66 Love Letters

Here are some things I learned from my journey.

Several years ago, I read the Bible along with the book, 66 Love Letters by Dr. Larry Crabb. I spent 2 1/2 years reading through the Bible and reading this book. It taught me a lot. Here are some things I learned from my journey.

God created us to commune with Him.  He created us to share in His beautiful home and in His abundant blessings.  There was a problem.  He also created us with a will of our own.  And we messed everything up—big time!  We still mess things up today.  We are all sinners.  I may not have been arrested for a crime, but I’m still a sinner.  But all is not lost!  God had a plan.  It cost Him the death of His Son.  There is no “big” sin or “little” sin with God, and we can never sin more than what His love and forgiveness can cover.

            Here are some things that I have learned about walking through this life with God.

  1. You won’t find heaven by following the crowd.  You also need to be very careful whom you listen to as a biblical teacher.  Even those who say they are teaching and preaching God’s word may not be.

            “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate.  The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose the easy way.  But the gateway to life is small, and the road is narrow, and only a few ever find it.”  Matthew 7:13-14 (NLT)

            “Not all people who sound religious are really godly.  They may refer to me as ‘Lord,’ but they still won’t enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  The decisive issue is whether they obey my Father in heaven.  On judgment day many will tell me, ‘Lord, Lord, we prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’  But I will reply, ‘I never knew you.  Go away, the things you did were unauthorized.’”  Matthew 7:21-23 (NLT)

2. The Christian life is hard, and don’t listen to those who try to tell you that it is easy or should be easy.  The problem with our world is that we want everything to be fast, easy, and cost us as little effort as possible.  The Christian life will also not feel good most of the time.  I want to go deeper than just happiness, which I consider to be a mostly surface emotion, and dig for the deepest joy and peace that is found when I totally cast myself on God.  Even in my darkest times, I have the joy of knowing God and living in His care and with His blessings.  You need to go past the happiness and look for the joy!  Paul found joy in all of his sufferings.  There are many verses about suffering in the Bible.  Christians will suffer.  That is the penalty of living in a fallen world.

“Since I know it is all for Christ’s good, I am quite content with my weaknesses and with insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  2 Corinthians 12:10 (NLT)

“Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy.  For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.  So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything.”  James 1:2-4 (NLT)

“My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.”  Psalm 73:26 (NLT)

3.  God is a holy God, and we need to approach Him in awe and reverence.  I believe many forget this.

4.  God wants our obedience.

“But when they arrived at the threshing floor of Nacon, the oxen stumbled, and Uzzah put out his hand to steady the Ark of God.  Then the Lord’s anger blazed out against Uzzah for doing this, and God struck him dead beside the Ark of God.”  2 Samuel 6:6-7 (NLT)

This passage of scripture always bothered me.  Why did God kill Uzzah?  Uzzah was just trying to keep the Ark from falling.  But Uzzah also didn’t obey God.  It was clear that NO ONE was to touch the Ark.  Uzzah was just trying to help, but he disobeyed.  He didn’t remember that God wants our obedience. Sometimes in our eagerness to serve we may do things that are not what God wants us to do.  We need to follow God’s personal plans for each one of us.  My prayer life has changed drastically.  I pray more for others than for myself.  For myself, I mainly pray that I will know and faithfully follow God’s will for my life.

5. God wants our trust and love.  We can only do this the more we get to know Him on a personal level.  The more we know about God, the more we can trust and love Him.  And real trust is best learned in the darkness.  God also wants us to love others as He loves them.  That means anyone.  God loves even the worst of criminals who kill countless innocent victims.

6. We need to not be satisfied with a shallow, feel-good, relationship with God.  This is not a real relationship.  We need to cut out apathy toward the sin and evil in our world today.  We need real worship.  We need to be real about our sins and shortcomings.  Real worship will bring about real change.  We need to be honest about what is wrong with ourselves.  We need to be broken and cleanse ourselves of every trace of self-interest.

7. We need to be patient and stay on the narrow road.  We need to be filled with hope.  We need to give God EVERYTHING.  We need to remember that things are not always as they seem.  God is in control.  He always has been, He is now, and He always will be.  God’s son is coming back.  We will go to God’s party, and we will dance.

Are You Looking Forward or Backward?

All my hopes, wishes, and dreams will be completely fulfilled in Heaven. There will be no regrets.

Unless you are living under a rock or have your head stuck in the sand, you know that the world seems to have gone crazy and turned up-side-down. So many are yearning for the world to get back to “normal”–whatever that is. I don’t think we’ll ever return to life the way it was in 2019. Many are looking back. As for me, I’m looking forward.

Some people have places they want to visit and things to accomplish before time runs out. They don’t want the rapture to happen now. I have dreams and items not checked off of my bucket list. But if I had to choose between going to Heaven or fulfilling dreams and checking off my bucket list, I would choose Heaven without hesitation. All my hopes, wishes, and dreams will be completely fulfilled in Heaven. There will be no regrets.

I believe we are living in the last days. I believe that Jesus will soon come to take His church (His bride) home. The joy of being reunited with loved ones and to actually see Jesus face-to-face cannot be equaled by anything on this earth.

15 With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished.” 1When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the Lord was merciful to them. 17 As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!”26 But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt. (Genesis 19: 15-17, 26 NIV)

How sad for Lot’s wife! She didn’t look forward; she looked backward. She wanted the life she left behind.

I would venture to say that sin is just as bad today as it was in Sodom and Gomorrah. The world today is ripe for punishment. How the heart of God must be grieving for our world.

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9 NIV)

God is giving the world as much time as possible to come to salvation. We have no idea when the rapture will come, but it’s clear that it’s soon with all that is taking place in the world. If you die without Jesus (and you have no promise of tomorrow), it will be too late. If the rapture comes and you don’t have Jesus, you will have to go through the 7 year Tribulation. Today is the day to have your name placed in the Lamb’s Book of Life. You have two choices for eternity: Hell (the Lake of Fire) or Heaven. Time will run out for you to make your choice. I know where I will go. Do you?

J.D. Farag shared a story recently. Someone told Pastor J.D. that if the rapture happened and he wasn’t saved then he could get a second chance during the Tribulation. Pastor J.D. said, “If you aren’t willing to live for Jesus now, what makes you think that you would die for Jesus during the Tribulation?”

Read the book of Revelation. The judgments and wrath to be poured out during the Tribulation will be horrible.

32 Remember Lot’s wife! 33 Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it. (Luke 17: 32-33 NIV)

Are you ready for Heaven? Or are you wanting to cling to life here on earth? I have news for you. It will never be 2019 again. I believe things will get progressively worse and worse until the rapture. After the rapture, all hell will break loose because Satan will have free rein.

28 When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near. (Luke 21:28 NIV)

I’m looking forward and UP!! Come quickly Lord Jesus! I’m ready to go.

Journey’s End

We are seeing the signs that our final destination is near, and the excitement is building!

I traveled a lot as a child. My dad was a pilot in the US Air Force. That meant we traveled to go on vacation or traveled with my dad to different assignments. Since we didn’t live close to either set of grandparents, we would travel at least once a year to visit my grandparents. One trip to visit my grandparents in Texas, and one trip to visit my grandparents in Illinois. I remember feeling so excited when we went on a trip and eager to reach our destination. My parents would usually give my brother and me a map to track our journey. My maternal grandparents lived around 25 miles southwest of Fort Worth. When we got to Fort Worth our excitement levels would be really high because we knew we were almost at our destination. We would eagerly look out the windows for a glimpse of my grandparents’ house.

Today, I’m even more eager to reach my final destination–Heaven. I look at all that is happening in the world, and I can’t help but think we are nearing our journey’s end. The past year has seen great calamity. Covid-19 has caused a global crisis. We had a record setting hurricane season and a record setting wildfire season. There have been record floods, earthquakes and erupting volcanoes. Pestilence has caused a lot of harm. The world’s economies have suffered. There is constant rioting on a global scale. War in the Middle East seems imminent. There are issues with Russia and China. It seems the world is speeding to the perfect set up for the anti-Christ and a one world government.

It’s looking more and more like the rapture is drawing close. And I can hardly wait.

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 (NIV)

We are seeing the signs that our final destination is near, and the excitement is building! Come soon, Lord Jesus!

Where is Your Hope?

If your hope is not in Jesus Christ, you need to put it there right now.

Life was turned upside-down in 2020. Covid-19 affected everyone. Most are now wearing masks, safety distancing, and washing hands. We are now trained to stand on markers on the floor which help us to stay 6 feet apart. So many are desperate for life to return to “normal.” It is my opinion that life will never go back to the way it was a year ago. So many have lost their jobs. Businesses have gone under and will never come back. Lives have been destroyed.

The excitement over the vaccine has been incredible. People are waiting in line for hours to get it. Thousands are eagerly awaiting their turn to get the jab. They are grasping at the hope that this magic shot will help return life to normal. Their hopes are totally focused on this magical vaccine. Good luck with that.

I was watching a show the other day. A doctor had just received a second dose of the vaccine. A host on the show commented that the doctor was now protected for a year. Really?? This vaccine will have to be repeated every year??? What a windfall for the pharmaceutical companies who have rolled out the vaccine. First, Pfizer and then Moderna. AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson plan to distribute vaccines soon if not already.

It seems magical to me because of how fast they rolled it out. And it is using a new technology called mRNA. Call me a skeptic, but I’m just not sure that this vaccine will be the magic cure-all. The storage requirements make me believe that this vaccine is very fragile. I’m also not too crazy about the reported side effects. I am not planning to take this miracle shot. It just seems to be too convenient.

I also don’t believe that we will be returning to “normal” or the good ol’ days. Masks, safety distancing, and endless rules for everything are here to stay. I also would not be surprised for there to be a one-world government, and a global economic reset will be in place soon. Censorship is out of control. You can’t believe the news. Is it really the news or does someone control what you hear? Reminds me of Hitler in WWII. Have you ever heard of the Tribulation? I believe it is on the horizon. The world seems to be spiraling out of control.

My hope is not in a vaccine. My hope is placed securely in my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Where is your hope? If your hope is not in Jesus Christ, you need to put it there right now.

How do I do that?

  1. Admit you’re a sinner–Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23
  2. Believe in Jesus Christ–Romans 5:8, John 3:16, Acts 16:31
  3. Commit your life to Jesus Christ–Romans 10:9

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

If you have placed your faith and hope in Jesus Christ, you have a place with Him for all eternity. That is where I want to be–in Heaven. You can keep your life here on earth and your dreams of returning to normal. When God sends Jesus to get his bride, the church, I’m outta here! I hope you’re outta here, too.

Look Up

We need to keep our focus on Jesus Christ our Savior.

Our world has been turned upside-down during the past few months. And it doesn’t look like it’s going to get better any time soon. We’ve had Covid-19, an election, a record breaking hurricane season, a record-breaking fire season, earthquakes, and that is just in the United States. Travel is difficult, our economy has suffered, and we’ve been shut up in our houses. Many have lost jobs, and businesses have gone under. Parents have had to decide between in-person learning or virtual learning. Working from home has been difficult.

There has been talk of returning to normal. But for many people there will never be a normal like it was before March of this year. In fact, the news I hear about the World Economic Forum meeting in 2021 is not good. Many powerful leaders are determined to have a great economic reset.

Chaos abounds. Many are depressed, struggling, and worried about what the future holds. My answer is, “Look up!”

Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home. After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone.

Meanwhile the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!” But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!”

Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” “Yes, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.

Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. Then the disciples worshipped him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.

Matthew 14: 22-33 NLT

You have to love Peter. He was certainly passionate and impulsive. I noticed that he didn’t hesitate to get out of the boat. At first he was fine. It was when he took his eyes off of Jesus Christ that he began to sink. I believe that keeping our eyes on Jesus will get us through anything that comes our way. And I’m glad that when we take our eyes off of Him and see the storm around us, He is always there to rescue us when we start to sink. There is a beautiful hymn written by Helen Howarth Lemmel.

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His beautiful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”

We need to keep looking up. We need to keep our focus on Jesus Christ our Savior. God is on His throne. His plan will be carried out. Look up, for Jesus will be coming soon for His church.

The Count Goes On

God is still on His throne and very interested in what happens here on earth.

Election Day was 3 days ago, and the votes are still being counted. It has been a crazy election year. Covid-19 and the economy have been main concerns for most of this year, and they still remain uppermost in our minds.

I’m glad the election is over. I was tired of watching political ads. When I watched the news to see the weather forecast, there was political ad after ad during the commercial breaks. I got tired of hearing candidates harping on and on about what was wrong with their opponents. I would rather hear about what qualifies the candidate for the position he/she is seeking. I would rather hear about what the candidate stands for and believes in.

I do not know what the future holds. I do know that God is in control.

“Everyone must submit to governing authority. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.” (Romans 13:1 NLT)

“I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.” (1 Timothy 2: 1-2 NLT)

God is still on His throne and very interested in what happens here on earth. God has a plan. I pray, as Jesus taught, that God’s will be done. Whoever wins the White House will need our prayers. I know he will be there because God allowed it.

May God’s perfect will be done in this and in everything which affects our lives.

Idols

Do you have idols other than God?

A definition for idol is as follows: 1. an object or image used as an object of worship, or 2. a person or thing that is greatly loved, admired, or revered.

“You must not have any other god but me. You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods.” (Exodus 20: 3-5 NLT)

I have been reading the Old Testament prophets lately. God, through His prophets, warned the Jewish nation over and over to repent and return to Him. They had adopted the ways of the people who had lived in their land before they arrived from Egypt. They were worshipping idols and had left God. They were practicing other religions. What really makes this sad is that all God required in order to richly bless the Israelites was for them to obey and follow His decrees. They didn’t obey God and turned away from God which eventually led to destruction of Israel, Judah, and Jerusalem. Most of the Jewish people were sent into exile.

You may be thinking, “That will never happen to me. I could never worship a statue.” You may not worship a statue, but you may have other gods you pay homage to.

What about money? Do you work and slave in order to amass a lot of money? Do you neglect your family? Or even worse, do you neglect God? Many succumb to the lure of money. Do you care more about making money and what it can buy than about obeying God?

Do you idolize a celebrity or sports figure? Do you care more about a person, and what he/she says or does, than you care about what God says and does?

How about partying and spending time with your friends? Do your friends get more of your time than God? Do you spend more time listening to secular music, watching TV or movies, or reading novels, than you do with God?

One thing I really struggle with is spending too much money, and spending it on things I don’t really need. I know that I mostly spend money on my children and grandchildren. I can’t promise that I’ll completely change that habit. It gives me pleasure to buy things for my grandchildren and children. I’m sure God gets great pleasure giving gifts and blessings to His children. I’m the first to admit that I’ve been blessed far more than I deserve. I’m going to try to do better.

I believe that God wants us to keep our focus on HIM and not on worldly things. He also wants us to obey HIM and not be distracted by the world.

I believe that the rapture of the church is eminent. I want to be ready. Part of being ready is to shed love of this world and to long for our Heavenly home. Remember Lot’s wife. She turned into a pillar of salt when she looked back. She obviously was longing for the life she was leaving.

Do you have idols other than God? Start now to shed those idols. Yearn for Heaven.

I’m Certain

We are surrounded with uncertainty all around the world today.

We are surrounded with uncertainty all around the world today. We have a worldwide pandemic. There are devastating, historic wildfires along the Pacific coast. The world is on the cusp of unprecedented famine. Millions of people are facing hunger. Locusts are swarming in record numbers. There have been earthquakes. The hurricane season of 2020 is setting records. The United States has seen terrible rioting. Cities have been burned and looted. There are calls to defund the police. Our economy seems to be on the verge of complete collapse. We’ve had lockdowns and quarantines. We are also facing a very controversial and emotional presidential election.

“What sorrow for those who say that evil is good and good is evil, the dark is light and light is dark, that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter. What sorrow for those who are wise in their own eyes and think themselves so clever.” (Isaiah 5:20-21 NLT)

It looks like we are in the middle of Satan’s playground. Evil abounds.

How can we be certain in the midst of so much uncertainty? What can we be certain of?

There is a beautiful hymn, written by Daniel W. Whittle in 1883. The chorus: “For I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able. To keep that which I’ve committed unto Him against that day.”

I am certain that I will be safe in God’s hands until He calls me home to Heaven. And I know that Heaven will be more beautiful than anything humans can imagine. I’ve committed my soul into God’s keeping.

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, for my Father has given them to me, and He is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.” (John 10: 27-30 NLT)

I am certain that I will go to Heaven some day. I hope it’s soon. I am certain that Satan cannot touch me or take me from the Father’s hands. No matter what happens to my physical body, my soul is safe.

“He who is the faithful witness to all these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon!’ Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20 NLT)

What a joyful reunion that will be! Are you certain that you will be there?

Heavenly Minded

So I will plan to keep working while keeping an eye on the sky and yearning for Heaven.

I heard a saying many years ago–“Don’t be so Heavenly minded that you’re no earthly good.” I don’t know where or when I heard this. It was brought to my mind by the Holy Spirit recently.

It should be hardly surprising that I’m thinking a lot about Heaven these days–wondering what it will be like. Life on Earth has turned upside-down. Who would have thought just a year ago that we would be wearing face masks, social distancing, experiencing lock downs, and have wide-spread virtual learning? Who would have thought just a year ago that we would be facing destruction of our communities from rioting. Who would have thought we would have communities defund their police departments? Who would have thought a year ago our economy would be in a mess? It boggles the mind.

I’m longing to go home.

“For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better. I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me. But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live.” (Philippians 1: 21-24 NLT)

I have to keep reminding myself that I am here for a purpose. I have to keep working and fulfilling God’s purpose for me while I’m here. I’m certainly not as influential as Paul was, but what little I can do for Christ’s kingdom while I’m here I need to do. I can’t just sit around and wait for the Rapture. God is waiting for a reason. What do I need to do for God?

So I will plan to keep working while keeping an eye on the sky and yearning for Heaven. When I get there, and I see Jesus Christ face-to-face, I want to hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Are You Afraid?

Give your fears and concerns to God.

Today’s world is in chaos. There are so many things happening that can cause fear. Covid-19. Rioting. Shutdowns. Quarantine. Impeachment. Elections. Brexit. Wars. Wall Street. Olympics. Unemployment. Shortages. It’s enough to make anyone afraid.

Suddenly, a fierce storm stuck the lake, with waves breaking into the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” Jesus responded, ‘Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!‘” (Matthew 8:24-26 NLT)

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7 NLT)

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7 NLT)

We have been exhorted to have peace. When we get upset–pray. When we worry–pray. When we feel like we’re drowning–pray. When we feel alone–pray. No matter where we are. No matter what we are doing. God is just a prayer away. I have peace in knowing that God is in control and He will look after me.

When Covid-19 started getting more widespread, I was concerned. The news stories and the horrors they were experiencing in places like Italy tended to raise my fear level. I kept telling myself that my life is in God’s hands. During the shutdown, I kept telling myself that my life is in God’s hands. Then, in May, my husband came down with Covid symptoms. Then a couple of days later, I also came down with Covid symptoms. I started to get fearful, but told myself that my life is in God’s hands. We only had symptoms for about a week and they were mild. The flu I had about 2 1/2 years ago was much worse. I had some kind of cold or respiratory virus last September. That was much worse than Covid-19. God is in control. My life always has been, is, and always will be in God’s hands. I have nothing to fear.

I understand the worry. Especially now that it is nearly time for schools to reopen. I understand the concern of the teachers and parents. I can also understand the frustration since the rules seem to change every day.

Give your fears and concerns to God. God knows what you need and your situation.

“I am leaving you with a gift–peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” (John 14:27 NLT)

“…And be sure of this; I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20 NLT)

Keep your focus on Jesus, and the cares of this world will fade.