  Test our hearts O Lord, and refine them for good.

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How Great is the love of the Father

Father and son

 

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are” I John 3:1

Meditating on the Father’s great love for us, this picture comes to mind. A.J. missed his Daddy so much while he was away for a week serving in Mexico, that he ran quickly into his arms as soon as he saw his Dad return.  “Daddy! Daddy!” I was able to click my cell phone camera in time, because the strong embrace lasted so long. How great is the love of this father and son.

I have been a little wound-up lately.  My heart is racing as though I have consumed a tank of caffeine. It has been a difficult “Special Needs Month” as we deal with battles and situations beyond our control. The aching in my heart pulls me to crawl under the covers and sink into my sadness. But the Lord keeps giving me this picture of my child running into the arms of his father.

Is that the kind of love You have for me, Lord? Is that the kind of love You have for my child?

I choose not to hide under my covers in despair. Instead, the love of the Father draws me to His embrace with these comforting words from Psalm 121:

“I look up to the mountains—
does my help come from there?
 My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth!

He will not let you stumble;
the one who watches over you will not slumber” NLT

It isn’t easy being vulnerable, but I have finally learned to allow the body of Christ to bear with me in my burdens. I am entrusting my special requests to trustworthy friends who pray on our behalf.

This is when I cry, when I let the walls of self-preservation drop and allow others to come along side us. Augh, this isn’t fun.

As anxiety rises up within me, my mind plays certain ugly scenarios over and over. The Lord interrupts my anxious thoughts, “Be still”  He says, “And know that I am God”.

I ignore Him, “Wait a minute Lord, I need to finish this thought”.

“Be Still” my Father interrupts me again, “And know that I am God.”

I took my thoughts captive and rested in the God who knows all, who loves my son and who will tend to His needs as the Loving Shepherd He is.

Today I choose to rest in the arms of our Father. How great is the love the Father has lavished on us!

“You hem me in, behind and before,

and lay your hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,

It is high; I cannot attain to it

If I ride the wings of the morning,

if I dwell by the farthest oceans,

even there your hand will guide me,

and your strength will support me.”  Psalm 139:5 & 10

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Holding my loved ones loosely

Father and Son on their way to Mexico

 

Over the weekend, the driver in front of me kicked up a stone and cracked my windshield.  This is the third incident mucking up my new van in less than a year. I was instantly reminded how accidents even happen at home, while doing the mundane.

How many of us cling to our families and material things as though it will keep them safe from harm?

When our 12-year-old son left for the Dominican Republic on a mission trip a few summers ago, the popular response from my friends was, “Aren’t you scared?” The truth is I am more afraid of clinging to my kids and my fears so tightly, that I thwart the Lord from doing a mighty work in their lives. In spite of my Mama-fears, I must hold my loved ones loosely.

Friday morning I waved goodbye again to the same son (now 16 years old) and his dad as they left for a Spring Missions trip to Mexico.

This morning I said goodbye to my 13-year-old baby.  He is serving the local Salvation Army, homeless, and planting trees at schools downtown with his Junior High youth group.

 

Sweet Baby Dane goes off to serve

 

I was hoping to go with him, at least drive a van load of kids back and forth. But through a series of events, I lent my van to a driver I don’t know, to be filled with hyper junior high kids. The thought of a hole punched in the seat or a shovel scraping the ceiling has crossed my mind.  But, I must also hold my van loosely.

Stones will hit the window while I drive it around the corner, rust will destroy it, and thieves may break in and steal it. Scripture reminds me, “Where my treasure is, there will my heart be also.”  So, I handed over my keys as an act of worship.

I am left feeling a little lost this morning.  A.J. and I are home alone for the week. It’s a funky feeling when most of your family is gone and you are left tooling around on your own. Normally I would welcome the time to myself, but I am feeling as though a large piece of my heart is gone.

Honestly though, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Opportunities abound for our kids to grow deeper in their walk with the Lord while serving the world.

So here are the strange prayers from a Mama learning to hold her loved ones loosely:

I pray they get dirty for God! I hope their fingernails get dirty from playing with children and planting trees.

I pray their bodies get smelly from living away from the conveniences of home but being filled up from serving the Lord.

I pray their hearts are broken as they encounter people who have so little. And their hearts stretched as they experience the joy of sharing the Good News and treating others as better than themselves.

I pray they build lasting friendships working side by side with like-minded kids. While they share in the work and the worship, I pray they would come back to their schools and sports teams and shine brighter together!

I pray they will feel uncomfortable or afraid, and step out of their comfort zone, take a step of faith, and watch God show up in personal and mighty ways!

When they feel tired and sore and lay in their sleeping bags feeling homesick, I am grateful they can’t text me. I pray they would lean upon God as their comfort and  provider.

This mom is holding her loved ones loosely today, trusting if I cling to my life I will lose it, but if I lose my life for Christ’s sake and the Gospel, I will save it (Mark 8:35).

I couldn’t have it any other way.

 

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I prayed for you today

I love this picture! She is a beautiful girl who is hungry for God!

 

I prayed for you today;  my sisters, disciples, friends.

I always pray as the Lord reminds me of your name or burdens my heart about you. I have learned to pray for you whenever I think of you, knowing the reminder is a quickening from the Holy Spirit to pray on your behalf.

Sometimes I learn why He put you on my heart and it serves as a lesson how the Holy Spirit is intimately caring and working for us.

Today I am reminded to pray for  you more often, more deliberately. You are the girls God placed in my life over many years.

You are the Freshman I prayed with as you received Jesus. I was a Senior.

You are the girls I laughed with in youth group as we talked about serious things like boyfriends, parents, and trusting Jesus. You are the girls  I met with each week in your parents’ home. We sat in a circle and prayed and shared and laughed and studied our Bibles. I watched you serve your high school friends, grapple with your convictions in dance class, and make daring life choices for Jesus. You were in your teens and I was in my 20′s…and 30′s.

You are the girls I drink coffee with each Sunday morning, or the women who are raising a new generation of American youth.

You confided with me and entrusted your soft hearts to me. I still don’t take that lightly. God entrusts us with the task to pass along our faith, to rightly represent Him through His Word. He convicts me to point you to His sufficiency alone.

Your family pictures and Christmas cards portray beautiful images of women living faithful lives. You are teachers, students, missionaries, stay-at-home Moms. You are community leaders, youth leaders, investing in your church. You are serving at camps, serving the poor, and raising godly boys and girls.

Your lives display a deeply rooted faith and hungry, God-honoring hearts. My heart is filled-up thinking about you.  So, I followed the words of Paul and prayed for you today (Colossians 1:9-12) –

that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding

May you continue to grow in your knowledge of God, so you will be filled with His presence. He will teach you to be wise in all things and help you understand how to live and respond throughout your day.

The word continue reminds me we must never become stagnant in our relationship with God. How can we be filled with spiritual wisdom and understanding if we are not in tune with the Lord?

Jesus, remind her today of her desperate need for You.

so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;

We have talked a lot about this, haven’t we? Oh, may our lives be so filled with gratitude toward our Lord, that we walk in a manner worthy of Him! I pray your heart would long to please Him in every corner of your life.

Jesus, may she bear fruit in every good work, may she increase in her knowledge of You, and may You be honored today in her time, thoughts, work and worship.

strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience;

Jesus, You know what she is going through. Whatever financial, physical, or relational hardship she is facing, I claim Your strength upon her life. May she keep her mind fixed on You. You give strength when she feels weak and discouraged.

May she rely on Your power within to give her the ability to be steadfast and patient while You work all things out for her good.

joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.

Thank You, Father. YOU have qualified us –by Your mercy, You consider us Not Guilty. We are able to share in the inheritance “which belong to His people who live in the light” (NLT).

I pray You would set a passion in her soul. May her love for You grow deep and spill out in every fiber of life. I pray You would stir in each of us the desire to be a living sacrifice to You–whatever that looks like–whatever it takes–

(because) You delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of Your beloved Son, in whom we have redemption,

the forgiveness of sins. (!  Colossians 1:9-14)

Precious young woman, I thank my God upon every remembrance of you!

If you think this prayer is for you–you are right. You are in my heart, and I continue to take your name to the Throne.

Humbled,

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A woman of influence

Do those who influence our lives deliberately seek out to do so? So often we hear celebrities declare, “I don’t want to be your role model”.

The truth is, young people are watching, learning, being influenced by those positioned around them. Gratefully, in the raw years of my youth, I was surrounded by people who were aware of the influence they made.

I was sixteen, a new believer, standing in the pews among my high school friends. Challenged to sit in the front rows of our small but vibrant church, we were eager to do so. Sunday night worship was often open for testimonies and hymn requests. Different generations shouted out the page numbers to “It is Well with my Soul” and “How Great Thou Art”. I don’t believe I will ever forget the sound of humble voices singing passionately the words of the hymns.

“How can I say thanks for the things You have done for me?

Things so undeserved, yet You came to give Your life for me.

The voices of a million angels, cannot express my gratitude.

All that I am, and ever hope to be I owe it all to Thee.

To God be the Glory, To God be the Glory, To God be the Glory

For the things He has done….” (My Tribute)

Yesterday, I stood amongst this congregation again. Many faces and families have changed with age over the two decades I have been away. We came together to celebrate the life of a woman who lived her life well with Jesus.  I don’t recall specific conversations I did or didn’t have with Sheila Perlman. But, my sixteen year-old self recalls her voice ringing out above the rest as she sang, “Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, it is well, it is well with my soul”. My young believer’s heart quietly prayed, “Jesus, I want to be that passionate for You. Help my heart sing these words in the trials of my life.”

Jesus has answered my heart’s prayer. I give credit to this older generation who embraced my formative young heart. I watched them humbly serve, I took mental notes of their public testimony to Christ’s love, and I followed in their examples.

Even in death, Sheila Perlman is a woman of influence, while her life speaks to me about leaving a legacy. As I read her obituary, it records decades of service to the Lord. Ministering to generation after generation; a life committed to passing on her faith. It is a testament of a life well lived. She served Jesus in humble quiet ways, like giving up her weekly paycheck to pay for others to have Bibles. She served Him in leadership roles. She served Him with humor and faithful living. In her 90′s, she delivered meals to the “elderly” and folded church bulletins each week.

People shared about Sheila’s selfless life, her commitment to praying for generations of individuals, her deep love for Jesus and her fresh gratitude for salvation. As I listened again to the words of “My Tribute”, my 48-year-old self prayed, ”Lord, help me live with this same passion for You until my dieing day.”

I have a habit of writing my favorite quotes within the binding of my Bible. So, I was tickled to receive a handout with Sheila’s quotes from her own Bible. These quotes reflect the heart and drive of this godly woman.

  • What good am I if I can’t be a blessing to others?
  • God, fill me so completely with your Holy Spirit that even my reactions and sudden impulses are godly. I need this.
  • If you feed your faith your doubts will starve to death.
  • Our work is to cast care-God’s work is to take care (I Peter 5:7)
  • The little that we have, God can use.
  • I don’t fear what God brings into my life so much as I fear my response to it. Will I be faithful in tough situations?
  • Those who bless God in their trials will be blessed by God through their trials.
  • How will the knowledge of God affect my life this week?

Wow! The private words from a woman of influence. She lived what she believed.

Jesus, thank you from the depth of my heart, for spiritually parenting me with faithful saints. People who had no idea about the impact they made to a hungry heart and watching eyes.  Thank you for the life of Sheila Perlman. Oh, more of You, Lord Jesus, and less of me…so my life would cause others to thirst for You.

 

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