Wednesday, April 30, 2014

WHY DOES GOD ALLOW TRAGEDY AND SUFFERING?

Greetings Dear Souls,

As I mentioned in the previous blog entry, I had been putting off a surgery needed to resolved several issues with my right, and dominant hand.  I strive to keep my loyal readers, and to acquire more souls for Christ somehow in the hunt & peck method. Seriously though, I plan to share some interesting writings of others on varying topics of interest to me.

Why does God allow tragedy and suffering?  It is a question the inevitably comes forward in most casual and serious conversations about all of the "Why?" questions we all think about, but know we will never have answers. This article comes from The Bible Gateway Blog.

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Why Does God Allow Tragedy and Suffering?


The following message was delivered on July 22 by Christian author and apologist Lee Strobel, just days after the deadly theater shoting in Aurora, Colorado. Lee has graciously given us permission to post it here on Bible Gateway.It was the worst mass shooting in American history – 70 pby a gunman, 12 of them killed, while they were watching the midnight showing of a new movie just 21 miles from where we’re eople shot sitting. There are no words to describe the anguish being felt by those who are suffering today; our heart and prayers have – and will – go out to them. There are so many tragic stories, so much pain. And many people are asking the question, “Why? Why did God allow this?”
This has been a heart-rending summer for Colorado. First came the wildfires, which ravaged the houses of hundreds of our neighbors – and prompted many of them to ask the question, “Why?”
And those two tragic events are on top of the everyday pain and suffering being experienced in individual lives – maybe including yours. There’s illness, abuse, broken relationships, betrayal, sorrow, injuries, disappointment, heartache, crime and death. And perhaps you’ve been asking the question, “Why? Why me? Why now?”
That “why” question goes back thousands of years. It was asked in the Old Testament by Job and the writers of the Psalms, and it was especially relevant during the 20th century, where we witnessed two World Wars, the Holocaust, genocides in the Soviet Union and China, devastating famines in Africa, the killing fields of Cambodia, the emergence of AIDS, the genocide in Rwanda and the ethnic cleansing of Kosovo. And the 21st Century didn’t start any better. There was 9/11 and now the Syrian slaughters, and on and on. Why all of this if there’s a loving and powerful God? Why do bad things happen to good people?
Several years ago, I commissioned a national survey and asked people what question they’d ask if they could only ask God one thing. The Number One response was: “Why is there suffering in the world?” Incidentally, I did find an interesting statistical quirk – people who are married were much more likely to want to know why there’s so much suffering. I’m just sayin’.
But if you’ve never asked why our world is infected with pain and suffering, you will when they strike you with full force or they come to a loved one. And Jesus said they are coming. Unlike some other religious leaders who wrote off pain and suffering as just being illusions, Jesus was honest. He told us the truth. He said in John 16:33, “You will have suffering in this world.” He didn’t say you might – he said it is going to happen.
But why? If you ask me point-blank, “Why did God allow the gunman to spray the Aurora movie theater with gunfire just two days ago?”, the only answer I can honestly give consists of four words – “I do not know.”
I cannot stand in the shoes of God and give a complete answer to that question. I don’t have God’s mind. I don’t see with God’s eyes. First Corinthians 13:12 says, “Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.”
So when you ask about specific individual events and want to know why this particular thing happened, we won’t get the full answer in this world. Someday we’ll see with clarity, but for now things are foggy. We can’t understand everything from our finite perspective. And frankly, the people suffering from the Aurora tragedy don’t need a big theological treatise right now; any intellectual response is going to seem trite and inadequate. What they desperately need now is the very real and comforting presence of Jesus Christ in their lives. And I’m so grateful that so many churches and ministries of this community are helping them experience that.
But for us, let’s focus on the big, overarching issue of why God generally allows suffering in our lives – your life and mine. Friends, this is important: even though we can’t understand everything about it, we can understand some things. Let me give you an analogy.
Once Leslie and I were driving from Chicago to Door County, Wisconsin, which is that thumb-shaped peninsula that juts into Lake Michigan. We were driving up the highway in the dark, when it started raining heavily and we hit dense fog. I could barely see the white stripe on the edge of the road. I couldn’t stop because I was afraid someone might come along and rear-end us. It was frightening!
But then a truck appeared in front of us and we could clearly see his taillights through the fog. He apparently had fog lamps in front, because he was traveling at a confident and deliberate pace, and I knew if we could just follow those taillights, we’d be headed in the right direction.
And the same is true in understanding why there is tragedy and suffering in our lives and in our world. We may not be able to make out all the peripheral details of why — they may be obscured from our view — but there are some key Biblical truths that can illuminate some points of light for us. And if we follow those lights, they will lead us in the right direction, toward some conclusions that I believe can help satisfy our hearts and souls.
What are those points of light? Let me go through five of them that I’ve personally found helpful whenever I’ve been prompted to ask the question, “Why?” The first point of light: God is not the creator of evil and suffering.
This answers the question you hear so often: “Why didn’t God merely create a world where tragedy and suffering didn’t exist?” The answer is: He did! Genesis 1:31 says: “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.”
But if God is not the author of tragedy or evil or death, where did they come from? Well, God has existed from eternity past as the Father, Son and Spirit, together in a relationship of perfect love. So love is the highest value in the universe. And when God decided to create human beings, he wanted us to experience love. But to give us the ability to love, God had to give us free will to decide whether to love or not to love. Why? Because love always involves a choice.
If we were programmed to say, “I love you,” it wouldn’t really be love. When my daughter was little, she had a doll with a string in the back, and when you pulled it the doll said, “I love you.” Did that doll love my daughter? Of course not. It was programmed to say those words. To really experience love, that doll would need to have been able to choose to love or not to love. Again – real love always involves a choice.
So in order for us to experience love, God bestowed on us free will. But unfortunately, we humans have abused our free will by rejecting God and walking away from Him. And that has resulted in the introduction of two kinds of evil into the world: moral evil and natural evil.
Moral evil is the immorality and pain and suffering and tragedy that come because we choose to be selfish, arrogant, uncaring, hateful and abusive.Romans 3:23 says “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
So much of the world’s suffering results from the sinful action or inaction of ourselves and others. For example, people look at a famine and wonder where God is, but the world produces enough food for each person to have 3,000 calories a day. It’s our own irresponsibility and self-centeredness that prevents people from getting fed.
In other words: look at your hand. You can choose to use that hand to hold a gun and shoot someone, or you can use it to feed hungry people. It’s your choice. But it’s unfair to shoot someone and then blame God for the existence of evil and suffering. Like that old cartoon said: “We have seen the enemy, and he is us.”
The second kind of evil is called natural evil. These are things like wildfires, earthquakes, tornadoes and hurricanes that cause suffering for people. But these, too, are the indirect result of sin being allowed into the world. As one author explained: “When we humans told God to shove off, He partially honored our request. Nature began to revolt. The earth was cursed. Genetic breakdown and disease began. Pain and death became part of the human experience.”
The Bible says it’s because of sin that nature was corrupted and “thorns and thistles” entered the world. Romans 8:22 says, “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” In other words, nature longs for redemption to come and for things to be set right. That’s the source of disorder and chaos.
Let’s make this crystal clear once more: God did not create evil and suffering. Now, it’s true that he did create the potential for evil to enter the world, because that was the only way to create the potential for genuine goodness and love. But it was human beings, in our free will, who brought that potential evil into reality.
Some people ask, “Couldn’t God have foreseen all of this?” And no doubt he did. But look at it this way: many of you are parents. Even before you had children, couldn’t you foresee that there was the very real possibility they may suffer disappointment or pain or heartache in life, or that they might even hurt you and walk away from you? Of course — but you still had kids. Why? Because you knew there was also the potential for tremendous joy and deep love and great meaning.
Now, the analogy is far from perfect, but think about God. He undoubtedly knew we’d rebel against Him, but He also knew many people would choose to follow Him and have a relationship with Him and spend eternity in heaven with Him — and it was all worth it for that, even though it would cost His own Son great pain and suffering to achieve their redemption.
So, first, it helps me to remember, as I ponder the mystery of pain and evil, that God did not create them. The second point of light is this: Though suffering isn’t good, God can use it to accomplish good.
He does this by fulfilling His promise in Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Notice that the verse doesn’t say God causes evil and suffering, just that he promises to cause good to emerge. And notice that the verse doesn’t say we all will see immediately or even in this life how God has caused good to emerge from a bad circumstance. Remember, we only see things dimly in this world. And notice that God doesn’t make this promise to everyone. He makes the solemn pledge that he will take the bad circumstances that befall us and cause good to emerge if we’re committed to following Him.
The Old Testament gives us a great example in the story of Joseph, who went through terrible suffering, being sold into slavery by his brothers, unfairly accused of a crime and falsely imprisoned. Finally, after a dozen years, he was put in a role of great authority where he could save the lives of his family and many others.
This is what he said to his brothers in Genesis 50:20: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” And if you’re committed to God, He promises that He can and will take whatever pain you’re experiencing and draw something good from it.
You might say, “No, he can’t in my circumstance. The harm was too great, the damage was too extreme, the depth of my suffering has been too much. No, in my case there’s no way God can cause any good to emerge.”
But if you doubt God’s promise, listen to what a wise man said to me when I was researching my book The Case for Faith: God took the very worst thing that has ever happened in the history of the universe — deicide, or the death of God on the cross — and turned it into the very best thing that has happened in history of universe: the opening up of heaven to all who follow Him. So if God can take the very worst circumstance imaginable and turn it into the very best situation possible, can he not take the negative circumstances of your life and create something good from them?
He can and He will. God can use our suffering to draw us to Himself, to mold and sharpen our character, to influence others for Him – He can draw something good from our pain in a myriad of ways…if we trust and follow Him.
Now, the third point of light: The day is coming when suffering will cease and God will judge evil.
A lot of times you’ll hear people say: “If God has the power to eradicate evil and suffering, then why doesn’t He do it?” And the answer is that because He hasn’t done it yet doesn’t mean He won’t do it. You know, I wrote my first novel last year. What if someone read only half of it and then slammed it down and said, “Well, Lee did a terrible job with that book. There are too many loose ends with the plot. He didn’t resolve all the issues with the characters.” I’d say, “Hey – you only read half the book!”
And the Bible says that the story of this world isn’t over yet. It says the day will come when sickness and pain will be eradicated and people will be held accountable for the evil they’ve committed. Justice will be served in a perfect way. That day will come, but not yet.
So what’s holding God up? One answer is that some of you may be. He’s actually delaying the consummation of history in anticipation that some of you will still put your trust in Him and spend eternity in heavenHe’s delaying everything out of His love for you. SecondPeter 3:9 says: “The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”To me, that’s evidence of a loving God, that He would care that much for you.
Point of Light #4: Our suffering will pale in comparison to what God has in store for his followers.
I certainly don’t want to minimize pain and suffering, but it helps if we take a long-term perspective. Look at this verse, and remember they were written by the apostle Paul, who suffered through beatings and stonings and shipwrecks and imprisonments and rejection and hunger and thirst and homelessness and far more pain that most of us will ever have to endure. These are his words:
Second Corinthians 4:17: “For our light and momentary troubles” — wait a second: light and momentary troubles? Five different times his back was shredded when he was flogged 39 lashes with a whip; three times he was beaten to a bloody pulp by rods. But he says, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”
Paul also wrote Romans 8:18: “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”
Think of it this way. Let’s say that on the first day of 2012, you had an awful, terrible day. You had an emergency root canal at the dentist and the ran out of pain-killers. You crashed your car and had no insurance. Your stock portfolio took a nosedive. Your spouse got sick. A friend betrayed you. From start to finish, it was like the title of that children’s book: Alexander & the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.
But then every other day of the year was just incredibly terrific. Your relationship with God is close and real and intimate. A friend wins the lottery and gives you $100 million. You get promoted at work to your dream job. Timemagazine puts your photo on its cover as “The Person of the Year.” You have your first child and he’s healthy and strong. Your marriage is idyllic, your health is fabulous, you have a six-month vacation in Tahiti.
Then next New Year’s Day someone asks“So, how was your 2012?” You’d say, “It was great; it was wonderful!” And they’d say, “But didn’t it start out bad? Didn’t you go through a lot of trouble that first day?”
You’d think back and say, “You’re right. That was a bad day, no denying it. It was difficult at the time. It was hard. It was painful. But when I look at the totality of the year, when I put everything in context, it’s been a great year. The 364 terrific days far outweigh the one bad day. That day just sort of fades away.”
And maybe that’s a good analogy for heaven. Listen to me – that is not to deny the reality of your pain in this life. It might be terrible. It might be chronic. My wife Leslie has a medical condition that puts her in pain every single day. Maybe you’re suffering from a physical ailment or heartache at this very moment. But in heaven, after 354,484,545 days of pure bliss — and with an infinite more to come — if someone asked, “So, how has your existence been?”, you’d instantly react by saying, “It has been absolutely wonderful! Words can’t describe the joy and the delight and the fulfillment!”
And if they said, “But didn’t you have a tough time before you got here,” you’d probably think back and say, “Well, yes, it’s true that those days were painful, I can’t deny that. They were difficult, they were bad. But when I put them into context, in light of all God’s outpouring of goodness to me, those bad days aren’t even worth comparing with the eternity of blessings and joy that I’m experiencing.”
It’s like the story that British church leader Galvin Reid tells about meeting a young man who had fallen down a flight of stairs as a baby and shattered his back. He had been in and out of hospitals his whole life — and yet he made the astounding comment that he thinks God is fair. Reid asked him, “How old are you?” The boy said, “Seventeen.” Reid asked, “How many years have you spend in hospitals?” The boy said, “Thirteen years.” The pastor said with astonishment, “And you think that is fair?” And the boy replied: “Well, God has all eternity to make it up to me.”
And He will. God promises a time when there will be no more crying, no more tears, no more pain and suffering, when we will be reunited with God in perfect harmony, forever. Let the words of First Corinthians 2:9 soak into your soul: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.” That’s absolutely breath-taking, isn’t it?
Finally, Point of Light #5: We decide whether to turn bitter or turn to God for peace and courage.
We’ve all seen examples of how the same suffering that causes one person to turn bitter, to reject God, to become hard and angry and sullen, can cause another person to turn to God, to become more gentle and more loving and more tender, willing to reach out to compassionately help other people who are in pain. Some who lose a child to a drunk driver turn inward in chronic rage and never-ending despair; another turns outward to help others by founding Mothers Against Drunk Drivers.
As one philosopher said: “I believe all suffering is at least potential good, an opportunity for good. It’s up to our free choice to actualize that potential. Not all of us benefit from suffering and learn from it, because that’s up to us, it’s up to our free will.”
We make the choice to either run away from God or to run to Him. But what happens if we run to Him?
I started this talk with part of what Jesus said in John 16:33. Now let me give you the entire verse: “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. But be courageous! I have conquered the world.”
In other words, He offers us the two very things we need when we’re hurting: peace to deal with our present and courage to deal with our future. How?Because he has conquered the world! Through His own suffering and death, He has deprived this world of its ultimate power over you. Suffering doesn’t have the last word anymore. Death doesn’t have the last word anymore. God has the last word!
So let me finish the story of Leslie and I driving through the fog in Wisconsin. We were following the taillights of that truck when the fog slowly began to lift, the rain began to let up and we entered a town with some lights – things were becoming clearer, we could see better, and as we rounded a curve, silhouetted against the night sky, guess what we saw? We saw the steeple of a church and the cross of Christ. After driving through the confusion of the fog for so long, that image struck me with poignancy I’ll never forget. Because it was through that cross that Jesus conquered the world for us.
As that wise man once said to me: God’s ultimate answer to suffering isn’t an explanation; it’s the incarnation. Suffering is a personal problem; it demands a personal response. And God isn’t some distant, detached, and disinterested deity; He entered into our world and personally experienced our pain. Jesus is there in the lowest places of our lives. Are you broken? He was broken, like bread, for us. Are you despised? He was despised and rejected of men. Do you cry out that you can’t take any more? He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Did someone betray you? He was sold out. Are your most tender relationships broken? He loved and He was rejected. Did people turn from you?They hid their faces from Him as if He were a leper. Does He descend into all of our hells? Yes, He does. From the depths of a Nazi death camp, Corrie ten Boom wrote these words: “No matter how deep our darkness, He is deeper still.” Every tear we shed becomes his tear.
And then the wise man told me this: it’s not just that God knows and sympathizes with you in your troubles. After all, any close friend can do that. Any close friend can sit beside you and comfort you and empathize with you. No, Jesus is much closer than your closest friend. Because if you’ve put your trust in Him, then He is in you. And, therefore, your sufferings are His sufferings; your sorrow is His sorrow.
So when tragedy strikes, as it will; when suffering comes, as it will; when you’re wrestling with pain, as you will – and when you make the choice to run into His arms, here’s what you’re going to discover: you’ll find peace to deal with the present, you’ll find courage to deal with your future, and you’ll find the incredible promise of eternal life in heaven.
As I’ve been saying, all of us will go through pain and suffering. But let me end by going back to this specific tragedy that took place two days ago in Aurora. For all the things it leaves us confused about, one of the truths it clearly illustrates is that life is so fragile and short. These people were going to a movie! They had no clue that this might be their last moments in this world. Friends, in this sin-scarred world, we never know when death will come knocking. Often, we don’t get any warning when a heart attack strikes, or when a drunk driver crosses the centerline, or when a wildfire sweeps through a canyon, or when an airplane loses power. And so the question I’m compelled to ask you is this – “Are you ready?”
One of the first verses I memorized as a Christian is 1 John 5:13: “These things I’ve written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God in order that you may know that you have eternal life.”
God doesn’t want you wondering. He doesn’t want you steeped in anxiety over whether you’re headed for heaven. His infallible, inerrant Word says you can know for sure.
Don’t rely on the fact that you come to church or you’ve gone through some sort of religious ritual in the past. The Bible is clear that we can be religious but not be in a relationship with God. Religious activities and affiliations never saved anyone. Salvation comes from knowing Christ personally and receiving His provision for YOUR sin and YOUR future. It comes from making him YOUR Savior, by asking Him to forgive YOUR every sin, and by asking Him to lead YOUR life.
But it doesn’t happen automatically. It doesn’t come by attending a great church, or being baptized, or taking communion, or hanging out with a bunch of Christians. It comes from deciding in your heart that you want to turn from your sin, to stop trusting in your own resources, and to accept the forgiveness and eternal life that Jesus purchased on the cross and is offering you as a free gift. THAT is how you gain God’s peace and confidence.
So settle it now! Resolve this today, at this moment, so that if tragedy were to strike, your eternity with God would be secure. I don’t know all the ways God is going to draw some good from this Aurora situation, but wouldn’t it be something if He were starting right now, with you personally, and using this message to bring you into His kingdom at this very moment? Let the pain of that tragedy open your heart to Christ. Let’s take what was intended for evil and watch God start creating something good from it.
Pray with me right now to receive Christ – so that you can know for sure that even if the very worst thing were to happen to you after you leave the auditorium today, it will immediately be followed by the very best thing of all.
Lord Jesus, I believe that You are the unique Son of God. I confess to You that I’m a sinner. In repentance and faith, I reach out right now and receive the free gift of forgiveness and eternal life that You graciously purchased on the cross when You died as my substitute to pay for all of my sins. Please, Lord Jesus, lead my life – because from this moment on, I am Yours. I pray this in Your name.  Amen.

FORGIVE ONE ANOTHER

Dear warriors for God,

I had some surgery on my right hand that I've put off way too long. I would ask for your prayers as I go through the healing and rehabilitation process. I will continue to post items of interest that should enhance and result in a closer relationship and more loving relationship with our Lord and Savior. I pray you will stand with me, no matter the size of the mountain.

God bless you,

Abbey 🙏🌹

This Day's Thought from The Ranch
FORGIVE ONE ANOTHER
Part 1 of the “One Another” Series

by Kent Sanders


I don’t cook very often (for good reason), but I admit that I can make a pretty good peach pie. A few months ago, my Dad gave me a large bag of sliced peaches he had picked from a peach tree in his back yard. I decided I would try to make a pie. I gathered all the ingredients for my special recipe, mixed them up, poured it over a crust and added another crust on top, and baked it.

When I took it out of the oven and let it cool off for a while, I couldn’t wait to taste it. I took a big bite and something didn’t taste right. In fact, it tasted pretty terrible. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it until my wife asked, “Did you add sugar?”

Then it hit me: In my quest to bake a perfect pie, I left out a key ingredient. The result was a bitterness that ruined the whole thing.

A bitter pie is something that can easily be replaced. But a bitter heart is a much more serious problem.
It’s easy to become bitter and angry when you’ve been hurt by someone. But when you carry around the emotional baggage from the past, it only hurts yourself and those you love. I have known people in their thirties who still held grudges toward people who had hurt them in high school. I have met others who kept a mental list of everyone who had ever wronged them.
Have you ever met someone like this, or perhaps even been that person? If so, these words from the Apostle Paul are for you:

“Put on then, as  God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved,  compassionate hearts,  kindness,  humility, meekness, and patience,  bearing with one another and,  if one has a complaint against another,  forgiving each other;  as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.  And above all these put on  love, which  binds everything together in  perfect harmony.  And let  the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called  in one body. And  be thankful.”  [Colossions 3.12-15, ESV]

Paul’s instruction in these verses is easy to understand, but difficult to put into practice. Forgiveness is never easy, but it’s possible with God’s help.
Let’s look at a few practical observations about forgiveness from this passage:

1. Forgiveness is a choice.Paul speaks about forgiveness in terms of a command, not an option. When you think of how others have hurt you in the past, your first thought is probably not, “I feel like forgiving them!” But forgiveness doesn’t come from your emotions. There is never a time when you feel like forgiving others. It’s a choice or a decision to let go of your anger and hatred toward someone.
2. Jesus is the model for forgiveness. We are to forgive others just as Christ has forgiven us. Those are tough words! When you consider the offenses you have committed against God, the often petty complaints we have against others don’t seem so important. But even if someone has committed a serious offense against you, Jesus continues to be the model for forgiving others completely.
3. Love is the driving force behind forgiveness. Love is the binding agent of all relationships. In the simplest terms, love means doing what is best for someone else. Forgiveness is always the best option. Hatred and anger never results in good. Love is always the best option, even though it is not always easy.
4. The result of forgiveness is peace. Did you notice the connection in these verses between forgiving others and peace? When you let go of your anger, you experience a peace like never before. The person who hurt you no longer has hold of your mind and emotions. You are free to experience all that life has to offer when you let go of your anger and bitterness.

No one said forgiveness was easy. But when God commands something, we know it’s possible when we rely on his strength to help us accomplish it.

Is there someone you need to forgive? Only you can answer that question. Search your heart: Are you angry or bitter at someone because they have hurt you?

Regardless of the offense, forgiveness is possible. It may take time, and even professional help of some kind, but it’s possible. Ask God to give you wisdom so you can begin the healing process in your life.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

THE COMING OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD

Luke 17:20-37

The Coming of the Kingdom of God

20 Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, 21 nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.”

22 Then he said to his disciples, “The time is coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. 23 People will tell you, ‘There he is!’ or ‘Here he is!’ Do not go running off after them. 24 For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other. 25 But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.

26 “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. 27 People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all.

28 “It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. 29 But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all.

37 “Where, Lord?” they asked.

He replied, “Where there is a dead body, there the vultures will gather.”


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When the Pharisees asked Jesus when the Kingdom of God is coming, it appears that Jesus' sermons and discussions on the coming of the Kingdom of God were frightening enough tht the Pharisees wanted to clean up their behavior and lives before the coming.  Christ preached this everywhere he went. But not many, if any - perhaps the Apostles, his Mother Mary and father Joseph - knew what he meant when he said "tear this temple down and I will rebuild it in three days!"

We have all been taught in our varying faiths that Christ is coming to take the most righteous of his own straight to heaven. Those left would have to suffer first because of their casual relationship, if they had one at all, with Jesus was not sufficient to grant them entrance into the Kingdom of God.

This is what I see every day, and it is not my intent to point fingers, but to WAKE YOU UP! Every day I interact with people who claim to be Christians, but they are mean spirited, they gossip, they break the laws of God, the Ten Commandments.  Then they go to church on Sunday and they are so nice to participate and even feign prayer!  I've heard them gossip in the Narthex and right outside the door to the church.  My heavens people, do yourself a huge favor and stand in front of the mirror.  And I want you to stand there for at least 10 minutes.  Perhaps by then, you will look into your face and your eyes which are the mirror to your soul, and if you are honest with yourself, you will see what is inside you, the ugly that must be turned to beauty, the hurting that must be tended gently, do you have compassion for others or are you happy for the expense of another's misfortune?

Are your children taught the way of Christ in the home, or have they been given ever electronic device possible to keep them busy. People are not giving their children ATTENTION. You do not know what you are missing if you are one of those. Even though mine have moved out and have been gone, I talk to them and my grands regularly! Those grandbabies - PURE JOY FROM HEAVEN!


If Jesus comes in five minutes, will you be ready?  I actually sky-gaze and think about what it will be like. No one, not even Jesus, knows - only God himself.  I try to think that I am spiritually prepared, God DOES know that I love him and so does Jesus and Mother, plus the Saints.  I pray that God will be merciful to me,  That provokes the question: How good is good enough to make it to heaven?  All we can do is try to do our best to read the scriptures and put them into practice in our own lives, to pray daily (morning and evening at the very least!), help that stranger who is struggling with an arm full of baby, groceries and digging for her keys while pushing the shopping cart!

Or I'll give you another example.  My daughter and I went to a home decor store last Friday. While there, they announced that Easter eggs had been hidden all over the store and if you fine one, there is a 20% off your entire purchase coupon.  Well, I really wasn't looking but I found THREE! You can only use one. But in the end, we decided we could not find what we wanted.  So, I found a lady that I had seen shopping when I arrived and I asked her, "Have you found an Easter egg?" No, she didn't know what I was talking about, so I held up the purple egg and said "I'm not going to use it, so take it and enjoy your shopping!" She was so stunned and happy in her thanks, and I just said "God bless you."  I caught people coming into the door and went through the same scenario and obviously each was delighted with their donated egg.  In my mind, what would Jesus do?  No thanks needed, just enjoy and God bless you! 

The narrow road to heaven is not always easy, but if you ask yourself in ever situation "WWJD?", you will soon acquire it as habit and will be doing courteous, loving, and nice things for people you know and those that you do not know.  Little secret: I got a little excited in my heart because I felt Jesus watching and that he was very pleased.

So, we do not know when and never will, it will just happen. I think often about this and wonder if all of the natural disasters (hurricanes, forest fires, hurricanes in places doing tremendous devastation, tsunamis, and earthquakes) that are happening with more frequency; here in the U.S., the daily news of children shooting children in schools, people being shot in movie theaters, people's cars being shot at on the freeways. abduction of children and finding their precious little bodies thrown away into the woods - all of this certainly makes me question "when is our Almighty God likely to be shaking his head and heartbroken by what we have done with the lives he gave us, and decide HE's had enough?"

I cannot encourage you enough to get your relationship with Christ right, get on the narrow path with us because He is showing us the way.  Everyone slips here and there, and asking forgiveness and a promise to do better is all that's required.  O comfort, O joy, O peace, O love doth the Lord give freely as he suffered and died for our sinfulness.  I pray you will find the way as I have because I live in pure JOY and LOVE of the the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit who will come to live in your heart and guide you to the right way in everything you do.

PEACE BE WITH YOU, JOY BE WITHIN YOU, AND LOVE GIVEN FREELY BY YOU! AMEN.

Abbey

DIVINE MERCY NOVENA PRAYERS - DAY 6

Peace be with you!
 
I love how we get to celebrate the resurrection for the entire Easter season!
 
As we continue to celebrate the resurrection, let us pray for an increased hope in our own resurrection in Jesus. Let's pray that we can endure the troubles and pains of this life for the sake of the resurrection of the body. 
 
Pray with me for hope today...
 
Here are the prayers for today:
 
 
"Today bring to Me THE MEEK AND HUMBLE SOULS AND THE SOULS OF LITTLE CHILDREN, and immerse them in My mercy. These souls most closely resemble My Heart. They strengthened Me during My bitter agony. I saw them as earthly Angels, who will keep vigil at My altars. I pour out upon them whole torrents of grace. Only the humble soul is capable of receiving My grace. I favor humble souls with My confidence."
 
Most Merciful Jesus, You yourself have said, "Learn from Me for I am meek and humble of heart." Receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart all meek and humble souls and the souls of little children. These souls send all heaven into ecstasy and they are the heavenly Father's favorites. They are a sweet-smelling bouquet before the throne of God; God Himself takes delight in their fragrance. These souls have a permanent abode in Your Most Compassionate Heart, O Jesus, and they unceasingly sing out a hymn of love and mercy.
 
Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon meek souls, upon humble souls, and upon little children who are enfolded in the abode which is the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. These souls bear the closest resemblance to Your Son. Their fragrance rises from the earth and reaches Your very throne. Father of mercy and of all goodness, I beg You by the love You bear these souls and by the delight You take in them: Bless the whole world, that all souls together may sing out the praises of Your mercy for endless ages.
 
Amen.
 
 
 
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This free novena service is made possible by the Pray More Novenas Special Membership.
 
 
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The Divine Mercy message and novena were revealed by Jesus to St. Faustina, a Polish nun. She wrote about her experiences in her diary which is now available in English if you are interested.
 
For more on Divine Mercy, be sure you take a look at St. Faustina's Diary. Click here to get a copy for yourself.
 
We're praying for you!
 
God Bless You,
 
     John-Paul & Annie - PrayMoreNovenas.com
 
 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

"I HOPE YOU DANCE"

It's time, actually, WAY past time for me to stick in some of my music. My love for music has been with me ever since I was a child.  I would try to sing "Corina, Corina" in the backseat of my grandmothers Lincoln going down some highway, I was too young to know.  Sure, I love music and I'm not a casual fan, I know about the people that I stay with for years.  But I also enjoy what the song says to my heart, and I learn to sing with a song if I find it favorable rather quickly.  This was like a "on hit wonder" for me, but it speaks to me, and maybe to you.  I've been here before; I know how it feels.  But it takes a lot of guts to really say these words to someone you loved who is leaving.  I hope you enjoy Lee Ann Womack's "I Hope You Dance~

DIVINE MERCY PRAYERS - DAY 5

Peace be with you!
  
Today is the 5th day of the Divine Mercy Novena. Thank you for making it past half-way in praying this important novena! 
 
It was actually Bl. Pope John Paul II who established Divine Mercy Sunday as a feast day, so it's extremely fitting that he will become a saint in just a few days. 
 
 
Today, we want to pray specifically for your intentions. Whatever they are, we are going to be praying for you today!  
 
Here are the prayers for today:
 
 
"Today bring to Me THE SOULS OF THOSE WHO HAVE SEPARATED THEMSELVES FROM MY CHURCH, and immerse them in the ocean of My mercy. During My bitter Passion they tore at My Body and Heart, that is, My Church. As they return to unity with the Church, My wounds heal and in this way they alleviate My Passion."
 
Most Merciful Jesus, Goodness Itself, You do not refuse light to those who seek it of You. Receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls of those who have separated themselves from Your Church. Draw them by Your light into the unity of the Church, and do not let them escape from the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart; but bring it about that they, too, come to glorify the generosity of Your mercy.
 
Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls of those who have separated themselves from Your Son's Church, who have squandered Your blessings and misused Your graces by obstinately persisting in their errors. Do not look upon their errors, but upon the love of Your own Son and upon His bitter Passion, which He underwent for their sake, since they, too, are enclosed in His Most Compassionate Heart. Bring it about that they also may glorify Your great mercy for endless ages.
 
Amen.
 
 
 
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This free novena service is made possible by the Pray More Novenas Special Membership.
 
 
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I hope you are having a great week!
 
I'm praying for you!
 
God Bless You,
 
     John-Paul & Annie - PrayMoreNovenas.com