Doris Dillon dreamed all her life of being a teacher. She not only made it, she was one of those wondrous teachers who could wring the best out of every single child. One of her fellow teachers in San Jose, Calif., said "she could teach a rock to read."
Suddenly she was stricken with Lou Gehrig's disease, which is always fatal, usually within five years. She asked to stay on the job-and did. When her voice was affected she communicated by computer.
Did she go home? She is running two elementary school libraries. When the disease was diagnosed, she wrote the staff and all the families that she had one last lesson to teach - that dying is part of living. Her colleagues named her Teacher of the Year.
The old saying, "He has one foot in the grave," is an unkind description of elderly people or someone who might be terminally ill. I have never been in a life-threatening situation, so I don't really know how I would deal with it. But I would hope that I could be courageous, as when David faced Goliath; and faithful, as the woman who sneaked through the crowd to touch the hem of Jesus' garment.
To face my own mortality is humbling. No one knows the hour when we shall breathe our final breath, or give that last hug to a child, or say that last "I love you." God wants us to know that dying is a part of living, yes, but He wants me live, REALLY LIVE every day! The greatest testimony of a dying saint is that he/she lived until he died!
GospeLines Prayer: Father, my greatest fear is not that one day my soul shall pass from this mortal body into Your presence. My greatest fear is that I might die before I live. Let it not be, O Lord. Teach me how to live life to the fullest in the power of Your Spirit!
If you want to know about the depths of God's love for you, look again at John chapter eleven. This story of Lazarus has haunted me for the past few weeks because it stresses the value Jesus places on human life.
Lazarus was very sick and Jesus got there too late to save him. Oh, how Jesus loved this family! Jesus didn't want Lazarus to die. He agonized over their grief and mourning. Mary, the sister of Lazarus, wailed to the Lord, "If you had been here…." Jesus saw her weeping, and the others who had come with her were also weeping. The apostle John saw this poignant moment and recorded that Jesus was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. (John 11:33) When they led Him to the family burial place, it was more than even God-man could deal with emotionally. "Jesus wept!" As our Lord stepped up to the opening of the tomb his emotions showed again: "Jesus, once more (was) deeply moved."
Beloved, when you have reason to doubt that Jesus cares about you; when you wonder if it matters whether you live or die; when you feel as though your prayers do not reach beyond the sound of your own voice, listen to the pain in Jesus' voice at Bethany! He went where he didn't have to go. He could have spoken a word without taking the journey, and Lazarus would have been healed. He risked his life and the lives of the disciples by going to Bethany. Our Lord became personally and emotionally involved because he valued the life of one person, just as He values your life.
You are in this world because God uniquely and fabulously created you. He cares about your physical and spiritual well-being. Never doubt the integrity of your Creator, who has snatched you out of the jaws of hell, planted your feet upon holy ground, and guaranteed your security by offering the precious gift of His own Son. Jesus wants you alive, living and loving, going and growing, praising and praying, working and witnessing, until He comes again!
GospeLines Prayer: O, my Holy, Living God, who keeps me going when I want to give up; who heals my broken heart when others disappoint me; who showers me with comfort when my pain has outgrown my capacity to cope; and who carries me through the day when I cannot take another step on my own. I rejoice that you have overcome the mystery of death, yet I am overwhelmed that you care so much about how I live right now. Amen and amen.
What prompts a man to choose death over life? Hundreds of Al- Qaeda and Taliban fighters in Afghanistan have readily made that choice. (REUTERS News quote follows)
''The battle was very intense at times. There was mortar fire, machine-gun fire. The enemy has heavy weaponry,'' U.S. Maj. Bryan Hilferty told Reuters at Bagram Air Base north of Kabul, where much of the U.S. ground force has been shifted to support the assault. ''This battle is going to go on until they all surrender or die.''
The chilling story of Saul the persecutor demonstrates the righteousness of Almighty God. "As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, 'Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" (Acts 9:3-4). In that brief attention-grabbing moment, Saul made a decision. He could rebel against this powerful force and die, or he could surrender and live. It is a battle we face daily.
The Christian witness is one sin away from disaster. Make a deliberately wrong choice and you destroy your testimony. On the other hand, complete and total surrender brings life to you and to countless souls around you who read your life as they would the Bible. Godliness is something we choose. It isn't a title easily bestowed, as we might receive a gold star for perfect attendance. You don't earn it, you surrender to it. That awesome decision is the difference between a dynamic Christian testimony and an anemic churchgoing failure. We must choose - surrender or die.
GospeLines Prayer: Father, I choose to surrender to Your will for my life, even though sometimes I don't even know what it is. Let my testimony be a blessing and not a curse, heaven sent rather than hell-bent, accepting more than rebellious, and uplifting instead of discouraging. Amen and amen.
What would you give to save the life of your son? Would you give your life for his?
What would you give to save the life of your neighbor's son? Before you answer, remember that Jesus told us to "love our neighbor as ourselves" eight times (Matthew 19:19, Matthew 22:39, Mark 12:31, Mark 12:33, Luke 10:27, Romans 13:9, Galatians 5:14, James 2:8). When He repeats a command that many times, it should be obvious that we He wants us to heed His words.
Maybe laying down our lives for a stranger (or even a neighbor) is too much to ask; so, let's try another question.
What would you pay to save the life of your neighbor's son? Before you answer this one, let's review a few statistics.
The teenage generation in the United States is the largest generation in history making up 34% of the country's population. Only 4% of those teens profess their love and acceptance of Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Teen sex and teen suicide are at an all time high. Statisticians tell us that the United States is only one generation away from becoming a "post-Christian" nation.
So, let's rephrase the question. What would you pay to save the soul of your neighbor's son?
Again, don't answer until you read these scriptures.
"Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand. Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything." (Genesis 14:19-21)
"Ever since the time of your forefathers you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the Lord Almighty. But you ask, 'How are we to return?' Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. But you ask, 'How do we rob you?' In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse - the whole nation of you - because you are robbing me." (Malachi 3:7-9)
"Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the Lord Almighty, and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it." (Malachi 3:10)
Many would say that from these scriptures, we should give one tenth of what we have to the Lord's work of saving your neighbor's son and all the other lost teenagers. Perhaps you disagree. If so, let's ask one final question.
Jesus gave His life for you and you would undoubtedly give your life for your own child. However, Jesus said to love your neighbor as yourself. If you wouldn't give your life for your neighbor's son, would you give a tenth of your money?
If you don't accept the scriptures suggestion that a tenth is an appropriate amount, then let's go to the final question. How much of your time will you give?
Is 60 minutes each Sunday sufficient? Maybe you add another 60 minutes each Wednesday. Is 120 minutes each week enough? Assuming you sleep 8 hours per night, that means you giving God 1.8% of your time.
Do you think that's enough to convince Jesus that you love your neighbor as yourself? If not, then ask the Lord to help you open your heart to those around you.
Father, I come to You in the precious name of Your Son asking for change. Change me into a new creation with the heart and soul of Jesus. Fill me with His Spirit until I overflow with love for those around me. Place in me have a giving heart and a spirit of compassion. Help me be gracious to my neighbor as You have been gracious to me. Take of my blessings as You will and turn me from a heart that is mindful of the world to a heart that is only mindful of You. Thank You Lord for loving me, for forgiving me and for changing me into Your child. Amen and Amen.
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” - Philippians 2:5
Have you noticed how many people seem to thrive on negativity? They are the ones who are consumed with everything that is bad in the world and seldom find good things to say about anything. When they walk into the room you know their agenda. The news they bring is usually from some offbeat journalistic wannabe who couldn't make it in the mainstream of journalism, and believes it's their mission to spew out a twisted interpretation of world events. These folk are predictable, boring, self-centered and dangerous.
Unfortunately, that kind of thinking has infiltrated the Church. It comes from people who mean well, yet they believe they are "called by God" to let everyone know how things really should be done. They step on toes, shatter dreams, stifle hope, steamroller feelings, and shut down the business of the family of God. Their message of superiority is ungodly; their haughtiness is unholy; and, their self-righteous finger-pointing is unappreciated. "It isn't easy to be humble when you're always right!"
The apostle Paul said we need to replace our stinkin' thinkin' with lovely thoughts. "Brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, what ever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- THINK ABOUT SUCH THINGS!" Philippians 4:8
GospeLines Prayer: Father, now I know what my Mother meant when she said, "If you can't say something good about someone, say nothing at all." Give me forgiving eyes, compassionate ears, and a holy tongue so that I may be a blessing and not a curse, a voice of inspiration instead of doom, and an example of one who believes in a better future, instead of a pessimist; because I KNOW who holds tomorrow. Amen and amen.