Please Hug Them

I have a dear friend I’ve met through this blog.  Her name is Liana Wendy Howarth, a poet/songwriter who resides in Australia.  See https:/ /poetrycottage.wordpress.com/         She asked if I would put music to some of her work.  Here are the lyrics to one I recorded recently.  The recording is below:

PLEASE HUG THEM                                                                                                                        (for those who are hurting)                                                                                                                               
Tears are welling up inside, I see so much around me
Turmoil, sadness, unbelief, Too much for this heart to see                                            Children crying, some dying, hunger, thirst, poverty
No love given, no love there, vacant eyes stare distantly

Chorus:
There are so many hurting, so many feeling hopeless
So many lost, abandoned, sick and dying
And I’m too far away so all I can do is pray
God, please hug your loved ones
Those in need, today
Please hug them Lord in Jesus’ name
And take their pain away

Women lost without their homes; Men despair without income
Families torn, separated; Floods, fires and storms make them numb                       Watching death take victory, among them that are so close
Feeling left behind and worthless, overwhelmed by each new dose                          (Chorus) 

Hug them as they’ve never been hugged before
Hug them till love opens heaven’s door
Hug them till their knees lower to the floor
And with joy they praise and adore

So that is why I cry now, and stand before You broken
Release them from emptiness, let Love be heard and spoken                                                   All Your creatures are groaning and nothing can stay the same
Daily there is tragedy; Lord, reveal Your great Name                                                 (Chorus)                                                                                                                                                              Lyrics © 2015 Liana Wendy Howarth

Listen to HUG THEM:

 

Such beautiful and timely lyrics! This past year has brought more tragedy, turmoil and confusion than I can remember in such a short time.  The bad news seems never-ending.   What can we do? I believe it’s time for Christians to seriously fast and seriously pray.  In Esther 4:16  the people were asked to pray and fast for three days and nights! How difficult that would be! Honestly, I’m more of a prayer wimp than a prayer warrior. But the news of the day challenges me to become more of what Christ wants.

We read about Christians in some countries who are in prison for their faith, often tortured and sometimes killed.  We MUST pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ.  As an online missionary with Global Media Outreach,  I receive emails from people worldwide who are jobless, suffering and desperate.  My heart breaks for them.  How we need to pray!                                                                                                                                                       Moreover, many of us can also give. I make it a point of supporting ministries that are members of ECFA, the Evangelical Council of Financial Accountability.    Here are just a few worthwhile ministries. I realize there are many, many more:                                               China Aid:  ChinaAid                                                                                                               Global Media Outreach:   http://www.globalmediaoutreach.com/                                 Open Doors:   https://www.opendoors.org/                                                                               Samaritans Purse:   http://www.samaritanspurse.org/our-ministry/about-us/                 Teen Challenge:   http://www.teenchallenge.org/                                                               Voice of the Martyrs:   http://www.persecution.com/

 

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Baby Talk—Or Isaiah 55:11?

I loved our babies passionately. I would smother their faces with kisses, just as my mother would do with us. I was also passionate about God, and I yearned for our children to have that same passion.

I enjoyed talking to my babies, but I didn’t want to talk baby talk.   We did play “This little piggy went to market,” and they loved “Hickory dickory dock” when my fingers played mouse from their toes to their nose. But this mom wanted something meaningful to talk about.  So as well as nursery rhymes, I recited Scripture!

The idea came to me after reading Isaiah 55:11 (NKJV) “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” Wow! God’s Word would prosper our children!

I also read in Deuteronomy 11:18-19 that we are to teach our children God’s Word and talk to them about it when we walk down the road, when we sit in our homes, when we lie down and when we rise up. In other words, all the time!

I began praying aloud with them when they were newborn. It soon became routine to recite Scripture aloud when I changed diapers. I spoke with expression, careful to enunciate each word as if I expected them to understand. After all, God’s Word is alive and powerful!  I was amazed to discover God’s Word had a calming effect on my babies—even and especially when they were crying.

Memorizing comes easily for the very young, especially when put to music.  So I would also sing Scripture and simple hymns. Soon after our babies could speak their first words, God’s Word began spilling out of their mouths: John 3:16-18, Proverbs 3:5-6 and later the Lord’s Prayer.

Of course, it was reinforced through the years.  The kids are now grown. It blesses me to see them raising their children, in the same way, on God’s Word.

Children need to learn God’s Word at a young age.  As they grow, they need to learn to appropriate God’s Word in their lives. They need to see their parents doing the same. We learn God’s Word so it becomes a part of us—so that when life gets difficult, when temptation is there, we can use what we have stored in our hearts. We can cling to the promises and claim them for ourselves.

  • So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.   Isaiah 55:11 NKJV
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Studying the Bible is What Changes These Kids

It was 8:30 PM and I had just said goodnight to the guys in my Bible study at juvenile hall. I was closing the door to the unit when I glanced at the window of the steel door across the hall. The deputy must have seen me because immediately the electric door opened, so I entered.

Several boys came rushing up—they had been waiting!  Another Bible study facilitator had failed to show.  The deputy assigned us to a round table in the day room and nine boys crowded around it.

They were unusually loud and kept interrupting with questions. I had to tell them several times to settle down.

I knew Jerry had come to Christ a few weeks earlier, so I asked him if he had noticed any changes in his life since the Holy Spirit had come to live in him.

He said, “Yes, definitely!”
“Would you share some of those changes with us?”

He said, “Mainly I think about things differently.
I used to think about getting released and then doing bad stuff. I don’t think
that way anymore. Now I want to live differently. I want to read the Bible and know God better—and I want to do what’s good.”

I presented the message of Jesus to the new guys. All said they wanted to turn from their sins and follow Jesus. Even those who were having sex with their girlfriends said they were willing to stop. They wanted to get off the wide road of life and walk the narrow road.

The whole group changed before my eyes. The rowdiness stopped. They became solemn and tender. One said he realizes he needs to write a letter to ask someone for forgiveness. Another said he has a relative he needs to forgive. Everyone had an issue they were willing to surrender to Jesus.

The deputy was standing nearby.  Usually, I leave before 9 PM, but the deputy said that when he’s on duty I can stay  later.  He said, “Studying the Bible is the only thing that changes these kids.”

  • All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.   2 Timothy 3:16-17 NLV
  •  Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.    Matthew 7:13-14
  • SONG:  INVITE A FRIEND – By Kathleen
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Singing a Man Into Heaven

Years ago I was blessed to be involved in a music ministry with two precious women. Their voices were professional. Mine was mediocre. But they needed me — I played guitar and could harmonize.

Every Thursday, the three of us went to the hospital. We rode the elevator up to the long-term floor where many people had one foot in this life and one in the next.

The nurses were expecting us and usually had a list of patients for us to visit.  I’d play my guitar and the three of us would sing.  Some pretty amazing harmony came out of us, though we never practiced.  We just wanted to bless these dear folks by singing songs to them about Jesus, and on occasion, have the privilege of ushering them into the arms of Jesus.

That’s what happened one day when we entered a room where a man with a sun-aged face lay, eyes shut, breathing heavily. His family was gathered around him and they assured us that he’d been in a coma for days and wouldn’t be able to appreciate our music. We offered to sing anyway—for them. They said they’d like that.

As we began to sing Amazing Grace, How Sweet the Sound that Saved a Wretch Like Me, the man in the coma opened his eyes, raised his head, and smiled a toothless grin at us. He mouthed the words as we sang, and with tears welling up in his eyes, he was with us for a good minute or two. Then he leaned back, took a deep breath, and began his life in the physical presence of His Lord.

We never forgot that day—the day we joined the angels in singing a man into heaven—the angelic choir on one side of the veil, and we on the other, with Jesus in both places. What a privilege it is to be His voice to those who need a fresh touch of His Amazing Grace.

  • And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory,  glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.  For of His fullness we have all received grace upon grace.    John 1:14, 16

 

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Hang Around Afterward

When our young friend Susan married and moved away, she asked me an interesting question.  “We won’t know anyone in our new community. What’s the best way to meet people?”

“Hmm.  First you’ll want to meet your new neighbors. You might even invite them over for dessert.  When you attend church and the service ends, don’t rush to your car.  Hang around afterward. Look for ways you can get involved and be of service. Join a couples’ Bible study or start one in your home.”

They did all the above and more!  Susan later said they felt sort of silly that first day at church, standing in the narthex just talking to each other. But shortly another couple approached and asked if they were new!  That was the beginning of a long-time friendship. They not only joined a couples’ Bible study,  they became the new assistant leaders for the church’s high school youth group.

Since there were elderly people living on either side of them,  Susan’s husband offered to mow their front lawns along with his own, without charge. When it snowed he would shovel their walkways in addition to his own.  He said he needed the exercise and it was his way of reaching out with the love of Christ.

There are many ways to meet people and to serve God.  We only need to keep alert for the opportunities around us.  Moreover, fellowship with one another is good. When the church service ends, let’s remember not rush to our cars, but hang around afterward.

 

 

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The Obscene Phone Call

Remember the old days before caller ID, when people would sometimes receive obscene phone calls?  Back then I used to wonder what I’d do if I ever received one. Most likely I’d hang up.

Then one day it happened, and I started to do just that. But before the receiver went down, I stopped myself and shot up an arrow prayer with a simple, “God help me!”

Instead of listening to his filthy talk, I said, “Jesus loves you. Jesus died for your sins. Jesus wants to forgive you for this sin.  Jesus can deliver you from sin.  You need Jesus to help you, etc.”

He continued talking while I repeatedly emphasized the name Jesus with every sentence I spoke. I knew there was power in Jesus’ name, and I was using it.  He kept talking, but I didn’t hear what he was saying because I was talking LOUDER.

When he didn’t stop I decided to address Satan.  “Satan, I command you in the name of Jesus Christ, to leave this man’s body.  Satan, I demand you leave his presence and never return. I am claiming this man’s soul for Jesus Christ. You cannot touch him!”

The man suddenly became quiet. Then he said, “Help me.”

By then my voice was quivering. “You have a sexual addiction and nothing can help you except Jesus Christ.  Nothing else! No doctor can deliver you from this addiction, only Jesus. Do you want Jesus to help you?”

“Yes, but can I call you back in five minutes?”

I said, “Sure.” We hung up and I noticed my hands were shaking.  I immediately called my prayer partner and we quickly prayed together that he would call back and that God would give me wisdom.

Five minutes later the phone rang.  He admitted he had a problem and needed God’s help. We talked a short while and then I invited him to receive Jesus as his Lord and Savior. He said he wanted to.  So he prayed on the phone and asked Jesus to come into his life, to forgive him and to change him. Then I gave him the name of a Christian counselor for follow-up.  He politely thanked me and we hung up.

I sat for a moment in disbelief.  Where did I get such boldness?  Truly it was not me, but God working in and through me.  What I did, I believe any other Christian can do as well. Jesus IN us is more powerful than Satan who is in the world.  We need to believe it—because it’s true.

  • Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.    Ephesians 3:20
  • You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.   1 John 4:4  
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Suffering in Obedience to God

I read an extraordinary book I wish all could read:  The Insanity of God by Nik Ripken. It’s a collection of testimonies from our brothers and sisters in Christ who are suffering around the world today—persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ as normal Christianity.  That’s right!  Suffering is NORMAL Christianity for them!

I rejoiced to learn how the gospel continues to spread worldwide, despite horrible demonic opposition.  Yet I wanted to weep with sadness as the lukewarm Christianity of much of the American Church was exposed as a shameful counterfeit.

Does it surprise you that many churches in America are lukewarm and as such, are counterfeit?   Jesus said in Revelation 3:  “Because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”

I certainly don’t want to be lukewarm in my faith. Life often requires sacrifice and suffering. Yes, life is short. Very short. It’s getting shorter every day.

Romans 8:18 tells us that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us someday.  In my own life I have gone so far as to give thanks for the difficult times.  Is that hard to do?  It’s VERY hard!

Obedience is not easy!  Yet obedience is what God wants from us.   Ephesians 5:20 tells us to give thanks for all things. We may have to grit our teeth to say it, but when we are obedient in this, we are showing God that we are trusting Him in this difficult situation, even if we don’t like it. Trusting God is what the Christian life is all about. When we are obedient God rewards us.

We may not see the reward right away, but it will come. Meanwhile, we will experience peace, joy and contentment in knowing we have obeyed and pleased God.

  • always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.    Ephesians 5:2
  • I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot.  I wish you were either one or the other!  So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.  Revelation 3:15-16
  • I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.    John 16:33
  • SONG: GOD IS READYby Kathleen:

     

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I’ll Go to Heaven ‘Cuz I Said “The Prayer”

One evening while facilitating a Bible study at the jail I asked, “If you were to die today do you know where you’d go?”

I was surprised at the answers. One woman said she’d go to heaven because she got saved ten years ago when she had said the “sinner’s prayer.” She thought the prayer had saved her, even though she’d continued in her life of sin!

Another woman said she was sure she’d go to heaven because “I’m a good person. I’ve never really done anything wrong.”

I wanted to say, “HELLO!  Do you know where you are?”

I explained that Jesus once told a story about two roads in life. The wide road has many people on it, but it leads to destruction.  Jesus said the narrow road leads to life. Then He added, “only a few find it.”

I told them that I believe we are all on the wide road when we start out in life. We are all sinners and we are all destined to spend eternity separated from God in hell.

That is why Jesus came. He wanted to save us so we wouldn’t have to go there!  When we make the decision to give our lives to Jesus, that is when we step off the wide road and step onto the narrow road. That is when we change our direction in life. There MUST be change when we come to Christ.

Consider a person who has given his life to Jesus and starts walking down the narrow road of life. She’s reading the Bible, praying, obeying God, loving others and one day she weakens and falls into sin. What happens then?

She can say, “I’m just a loser and I can’t live the Christian life. I might as well keep on sinning.”

Or she can say, “Dear God, I am so sorry. Help me never do that again.” Then she gets back on her feet and continues down the narrow road.  She may find herself falling into sin once in a while, but she repents—turns away from her sin and continues down the narrow road of life—all the way to heaven.

In my own life I have found the longer I walk with Jesus, the less and less I fall into sin.  If I do, I quickly come to my senses, repent and continue following Jesus.

Why is that? It’s because once I found forgiveness, surrendered my life to Christ and began walking that narrow road of life, I experienced the love of God and it became more and more difficult to sin. When I did sin, I was miserable!

That miserable feeling is the Holy Spirit convicting us of sin. We’ll feel miserable until we have repented—which means to turn around and go the other way.

  • Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.    Matthew 7:13-14
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The Miracle of the 18-Wheeler

It was dark and we were driving through a large, unfamiliar city—in the days before GPS.  The kids were in the back seat, one was asleep. We were looking for our hotel, but clearly we were lost.

Dan made a turn onto a narrow road and discovered it was a freeway off-ramp—and we were going the wrong way!  Suddenly, before he could put the car in reverse, an 18-wheeler was coming toward us at high speed.

There was no room to move to the right or to the left. We were going to be hit head-on! The monstrous truck was almost on us when I did the only thing I knew to do.

I called on the only name that offered hope. I screamed, “JESUS  HELP!”

INSTANTLY the 18-wheeler was behind us, driving away from us as if we had not been in its path!  There was no slowing down, no swerving, no screeching of brakes, no horn honking.  It simply came up close to us and then suddenly it was behind us—as though it had somehow been lifted above and then set down behind us.

As Dan put the car in reverse, both he and our daughter exclaimed, “What happened? How did that happen?”

I KNEW what had happened!  I was praising and thanking God through tears.

Truly, there is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”  I used to think this verse only referred to eternal salvation. That night I discovered it also refers to the here and now.

Years later my husband, who is not yet a follower of Jesus,  denies it happened.  I too began to have doubts and wondered if perhaps it was something I had dreamed.  Then a few ago our daughter asked, “Mom, do you remember that time we were traveling and that huge truck was coming toward us and then suddenly it was behind us?  Was that a miracle?”

“You remember?”

“Mom, it’s something I will never forget!”

  • You will praise the name of the Lord your God, who has worked wonders for you. Joel 2:26b
  • Salvation is found in no-one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.    Acts 4:12
  • Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.   Romans 10:13
  • SONG: DEAR LORD OF LORD  by Kathleen – click to listen:

     

 

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College Student: Evangelism is Difficult!

We were at the beach with friends when Riley, a college student, asked me about evangelism. “Everywhere I go people need the Lord. We’re the ones who need to tell them—yet I find it difficult.  Can you give me some pointers?”

“Riley, often the easiest way to learn to share your faith is to just start doing it. I have some tracts with me.  Why don’t we walk on the pier and talk to some people.  People on the pier usually don’t have time constraints; they’re fishing or enjoying the view.”

He was eager to watch and learn. I thought the survey method would be simplest: “Hi there! We’re doing a one-question survey. Would you be willing to answer a question? The question is:  If you were to die today, do you know where you would go?”

Most said they’d probably go to heaven because they were good people.

I’d say,  “I’m sure you are good. But the Bible tells us nobody is good enough. That’s why Jesus came—to die for your sins and mine—so we can someday freely enter heaven. I have a little booklet, Would You Like To Know God Personally? It explains how to make Jesus Christ your Savior.  May I give it to you?”

I had written on the back of each booklet, a website where people can receive more information and a free online mentor to counsel them.
The website, www.godlife.com  is from of Global Media Outreach.

One guy said he’d probably go to hell.  I said, “You know, we’re all sinners and we all deserve to go to hell. That’s why Jesus came—to save us–so we don’t have to end up there. I have a little booklet with information right from the Bible. It explains how we can make Jesus our Savior and Lord.”

He eagerly began reading it.

Riley, on the other hand, who was shadowing me, said, “Why are you leaving these people with a booklet? Why don’t you encourage them to pray and receive Jesus now?”

“It’s because they may not be ready.  This is the most important decision of their lives. People need time to think about it, to digest it.  It took me weeks before I could make the sincere decision to surrender my life to Jesus Christ.

“If God is drawing them to Himself, then God will use the booklets. You and I are simply scattering and planting seeds. Someone else will water them.  God will make them grow.”

  • So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.    1 Corinthians 3:7
  • Salvation is found in no one else,  for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”    Acts 4:12
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