Thursday, March 28, 2013


There are at least two beloved hymns that contain the word “wretch” within their verses.  The context of that word in those hymns denotes the spiritual condition of unbelievers before Jesus enters into their heart and life.
Amazing Grace
“Amazing grace!  How sweet the sound – that saved a wretch like me!”

Victory In Jesus
“How He gave His life on Calvary to save a wretch like me.”

Wretch is an ugly word - describing a person who is miserable, despicable, vile, or outcast.  Perhaps many would say, “Whoa!  I was bad, but never like that!”  But wait - the Bible tells it much differently.

God loves us, He created us, and His desire is for us to walk with Him, to serve Him, and to worship Him.  However, the Bible is clear that all mankind is dead in sin, therefore, it is impossible to have a personal relationship with Him and please Him without a spiritually cleansed renewal of the heart.  Our God is a holy and righteous God Who cannot look upon sin, and as unrepentant sinners, we are wretched to Him and not fit for His kingdom.

Although all are alienated from God, it’s through Christ’s shed blood on His cross and His death that we can be reconciled to be presented holy, blameless, and above reproach in His sight (Col. 1:21, 22).  We become worthy in the eyes of God only through the redeeming blood of the cross.  Our worthiness is not a result of anything we do to gain God’s approval.

However, many are deceiving both themselves and others by acting out Christianity - doing those things Christians are supposed to do.  Most are kind and love one another, they regularly attend church, they sing in the choir, and they even attend Bible studies.  They have religion in their life, but don’t have Jesus in their heart.  Their names are recorded in a church membership book, but not in the Lamb’s Book of Life.  They have never experienced a born again, spiritual re-birth of the heart.  That describes many in our churches today.  They are wretched in the eyes of God, but don’t know it.

The Apostle John recorded the messages of our Lord Jesus to seven churches of Asia.  His letter to the church of Laodicea also describes many of our churches today as well as individuals within the churches.  They are repulsive to the Lord and damaging to His purpose.  In short, they make Him sick. 
The church, so wrapped up with their works and material things, does not recognize its true condition.  John wrote in Rev. 3:17 that they claim to be wealthy and in need of nothing, but don’t understand they are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.  Because of their pitiful and lukewarm condition, Jesus said in Rev. 3:16 that He will vomit them out of His mouth.  Rev. 3:20 reveals that Christ is being kept outside of His church, but He stands there calling and knocking at the door to be heard - longing to be invited in to fellowship with them.  It’s sad, but the Jesus they claim to love and worship is not the Jesus of the Bible.  The real Jesus is not at the forefront of their lives.

The sin of pride and self-sufficiency has blinded some people and prevented them from humbly submitting themselves to the God of all creation - the One Who is in control of all things.  Romans 12:3 warns that we must not think of ourselves more highly than we ought.  James, the brother of the Lord and a man of noted authority, wrote in James 4:10 (NKJV), “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.”  The Apostle John wrote in 1 John 2:16 that the pride of life is not of the Father, but is of the world.   

Perhaps many who have never thought of themselves as wretched have never been truly convicted of their lost and sinful condition.  They have never been humbly on their knees in repentance - crying out with a remorseful, broken heart to Almighty God.  They may have never prayed something like this:
“Oh God, help me!  I’m a lost sinner and need the Savior in my life!  I’m so sorry for what I’ve done, for my unbelief, and for not trusting in You!  I repent of my sins, Lord - forgive me!  I believe Jesus suffered and died on that cross for me, in my place.  Lord Jesus, come into my heart now, this very moment, and help me to live a life that is pleasing and honoring to You.  Thank You in Jesus’ Name.  Amen!”

The Bible tells us in Luke 15:10 that when one sinner repents, there is joy in the presence of the angels.  Just imagine – there is a massive victory celebration in heaven the moment each one of us places our faith and trust in Him! 
Also, as born again believers, we instantly become royalty.  We become sons and daughters of the most-high sovereign God Who rules today and will rule and reign forever.  As a child of the King, we become worthy heirs to the kingdom of heaven.  Revelation 3:4 promises that the faithful in Christ will walk with Him in purity and righteousness, for they are worthy.

We can have absolute assurance of our salvation through the promises God provides for us in His Word.  God’s Word is infallible, and we must trust His promises through faith alone in Him.

John 3:16 (NASB) “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that
whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

Romans 10:9, 10 (NASB) “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your
heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person
believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.”

1 John 4:15 (NASB) “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in

Isaiah 43:1b (NASB) “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name;
you are Mine!”
From wretched to worthy - only by God’s amazing grace!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


Unknown to most of you, my dear wife for almost fifty years was called Home by her Savior and Lord on Friday, March 1, 2013 after enduring serious illness for the past five years.   Carol was ready to meet Him, and waited expectantly to hear Him call her name.  There she will suffer no more pain.  Heart disease, diabetes, and all the other related ailments will be things of the past and remembered no more.  There will be no more hospitals, walkers, or wheel chairs, either.  The sick will be healed, the lame will leap for joy, the blind will see, and the trials of this world will be gone forever.  Today, she is safe and well in the arms of Jesus.

I penned the following random thoughts during the early morning hours of the days following her Home-going.  In a way, it was the beginning of healing for me – a healing that will likely take a long time.  My real healing, however, comes from the Lord.  Oh, where would I be without Him in my life.

I am sharing my thoughts in the event that you or someone you know might have recently experienced the pain and heartache of losing a loved one.  Perhaps by reading them, it will bring a glimmer of hope and assurance into your life, and the knowledge that you are not alone.  May God bless you!

~ ~ ~

When we lose someone we love dearly, it can feel as if our heart and soul has been ripped apart and shredded, then, blown away like confetti in a wind storm.  For me, that is especially true when the loved one was my wife and best friend who stood beside me for almost 50 years through good times and bad, through thick and thin, through sickness and health, and through times of sadness and joy.

But wait!  Carol is not lost!  Oh, although I cannot touch her, I cannot see her smiling face, and I cannot hear her voice, I know exactly where she is.  She is safe in the arms of Jesus!

There she will suffer no more pain.  Heart disease, diabetes, and all the other related ailments will be things of the past and remembered no more.  There will be no more hospitals, walkers, and wheel chairs, either.  The sick will be healed, the lame will leap for joy, the blind will see, and the trials of this world will be gone forever.

It was Carol’s appointed time to leave us for a little while.  God had called her name.  As a born-again believer she went on down the path ahead of us to meet her Savior and Lord.  She was not only ready, but was anxious to meet Him.  That is a journey we all must take one day.  Are you ready to do that?  Do you know Him?  You must be very sure.  I know that I am ready - and soon I will see her again! 

~ ~ ~

Through all of Carol's life trials our prayer has always been, "We trust in You, O Lord - for our times are in Your hand." (Psalm 31:14)

~ ~ ~

We are told in Scripture that we must run the race that is set before us.  However, we know our journey will not always be smooth.  The road we travel will have bumps, twists and turns along the way.  When we keep the faith and look to the Lord for His leading to carry us over the rough spots, we will meet at the finish line - with victory in Jesus.

~ ~ ~

Our awesome God is in control! It is only with His permission that we are allowed to take our next breath.  We must realize that we are all just a lump of clay in the Master Potter's hands that He will shape and mold into His perfect plan for our lives.

~ ~ ~

One day we will walk hand in hand with Jesus - our Savior, Lord and Master.  We will talk and laugh with Him as we stroll together down the streets of pure gold.  Our special mansion will be ready and waiting for us too.  A massive celebration of continuous praise and worship will be there for us to join in with them.  What a day that will be!

Until then, all of us must be thankful for each new morning, and thank God for allowing us to be a part of it so we can live our days for His honor and glory. Each day we must count our many blessings He so richly pours out on each one of us. Tomorrow is not certain, but eternity is – and we must know where we will spend it!

~ ~ ~

I have much faith in the Lord and was always trying to provide encouragement to Carol, but in my quiet times, in a quiet place, when I was alone with my thoughts, I felt so sad for her and my tears would flow.  When I was on my knees in submission to Him, seeking His face in prayer, and looking to Him for peace, comfort and strength, He always told me to wait on Him for He will never leave us.  He told me we are safe in the palm of His hand, He cares for us, and to only trust Him for He is in control and that His Will be done. 

~ ~ ~

Heaven is a very real place.  It’s a place to look forward to, a place to contemplate and to prepare for.  It’s a place where we will be more alive than we are today.  The Master Creator is there, building a special place in heaven just for us. 

In John 14:1-4,6 (NKJV), Jesus gave this promise to us: “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.  In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you.  I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.  And where I go you know, and the way you know.  I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me.” 

One day soon our mansion will be completed and Jesus will call my name and yours.  Are you prepared to meet Him on that day?

~ ~ ~

One of the latter verses of the gospel hymn, “Amazing Grace”, was penned as follows:

When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun.
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise,
Than when we’d first begun.

Ten thousand years - just imagine!  But, when compared to eternity, ten thousand years are not even a blink of an eye.  Eternity will have just begun.  It’s simply impossible for me to wrap my human brain around that concept.

And then, to boggle the mind even further, the next ten million years will be as a single drop of water in an ocean that extends forever with no boundaries, nor measurable depth.

Throughout those endless years there will be no more death or sorrow, no more sickness, no more tears or pain, and no one will ever grow weary.  Also, there will be no hospitals, or walkers, or canes, or wheelchairs.  There will be no more Alzheimer’s, or dementia, or strokes, or heart disease, or cancer. 

Most important of all, however, is that Jesus will be there, and believers will at long last be Home with Him.

~ ~ ~

Almost 50 years ago Carol and I made a promise to each other in the presence of a church full of witnesses and Almighty God that we would love, cherish, honor, protect, and care for one another as long we had life and breath.  Oh, there were bumps along the way with twists and turns in our path, but with God leading us every step of the way, we did just that with everything that was within us.  Now that 50 years have almost past by, the memories linger on and will never be erased from my mind.  Would I do it all over again?  Yes – in a heartbeat!

~ ~ ~

I believe that today Carol is strolling hand in hand with Jesus along the streets of pure gold.  I believe they are chatting, singing and laughing as they stop beside the flowing River of Life with its water sparkling like liquid diamonds.  She is with her Savior and Lord forever.  One day soon I will join them there.  I can’t wait!

~ ~ ~

In the final weeks before Carol was called Home to be with the Lord, we both sensed that the end was near.  We would spend as much time together as possible, sitting hand in hand at her bedside with tears flowing, often at 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning, just praying, sharing our inner feelings, re-living our memories, and comforting one another.  It was during those times that I could picture in my mind’s eye God-sent angels positioned on each side of her bed with wings wide-spread and touching wingtip to wingtip forming a shield of protection over us.  Carol and I had an unbreakable bond between us, but our bond with our Lord and Savior was even greater.  He promised to be with us until the end - and He was.

~ ~ ~

Carol was my beloved bride and best friend for almost fifty years.  She stood close by me through good times and bad, through sickness and health, and through times of sadness and joy.  Now she has gone away.  But, I know exactly where she is.  She is safe in the arms of Jesus!

Carol went on down the path ahead of us to be with her Savior and Lord.  Until we meet again, the roses will never fade and the memories will linger on in my heart.     

~ ~ ~

I shared the following at Carol’s memorial service:

On behalf of my family and myself, I want to take a moment to thank everyone for being here, for your prayers, for your support, and for your kind words.  We appreciate all of you.

Not long ago Carol told me she wished she could be a little mouse in a corner during her memorial service.  She wanted to hear the Pastor's message, enjoy the music, and greet everyone who is here.  Well, there probably aren’t any mice in this Chapel, but I know she is here in our hearts and thoughts today.  Carol would be very pleased.

If it were possible, I believe that Carol would be shouting a final plea from within heaven’s gates to all in this Chapel who would hear her. She would warn that this is real stuff, it is serious stuff, and that one day everyone must stand before God to give account.  It won’t be about who we are, or what we’ve done, or whether we’ve been a good person.  It will be all about Jesus and what we have done with Him.  And, it’s not whether we simply know about Him, it’s whether we truly know Him.  There is a huge difference between the two. 

If you are not absolutely sure you are a repentant, blood-bought, heaven-bound child of God, then, you must to do some serious business with Him today.  You must receive His free gift of salvation by faith alone before it is too late. 

And, as Carol knows very well - there is no promise of a tomorrow for anyone.

~ ~ ~

I am not in any big rush to sort through Carol's things since I will need some time to get myself together first. Then, they will eventually be distributed according to her wishes.

I had been Carol's life support every hour of every day for a long time. It seems that I should still be doing something for her, but now the house is quiet. There is a big empty hole that will be there for some time. Even my dog Betsy seems lost, but now she needs me too.  Carol was Betsy’s best friend.

~ ~ ~

My family and friends have now returned to their homes.  Except for me and my dog Betsy, who continues to search each room for Carol, the house is empty.  It is just the two of us trying to grasp onto something that resembles a normal life.  But all has changed, and will never return to the life as we had known it for so many years.    All we have left are the memories that fill our heart.

~ ~ ~

As Carol’s caregiver, I was her constant life support for the past few years.  I was tuned into her every need 24 hours a day, and always listened for her voice calling out to me.  Even now in the quiet hours of the night and day, I sometimes imagine hearing her crying out for my help.  I rush to the bedside where she once lay, but only to realize once again that she is not with us.  Then, the tears flow because I miss her so much.  Jesus is taking good care of her now, and one of these days I will join her – never to be separated again.

~ ~ ~

A house that was once filled with joy and laughter, family and friends, pain and tears, conversation and intimate sharing, can do strange things to the mind after those things are gone.  Now, I am finding out that an empty house can be quite noisy with sounds I don’t remember hearing before.  Sometimes the floors creak, ice trapped on the roof will make crackling noises as it thaws, I hear the furnace fire-up many times each day, and I even hear Betsy’s nails softly clicking on the tile floors as she wanders aimlessly from room to room.

I talk randomly and frequently aloud expecting a response, but the only acknowledgement I hear is the echo of my words as they bounce off the walls.  Betsy doesn’t even listen to me unless the word “treat” is spoken.  However, the Lord is listening and will sweep away the loneliness.  I hope He will never get tired of hearing my voice.

~ ~ ~

I attended the Sunday morning worship service at church two days after Carol's memorial. It was the first time I have been able to be away from home long enough to attend church since early December. Oh, how I have missed doing that!  It was good - so very good!  The music selections and the message filled my parched soul with renewed assurance that I am His and He is mine in spite of the trials and heartaches we must face in this life. We are never alone with the Lord by our side.  Oh Lord, may the healing begin with You!


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