Mrs. B Prayed

July 28, 2017

Friends,
Last Sunday, after hearing the mission’s report by my friend’s daughter at their church and visiting other friends, including at the nursing home, I visited Mr. and Mrs. B at their home where they’ve lived most of their nearly 65 years of marriage. I’m always asking my prayer partners to be praying for the Bs and for them to get into right relationship with Jesus and that day was no exception. I was excited to announce that evening that Mrs. B had finally humbled herself to pray for forgiveness and salvation!!!

Mr. B had repeated a prayer after me several months ago to receive from the Lord forgiveness and salvation but Mrs. B had still, over the months (including over the last 17 years that I’ve known them), refused to do so. I’ve been out to the country to visit them several times this year, but each time she still declined to pray. Last Sunday I had a small feeling that “today was the day”. I greeted and hugged Mr. B when I entered their house and a few minutes later I went into their kitchen where Mrs. B was sitting at the table huddled under the cuddly mint green blanket I’d given her for her 87th birthday in January.

I hugged Mrs. B and asked her how she was doing and she said something like “puny” or “pitiful” (two words she often uses). The poor thing has already been on hospice for a brain tumor all of 2017, and a week ago Wednesday when I’d called, I’d found out she has pneumonia. (Their three kids have been taking turns caring for her all year and they have a hospice nurse as well as a woman who comes in to cook and clean.)

Mr. B came into the kitchen and sat down with us and they then told me about their night before –that Mrs. B could barely breathe and they’d had to call the nurse at almost midnight who came from a half hour away to adjust her breathing machine. The nurse was a help but both Mr. and Mrs. B stressed to me how much Mrs. B had wished she could just die.

Mrs. B said it again to me, “I really would rather be dead.”

I stroked her back and arm and said after a pause, “But we don’t die, you know.”

The Bs both nodded and I went on: “Our spirits immediately go to one place or the other.”

They nodded in agreement again so I gently said to Mrs. B, “Don’t you want to make the choice to go to Heaven instead of Hell?”

Shockingly, Mrs. B, this time, said, “Yeah. But I don’t think God can forgive me because I’ve been so mean.”

“But that is why we need a Savior,” I responded. “And because of Him God will forgive anything.”

She nodded.

“Besides, Mr. B has been mean too.” It was a half-joke and I added, “And so have I.”

They gave a slight laugh and then I asked, “Do you want to pray a prayer after me?”

“Yes,” was Mrs. B’s answer.

I hugged Mrs. B tighter and my tears began flowing as we began to pray and Mrs. B asked God to grant her His forgiveness and salvation, and to be in eternity with Him. I saw, after we had prayed, that Mr. B was wiping away some tears too. I was so, so relieved and so grateful to the Lord for His power and compassion and mercy and ability to bring a stubborn sheep to salvation!

“My daughter is trying to love Jesus too,” Mrs. B said after we’d prayed.

That surprised and gladdened me because it seemed that this “heathen” family could maybe all turn to the Lord eventually. How good God is!

I stayed talking with Mr. and Mrs. B about an hour more, several times getting up to get ice cubes from the freezer to give to her to chew on as she requested. Then when she started getting sleepy, I prayed with them for God’s comfort and strength and continued mercy, took two photos of us together, hugged them tightly, and left. As I drove away, I cried some more with relief and said, “God, now You are going to take her.” I felt that He was saying to my spirit that the very next day she would go quickly downhill.

Well, today as I was halfway through writing this post, I decided to call the Bs. Their son answered and he told me that Mrs. B had been okay Monday morning, but in the afternoon had suddenly and greatly worsened. Morphine had been given to her and she went to sleep and hasn’t woken up since. Their son said that her vitals are okay but she is breathing on one lung and that her kidneys and bowels have shut down. The doctor has given her less than a week to live, but I pray the Lord takes her in His compassionate and perfect timing. Maybe today or tomorrow.

For some reason I’ve been shedding a lot of tears since this news today. I guess maybe because I’m so un-nerved to think that had I not been obedient to the Lord, I would be devastated beyond words to know that Mrs. B had never prayed to ask the Lord to forgive her and save her. Yet what huge, huge relief to be able to believe that she has escaped Hell because she DID pray, willingly and sincerely, this last Sunday! Yet she escaped by only one day!!! ONE day! It’s scary.

I keep thinking, “What if…?” What if my friend hadn’t invited me to her church to hear the mission report? What if not wanting to take the two hour drive to that church would have kept me from going out to the country on Sunday? What if I’d chosen to take time to visit too many others and not the Bs? What if I’d not mentioned eternity when the Bs mentioned that Mrs. B had wished for death in her misery? What if I’d not been gentle enough or courageous enough in my actions, expressions, and words? What if she had said “No” –again?

But she didn’t say no. She said “Yes.” And she prayed very sweetly after me as I led her in the simple prayer of asking Jesus to forgive her and save her.

I am so, so, so glad and relieved to be able to look forward to being with both the Bs in Heaven. Because God is faithful and exceedingly merciful and, even though I vigorously teach that obedience and knowing the Lord is essential (1 John 2:3-6 w/ John 17:3), God’s mercy, we gratefully know, triumphs over judgement (Ja. 2:13) for those who unify themselves with Him even at the very last hour of their lives. (Mt. 20:1-16)

Praise be to the Lord who has heard, and worked, and answered, and saved!

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

P.S.  Exactly 22 minutes after I posted this, I got a text at 5:49 p.m. that Mrs. B has passed away.

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Joey & Rory

July 26, 2017

Friends,
I drove two hours out to the country on Sunday to hear a friend’s 17 year old daughter and three others give their report in their church about the Southeast Asia mission trip they had just returned from. It was precious. Another friend who I’d invited to meet me there attended also. She and I went to lunch after and then later sat in her car to talk and pray and listen to a music CD of a couple I’d never heard of till then —Joey and Rory. That evening she sent me this song and I just listened to it today:

https://youtu.be/majRtw3cvec

I went on today to also watch and listen to the very beautiful story of how this couple met and how they knew God was orchestrating it. View this:

https://youtu.be/zPUNpPIvZwQ

Trying to make sense of the huge turn in their journey, listen to Rory’s words here:

https://youtu.be/ZoDUYhweFbg

Besides their stunning songs, music, and personalities, their story is extraordinary and both sad and wonderful. Here is a tribute to Joey:

https://youtu.be/xDfAJEX7Dyo

And another one:

https://youtu.be/VvbGRjIpaRQ

And here is a link where Rory talks at Joey’s funeral:

https://youtu.be/x7ZTRF8c94A

Their songs and story have obviously touched my heart. I hope it touches your heart also and that their courage, faith, and love encourages us in whatever we are facing.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,

This little girl is half Agta and lives in a village next to the village I and my siblings grew up in. Her mom is an Agta woman and her dad is the Filipino pastor of their village. She needs help. Her dad has taken her to a city, a day’s bus drive away (each way), to have medicine put in her eye, and they need money to be able to do this on a regular basis. The family is very, very poor. Please consider giving to this girl and please tell others who also may be able to help.

Here is the link where a person can donate to help in this cause: http://partnersacrosscultures.org/donate In the box that says, “Person or trip for funds to go to” a person must type in “Agta” and then contact me at my comment page (which I will not publish) to let me know the amount given for this little daughter of the pastor. If someone would prefer to give to her through Paypal, just reach me through my comment page and I will send you my brother’s Paypal information.

For the Agta, even a fews dollars goes a long way. Thank you so much for contributing.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
My sister’s daughter, Violet, was on Japan’s national news today. She and some others volunteered to help with the clean-up necessary due to the terrible flood damage that happened in Hita, Oita, Japan the first week of this month.

The reason she is there is because she joined the group (for the first time) that my brother organizes every year to go to Hita to help him and his family share Christ and God’s Message with the Japanese. Each young person stays in a Japanese home and commits to serving their host family, while also helping with the evangelism activities my brother administrates.

I hope people are praying for those affected by the flood. There is much ruin and some family’s homes were washed away completely. May God comfort the people of Hita and may they see their need for The One who is All-powerful and is able to heal and help and save.

Violet can be seen working in several of the clips, and they also recorded a few statements from her. Watching her reminded me again of what a tender heart she has for others, and how she gives of her life whenever and wherever she can. (She is the one who raised over 22K through bake sales, etc. to purchase a well for the Hadza in Tanzania, Africa, which I posted about last year on 7/26/16.)

Here is the link to the Japanese newscast today:

 

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
“‘The church will be inhabited forever and the church through all generations. Their bloodguilt, which I have not pardoned, I will pardon.’ The LORD dwells in the church!” (Joel 3:20,21) Sound familiar? It shouldn’t. Maybe these verses actually say this: “‘Jesus will be inhabited forever and Jesus through all generations. His bloodguilt, which God has not pardoned, He will pardon.’ The LORD dwells in Jesus!”

Those who adhere to Replacement Theology tell us that all the passages in the Old Testament where God made promises to the Israelites regarding their nation, the physical land of Israel, and the city of Jerusalem are promises that have, since Christ’s resurrection, been removed and transferred to “the true church of Jesus Christ” (or, for those who take the brand of Fulfillment Theology, to “Christ Himself”). But can their teaching be the Truth? –Even as they contradict the statements of God?

The above is how the Replacement/Fulfillment Theology adherents have to read Joel 3:20,21, unless of course, they choose to believe that God breaks His promises. But here is what the verses actually say: “‘Judah will be inhabited forever and Jerusalem through all generations. Their bloodguilt, which I have not pardoned, I will pardon.’ The LORD dwells in Zion!”

Is God promising in these two verses something regarding the Jews’ homeland or should we believe that it refers to the church’s homeland? What is the plain meaning? Who is the promise, which God is giving through the prophet Joel, being given to? Certainly it can be seen that the whole of the book regards the Israelite nation and its separateness from all other nations. This is especially obvious in verses 1-3 of chapter 3 where God promises to “restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem” and “gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat” so that He can enter into judgement against the nations for what they have done to His people, His land, and His inheritance.

The Valley of Jehoshaphat is a literal place that separates Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, so if God foretells that His judgement against the nations will take place there, it is a falsehood to teach otherwise. Moreover, if the Lord says that this is “concerning My inheritance, My people Israel,” (Joel 3:2) then it seems that only pride or ignorance would cause someone to teach that God actually meant, “My inheritance, My people, the church.” Does such a teaching make sense when God goes on to say, “for they scattered My people among the nations and divided up My land”? (Same verse) How exactly have the nations divided up the land of the church so as to make God angry?

God promises again in Joel 3:12 that He plans to, and will, judge all the nations when they advance into the Valley of Jehoshaphat. He promises in verse 16 that He will roar from Zion and thunder from Jerusalem even while also being “a refuge for His people, a stronghold for the people of Israel.” In verse 17 He says, “Then you will know that I, the LORD your God, dwell in Zion, My holy hill.” These three verses alone reveal that God claims the hill of Zion as His, states that He dwells there, and states that He is the God and Fortress of those He is addressing, the people of Israel. The rest of verse 17 shows God saying, “Jerusalem will be holy; never again will foreigners invade her.” This is a further promise to the people to whom Joel was preaching –that their capital will one day be holy and forever free from all invasion. Considering history, verse 17 informs us that this promise is for the future, as does verse 18 which promises abundant prosperity and another (physical) situation that is future: “A fountain will flow out of the LORD’s house and will water the Valley of Shittim” –likely by irrigation means. However, for Egypt and Edom, a desolation is decreed. (v. 19)

So now we arrive again at Joel 3:20,21 which we began with: “‘Judah will be inhabited forever and Jerusalem through all generations. Their bloodguilt, which I have not pardoned, I will pardon.’ The LORD dwells in Zion!” This cannot refer to the church or to Jesus. The true church, since they are truly in Christ, has already had its bloodguilt pardoned, and Jesus has never had any bloodguilt, for He is, always has been, and always will be, perfect. Thus Joel 3:20,21 can only refer to the people who inhabit Judah, Jerusalem, and Zion whom God names as His own.

“Never again will My people be shamed.” God promises this in Joel 2:26 and again in verse 27. In verse 19 He promises, “Never again will I make you an object of scorn to the nations,” while verse 18 states, “Then the LORD will be jealous for His land and take pity on His people.” It says, “His land” and “His people”. In verse 20 God declares that He will drive the northern army into a parched land and into the eastern and western seas, creating a stench. References to armies and geography should necessitate that this be read literally.

The book of Joel was, and still is, a message to Israel specifically, not to the church specifically, and certainly not to Jesus. It is a call for Israel to repent that they may be spared when “the day of the LORD” comes upon mankind. “Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on My holy hill.” (Joel 2:1) For, as God says, “A nation has invaded My land, powerful and without number…” (1:6)

The book of Joel is “The word of the LORD that came to Joel son of Pethuel.” (Joel 1:1) “And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the LORD has said, among the survivors whom the LORD calls.” (2:32) Yes, “‘Judah will be inhabited forever and Jerusalem through all generations. Their bloodguilt, which I have not pardoned, I will pardon.’ The LORD dwells in Zion!” (3:20,21)

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
Most of us have heard the “plan of salvation” spelled out by the use of A, B, and C. I’ve added D, E, F, G, and H. Here is my version and addition:

A –Admit you are a sinner and under the curse of damnation.

B –Believe in Jesus Christ and what He did for us, and that He is both Savior and Lord over all.

C –Call out to Jesus to save you, repent of sin, and commit your entire life and being to Him.

D –Don’t look back at worldliness and sin but abandon them genuinely and completely.

E –Engage all your energy to serve, obey, and please Christ, the Captain.

F –Follow faithfully, forever, the Shepherd.

G –Glorify, praise, and petition the Lord throughout each day and in every circumstance.

H –Honor Christ in all you do, think, and say.

These A-H reminders will definitely give us a victorious walk with Jesus –full of righteousness, peace, and joy, an abundance of fruit, and a beautiful life in the presence of God eternally.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
Hopefully, we who are Americans, are, at this Fourth of July holiday time, thanking God that we are able to live in a country that, though far from perfect, has enabled people to enjoy many freedoms. Multitudes have sacrificed their lives for us and we need to be grateful. We need to respect and uphold our laws and our constitution, and we would benefit ourselves and our country to learn the true facts of our nation’s history, especially regarding the decades surrounding 1776.

Two Sundays ago our senior pastor gave a sermon that revealed some things I did not know (or hadn’t heard about for a long time) concerning the events surrounding the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Political sermons should be rare in the pulpit, but I do think it is pertinent sometimes, so that, and particularly in this time of political unrest, people will understand the real facts about the founding of our nation. Freedom of religion alongside Christian principles from God’s Word was definitely the foundation in the formation of our Constitution. Please listen to the sermon Gary gave on June 25 by clicking here:

http://gracearlington.com/resources/sermons-media/sermons/category/sunday-morning-sermon/

(My brother gave a great sermon yesterday and that can be watched or listened to by clicking at that same link.)

There is another excellent speech I would encourage everyone to watch on youtube. It’s by Trey Gowdy (Congressman from S.C.) and there he begins by asking, “Which do you value more –truth or freedom?” I value both of course, but I would certainly have said, “Truth” for there could not be real, lasting freedom without truth. But note what he says were the answers of those he asked.

Later, at about the 5:25 mark, Mr. Gowdy gives us insight into the art of persuasion, reminding us that neither insults nor hypocrisy work well. (Indeed, so why is there so much of both throughout our country?) Instead, he reminds us, that which will create an atmosphere for being persuasive is relationship –showing others that you truly care about them, and that your true concern for them is the reason why you are trying to persuade them in the first place, even while respecting their freedom to reject your viewpoint. Here is that link:

https://youtu.be/YXxNuYo9pcg

Aren’t we thankful that we live in a country that values freedom? But we have to have truth to have that freedom. God’s Word is the Truth and yes, our Constitution was formed on the basis of that.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel