Monday, April 28, 2014

Guest Post :: Are you ready for Eternity?

On January 30, 2014, at about 2:00 AM, nine members of one household crossed the threshold from this life into eternity. That night one of their baseboard heaters started a tragic house fire which was to change their entire lives. The dad, Chad Watson, and his eleven year old daughter, Kylie Watson, survived. But their lives will never be the same. Their whole family is gone…never again to be seen in this life. How does one go on when something this tragic happens to them?

Their funeral was on February 8th which I and a few of my family members attended. On that stage were nine caskets each containing a body of that family who had gone before us into eternity. Outside sat the nine hearses waiting to carry each of those caskets to the grave. And there was the grave…one large grave to hold all their bodies.

My heart was breaking…these were my friends. They were ones I talked with, played games with, laughed with. And now, what now? I would never see them again in this life. They were gone…I must go on without them. And their family must go on without them.

Losing a loved one is a very hard thing. We are overcome with sorrow and also with many questions; why did God take them from us? Why did I have to lose them? But though it is a hard thing we can learn some many lessons from it.

"Death is not a period in life but a comma"1. Death is not the ending…it is just a change of location. The question is…which location will you go to after your death.

Were they ready for eternity? Am I ready for eternity? Are you ready for eternity? Each of us has only one life in which to prepare for death and eternity. This life is so short; just a handspan in light of eternity. Yet, this life is of infinite value for each one us. We are given this life to prepare for eternity. We are given this life to glorify God. And yet how many of us just waste this life; spending it only for our own pleasures?

"Is what you are living for worth dying for?"2 Are you using this life to prepare for eternity? Or are you wasting it on this world? When you come to death where will you go, heaven or hell? These cares and trivial things of the world will pass away one day; never to return. But the things of God are going to last forever. Are you living for God in this life? Don’t waste this life on yourself. Don’t waste your life…you only have one! “We have all the time after the sunset to rejoice in our victories but we have only until the sunset to win them.”3

Examine yourself…are you ready? You can’t wait until the time has come where you must leave this life. Search yourself today! Are you yet an unbeliever? "Today is the day of salvation!" Seek for Christ…don’t give up till you have found Him. Are you a believer? Is your life evidenced by fruit? Are you living for Christ?

We are living in a dying world. So many people are passing into eternity without even hearing about God. Are you proclaiming the gospel to people? Is it known about you that you are “not after comfort but after souls”? If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our bodies. If they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees. Let no one go there unwarned and unprayed for.” (Charles Spurgeon). Are you doing all you can to help rescue these dying people or are you just letting them plunge headlong on their way to hell?

Christ Jesus…the Son of God…came and gave Himself up for us to save us from God’s wrath. “Who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Phil. 2:6-8).” Christ sacrificed Himself for us…He made the greatest sacrifice ever possible. Through His sacrifice we can now have peace with God. How can we do any less? We must give ourselves fully for Him. Sacrifice yourself to Him…don’t hold back anything. “Love so amazing so divine, demands my life, my soul, my all.”4

This life is just a handspan in light of eternity. Are you wasting your life or are you pressing on towards the goal? Are you ready for eternity? "Is what you are living for worth dying for?"

Thomas Watson.
John Piper.
Richard Baxter.
When I Survey the Wondrous Cross

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

 Carissa is the middle child of seven. She goes to Christ Fellowship of KC where her dad is one of the pastors. She enjoys reading, studying theology, competing in the National Bible Bee and studying history. She was saved at the age of 12 and seeks to serve the Lord with her whole life. 

Sunday, April 27, 2014


Okay, I’m feeling a little out of steam at the moment. But this short video was really encouraging for me, and I hope it is for you as well. Hopefully this can make up for the lack of a Resurrection Day post last week (when we were gone).

Stand strong! God is still working!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Here Am I, Send Me

In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts. Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with
the tongs from off the altar:  And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged. Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.”
Isa 6:1-8 KJV
            On April 30, 2009, the above verse became alive in my life and forever changed me. That day started as any other normal day. I went to work at my secretarial job from 7:00am to 5:00pm. Little did I know the change that would take place before the sun set that day. After supper that night, I was just doing things around the house when my mother called me and announced a phone call for me. She announced the name of the caller and I knew immediately why he was calling. Answering the phone, the caller introduced himself and the mission he represented, asking me if I might know why he is calling. To which I answered the affirmative. The caller was contacting me on behalf of the Olive Branch Mennonite Mission. One of the single girls serving in Nicaragua was scheduled to leave the mission field in August and they contacted me to see if I was open to serving for two years. We closed the conversation with the caller asking me to pray about it and contact him as soon as I had an answer. I hung up the phone, relayed the message to my parents, before grabbing my cell phone and leaving on my bike.
Biking down the road, I first called my pastor’s wife to let them know of the call and to ask for prayers. Hanging up with her, I headed to the local park. I needed to sit down. At this point, many questions were running through my head. Why me? Is my dream coming true? Can I really do this? Will I be able to be separated from my family for so long? I want to go but… I called my best friend, telling her all that had happened, asking her for advice. After I hung up, I still felt overwhelmed, but I knew the God who called me on this journey, was also the God who was faithful and would be by my side, if I would only lay aside my humanness and trust on Him.
As I searched God’s Word and His will for me, I was guided to Isaiah 6. Yes, I had heard this passage many, many times; but on this particular night, the passage took on a new meaning. I felt as Moses did. Inadequate for the task that was before, but I was called. I felt the call of God on my heart. Would I shrink back from the task? As much as it was tempting, I wanted to be where God wanted me and He was calling me to serve in Nicaragua. He was asking the question: who will go for us?
As I near the 5-year anniversary of receiving that life-changing call, I look back in awe of what God has done in my life, not only as I served in Nicaragua but also as I continue to serve Him in my hometown. The call of “whom shall I send, and who will go for us” is not only  a call to the foreign field, but it is a daily call. As believers and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, we are daily called to serve Him and “stand in the gap” for those who are seeking. Let it not be said as was in Ezekiel’s day:
“And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.” Ezekiel 22:30 KJV
Daily accept the call that is placed upon your life. Seeing the Hand of God in my life when I am truly committed to “standing in the gap” and being willing “to be sent” has humbled me. The blessing that comes from being “available” to be used of God cannot be explained. Being used in my hometown has brought just as many blessings as serving  in foreign lands. You may or may not be called to another land. Be ready and willing to go where He wants you to go and fill in the gap where He has called you.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Book Review: The Prince of Preachers, by Christian Timothy George

Title: Charles Spurgeon - Prince of Preachers Author: Christian Timothy George Publisher: Christian Focus Publications Ltd, 2006
Charles Spurgeon preaching at the Surrey Music Hall

Charles Spurgeon was born in Essex, England, in 1834. He was converted at age fifteen and preached his first sermon the next year. He was a popular and able preacher of the Scripture and was compared to D.L. Moody, an American evangelist born in 1837.

Mr Spurgeon married Susannah Thompson in 1856. They had twin sons, Thomas and Charles.

Mr Spurgeon was a Baptist and a Calvinist. He frequently preached to crowds of more than 10,000. He also wrote many books, all of which have been very popular.

This biography is aimed at children aged 8-14. I took it from the bookshelf hoping to get a good, basic overview of Spurgeon’s life. I was quite disappointed.

The book incorrectly states the date of Spurgeon’s death. It also contains many errors in spelling and grammar. Another possible source of confusion for young readers is that it says that Spurgeon’s son Thomas was twelve years old in 1877, when in fact he was born in 1856. The reference to Thomas’ age is contained in a chapter headed "Sunday morning, 1877".  The rest of the book appears to be in plain chronological order. So either the maths is wrong, or the author wasn't paying attention to the order of his anecdotes.

Overall, this book seemed to be just a collection of exciting and emotional stories from the life of Charles Spurgeon. It even includes a legendary story about Queen Victoria disguising herself as a peasant in order to go and listen to Spurgeon preach.

I would recommend this book to someone wanting to read several interesting stories about Charles Spurgeon, and who doesn't mind imperfect grammar.
Me reading the book last night :-)

I plan to read another biography of Charles Spurgeon next week. Hopefully it will be both accurate and encouraging!

~I did not receive any compensation or reward for reviewing this book~

P.S. Sorry this is late--I (Esther) was gone over the weekend at a conference (and we got to meet Rhoda and her family at the same time!), so this sadly had to wait until I got home to be posted.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Jesus is ALIVE!!!

The Garden of Gethsemane Mount of Olives, looking towards the city of Jerusalem.

Golgotha - "The place of a skull"
Do you see it? The lower half of it is now hidden under the parking lot.

In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.
And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.
 His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:
And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.
 And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.
HE IS NOT HERE, FOR HE IS RISEN, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.
 And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.
And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.

The Garden Tomb - where he was buried ... and where he rose from the dead!!

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.


Praise the LORD! Jesus is risen and alive forevermore!!!

Happy Resurrection Day!!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Faithful to Answer

The following post was written by my grandma a while ago, and I was very blessed when I read it, so I asked her for permission to reshare someday. She gladly gave it, and since I’m away this weekend on a quick 3-day holiday I thought this would be a good time to share. :)

Faithful to Answer
By: Diane

I’ve been asked whether God really cares about us as individuals, and, if so, if He answers prayers. I know that the answer to both questions is a resounding “yes!”, but for some reason my mind often goes blank when I try to come up with specific examples. Wouldn’t it be nice to be quick with a comeback! However, when an answer came recently, I wrote it down so I could pass it along as an example.

The other day at the store when I was busy mixing bread, something came up that really bugged me. It wasn’t anything big nor especially important. Maybe you know how it goes, though: one grouchy thought leads to another, and pretty soon the grouch grows really big and way out of proportion to whatever started it in the first place. Worse yet, it is almost impossible to change to another channel. Finally, I prayed briefly, confessing that those negative thoughts were sin and asking Father to just take them and get rid of them. Wow: they went away fast! It wasn’t long before I couldn’t even remember what the problem had been (okay; I didn’t try for long, because I didn’t want to get caught in the same spiral again!), and had started thinking about what a privilege it was to be making bread from the ingredients provided by the King of the Universe. God is so good!

The next line of thought considered how this seems like such a little thing. Well, Luke 16:10 says, “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much.” (NASB) That can apply to us–but I think it also applies to our God. If we can trust Him to be interested in our little problems, only then can we trust Him to be faithful in the big things. And by the way–I have no concordance with me to help locate this verse, my NASB has no cross-references, and the verse is not in a passage I’ve memorized, so I asked Father to show me where it was. After a very little looking (like through a couple of chapters after I guessed what book to try), there it was… Wow.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Relying on God

Relying on God has to begin all over again every day, as if nothing had yet been done.
—C.S. Lewis

Relying on God…trusting Him with the ins and outs of daily life. Not an easy task, is it? But God wants us to rely on Him—to trust Him, and rest in His divine will.

Last October, as I was preparing to write a novel during November, I became pretty stressed as I wondered how it would all turn out. A year before, I had written part of a novel, but it never amounted to much. I was afraid that this time would turn out like last time—an incomplete story. When October 31st rolled around, I was really worried. I felt like I hadn’t done enough planning, but my time was up—there was no way I could do much more then!

That night, I wrote this in my journal: “I’m scared. Really, really, really scared. I don’t want to do NaNo [National Novel Writing Month]—it looks waaayyy too big. I don’t want to do it any more. At all. I feel absolutely burned out.

Then, November 1 came. And after praying about it—casting my cares on God (1 Peter 5:7)—it was okay again. And do you know? That book was finished in record time—because, I believe, God helped me. It wasn’t easy to trust that it would all work out, but it did in the end.

God never asked us to meet life's pressures and demands on our own terms or by relying upon our own strength. Nor did He demand that we win His favor by assembling an impressive portfolio of good deeds. Instead, He invites us to enter His rest.
―Charles R. Swindoll

“That’s great, Esther. But I tried it. It doesn’t work for me.” God doesn’t ask you to just try it—He wants you to do it. Part of asking God to help us—relying on His providential care—is having faith that He will do it. James 1:6 says, “But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.” Having faith is difficult. But faith and prayer work together. And usually, in the end, God works everything out.

Believe it. Apply it.

Friday, April 11, 2014

when it starts to get old

I know that you know that we all know that feeling that you get when you go to a conference or church or a revival service and you refocus on God and you determine to live completely for God everyday for the rest of your life.

(whew! I think that's a run-on!)

And then... I also know that you know that we all know that feeling that you get about a month later, when that all-out crazy surrender starts to get old.

It's almost like a sugar-rush. You have your fun for a while, but a few hours later you're nothin' but pooped! Unfortunately, these spiritual sugar-rushes don't last for months and years and the rest of our lives. They usually only last for a little while, and when our sugar-rush is over, we wonder why we don't feel so spiritual anymore.

Am I right? Or is it just me?

When the whole thing starts to get old, let me tell you that it doesn't mean you're not real, or you're not a good Christian, or you're not as spiritual as Susie over there. (apologies if any of you are named Susie :) ) But, it does mean that...


Congratulations! If you haven't figured this out yet, we all go through these ups-and-downs stages. Ask any girl who's been a Christian for a few years and she's gone through it at least a few times.

God sees us go on our spiritual roller coasters everyday. He knows what's going through your mind when your having a blast on the loop-de-loops and hills, and He knows what you're thinking when you come to the slower, straight  end of the roller coaster. He's seen it billions of times. He reminds us in the Bible that the high-low times come to all of us:

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man, But God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able, but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. ~ 1 Corinthians 10:13

So, when you find yourself getting "bored" with what God is doing in your life, sit down, have a cup of tea, or coffee, or hot cocoa, or whatever you love to drink, and get real with yourself. Remember why you are here, who you serve, and who you are. Then get up and live your life with that stuff in mind. Don't be seeking your next spiritual sugar-rush. Live this moment as a real girl in a real life that should be appreciated.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014 is fleeting... is fleeting...fill it with what matters. 

..take time to say "I love you"...
...take a moment to give a hug... bless another's life...
Each day the Lord blesses you with your loved ones is a precious moment - treasure it!!

“He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” 

-Jim Elliot

Sunday, April 6, 2014


That ye may be blameless and harmless, the [daughters] of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world….
—Philippians 2:15

It’s hard to be a shining light. Matthew 5:14 says that we are the light of the world. That’s a pretty high expectation, isn’t it? But God also promises that “[He] is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us…” (Ephesians 3:20).

Even though He promises that, it’s still oh-so-easy to forget and go off on our own thing, then get depressed at our lack of love and spiritual awareness of God (sound familiar, anyone?). We get to feeling like God doesn’t really love us after all—and even if He does we aren’t really worth His notice anyway. Friends, I want to tell you, though—that thought is wrong. Just think about this little fact for a moment:

Jesus is real. And He’s still working.

Candle light” by Alesa Dam is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Now, I know it sounded strange for me to say that, but I think sometimes we can forget this simple, yet profound fact. We shouldn’t forget—oh, no, of course not! But when we don’t really see Him working in a drastic way in our lives at the moment, it becomes easy to forget. To forget that He actually IS the Son of God, come down to a little earth that He made, confining Himself (as God) to the body of man’s flesh—that He had created! It was—is—an incredible event.

But while we can know all that in our heads, it’s easy—too easy—to forget that in our hearts. So this next week, I challenge you: Practice remembering God’s presence in your life. Take time to remember what He’s done for you in the past. Notice all the things He made—in a single word! And then remember that He took special pains to make you just perfect, not just speaking and forming man in a single word like He did the animals (see Genesis 1:27 and 2:7 on that). No. He took special pains to make you. Then, beyond that, remember that Jesus prayed for you—for you!—here on earth! In John 17:20 Jesus is praying, and He says, “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word” (emphasis mine). That’s you He’s talking about there!

By remembering, your light can shine brighter—because it has good reason to! When we forget why we’re here, what our purpose in life is, and Who Jesus really is, our light dims. But by remembering, our joy—our light for Jesus—grows brighter.

Remember. So that you’ll never forget. Because He calls you “precious” (1 Peter 2:3-5).


Friday, April 4, 2014

How to Make Someone Feel Special

I have a job at a small Subway restaurant near us. Once when I made the customer's sandwich and wrapped it, I charged him for it. He paid and I gave him his sandwich in a bag. He then took the bag, looked me in the eye and said, "Thank you, Bonnie. Have a great day!"

You know what? I felt so special!!!

He had obviously seen my name on my nametag. I have only ever heard one customer say my name to me before, and that was him. It completely made my day. He took the time to look at my nametag and then use my name to thank me. 

It seems like such a small thing. But it wasn't! I glowed for the next hour!

Names are something everyone has. Sure, some people have the same name, but it is still them. I can't imagine myself with another name! Bonnie just wouldn't be Bonnie if I had a different name. 

A person's name defines them. It is them, come to think of it! People feel special if you use their names. I certainly feel special when someone uses my name.

My sister has an unusual name. Her name is Danella. (Pronounced Dan-ella, it's pretty straightforward!) Most people pronounce it either Daniella, Danyella, Danielle or any of a hundred other derivatives!

Yet she feels so special when someone takes the time to learn how to pronounce her name and then proceeds to say it right. Especially someone she doesn't know very well. She told me that because it is pronounced wrong so much, it is doubly awesome when someone makes an effort to say it right.

Here's a challenge today. Use names more often. (And in connection with complimentary terms, too, I might add!)

People feel special when you use their names. I don't know how many times I've said that in this post, but it's true and I want to get the point across!

Just a quick (and relevant) Bible verse too before I close.

Philippians 2: 9-11 NLT says (emphasis added):

Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor
and gave him the name above all other names,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Blessings to you all!