The weekend of December 10th, 1999, came upon us quickly. My friend, "Erica", had invited me to go on a retreat with her youth group, but unfortunately I had to go visit a college that weekend. She also invited someone else, a wonderful non-Christian friend of ours named "Jane". Jane came to youth group for the first time on Sunday (Dec 4). So, sadly (because I would have liked to have gone) and joyfully I let Jane one of my Bibles to use on the retreat. Jane was in my and Erica's prayers all week, even on that night at the college when I was up until 2am ;o). I had no clue how the weekend went. On the next Sunday, I turned on the computer to check my email and found some mail from Erica. I freaked out... she was supposed to be on the retreat with Jane! Did Jane even go? Questions and worries filled my mind, but I finally put them aside until the next morning. So I got to school and found out that Jane had, indeed, gone without Erica. I smiled as she explained to me that the expression 'man alive' came from Jesus' resurrection. Later, in passing in the hall, Erica related some awesome news to me -- "Jane got saved!!!". My joy has been full every time I have seen Jane ever since.
What we can learn from this:
There shall be joy in heaven for one repenting sinner -- Luke 15:7
Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy -- Acts 2:28
Therefore I say unto you, What things soever you desire, when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you shall have them. -- Mark 11:24 1/21/2000,
You may have a plan, but remember that God's plan is bigger and better. I wanted to go on that retreat. Erica was supposed to go but she got sick and couldn't. Perhaps if we had been there, Jane would never have accepted Jesus. God knows what He's doing. Stop worrying, follow God, and let Him work.
About a week ago, my friend came up to me in the hall, waving her arms around in nervousness and uncertainty. She quickly told me that she felt something she had never felt before. She felt that God wanted her to go and talk to someone she barely knew... and tell him (we'll call him Bob) that something bad was going to happen in his life, but to hold onto God through it all. I and some others told her she should go talk to him. So she did. Well, as you might imagine, Bob became worried by this prediction and passed the news on to his family. Soon, Bob and his parents had related my friend's warning to teachers and kids at school. My friend even lost a friend over it -- although that was already waiting to happen.
So, about a week after this all happened, we heard that a former student from our school had died in a college fire. Certainly, we were saddened by this, knowing that another alumni had died due to drunk driving three weeks back. Then my friend heard something from a school counselor at the end of the day. The young man who passed away in the fire was a dear friend of Bob's. Suddenly, Bob and his family apologized to my friend. Bob thanked my friend and told her what she said was helping him through. 1/21/2000
What we can learn from this:
And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgement: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many: and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation. -- Hebrews 9:27-28
All men must die sometime. Only God knows when. In this case, He warned my friend and the victim's friend of something bad. Death is inevitable. The question is, are we ready? Are you ready?
If any one speak--as oracles of God; if any one minister--as of strength which God supplies; that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom is the glory and the might for the ages of ages. Amen. Beloved, take not [as] strange the fire [of persecution] which has taken place amongst you for [your] trial, as if a strange thing was happening to you; but as ye have share in the sufferings of Christ, rejoice, that in the revelation of his glory also ye may rejoice with exultation. If ye are reproached in [the] name of Christ, blessed [are ye]; for the [Spirit] of glory and the Spirit of God rests upon you: [on their part he is blasphemed, but on your part he is glorified.] -- 1 Peter 4:11-14
The subject in health the past couple weeks has been death. Recently, we had to write a short paper in class about our death experience. In other words, we had to write what we believed about death or what we felt when somebody close to us died. Here is what I wrote:
At the first funeral I recall, I was quite young. All I remember was how all the adults were sadly and soberly reacting to the man's death. I remember my sister innocently asking my mother: 'Mom, why is everyone so sad? He's in heaven now!' In one way here question was naive. We weren't close to the man (my sister and I, that is), so we could not know how some of the people were feeling. Yet, in another way, my sister asked a perfectly legitimate question. We knew the man had asked Jesus to wash away his sins. The blood of the cross covered his wrongs before the eyes of the righteous and holy God. The soul is immortal, so the ultimate grief is felt when the soul's whereabouts are unknown or separated from God for sure. Heaven would not be heaven if God allowed sin to enter in.Two days ago, I read this in class. My health teacher had asked me and two others to read their papers. After I read mine, the teacher asked the class if they felt I was afraid of death at all. They said no, and I confirmed this. Nobody really said too much else in response, but "Ken" asked me why bad things happen to good people. I explained that there is a reason for everything.
Death has everything to do with my Christian faith. In my eyes, death actually means separation. There are two kinds of death--separation between body and soul, and separation between God and soul. The first kind of death, separation between body and soul, is the one the world commonly recognises. This is when the body becomes so frail that it cannot survive. Yet the other death, separation between God and the soul of man, is a result of man's sin clashing with God's righteousness. This is the death which was overcome by Jesus Christ on the cross. He defeated death and the grave (that is, separation from God for eternity) and through His blood washes away sins and makes relationship with God possible. Those who have a relationship with God made possible through Jesus Christ will never experience the second death. Their heaven is only heaven because God is there.
What we can learn from this:
This is what the LORD says: 'Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom or the strong man boast in his strength or the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice, and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,' declares the LORD. -- Jeremiah 9:23-24 Here we learn that God delights in those who aren't afraid to tell men about Him. Some men may respond with hate to your passion and love for God, but others will wonder. And perhaps even believe.
I shivered as the bitter wind nipped against me from up the shore and quietly watched my mom cast her fishing line out again. "These worms just don't stay on the hook like the cut bait," she stated flatly. Her endeavors with her new fishing pole weren't working out as planned, and I retreated up the dunes as my grandmother came down to join Mom. I entered the vacation cottage, a 4BR, 3 bath place on stilts with a kitchen, living area, and large deck looking out over the ocean. Cape Hatteras has been our choice vacation spot for years now, and as I climbed up the stairs of the deck I couldn't help but miss the achingly familiar black and white lighthouse on the horizon. Just last year, it was moved inland to protect it from the ever-encroaching ocean.
"Well, sure," my dad agreed, "if Mom and Grandma don't catch some fish we'll eat at Bubba's tonight." Bubba's and its counterpart, Bubba's Too, were a small chain of BBQ places on the Outer Banks. I dunno, maybe it's just because we're from up north and there's practically no barbeque places up here, but my family loves Bubba's. So while I silently prayed Mom would catch no fish (just kidding!), I snuggled down in the cushioned wicker couch to spend some lazy time in front of the TV. (TV, you understand, is a luxury only enjoyed on vacation for my family)
Ok, ok, so you're prolly saying by now, what's so amazing about this story? So this chick's on vacation having a good time... what's this have to do with God? All right, I'll cut to the chase. Mom caught a tiny little fish, which she threw back in. So my sister, our friend Amanda, and I piled into Amanda's car and my parents and Grandma took another car and off we went. So we have a wonderful BBQ supper (thanx, Amanda, for footin the bill!), and the Bubba's T-shirt catches Amanda's eye. So she decides to buy it and asks the girl behind the counter to go find her one. So I start noticing that the girl working there has a really sweet eye and smile and all... just looks like a really nice person. She comes back with the shirt and Amanda goes to pay her with her credit card. So... credit card machine doesn't work. "Tell ya what," the girl says quietly, "just take it." "Really? Are you sure?" Amanda questions. Again the girl nods and confirms it. As usual, Mom, Dad, and Grandma are taking a while to get going. Amanda looks at Lori and tells her she doesn't feel right about not paying... so she and Lori get some money together and go back to pay the rather suprised worker.
So we leave, as that is generally the acceptable thing to do after having finished eating at a restaurant. (Sorry, a little Heidi humor sneaking in there) As we're driving down the road I start getting this notion from God to intercede in prayer for the girl at Bubba's. So I start praying... I can't seem to get her off my mind. "Hey guys...?" Amanda starts suddenly, "what'd you all think of what that girl did? I can't get her off my mind. I think we should go back and like offer to hang out or something." Already we had felt guilty for not saying 'God bless you', or in some way confirming why we had paid for the T-shirt. (the reason, by the way, was God's conviction to do what was right and honest) Immediately I agreed with Amanda and told her I felt we should go back as well. She drove on in silence for a while as I prayed silently that she would turn the car around. Finally, she did, and I breathed a sigh of relief.
So Lori and I stayed in the car and prayed while Amanda boldly went back into Bubba's and around BEHIND the counter to talk to the girl. So yes, the girl, who we shall call Dale, was pretty confused to see Amanda again, but agreed to hang out after work. She got out around 9:30 or 10:00. So we three girls returned to our cottage and sang a few praise songs and I spent some time alone in prayer for Dale. She seemed so sweet... like she really had a special, kind heart in there. We all wanted to get to know her better. 9:30 rolled around... then 10... and just as I felt like she wasn't coming and Amanda gave me a sad, giving up look, someone knocked on the door. "Sounds like your friend is here," my mom commented. We jumped up to find one of the guys from Bubba's there.
"Dale's down in the car with two of our other friends. Do you guys have IDs?" Hmmm... we had planned to play pool -- IDs? Maybe you need them for pool parlors in North Carolina, how was I sposed to know? "Um, yeah, we do," Amanda answered. "How old are you guys anyway," the guy asked. We all answered and he sighed, "all underage then... well we'll figure something out. Let's go." The three of us followed him down the balcony steps into the misty night. We were introduced to the other guys by a somewhat high Dale. To be continued... (i need sleep!)
OK, OK, I know I should have finished this story long ago... I will make this short. Dale was high on something when the evening began. We never did play pool. We ended up bringing Dale home to where she lived in some trailers behind a run-down old house. The whole way in the car she talked about herself and I don't think she even really knew all she was saying. She and her friends were total hippies. We stood around in the trailer for a while, feeling like we weren't getting through at all as she smoked with her friend and almost caught her hair on fire from a candle. As we watched, all of us started to silently pray, unknowingly of one another praying, that she would come down off her high so we could talk to her. Finally Amanda signalled to us that we should just go, so we started to make our goodbyes. Dale came to see us off, and at the last second decided to come with us down to the grocery store. As we drove to the store, she suddenly started coming off her high and began making intelligent conversation with us. She talked on and on about philosophy and her life and such and we all just listened, not knowing what to say. Then later, when we were driving back from the store, we drove by her house about 3 times before finally bringing her home. Amanda started talking to her, telling her she didn't have to deal with the mess she was living in. I believe we really got through to her, and at the end of the night we all prayed with her and Amanda gave her her book of Psalms (which Dale just happened to mention she loved.) I don't know if Dale was a Christian or not, or if she is now, but God knows.
What we can learn from this:
Sometimes the Spirit puts something on your heart. Follow His leading, for it will lead to awesome things. Every step we take in God's will brings us closer to Him and ends up blessing us. I felt like God had sent us into Dale's life for a specific purpose -- to encourage her and bring her closer to Him, whether she knew Him personally or not. I honestly felt like we were messengers for God. Serving Him in such a way is awesome, you don't want to miss it, believe me. We tried to get in touch with Dale the next day at her work, but she wasn't there. God doesn't always mean for you to become great friends with everyone you meet, but He is pleased when you fulfill His purpose in your relationship with others, great or small.