Sunday, December 26, 2010

You're worthy

Bad. Yeah, that was me. And knowing that, I knew I wasn't worthy to receive God's gift. I am a sinner. I've done things I am not proud of.  I've behaved badly. I've thought horrible thoughts. I've been selfish, self-centered, evil, filthy, corrupt, and didn't care what anyone thought. I've lied, even cheated, and heavens knows all the things I've done. But God was patient and loving to not give up on me. Let me back up to when I was a youngster. I was privileged and blessed with two of the sweetest, gentlest grandmothers.  Whenever I was with either of them on a Sunday, it was a given we'd be going to church. Back then, I didn't know too much about religion,Christianity, and such, but I watched my grandmothers. They were solid and true, and I thank God for them, bless their souls. One was in the country and one was in the city and when I think of her I think of her playing the organ.

As a child I enjoyed listening to my grandmother play the organ

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 Mom made sure us kids were in church on Sunday mornings, too. So I had an introduction to hearing the Word of God, and most of the time I don't think I got a single thing out of those Sunday sermons. To me sermons were always too long and boring, but I was there mostly doodling on paper and standing when it was time to stand, and sing when it was time to sing from the hymnal. Sunday school was better, because got to do something artsy, and move about or take part in discussion or something besides sit and hear a boring sermon.  I did have one Sunday school teacher whom I loved and enjoyed being in her class so much, that I didn't want to advance to the next class and leave her. It was in her class I learned the names of all 66 books of the Bible. I remember that being a major accomplishment. When you're a kid, 66 of anything is a lot.  All this was the foundation of what was to happen later.

Jesus- the solid foundation of Christianity

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I joined the Marine Corps. I distinctly remember a fellow Marine, just an acquaintance, come up to me and tell me that I needed to get saved. I thought it odd that he would tell me that at that time. I knew he was right, but I wasn't ready. I don't think I wanted to make that decision right then, because I was busy enjoying my independence and having fun on the weekends with the guys, and actually having the time of my life.  But what he told me remained in the back of my mind for a long time, especially on Sunday mornings when I was sleeping in. Looking back on my life, and the things I had done, I started thinking  I wasn't good enough to receive the good things of God.  I kept putting God on the back burner, and that also was adding to my guilt of not going ahead in making my decision.  There was conflict going on in my head because I knew that as long as I didn't decide for God, I was really deciding against God, and I knew that was wrong, too, and that added to my guilt feelings even more. One Summer I remember reading every word of a book about Malcolm X, and was impressed with the routine praying times of Muslims. I remember thinking seriously about Islam, but deep inside it conflicted with what knew about God and Jesus. In Christianity you can pray and talk to God any time of the day or night and not have to stop and pray in a certain direction at specific times of the day. The Word taught God loved all equally. The Word taught humbleness, gentleness, goodness, patience, peace, patience, self-control, joy and love.  Something important was missing I didn't see was offered in the Muslim religion, I couldn't put my finger on it- was it the men and women were separated during religious services?  I wondered about that, but I definitely knew something very important was missing. I kept these feelings and thoughts to myself, but kept wondering what choice should I make.  Thank God, He remained patient with me. I had never told anyone about my pondering of becoming a Muslim until typing this right now.  It came down to a major illness to someone dear to me for me to wake up and see that each day is a very precious gift from God and stop wasting time and make up my mind. Life is short. And Islam didn't offer or promise me what I knew Jesus offered. I was a teenager when my brother first got sick, and on into my twenties when God called him home. I used to think I had plenty of time, plenty of years to decide. I was wrong. My brother, six years my junior died in my arms after 6 years of chemo and surgeries dealing with a childhood kidney disease. During those six years not once did I have the thought he would die, until the morning of the day he died. I cried all day long. That day I realized my brother wasn't going to graduate high school or get married, or grow to old age. The world was not going to be the same without this a fabulous young man in it,  and I also thought God wanted my brother with him. Why not me, I thought? Through my red and puffy eyes, that night my eyes were opened I think for the first time, to spiritual things. I willingly opened my heart and asked God to forgive me for all my sins. It took the death of my brother, to finally get me to make the one decision I'd been putting off.  I saw that departing this body actually is beautiful when you're a Christian, because it's true, angels escort you out of here. I was in my brother's hospital room because God wanted me to witness this just as real as real can be. I didn't see angels, but I felt something very strongly that I can describe must have been angels about my brother. I can honestly describe it was peaceful and beyond any words can describe, and it was at that moment that it all made sense to me. It's spiritual, and God's ways are far, far above and far, far better than man's logic and thinking. God does things in a way and manner that can't be explained, but later I can look back and see His hand was in it for the good of all concerned. My brother is fine, I know it, and I was glad he was released from severe pain his body had endured, and his heavenly escort was there to take him into the presence of the Lord.

God's gift of Jesus to you is for the asking
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I quietly in my heart, by faith, accepted Jesus, God's greatest gift to me later that night of March 17,1982.  My decision was the right decision, and my faith continues to grow stronger. My spirit rejoices more and more, there's nothing else like it.  My experience that night taught me there's no fear to die. God's word tells that after the last breath here, the next breath is with the Lord.  If you haven't already asked Jesus into your heart, why are you waiting? The gift from God is waiting to be received by every single person, and all you have to do is ask, and God's greatest gift, Jesus, is yours. He's already paid-in-full the penalty for your sins. The greatest love in all the world has been demonstrated by God for all people. Take it.

 And you're worthy.

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