Why ‘give back?’ Because, I’ve been ‘given!’

Writing, homegrown. Thoughts – rich with thankfulness. Yes, I am thankful. I believe a thankful heart is the beginning and the end of healing. I love the Lord because He saved me from myself and loved me from all over the place! Yes, I can see the Lord in others, yesterday – and I will make the choice to see Him loving and working through others’ today.

See God's Hand

If I can write a story that inspires someone to hope again, then I have succeeded. I had no hope. I was suffering and despairing, I was low. The rug had been pulled out from under me, and my whole family of 13, (fifteen if we count my two daughter-in laws). (And yes, they were all mine biologically, and no, we are not Catholic, just to get your thoughts back to the story.)

The thorns of this life had torn and ripped and brought great loss. Now we had bleeding hearts. And it seemed as if each of us was all alone, each with our own pain, because loss sometimes brings a void of words.

Even in the ‘trying’ to heal, I opened the Bible to page 1 and after reading the word “GOD”, all I could see was, “The earth was…an empty waste, and darkness was upon the face…”(Gen…

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Giving thanks at the Table

Giving thanks.

For traditions of old that help us to stop all the work. To prepare to spend time around a table of sorts.  To breathe the same air, for some, to sit and watch sports.

And for others, busily creating great aromas from the oven and stove.

Giving thanks for time to tell the stories of great things – that have happened, and … are happening still.

The story is told that the King at his Table, puts His invitations out, each day of the year. And He waits and He watches and He loves deep and constant. His grace is sufficient and high above all others. The King of all Kings has called out your name, my name, and the one that you are so angry with.

Remember the story, 2 Samuel chapter 9? It might do us well to make this story, mine.

You see, David was king of Israel at the time, and he remembered his friend Jonathan, who was son of King Saul, (who spent year after year seeking to kill David, whose main desire was to chop off his head.)

But for Jonathan’s sake, and a promise that was made, David asked, ‘Is there any that are left of the house of Saul, that I might show kindness?’

‘Yes, Jonathan’s son is alive after all.’

‘Mephibosheth. He’s lame and can’t walk on his own two feet. He lives in a barren and deserted type street.’

Bring him to me, to the palace of the king. This is the story in 2 Samuel chapter 9. But keep your heart soft, don’t close the door on this thing.

So, here in verse 6, pay very close attention, Mephibosheth came to David and gave him honor as the king, and…

“David said, “Mehibosheth!”

 The king spoke his name.

You and me, we are ‘lame’ as well. We live in deserted places, ‘crippled’ from life. But the King invites us to His Table today, and not only that,

He calls you, and me, (and possibly your enemy), … by name.

But not only that, King David said to him, ‘Fear not, for I will show you kindness … and restore you the land of your inheritance. And you will eat bread at my table, continually.’

Did you hear that? What do you think Mephibosheth said, “Thank you king, but I like my deserted place with stale bread and hopeless tomorrows.”

No. He bowed himself to the king and asked, “Why do you even look at someone like me?”

Mephibosheth was still lame, but he was not the same. He was now at the kings table. Restored and refreshed and healed from within.

“Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says …” Revelation 2 verse 29.

Perhaps we make our name ‘Mephibosheth’ from now on, for all time.

Here is some of the conversation from the King. He has called us – you, me, and whosoever is listening.  Do we come, that we might hear His voice ring:

Jesus invites us to Come to His Table: ” … and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way after supper He took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” 1 Corinthians 11:24,25.

Jesus was broken that we might be whole.

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with you, and you with me.” Revelation 3:20. This is all written in the invitation of old.

A treasury of hope and words from our Lord: “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten– the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm …” Joel 2:25.

Jesus came that we might come alive.

The story is written that we might know, that Jesus loves me. And this I know:

 When Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, came to David, he bowed down to pay him honor.

David said, “Mephibosheth!”

“At your service,” he replied.

“Don’t be afraid,” David said to him, “for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table.”

Mephibosheth bowed down and said, “What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?” 2 Samuel 9:6-8.

Did you see the Son rise today?

Perhaps your body hurts with too much pain.

Or your heart is broken, there’s so much strain.

The sadness has caused your eyes to close.

“Jesus loves me …” in this day, who knows?

The clouds are too thick. Is there a Son rise?

Forever, yes. And not as far as you think.

If you stop, and be still … and open your mind.

Put off the doubt, and a young child do find.

If you are able, sit with a youngster or just watch, the wiggles and squeals for a short while or else:  think back of a sweet memory as far back as you can, and sit in the warmth, to cheer up your soul.

Make thinking ‘on good’ be your new style. Sacrifice some time to offer to God a thankful heart for awhile.

Put off the dark colors for a minute and see, the light, the blues and yellows and pink. The Lord will cover you in His tenderness and get you through the  moments of great sadness.

Sacrifice thanksgiving, even though clouds still hang from the sky, somehow, miraculously,

you see the sun rise.

“He, (Jesus) said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”  Mark 10:13-15.

Can you see you are His child in His arms? He desires to touch and bless you, even now,

even today,

with His love charms of hope and grace always.

 “And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.” Mark 10: 16.

Let us make a ‘Thank offering.’ Oh how beautiful the Son is to our eyes.

“…Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:9-13.

 

Give God the fears, He gives His peace

“Give to the winds thy fears; Hope and be undismayed; God hears thy sighs and counts thy tears, God shall lift up thy head.” (Words by Paul Gerhardt from Germany in 1656, translated to English by John Wesley, 1737).

Time and again, I read these words aloud, “Give to the winds thy fears; hope and be undismayed; God hears thy sighs and counts thy tears, God shall lift up thy head.” My thoughts seek refuge and I find it in psalms and hymns.

I don’t have to come up with words. They’ve been written. The psalms speak my heart,

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
    Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
    for I will yet praise him,
    my Savior and my God.” Psalm 43:5.

You are God my stronghold.
    Why have you rejected me?
Why must I go about mourning,
    oppressed by the enemy?
Send me your light and your faithful care,
    let them lead me;
let them bring me to your holy mountain,
    to the place where you dwell.
Then I will go to the altar of God,
    to God, my joy and my delight.
I will praise you with the lyre,
    O God, my God.

In the process of speaking these words aloud, and reading an old hymn written centuries ago, I am changed.

Remedy comes.

God abides in praise. He rescues me and changes me in the very act of my praise to Him!

Let us read aloud. And be changed from the inside out.

“Give to the winds thy fears; hope and be undismayed; God hears thy sighs and counts thy tears, God shall lift up thy head.”

“Through waves and clouds and storms, He gently clears thy way; Wait thou His time; So shall this night soon end in joyous day.”

“Lord, how they have increased who trouble me! Many are they who rise up against me. Many are they who say of me, “There is no help for him in God.” Selah  

But You. O LORD are a shield for me, My glory and the One who lifts up my head. I cried to the LORD with my voice, and He heard me from His holy hill.    Selah  (Psalm 3:3,4).

“Leave to God’s sov’reign sway to choose and to command; So shall thou, wond’ring, own that way, How wise, how strong His hand!”

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

“God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
    the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
    God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
    he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.”

Our “dismay” changes to “hope.”

“Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.
 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus . . . Philippians 4:5-7.
 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:9.

“Let us in life, in death, Thy steadfast truth declare, And publish with our latest breath Thy love and guardian care.”

“Far, far above thy thought, His counsel shall appear, When fully He the work hath wrought that caused thy needless fear.” 

Leave to God’s sov’reign sway, to choose and to command; So shall thou, wond’ring, own that way, How wise, how strong His hand!”

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Is. 55:8,9). 

Do not fret…trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and feed on His faithfulness…commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass…rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him; Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret – it only causes harm. (Psalm 37:1-8).

This is my choosing today, and prayerfully, everyday:

“Speak out to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, offering praise with voices [and instruments], making melody with all your heart to the Lord.” (Eph.5:19, Amplified).

Let all the children say, “Amen!”

Receive the gift of Jesus today. We must,
A: Admit our  fall.
B: Believe in His provision of forgiveness.
C: Confess and Call out to Him.

Let us say together, “I am His, and He is mine.”

Waking, with the Father’s hand reaching out to me. I take it and I put my hand in His.

“In God I have put my trust; I will not be afraid.” Psalm 56:11 on my mind first thing, as I choose to turn and kiss the King.

That is the meaning of worship, I have learned; to worship is to choose to turn and ‘kiss the King.’ So, this is the thing I will do each and every morning.

This is intimate. Completely, it’s true. But a covenant has been made, to me … and to you. CH Spurgeon wrote and I quote: One of the most sublime verses in the Holy Scripture is this, (Jesus talking), “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you; continue ye in my love.” John 15 verse 9. 

Spurgeon reminded me in the devotional Bible he compiled that, “the Father loves the Son without beginning, without change, without measure, and without end – and even thus does Jesus love us.”

Do we even come close to knowing with our brains, or our hearts, or our souls how much Jesus loves? There is no way. It is too grand, it is beyond us.

But each morning I wake, I choose to take of the Father’s hand, who brought me Jesus that I might see Him. The Spirit of God then helps me understand:

 “If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.  I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” John 15 verse 10.

When I look deep inside, do I have joy? Where is it, then?

Oh, how I want Christ’s joy to be in me complete. I want this no matter what is going on in the streets. “Joy in the Lord, to be my strength,” is the prayer I pray for us all this day.

There is so much separation. So much division. I will look to God, not the world for wisdom:

 “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 

these words are so deep, can us humans comprehend what all this means?

Spurgeon writes: “This is love’s law – her diamond rule.”  And God’s word continues, “You are my friends if you do what I command. ” John 15:12 and 13.

So I end my writing with Spurgeon’s poem, as he sums up John 15 in his Devotional Bible. Well, and I will add one more verse and a line of a hymn, because ‘faith is thinking right’ that we might walk in the Light:

“Come just as ye are, for Jesus invites Poor sinners to share substantial delights: Ye weary and burden’d who happy would be, And wish to be pardon’d, come listen to me. 

The ear of your heart if you will incline To you I’ll impart my fulness divine, Your souls by my Spirit made meet for the sky, The life shall inherit which never shall die.”

John 15 verses 14 and 15: ” You are my friends if you do what I command.  I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” 

Make it known to usJesus. Show us the way. Help us understand when we open the word. “Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, Just to take Him at His word. Just to rest …

upon His promise, Just to know …,

“Thus saith the Lord.”

Our prayer today, together, in unity: “Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Thee. How I’ve proved Thee, o’er and o’er. Jesus, Jesus precious Jesus, O for grace to trust You more!”

 

 

 

 

 

What we believe, matters.

The call has come. There’s not much time.

We’ve all been taken captive, bound up by sin. Even though this word is not ‘politically correct’, we’re all bound; and deep down, we know it inside.

Just as the research for many, many years went out to discover that smoking ‘kills’. But the words that came to the public ears, written even on the boxes themselves: ‘smoking may be hazardous to your health.’

Did we not know – these words were just lies.

So, what if in fact, “truth is not what you make it?” But truth has been told -in the Book of old.

Does what we believe really matter at all? Does smoking actually, ‘kill’? Or simply give you a cough.

So much better than ‘good advice’ is the gospel message of Jesus Christ. You see, the chains will be broken.  Chains that have you stagnant and hurting.

There’s a wash inside-out, a free ticket home, and the power to breathe with God’s living hope.

Hey, The Book is the same from page one to the last. In the beginning God created. Many can’t get past that. You see, faith is required and what you believe really matters.

Believe in yourself, and see where you get. But keep your eyes on those who put their hope in the One, that each page of The Book was written about.

The whole Book, really, is about the Lamb. Remember Adam and Eve, making the choice for us all. (And don’t fret about it, if it were any of us,  we would’ve also made the fall).

We do, everyday. And in every way, we are like just them now:  “Do something! Let’s hide from God. Let’s cover ourselves in leaves that bring pain.

Now they knew they were naked. Just as we know we’ve messed up. They were anxious and afraid. The bottom line – they disobeyed their Love.

But what we believe matters. If we stop reading the story, we miss the full picture of the Hand of God reaching. A spotless lamb slain, that they might be covered at last, not by their own efforts and strain, but in softness and gentleness of wool of an innocent Lamb.

Yes, there was blood. Yes, there was death. But it didn’t come from them. It came in the Lamb that was sent. The only work for Adam and Eve to do that day in the garden, was to take off the old garments of prickly thorns they’d sewn on their own, and receive the covering that God offered them.

“No thank You God, we like the pain. You keep the Lambskin. I’m going my way.”

We all have a choice, to believe God, or not. To believe in His Son, to spend time in His word. To receive His great love, to walk in His Way, to accept new life and obey His truth.

God is in control. He created this world. But it’s broken and fallen. The Story is told. From beginning to end. Genesis to Revelation. The Lamb has come to ‘take away the sins of the world.’ In John 1 verse 29, it can be read in black and white,

but these words are living and even sharper than a sword. They cut to the heart, because you are loved by the Lord.

What we believe, matters. Everlasting life forever is offered to those, who take off the old and receive  – new life that’s given.

Lambs skin over thorny leaves … put on Christ, and see God’s Hand take the lead.

Please let someone know that you believe in the Son. But first, even right now, talk to God in your heart, or even better, out loud and make a new start. With God, nothing is impossible. He heals. He restores.

And He has a plan for you that is better than you can know. Keep your eyes up, and in His Love may we each day grow.

 

So far away, yet the stars sing

One million, three-hundred thousand earths can fit in our sun. Our sun is big. However it is told, Antares can hold 64 suns. Antares is huge. But, not compared to Hercules, which can hold 100 million Antares.

Hercules is gigantic. Yet, Epsilon, the largest known star in the universe can hold 3 million Hercules. How do we know all this?

Some amazing magnification.

But back to earth, looking up to the sky, even our tiny, little sun, which can hold 1,300,000 earths – can be hid completely with only our thumb.

If we can hide the sun with our thumb, does that mean the sun’s not there?

“Out in the open wisdom calls aloud,
    she raises her voice in the public square;” The light of God’s word is spoken to all of mankind. It is not hidden is some quiet place.

The sun rises in the morning and sets each night. “Day unto day utters speech.” Proverbs 19:2 proclaims. Do we block the words that God has breathed out for us, because this world and people have brought us pain?

Our eyes become dim. Our hearts, discouraged.

“How long will you who are simple love your simple ways?
    How long will mockers delight in mockery
    and fools hate knowledge? Proverbs 1 verse 22, speaks with blunt eloquence. But quite frankly we can hide the sun with our thumb. We hide the Son with our thumb.

Shunning God’s word, doesn’t change it at all.

Dear children of the world, God offers life, and joy, and rest, and peace. Do we walk in the counsel of words at our tips. Do we stand in the path of ‘Do that and do this’?  Do we sit in seats with those who criticize God?

“Turn at my rebuke;
Surely I will pour out my spirit on you;
I will make my words known to you.” Proverbs 1 verse 23. Do these sound like words of a God who’s angry?

The King speaks to His Bride, in words poetic and lyrical in the Song of all Songs by King Solomon. Words bright as Epsilon – so far away, but who can see …

unless one looks carefully. With purpose and determination. With a heart whose eyes are wide open. Almost too wonderful to have understanding. Great beauty exposed, in magnification:

“I slept but my heart was awake.
    Listen! My beloved is knocking:
“Open to me, my sister, my darling,
    my dove, my flawless one.
My head is drenched with dew,
    my hair with the dampness of the night.”

The King is calling, but what is the response.
3 “I have taken off my robe—
    must I put it on again?
I have washed my feet—
    must I soil them again?”

The Song continues, faint to most ears:
My beloved thrust his hand through the latch-opening;
    my heart began to pound for him.
I arose to open for my beloved,
    and my hands dripped with myrrh,
my fingers with flowing myrrh,
    on the handles of the bolt.
I opened for my beloved,
    but my beloved had left; he was gone.”

This is Canticles V, verses 2-6, in the Book breathed by the King in the Song of Solomon.

  “My heart sank at his departure.
I looked for him but did not find him.
    I called him but he did not answer.
The watchmen found me
    as they made their rounds in the city.
They beat me, they bruised me;
    they took away my cloak,
    those watchmen of the walls!
Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you—
    if you find my beloved,
what will you tell him?
    Tell him I am faint with love.”

The Song of all Songs, verses 6 through 8. The Bride remembers and brings her King into focus, fearing it might be too late:

“He is altogether lovely.” Verse 16, chapter 5, Song of Solomon.

My Bridegroom is pure. Even His enemies can find no fault in Him. (John 18:38). He is ‘ruddy’,  strong and full of vitality. He is ‘the chiefest of ten thousand’ and stands superior to all the rest. His head is as the most fine gold’. He is all divine. (Song of Solomon 5:10,11).

How do I know? Because when you seek, you find.

He never changes.  ( Hebrews 13:8).

There is no shadow of turning in Him. (James 1:17).

“His eyes are as the eyes of doves by the rivers of waters, washed with milk and fitly set.” This is the Song chapter 5 verse 12. Eyes of a dove are gentle and compassionate. Doves eyes condemn not.

Is this really a book that should stay dusty on the shelf?

“Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest
    is my beloved among the young men.
I delight to sit in his shade,
    and his fruit is sweet to my taste.
Let him lead me to the banquet hall,
    and let his banner over me be love.
Strengthen me with raisins,
    refresh me with apples,
    for I am faint with love.”

The morning stars ‘sing’, I discover in God’s word. The Book of Job chapter 38 verse 7.  Let’s examine His thoughts more intently each day. And magnify His love, and hear His voice say:

How beautiful you are, my darling!
    Oh, how beautiful! (Song of Songs 4 verse 1),  These are thoughts of the King towards me. “Oh come let us magnify the Lord, and exalt His name together, …”  Psalm 34 verse 3. Exalt the name of the Son. As stars, let us sing.

I believe God, no matter what

If things don’t work out, come through or open up as I thought.

I make the choice, right here, right now. In this present moment – I still believe God.

“The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, …” Psalm 37:23 says. Perhaps the closed doors, the unanswered prayers, the dead ends are protections from harm. Or maybe not.

If we are to ‘walk by faith and not by sight’, perhaps God is exercising us to Olympic proportions that we win a race we set out at first.

God has a plan. God’s plan is for good. I choose to be stubborn for the Lord, and believe in His Word. Jeremiah 29:11 proclaims that God has thoughts toward me. Psalm 139 reminds me that they are more in number than the sand.

I can set my eyes upon good thoughts as this, or scoff and let my heart go amiss.

I can choose because God gave me choice. He desires my love for Him be a choice that I make. He desires that I choose Him.

Not just once, but made every day. “I look to the hills from whence comes my help.” Psalm  121 verse 1 sets me straight,  And I choose to believe that the Lord knows. I will trust Him always.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;

Oh Lord God of heaven and earth, may I hear your word with my heart this day, may I choose to believe,… even though at times, I don’t understand.

 

 

Al Braca. A 9/11 hero for all time

 We need our heroes. Sometimes, it’s simply a story, and they become our hero. Let me introduce to you Al Braca, my 9/11 hero.

On Sept 11, 2001, Al Braca went to work. Just like any other ordinary day. But we all know that in NYC, September 11, 2001 was not an ordinary day.

Alfred J. Braca had an office on the 106th floor of the 110 story World Trade Center Bldg. If you visit the memorial, please look for his name. And then take notice of all the names around his name.

You see, in the 9/11 memorial, the names are not etched in the marble in alphabetical order. Each name is nearby their co-workers and neighboring offices. This information will have significance once you hear his story.

I first must mention, at the onset of sharing about Al on 9/11, is that everyone that knew Al Braca knew that Al loved God, and Jesus whom He had sent.

Al Braca went to my church. I know ‘of’ him, but personally did not ‘know’ him, only that his son was in the same Boy Scout troop as my son at one time.

Anyway, Al was at work the morning the building was hit by a plane.

In a moment, there was…trouble, chaos, sirens, anxiety, and not a lot of information anywhere. At this time there was no debate about the existence of God or confusion over one way or many roads … the only debate was whether to stay put or to get out.

For the men and women on those upper floors, there was no way out. There was  no – way – out, period.

Al Braca, known as ‘the Rev’, in that he took time to pray with others and share God with those around him, took initiative in that moment, on the  4th story from the top, amidst chaos and fear and smoke and destruction. He went into one of the big conference rooms, and it is told, that he stood on the conference table – and informed everyone to bring anyone they could find, who was unable to get out – into this room.

This man, had information.  It is told that he was there with approx. 50 of his co-workers.

Al Braca was a child of God.

Al wasn’t worried about offending anyone. Al was not concerned about being politically correct. There was no time for nonsense.

These people needed to hear a message of hope and  life everlasting, offered in the name of Jesus.

Al gave that message – I’m going to heaven! Who wants to come with me?”

Ears were open. There was no debate. All hearts were ready.

I don’t know the exact words that he shared, but he told them about Jesus.

 Al Braca  knew the forgiveness of God and salvation in His name. “I’m going to heaven. Who wants to come with me?” 
Fearful people came into this conference room to receive hope.

How did this story get told in the first place? Because many of the men and woman that met in that conference room that morning, made phone calls to their families and told them. “Good-by, I love you,”…

but they were able to say,

“I will see you again soon. I’m going to heaven to be with Jesus. I will be waiting for you. This man named Al Braca led me to the Lord.”

“Having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them until the end.” John 13:1.

Al Braca led many to Jesus and eternal life on that day, Sept. 11, 2001.
“What must I do do to be saved?” Acts. 16:30. Al Bracca knew the answer,
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved,…” Acts. 16:31.
And we know from the stories, that the people responded.

How many people on that day were  like the criminal hanging on the cross next to Jesus. On that day, how many people called out His name.
“Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” Luke 23:42.
‘And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you,
today you will be with Me in Paradise.” Luke 23:43.

Al Braca knew the Person of Truth.

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God,
believe also in Me. “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.”John 14:1,2.

 It’s not  that Al Bracca went to church and did good things and was a ‘religious’ man. No!  Al Braca had power and courage and faith because he  had a moment in his life where he saw his emptiness and sin. He saw his brokenness and weaknesses within. And he made a decision to receive God’s provision for all of this.

Al Braca had a day in his life when he believed to let Jesus come into his life. And because of his decision, there was no fear of death. Al Braca had received eternal life.

There is a verse in 2 Corinthians  that reads:‘their flesh had no rest, they were troubled on every side. Outside there were conflicts, inside were fears’, (1)  “Nevertheless God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus…,” well on this day, comfort came- not through Titus, on this horrific, tragic day,  but through a man named Al.

And there are probably many untold stories we will never know as well. Many became saved. Al brought them to the saving grace and power of salvation.

Al is a hero to me. We must let others know the hope of God in Jesus, and with courage and power of the Spirit let others know today.

 God did all the work of salvation. He sent His Son. Life everlasting is given as a gift to all who Believe. Al had this information. He stood on the tables and gathered the fearful crowd.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life!” (John 3:16).

Al Braca was ‘not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes.” Romans 1:16. 

I think the original memorial that was made of two lights shining straight up to heaven is the like a picture of  all those that called on the name of Jesus that most dark day.

Thank you Al Braca for being a witness to the light of Christ, that many had opportunity to receive the everlasting life that He continually  has to offer.

And perhaps, God is still using Al to bring others to Jesus even today.

“as many as received Him (Jesus Christ), to them He gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” John 1:12.

(1) 2 Corinthians 7:5

 

God’s hand … He had Jenny gently tucked inside.

My friend Jenny couldn’t move. Not anything. Not her hands, not her arms, she couldn’t wiggle her feet. She couldn’t bend her knees or her legs. She couldn’t move her arms. She could only turn her head. She couldn’t brush her hair the way she liked it. She couldn’t brush her teeth, she couldn’t blow her nose when she cried.

My friend Jenny couldn’t bring a sip of water to her lips when she thirsted. My friend Jenny couldn’t  do anything.

So much was taken away from this woman at 35 years of age, mysteriously one day, within a 24 hour period. Was it a virus of the spine? Or, other mysteries past finding out. The end result would leave her powerless -to move, and even breathe on her own without the help of her respirator. Jenny was completely paralyzed.

This all happened the same week I suddenly became stricken with Rheumatoid Arthritis many, many years ago- which was traumatic for me …until I learned of Jenny’s plight.

From the beginning, the Lord was using Jenny in my life to keep things in perspective. The Lord is using Jenny’s witness in my life, even today.

Jenny remained close to my mind and heart as I prayed for her during this crisis in her life, and as I dealt with my trifle trials, in comparison.

Our common ground? We were both moms, and ‘swim moms’ with kids swimming at the Y. God knit my heart to Jenny right from the start, and days moved on to months and months moved on to years . Our families separately, went through huge crisis , emotional, financial,  and spiritual-but Jenny and her family – ‘huge crisis’ was almost an understatement when considering the moment by moment …

God gave us choice. God gives us choice. Jenny chose to believe God.

Jenny was a witness to me. My eyes were open and I watched her ‘move’! It was her faith. It was her hope. It was her love.

Why do I share this story about my friend. Why do I expend energy in writing and wrestling with words in her honor? Because ultimately I am honoring a God who lived so abundant in her. If you try to convince me there is no God because you can’t see Him- I will say,

“God can be seen. By and through lives who are yielded and trusting in Him. God can be seen, if one opens their eyes.”

God opened my eyes to see one of His most beautiful diamonds, one of His most courageous champions.  Jenny.
Wouldn’t you think there would be extreme amounts of bitterness and anger after  having survived this way for 5+years?

None of that could be found in her.

And I write that sentence on it’s own line. This attitude of faith when ‘nothing was going her way’ is notable. This is a gold medal winner champion of faith.

And an attitude of complaint? It was not found in her. Yes, at times, discouraged in what seemed to be unanswered prayers, yet, she hoped and believed God even in the hardest and darkest times. Her cry went out to her Jesus – and I ‘saw’ with my own eyes, multiplied measures of ‘sufficient grace’ abounding in her.

God gave me this friend. God knew I needed her.

I needed to witness the life of God in my friend. I was battling with hurt and loss, and lack of faith. It seems I was always ‘trying’ to let go, always ‘trying to forgive.’

I had suffered loss in my own life, but Nothing compared to Jenny. I hadn’t suffered anything.  Spending time with Jenny ignited my faith. And helped me ‘let go’ of the junk.

I miss my most amazing friend. She still lives. And especially in my heart.

‘If Jenny could, then I could too.’ This was my inspiration. “If Jenny did, then I can too.” This is my motivation.

I used to wake up in days of trial and think, “Remember Jenny.”

She Believed God and waited on His healing and held on to God, even though she couldn’t ‘hold on’ to anything.

When I began spending time with Jenny, it was like witnessing Ps. 18:“The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield…”

Jenny couldn’t hold anything but she had a firm grasp on her shield of faith and her sword – her ears could hear: ‘I am your shield and your exceedingly great reward.'” Gen. 15:1.

 Jenny Believed God.

Today, I choose to “Remember Jenny.” And, ‘Believe God.’

“A river reaches places which its source never knows…

 “He who believes in Me… out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38).

 ‘This is the work of God, that you believe…’ John 6:29.”

“There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God, The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High. God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; God shall help her, just at the break of dawn.” Ps. 46:4,5.

‘This is the work of God that you believe’.  God is working and is working still, ‘this is the work of God that you believe.’

We will be tempted to give up on faith.  But Jenny chose to believe in God. And today I choose as well.

 “For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’” (Heb 13:5,6).  

Jesus declared,“If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink and out of his innermost being shall gush forth torrents of living water.” (John 7:37,38)