by Laurel Hildebrandt ☺
It starts with a thought.
If you let it fester, it grows.
If you cut it off, it dies.
Keep your eyes on Jesus!
When I see Jesus I see myself more clearly.
Jesus can never be taken away from me. All else falls away but Jesus, God, the Holy Spirit and the Words of the Trinity of God can never fall away. He is forever!
He is my FOUNDATION!
I can trust Jesus because He will never fail, never leave me, and never be taken away.
My sole purpose is to LOVE GOD and GLORIFY GOD in all I do.
My secondary purpose comes out of my SOLE purpose – to do the good works that God has prepared for me to do in advance.
Did I show God’s love to those around me today?
That’s a successful day – regardless of the results.
All I need to do is LOVE.
The rest is up to God!
My self-esteem comes from God, not from work or good works.
The purpose is for God, not me.
I’m me and you are you.
I’m responsible for me.
I’m not responsible for you – I love you anyway.
I commit to moving forward to work and live in a new healthy way – totally dependent on God.
The Hope of Christ
First Advent talk Nov 30/2014 – given at my home church
Laurel Hildebrandt, MTSC, CCC
“Isaiah 9:1-7 “Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever. The land of Zebulan and Naphtali will be humbled, but there will be a time in the future when Galilee of the Gentiles, which lies along the road that runs between the Jordan and the sea, will be filled with glory.
The people who walk in darkness will see a great light.
For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine.
You will enlarge the nation of Israel, and its people will rejoice. They will rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest and like warriors dividing the plunder.
For you will break the yoke of slavery and lift the heavy burden from their shoulders. You will break the oppressor’s rod, just as you did when you destroyed the army of Midian. The boots of the warrior and the uniforms bloodstained by war will all be burned. They will be fuel for the fire.
For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!”.
I’ve been on the theme of redemption lately in my life and for the lives of others. I work in the trenches with people whose lives have been shaken for one reason or another, or whose lives have almost been destroyed so I am in the business of hope – working with those who have lost hope and offering them another chance to hope, even if it means taking my hope for just a bit until they can see some light at the end of their dark, lonely tunnel.
Hope is representative of the first advent as we wait for Christ, our Savior, to return to us a second time. As Isaiah says, we have God’s “passionate commitment” on that promise that He will make all things right and new! Back in the time when Jesus was born the people longed for their long awaited Savior to come and rescue them from the oppression of the Roman rulers. For those who believed that Jesus came down to earth as a baby it may have been a shock that He wasn’t going to storm the earth with war on the unjust and take it back by force. That isn’t who God is. God is a God of love and second chances. They saw a baby. For those who received this as from God, they received hope. Christ Jesus is hope.
Hebrews 11 says that “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen.” It is by faith that we know that Jesus Christ is our only hope, our only redemption. Jesus’ first coming was only the first part of the plan.
The plan was simple, yet the message was and seems to still be hard to receive. Jesus said, “Believe in me. Receive me and you will have eternal life.”
What people don’t seem to understand is that there are no strings attached the to the free gift of salvation! John 1 states that, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.”
The Word was with God in the original Greek language is saying that Jesus was there, face to face, with God, helping God create the world! Jesus has been a part of God’s plan since the beginning of time. Jesus knew that His part in saving us wayward children was to sacrifice – not just a small sacrifice – to sacrifice His all for us. Hope is representative of the complete and total redemption that is offered to all of us through Jesus Christ, our Saviour!
What does this mean? This means that when Jesus, who is one with God and He is God’s Son and is also the Creator of the world – when this Jesus died on the cross He literally took our place for every sin that we have ever committed or will commit AND He did that for all humankind past, present and future!! Our hope lies in the offer of redemption!
Phil 3:20-21 says, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.”
Phil 3 is a passage almost too wonderful to comprehend! My excitement comes because of the hope of the entire Scripture presented and in a small way summed up in Phil 3. You see, we have hope because of Jesus! We have hope because of Jesus death on the cross, Him descending into Hades and conquering Satan, taking back the keys to life and death, rising to life again, thus offering us hope for not just today – but for eternity – for forever!!!
If we believe and receive Jesus as our Lord and Savior it means that we are already citizens of heaven. This gives us hope because Jesus keeps taking our place in every sin that we have done, and every sin that has been done to us. If we let Him do that, then He bears the consequences of that sin on Himself. He is big enough for this – yet it helps me to choose to live in Christ more because living in Him is where our joy, strength and our hope comes from.
We have HOPE because we are already citizens of heaven.
WE have HOPE because we are one with Jesus Christ. He has decided that with the new covenant comes a new temple – and we are the temple that the Holy Spirit resides in.
WE have confident HOPE because all that counts is rightness with God – not worldly wealth and toys, not how many friends we have procured (although we do have friends when we love with the love of God) – rightness with God and one in Christ. He is in me and I am in Him. It is a relationship wherein as I get more on fire for God you see less of me and more of Him.
WE have HOPE because if Christ Jesus and I are one then it makes this race that we run do-able – for apart from Christ we cannot press on toward the goal and the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus as Phil 3:12-14 talks about.
As we remember the birth of Christ and prepare to celebrate His coming into our world for the first time, let’s also remember the hope that Christ brought into the world then. The fulfillment of His promises and prophecies throughout Scripture are happening everyday. The countdown to His second coming began immediately after His first coming. Let’s ride that hope and give it to others because it is through Christ Jesus that we are healed. His redemption, His taking our place in pain and suffering is already conquered. Take the hope that Jesus offers! Take the redemption that He offers! Let Jesus take your place and dance with you as He heals your pain. He’s that big and that powerful and that loving.
As we light the first advent candle let’s wait with an eager anticipation of celebrating the first coming of Jesus and eagerly anticipating the celebration of the Lord making all things right and good with His second coming.
Prayer: “Father God, thank you for sending Jesus to us to accomplish for us something that we could never have done on our own – giving us hope for a relationship with You, bridging that gap with His very life. Father, your kindness is beyond what we could ever hope or imagine, and you have proven over and over that your promises endure and come to pass. As we celebrate the advent season enable us to be caught up with an all-encompassing love for you so that you can love others through us. We love you Lord. Amen.”
Here is something that a very dear Daughter of the King of Kings has written…Enjoy!
“I suck at handling rejection. I sulk, pout, stomp my feet and do everything in my power to not accept it. I may be somewhat “dramatic” when I perceive a rejection flying my way – nonetheless you will see tears – and lot’s of them. You see, rejection always weighed heavy within me – it meant no value, no worth and no purpose. I avoided rejection by either avoiding life altogether or rejecting you first. It has always been a no-win situation. With time I‘m realizing that rejection is not on the same playing field as my worth, value or purpose. It is through letting go of the label “rejection” where I’m finding my identity as a Daughter of God.
Cherished women, we no longer have to bashfully stand in the weight of rejection. For it’s sometimes the one’s that are the most unseen and neglected humanity that are used the most for God’s Kingdom; never underestimate what God can do with a closed or broken opportunity. Women, instead of looking to our murky circumstances we can turn our eyes to the one who never leaves or forsakes us – for He is more than willing to fill the empty places where we should be left feeling alone and ashamed. As I’m writing to you, I’m writing to me! You are chosen, accepted and deeply loved by the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords – please let that sink in. Let it penetrate your hearts. No matter what the world has said or says about you, the word of God stands firm. And it is because of this revelation that we are able to stand up in whom we are created to be: a child of God.”
Redemption is a huge word with huge meaning. I’m pretty sure that the theme of redemption flows through all of my writings. Jesus’ theme is redemption through Him. I am constantly amazed at how He actually came down to earth, giving up huge amounts of glory that we can’t even comprehend, to give up His life, take on ALL of our sins and fight Satan. He actually descended into hell to take to do this fight and take back the keys to life and death. Jesus took our place of death and in return gives us life! What does this mean? Many things!!
The first thing that it means is that we can have salvation and eternal life through believing in Jesus as the Christ who came in the flesh to earth to live and die and rise again for us. That belief gives us eternal life with Him after we are released from our mortal bodies. That in and of itself is amazing!
Second, redemption by Jesus Christ means that He takes our place. In everything that we let Him…That means that Jesus will take our place in all the sins we have committed – bearing those consequences for us when we come to Him asking for forgiveness. It means that Jesus takes the place of all of those sins done to us as well – when we come to Him and let Him bear those consequences for us. In other words, the redemptive act of Jesus is ongoing in our lives as we let Jesus in to every part of our lives! He takes our place for all the sins we have done and all the sins done to us!
I think that’s amazing! Now all we have to do is remember that in everything and invite Him into every aspect of our lives. That’s when true healing happens.
Enjoy the redemption of Christ in your life. He loves it when you do. 🙂
I am borrowing a term from author Bryan Davis who has written the “Dragons in our Midst” and “Oracles of Fire” series. I particularly identify with the oracles of fire in the series. These people are those who speak the truth and lead others to the truth. In the series they can actually light on fire without being burned and light other things on fire – which actually burn. I believe the metaphor in real life is that when we are on fire for Christ, filled with His truth, we cannot help but be “burned” with the Holy Spirit’s power within us and we speak truth into people’s lives – which when done with gentleness, love and the ultimate timing of Christ Jesus, can then ignite a fire in them. This fire is all consuming and cannot be quenched because it is the fire of God within us which points the way for others to follow.
I want to share a quote from Bryan Davis’ book “From the Mouth of Elijah” in his newest series “Children of the Bard”. This piece is from page 327 of the book. It talks about the girl Lauren, who walked barefoot on hot lava because God was telling her to make a path. It burned her feet, peeled her skin, and then her feet healed and became able to withstand mass amounts of heat. Of course this is fiction, yet the metaphor is just simply too delightful to ignore.
“How do you feel?”
“Good.” Lauren lifted a foot and looked at the sole. The skin was fresh, pink, and unharmed. “It was terrible. I felt it burning and peeling my skin.”
“Yet you are healed.”
“But I wasn’t before. I burned. It hurt like crazy.” She lowered her foot and pointed at the trail of flesh and blood. “There’s proof.”
“Proof indeed. Undeniable proof.” As Joan’s eyelets blinked, soft blue light flowed like mist. “Lauren, this is the story of the Christ, the theme of life itself. We are of the light, so we sacrifice. We give of ourselves. We burn and let others bask in the warmth of our glow. Their joy brings us joy. Oracles of Fire burn in the flames of selfless service, and unlike the tree of life, our bodies are consumed. We suffer. We die. our physical lives are but seeds that fall to the ground and perish, but they sprout and grow to life eternal. And our new bodies?” Her light flashed brightly. “Oh, mon amie! Our new bodies are like the tree! We blossom and never wither. We burn but are never consumed. We lift up our fiery hands in praise to the king of all, Jesus the Christ! And the evidence of our sacrifice remains, bloody footprints that will never wash away, a path to guide other newly created oracles. For those who feel the fire burning within will need a guiding lamp. They will be afraid, because they will look around themselves and see that no one understands. Their friends and peers are following the idols of the world, lacking vision, blinded by selfish pleasures destined to perish. Seekers of the truth know there is a deeper walk, a holy calling, but unless they are able to see the trail that others have blazed, they will not know how to take those first painful, fiery steps, they walk of faith that cleanses the soul.”
I have heard many comments and complaints lately about God. Why does God allow bad things to happen? Am I being punished for some sin that I have committed? The conclusion to these questions from these dear wondering hearts is usually one of the following: He must not care about me or anyone else I love. He can’t stop things from happening. He could stop things from happening but He doesn’t because He likes to watch sadistically from on high. Perhaps He doesn’t exist at all and if He does exist He is not the loving God that we are taught about in Sunday School.
Take a look at Mark 14. Jesus has what is probably the worst 24 hours of His life. He is betrayed by His disciples who deny even knowing Him. See Mark 14:66-72 Peter denies Jesus as Jesus had prophesied and then realizing what he has done he breaks down and weeps. Are we denying Jesus when we say He doesn’t exist? Yes. Are we denying and betraying Him when we say false things against Him such as “he doesn’t love me, doesn’t care, can’t…” Yes. Yet Jesus loves us anyway. Even after all these betrayals, Jesus was still willing to die for us and do God’s will.
Look at Mark 14:36 “Abba,
Father,” he cried out, “everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
Jesus is in incredible anguish from His very soul. He cries out to God to take it away. He knows He will suffer greatly – more than anyone else ever can or will. You think your suffering is greater? Have you been whipped forty times so that you are almost dead? Maybe you have. Have you died nailed to a cross with people jeering and mocking you? Maybe someone you know has been killed in a very grotesque way. Have you taken the sins of the entire world, past, present and future on you and taken responsibility before God for these? Then descended to the depths of hell and fought Satan himself? Then taken back the power that was given to Satan at the fall of humankind back in the garden of Eden so that the only power Satan has is the power of the lie? Yes – the lie. The lies he tells you – that God can’t; God doesn’t exist; God doesn’t care. Those are lies from Satan because that’s the only power he has left – to deceive you.
So back to my questions. Have you done all those things that Jesus did for the entirety of humankind? And then to top it off, Jesus came back from the dead. Have you done all those things and suffered that much? I know that I haven’t. I suffer from debilitating and chronic headaches and pain. I have anaphalactic reactions to things all the time. I have had people reject and betray me – those whom you’d think would never do such a thing; those whom I was closest to. Yet I think Jesus trumps all of that.
You see, just as Jesus prayed to God we must pray. “Your will be done.” There is a purpose in all things my friend. We don’t know the purpose but God does. And in all things God makes it all good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.
Moral of the story? Trust God even when the lies are being whispered in your ears and mind and heart. Know the truth that God loves you no matter what. That Jesus died for you and ALL of humankind. That Jesus fought Satan and rose again. Because He loves us. Simple. Just believe and our loving and gracious Father God will take care of the rest because He is God. Let’s let God be God and stop trying to play God ourselves. And while we’re at it, let’s stop believing the crap that Satan throws our way – those lies – all of them – need to be thrown by the power of God back at Satan for good.
I’ve got my bat to hit those lies back to Satan in the power and the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. How about you?
The path was daunting. The road looked rough. The rocks in the way were boulders. The forest grew thick with dense vegetation. The child looked at it with determination. Excitement danced in her clear blue eyes. It all spelled adventure to her. She looked at the tools given to her by Him. A helmet, placed firmly on her head. A belt made of the finest leather to hold up her roughly sewn leather pants that fit perfectly and moved with her. A breastplate made of the toughest bronze that nothing could pierce. A sword glittered at her side, hanging from her belt. She pulled it out just to gaze at it. Sharpened just that morning, moments before, she could see the smooth edges glinting in the bright sunlight. Her feet wore the finest shoes ever made, fitted and perfect for hiking through this vast wilderness. She nodded and smiled at her companion, giggling when he nodded, smiled and winked back at her with a bow and a gracious hand extended towards her. She curtsied back to him in exaggerated style, gladly placing her small white hand in His massive strong one.
“This is not a small task I have given you child,” He said as they began.
“I know, my King. I am honoured to be chosen.”
“I will never leave you child. I am here all the way. Even when you cannot see me, feel me, or hear me, know that I am here.”
“Oh yes, my King,” came the excited reply. The words echoed through her mind almost absently. She thought nothing would ever stop her love for Him, nor her being able to hear Him and know He was there with her.
He grinned down at her. Her tiny figure beside His large one was almost comical. “Come. I will lead you child,” He said with an amazing energy, yet His voice so gentle in her ears was like a beautiful song cascading through her mind.
Excitedly she stepped with Him, keeping pace only because He slowed down for her. Stopping as they reached such dense bushes that they could no longer go on, He instructed her to take out her sword. Smiling with anticipation she drew it from her belt with great prowess. She had been training with Him in sword fighting and loved every minute of it. It was like a beautiful dance to her. To be able to use her beautiful sword in actual combat shot adrenaline through her body. “Now what?” she asked, looking around for an enemy to conquer.
He laughed in a good natured way. He loved her naivety. “Use it child,” He answered gently. “We have to go through this way.”
She gazed at the density of the brush, the thick vegetation, the massive branches that He was indicating, then looked back at Him incredulous. “But I can’t! I’m too little!”
“I am strong child.”
She looked at Him, at the bush, at her sword, then back at Him. “Oh,” she said slowly, not really understanding what He meant. Raising her sword she began to chop away the density of the brush. Hours passed before her enthusiasm waned. She sat on the ground in consternation, sweat dripping from her brow. Her helmet lay a few feet away. Her sword lay limply on her lap.
The king gazed at her lovingly. The path she cut was actually only a few feet. He knew she was exhausted, looking for Him, and already not seeing. “Just ask, child,” He whispered.
Her head jerked up at the sound of His voice. What had He said? He would never leave her even if she felt like He had? Her tired thoughts ran together in a myriad of growing confusion. Through force of habit the child reached for her helmet. Shoving it back on her head she jerked her head up in the same moment as understanding became clear.
“My King!” she called.
Instantly she saw Him beside her. Instantly he touched her, refreshed her. He gently lifted her small body onto His lap. Lifting His flask to her lips she drank greedily from it, instantly refreshed by His loving care. “My King,” she said, “I cannot do it without you. How?”
“Oh my child! I though you would never ask. I am here to help you. My love is my essence. Let me fill you. I in you and you in me. My banner over you is love. Together, we level the road. My love is the leveller. Come, I’ll show you.”
Understanding slowly seeped into her brain. “Yes, Lord. Fill me. I in You. You in me. There is no other way.”
The child felt herself give her very will over to her King. Her body disappeared into the body of the King. A giggle came from her as the sensation tickled. She gasped as love filled her to the brim. If He had not been her stronghold she would have fallen over with the sheer force of His love. The King faced the tiny beginning the girl had made, already growing back. He walked through the dense brush, sword raised. She looked behind to see a beautiful path, levelled and glowing with the glory of the King. Relaxing in His love, she smiled contentedly.
“My love clears a way through the wilderness. My love makes a straight highway through the wasteland. My love fills in the valleys and levels the mountains and the hills, straightens the curves and smooths out the rough places. My love will let my glory be revealed. Be filled with my Love!” paraphrased from Isaiah 40:1-5
Mom Friesen’s Story
Memories dance through my head as I watch my Mom lie helpless on the hospital bed. This woman, a few days ago still sassy with comments, now weakened so much by a monstrous disease called cancer. Ever gracious, she forces her eyes open and looks at me with love in her eyes. Those hazel eyes still dance with a bit of mischief. That wonderful sparkle, though fading slightly, is still there. She reaches for me and gives me a hug. Unbidden tears well down my cheeks and fall softly on her now bony shoulder and the hospital pillow beneath her tired head. Even in her pain, her breathing labored, she whispers my name over and over, “Laurel, Laurel, it’s okay,” as she weakly rubs her hand on my shoulder.
Tears come unchecked now, pouring down my face like a water facet that cannot be turned off. I nod my head and burrow deeper in her weak embrace. “I know Mom. I’ll be okay. Jesus has us all.” But I’ll miss you Mom. I’ll miss you more than you will know. I know, because I miss you already.
I flash back to walking through the park together. I hold my big dog’s leash – Sabrina. We are talking, laughing, and sharing life together. This time she is concerned for my health. Another time my finances. “Are people paying you Laurel? You know that you are worth a lot and people need to pay for your services. You are ministering and sharing the gifts that God has given you.”
“I’m okay Mom. God provides. Yes, I’m working on trying to ask people to remember to pay me.”
She nods and continues on her rant to be sure that I understand the importance of what she is saying. Then talk turns to God – what she heard that morning on TV, or in church, or simply what God is teaching her. She talks of churches Mom and Dad have travelled to and ministered in. She laughs about past events and the silly things that the grandkids have done. She shares her life with me. She tells me stories from her past. And I gain more than a mother. Through those daily walks going briskly through the park together, I gain a best friend. Who could be so blessed?
When I was a child Mom was always there. She was never short on words and never afraid to show her emotions, yet sensible. One always knew where you stood with my Mom. Her kind heart extended to all around her, especially her family. Long road trips were the norm in our family. Mom and Dad wanted us to know our cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents. The road trips brought us closer together in a very real, physical way. One road trip was the first one to BC. I lasted 15 minutes in the front seat between Mom and Dad before I was sent to the back seat because I thought for sure we would go over the edge! Yet they were always patient with me.
I picture Mom sitting in the bleachers there for most of my volleyball and basketball games. Any sport I did, or my siblings did, she was there. There were many times when I got injured and Mom was always the first one there. She must have been very fast! There were countless times of injury for me – getting bucked off a horse; falling off a horse; spraining my ankle on the basketball court; and each time I have a picture of Mom sprinting out to me. The love she has for us all is so evident. When our dog Sport fell in the river and couldn’t get out, Mom was down on her belly pulling him out. Mom taught us how to dance in the house when dancing was forbidden in the church. Mom pushed the limits and taught us how to live life to the fullest as she did. She maintained her youthfulness because of it. We had many comments in the park about how we could go so fast because we were young. Mom was already well into her seventies when she received those words. Always she received them with a mischievous, yet gracious smile. “I guess they don’t know I’m probably older than them,” she would whisper to me as we shared a laugh. When shopping she would complain that the pants were too short on her midriff. I would whisper to the clerks, “She’s past seventy you know – find her some higher cut pants,” always met with pure shock. She was allowed to be picky and not afraid to voice her opinion.
Mom was real and sincere. There was always more food for whoever showed up. Somehow the soup never tasted watered down and the food stretched and still tasted good. Her flower garden always looked amazing, and the vegetables always grew for her. She loved to point out what each flower was called either wild or domestic. She carried on the tradition from her Dad of knowing the stars constellations by name and pointing them out in the sky. My horse is the only one who didn’t like her because she only came out to the barn when I got hurt or when my horse needed a needle! Of course even my horse seemed to know when she wasn’t holding a needle and Mom would get a snuggle. I still have not figured out how she let me go riding by myself for hours without really knowing where I was. She must have had an amazing trust in our Father God to protect me and my siblings on our escapades.
There were times when Mom would lose her cool too. I remember her getting so mad at me once that she pulled off her shoe to give me a swat. I didn’t think I had done anything to deserve such a thing so I took off, ran through the bush in my bare feet with Mom in hot pursuit. I climbed a tree until she calmed down and Dad got home. I recall being in that tree for awhile! I did avoid the swat on the behind that I probably deserved for being cheeky or some other such atrocity.
My mind rivets back to the present. Mom is still in the hospital bed and the facet of tears has not turned off. She is comforting me as she waits to walk through the amazing gates of heaven. She is ready to go and meet her Lord and Savior, yet knows how hard it is for us to let her go. I have an amazing Mom. “I love you so much Mom.” “I love you so much too Laurel” she tries to whisper. She doesn’t really have the strength to talk. Her pulse rate is now up past 116 beats per minute. This weak person lying here is the body she has now. I praise God that she gets a new body because this one is done. I gaze at her lovely face as tears still pour down my cheeks. I am blessed because of her. She has given me physical life, and shown me how to live life amidst the sorrows and pains with joy in spite of strife – or maybe to spite the strife. She has walked the path with me. And now I release her to Jesus so that I can one day walk with her again in our heavenly home. I love you Mom. Enjoy the banquet prepared and ready for you. Some day you will be there to welcome me when my time comes to go to Eternity.
Always and forever your daughter, friend and sister in Christ,
My Mom went home to be with her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, on August 19, 2011. I miss her like crazy and look forward to the day when we will all be together again, walking the sweetest paths ever grown and constructed, in heaven. Her life was a living testimony to the goodness and authenticity of Jesus. Before she died, she lay in the hospital bed and said, “Laurel, tell me more about heaven.” I told her how we would walk streets of gold, how the river of life flowed from the throne of God and brings healing, how there is no crying there and no pain; how maybe we’ll all get to fly! I told her that Jesus was preparing a banquet for her and He was so excited to see her because the party was all planned and it was going to be magnificent! I told her much more than I remember for she kept asking me the same question, “Laurel, tell me more about heaven.” I didn’t tell her that before she died Jesus had given me a picture of Him standing behind her chair at the already prepared banquet table set just for her. Jesus face was one huge smile as He waited for my Mom to come and join as the honoured guest. I couldn’t tell her how after she died I asked Jesus if He could please show me where she was. The picture that came to my head was one of my Mother, very young and beautiful, being escorted to the seat of honour at that very table. Now, I get glimpses of pictures of her with Jesus in the flower garden that she loves to plant. Whether these pictures are real or not I do not question, I just thank God for the comfort they bring to me. May you all choose to trust and believe in Jesus so that we all can meet some day in heaven and party together there! The path is narrow, yet it is open to all.
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6
He also died so that we could come to God the Father through Him! John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believed in Him would not perish but have everlasting life.” What greater love is there than that?!
I choose Jesus Christ and life. How about you?
In the grip of Christ and with all my love,
I am very excited to announce that my new co-authored children’s book is now for sale on line! It’s entitled “The Shadow People”. Please press on the link to view it and if you wish, you can order it on line through that same link! Many blessings to you as you read and remember to choose to “live in the light of God’s Son” to avoid the shadows!! The official release date is August 2, 2011.
Ephesians 2:4-5 “But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgression – it is by grace you have been saved.”
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Story…by Laurel Hildebrandt…
Squinting through the black and blue slits that once were beautiful eyes she surveyed her surroundings. She was up to her ankles in slimy muck. She could just make out the heavy metal anklets clamped around her ankles so tight that blood oozed out from the sores they were creating. Attached to the anklet torture were heavy chains which snaked along to the wall. Her wrists were similarly bound to the wall. All she could move was her eyes and her head – but just barely. She squeezed her eyes shut to ward off the images of torture and death all around her. People everywhere were caught and trapped similar to her. It was a slow, painful, agonizing death. Even closing her eyes she could still see the wounds, open and gaping on her skin. Closing her eyes tighter did not block out the awful smell rising from her own rotting flesh. Oh God, she thought. I’m sorry. I see now. Please save me!
“Open your eyes child,” said a gentle voice.
Shocked to hear anything at all besides her own groans her eyes flew open. Gazing through the swollen slits again she thought she could make out the hazy figure of a man. Or was it an angel? It was really hard to tell through the eyes that just did not seem to work anymore. Her mouth tried to open but no words would come through her parched throat and lips. Oh God, she thought again. Is this some sort of joke?
“No joke,” came the voice again, as if it had read her mind. “I’m here to get you out of here.”
She stared at him in complete and utter disbelief. Her mind flew into action. Could it be? Could it really be … God?
“Yes,” said the author of the voice. “It is me. I’ve come to save you. Are you ready to go? Will you come with me?”
Her mouth tried to curve into a cynical smile, but her lips were so chapped they just cracked and began to bleed. God, she thought. Really? I can’t believe it. Who does this fool think he is…but wait… The girl’s eyes popped open wider. There was definitely someone strong, and gentle looking standing in front of her. No chains on him. In fact he wasn’t even sinking into the muck. He seemed to be floating on top of it. This was weird. The girl sighed. Squeezing her eyes shut again she tried to calm herself. In spite of herself she thought, “Lord, if it’s truly you, please break these chains.”
Hardly able to hope anymore she squeezed her eyes shut very tight. Even if it was God, why would He want to help her? Hadn’t she rejected Him over and over? Hadn’t she hurt Him over and over by doing things she knew that He wouldn’t approve of? And because of those things she was led deeper and deeper into this prison, not even knowing she was being led to a dungeon. She had not even realized the chains were on her, cutting into her, holding her down, until recently. And then she had wept bitter tears. Yet was this Christ? Did He really come to rescue her from this awful place of torment?
“My child,” the girl heard. “I have never left you. I have been here with you all along. You just couldn’t see me until you were ready to. I promised to never leave you. I haven’t. Nothing can separate you from me and my love for you.”
Suddenly she felt her whole body fall forward, away from the wall, away from the chains. Unable to catch herself and too weak to try, she fell. He caught her in gentle arms.
“Don’t worry child. I’ve got you. The chains are broken. Would you like to leave this place now?”
Still unable to talk the girl simply nodded. Jesus, still cradling her in His strong arms, walked on top of the mud, with enemy guards standing stock still at His presence and not interrupting her get away. As He climbed the last stair with her in His arms He turned and said quietly, yet sternly, “Be gone.” The girl gasped as all the enemies and the dungeon vanished.
“Are you ready to go to your safe spot that I have prepared for you?”
Nodding again she smiled, then stopped as her dry lips bled some more.
“No worries child. I have chap stick,” Jesus said and proceeded to touch her lips with a balm she had not ever seen. Instantly her lips were healed. Looking around her she noticed that her surroundings had changed. There was a waterfall flowing down into beautiful, clear water. There was green grass surrounding the river and a large tree, similar to a weeping willow tree, yet different, hanging down into the river. Jesus, still holding her, walked right into the water. Surprised, the girl held her breath.
“You don’t have to hold your breath in this water. Breathe it in child. Let it fill you and heal you on the inside and the out!”
She shook her head no and kept her breath in. After awhile her face turned blue and she let out her breath while at the same time breathing in the water. It was sweet. The water rushed through her in swirls and tickles. She felt its power surge through her body and heal all her wounds. The girl drank thirstily of the water that held pure truth and was filled. The girl smiled. “How silly I am for not trusting someone who just got me out of that dungeon!” she thought.
“Silly indeed,” said Jesus as He laughed a great belly laugh. He then kissed her cheek and said, “But oh how I love you anyway!”
As they rose from the water Jesus led her to the grassy hillside. From behind the tree He pulled out a white blanket and spread it on the ground. Then He said, “Look,” and turned her toward the tree. She gasped as she turned to look into a full length mirror that had somehow materialized on the tree.
“What am I looking at?” she asked, her throat and lips seemingly not parched anymore. “All I see is that beautiful woman! She is perfect and flawless and wearing the most beautiful white, beaded gown I have ever seen! The crown on her head is exquisite with all those beaded jewels on it. Her hair is so long and silky. She has eyes like yours Jesus. Wow! Who is she Jesus?” the girl asked thinking that she was looking at a portrait instead of a mirror.
Jesus threw back His head in a joyous laugh. Looking deeply into the girls eyes He said, “You are looking at you. For I have saved you. You were dead in your sins, and I have made you alive in me. By my grace you have been saved.”
Nothing can separate us from the love of God! Rom 8:35ff
Romans 8:35ff “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine,, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”