Stumbling Blocks or Stepping Stones?

We have many struggles in life. The important thing to keep in mind is to use our struggles as stepping stones instead of as stumbling blocks.

The story of Joseph in the Bible has always fascinated me. He was the favorite of his father, Jacob, which surely angered his brothers. He was also a snitch and a braggart (Genesis 37: 1-11). Then Jacob had a beautiful coat made for Joseph. Joseph’s brothers hated him.

When Jacob sent Joseph to check on his brothers as they pastured the flocks, the brothers saw a golden opportunity. At first they wanted to kill him, but Reuben talked them into just throwing him into a cistern and letting him die. Later, when they saw a band of Ishmaelite traders, the brothers decided to sell Joseph to them as a slave. The Ishmaelite traders then sold Joseph to Potiphar in Egypt.

Joseph worked hard for Potiphar and earned his master’s trust. Joseph was put in charge of all Potiphar owned. However, Potiphar’s wife had an eye for Joseph and put pressure on him to sleep with her. Joseph constantly refused. One day, Potiphar’s wife was left holding Joseph’s robe when Joseph made his escape. She screamed and convinced Potiphar that Joseph had tried to rape her. Potiphar threw Joseph in prison. Even in prison, God was with Joseph. Joseph earned the trust of the prison warden, and was put in charge of the prison.

He finally came to the notice of Pharaoh when he interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams. Joseph then became governor over all of Egypt. Only Pharaoh himself had more power than Joseph.  Joseph’s leadership preserved the land of Egypt from a severe 7-year famine.

Soon his brothers came to Egypt seeking grain because the famine had also affected them, too. They did not recognize Joseph though he recognized them. On their second trip to Egypt, Joseph revealed himself to them. They were stunned and probably a little scared.

“But don’t be upset and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives.” Genesis 45: 5 (NLT) 

It amazes me that Joseph could keep his trust in God after all of these things had happened to him. He hadn’t deserved to be sold into slavery by his brothers. He certainly hadn’t deserved to be thrown into prison. He had done nothing wrong. He could have become bitter and resentful. But in each case, he worked hard and proved to be trustworthy. Joseph showed great strength of character. He didn’t know the future but he trusted in the One who did know. 

We have many struggles in life. The important thing to keep in mind is to use our struggles as stepping stones instead of as stumbling blocks. If Joseph can do it, we can, too.

On the Road Again

I must really love my daughters and grandkids a lot to put my life on the line to go see them.

I have had my car for around 64 months. A few months ago the dealership was talking to me about trading my car in for an updated model. However, they were concerned that my car had almost 100,000 miles on it at that time. Right now it has traveled around 104,000 miles. That’s approximately 1,625 miles a month. That’s not surprising. I put around 900 miles on my car just this past week.

My older daughter lives 70 miles away, and my younger daughter lives 200 miles away. I made two trips to the older daughter’s house, and one trip to my younger daughter’s house last week. Plus there was some extra driving while I was there. You see a lot while driving that many miles.

For example: there were quite a few cars passing me like I was sitting still. I know they had to be going at least 95 miles per hour–maybe even a 100. That is crazy! Imagine hitting a highway divider or another car at that speed. That would be a difficult crash to survive. Life is too precious to me to go that fast. Please slow down.

So, I get out of the way of those speed demons and move over to the middle lane. The cars in this lane are going around 10-15 miles per hour below the speed limit. It’s a no win situation.

Another time I was riding with my husband and a car cut in front of us with just a couple  of feet to spare between us. My husband honked. Then the idiot made a rude gesture in return.

I am not a fan of Interstate 20. However, it is the best route to take from North Texas to East Texas (the 200 mile trip). I had a car pull up next to me and then just hang there for quite a few seconds before it pulled on ahead. Maybe the driver was waiting for me to smile and wave at him.

On my trip back from East Texas, it was rainy. The roads were wet and it was dark. One car did not have any lights on. I decided to get ahead of that guy. Then you always have the tractor/trailers pulling into the passing lane going way below the speed limit in order to pass another tractor/trailer. These guys are so frustrating because they take forever to pass and then pull over so those of us wanting to go the speed limit can go on ahead.

In Dallas there was a Werner tractor/trailer zipping from lane to lane in the misting rain and the dark.

The only saving grace for Interstate 20 is the Buc-ee’s in Terrell. If you’ve never been to a Buc-ee’s, you need to go. These places have LOTS of gas pumps (maybe 30 or more). But you also have to go inside. The bathrooms are HUGE and clean. The store has just about anything you could want to eat. They also have souvenirs galore. It’s really hard to describe. You just have to experience it. If you stop, you need to try some Beaver Nuggets.

I’m so glad I have angels watching over me. When I drive the highways to get to my daughters’ houses, I need them. I must really love my daughters and grandkids a lot to put my life on the line to go see them. And, yep, I’ll be making that 140 mile round trip this week to help my older daughter out. Please drive safely.

Worship or a Show?

Give me a worship service.

I went to a Christmas Eve service at a church in Houston. The stage (and yes, I do mean a stage with stage curtains) was decked out with quite a few fancy Christmas trees. There were stage lights putting on a light show. There was a camera mounted on a long arm. There were also large viewing screens. I felt that the Christmas Eve service was more of a show than a worship service.

The problem with many churches today is that they seem to be more show than worship. Praise teams sing innocuous praise songs. Sermons soothe and placate rather than convict. Parishioners leave feeling really good about themselves instead of feeling convicted of sin and the need to draw closer to God. It’s so easy to go unnoticed in a megachurch.

I love the old hymns. Those hymns were written from the heart and really speak to the heart. I don’t mind having a band, but I liked it when there was just a piano or a piano and organ which didn’t drown out the voices.

I miss the sermons which would inspire me to change and do better.

I’m sure Paul would have a lot to say about a lot of today’s churches. First of all, there needs to be much more prayer in churches. I’m not talking about prewritten prayers, but prayers from the heart and inspired by God. Secondly, those who indulge in sinful practices shouldn’t be allowed in the churches without repenting and changing their ways. Paul was very clear about this. First Corinthians chapter 5 addresses believers and sin.

Churches need to be a place for followers of Christ. They need to be a place where believers can hear the true word of God without misinterpretation or being watered down. Churches need to be places where the members can worship God together and encourage each other. They need to provide physical and spiritual support for their members and the community. I think we need to read about the New Testament church and get back to the basics. A weekly show doesn’t fit the bill.

Give me a worship service.

40 Years

A lot can happen in 40 years.

Today I celebrate my 40th wedding anniversary. A lot has happened in 40 years:

  • My husband earned two Bachelor degrees.
  • I earned a Master’s degree.
  • We raised two daughters.
  • Both daughters got married to wonderful men.
  • We added a granddaughter and two grandsons to the family.
  • We lost a son-in-law to cancer.
  • We’ve been through sickness and health, and several surgeries.
  • We’ve been better, and we’ve been worse. We went through many dark times, and we’ve had happy times.
  • We’ve been through the poorer (living paycheck to paycheck) and through the richer (it’s amazing how much easier it is to make that paycheck stretch when the kids are out of the house). We never went without food, clothing, shelter, or any other necessities. We may not have had everything we wanted, but we had everything we needed. God provided above and beyond.

Forty years have not been easy. It has taken total commitment to make it this far. I made a promise that only death would part us. I think many young people rush into marriage thinking it will be sunshine and roses. Then when the storms begin to blow they decide to bail on the marriage. It takes grit and determination to make a marriage last. You have to give up on your fairytale expectations and make your expectations more realistic.

What’s nice about reaching this point is that our relationship has evolved into a comfortable acceptance of each other. We can laugh with each other. We can still get exasperated with each other, but it’s over quickly.

I didn’t know what we were going to be in for 40 years ago. I still don’t know what the future is going to hold. I DO know that God will be there to guide, comfort, strengthen, and bless.

‘Tis the Season for Shopping

Everyone wants your Christmas dollars.

Today is Cyber Monday. This past Friday was Black Friday. It is the season for mailboxes stuffed with catalogs and email in-boxes stuffed with emails. Everyone wants your Christmas dollars.

Thankfully, I didn’t hear a lot about stores opening on Thanksgiving.  In the past it seems that the big box stores were competing with each other to see which one could open first and be the first to get your money. It’s sad to think that Thanksgiving became more about getting a customer’s money than about giving thanks with family and friends. I was also happy that I didn’t see any news stories about people being trampled with the mad rush to enter the stores. I was pleased to see that a lot of companies started their Black Friday deals early this year, most likely because Thanksgiving was so late.

There are two ways to shop for Christmas: on-line and in-person. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.

On-line shopping is wonderful. I can wear my jammies, sip my hot chocolate, and browse the internet. Then the packages are conveniently sent to my door, workplace, or another safe place. One big drawback to shopping on-line is the porch pirate. These scum troll neighborhoods looking for packages to steal. What is amazing is that they have no idea what is in those packages. It might be an order of incontinence pads, or something else they don’t really want. I’m glad that companies are coming up with alternatives. Video doorbells are also helpful. Another disadvantage are the delivery people who throw packages, deposit them on the side of the road or in a dumpster, etc. If you are hired to do a job, then do the job or don’t take it in the first place.

When you go shopping in person, you have to deal with crowds, lines, and/or limited stock. When I shop in person for Christmas gifts, I have a list in hand of what I want to get. I usually go in, get what I want, and then leave. However, there have been times when I have passed through a store and found something that was just right for someone on my list. Serendipity is nice and can be rewarding. However, violence in parking lots is another disadvantage to in-person shopping. A woman in my area was tased and robbed in a Walmart or Target parking lot. Then her attackers gleefully went shopping with her credit card.

As for knowing what the kids and grandkids want–that is easy. My 10 year-old grandson is very specific. One year he wanted a Beyblade backpack which came with a Beyblade. He kept checking with me to make sure I knew exactly which one he wanted as there were several choices. This year, I had to watch a video about the gift he wants. I had to watch the WHOLE video. I need to figure out a way to disguise the box his gift came in so he doesn’t guess what it is. The 5 year-old grandson circled what he wanted in an Amazon Toy catalog. He circled about half of the catalog so there were a lot of choices. I laughed when I saw the page of Nerf guns. He circled every one of those Nerf guns. I guess he really wants one of those and doesn’t really care which one. He’s actually getting something that was not in the Amazon catalog. The 12 year-old granddaughter showed me what she wanted and even wrote the website down for me. The daughters are usually pretty easy to shop for, also. The hardest people to shop for are my son-in-law (he always wants something that costs big bucks like a truck), my mother, and my husband.

‘Tis the season to be tired. Shopping is challenging and time consuming no matter how you shop. And then after all that shopping, you’ve got to wrap everything. Around my house, I do the shopping and the wrapping. It’s all worth it on Christmas when the gifts are opened and there are smiles all around.

Happy shopping! Don’t forget to take a break once in a while, and stay safe.

 

 

Modern Highways vs. Steam

Steam can have its advantages.

I was recently transported back to the age of steam.

Big Boy 1404, the largest steam locomotive in the world, has been touring the country to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the completion of the Trans-Continental Railroad. There are eight Big Boy locomotives still in existence. The Union Pacific chose the one in the best shape, took it to Wyoming, and spent two years bringing that huge monster back to life.

I found out that the locomotive was going to visit Marshall, Texas. So, last Sunday, November 10, I traveled to Marshall to see the steaming giant. My vantage point when it arrived was not the greatest. However, after waiting for the Union Pacific workers to get the locomotive parked in the train yard, all of us spectators were allowed to get closer.

I have seen a Big Boy in Frisco, Texas at the Museum of the American Railroad. However, it is impressive to actually see the locomotive moving and to hear that deep whistle. And getting the chance to see the engine up close while still putting off steam was well worth the hour long wait.

I returned to the train yard on Monday to see the Big Boy again. I also lined up to view the information car. The souvenir line was very long, and I thought they might be out of t-shirts in my grandson’s size (he is a five-year old train fanatic). I didn’t wait in that line and decided to look on line for a t-shirt for my grandson. I left after about an hour and a half. I still think that the best part of the experience was seeing the train on Sunday after it arrived. The weather last Sunday was beautiful in Marshall, Texas. By Monday, it was cloudy and cold. By the time I left Marshall for the drive home, it was drizzling rain.

The drive home was a challenge. The rain kept changing from light mist to a heavy drizzle. I had to keep adjusting my windshield wipers. Huge gusts of wind kept trying to push me off the road. Leaves were blowing everywhere. In fact, there were spots when leaves limited my ability to see the road. Trucks kept slowing down traffic by getting in the passing lane and then taking forever to pass (and going 10-15 mph below the speed limit). Interstate 20 is always busy at any time of the day in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, especially at rush hour. I kept thinking about how a train has the right-of-way. I’m sure Big Boy would not have to be worried about being blown off the tracks or trucks being in its way.

Seeing that marvelous piece of engineering was awe inspiring. It’ll be no wonder that by the time it completes its tour, millions of people will have flocked to see it.

It’s interesting to me that trains are still important as a means of transporting goods and people. Long live trains. If I rode a train from here to Marshall, it would only take a little big longer than driving. Something to think about. Steam can have its advantages.

#ifyougetinthepassinglanethenpassandgetover

#ineedsomequieterwindshieldwipers

#trainsarecool

#BigBoyrocks

IMG_0966

A Time to Reflect

Please respect others just like you would want them to respect you.

It has been over a month since my last blog. I haven’t abandoned my blog. I have just been debating during the last few weeks what I wanted to write about. A lot has happened in the news. I certainly have opinions, but I don’t want this blog to be political.

I was touched by Brandt Jean’s statement of forgiveness to Amber Guyger. His statements  really made an impression on me. Just imagine what they did for Amber Guyger. The hug he gave her made me cry. I wish more people had that attitude. We may never know the impact that Brandt had on many lives. Many times forgiveness helps the forgiver much more than the forgiven. Holding on to hatred and anger causes bitterness to grow and that will deeply injure the person who has not forgiven.

I know we need to look closely at injustice and do what we can to correct the problems we find. However, perpetuating more violence is not the answer. Some woman on the news yesterday was chanting, “No justice, no peace.” A lot of protests, especially lately, seem to escalate into riots.

I don’t support racism of any kind. This includes anything that excludes anyone based on skin color (white, black, green, purple, etc.) or ethnicity. I also don’t understand why everything has to become a racial issue.

My shoe size is a 7 or 7 1/2. Just because you have a different shoe size doesn’t make you any better or lesser than me. You can’t control the size of your feet or your height. Judging someone on something like skin color (which you have no control over) is just as ridiculous as judging him/her on shoe size or height. I’ve never heard of a size 7 shoe club.

If you have tattoos all over, that’s your choice. I choose not to have tattoos. And while some body piercings make me cringe when I see them, that’s also your choice. The color of your hair is up to you. Showing prejudice based on skin color is just as stupid as showing prejudice based on tattoos, body piercing, or hair color.

I also love what Ellen DeGeneres said when people made a big deal about her sitting next to George W. Bush at a Cowboys football game. She said, “When I say, ‘Be kind to one another,’ I don’t mean only the people that think the same way I do. I mean be kind to everyone,” We need to love everyone regardless of their political opinions, their lifestyle, or skin color.

I’m sure there are many people who will disagree with me. After all, I’m a conservative, white, Christian. That makes me a horrible person to many people.

What I know is this:

If I don’t like a movie or what’s showing on television, I can turn it off or switch the channel.

I don’t have to read books or newspapers with which I don’t agree.

If I don’t like junk mail in my mailbox, I can throw it in the recycling bin.

If I don’t want to talk to an annoying scammer or telemarketer, I don’t answer the phone.

I have lots of choices.

It is not necessary for everyone to agree with me. It’s okay if you have a different opinion. I don’t have to listen to it. And I’m not going to try to shove my opinions and beliefs down your throat.

Oops! I guess this did turn out to be a little political anyway. Bottom line is this–please respect others just like you would want them to respect you.

The Golden Rule is not dead. Let’s start focusing on character rather than outward appearances.

Life Happens

When around a large group of people on a special vacation, wear a mask.

I started a new blog about a month ago, but I never finished it. I thought I would work on it and finish it before we left to go on our Alaskan vacation. Didn’t happen with all of the hustle and bustle to pack and get ready to leave for two weeks. We had booked a cruise/land tour with Princess Cruises. We had been on an Alaskan cruise with Princess before, but this time we added the land tour and planned different port excursions. We started our trip in Vancouver, BC, Canada and ended in Fairbanks, AK.

I took my trusty iPad along with the intention of (maybe) finishing up my blog and posting it. So much for good intentions.

The cruise was awesome. Princess was celebrating 50 years of cruising to Alaska. We had a balcony room (which I highly recommend), and the weather was great. I have also cruised on Carnival. Princess is much better. Carnival food is okay. Princess food was fabulous. The service was outstanding. Our waiter and assistant waiter even knew what our drink orders would be and had them ready for when we got to the table. Our head waiter spoiled us with special dishes that were not on the menu. We didn’t see much of our stateroom steward, but we knew he came by our room several times a day. He quickly picked up on our schedule and came by when he knew he wouldn’t bother us. He kept our towels replaced, the room neat, and the bathroom spotless. He even organized my shoes. Anything I mentioned to him was quickly taken care of.

We loved watching the scenery from our balcony. We even saw Humpback whales one evening from the balcony. One whale was playfully slapping his tail on the water for a long time.

We always schedule excursions through Princess. My husband has a fear of returning to the ship late and them leaving without us. If we book through Princess, we are guaranteed not to be left behind. They have so many wonderful excursions.

However, when you are with a large group of people, there are germs. And it seems that no matter how much you wash your hands or apply hand sanitizer, someone will manage to spread germs on you. I caught a cold and cough on the ship. It was starting to make itself evident as we were disembarking. That totally ruined my enjoyment of the land tour part of our vacation. I spent the land tour taking Robitussin and popping cough drops.

The land tour is a great deal of traveling by train and bus. We traveled from Whittier (where we left the ship) to Anchorage and spent the night in Anchorage. The next morning we rode a train to Talkeetna. In Talkeetna we were supposed to take a float trip, but since my husband and I were both not feeling great and the weather was cool and damp, we decided to cancel. So we took the bus to Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge.

The next day we took another bus to Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge. Then we had a Jeep excursion on the Denali Highway. By this time, I’m exhausted, coughing, and feeling miserable. The next morning I opted not to go on the Denali Natural History Tour. Then it was another bus ride to Fairbanks Princess Riverside Lodge. Here we were going to spend two nights. By the time I got to Fairbanks I wanted to go see a doctor. The lady at the desk was so sweet. She told us of an urgent care clinic that was open until 8:00 PM and gave us vouchers for a taxi.

The biggest bummer for me was missing the Gold Dredge 8 and Sternwheeler Riverboat Cruise. I was just too exhausted and sick to go.

We got up at 4:30 AM the last morning to go to the airport and fly home.

Princess was quite organized. At each place, they gave us a welcome packet which included our room keys.

My assessment: the land tour is exhausting, especially if you’re sick. You do a lot of riding.

Lesson learned. When around a large group of people on a special vacation, wear a mask. If someone sneezes near your plate of food, get a new plate of food.

I still want to go on the Gold Dredge 8 & Sternwheeler Riverboat Cruise.

The “C” Word

The “c” word most people dread hearing is cancer. 

The “c” word most people dread hearing is cancer.

Five years ago, I went for my routine mammogram. I wasn’t expecting anything unusual to turn up, but within 2 weeks I had a diagnosis of cancer. The diagnosis was made in early June, and my mastectomy was scheduled for July 8. For a couple of weeks, I wasn’t sure if I would get to go ahead and have the mastectomy or have a port put in for chemo. Thankfully, the test results came back that I didn’t need to have chemo.

The word, cancer, hit me hard like a car coming out of nowhere and slamming into me. I just didn’t see it coming. My summer plans were instantly changed to surgery and then recovery.

I remember sitting in the breast surgeon’s office listening to him tell me about the surgery. I think it’s interesting that doctors go into all of this detail about the surgery and don’t tell you what to expect post-surgery. Yes. What he explained was important. He explained what kind of cancer I had. He explained why a lumpectomy would not be enough. I was okay with him taking the whole breast. He also explained that having a double mastectomy would not be an advantage. I opted to just have the one breast removed. He explained about reconstruction. I opted to not have reconstruction. I wanted that cancer out, and not put anything back in. Besides, I’d heard about problems with implants. I sat dry-eyed in the doctor’s office with the peace of knowing that God was in control. I had given my life to God when I was 8 years old. I knew that my life was in His hands, and that whatever I had to go through, He would be there with me through it all. He would give me the strength I needed.

I was NOT prepared for the first time I took the bandages off. The scar was a shock! He did NOT explain that I would have a drain in place for up to six weeks. And believe me, the drain made me cry much more than the missing breast. I could only take a shower with the water-proof tape over the drain, and the tape caused me some major itching. My husband and I tried everything we could find to cover the drain that would allow me to shower and also keep the itching under control. No such luck.

I thankfully didn’t go insane from the itching, and rejoiced when the final drain came out six weeks post-surgery. Then it was time to adjust to my new normal. I saw the oncologist and was put on a hormone inhibitor called Arimidex. I had several side effects from this drug, but the most severe were hot flashes and insomnia. Try to imagine 5 years of not feeling like you got a good night’s sleep. It would take me an hour or two just to fall asleep even when I felt sleepy. If I woke up during the night, it would often take me an hour or two to go back to sleep.

Then I was fitted with a breast prosthesis and special bras. My new normal also included having to be careful about low-cut tops (not that I ever showed cleavage). I found a necklace fan and carried in my purse. Some may have laughed when I pulled it out, but believe me it was not a laughing matter to be sitting there feeling totally normal and then have this intense heat take over your body.

That was 5 years ago, and the cancer has not returned. Since I’m low risk, the oncologist has allowed me to stop taking Arimidex. I will still see the oncologist yearly for another 5 years.

The toughest part of getting the cancer diagnosis was having to tell my older daughter. Her husband was also battling cancer. His battle was so much worse than mine. My son-in-law lost his 6 1/2 year battle with cancer on June 5. He was only 35 years old. Whenever I would get down about what I was going through, I would just tell myself that it could always be worse.

My son-in-law, Tony, was diagnosed with thyroid cancer during the fall of 2012. The doctor found a lump on his thyroid during a physical. He went for a sonogram and that started his cancer journey. He was diagnosed with a rare and very aggressive type of cancer. He had the thyroid removed and took radioactive iodine. During the fall of 2013, right after a wonderful family vacation to Disney World (my husband and I went along), something showed up on his scans. The cancer had invaded his lungs. He started going to M. D. Anderson in Houston in January of 2014. I began staying with the kids when Tony and my daughter would go to Houston. He went through several treatments, clinical trials, and most of the time took a daily chemo pill. I’m sure he had many days when he did not feel well. You would have never known. He powered through. He continued to work full time as a civil engineer, and helped with the kids and the house. He was an amazing man. My daughter began working on her master’s degree in counseling 2 years ago, and Tony took on more around the house to help her. He was admired and loved by so many people. He was promoted to project manager at his company. He served as branch president for his professional organization. And he won awards from his professional organization. All this while battling the cancer which finally took his life. I’m sure the last two or three months of his life were extremely tough. During his last few weeks, he could not eat and grew very weak. It was clear the cancer was spreading. He had a heart catheter for a few days in May, and came home with a lung catheter during the last few weeks. Tony had been a part of our lives since the fall of 1999 when he and my daughter started dating. I will miss him acutely.

During this last spring, my grandson wrote about his dad being his hero. I would also add Tony to my list of heroes.

God takes us down many paths we never planned to take. The important thing is to keep holding tight to His hand and trusting in Him for comfort and peace. I can’t explain the deep joy, peace, and trust I have in Jesus Christ. Life is a roller coaster. Hang on and trust the One in control.

 

 

Home

I’m going home.

Mention home and most people will think of the place where they were born, where they grew up, or where their parents live. Some will even consider their current place of residence as home. Home can mean a lot of different places to a lot of different people. However, I think the common denominator in all of these places is love.

The other day I was listening to my playlist while doing chores around the house. The song, “Home” by Chris Tomlin started playing, and I began praising God. What a joy to be reminded that the place where I am now is not my forever home. I have a special home in Heaven.

…I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. 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: 20-24 NIV

How do I know that I will go to Heaven?

I accepted Christ as my savior and Lord. That doesn’t mean that I don’t sin. It means that I don’t wish to sin, and I ask forgiveness when I do. The sins I ask forgiveness for are according to GOD’S definition of sin. Many churches and people today have watered down the Bible’s teaching to align with their own way of thinking. Rituals won’t save you. Good works and being a good person won’t save you. Being dunked in water or having water sprinkled on you as a baby won’t save you. And you can’t explain away your sin by saying that you were born a certain way.

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. Ephesians 2: 8-9 NIV

Don Piper has written several books about his experience just outside the gates of Heaven. He described Heaven as a feast for the senses. The colors are more brilliant than anything on Earth. The music is more beautiful than any you’ve ever heard. Love is everywhere. There is no pain, no tears, no sadness, no sickness, and most of all, no darkness. It was difficult for Don Piper to describe in mere human words, and I’m sure it is far better a place than our feeble brains can imagine. Everything there is perfection. Don Piper described seeing his grandmother who was fragile and stooped over from osteoporosis on Earth. In heaven, she was upright and strong. I know my dad who was bedridden from Multiple Sclerosis, is now walking with his long-legged lanky walk up in Heaven.

There are two places where you will go after you die–Heaven or Hell. What you decide about Christ here on Earth will determine where you will go.

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 that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it. Matthew 7: 13-14. NIV

 

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

Hell is described as a place of constant torment, darkness, and pain for eternity. Think about the worst thing you have ever experienced on Earth. Now multiply that awfulness by at least a million times. The Bible says that Satan, his demons, and those who follow him will spend eternity burning in Hell. I can’t imagine be burned and tormented and never have it end. Thankfully I will never know that.

I know where I want to go when my time on Earth is over. I hope you want to go there, too.

Not everyone who calls out to me, “Lord! Lord!” will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in Heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to 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. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.” Matthew 7: 21-23 NIV

I believe that it will be very sad to think that you are saved and then arrive at judgment day and find out that your name is not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

How can you know you are saved?

  • You’ve repented of your sins and accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord. Jesus died on the cross for anyone who believes and accepts His death as atonement for his/her sin.
  • You live your life doing the will of the Father in Heaven. I’m not talking about what you think is God’s will, but actually seek and do God’s will. Faith in Christ will bring about obedience to God.

I’m going home

Where the streets are golden

Every chain is broken

Oh I wanna go, Oh I wanna go

Home

Where every fear is gone

I’m in your open arms

Where I belong

Home

Song sung by Chris Tomlin

I hope I’ll see you in Heaven.