The Journey — Day 6

With all of the emotion surrounding the latest school schooling in Florida, it seems everyone has an opinion regarding gun control and mental health help. Some of the insults that have been hurled toward others with opposing views have been so rude that it is difficult to keep my mouth shut. As I look at social media posts, there are words I’d like to say, and find it difficult to simply scroll on, knowing that my words will not likely change someone else’s position on a matter.

It is difficult to remain silent.

To remain silent when being falsely accused is even more incredible, yet that is precisely what Jesus did.

In fact, He responded in love, saying, “forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.”

If it is difficult to remain silent when those around you are hurling insults, it is even more difficult to respond in love. In fact, I cannot do this on my own, but only though God working in me.

Lord, fill me with Your peace, that my responses would bring glory to Your name. Help me to love those who are hateful and hurtful.

In Your Holy Name,

Amen

Blessings,

SB

Copyright 2018. Journey For Life. All rights reserved

The Journey — Day 4

In an interesting dichotomy, the journal entry below contrasts our view of our own wounds with the way in which we view Jesus’ wounds. Our own wounds carry sorry and sadness. But Jesus’ wounds carry victory. We know the victory in His death now, but that day in the cross was a different story. To those who witnessed his sourcing, his wounds brought immense pain and suffering, first for Him, but also for those who witnessed. Unimaginable pain, his physical suffering was honestly more than most of us have ever known. When I pause to think about the excruciating pain He endured, I am ever humbled that God loves me enough to make that kind of sacrifice just for me. I pray that I would never take for granted the suffering Christ endured for my eternity.

blessings,

SB

It’s Not OK

Our school was cancelled today because a high school student posted pictures late yesterday of his assault rifles laid out on the floor with the caption, “it’s almost time”. Though there was no direct threat to students or staff, on the heels of the Florida school shooting this week, our administration thought it wise to cancel school. (Frankly, I agree and applaud their decision). The suspect has since been apprehended, and is being admitted to the hospital for a complete psychological exam.

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Immediately, people all over the place began posting opinions about needing tighter gun control, better mental health help, and more anti-bullying programs. One Facebook acquaintance posted this:

For all the love of Pete, I’d like to know exactly what policy ought to be changed to rid people of the hate in their hearts.

The reality is there is no way to legislate heart issues. As I posted on my own Facebook page on Wednesday, it’s a heart issue.

“If you have hate in your heart, you will find a way to kill”

Four years ago, a sophomore brought two kitchen knives to our school and stabbed 20 students and a security guard. He had planned the incident for a year, and wanted to coincide with the anniversary of the Columbine shootings, but April 20 was on a weekend that year and school would not be in session. Instead, because he idolized Eric Harris, he planned and carried out the attack on April 9, Eric’s birthday.

My oldest daughter was in his class since kindergarten, and my son, a year behind, was in the hallway when it happened. Many of the victims were friends of theirs, and their lives were changed forever.

I won’t pretend to know what is in the heart of that boy, or the boy who killed seventeen innocent people in Florida this week, or Adam Lanza. But honestly, I’m angry. I’m angry that these people, whatever their motivation, think it’s OK to take human lives because of some perceived injustice they’ve suffered. When are we, as a society, going to stand up and say, “IT IS NOT OK!”

It is not ok to put people down to raise yourself up.

It is not ok to judge those whose shoes you do not wear.

It is not ok to bully people, and destroy their self esteem.

It is not ok to deny mental health help to those who need and want it.

However, it is equally NOT ok to:

Take another life because you feel you’ve been wronged.

It is not ok to blame others for your actions.

It is not ok to act out your anger on others who may or may not have had anything to do with it.

It is not ok.

It is not ok for us to become desensitized to horrific events because of the increased frequency with which they occur.

It is not ok for us to stand idly by while evil takes over our communities, schools, homes, hearts.

It is not ok for us to wonder where God is when we have driven Him away.

It is not ok.

We are dumbfounded at the events that have occurred, wondering why, but we have removed God from our schools. He is no longer welcomed at our commencement ceremonies, and our sporting events, and morning silence, and yet wonder where He is when trouble comes.

There IS coming a day of accountability, where we will ALL be judged, but not by ourselves. We will stand before God Almighty to give account of our lives. He, and He alone, will judge us. We will not be able to blame our actions on our upbringing, or the mean things other students said to us or did to us. We will not be able to pretend we are not responsible for our actions. We will stand before the Creator Himself to give a full account of our own actions.

In the meantime, we have all been given free will to invite Him into our hearts, lives, homes, schools, communities. We can choose to ignore His calling. We can turn our backs and wonder where He is. But in doing so, we must realize there are consequences of our choices. To make that choice and then blame God or others for our failures is not ok.

Copyright 2018 Journey For Life. All rights reserved

The Journey to the Cross. Day 2

The sting of rejection.

(Sorry, posting late)

Day two of my journal contains a scripture reference to Isaiah 53:3, “He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows with grief. And like one from whom men hide their face, He was despised, and we did not esteem him”

Many years ago, in another place and time, I experienced rejection so deep it cut me to the core. I wondered how I would be able to go on, yet here I am all these years later. To be honest, it still hurts, but I have managed to move past with Gods help.

During the deepest, darkest pain of that rejection, I thought about Jesus, and wondered if he every felt the way I was feeling at that moment. Then I realized that He was, and still is, rejected. He absolutely understands the sting of rejection and how we feel because He felt it too. One of his close friends sold Him out for 30 pieces of silver. The crowd hurled insults at him as He hung on the cross for our sake.

We need not fear the sting of rejection because we know we belong to a Heavenly Father who loves us so much that He sent His only Son to die and make a way for us to spend eternity with Him. We are never rejected by Him.

If you are feeling rejected today, please know that God loves you and will never, ever leave you. He is with you in the face of your rejection.

Blessings,

SB

The Journey

A new journey begins today; the annual spiritual pilgrimage to the cross. For Christians around the world, today marks the beginning of the Lenten season, the 40 days leading up to Christs’ crucifixion.

Many people will celebrate this season by giving something up for Lent, a symbolic representation of a sacrifice made in their own lives to acknowledge the sacrifice Christ made for us. While a humbling and copacetic recognition of His sacrifice, I challenge you all to go deeper this Lent.

As I was cleaning files in my home office a few weeks ago, I came across a Lenten Devotional journal I had received long ago from Insight for Living ministries. This journal will be the basis for my journey this Lent, and I invite you all to come along!

My journey for Lent begins with a funeral; a funeral for a lovely Christian woman who fought a hard battle with cancer and went home to be with Jesus last Saturday. We will miss her greatly, but are so very thankful that we know where she’s gone and we will see her later in Heaven. It is because of His sacrifice that we have the promise of eternal life

I hope you’ll join me in reflecting on the words in today’s devotion. Sin is serious business, and the price that He paid so we wouldn’t have to is enormous. At the very least, let our hearts be humbled today as we begin our spiritual journey.

Blessings,

SB

Copyright 2018 Journey For Life. All rights reserved

Love ❤️ is….

As we embark on the Hallmark Holiday, Valentines Day, we are inundated with images of “love”; from hearts of chocolate to chocolate covered strawberries to roses, whose cost inflate during this month to the point you need a second mortgage on your home to afford, to diamonds and pearls. These images, coupled with television advertisements showing people in love, reaching for each other in idyllic images of love, leave people who don’t share these experiences feeling as if they are unloved and unlovable. The reality, however, is that love is not a feeling at all, but commitment.

When we were married, twenty two and a half years ago, part of our wedding vows included these words: “for better or worse, for richer and poorer, in sickness and in health, forsaking all others, so long as you both shall live”. So long as you both shall LIVE, not so long as you both shall LOVE. In the years following that vow, we have been tested, for sure; tested in health, tested in financial ways, tested in relational ways; yet we both acknowledge and hold firm to the vows we made to one another.

Sadly, this message is largely lost in our society today. Too often, we seek the “feeling” that love is, and as soon as the challenges come, we mistake the hardship for a lack of love, when, in fact, it is merely a lack of commitment to work together through the hardship.

During our hardships, I had Christian friends who encouraged me to leave, telling me that I was justified in leaving because God would not want me to be unhappy. I remember one friend, however, who had the courage to tell me that God would honor me for honoring my commitment.

By no means am I suggesting someone stay in an abusive relationship. What I am saying is that true love is not based on the flutter-feeling by you get when Love is young. In my experience, Love deepens over time as you choose to work together through difficult times. For our relationship to be successful, we had to put Christ at the center of it to anchor us and pull us towards Him and each other. If it weren’t for Christ, I don’t know where we’d be. I am very thankful that both of Ian honored the commitment we made so long ago.

I wish you many blessings Valentines Day this year.

SB

Love 131 I may be able to speak the languages of human beings and even of angels, but if I have no love, my speech is no more than a noisy gong or a clanging bell. 2 I may have the gift of inspired preaching; I may have all knowledge and understand all secrets; I may have all the faith needed to move mountains—but if I have no love, I am nothing. 3 I may give away everything I have, and even give up my body to be burned—but if I have no love, this does me no good.4 Love is patient and kind; it is not jealous or conceited or proud; 5 love is not ill-mannered or selfish or irritable; love does not keep a record of wrongs; 6 love is not happy with evil, but is happy with the truth. 7 Love never gives up; and its faith, hope, and patience never fail.8 Love is eternal. There are inspired messages, but they are temporary; there are gifts of speaking in strange tongues, but they will cease; there is knowledge, but it will pass. 9 For our gifts of knowledge and of inspired messages are only partial; 10 but when what is perfect comes, then what is partial will disappear.11 When I was a child, my speech, feelings, and thinking were all those of a child; now that I am an adult, I have no more use for childish ways. 12 What we see now is like a dim image in a mirror; then we shall see face-to-face. What I know now is only partial; then it will be complete—as complete as God’s knowledge of me.13 Meanwhile these three remain: faith, hope, and love; and the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13:-13 | GNT

The widow maker

My cousins’ husband was a hard worker his whole life. He worked in construction and often did side jobs on the weekends. He was average height but built like a tank and very, very strong. His physical condition would have made even young guys jealous. Because he worked so hard, we were all surprised when he semi-retired. We couldn’t picture him not working. Of course, it didn’t last very long as he began doing some “part time” work which was basically full time.

Nothing surprised us more, however, than the day my cousin called to say he had a heart attack on his way to work. He had driven himself past one hospital and ended up at another, where he collapsed upon entering the doors. The hospital staff actually went outside to see which vehicle he came from, found the company truck and called them to track his family down.

The nickname for the heart attack he suffered is the Widow Maker, aptly named because not many survive. In fact, most die instantly. His heart stopped, and he was clinically dead for eight long minutes. He was Life-flighted from that hospital to one in town better equipped to handle his condition. He was defibrillated and brought back, but the doctors were not hopeful. He spent ten or so long days in Intensive Care in a medically induced coma. His organs began shutting down and he went into kidney failure. No one really thought he’d survive.

In his early life, he had made a profession of faith, proclaiming Jesus as his Savior. He had not, however, been faithful to the Lَife, and hadn’t stepped foot inside a church for years, perhaps decades. There he was, his life hanging in the balance.

Miraculously, God gave him a second chance, a chance that not everyone gets. We felt as if God gave him a second chance to make things right with him, and prayed for his full recovery both physically and spiritually. He did regain consciousness and had a long road ahead to rehabilitate his body. Because his kidneys failed, he had to have dialysis several times a week.

During that time, my kids, now driving, helped to bring him to and from his appointments. A shadow of his former self, but beyond thankful to be alive, he gave all the glory to Jesus, and renewed his faith and life to bring Him honor.

This summer will be three years since his heart attack. He enjoys his retirement by volunteering at soup kitchens (he is a wonderful cook) and Salvation Army and gives glory to God, the Father for his life. We are so very thankful and grateful that God chose to give him a second chance, Not only because we can spend more time with him on Earth, but because we can also spend eternity with him.

We don’t always get a second chance. Instead of taking that gamble, we can rest assured that we will spend eternity with the King by accepting Him as our Savior today. If you’d like to know more about how to do that, please contact me at sbjourneyforlife@gmail.com

Copyright Journey For Life 2018. All rights reserved