An Amazing Day of Prayer

I’m so excited, I must tell this testimony. When we serve the Lord, and look to him for guiding our steps, so many details are intertwined.

Yesterday, Thursday May 4, was National Day of Prayer. I had not remembered it but read a post on Facebook by Franklin Graham that alerted me. As usual, I had asked the Lord what story I should do for my weekly La Perlita. I had one story that had been “sitting in line” for a while, with beautiful pictures done by my artist Absalom in Costa Rica—the story of George Müller.

The great “father” for orphans

George Müller lived 200 years ago. He fostered some 10,000 children in the orphanages he established. That is amazing, but consider this: he did it all based on prayer! He never asked any person for help, only God. He would get up early each morning to pray.

I recommend you find a biography about his life. It’s amazing!

God led me to turn exactly right!

Thursdays is the day I usually don’t mess with anything by the publishing of the story. This day turned out very different. Some days ago I had sent a monetary gift to a friend in Bolivia. Since she is wheel-chair bound her son-in-law was going to help her with the transaction. I had his name as the receiver. The bank would not accept it, because both of his first names were not on the transaction, so I had to make an extra trip to Walmart in Muskogee to make this change. Since I have to get a new driver license, renew my passport, and get new tags for the car, I thought of taking advantage of the trip.

I dressed in my Sunday-best to look nice on the pictures. The license office was closed! They were having training. So, I thought I could work on the next project: renew my passport. I had asked for directions. From York, to Chandler, to Okmulgee, and then passed the mall (now, which mall?)… I asked Jesus to help me. I’m driving on Okmulgee, and then I was sure I had gone too far. I better turn around, I thought. And I did! This is the amazing part. As I am turning back, my right eye catches a sight! United Stated Postal Office. It was right in front of me! “Thank you, Jesus!” He made me turn around at the exact right time. I got help inside to get all the pieces together that I needed. It cost me US$ 131.75 (postage and photograph included).

Asking for directions again, stopping at the wrong building and getting new directions, I finally found my way to the tag office. Now I have a list of the things I need to get new license plates. So, I’ll have to make a new trip.

The special story posted on the Day of Prayer

Why am I so excited? I’m happy because of posting a story about a man who lived and breathed prayer on the Day of Prayer.

Yesterday morning, before I even connected the dots, I was reminded of Jesus promise, that if we asked for something in his name, he will do it.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. John 14:12-14

 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him. 1 John 5:14,15

George Müller knew that he was doing God’s will. God had spoken to him about opening homes for all the orphan children in Bristol, England, so he could come with confidence before the throne of God.

Milk delivered at the door for breakfast

One of the well-known testimonies is about the day when the children came to have breakfast and the tables were empty. “Let’s thank God for supplying breakfast for us,” said Müller. They prayed and there was a knock on the door. The milkman’s cart had broken down right outside the orphanage. Since he couldn’t distribute the milk he gave it to the children.

The children needed something to go with the milk. Right then the baker showed up. God had woken him up very early, urging him to bake bread for the children.

I titled my story: “Breakfast from Heaven.” That’s what it was!

A baker obeyed God for the orphan children
to have fresh bread for breakfast

God is the “Father of the fatherless”, “the helper of the fatherless”(Psalm 68:5; 10:14).

A constant fellowship with God

Yesterday was a different and wonderful day of prayer. It’s not like I was on my knees all day. Prayer is that, but it’s much more. Prayer is a relationship with the Father. What the oxygen is for your physical body, prayer is  for your spiritual life. You don’t have to think every second, “I have to breathe now!” You just do it! It’s natural! That’s how prayer works in the relationship with the Father. It’s a constant, wonderful fellowship, “breathing” your concerns for family and friends. Yesterday and today, one after another of the individuals and families that I carry on my heart have been mentioned. I have many, many to bring before the throne of God.

I prayed with Cristina, my assistant stationed in Peru, and I told her that I would be happy to be even one thousands of what that man of prayer was. He has been one of my role models as far back as I can remember. No wonder I feel like it was a wonderful day of prayer. I am overwhelmed at God leading me to put the story of George Müller on my Spanish blog on the day of prayer.

My dear friend Nancy Crowson will translate the story to English, so we will soon have it on the Royal Palm World Mission blog: MX1414.wordpress.com

Another interesting thing I just found out, is about Christian Alliance for Orphans Summit in Nashville Tennessee. I would have love to have been there. For the last few years I have been translating lessons written especially for orphans and children at risk. I feel so blessed that I could publish this special story this special week.

How interesting God’s timing is. We just have to keep tuned to Heaven!

 

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Tend to Love with Uttermost Care

Every year, at this time, I like to post something to celebrate the 38 years I spent with one of the kindest man I’ve ever known, someone who grew up having his mother tell him to try to keep peace with everybody. He was a boy picked on in school, maybe because he would not defend himself.

What I am going to write about this year I had thought to bury and take with me to the grave. I never told him about it because I didn’t want to make him sad. I thought it was sad enough that I couldn’t correspond to the great love he showed me.

The only reason I’m writing this is because I heard the “Voice,” the one I know so clearly and have learned to obey, telling me this should be the subject this year. I hope it will help somebody. That is the only reason I even keep this blog, so that maybe something I write will help a fellow wanderer.

On this picture, I am madly in love. It was an awesome moment when we exchanged engagement rings on December 31, 1968. You do that in Sweden. You decide on a date, buy the rings, and exchange them. I think the way they do it here in the United States is so much more romantic; to have the guy surprise the girl.

It really doesn’t matter how it happens, just that it does; and most importantly, the it lasts! That’s the part I want to tackle today.

Love is like a fragile flower

Love is like a fragile flower in a beautiful garden. That is my definition. The sad thing for me was that the fragile flower of my love was trampled on early on. And it never bloomed with the same fragrance again! I tried! But the beauty of that first and wonderful love was lost.

This reminds me of Jesus speaking to one of the churches in Revelation (2:4), that he had this thing against them, that they had abandoned their first love. It is a sad thing to lose your first love.

Bengt and I were madly in love. I was head over heels in love with the guy. He made my head spin! He made me pregnant! I was on top of the world!

We were working as missionaries in Peru together with my parents. They were going to leave us for a while to take a furlough. They knew we had a lot on our plate: the church, the bookstore, my pregnancy, and the fact that Bengt had not yet learned the language. Out of the kindness of their hearts they found someone to “help” us. Christina came into the picture.

Christina in the picture

Bengt was very innocent in his ways and thinking. He couldn’t keep a bad thought if he wanted to. Christina was boy-crazy. I wasn’t very kind to her (which I deeply regret), because from the beginning she was too friendly with Bengt and, in my opinion, he was too friendly with her. I will not go into details, but when I was lying in bed struggling with my pregnancy they were having fun in the kitchen. The bedroom was just above the kitchen!

What really set me off was hearing her say, “Shall we have some of ‘our’ Kaviar?” In the Andes Kaviar is like precious gold. You probably should be a Swede to understand the value of Kaviar in a foreign country, especially before the time when you could order things from IKEA. Kaviar came in a tube, like toothpaste! You squeezed it on hard-boiled eggs.

There were two houses on the property. We stayed in the big one, Christina in the small one. In the mornings, Bengt would open the window and joyfully greet Christina in the small house from our bedroom on the second floor. This joyful greeting got to me and I complained about it. Bengt didn’t see anything wrong in it, and since he was friendly by nature, this went on.

Some British missionaries who visited us from time to time were also “hit” by Christina. The wife and I talked about it, because she was also upset at the way Christina acted around her husband. I was young, Christina was young, Bengt was a few years older, but none of us had life experience.

I never wholly recovered

Had this happened today, with all the hits and bumps I’ve encountered along the road, the “Christina issue” would have run off me as water on a goose. How and why I don’t know, but this is when the fragile flower of my love was trampled on and I never wholly recovered.

I’ve shed many tears over the matter. In the beginning, I wanted to run away. But where would I go? A young blond girl in the Peruvian Andes was very vulnerable. The point I want to get across is that you need to take very good care of love. Maybe my “love flower” was especially fragile because I had married Bengt without really knowing him. We had met a few times in Sweden while I visited there for some months, then we corresponded for three months, and he came to Peru and after two weeks we married.

Some would say that as missionaries this should not have happened to us. We are all vulnerable. Nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes. God did not promise to spare us but to be with us. When we pass through the waters he will be with us, when we walk through the fire we will not be burned (check this out in Isaiah 43).

I longed for the first love

How I longed for that wonderful feeling of the first love! The flower was trampled on. But the man loved me and I felt very bad that I could not love him with the same passion. But I stayed with him, true to my wedding vows. I used to kid with Bengt and tell him he didn’t know what he had promised, because the ceremony was in Spanish and the only thing he did was say “yes” to the questions my dad asked him. Dad married us!

When depression hit us

I was not familiar with depression. In 1977, it hit us hard. We were in a period of deciding our next move, somewhat uncertain of what it should be. The girls and I (yes, we had two girls!) went to Chicago for my brother Pepe’s wedding. While we were there Bengt got a phone call from Sweden that communicated misunderstanding.

Long story short, Bengt went into a deep depression. Thankfully, we had befriended a missionary couple –Paul and Martha Clark– in the same town where we lived at the time –Chaclacayo. They knew about depression, as the husband had battled it for years. Paul and Martha took Bengt in until I came back home. My parents took the girls with them to Sweden, so I could give all my devotion to Bengt

When this happened, a new kind of love filled me. I can’t explain it. It was a very deep feeling for someone who needed me desperately. Bengt could not spend a moment by himself, not even the bathroom visits. He clung to me as a child desperate for his mother. We packed our personal belongings and left the furniture for some missionaries who were going to rent the house we had lived in. “This will take years,” Martha said to me. And it did take years for Bengt to come out of it.

Bengt was a very sensitive person. I had to wrap my words in cotton to soften the blow and not hurt him. He had what we called a “pastor’s heart.” He felt compassion and empathy to the point that it hurt his personal emotions. Bengt got so involved with people’s situations that he brought depression on himself.

Fighting the D-word again

In 1987-88 we were back again fighting the D-word. At that time, we were living in Cochabamba, Bolivia. Bengt was involved with the youth at the church, so much so that all their problems and concerns (young people can have a lot of them, and there was quite a number of youth at the church) weighed heavy on Bengt’s heart. He did not just listen to them and brush it off; he took it all to heart.

One time the neighbor came by with Bengt. “I found your husband and brought him back,” he said. How many times it happened I don’t remember. What I didn’t know then, but know now, is that Bengt would get up at night and go take a taxi and just ask to be driven around town. In those times of his deepest needs my motherly instincts kicked in and I hovered over him.

From Bolivia, we were going to move to the United States. My parents lived in Northern Florida at the time and they offered to take Bengt in, so we put him on a plane. Mother said that Bengt was really sick, because on the entire drive from Miami to O’brien (some 8 hours, I think) he didn’t say a word! And Bengt was a friendly person, always having something to say and talk about.

It took a lot of loving care

It took a lot of loving care to move Bengt out of the dark hole of depression, but we did it.  Always with God as the source of our strength.

As I am writing, I’m debating about putting this out for the world to see. I like to paint bright pictures. I like to write about the happy times. I’m thinking that just like in a painting the dark background and the shadows bring out the beauty in the bright and happy colors, the same thing happens with the paintings of our lives. With the backdrops of those dark spots we can much more appreciate the bright side.

Calm in the midst of the storm

When we were going through the dark valley of 1977 I experienced the calm of God’s love in a very tangible way. I pictured myself sitting in a boat in the middle of a lake, surrounded by dark, stormy clouds. It was like the eye of a hurricane. What a refreshing calm!

Why am I writing all this? Yes, why?

I want to encourage you to stick with it. Whatever you are going through, don’t give up. The tendency today is to move on. If some problems come on the horizon, instead of working through the storm people abandon ship.

God gave me 38 years with a man who loved me above everything else. I was his hero! How often I wished that I could love him as much as he loved me!

Getting to the finish-line

Fast forward to 2007. The ugly D-word showed up once more. Because Bengt had worked in a ship yard in his youth and had been exposed to asbestos, his lungs were damaged. This brought on a problem of lack of oxygen to his brain, and he also had some minor strokes. It came to the point that Bengt could not drive anymore, because it was not safe for him. That confined him to the house, something that a friendly and outgoing person like him could not handle. He shrunk down to skin and bones. As I was starting my battle with cancer he finished his journey on earth.

In October this year, when I reach the 10-year mark of his passing, I will write some more about this wonderful man I was married to. We hit some rough spots in the beginning but we stayed true to the promises we made on May 1, 1969.

I urge you to…

  • Fight the good fight
  • Finish the race
  • Keep the faith

If you love the Lord, it doesn’t mean you will be spared from life’s battles. Sometimes you will have to fight even fiercer.

The crown of righteousness awaits you. (See 2 Timothy 4:7,8.)

Tend carefully to love

Most of all, tend carefully to love. Be mindful not to trample on the fragile flower in the garden of love. The precious man who loved me to pieces didn’t do it on purpose. He was just careless. But he still caused the death of that beautiful first love.

I opened up and revealed this long-kept secret because I feel the need to urge you to tend to love with the uttermost care. Love is fragile. Love is beautiful. Love can be lost.

Yes, tend to love with uttermost care!

 

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Friday Afternoon Miracle

As you know from my previous blog, Friday afternoon  I had to be on my way to do my monthly MoneyGram’s. I go to Walmart and there is always the fighting “end of the month crowd,” especially on a weekend.

When I got in the car I prayed to the Lord to help me find a parking spot and an electric shopping cart. I live in Fort Gibson and Walmart is in Muskogee, so when I drive over there I want to make good use of my time and do some shopping for special things I like to eat. Because of the diabetes, I have had to cut down considerably on the variety of products I get, but what God gave to our first parents as food is no problem to eat. Vegetables are perfect, and this Friday I found a winner.

Before I show you the winner, let me tell you how God answered my prayer for a parking spot and an electric shopping cart. As I’m driving along, I’m thinking of someone very dear to me who is fighting a hard battle with cancer. My thinking turns to prayers. I get so involved in praying that I drive mechanically. Before I know it, I am at the mall. The mall? That’s not where I was going. Walmart is in the opposite direction! So, I turn around and head in the right direction.

Again, I whisper a prayer for a parking spot. Preferably, it must be close to the Pharmacy entrance, because right by it is the banking center.

Low and behold! As usual, one after another of the handicap spots are taken. Then, right in front of the Pharmacy entrance, there is an open spot and an electric shopping cart! What a welcome sight! It was an awesome sight on a busy Friday afternoon.

I parked the car and took the shopping cart. It was almost out of charge, put I plugged it in at the banking center while I did my transactions, sending money to Costa Rica, Peru, and Bolivia. The lady who assisted me was surprised that I knew people in so many countries. I have lived in six different countries, so that was just half of it. No big deal for me.

After doing the transactions I sat down in the chair waiting for it to get charged. I had a copy of Guideposts so I read some stories. In one of them, a lady was on her way to a wedding, but she was late, so she hurried. She stopped at a drug store to get a present for the couple. The cashier knocked down some pencils and had to pick them up before ringing up the purchase. That delay saved the author from being in the middle of a severe accident.

Timing! A delay because of some pencils saved a life from a sure accident.

Timing! My “detour” brought me to Walmart at the exact time to find a parking spot and the electric shopping cart I needed to do my shopping. Some might call it coincidence. I call it an answer to my prayers. It was a God-wink. That’s why I’m taking the time to tell about it.

The shopping experience was chaotic, with shoppers everywhere. Here is my “find” for the day! You have to love artichokes to understand my excitement.

This is a meal that ends up being bigger when you finish. You pull the leaves, dip them is some sauce (a mixture of ketchup and mayonnaise is delicious, especially if it is jalapeño ketchup). You work your way to the heart. There is the good stuff.

The heart! Not only artichokes are best when you get to the heart. You know, that’s the way it is with people. If you can get to the heart of someone, you’ve reached the treasure point.

I’m a preacher, so I find messages in all circumstances. Now my mind is working on lessons to learn about the heart.

God asks for the heart: “Dame, hijo mío, tu corazón.” In English: “My son, give me your heart and let your eyes observe my ways” (Proverbs 23:26).

“Sobre toda cosa guardada, guarda tu corazón, porque de él mana la vida.” In English: “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life” (Proverbs 4:23).

I know these verses by heart, but in Spanish. That’s why I wrote them in Spanish. Do you know that Spanish is the language of the heart? At least that is what they say about it. Spanish is a very romantic language!

There are hundreds of references to the heart in the Bible.

“[God] has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart.” Ecclesiastes 3:11

Some of my favorite verses, that have been a guiding star for me, are King Solomon’s words of wisdom:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5,6

This is what my heart was reflecting on yesterday. We had stormy weather so my internet connection was down. The rain has continued but by now it has stopped for a while. I have gotten a good taste of the Oklahoma storms!

In Florida, my missionary friend Monroe Grams celebrates his 90th birthday. There, the sun is shining. After all, it is the Sunshine State! May God bless Monroe and each one of us with many more sunny days.

I can still see the empty parking space with the electric shopping cart sitting there waiting for me. It sure was a God-wink.

God is so good! When we most need it, he winks at us.

May you have many God-winks, today and every day.

 

Have you heard about the God-winks? Check out the web site:

http://www.whengodwinks.com/

 

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A Heart for Missions 2

“Corazón misionero” is Spanish for A Heart for Missions. That’s practically what my life has been. At age 10 I had a vision of Jesus and the beautiful olive-skinned children he called me to go tell about Him. Ever since, it’s been my passion to reach children with the Gospel of Jesus. Gospel means Good News.

The Good News is that Jesus left his beautiful home in heaven to “dress” himself as a human, live with us for 33 years, and then die on the cross taking on himself all our iniquities, bearing our punishment, so that we could be set free and enjoy fellowship with him forever. But he is not dead! Jesus rose again and he lives. We have a risen Savior!

This week I have been consumed with this subject. One of the Sunday school teachers that has come to know me through my Spanish page hermanamargarita.com has written five lessons to teach children about missions. My assistants Cristina and Absalom have contributed with illustrations, Cristina and I have worked on activities, and finally we are reaching the finish line.

I realize I have written about this some before, so I put a 2 in the title. Who knows? There might be a 3 later on! See A Heart for Missions

You might remember that I had visitors from Mexico for Christmas. Pilar, the Mom, is the one who wrote the lessons. The teachers chose to use me as their mission project. Here is Pilar showing my picture. It’s humbling! All I can do is thank God and continue my mission. Let me show you a summary of the lessons.

KNOW Learn what a missionary is. Get to know the great missionary Paul.

PRAY Paul asked the churches for prayer. Pray for missionaries.

GIVE Learn the needs of missionaries, and give offerings. The church in Philippi sent love-offerings to Paul.

SEND The Holy Spirit calls and sends missionaries. Paul and Barnabas were sent out from the church in Antioch.

GO Paul invites Timothy to go with him on his missionary journeys. Be willing to GO and tell the Good News!

What would I do without my faithful artist Absalom? There would be no pictures for my stories! Teachers and children love his art.

Paul is imprisoned because of preaching the Gospel. In spite of his suffering he writes a Gospel of Joy to the church in Philippi. They showed their concern for him and sent Epaphroditus with a love-offering.

On Monday is Labor Day in Peru, so Cristina will have a day off. I will be remembering a very special day in my life. Wait and see!

Now it is “end of the month” and that means I need to get out. Go to Walmart and send some “Moneygrams.” One more month the Lord has provided for me so I can keep my artists. I do translations to help with this ministry. Like the church in Philippi cared for Paul’s financial needs, there is a church in Sweden that sends me a gift each month so I can cover some of my expenses. Praise the Lord! And my pen-pal, that I have had for more than 50 years, also sends an offering, and one more individual, who always marks the deposit: for your vision.

My vision is to always keep a heart for missions alive!

“See” you on Monday! Have a wonderful weekend!

 

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Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

I will give thanks to you because I have been so amazingly and miraculously made. Your works are miraculous, and my soul is fully aware of this. Psalm 139:14 GW

I praise you because of the wonderful way you created me. Everything you do is marvelous! Of this I have no doubt. CEV

The conversation between two little babies in the womb might be a stretch of the imagination (see previous blog), but the wonderful and intricate way in which we are formed is incredible and true. We are here! We were born! There is life after the womb!

When I was formed in my mother’s womb she had complications. The last month of the pregnancy Mom  had to spend in the hospital because her albuminuria had increased alarmingly. It wasn’t fun for her because no visits were allowed due to epidemic influenza. She didn’t see my father for several weeks.

I had to listen to what other mothers told about earlier deliveries. One night the measure of sorrow was filled and I went to the bathroom to cry. I had seen twelve mothers leave with their newborn babies before it became my turn. That night a nasty midwife was on duty. She was the horror of the maternity ward. I asked God not to let me give birth during the night. I knew that another midwife who was a Christian would come in the morning. She came at seven and I got a feeling of security. Two hours later I was holding a little bundle in my arms. Such a nice little girl! So very cute! (from the book A Life of Adventure)

When I made my entrance to the world the delivery was critical because of my mother’s increased percentage of albumin. It was so high the doctor told her to have patience because she might have to stay a long time in the hospital. But a miracle took place and she could leave after only a week. The percentage was normal!

My first home was in a small town called Hjortkvarn, where Dad was serving as a minister in the Filadelfia church. They lived in a tiny one-room apartment above the sanctuary. “Tiny” is the key word! I visited there as a young girl and I could not imagine how the little family of three fitted there.

Daughter Eva-Marie singing at the church in Hjortkvarn

It was winter and cold when I was born. Mom tells me that Dad would rise early, light a fire in the stove that heated the room, change my diapers, wrap me in a blanket, and bring me joyfully to Mom so I could have my morning meal. “Here comes the package!” he would declare.

When fall came, my precious grandmother Signe took care of me so Mom and Dad could go to Bible School in Stockholm, in preparation for their life as missionaries.

I have been reflecting a lot lately on the wonders of life, the miraculous way we are woven together in out mother’s womb. For sure there is a Creator that has thought out every little detail. See this here . Yes, I meant the dot! That was my beginning! Yours too! In that little seed was everything needed to start the marvel of a new life, of a unique creature, given all the possibilities to conquer the world!

What a privilege to have received life! That cozy environment where I spent my first nine months, was just a cozy, warm place to prepare for what was to come, just as my walk on earth is a time to prepare for the next phase.

Here it gets very important! God made us to have fellowship with him. We’ll talk about the in a later blog. Due to our first father’s disobedience, the fellowship was severed, but Jesus came to bring us back into fellowship with our Creator and Father.

We make the choice! Just as there is life after the womb, there is life after this world. We are eternal beings and we decide where we want to spend eternity. Through Jesus, God invites us to spend it with him!

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. Ecclesiastes 3:11

I can’t begin to express my thankfulness for getting to know God as my Father from those first days, spent in that tiny room above the sanctuary in Hjortkvarn, and later the time spent with grandma Signe. My life was conditioned in the perfect direction! There aren’t enough words to say Thanks!

Thousands of years back, King David, the second king of the nation of Israel, reflected like this on the marvel of God’s creation of man (and woman):

For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,
    when as yet there was none of them.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!

    How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
    I awake, and I am still with you. Psalm 139:13-18

Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, the days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day.  (The Message)

Here is the account from Genesis:

Then God said, “Let us make man[a] in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them. Genesis 1:26,27

The Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. Genesis 2:7,8

 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made[a] into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said,

“This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Genesis 2:21-23

We are eternal beings. We have a Creator. We are purposed to have a wonderful and successful life. How do I know? Because God made “everything beautiful in its time.” There is no end to the wonders of creation!

The choice is ours. King David ended his reflections of the miracles of life with this prayer. And that how I’ll end my reflections today, too.

Search me, O God, and know my heart!
    Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting! Psalm 139:23,24

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Life after the Womb

I once read a parable about life after the womb.

Two babies were discussing life. The womb was such a comfortable place, but rather crowded. It was cozy, it was warm. Their every need was provided. But, could there be something more?

They fantasized, wondering if there could be something beyond their present stage.

“There must be something more than this,” one of them said.

“What could there be?” said the other. “This is it! I love it!”

So, their discussion went, back and forth. If they only knew all the wonders that awaited them after the womb! What a big and amazing world they would encounter!

I asked my faithful artist Absalóm-León Sixco to illustrate this for me. He did a good job! It’s thought provoking. Look at the picture and make up your own story. Imagine those two little babies and their questions and uncertainties. Picture them when they leave the womb and are born into the world.

First, it’s a shock when they leave the warmth of the only environment they know… but very soon they are embraced in the loving arms of their mother. And their father. And Brother and Sister. And Grandmother. And another grandmother. And grandfathers. And aunts and uncles. And cousins. The list goes on… They are welcomed by a love they could never imagine.

There is life after the womb! We know it by experience!

The best part of life is not life, but what awaits us after this life, if we are in agreement with God’s purposes. There is hope! The best is yet to come!

It all hinges on Jesus. He is our hope for today and hope for tomorrow.

It all starts with Jesus. He is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. Like the A and Z. Think of the alphabet. There are a lot of letters between A and Z. But it’s complete from beginning to end with A and Z.

Jesus is the Creator. He is the one that holds everything together. The image of the invisible God. In him we can see God. I once heard of a little girl who wanted to have “Jesus with skin on.” In Jesus we have God with skin on. He dresses himself with a human body, so the eternal and invisible God could show himself to us in a way we could understand.

[Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
Colossians 1:15-20

I am in the dark about who my readers are. What I know is that I have readers from all over the world. I can look at statistics and see all these different countries popping up. When I see India’s flag my heart skips a beat! When I complete my series of Bible lessons in Spanish, I’m going to focus on India. I can’t explain it! It’s just something God has put on my heart.

Something else I want to do is to write about why I believe what I believe. Maybe you have logged in to this blog and you are uncertain about life, about the meaning of life, and if there is an afterlife.

There is so much wonder to discover, so many awesome surprises awaiting. My faith is based on the Bible and on my personal relationship with Jesus for 65 years. I accepted him as my Savior and Lord at age six. Let me tell you my story.

There is life after the womb!

 Google: Search “A Parable of Life After Delivery” if you want to read the discussion the babies have in the womb. There are several versions. You might find a better one than I did!

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The Question That Can’t Be Avoided

When the Roman governor Pontius Pilate was faced with Jesus, he didn’t know what to do. He did not find him guilty of any crime. His wife warned him not to have anything to do with this righteous man because she had suffered much because of him in a dream.

At the Feast of the Passover Pilate had the custom of releasing a prisoner. That year, a notorious prisoner was Barabbas. Pilate asked if he should release Barabbas or Jesus. The crowd chose Barabbas.

Then came the question of the ages, the question every human being must answer:

What shall I do with Jesus who is called the Christ?

“Let him be crucified!” shouted the crowd.

And Jesus was crucified! He took the punishment of our sins upon him. Hundreds of years before, the prophet Isaiah foretold the sacrificial death of Jesus.

But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace
was upon him, and
by his wounds we are healed.

We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
Isaiah 53:5,6

Nobody can escape the question. You might deny Jesus. You might not believe in him. You might completely deny the existence of God. But one day, everyone will have to acknowledge Jesus and bow before him.

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:9-11

Mary Magdalene answered the question. She was set free of the seven demons that tormented her. After being delivered of this torment, she traveled with Jesus helping to take care of his needs. When Jesus was sent to the cross, she was there watching everything that happened to her dear Savior. She saw Joseph of Arimathea take his body down from the cross and she saw the grave where he put him.

Joseph also answered the question, although he did not want to publicly acknowledge that he was Jesus’ disciple. But when Jesus died on the cross he made public his faith. He laid Jesus in his own new tomb. Nicodemus helped him. He’s the religious leader that sought out Jesus by night, also a secret disciple.

The disciples answered the question and decided to follow Jesus, but after the crucifixion they must have felt miserable. Their Master, the hope of the world, was dead, buried by strangers, guarded by soldiers from the Roman army.

The disciples kept themselves under locked doors, maybe fearful that the religious leaders would do to them what had happened to Jesus. Judas the betrayer had hanged himself. Peter was devastated because he had disowned the Savior.

Mary’s dreams were shattered. Her beloved Master was dead. She had watched strangers bury Jesus. Who were those strangers? Mary had watched every move. She had put so much hope in Jesus—now her dreams had died. But one thing was for sure. She was not going back to her old life. What Jesus had done for her was beyond description. To be free from the tormenting spirits was out of this world. The least she could do was anoint his body. That would be her last farewell.

Early on Sunday morning Mary and some other women went to the tomb. What a surprise when they arrived and found it open! The stone had been rolled away.

Two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning gave them the news that Jesus was alive.

“Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’” Luke 24:5-7

Then they remembered his words.

Risen! Alive! Mary ran as fast as her legs would carry her. She knew where to find the disciples, all huddled up grieving their Lord.

“Peter! John! He’s gone! Someone has taken him. An angel said he’s alive!”

Peter and John also ran as fast as their legs would carry them. John, the youngest, arrived first at the grave, but Peter was the one to enter, not to a sepulcher like we are used to, but a cave.

What a sight! The grave clothed lay there neatly folded, as if someone had stepped out of them. They hurried back to the others. What could this mean?

Mary Magdalene stayed behind. A man she thought was the gardener approached her.

“Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

“Mary!”

That was all it took. The voice of her Teacher—unmistakable. Her Teacher! Her Rabboni!

“Go tell my brothers,” Jesus told her.

Once again, Mary was off running. “I have seen the Lord!” was her message. No one could take that away from her. And no one can take that away from you and me. To meet the risen Savior, to have him call your name—nothing compares to that!

Mary was in the forefront of millions that throughout the centuries have proclaimed,

“I HAVE SEEN THE LORD!”

Pontius Pilates question cannot be avoided:

What shall I do with Jesus who is called the Christ?

Mary, Peter, John, Joseph, Nicodemus, and millions through the ages have chosen to follow the Master of Galilee. It is wiser to bow the knee before him here, when there is time to repent and accept him as Lord and Savior, than to deny him now and have to bow before him when it’s too late.

TODAY IS THE DAY OF SALVATION!

How will you answer the universal question:

What shall I do with Jesus who is called the Christ?

 

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