Friday, August 31, 2012

You may not have tomorrow to deliver God's word today

Driving home the other day I called my mom, it's the standard weekly call about how the kids are doing and what's going on in the family. This call was different, as it started with "your grandmother is in the hospital again." My heart sunk as I was trying to focus on the road around me. About four years ago my grandmother suffered from congestive heart failure, along with pneumonia. Today at 92, her fight for life is definitely a lot harder.

I've spent the hours praying for her, not necessarily to survive, but to find the Lord and how I could help her find this peace with 3,000 miles between us and her failed hearing. While she wears an earpiece, she refuses a phone as it has caused her nothing but frustration. She hasn't had a phone in her room in years, and I'll never forget the last time I called her and how she cried on the other end out of complete frustration of not being able to hear me. Additionally, her eye sight has failed her, only being able to see what she describes as 'shadows' of people so handing her a bible isn't really going to help her.

I spent the next few hours thinking, and then it dawned on me from my experiences in the hospital (thank you God for opportunities) there are usually prayer requests offered, some hospitals may not be as bold to tell you about them but would provide a card to fill out as to what your prayer might be or if you want someone to pray with you. Of course if she can't see the card to read it, that really won't work. So I pick up the phone and call the hospital. My first attempt to call the nurses station to ask if there was a pastor that could visit my grandmother went something like this: "we have a pastor, or a priest or maybe he's a reverend, oh yeah he's a reverand cause I call him reverand randy." Well, hmmm.

Next...I start Googling church's in the area of the hospital, finding quite a few, and only one who actually had the need to repent your sins in their mission statement. I call and leave an email (because it's 9:30pm on the east coast). I am saddened at all the church's that don't have a biblical mission statement, yet thankful for the church I attend for caring so much for my salvation to preach it even the times it hurts to hear it.

The next morning I call the nurse's desk again and speak to someone else. Again explaining who I am and why I want someone to share the gospel with my grandmother. She says "I actually right now have a pastor on the floor and I will send him right in." Wow. Thank you God. How that visit went, I have no idea....I just have to trust she heard something.

The next day, I got a call back from Pastor Andy, a pastor at the church I wrote to and I explained everything including our families religious upbringing which was "we celebrated Hanukah and Christmas." I didn't even know if it was acceptable really to send a total stranger to share a message that I know in her life she has never heard before. He suggested I write a letter to her directly. Then the tears really flooded. The one thing my grandmother to this day will still tell people is "Stacey is the only one who always wrote me letters." I knew that this letter is one she may not be expecting, but no doubt the most important letter I could write to her.

I asked my husband what his thoughts are, am I doing the right thing? She's not religious. She's alone. She's really actually miserable. He said 6 years ago he may have thought differently but today it's the only thing that's right. "You can send her a bouquet of flowers and they'll die next week, but you can send someone to share the gospel with her and prayfully save her soul," he continued. "I don't think there's a better gift."

While I don't know whether or not my letter or Pastor Andy's talk with her about her salvation will get her to understand and eventually repent, we do what we can. Realistically we can never walk into anyone's life and get them to repent with our actions, it is truly their choice and all within God's plan, we simply put it in front of them with our love for them and Him.

I am hopeful, but I know there's a lesson here. None of us could wait till the end to tell someone you love about God's love for them and that they have a choice to make. We must be bold and we must deliver. It's what we're called upon to do. I have an entire family to deliver this message to and God provided me the opportunity of this situation to learn it starts now.

At 6:30 PM EST (3:30 PM PST), Pastor Andy will visit my grandmother in her hospital room and prayfully will have the opportunity to read this letter to her.

The picture was taken at our wedding in 2006. You can't tell from this how sick she was that weekend, actually in true form she wouldn't let me know:

Dear Grandma,

Some of the best memories I have was writing letters to you. I always had so much to tell you. No different today. I can tell you that Tessa was definitely named after the right person. At 5 years of age she is strong, confident and beautiful. The twins are growing so fast. Two years has flown by. Jack is all boy playing with cars and Bella is all girl always hugging dolls and singing songs. They keep us busy but are such blessings.

My husband Patrick is such a wonderful gift from God. I couldn't have dreamed up a better man to love me and lead our family. God knew what I needed and provided with abundance.
Grandma I need you to know that I love you so much and wish that I could be there to share with you face to face the world that I have found and the world that is waiting for you, if you are right with God.

I know religion was never a big thing in our family and I felt that loss throughout much of my life. I only realized that years ago that God never let me out of His sight even when I turned my back on Him. He has guided me all the way, loving me through all the ups and downs. The best day of my life was the day I repented of my sins and turned my life to Him.

I know that when He needs me, I will be with Him in His kingdom and I want nothing more than for the people I love to know the love that God has for each of us.
Grandma I want to see you again. If not in this world, the next world. I just pray that these words give you something to consider. You have an opportunity today to repent your sins and follow Christ. At the very least, consider it and the alternative.

With all my heart, I love you so much. You were one of the biggest influencers in my life and I can only pray that I can provide you one ounce of influence that will save your soul. 

For His Glory Alone,

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Neener, neener. Can you really be spiritually superior?

I have always had a hard time in conversations that somehow turned to a person's opinion of themself. Job interviews that resulted in the interviewer telling me how they single-handedly changed the entire company rather than getting to know what I bring to the table, or the date (pre-hubby of course) that was all about how it wasn't their fault that the relationship ended, they brought so much to it while the other person just didn't step up.'

While I have usually been rolling my eyes fairly reserved in these conversations, I find it harder to stand by and listen to people talk about their church, their faith, their walk as if it is greater than someone else's journey. Can you honestly imagine Jesus Christ saying to anyone "Neener, neener," and of all people, he really held the 'Neener neener trump card'. So how do some believers go as far to proclaim themselves spiritually superior (if you are saying "but I never called myself spiritually superior," than you're missing the point already).

The endless game of, "I am more approved in the Lord's eyes than you," divides the Body of Christ and worse gives non-believers a negative opinion of the Christian faith. Look at the world as a non-believer, how are they supposed to understand your love for every one when you can't even show love for each other? Fighting, choosing sides, instigating conflict is what is spread in public forums and this is what is seen by all and you need to ask yourself, if Jesus read this would he be happy with me. We already know God knows your intent, so are YOU happy with yourself for your actions.

When someone starts spreading the gospel based on their personal viewpoint and frame of reference, they can be creating a harmful message. The Bible repeatedly warns against trusting in the flesh for wisdom. Anyone who strays from the Word of God to rely on his own understanding is making a terrible mistake.

 "Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness." -- 1 Corinthians 3:18-19 
"Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools."-- Romans 1:21-22

Individuals who hold to an "I'm a better Christian than you" mindset can always find scripture that will support their stance. What they need to do is examine their rationale for holding to this view and deal with it biblically. If their offering of correction is not sparked from love, then one can only conclude vanity or revenge is their only motivation.

"Fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself."--Philippians 2:2-3