In My Seat

Today, September 11th, 2017, I woke up as usual, but my thoughts focused elsewhere.

Those horrible images of the terrorist attacks in the United States came flooding back.

The tears still come to my eyes.

Has it really been sixteen years?

9/11 attacks

*Photo by Robert on Flickr [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

In My Seat – a film that brings perspective

If you have just 15 minutes today, please watch the following video.

It’s a film about 9/11 from the perspective of American Airlines First Officer, Steve Scheibner. 

Scheibner was scheduled to pilot American Airlines Flight 11, but he was later replaced by a more senior pilot.

Can you even imagine?

Flight 11 was one of the hijacked planes which flew into the World Trade Center.

Scheibner spoke at our church recently. His words were unforgettable.

We Have A Purpose

With so many alarming things going on in our nation, and in the world right now, “In My Seat” puts things into perspective.

As he says in the film, Steve Scheibner lives his life with a “sense of urgency.”

I agree with him wholeheartedly.

Shouldn’t we all be living that same way?

The fact that we are even walking around today is a privilege.

We are created to glorify God.

Sadly, there are people in the world who won’t accept this truth.

They are oblivious.

Or, they are defiantly ignoring the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made on the Cross for all of our sins.

In My Seat

Heavenly Father, on this somber day of remembrance for 9/11,

we are in mourning again for those who lost their lives on that day.

May we never forget that, to You, every life is precious.

May we also never forget that, although we deserve eternal death,

You allowed Your only Son, Jesus Christ, to die in our place for our sins.

Father, give us the urgency to spread the good news of the Gospel.

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*Photo by Robert on Flickr, 11 September 2001. North face south tower after plane strike 9/11  [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Created 11 September 2001.

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The Hands And Feet Of Jesus

Walking Examples of Grace and Mercy

I hope you all had a blessed Labor Day.

It certainly was newsworthy.

Flooding in South Texas

*Photo by Staff Sgt. Daniel J. Martinez. Port Arthur, Texas, August 31, 2017. U.S. Air National Guard.

The devastating pictures of Hurricane Harvey’s path of destruction in South Texas, plus the threat of two new storms, Irma and Jose, has a lot of people on edge.

It’s understandable to ask God “Why?” and “When are things going to calm down?”

I wish we had all the answers right now, but life doesn’t work that way.

The Hands And Feet Of Jesus

Thank You, Jesus, for what we DO know.

hands and feet of Jesus

Guaranteed, in the midst of this tragedy, His light is seen in the darkness. I’ve seen it with my own two eyes.

  • A big thank you to the dear people from all over the country who are donating money and supplies.
  • Thank you to the convoys of trucks, cars pulling u-hauls, and boats headed to the flood zones with food and necessities. (A shout out to the Louisiana Cajun Navy. I’d never heard of them before, but I’m now a big fan.)
  • Thank you to the emergency responders working non-stop and putting the lives of others above their own.
  • Thank you also to the churches and individuals who prayed and are continuing to pray for the relief efforts.

If any of these bullet points describe you (and I bet one of them does), you are not just a bullet point.

In these instances, you are acting as the hands and feet of Jesus. One of the best ways to delight in God is to serve others. Your selfless actions do not go unnoticed. The following verses from the Apostle Peter were written to encourage Christians of that time to use their gifts for serving others. Peter’s message also rings true for us today.

**10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 4:10, English Standard Version (ESV).

Glorifying God, Despite the Odds

Sharing the love of Christ to those in need glorifies God.

But, how can we glorify God when we are the ones who are suffering and in need?

The hands and feet of Jesus serving others

Share the love of Christ with those in need

Fear about our circumstances is emotionally painful, and we don’t understand why it’s happening to us.

Someday we will know, but in the meantime, blaming God is never the answer.

It may be hard to grasp this, but suffering refines us into a deeper fellowship with Jesus Christ.

Jesus, who suffered more than any human being on earth, understands our pain.

As you pray, ask for His comfort, strength, and peace.

As you walk with Him through your difficulty, no matter how long your emotional or physical pain lasts, you will have a testimony building of His grace.

I believe Nick Vujicic is an excellent example of this. Nick was born without arms or legs. And we think we have difficulties?

Instead of giving up and blaming God, Nick uses his challenges to magnify God’s purpose for his life.

Look Around

Whatever you are experiencing, you don’t have to go through it alone.

Please don’t let your suffering and self-doubts swallow you up inside.

Pray your own prayers to God, ask Him for His mercy and guidance going forward, and reach out to your Christian friends for support.

Support and love from those acting as the hands and feet of Jesus can be a lifeline as we wait for His glorious return.

Jesus is our only Hope.

God bless

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*South Texas flooding photo, courtesy of SC National Guard (170831-Z-AH923-081) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo by Staff Sgt. Daniel J. Martinez.
**Scripture quotation is from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2016 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
***Video clip, courtesy of “Heart of the Artist.” Uploaded by Storytelling Pictures. Published Friday, April 12, 2013. Online video clip. Vimeo. Retrieved from https://vimeo.com/63902097. Web.

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Catastrophic Flood In Houston

Catastrophic Flood in Houston And Surrounding Areas

Have you seen the pictures and videos of the horrible flooding in Southeast Texas?

My heart breaks for the residents of Houston, Beaumont, Rockport, and surrounding areas along the Texas coastline.

Catastrophic flood in Houston

*Photo credit, NOAA/NESTA

As you may already know, Hurricane Harvey, once a category 4, eventually became a tropical storm.

The storm continued to move along at a snail’s pace, all the while dumping record amounts of rain on Houston, Port Aransas, and surrounding areas. You’d think and hope it’s over, but it isn’t.

Our neighbors to the south are picking up the pieces of their lives. Livestock, family pets stranded – the list is endless of those in need.

They all desperately need our prayers, as do the first responders, emergency personnel, and volunteers headed to the flood zones.

Waters Rising Higher

After church last Sunday, my husband and I ate with some friends at a local restaurant here in North Texas. While we were eating, it started pouring buckets and buckets of rain.

The rainfall lasted about an hour, but then it was over and the sun came out. I couldn’t help thinking about how, if we had lived in Houston right now, the flooding would seem like its never going to end.

I saw one estimate from the weather prediction center that, as of Tuesday morning, August 29th, Houston had over 25 inches of rain. This is a crowded metropolis with a huge population. **Four major bayous pass through the city. Not a good combination.

rainfall totals

I can’t emphasize enough, it’s not just the residents of Houston taking the brunt of the storm. For instance, ***the Cedar Bayou area had over 48 inches of rain.

There’s an estimate from the weather service that rainfall totals could reach 50 inches in some places.

Fifty inches? Oh my word.

It must be some comfort to the flood victims to see the many volunteers from all over the country pitching in. Texas Governor Greg Abbott was on top of the situation from the very beginning. We are very grateful for his leadership.

God Is There

While some in the mainstream media seek to lay blame, what I’m encouraged by is the epitome of the American spirit on display. People are pitching in, donating money and supplies, and arriving in watercraft to help the stranded.

God is there in the midst of the flooding.

He is there in the spirit of these American heroes who are putting the lives of others above their own.

Houston and surrounding areas, we are praying for you!

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, NASB.

For those of you who would like to donate to the relief efforts, I would be remiss if I didn’t list two links to reputable online giving opportunities:

Samaritans Purse

Texas Baptist Men

God bless.

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*Hurricane Harvey photo courtesy of NOAA/NESTA. Released into public domain. (Uploaded 2017, August). [originally uploaded in NESTA]. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs398/en/

**Wikipedia statistics,courtesy of Wikipedia contributors, “Houston,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Houston&oldid=797881601 (accessed August 29, 2017).               

***Rainfall statistics retrieved from http://www.wpc.ncep.noaa.gov/discussions/nfdscc1.html  

****Scripture quotation is from New American Standard Bible (NASB) Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation.

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A Solar Eclipse And The Son

A Solar Eclipse

Did anything big happen this week?

Just kidding.

You and I both know that millions of people watched the solar eclipse as it traversed across North America.

What a stunning sight it was!

A solar eclipse and the Son

We were on vacation at the time visiting family and dear friends in Santa Barbara, California.

While we weren’t in the direct path of the total eclipse, we were delighted to watch the eclipse live online.

No solar glasses required. 😉

As we watched, I couldn’t help but think how amazing and powerful God is.

The moon, the sun, and the stars all answer to Him.

How could we not delight in God?

*O Lord, our Lord,
How majestic is Your name in all the earth,
Who have displayed Your splendor above the heavens! – Psalm 8:1, NASB.

A Solar Eclipse And The Son

While the majority of world attention was on the sun, I was thinking about the Son who gave His life for you and me.

I wanted to share this lovely poem with you from a fellow faith writer on the FaithWriters website.

It’s called “Eclipse.” I hope you enjoy.

Eclipse

by Margaret Kearley

A morning dusk descends,
A new day early ends
As if prepared for fall of night
And passing of the day’s daylight.
Her shroud to day, night lends
As morning dusk descends.

Birds still their morning song
Their clocks disturbed – and gone
Their daily greeting – in its place
A stillness falls upon the face
Of day, and night seems long
As birds desert their song.

Brief minutes pass – the sun
Resumes her day-route run.
Increasing brightness from her rays
Dispels the misplaced dusk-like phase
And the eclipse is done.
Welcome! Bright Morning Sun!

When dusk and night descend
Upon my soul – My Friend,
My Saviour, Lover of my heart,
Walks close beside me, through the dark
Until the night-time ends
And His Pure Light descends.

Source: www.FaithWriters.com.
Read more articles by Margaret Kearley

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*Scripture quotation taken from the NASB, The New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

 

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The Elephant In The Room

The Elephant In The Room

Ask for help

Do you know someone who is struggling with severe depression?

Have they reached out to you for help?

If they’re open to sharing their private struggles with you, praise God for that positive step.

On the other hand, a severely depressed person who won’t open up may be in a lot more emotional trouble than you might think.

despair and no hope

Close to *800,000 people die every year due to suicide, that’s according to statistics from the World Health Organization.

What’s just as heartbreaking is that the number of suicide “attempts” is even higher.

At those alarming rates, I’m pretty sure it hits close to home.

It’s the elephant in the room. That empty seat in the dining room is a painful reminder of a precious life tragically lost.

Overwhelming Despair

Why are some people crippled by their severe depression while others can learn to manage their illness and live a productive life?

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a celebrity or homeless, an office worker, or a WWII veteran.

Christian or non-Christian – feelings of depression do not discriminate. 

One thing is for certain, these consuming emotions aren’t coming from God, although He allows them.

They reek of the Enemy (of our souls) who ultimately wants to destroy us.

We Need Each Other

There’s a world of hate and division brewing which is stirred up by the media and other groups.

I hope you can turn it off.

Mercy and grace come from God alone.

Can we please quit fighting?

As Christians, we are needed elsewhere.

Our depressed loved ones deserve our prayers, attention, and compassion. 

Why compassion?

If someone is struggling with thoughts of taking their own life they often feel guilty or embarrassed. It’s sad that there’s a stigma in society that says if you’re in need of help or counseling, you’re messed up beyond repair. That needs to stop.

We need each other.

we need each other

These are just a few of the issues covered in the new film from Living Waters called “Exit: The Appeal of Suicide.” As a Christian blogger, I was very interested in seeing it before the movie’s mass release on YouTube.

However, I must issue a caution. Viewer discretion is advised as some may find the subject matter too intense.

Cries For Help

Writing this article about the “Exit” movie brought back some memories for me of a former coworker who took her life. It happened years after I left that job, but I remember how shocking it was when I got the news. I’d gone to dinner with her (name withheld) and a few other friends a couple of times. I never even had a clue that she was struggling so much internally.

It’s heartbreaking. A life, precious in God’s sight, ended all too soon.

When someone commits suicide, they take the heart of their loved ones with them. I can only imagine the overwhelming grief her best friends and family went through as they prepared for her funeral.

A Timeless Struggle

Depression is not anything new. Reading through some of the Psalms in the Bible, for instance, you can picture King David’s emotional battle as he pleads for God’s mercy and forgiveness, yet he also praises God for the peace that only He provides.

Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have given me relief when I was in distress. Be gracious to me and hear my prayer! – **Psalm 4:1, English Standard Version, ESV.

Someone I greatly admire is Joni Eareckson Tada. She’s a Christian author, speaker, and also a talented artist among other involvements.

Joni was paralyzed in a diving accident right after high school and has lived as a quadriplegic ever since. To hear her speak, she knows full well the strongholds of depression and self-doubt firsthand. Through many years of painful struggles, including a bout with breast cancer, Joni remains an inspiration and a great example of courage and grace under fire.

The movie, “Exit: The Appeal of Suicide” is available for free starting August 16th on YouTube.

If you know of someone who is struggling with debilitating depression and you are concerned for their safety, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number is: 1-800-273-8255.

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*Statistics courtesy of World Health Organization. (Updated 2017, March). Suicide Fact Sheet. [Media Centre article]. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs398/en/
**Scripture quotation is from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2016 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
***Joni Eareckson Tada quotation, courtesy of “Joni Eareckson Tada Shares Her Story.” Published January 28, 2014. Online video clip. YouTube. Web.

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