Saturday, February 23, 2013

Trent's Story

On Friday February 18, 2011, God did the unthinkable in our life: He chose to take our 12-year-old son, Trent, home to heaven in a skiing accident.
It is only considered “the unthinkable” because our plans are not God’s plans, and our ways are not God’s ways.

Before Trent was born we had entrusted the Lord with his life and had asked Him, above all else, to bring salvation to our son. Our greatest desire was that he would be used in a mighty way for God’s glory, and that God would let him dwell in heaven for eternity.

God answered our prayers that Friday in a mightier way than we could have imagined, and we have been rejoicing in His good works and His mercies ever since.

Trent was a boy who truly lived. From the very beginning he did what he loved and enjoyed to the full the gifts and skills that God had given him. In his short life he saw much of this world, traveling as far as India, the Bahamas, Bass Pro Shop in Missouri where he explored his favorite destination on his golden birthday, as well as many family camping trips. God instilled a love of hunting and fishing in Trent, and a joy of the great outdoors. Since he was little all he wanted was to turn 12 to be able to go deer hunting. During his 12th year God allowed him to shoot two deer. Trent loved to pick on his siblings Alexis, Cole, Grace, and Micah, to protect his mother, to snuggle with his father, and to be with his friends, especially his best friends: Thomas and Samuel. He tried everything that interested him, even carving his own long bow and succeeding in taxidermy. In his short years he lived life to the fullest.

But as we are all destined to, Trent also died. On Friday, February 18, 2011, we said goodbye to our son as he left for a skiing trip with his friends, not knowing that he would never be coming back home. God says that He knows the number of our days, that He has created each one, and that He will do what He pleases (Psalm 115:3; Job14:5).

God’s standards to enter His kingdom are high: He expects perfection. Trent was not perfect, not even close. God graciously provided His perfect Son, Jesus Christ, as the atonement for our sinfulness and requires that we simply believe and acknowledge Him for it. 

For most of his life Trent struggled with his own sinfulness before God. He knew that he was not right before God, and nothing he could do would ever make up for the sins he had committed to make him worthy to enter heaven. In the spring of 2010, God graciously chose to bring salvation to Trent through repentance and the saving grace of Christ Jesus. Trent’s life was transformed and we enjoyed the young fruit in his life as we watched God work.

It was with great peace and much rejoicing, then, that we as his family have sent him off before us and accepted God’s perfect plan for Trent’s life. Our longing is that God would be glorified in what He has done to wake up many to the realization that we are not guaranteed any number of years in this world (Psalm 39:4-5).

On Friday morning we had our son; on Friday afternoon he was gone.

What we have asked so many people since the accident is: “What if it had been you? Where would you be right now?”

We diligently raised Trent up to know his sinful state and taught him what the Word of God says because we know the implications of denying Christ now, and God was gracious to answer our prayers and to save him. Scripture says that the gospel will go forth with much sorrow and heartache. Please let Trent’s short life be a wake-up call to you. We are rejoicing in the sorrow because we know where our son is and that we will one day be with him again for eternity because of our own salvation.

God's mercies are new every day and His peace does surpass all understanding (Lamentations 3:22-23; Philippians 4:6-7). God has been so gracious to us by blessing us first of all with His peace in His perfect plan. The family and friends who have surrounded us and have lifted us up in prayer are amazing and another testimony to God’s goodness.

It is with great rejoicing that we release our son, Trent, age 12, to our Heavenly Father. Dance before your King, my son.

The Romans road to salvation:
Romans 3:23; 3:10-18; 6:23; 5:8; 10:9; 10:13; 5:1; 8:1; 8:38-39

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Bible Study~ Genesis 3-4

Genesis 3-4

*Who is it about? God or us?

*When did the Fall of Man happen? How/why was Satan in the form of a serpent? What was Satan's deception? (To twist the word of God-to indicate that God might have been wrong) Why did he go to Eve first? (1 Timothy 2:12-15) Where was Adam? Was God still in control of His creation when Adam and Eve ate the fruit? (Yes- Revealed by the fact that it is God who decides on the punishment.)

*God's curses because of the Fall: Cursed is the opposite of blessed. In Genesis God promised blessings for obedience, curses for disobedience. (Genesis 1:22&28; Deuteronomy 28)

First to the serpent: Verses 3:14-15 (cross reference Revelation 12) Represents a judgment against all who have sinned, even the serpent (Romans 3:23/All have sinned). Also an indication that Satan will be defeated, although not immediately. (Jesus' heel was “struck” on the cross; Satan's head crushed-Revelation 13:3) “All the days of your life,” implies that Satan's life has been extended to fulfill God's plan of salvation through the offspring of the woman (and ultimately through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus).

The gospel is first presented to Satan pointing to his defeat and Christ's victory (Isaiah 53:12; Luke 24:26, 46-47; Romans 16:20; 2 Cor 1:5-7; Col 1:24; 1Peter 1:11; Rev 20:10). A promise was made to mankind that enmity (hostility) would be place between the woman and the serpent/ the saved and unsaved/those who love God and those who don't. How is that a promise? (She was given a change of heart- she would despise the serpent- God's grace of salvation.)

Second curse to the woman: Verses 3:16, (Pain in childbirth, longing to rule over her husband). Submission prior to the fall was a pleasant position- Adam was to protect his wife/reflection of the trinity and Christ's role of submission. After the fall it would be a great burden and longing for her to rule over her husband, ultimately causing marital issues, men to not act as men/leaders, etc.. (Judges 4; Isaiah 3:12; Ephesians 5:22-25; Amos 4:1) Represents her loss of freedom and spiritual liberty~ she would be under bondage; the dominion of sin in the soul is compared to that of a husband ruling her.

Third curse was to the man: Verses 3:17-19. God can not spare passing judgment. The earth that was blessed is now cursed, resulting in toil in working it. It was cursed because of man's sin. Adam was not cursed himself as the serpent was, but instead the ground was cursed for his sake. The result was sickness, melancholy, sorrow, and ultimately death in various shapes (everything dies-dreams, plans, plants, animals, people).

The righteousness of God is to be acknowledged in all the sad consequences of sin-- remembering “how it was/how it should be” causes us to reflect on the God who will one day make it all perfect again. God's mercy is seen in vs. 19: the fact that they would still eat though it would be through sorrow-there would still be some joy. There is even the hope of death as a rest which brings the promise of relief from the curse. Man's days were cut short~ a mercy from God. Prior to the Fall, all mankind would have been allowed to enter heaven (under the pretext of never sinning), Adam's curse reveals the difficulty now of entering heaven.

Verse 3:21

  • God made garments of skin for Adam and Eve. Before the Fall there was no death. God presented the first sacrifice representing the Levitical sacrificial system to later be implemented, and ultimately pointing to the sacrifice for sinners of His own son, Jesus.

Verse 22-24

Adam and Eve were drove out of the garden by God himself. Why? (To protect them from eating of the tree of life and living forever under the curse of sin/never being able to receive a resurrected body.) Cherubim were placed at the gate with flaming swords that flashed back and forth to guard the garden. Do you think the Garden of Eden is still there today?

*Chapter 4 ~ Eve gave birth to her firstborn, a son. The curse has begun already evidenced by the hostility of ungodly Cain and godly Able. Why was Cain so upset about God's response to his offering? Was it the offering that God did not accept, or his heart attitude? (Both, God specifically required a blood sacrifice but Cain brought vegetation; he was not saved, therefor his offering could not be accepted by God.)

Just because somebody seeks to sincerely worship God does not mean that God accepts the sacrifice. Does this seem “cruel” of God? Does God owe us salvation? Cain was to be his “brother's keeper,” but instead he became his brother's murderer.

Sin always needs to be punished. What was Cain's punishment? (vs 4:11-12, under a curse, driven from the ground, the ground will no longer yield its crops [remember Cain was a farmer, the punishment was very close to his heart], he would become a restless wanderer.) Out of Cain, a wicked lineage of people began, setting the stage for the battle between the ungodly and the righteous, and making clearer the obvious need for a Savior.

With prayers that the gospel of Jesus Christ may become sweeter to you day by day as you reflect on His word and His grace to you as a sinner ~ Terri
Bible Study Credits: Terri Stellrecht

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

On the Hard Days

That day, when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.”
Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat.
There were also other boats with him.

A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped.
Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him,
“Teacher, don't you care if we drown?”

He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves,
“Quiet! Be still!”
Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

They were terrified and asked each other,
“Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
Mark 4:35-41

Dates on a calender should not have the power to have so much control over a persons life. For nearly four decades I was able to enjoy the month of February. It always brought with it Valentines Day, chocolate hearts and cards, and the hope of warmer weather to come. Now the days bring paralyzing grief, a return of tears that won't end, and a flood of memories. I thought goat deliveries and baby chicks would help speed the days and consume me with busyness, but they have only proven to be too bitter-sweet to enjoy.

{Jesus} said to His disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” Mark 4:40

I've been reading through the gospels again, my second round in our ninety day New Testament marathon; my anchor of sanity, the words that keep my soul focused.

Do I still have no faith? Rob reminded me that having faith doesn't mean that you don't have tears. Heart wrenching, sobbing, curled up next to the toilet tears. Begging Jesus to meet you there, on that tile floor, so that you can get up, start the day and tend to your other children kind of tears.

The second year is harder, ladies. I've hesitated to write that since I know many of you haven't even finished the first year yet. Satan does a doozey of a job to thwart the plans of God and twist whatever hope is left after the first twelve months of grief.

The kids and I have been reading John Bunyan's book, The Holy War,this week (it's a required assignment, otherwise our children do not usually gladly endure sitting through fifty-five pages a day of Old English language). My eyes have been opened, once again, to the fact that there is a battle raging – a battle for souls. Night terrors, in a girl too big to be scared of the boogey man, only revealed it again. The power of prayer reminds us of who wins in the end.

Randy Alcorn, in his book Heaven, talks about the liar of all lies, the great deceiver that masquerades as an angel of light dulling our minds to the reality of eternity:

“Our enemy slanders three things: God's person, God's people, and God's place – namely Heaven.

What better way for the devil and his demons to attack us than to whisper lies about the very place on which God tells us to set our heart and minds?

Satan need not convince us that Heaven doesn't exist, He need only convince us that Heaven is a place of boring, unearthly existence. If we believe that lie, we'll be robbed of our joy and anticipation, we'll set our minds on this life, and not the next, and we won't be motivated to share our faith. Why should we share the 'good news' that people can spend an eternity in a boring, ghostly place that even we're not looking forward to?

{Satan} cannot keep Christ from defeating him, but he can persuade us that Christ's victory is only partial, that God will abandon his original plan for mankind and the earth. Because Satan hates us, he's determined to rob us of the joy we'd have if we believed what God tells us about the magnificent world to come....

Sitting here in a dark world, we must remind ourselves what Scripture tells us about Heaven. We will one day be delivered from blindness that separates us from the real world. We'll realize then the stupefying bewitchment we've lived under. By God's grace, may we ... clearly see the liberating truth about Christ the King and Heaven, his Kingdom.”

I wonder, as Jesus sat in that boat with His disciples – the God man who lived not by His own power but by God's, the maker of Heaven and Earth itself – how He had the patience to not rap these men upside the head. They had walked with him, seen the miracles, heard the promises. Yet, so easily, like us, they got flustered at the first test.

God seems to “step away” sometimes in suffering, and makes us depend on His Word alone. Is it sufficient? Will we hinge everything on it? Do we allow it to sustain us? The splitting of hairs is so fine, our sin runs so deep, our understanding of God is so shallow.

We demand of Him, “Give me grace, do it my way, don't let it hurt.”But the hurt reveals. It reveals what we cling to. It reveals that we have not fully surrendered to Christ as King and Lord, sovereign of all, over every aspect of our lives. It reveals that we really don't think He's capable when we are honest with ourselves; that He may not have a master plan in all of this.

But it wasn't until the winds were blowing the hardest, the squall was in its most furious state, and the waves had finally broken over the boat that the disciples bothered to wake Jesus, and in desperation cried out for a Savior.

“The honest cries of a broken heart are better than a hallelujah,” sings Amy Grant. Pain brings honesty that can't be faked. It brings an opportunity to cry out to God. It forces us to figure out who He really is.

Crying on the floor, begging for rather than demanding grace, acknowledging God's perfect ways, waiting for my Savior to quiet the storm, and longing like I've never before longed for Heaven … reminding myself that the glory to be revealed will not even be worth comparing to this trial (Romans 8:18) that this life is as a mist (James 4:14), that my days are numbered (Psalm 39:4), and that my God is fully capable to see me through to the end (Isaiah 46:4), even through the second anniversary date.

“Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey Him!” Mark 4:41

Bible Study ~ Genesis 1-2

Genesis 1-2

*Who is it about? God or us? Who did you learn more about as you studied this passage?

Creation – God took chaos and made it order – He spoke the world into existence –

Genesis 1:16b “He also made the stars.”

*Who is the “us?” Genesis 1:26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image.”

Triune God- Trinity - God the Father; God the Son; God the Holy Spirit

Father: Creator

Jesus: John 1:1-3 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

Holy Spirit: Genesis 1:2 “the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.”Psalm 33:6-7

By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath [Spirit] of His mouth.” See also Isaiah 45:8

*What did Jesus do before the creation of the world?

1. Fellowship with God – John 17:5 “And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.”

2. Creating angels – Job 38:4, 7 “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand . . . while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?”

 Fall of Satan: “The devil was certainly created before the creation of the world. Job 38:4-7 tells us that when the foundation of the earth was laid, "the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy." These were the heavenly beings and the devil had certainly already been created.”

 3. Planning for the Church. Ephesians 3:9 “and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery (Church), which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things.”

4. Adopting us into His family – Ephesians 1:4 “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will”

5. Preparing for the future Kingdom – Matthew 25:34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ’Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.”

6. Providing salvation for the world – 1 Peter 1:18-20 “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.”

*Why did God create the world? For His own glory-revealed specifically in Jesus/Gospel/Salvation/He will be praised for eternity. Scripture teaches us that God created the world and all that is in it to portray His own glory – to put His glory on display-. We are the “audience” of that glory. Psalm 19:1f; 8:1; 50:6; 89:5

*Why did God create man? To be image bearers of God Himself- reflectors/mirrors reflecting God.

This earth is temporary – God will one day create the New Heaven to be permanently established on earth, without the curse, for those who are saved in Christ.

Revelation 21:1-4

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Bible Study ~ James 5:7-18

James 5:7-18

*Who is it about? Us or God? What did you learn about God in this passage?

*James opens by encouraging the believers to stand firm and wait patiently (vs.7-11) - wait patiently for what? (For Jesus' return when all will be made right; he warns/encourages them about the judgment to come.)

*James makes the shift from swearing, to its opposite: praying (vs.12). He instructs the believers when to pray: in times of trouble, when they're happy, sick, etc. – they should pray in all circumstances.

*James instructs the believers to call upon the elders of the church for prayer. In the previous passages he just finished warning them about their actions towards each other (favoritism, bitter envy, slander, quarrels, etc.). This command to pray together would mean that there would need to be unity and submission in the church body, which would unleash the power of believers praying together (Matthew 18:19-20; John 15:7-17).

*They should pray in the name of the Lord Jesus which is another expression of submission. It is acknowledging God's right to be God, and allowing Him to do what He wants according to His ways, not ours. How do you usually pray? Wanting God to give you what you want? Or asking for what He wants?

*They should pray in faith, not doubting God's good will, and not demanding of God, but accepting what He gives as the answer.

*They should confess their sins, which would be evidence of repaired relationships. “As a first result of their hardships, their relationship with God has been suffering. They are falling into temptation to doubt God (1:6), to blame God (1:13) and to bargain with God (5:12). James is directing them back to God in faith with a reliance on him in prayer.” Is repentance and confession hard for you to do in front of others?

* “A second result of their adversities is that their relationships with each other have been suffering... He points out the oneness we have with each other because of our common need for forgiveness. If we consciously stand together before God as sinners needing grace and wanting righteousness, that stance has compelling application to our relationships. Instead of judging each other, we will be driven to confess to each other. Instead of desiring to place guilt on each other, we will become eager to forgive each other. Instead of moving to criticize, we will move to intercede for each other. ((Explain)) This, too, James learned from Jesus (Mt 5:23-24; 6:12-15; 7:1-5).”

“This is the message of grace. God gives good gifts because he is full of compassion and mercy. Grace is the element in God's character which James wants his readers to know with absolute confidence. The Christian can be patient in suffering and consider trials pure joy because of the assurance that God will give wonderfully good gifts even through the hardships. Fundamental for Christian practice is Christian belief.
*What is the truth about God? Is he this God of grace or not? We are called over and over in James's letter to believe this truth – believe it, believe it, believe it. And then act accordingly. Put belief into practice by being patient in the endurance of suffering.”

Bible Study credit: Terri Stellrecht