An Invitation for You from Jesus

During Lent I focused upon the Seven Last Sayings by Christ on the Cross. Since then I have read The Kneeling Christian by An Unknown Christian. The author writes that in Jesus’ last discourse with His disciples He informs them that they can ask anything in prayer and it will not only be heard but it will be answered. The unknown writer goes on to say that although many of us have spent considerable time reflecting upon Jesus’ seven last sayings from the cross, most of us have never spent one hour meditating upon our Savior’s sevenfold invitation to pray. I am challenged to refute this statement by taking time to personally meditate upon these words of Jesus. My Reader, I invite you to join me in taking a closer look at these seven scriptures. Reflect upon these words of Jesus and accept the truths of these words for yourself.

rainbow-6-mfVery truly I tell you, whoever believes in me
will do the works I have been doing,
and they will do even greater things than these,
because I am going to the Father.
And I will do whatever you ask in my name,
so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
John 14:12-13

rainbow-6-mfYou may ask me for anything in my name,
and I will do it.
John 14:14 

rainbow-6-mfIf you remain in me and my words remain in you,
ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit,
showing yourselves to be my disciples.
John 15:7-8

rainbow-6-mfYou did not choose me,
but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go
and bear fruit—fruit that will last—
and so that whatever you ask in my name
the Father will give you.
John 15:16

rainbow-6-mfIn that day you will no longer ask me anything.
Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you
whatever you ask in my name.
John 16:23

rainbow-6-mfUntil now you have not asked for anything in my name.
Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.
John 16:24

rainbow-6-mfIn that day you will ask in my name.
I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf.
 No, the Father himself loves you
because you have loved me and have believed
that I came from God.
John 16:26-27 (plain print is mine)

After spending time studying these words spoken by Jesus to His disciples, there are three things I want to remember. First, my prayers are to be made in the name of Jesus. That does not just mean that I simply include the phrase “in the name of Jesus” at the end of my conversation with God. It denotes that I pray in the nature and character of Jesus. It is as if my prayer is what Jesus would pray. Secondly, the result of my request will glorify God. I’m not praying to make things easy for myself or others for whom I intercede, nor am I praying to honor myself. It is all about the Lord! Thirdly, Jesus says that He will “do it” but He does not say how or when. Sometimes the best way for the Lord to answer my request is to say no or wait. God know best!

One final quote from The Kneeling Christian says, “God is greater than His promises and is more willing to hear than we are to pray.’” My Reader, Jesus presented this sevenfold invitation to pray to His disciples over 2000 years ago. However, He is still extending this invitation to you and me today. I encourage you to let these words have an impact upon your prayer life. The Lord is waiting to hear your voice.

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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Hugs of Honor for Miliatary Families

Memorial Day (MF)

On Monday we will be celebrating Memorial Day. This is a day to honor the living and the dead who have given their lives for the freedom of our country. It is a privilege and a responsibility to recognize our military heroes. However, I feel there are others who need to be honored on this day as well. These people are the family members of the men and women who have served or are serving in our armed forces.

Right now I focus upon the families who have lost loved ones. Our fallen soldiers had moms and dads, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters along with extended family members and special friends. I want to say thank you to those who sacrificed their loved ones for our freedom as the nation of the United States of America. We honor our fallen soldiers with flags and flowers on their graves and this is the right thing to do. However, I think we also should share the sorrow of the families of these deceased men and women by giving them a hug of honor on Memorial Day.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
Matthew 5:4 NIV

This particular scripture verse comes to my mind for these families this weekend. When I think about how God might bless these family members, I perceive God’s presence and anointing being available to those who are grieving the loss of a loved one. I believe God anoints them with a special strength allowing them to remember the past yet continuing to live their own lives in the present. The Latin derivative for comfort is “com” meaning intense and “fort” signifying strength. I believe God pours out a unique strength upon those who have lost loved ones through our military service.

“Blessed and enviably happy [with a [a]happiness produced by the experience
of God’s favor and especially conditioned by the revelation of His matchless grace]
are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted!”
Matthew 5:4 Amplified Bible

It takes time for me to comprehend the depth of meaning of this translation. However, I do believe that God cares for these families in a way that allows them to experience a specialized form of happiness. Through the Internet I read an article from Christianity Today that gave me some additional insight. Two quotes remain in my mind.

“EVERY SUFFERING can be blessed because it hollows out a place
in us for God and his comfort, which is infinite joy.”
Peter Kreeft, Back to Virtue.

Families who have lost men and women who were in harm’s way for our nation have a unique hollow or empty spot. Fortunately, we have a God who knows just how to fill their emptiness.

IT IS NOT ENOUGH for us … within the arena of the world’s pain
merely to know of a God who sympathizes. It is not even enough to know
of a God who heals. We need to know of and be connected with a God who
experiences with us, for us, each grief, each wound. We need to be bonded
with a God who has had nails in the hands and a spear in the heart!
Flora Slosson Wuellner, Weavings

Military families may have loved ones who were wounded to the point of death. Now these family members are bonded to God who has a spear in His own heart in a unique way. They can experience a specific bond with God through the way He helps them cope with the loss of loved ones. I like that these families have the ability to be connected with God in a personal way in addition to knowing about Him.

I also believe that we as fellow Americans have a responsibility to comfort those who mourn the loss of Military personnel. Sometimes all of us just need “God with skin on” to help us through difficult days. I believe Memorial Day can be one of those difficult days for military families no matter how many years since they encountered the loss of a loved one. Most likely, they remember their loved ones in a very personal and private way on this day. I want to seek out one or more of these families and encourage them to share memories with me on Memorial Day of the loved one they proudly sent off to serve their country. Although they knew there was a chance of loss, yet they expected their loved one to return. When they said good-bye to him or her leaving for active military service, they did not expect it to be their final good-bye. The lives of military men and women have been lost, but in a sense there are portions of the lives of their families that have also been lost. I want to say thanks to them for giving up their loved ones for my freedom.

My Reader, I encourage you to join me by taking time this Memorial Day to remember both the men and women who have given their lives for our country and the family members who have given the lives of their loved ones for our country. Salute the flags on the graves of military heroes but also extend hugs of honor to their families.

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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Faith Flowers Blossom at Flower City Work Camp

brotherhood-5-mfFlower City Work Camp is an awesome way for teens and adults to spend the week of spring break in the Rochester, New York area. In less than 96 hours during April 2014, ­755 teens and over 300 adults from 56 churches came together to work and worship. Flower City Work Camp was born in 1985, when a group of local youth leaders desired to see their students serve in a meaningful inner-City ministry and impact the City of Rochester with the life-changing message of Christ’s love in practical ways. In the last 29 years it has continued to grow! Each year students and adults serve by doing such home repairs as painting, simple construction, yard work etc. There were 58 sidewalk club Amy FCWC 2014work sites this year. Also sidewalk clubs reached out to 750 neighborhood children by playing games, singing songs, making crafts and sharing the life-changing gospel of Jesus Christ. Seventy-five of these children came to trust Jesus Christ as their Savior. Basketball camps taught basketball skills and Bible verses. During the week, all campers participated in prayer walks bringing the needs of the city before God.

This past spring break, all three generations of our family were privileged to be a part of this outreach. Our daughter, Jill, was the representative for Life Quest Community Church and our daughter-in-law, Amy, represented New Hope Christian Church. It was the third year our granddaughters Anna and Charity have attended FCWC. This year Anna was a part of a sidewalk club while Charity worked at a home site helping to replace a large living room window and doing some bathroom plumbing. Amy, Jill and Jamey were adults who stayed overnight with the teens from their respective churches. My husband, Gary, and his friend Bob were “go-fers!” They would “go for” whatever materials were needed at the three sites for which they were responsible. Our son, Greg, and I were responsible for child care of younger members of the two families so others could be more actively involved. I was able to help our daughter and two of her younger children deliver lunches to one work site two of the days. What a privilege to be among these dedicated Christian teens and adults!

A few scriptures come to my mind that help me describe what happens at Flower City Work Camp.

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up,
just as in fact you are doing.
I Thessalonians 5:11

Campers stay over night in two area churches. Each morning as the teams leave for their day’s assignment, people line the driveway of the parking lot and shout words of encouragement as vehicles drive by. Shouts of “God bless you!” and whistles and cheers greet every van, pickup or car whether there be one person or many people in each vehicle. I would describe this as a human tunnel of encouragement. When the campers return in the afternoon, those who stay overnight with the teens are there to greet them and listen to their experiences. Dinner time is a sharing time. Some eat with workers from their day site while others eat with their own church youth group. Returning campers often renew friendships from previous years.

Unless the Lord builds the house,
the builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the guards stand watch in vain.
Psalm 127:1

Home projects are completed during the week and their work is not in vain because the presence of the Lord is with the workers in all they do. It is such a blessing to see young people who spend their week of spring break serving others. They even pay to be a part of Flower City Work Camp. Money goes to buy supplies for home projects and also for their food of breakfast and dinner. Each church that is part of FCWC provides lunches for a site three days.

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
Psalm 100:1-3

Morning devotions and evening programs filled with worship, prayer, testimonies and teaching are designed to bring students into the presence of God. By the end of the week, everyone is sent home energized, changed and strengthened. Contemporary worship allows the teens to raise their hands, dance and cry before the Lord. For some, this is the first time they have experienced the Lord’s presence in such a personal way. The theme for this year’s evening teachings was “Stand” taken from Ephesians 6:13. Each person had a shirt with this logo. Every evening there was a teaching about spiritual warfare. Each day started with the Lord, then involved serving the community during the day, and finally the day ended with worship and teaching. Everyone met as a large group to begin the evening but the night concluded with cabin time within small groups.

Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do
for one of the least of these,

you did not do for me.
Matthew 25:45

The people living within the neighborhoods served by FCWC crews are positively influenced by this outreach. At the conclusion of site projects, the team gathers around the homeowner and prays for them and their home. A Bible is given to them to help them grow in their faith after the campers leave. Often these individuals are in tears as they are touched by the Lord as well as having been touched by the workers.
Anyone who participates in FCWC is positively impacted irregardless of the level of involvement. Last year I simply helped prepare and serve dinner at one of the churches one evening. It is no small task to prepare food for several hundred teens and adults who have worked hard all day. I was impressed by the chefs in charge. The opportunities for being involved are endless.
Flower City Work Camp is a one week event in the spring, but there is a team of hard workers planning and preparing year round as they choose sites for work and accept and review applications of teens and adults along with numerous other responsibilities. There are monthly meetings for all church representatives. This event is one of the best organized outreaches I have ever experienced. Thank you FCWC team!

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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Mommy Memories

As we approach Mother’s Day on Sunday, I am reflecting upon previous celebrations not only with my mother but also with other women who have fulfilled a mother’s role in my life.  When I delve into the files of my life, I find a category known as “mommy memories” with dates for specific Mother’s Day observances.  My Reader, please join me as I do some reminiscing.

 

greeting-card-mfPriority memories are given to my mother with whom I shared the first 25 years of my life.  Unfortunately, she died of cancer before she could see either of her grandchildren born.  However, I have many positive memories of her.  When I was about seven years old, I remember wanting to make her a special Mother’s Day card all by myself.  My problem was that I did not know how to spell mother.  However, I could spell mommy, so on the front of the card I inscribed “Happy Mommy’s Day!”  I still remember her laughing at my ingenuity of how to resolve my dilemma.  As she received my card with love, the wording did not matter to her.

carnation-mf My memory bank also has deposits of both my mother and me honoring my grandmother.  My mother always bought a white carnation for Grandma to wear on Mother’s Day.  At that time, if one wore a white carnation, it meant your mother was no longer living but if you wore a red carnation, your mother was alive.  Mom always let me help her give Grandma her flower.  Oh, yes, my mother was also proud to wear her red carnation that day.

orchid-mfI fast forward my mind many years to the time when I became the mother. My husband would take our two children with him and they would buy me an orchid to wear on Mother’s Day.  I guess the carnation tradition was no longer observed but flowers were still an appropriate gift.  I remember the pride and smiles on the faces of Greg and Jill as they would give me my orchid corsage.  Neither do I forget the gleam in my husband’s eyes when it was my turn to be honored.  I am reminded of Proverbs 31:28, “Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.”  I am blessed!

tea-for-two-mfSince my mother died at an early age, I was blessed to have an aunt who helped fill the mother role for me.  She lived in Iowa and I lived in New York, however, we shared enough love to stretch between the miles.  My husband and I made many trips to Nebraska to see family and whenever possible we would stop in Iowa to see my aunt and uncle.  One year we were able to be there Mother’s Day weekend and I went to a Mother’s Day Brunch at church with my aunt on Saturday.  I felt very honored that she would include me as her daughter at this event.

ice cream cone LINK pdNew pages continue to be added to my mommy memory file every year.  Both my daughter and daughter-in-law are good at remembering me on Mother’s Day, but sometimes I like to make Mother’s Day special for them because they are now the 24/7 moms.  I still smile when I think about the Mother’s Day card my daughter gave me last year.  She had been teaching the children’s Sunday School that morning and she had them make cards for their mothers.  So, she made one for me as well. The card was made like a big ice cream cone with sprinkles and a cherry on top.  On each sprinkle was the name of something the child liked about his or her mother.  My ice cream cone hung on our refrigerator for a long time!

So, my Reader, how are you feeling about the observance of Mother’s Day this year?  Does Mother’s Day create happy or sad feelings within you?  Do you have a mom or a mom substitute or a mom mentor with whom you can share the day?  We have a friend whose daughter often sends him a Mother’s Day card because her dad was both her mother and her father when she was growing up.  While mothers come in many different shapes and sizes, I hope you can express the love in your heart to your “mom person” and you can receive their love as well.  My desire is that my Mother’s Day recollections bring to mind many memories you may not have thought about recently.  May you find some remembrances that bring a smile to your face.  Whether you are the mom or you have mom memories, one thing for all of us to remember is that mothers reflect the nurturing and loving character of God.  We are all made in the image of God and each one of us uniquely reflects one or more facets of His nature.  I like the image Jesus describes in Matthew 23:37, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem,… how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings.”  Picture with me the image not only of a mother hen with her brood of little chicks under her wings, but of our Lord holding and protecting us in His loving arms.  Also see yourself with either your mother or your children in a loving embrace.

Happy Mother’s Day!
Enjoy your Mommy Memories!

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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