11/5/15

... by grace ... through faith ... in Christ ...

On this day, memories are at the forefront of our thoughts, as we remember this day 4 years ago, and a million other little memories of days "before" and days "after". This year, my memories are sweeter, tears are a little less "sorrow"ful {time does bring that healing}, and God's grace in our life is so still so very evident! 

God in His lovingkindness blessed me with Rick, and has allowed me to love again! He {and God!} are my strength on days like this, and though the emotions are "weird" {living in the present, with memories of the past so close to the surface}, we talk and we pray and he {and God!} help me get through! 

If you sent a text, a Facebook message, a note, or shared hugs & kind words today THANK YOU!  Thank you for remembering and reaching out to us!  Rickey loved well and was loved, that is still very evident! 

I had another post ready for tonight, but I realized that nothing I say really matters unless it points you to the real reason for our HOPE in CHRIST! Since the day Rickey died, I have prayed that his death would draw others to the Lord. I know that on that beautiful November day 4 years ago, when Rickey breathed his last breath on this earth, he was IMMEDIATELY face to face with his Savior and Lord, and I know that he was more than ready for that moment! I also know that his greatest wish would be to greet each one of you in Heaven some day!  There is only one way that you can be sure of that, and I believe that a post I wrote just days after Rickey died explains best how he knew where he was going when he died, how we know where he is and where we are going and how you can have that same assurance!
"I would be failing my Lord and Rickey’s legacy if I didn’t take a minute or two here to let you know how Rick (and we) have the assurance of eternity in Heaven after our time on earth is done (and how you can know the same if you aren’t sure)!

Simply put: “For God so loved the world that He gave His ONLY BEGOTTEN Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life”.  John 3:16

However, we can’t just end there, because I think there are some things that may be “assumed” if I just use this verse alone to point you to Jesus.

First of all, if I were able to talk to most (if not all) of you reading my blog, I’m thinking that the majority would say that they “believe” in Jesus, God, Heaven and Hell. There-in lies a problem because, James 2:19 says, “even the demons believe – and shudder”.  So, "belief" alone, obviously isn't enough, if even the demons believe - and SHUDDER!

I also think that most of us would say that we are “good” people (and Rickey surely was a GOOD man - as his brother in law said once, Rickey is so nice - you could stand on his tongue and he wouldn't get mad - and that was a very accurate assessment of Rickey's mellow personality!), but, the Bible says “ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”.  Romans 3:23

…. But, I’m not a murder or a thief, I'm not addicted to pornography, I'm not an alcoholic, don't do drugs (or any one of the MANY excuses we can make to help us feel better about ourselves). . . . , LOTS of people do MUCH worse things than I do - you may be thinking . . .But, wait, Romans 6:23 says, “For the WAGES of sin is DEATH, but the GIFT of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

So, if ALL have sinned and the wages of sin is DEATH (which in this sense means ETERNAL separation from God for all eternity), that pretty much covers every one of us.  All is a word that leaves NO doubt, it doesn’t say “some” have sinned, or “most” have sinned, it says ALL have sinned – ALL, EVERYONE, EVERY SINGLE HUMAN BEING WHO HAS EVER LIVED . . . that’s you, that’s me, that was Rickey.

Now that we’ve established that we ALL are sinners, what is the penalty for that sin?  According to Romans 6:23, the wages, the PAYMENT for sin is DEATH – eternal separation from God in hell.  But the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.  GIFT as defined by dictionary.com is “something given voluntarily without payment in return,

Romans 5:8 tells us that, “God showed his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” This verse ties in with John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He GAVE . . . “ He gave (“gave”, FREELY, a “GIFT”), His ONLY son that WHILE WE (all) were still sinners, “CHRIST DIED FOR US”.  He (God) GAVE the ULTIMATE gift, He gave His ONLY BEGOTTEN SON, while we were sinners, and that ultimate gift, His only SON DIED for us . . . while we were yet sinners.  WOW!  I LOVE giving gifts as much as I enjoy receiving them.  I LOVE to show the kids my LOVE by giving them gifts, but to give a gift to someone who doesn’t love me in return, who in fact hates me?  That puts it into a whole new perspective.  Yet, that is exactly what happened when CHRIST DIED FOR us.  He did that WHILE WE WERE YET SINNERS (while we still “hated” Him, while we were still His enemies). 

At this point in the story, we all have a choice to make.  We can believe and embrace this truth and ACCEPT this FREE gift, or we can deny it and turn our backs on God and the promises He makes to us – the choice is up to you.  The Bible says, “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."  That’s another one of those “all” words!  EVERYONE who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. 

Rickey and I had several conversations about the moment when we each “called upon the name of the Lord”.  He very vividly remembered watching a Billy Graham crusade as a child and making the conscious decision that he WAS a sinner and he needed the saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.  He, at that point called upon the name of the Lord and invited Christ to live in his heart and reign over his life.  He put his old sin nature to death at that moment, and was brought forever into God’s glorious kingdom!  That is the REASON we as his family have HOPE for the future.  I remember the day that I prayed that same prayer at VBS one summer and the girls all remember the moment they asked the Lord into their hearts, Tessa at home in the living room with me, and Taya & Kajsa with their Daddy – what precious memories, and a GLORIOUS hope for the future!  We WILL all some day be reunited – it is a PROMISE.

We are also told in the Bible that “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”  Romans 10:9-10.  Rickey and I had the privilege of “confessing” with our mouth before our church family that we were saved and were baptized along with our best friends, Jim & Donna, and several others on Superbowl Sunday several years ago.  We do NOT believe that the baptism is what “saved” us, it was our trust in the Lord, the asking Him to be our Savior and rule over our hearts and minds that gave us that free gift of eternal life, the baptism was the just “outward” confessing, the professing to others that we were children of God.  It is the symbolism of being “buried with Him” (when you go under the water) and being “raised up again with Him in newness of life”) as you are brought back up from the water).  Rickey and I also had the honor of attending the baptism of all 3 girls out at Lake Lundgren Bible Camp on Labor Day 2010.  Tessa was baptized by one of the leaders, Sponz, who mentored her during LDC (Leadership Development Camp) that summer, and Taya & Kajsa were baptized Mama Ruth's husband, Mike.  It was a beautiful day and one that I will not forget, and I'm so thankful that it is a day we got to celebrate together as a family!

So, that in a somewhat abbreviated form is the WHY we have HOPE in the future, WHY the night we welcomed 600+ people at the funeral home, we were CELEBRATING Rick's life. This is it . . . we were celebrating his life here on earth - the 55 years that the Lord blessed him with, and blessed us with for having had such a wonderful person in our lives!  But, we were also (and more importantly) celebrating the fact that Rickey was more alive than ever that day - safe in his FOREVER home with Jesus in Heaven . . . the place that have the assurance that some day, we will be reunited, when the Lord calls us home.♥

Psalm 139:16 "Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me,  when as yet there was none of them (IN YOUR BOOK WERE WRITTEN EVERY ONE OF THEM THE DAYS THAT WERE FORMED FOR ME - that tells me that God planned Rickey's life, from 1st breath to last).  I CHOOSE daily to embrace what I have been given - to love just a little bit better, forgive more quickly and make each moment count."

If after reading this, you aren't sure, or you have questions, please open your Bible, check out some of the scriptures I referenced, message me, or a Pastor, or a Christian friend! My greatest joy on this day would be knowing that because of Rickey's legacy, one more person is assured of their eternal home in Heaven!  ♥

{me, a chatterbox?}

if you have followed my blog at all you know that my heart has always been to share God's grace in the midst of human tragedy ... or wh...