A Gift of Love for Jesus

How I love Jesus! His presence is so real, I feel like I am resting in his embrace. I wish for everybody to know him.

How can I show him my love? That’s the big question! Big or small, he knows our heart, but no gift for Jesus is too big. The disciples one time thought a gift was too much. Read on and see!

Let me tell you of a big gift in modern times. It happened in a “homeless” church in California. While searching for a permanent building, they were meeting in a borrowed gymnasium.

A newlywed couple visited for their first Sunday. The young bride had a beautiful and very expensive wedding ring (worth $16,000). When the collection was made for the new building, this young bride gave her ring to the building fund. The pastor felt overwhelmed and first did not want to accept the gift.

Can a gift for Jesus and his work be too big?

Jesus sees things differently than we do. When he walked on earth here was a widow that gave the smallest gift we can imagine (in our eyes)—“two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny” (Mark 12:42). In Jesus’ eyes she gave more than everybody else. She gave all that she had to live on! For Jesus it was a BIG gift.

Mary and her beautiful gift of love

Mary from Bethany gave Jesus a “big” gift. Six days before the Passover she showed her love for him with a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume. She poured it on Jesus’ feet, and then she wiped them with her hair. And so, the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume!

Not everybody appreciated her gift of love. Judas Iscariot, the one who would betray Jesus, complained, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” There will always be complainers and people that don’t understand us when we shower our love on Jesus. But He understands and he sees our heart.

A year’s wages! “Why this waste?” asked the disciples indignant. “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor” (Matthew 26:8,9). Nothing we give to Jesus is a waste! Nothing it too big for him!

“Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “She did what she could.”

“Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” Mark 14:6-9

Back to the bride with the ring. Her husband must have made a big sacrifice to buy that ring. Maybe he even was paying if off on credit. But here was an opportunity to show her love for Jesus, and she gave the ring!

The widow gave a fraction of a penny, but it was all she had.

The perfume Mary poured on Jesus was worth a year’s wages. All week, wherever Jesus went, the fragrance of the perfume lingered. In midst of the spitting, the beatings, the ridicule, the unfair treatment—Jesus and those around him could smell perfume. There was someone that loved Jesus so much that she didn’t mind pouring on him all she had worked hard to save up.

Not all the time will our gifts of love boomerang back to us as the gift of the ring did. Hear this! Someone in the congregation that heard about the ring offered to buy it, but on one condition: that the ring be given back to the young bride.

Can you imagine her surprise when she got it back? Thanks to her gift love, the church had $16,000 for the building fund. She did what she could, just like Mary with the perfume, and the widow with the copper coins.

What can you and I do this Easter to show Jesus our love? No love-offering, no sacrifice is too big for him.

May our surroundings be filled with the fragrance of our love for Jesus, our Savior!

Do you not have a personal relationship with Jesus? Send me a comment and we can strike up a conversation. I would love to help you find your way to a relationship with the Lord. Jesus loves you so much he gave his life for you on the cross.

But God shows his love for us in that
while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8

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An ABC Hymn of Praise

JOY IN THE HOLY SPIRIT is my theme for this year. Joy is a deep feeling that nothing can move. It has little to do with circumstances. Happiness can come and go. Joy is unshakable. Happiness fluctuates.

I can be sad and unhappy but still have the joy of the Lord. My joy is really not dependent on the happenings of the day, or it shouldn’t. How about you? Is your joy unspeakable, unshakable?

Do you feel like singing, “I’ve got joy unspeakable and full of glory, full of glory, full of glory…” It’s a great song!

Nehemiah tells us that the joy of the Lord is our strength. His joy, the joy of the Holy Spirit, helps us go on, even when we’re not happy. I have smiled through tears many times because God has given me joy in the midst of sorrow.

Last week was one of those weeks when I felt like the enemy’s darts were flying from all over, hitting me on every side. How wonderful to turn to the Lord and have his joy overtake me. I had to deal with some things that did NOT make me happy. But I did not let them steal my joy!

I’m so thankful for the Lord and his strength! He is our Wonderful Counselor, the Prince of Peace.

A few years ago, I wrote hymn of praise in my favorite way of doing things—as an ABC! I’ve been going through my ABC binder and found that I’ve written quite a few both in English and Spanish. A few of them are under the ABC category here on the blog.

Here is the hymn of praise to God for the joy he brings to my heart.

I praise God for…

          Admirable answers to prayer

          Blessings beyond belief

          Comforting and caring counsel

          Delightful deeds of deliverance

          Ever-present eyes of encouragement

          Faithful forgiveness and freedom

          Glorious gift of grace

          Holy hope and honor

          Incomparable inheritance in Immanuel

          Joyous justification in Jesus

          my King and kinsman Redeemer

          Living, longsuffering love

          Majestic and miraculous mercy

          Noble new name (Revelation 2:17)

          Opportunities to obey my omnipotent Father

          Perfect peace and prevailing power of prayer

          Quietness and quickening of the soul

          Redeeming, righteous refuge

          Splendor of glorious salvation

          Tender truth and tenacious tolerance

          Unfailing understanding

          Victory through my victorious Lord

          Wealth of the wondrous Word of God

          eXalted expectation

          Yesterday, today, and forever He is the same

          Zion awaits!

Have a blesses rest of the week!

Cristina and I are working on our regular weekly story. I’m also helping my friend Anita in Sweden with materials for her Sunday school lessons. She is regularly invited to help out with the children in her church and I help her with pictures and Bible verses. One would think that there is more than enough materials in Sweden, but she likes my style. I’m glad to help her. She’s my Peruvian friend from youth who married a Swedish missionary. They’ve worked many years in northern Peru, an area that is now being very hard hit by the furies of El Niño.

Maybe the reason I was struggling hard last week with my “happiness” is because of all the reports that came in constantly about the situation. Somebody put my name in a group on Facebook so I got constant messages and pictures about the devastation. I’ve been to the area. In 2010 I held a seminar there for Sunday school teachers. Some people have still not been reached by any help because there is no access to them. Then there is the recent disaster in Colombia… South America is in my heart. When they hurt, I hurt!

The sad thing is that a lot of the devastation could have been prevented. There is proof that the bridges and other structures that were supposed to aid in situations like these were made with such bad construction materials that they collapsed. A lot of the money to be used in these constructions was pocketed for personal gain.  I just heard something in those lines on a Spanish news channel today.

We have a lot going on in our world these days. It’s only the beginning of what Jesus calls “birth pains.” You can read about it in Matthew 24. We look forward to new heavens and new earth.

While we’re still here we need to deal with the “birth pains” and help each other. We’re each responsible for our neighbors and need to ask, “What can I do?”

Thanks for hearing me out. I saw a man from Louisiana on the news yesterday. In a tornado that hit the area he lost his home, his wife and his child. “I’ve lost everything!” he said. That broke my heart!

If you’re reading this and have your home and your family, have a “Thank-you party” tonight. And pray for those who have lost everything. Maybe God will use you to answer your own prayers!

Again, wishing you blessings!

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The Brave Young Man Who Married Me

I’m thinking today of the brave young man who married me. In a month, what would have been our 48th anniversary is coming up.

I wrote yesterday about an April Fools’ joke I played on him. That was not the only one. There is a little bit of mischievous in me.

My mischievous side

I met Bengt in Sweden, at the end of November. In January, I had to go back to Peru. He came in April. We lived in Huancayo, a day’s drive away from the airport in Lima. My missionary friends Lennart and Boyan Lindgren offered to go with me to meet him. That’s when the mischievous side of me kicked in. I pretended they were my parents! He didn’t buy into it, because they looked too young. So, that joke didn’t work.

The more I think about him coming to Peru to marry someone very “unknown” to him, the braver I consider him. Bengt was born and raised in one city, his very beloved Karlskrona. He had no “adventurous” life before launching out on his missionary journey to Peru. There were so many new things for him to learn. To his family, he was a “fool.”

The language barrier

The language was a big barrier to overcome. But he had me to translate for him. And we got him a teacher. He had this old book from around 1920 with pictures for every word in all kinds of different areas. We would have big discussions because Bengt didn’t believe me when I sounded out and pronounced the words. “That doesn’t sound right!” he would say. To that I would always comment, “Who knows the language? You or I?” And he had to agree with me and pronounce the words like they should be, even if it didn’t make sense to him. But eventually he learned, not only to speak the language but also to write it.

The food was an issue

The food was another issue. He was used to his mother’s very plain diet. Meat and potatoes, with canned peas and carrots. Fish, since they lived by the sea. And yellow pea soup every Thursday, which was warmed up and served also on Friday. Then he comes to South America and our very diverse diet, inspired by Peruvian cuisine. By the way, Peru has been voted the World’s Leading Culinary Destination. For Bengt, it was too much to take in, but he didn’t want to hurt my feelings, so he would always say that the food was very “interesting.” It wasn’t until a year after his arrival that I discovered the meaning of “interesting!” He didn’t like it!

What he most definitely didn’t like were salads. Our entire life together I tried to entice him in different ways to have some greens. He would put some on his plate but at the end of the meal they were still on the plate! That was a lost cause!

The walks with the dog

We were both born in Sweden, but that was about it for compatibility. Mom said I complained to her that I had married a foreigner, because we were so different. How different I should have understood by all the walks with our little dog Bengt took. He told me that instead of venting his frustration on me he would take a walk with the dog. He took so many walks I decided to play a trick on him. I would hide so the house was empty when he got home, and then he would have to worry a little about me. Sure enough, I hid! But he was gone for such a long time I didn’t want to hide anymore. I never told him about it!

The devastating break-in

The day we had a break-in was no joke! To find that someone had rummaged through all our things was devastating. I felt especially vulnerable because they had violated our “sanctuary,” the bedroom. I don’t remember all the things they stole from us, but I still remember the awful feeling of wondering about every person I met, if that was the one that had broken into our house.

The invasion threat

We lived in a house provided by a Chinese friend—really two houses. A big one where my parents lived and a smaller one for Bengt and me. The houses lay by a big open space where there once had been a linen factory. The houses were on either side of the road leading to the now abandoned factory. I observed lots of people walking by and heard their arguments. They were going to do an invasion and take over the entire area. My parents were in Sweden at that time. I guess I communicated this to the owner. I also prayed about it. The answer from the Lord was Exodus 14:14, the verse that is the theme for my Royal Palm World Mission ministry.

“The Lord will fight for you;
you need only to be still.”

The “fight” had some devastating consequences, but not as bad as if we would have had the invasion. The owner went to the Police and offered them to keep their horses on the vacant property. We had gates going into the property of the houses and there were gates to the big open factory area. When the Police brought their horses, we had to make sure to keep the gates closed. We were not the only people living on the big property, and someone was careless. One morning we woke up to all the vegetation on our side of the property gone! Grass and flowers had all been feasted upon, but not only that. The people of the church had sown corn on a big open space we had, in hopes of raising money for the church-building we hoped to construct. All the corn was gone!

The Lord fought for us so we could stay in our place of living, but I guess it was up to us to make sure the horses were not given free access to our area.

Bengt and “Sí, sí”

Talking about free access, here is a story that makes no sense. Bengt was learning the language and did not want to show that he didn’t understand. “Sí” was a word he knew well (YES), and he used it for everything. Whatever someone said to him, he would answer “Sí, sí.”

The church members not only voted on the pastor sowing corn, they also voted that we should raise chickens to sell for restaurants who served grilled chicken, something that was very popular. We had a young man who lived on the property and took care of this chicken business. In a couple of rooms, built for that purpose, we were raising the little chicks. It was a complicated matter. What happened next was that one day I found the chicks running all over the place—on the road, in the garden, among the corn (the horses had not yet done their thing!). I immediately called on the young man and asked him why the chickens were running free. “I asked brother Bengt if I should let them out,” he said. Bengt had answered he usual, “Sí, sí.”

I told Bengt to NEVER answer “Sí, sí” without knowing what he was agreeing to. Now, imagine the job we had to round up all the chickens and get them back in the rooms designated for them. This chicken business did not last. Pastor Bengt was not called to raise chickens! He was raised in a coastal city, as a mommy’s boy, and had no clue about chickens, and less about corn and horses.

Everybody loved Bengt

Some other time I’ll have to tell you more about Bengt’s adventures. He did a good job as a missionary in the Andes of Peru. God made Bengt perfect for the job he had in mind for him. His personality fitted perfectly with the people. He was friendly and had no enemies. They loved him!

About his language studies… He relied on me to translate for him. He preached in Swedish with me at his side to give the Spanish translation, until… one day Dad said, “Enough!” There was to be no more translation!

Bengt, the sweet mommy’s boy who won everybody’s heart, got mad. He was not happy with Dad! But later, he was thankful. Now, Bengt had to sit down and write a sermon, translate it, read it for practice, understand the Spanish, and then deliver it.

About writing sermons, he knew that part. When he first started out as a preacher he would write a sermon and then memorize it. I can still hear in my mind the first lines of a sermon he repeated to me. (Säg mig, frågade den unga damen ivrigt predikanten, “Vad handlar egentligen Bibeln om?” Bibeln handlar helt om Jesus!) Tell me, the young lady eagerly asked the preacher, “What is the Bible really about?” The Bible is all about Jesus!

Ever since Bengt became a Christian in his early twenties, his life was all about Jesus. I’m honored to say that he left his “comfortable” life in Karlskrona to pursue the call of God on his life. He was brave to come to Peru and marry me.

Another day I’ll share some more memories.

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Don’t be Fooled

April Fools’ Day! I once played a very bad joke on my dear late husband. I cannot to this day understand how I could be so cruel to him. I guess it was my youth and inexperience that did it.

My husband was unemployed, in a season of his life when ministry opportunities were far from him. We were living in Villands Vånga, Sweden at the time. There was a church in a nearby town that had no pastor. I think he had even gone there a few times to preach. I cannot believe I could play such an awful joke on him. But I told him I had just found out that the church was going to call him as their pastor. Oh, the excitement on his face! And then the horrible letdown when I told him it was just an April Fools’ joke.

I was a fool to do that to him! I never again want to make one of those jokes. I guess, by now, I’m too old to be playing jokes!

April Fools’ Day! As I thought of that this morning the Holy Spirit brought to mind what the Word of God says about fools. King David wrote about it in two Psalms: 14 & 53.

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”

I can testify with 100% certainty that there is a God. After seven decades of a personal relationship with the Creator of the Universe, I cannot for one moment doubt his existence. He is a caring Father, a faithful Friend, a loving Savior.

How do I know God. Because I was introduced to him even from birth. I had the privilege to be born to Christian parents. I feel so grateful I don’t have words to express it.

Does that mean that my life has been a walk on a path of roses? Certainly not! Life is a struggle, like most of us can attest to. But to have a caring, faithful and loving Father to walk by your side makes all the difference.

Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name, you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
    and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. Isaiah 43:1-3 ESV

This is a promise that has held true over the years. I wish for no 0ne to be a “fool” and not acknowledge that there is a Supreme Being, a Creator and Sustainer of the Universe. Just think of the stars, the immensity of the galaxies.

Have you ever gazed into the skies, trying to count the stars? Astronomers, scientists who study the stars, say there are more stars in the universe than the sand on the seashore. There are between 100 and 200 sets of stars and planets called galaxies. In every galaxy there are hundreds of billions of stars.

Hear this amazing news. Each star has a name!

He determines the number of the stars;
he gives to all of them their names. Psalm 147:4

Another good news:

 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to
the ground apart from your Father.
But even the hairs of your head
are all numbered.
Matthew 10:29,30

Jesus said these words. I’m sure he wanted us to know how detailed God’s love and care is for us. No wonder King David wrote a song about how foolish it is to say that there is no God. Everything in the universe points to the Creator.

April Fools’ Day! Don’t be fooled. There are many things we don’t understand. And many people use this argument: “How can a loving God (a sad life experience) …?” God is an eternal being, HE IS… like he said his name is: “I AM.” If we understood everything we would be God! He sees things from the eternal perspective.

I just heard about somebody that was complaining  to God about a loved one who had passed away, seemingly too “early.” That was his opinion! God said to that person, “Why are you complaining? She is fine! She is resting!” That’s exactly how the Bible describes death, that we will be resting from our labor!

April Fools’ Day! Don’t be fooled into living as if this life was the only existence. There is an afterlife. There are two destinations. Jesus came to open the way to the Father. He IS the Way. No one comes to the Father, but by him.

On this April Fools’ Day, open your heart to the love of God. Nothing compares to living in fellowship with him.

April Fools’ Day! I’m not fooling you.

God is the best thing that can happen to you!

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Remembering my Precious Baby

Today, March 27, 47 years ago, my Baby came to the world. I became a mother! It was a dream come true! I wanted to be a mother!

This is one of my favorite pictures of her. She was so tiny and frail. As an inexperienced mother, I thought all babies were that way. Not until she was three years old did we find out the reason for all her problems. My precious Baby had cystic fibrosis.

We were missionaries in the Andes of Peru. Cystic fibrosis was nothing the doctors there had to deal with. Their “diagnosis” was pointed to me, that I was a bad mother and didn’t take good care of my precious jewel. When we went to Sweden for a year she was diagnosed, thanks to my sister Ingrid who at that time was studying to be a doctor. She wrote a referral to a hospital and she was tested and got a diagnosis. (I wasn’t such a bad mother!)

You can read about it here: The battle with cystic fibrosis

When I think of my Baby, Eva-Marie, the Apostle Paul’s words to the Romans comes to mind, about being patient in affliction. See Romans 12:12. Cystic fibrosis brings with it many “afflictions,” one of them I am dealing with now–diabetes. She was so patient!

Cystic fibrosis affects the lungs. The mucus gets hard and needs to be moved around. Eva-Marie had to learn to cough in set intervals to help with this. She also had to be pounded on her back, or vibrated with a machine, like this respiratory therapist is doing here. This is one of the many people who came to our home to assist with her care.

This therapist is Joan, and we have kept in touch ever since. I look forward to every Christmas to receiving a letter and a picture. Life has quickly moved on, and her children are now married. This picture was taken in 1993!

I’ve dressed up today. Maybe no one is going to see me, except Cristina in Peru when we work together through Skype. But I wanted this day to feel special. My Baby was promoted to her heavenly home on December 13, 2001. It’s been a lot of years without her. I sometimes let my mind wonder how it would have been if Eva-Marie were healthy, had been married and had children… But I had another Baby, and if you read my blogs you know about her and her children, who are the loves of my life.

A few years ago I wrote an ABC about Patience in Affliction. I found it in my files and it made me remember how patient Eva-Marie was in the midst of all the treatments and hospital visits and home health care and shots and dealings with diabetes and fibromialgia and asthma and Meiners and … the list goes on!

Here is a PDF file for you: ABC patient in affliction

May this day bring you the blessings you need in your life. Be “joyful in HOPE, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (Romans 12:12).

Make this a good day!

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If we could call Heaven

If we could call Heaven, I would call and wish Bengt Happy Birthday! Seventy-eight years ago, in Karlskrona, Sweden a little boy was born. That boy, one day, 48 years ago became my husband. In October it will be ten years since he left me.

Here is what a friend wrote me this week:

You must really miss Bengt at times.  I was just thinking of that kind old gentleman!  Life seems so unfair sometimes.  It would be nice if a lot of people who have passed were still around or we could just call them on the phone! Wouldn’t that be an interesting conversation?  “Bengt, how are you today, and how are things up in heaven?  What’s the weather like there?  And what did God have to say today?”  If only?

If only? Wouldn’t it be great if we could call Heaven?

But we have hope, the hope of meeting again.

Happy Birthday to the kindest man I’ve ever known. His motto, just as his mother had taught him, was to live peaceably with all.

Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Romans 12:16-18

I embarrassed him a few times, when I gave people a piece of my mind. Thankfully, I have calmed down over the years.

Happy Birthday to the man of peace. Too bad we can’t share some cake and coffee (I’d have tea). The memories of the “kind old gentleman,” like my friend said, will not fade.

If only we could call Heaven…

May we live in harmony and peace!

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Maranatha, Our Lord, Come!

All this past week my thoughts have been centered on Maranatha. When I lived in Peru, our greeting among the people at church used to be “God’s Peace!” In Sweden, a distinctive greeting among Pentecostal believers was “Frid,” which means Peace. There was no saying hello or hi or goodbye, but PEACE. If you greeted with “peace,” everyone knew where you were coming from.

In the early church they greeted each other with Maranatha, “Our Lord, come!” For every greeting they were reminded that the Lord is coming.

The apostle Paul used that greeting in his first letter to the Corinthians (16:22). Maranatha is a reminder of the glorious hope we have.

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. Titus 2:11-14

For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18

I consider this greeting –Maranatha– as one of the most glorious words of a Christian’s vocabulary. Paul wrote to the Thessalonians that they should encourage each other with the hope of Jesus’ return. The voice of an archangel and with the sound of the trumpet of God, that’s what we are waiting for. How exciting to think of being caught up in the clouds, leaving this old world to be always with our beloved Savior.

That is the blessed and glorious hope for the Christian. My heart rejoices but at the same time it cries for all those who do not have this hope. Jesus commissioned us to preach the Gospel. The apostle Paul said it in simple words: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). That is the answer to the age-old question, “What shall I do to be saved?”

Maranatha! If we look around us, we see that the signs that Jesus gave of the day of his coming are being fulfilled.

“And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains… But the one who endures to the end will be saved.”  Matthew 24:6-13

Let us be more diligent in praying for our loved ones who do not know Christ. Let’s pray for our friends, neighbors, and co-worker… May we be willing to be the means that God uses to attract them.

I wrote a story this week about waiting, about the promise of Jesus’ return. Share it with your children and grandchildren:

100 The Boy Who Knew How to Wait

Next time I hope to tell you of a big project I have for reaching out to my neighbors in Fort Gibson with the Gospel. Maybe I can inspire you to do something similar.

Maranatha! Our Blessed Hope!

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