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Integrity is keeping a commitment even after circumstances have changed. ~ David Jeremiah

This is the right time for me to give a little testimony that, hopefully, will have meaning for you. I recently loss my employment as a content writer due to downsizing, and immediately went into damage control mode. Double checking our debts, liquid and fixed assets, and how long we should be able to “make it” until the Lord opens the next employment door for us.

We had run into dry spells before, where we felt a financial crunch, and had to adjust our budget. I had always abstained from reducing our tithe, because I told myself, “That’s God’s money.” We have conciously been living beyond our means in order to provide Lea with the lifestyle that makes her comfortable. Occasionally we would draw down on our savings to make up for the shortfalls.

Now, with only one more paycheck coming in, I felt I had to take drastic action. One of the things I did to control our situation was to stop the drafts on my checking account for my tithe. We then headed out for a long-planned visit to our oldest son’s home. The night after our arrival, he had a mid-week church function, and asked if we would give a five minute testimony. The audience was made up of young married couples, many with children, who had just finished a series of studies entitled, “The Art of Marriage.”

I gave a very high level explanation of the trials Lea and I went though in Hartford, and one of the revelations God gave me during that test; that there is a difference between the body and the spirit. I had always thought I was in love with Lea as a beautiful woman, and thought of that woman as a beautiful body. But, when she was in a coma for several weeks, I discovered that while her body was there in that hospital bed, and tended to it everyday, Lea wasn’t there. She was gone, and wasn’t back in that body until weeks later. It took the Lord beating me over the head, but I finally got it; It is her spirit that I am in love with, and her body is how I can love on her spirit.

That weekend, while attending services at their church, the pastor spoke on “control,” and how we try to take control instead of trusting in God to care for us. I felt a little twinge of guilt, because I had just stopped my tithes. He then stung me again, because he talked about our tithes being “first fruits,” and that we should give to the church first, so God can do his work, and that he will provide for us. Ouch! He stung me again! He said that we need to be able to trust in the Lord, step back, continue in our faithfulness, and let the Lord have control.

This reminded me of one of my favorite verses in times like this; 1 Samuel 12:24 – “Only fear the LORD and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you.” If you’ve read our journal pages here on the site, or listened to our testimony on our church’s website, you already know what great things he did for us in Hartford, and there have been many more blessings since then, as well. Praise God! Amen.

Our pastor, Dr. Ken Baldwin, says, “One of the ways for us to measure commitment is by what it takes to make us quit. There are some things we should never quit. Our commitment to Jesus…to His Church…to His work…to our family and our marriage…to telling others about Him; and, many more. Integrity is being the right person and doing the right things. Never quitting on both of those is true commitment. We each have weaknesses, but God is our strength. Is today the day that we start again to be and do the right things? God has never quit on us. We should keep our commitment to Him.”

The Lord put all these things in front of me just after I stopped the automatic tithe deposits. I got the message! I reinstated the payments, just as it should be, and now wait patiently for the Lord to open the next door.

Lord, you gave your all for me; can I do any less for you, and call myself a committed Christian? Thank you for showing me the error of my ways. Forgive me my shortcomings of commitment and faith. Use me according to your will. In Jesus’ name. Amen!

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Our children are uniquely created gifts of God, and are living memorials to our influence in their lives.  Parenting is never finished. We have to teach our children, and grandchildren, about Jesus Christ, and then live our lives showing them how to live as believers. The journey of life is filled with tribulation, problems, roadblocks and temptations that challenge our resolve to reach our final destination.

The problems teach us to be a better traveler, and encourage us to share what we learn about making the journey easier with others who are walking the same path.God places some people in our lives to plow and plant, while others water and fertilize. God will grow your faith, give you challenges to help you mature, and will also test your faith. The mark of a true Christian is not that have have been merely saved, but rather, that you share the story of your salvation with others.  For new readers, you can hear my testimony here. You can also read the daily dispatches during Lea’s 6-month hospital stay. This link takes you to the condensed timeline, but you can read the entire dispatch by clicking on the date link to the left of the comments.

Lea and I have had an incredible life journey together, and will celebrate 50 years of marriage next year. I particularly thank God for the last few years, because he gave her back to me after showing what it would be like to live without her. We have been so richly blessed! His provision for us has been remarkable. Both our sons made multiple trips to be with her during her hospitalization, and have assisted us financially well beyond our expectations. He has provided us a loving church family to serve in, and given us both the health we need to be active servants. Even more remarkably, He has given us wonderful grandchildren to love on and share our love of Christ.

The life worth living is rooted in sound teaching. We, as parents and grandparents, are responsible to teach our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren about God’s love, His benevolence, and how he works in our lives to shape us into the servants we need to be. We strive to be knowledgeable about His rules and His laws, so we can be the kind of teachers our grandchildren deserve.

As Christians, we often wonder what the purpose of suffering is in our daily walk. It’s all around us. We struggle as best we can through our own difficulties, hold firmly our faith in the knowledge that this, too, is a part of God’s plan for our lives. We also make it a part of our lives to show compassion, and lend a hand, to those less fortunate than ourselves. Still, it is just beyond our power to understand many situations we encounter. 

I recently had included in my prayers a two-and-a-half year old boy who had been diagnosed with cancer.  He has undergone many struggles for survival, and was just recently sent home from the hospital with no hope of recovery. The doctors told his mother that he will most likey pass before Thanksgiving, a mere three weeks away.  How horrible for her! I can only imagine the pain and agony she is going through! And, although she has received great support from friends, family, her church, and others who supported from afar, nothing could be more heart rendering than the loss of a child. 

It can be pretty tough to understand why certain sweet souls have to undergo such battles, but a close friend of this mother sent a wonderfully uplifting message to her upon learning of the child’s prognosis. The heart-broken mother was so touched by the message she wanted to share with all who had uplifted her son in prayer or helped out with medical costs. It also gave me a new, brighter, perspective on suffering. I don’t know who the author of the email is,  but this message is so powerfully moving, it can help many of us as we face our own trials. I feel the writer will forgive me for not giving due credit.

A Little Soul

“Not too long ago in Heaven, there was a little soul who took wonder in observing the world. He especially enjoyed the love he saw there, and often expressed this joy with God. One day however, the little soul was sad, for this day he saw suffering in the world. He approached God and sadly asked ‘Why do bad things happen, why is there suffering in the world?’
 
God paused for a moment and replied, ‘Little soul, do not be sad, for the suffering you see unlocks the love in people’s hearts.’ The little soul was confused. ‘What do you mean?’ he asked. God replied, ‘Have you not noticed the goodness and love that is the offspring of that suffering? Look at how people come together, drop their differences, and show their love and compassion for those who suffer. All their motivations disappear and they become motivated by love alone.’
 
The little soul began to understand and listened attentively as God continued. ‘The suffering soul unlocks the love in people’s hearts much like the sun and rain unlock the flower within the seed. I created everyone with endless love in their heart, but unfortunately most people keep it locked up and hardly share it with anyone. They are afraid to let their love shine freely, because they are afraid of being hurt. But a suffering soul unlocks that love. I tell you this – it is the greatest miracle of all. Many souls have bravely chosen to go into the world and suffer to unlock this love – to create this miracle – for the good of all humanity.’
 
Just then the little soul got a wonderful idea and could hardly contain himself. With his wings, fluttering, bouncing up and down, the little soul excitedly replied, ‘I am brave, let me go. I would like to go into this world and suffer so that I can unlock the goodness and love in people’s hearts! I want to create that miracle!’
 
God smiled and said, ‘You are a brave soul I know, and thus I will grant your request. But even though you are very brave, you will not be able to do this alone. I have known since the beginning of time that you would ask for this, so I have carefully selected many souls to care for you on your journey. These souls will help you create your miracle, however they will also share in your suffering. Two of these souls are most special and they will care for you, help you and suffer along with you, far beyond the others. They have already chosen a name for you. Caleb Andrew.’
 
God and the brave little soul shared a smile, and then embraced. In parting, God said, ‘Do not forget Caleb that I will be with you always. Although you have agreed to bear the pain, you will do so through my strength. And if the time should come when you feel you have suffered enough, just say the word, think the thought and, I will bring you home.’
 
Thus at that moment, the brave little soul was born into the world and through his suffering and God’s strength, he unlocked the goodness and love in people’s hearts. For so many people dropped their differences and came together to show their love. Priorities became properly aligned. People gave from their hearts. Those who were always too busy, found time. Many began new spiritual journeys – some regained lost faith – many came back to God. Parents hugged their children tighter. Friends and family grew closer. Old friends got together and new friendships were made. Distant families reunited and every family spent more time together. Everyone prayed. Peace and love reigned. Lives were changed forever. It was good. The world was a better place. The miracle happened!

Father God, please be with this little boy in his few remaining days, letting him know that he is being brought home to eternal happiness. Keep your hand, Lord, in the lives of those who love him, or have been touched by his trials here on Earth, and provide them with peace, understanding, and Your grace to comfort them through all their days. In the name of our almightly savior, Jesus Christ, we ask these things. Amen.

On Dr. Charles Stanley’s Sunday program “In Touch”, the guest speaker was more of a historian than a Biblical speaker, but he is very famous for his knowledge of historical facts as well as Biblical truths.

Dr. David Barton is his name. He is an expert on the subject of whether or not the United States was founded as a Christian Nation.

Dr. David Barton – on Obama

“Respect the Office?  Yes.  Respect the Man in the Office? No, I am sorry to say.

I have noted that many elected officials, both Democrats and Republicans, called upon America to unite behind Obama.

Well, I want to make it clear to all who will listen that I AM NOT uniting behind Obama!

I will respect the Office which he holds, and I will acknowledge his abilities as an orator and wordsmith and pray for him, BUT that is it.

I have begun today to see what I can do to make sure that he is a one-term President!

Why am I doing this?  It is because:

   – I do not share Obama’s vision or value system for America ;

   – I do not share his Abortion beliefs;

   – I do not share his radical Marxist’s concept of re-distributing wealth;

   – I do not share his stated views on raising taxes on those who make $150,000+  (the ceiling has been changed three times since August);

   – I do not share his view that America is Arrogant;

   – I do not share his view that America is not a Christian Nation;

   – I do not share his view that the military should be reduced by 25%;

   – I do not share his view of amnesty and giving more to illegals than our American Citizens who need help;

   – I do not share his views on homosexuality and his definition of marriage;

   – I do not share his views that Radical Islam is our friend and Israel is our enemy who should give up any land;

   – I do not share his spiritual beliefs (at least the ones he has made public);

   – I do not share his beliefs on how to re-work the healthcare system in America ;

   – I do not share his Strategic views of the Middle East ; and

   – I certainly do not share his plan to sit down with terrorist regimes such as Iran .

Bottom line: my America is vastly different from Obama’s, and I have a higher obligation to my Country and my GOD to do what is Right!

For eight (8) years, the Liberals in our Society, led by numerous entertainers who would have no platform and no real credibility but for their celebrity status, have attacked President Bush, his family, and his spiritual beliefs! They have not moved toward the center in their beliefs and their philosophies, and they never came together nor compromised their personal beliefs for the betterment of our Country!

They have portrayed my America as a land where everything is tolerated except being intolerant!

They have been a vocal and irreverent minority for years!

They have mocked and attacked the very core values so important to the founding and growth of our Country!

They have made every effort to remove the name of GOD or Jesus Christ from our Society!

They have challenged capital punishment, the right to bear firearms, and the most basic principles of our criminal code!

They have attacked one of the most fundamental of all Freedoms, the right of free speech!

Unite behind Obama? Never ! ! !

I am sure many of you who read this think that I am going overboard, but I refuse to retreat one more inch in favor of those whom I believe are the embodiment of Evil!

PRESIDENT BUSH made many mistakes during his Presidency, and I am not sure how history will judge him. However, I believe that he weighed his decisions in light of the long established Judeo-Christian principles of our Founding Fathers!!!

Majority rules in America , and I will honor the concept; however, I will fight with all of my power to be a voice in opposition to Obama and his “goals for America .”

I am going to be a thorn in the side of those who, if left unchecked, will destroy our Country! ! Any more compromise is more defeat!

I pray that the results of this election will wake up many who have sat on the sidelines and allowed the Socialist-Marxist anti-GOD crowd to slowly change so much of what has been good in America !

“Error of Opinion may be tolerated where Reason is left free to combat it.”
– Thomas Jefferson

GOD bless you and GOD bless our Country ! ! !”

If we ever forget that we’re one nation under GOD, then we will be a nation gone under.” – Ronald Reagan

I WANT THE AMERICAN WAY OF LIFE BACK….. In GOD We Trust ! !   PLEASE SHARE – Be ready to vote in the Nov. 2, 2010 ELECTIONS

President Obama:

Today I read of your administrations’ plan to re-define September 11 as a National Service Day.  Sir, it’s time we had a talk.

During your campaign, Americans watched as you  made mockery of our tradition of standing and crossing your heart when the Pledge of Allegiance was spoken. You, out of four people on the stage, were the only one not honoring our tradition.

YES, “We noticed.”

During one of your many speeches, Americans heard you say that you intended to visit all 57 states. Islam, not America, has 57 states.

YES, “We noticed.”

When President Bush leaned over at Ground Zero and gently placed a flower on the memorial,  you nonchalantly  tossed your flower onto the pile without leaning over.

YES, “We noticed.”

Every time you apologized to other countries for America ‘s position on an issue we have wondered why you don’t share our pride in this great country.  When you have heard foreign leaders  berate our country and our beliefs, you have not defended us. In  fact, you insulted the British Crown beyond belief.

YES, “We noticed.”

When your pastor of 20 years, “God-damned” America and said  that 9/11 was ” America ‘s chickens coming home to roost,” and you denied having heard recriminations of that nature, we  wondered how that could be. You later disassociated yourself  from that church and Pastor Wright because it was politically expedient to do so.

YES, “We noticed.”

When you announced that you would transform America, we wondered why. With all her faults, America is the  greatest country on earth.

Sir, KEEP THIS IN MIND, “if not for  America and the people who built her, you wouldn’t be sitting in  the White House now.” Prior to your election to the highest office in this Country, you were a senator from Illinois and  from what we can glean from the records available, not a very remarkable one.

YES, “We noticed.”

All through your campaign and even now, you have surrounded yourself with individuals who are basically unqualified for the positions for which you appointed them. Worse than that, the  majority of them are people who, like you, bear no special allegiance, respect, or affection for this country and her traditions.

YES, “We noticed.”

You are 14 months into your term and every morning millions of Americans wake up to a new horror heaped on us by you. You seek to saddle working Americans with a health care/insurance  reform package that, along with cap and trade, will bankrupt this nation.

YES, “We noticed.”

We seek, by protesting, to let our representatives know that we are not in favor of these crippling expenditures and we are labeled “un-American”, “racist”, “mob”.  We wonder how we are supposed  to let you know how frustrated we are. You have attempted to make our protests seem isolated and insignificant. Until your appointment, Americans had the right to speak out.

YES, “We noticed.”

On September 11, 2001 there were no Republicans or Democrats, only Americans. And we all grieved together and  helped each other in whatever way we could. The attack on 9/11 was carried out because we are Americans.

And YES, “We noticed.”

There were many of us who prayed that as a black president you could help unite this nation. In six months you have done  more to destroy this nation than the attack on 9/11. You have failed us.

YES, “We noticed.”

September 11 is a day of remembrance for all  Americans. You propose to make 9/11 a “National Service Day”.  While we know that you don’t share our reverence for 9/11, we  pray that history will report your proposal as what it is, a disgrace.

YES, “We noticed.”

You have made a mockery of  our Constitution and the office that you hold. You have  embarrassed and slighted us in foreign visits and policy.

 
YES, “We noticed.”

We have noticed all these things. We will deal with you. When Americans come together again, it will be to remove you from office. Take notice.

Faye Parrish
Bunnell, Florida
August 2009

Heavenly Father, You are the real foundation of nations, raising them up to serve and care for the people dwelling in their boundaries. I thank You for making me a citizen of this land of freedom
and unlimited opportunity—which are the result of its Christian base. Send forth your Spirit to this country and make it a source of wisdom and strength, order and integrity throughout the world.

Lord Jesus Christ, King of the universe, look with mercy on those who rule over us. Grant to our President and his administration the grace to know and do your will. Let them serve all their subjects in truth and righteousness. Inspire our Congressmen with the courage to make laws for the good of all rather than the few. Give our Judges your Spirit of wisdom and understanding that they may discern the truth and impartially administer the law. And let all the people pitch in to make our way of government  continue to work.  Amen.

It is hard to believe that we are already ¼ through our deployment.  I took last week’s letter off if you will since there was absolutely nothing to write about during “Operation Ash Tray.”  The decision to keep us on the ground that early morning essentially took us out of play for 8 days so needless to say we were eager to get back in the air. 

You would think with more than 7 years of experience at this I would know that you should always watch what ask for.  We were teed up for a Balad – Ali Al Salem – Ramstein run on a C-17.  Since I would end up with calluses on my fingertips if I thoroughly described all of the events of that mission let’s just say that if there was a theoretical possibility of something going wrong it did. 

What was scheduled to be a 17 hour day took almost 25 and by the time we reached our rooms at 4 pm in the afternoon most of us opted to just stay up.  It was one of the longest and most aggravating days I can remember.

Kevin and I were finally moved into the same building area as the rest of our crew.  Since I feel compelled to only say nice things in these letters I am afraid I will have nothing to say about Ramstein Lodging.   That’s kind of humorous; I didn’t have anything to say about them during my last trip here as well. 

The rooms are not much bigger if any however they are much more functional.  Before we were forced to put our food items such as snacks and cereals on our television stand or tucked away in a night stand.  We now have a little cupboard space along with a counter, a full desk and television and microwave that do not look to be from the 1980’s. 

Best of all, we now have our own bathroom!  How I will miss the early morning wake-ups of my neighbor taking a shower.  Of course it is hard is to complain too much when there are a lot of people who have it much worse that I do. 

The highlight of the past week was finally a trip to Andrews and the opportunity to see Amanda and Cam while in D.C.  Of course with my luck it couldn’t go off without a hitch.  We were originally slated for the mission early in the week and Amanda, Cam and Robin, Kevin’s girlfriend made their travel arrangements. 

Late Thursday evening we were notified that the mission had been extended and that we were scheduled to fly onto San Antonio after dropping our patients off in Andrews.  Once again, hours before leaving I had to make the dreaded phone call to Amanda to tell her that we would not be coming once again.  Like a true champion, she took the news well and went along with her day at work.

Friday morning we were alerted for the mission on time, did our normal pre-mission routine and ended up at the Detachment 15 minutes early.  Three of took the time to take our personal luggage out and an undisclosed amount of German beverages out to the plane. 

As the loading of the above mentioned items was occurring I mentioned that I planned on escorting the medical equipment back from San Antonio as the remainder of crew would normally fly back to Germany on a commercial carrier.  One of the individuals on the plane informed us that SA leg had been dropped and we were only flying to Andrews.  It was a mad dash back to the Detachment.  This time as the phone rang at 4 am back in the States with the good news.

After an hour and a half delay that seemed like forever we were finally on our way and shortly before 8 pm EST we made it to the hotel.  Amanda had found a small flag for Cameron to carry and he was easy to make as we drove across the parking lot. 

Kevin was first out of the truck and immediately caught Cameron’s attention.  The look on his face was that of utter disappointment, I know you have the same green suit but you are not who I thought you were.  Then after a few seconds he looked around Kevin, said “Da-Da” and ran over.  After demanding “Up” and a quick kiss it was on to assaulting the Velcro patches as he always does.  It was truly awesome to see him and Amanda.

The downside of the trip was that we only had 24 hours off before we had to fly back to Germany.  After a mid-morning breakfast it was off to Arlington.  I can’t count the number of times I have been there but there is always something special about taking someone there for the first time.  Perhaps it is the sheer magnitude of the size, the precisely laid out grave markers or the peaceful quiet. 

We made it just in time for a changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown.  Amanda had never seen it before so as Cam got a little restless he and I went for a short walk.  From there we made our way Section 60.  Called by many the “Saddest acre in America,” it is the final resting place for many of those killed in Afghanistan and Iraq. 

Walking there with Amanda and Cam I realized that you can never rationalize with an almost two year old why his Dad has to leave, but you are reminded why do it.

 We enjoyed the remainder of our time that afternoon and evening however despite all of the prayers of the aircraft breaking or the mission being cancelled, we made our way back to Germany.  We have a few flights this week that will keep us busy and before too long we will be talking about the ½ mark.

 That is it for this letter.  I hope you are all well and Happy Mother’s Day if happens to apply.  Talk to you soon.  Chris.

Are you looking forward to going to heaven?

Randy Alcorn relates in his book Heaven that a pastor once confessed to him, ”Whenever I think about Heaven, it makes me depressed. I’d rather just cease to exist when I die. I can’t stand the thought of that endless tedium. To float around in the clouds with nothing to do but strum a harp … it’s all so terribly boring. Heaven doesn’t sound much better than Hell. I’d rather be annihilated than spend eternity in a place like that.”

How did a Bible-believing, seminary-educated pastor get such a depressing view of Heaven? Certainly not from Scripture, where Paul said in Philippians 1:23 “to depart and be with Christ was far better than staying on a sin-cursed Earth.”

John Eldridge, in his book The Journey of Desire, says “Nearly every Christian I have spoken with has some idea that eternity is an un-ending church service . . .  a never-ending sing-along in the sky, one great hymn after another, forever.” How boring!

An overwhelming majority of Americans continue to believe that there is life after death and heaven and hell exist, but usually have confused perceptions of what heaven is like.

Three people die every second; 180 every minute, and nearly 11,000 every hour. That means that more than 250,000 every day go to their final reward. What do the saved think heaven is like?

First, I think they believe it is the paradise that Jesus spoke of with the pearly gates, streets of gold, walls covered with precious stones, a mansion for each of us, continuous worship of God, our Father. But, what else? What will we do? What will our lives be like? 

Isaiah and the prophets make clear the destiny of God’s people. They will live in peace and prosperity, as free people in their promised land. The “country of their own” spoken of in Hebrews 11 is a real country, with a real capital city, the New Jerusalem. It is an actual place where these “aliens and strangers on earth” will ultimately live in actual bodies.

It’s commonly taught that the Old Testament concept of Heaven is limited. Though it’s certainly true that very  little is said about the intermediate Heaven, where believers go when they die, the Old Testament actually says a great deal about the eternal, or New, Heaven.

“But your dead will live; their bodies will rise. You who dwell in the dust, wake up and shout for joy …. The earth will give birth to her dead” (Isaiah 26:19).

Just as Adam was made from the dust of the earth, we will be remade from the dust to which we return at death. God’s people are not looking for deliverance from Earth, but deliverance on Earth. That’s exactly what we will find after our bodily resurrection.

When our Lord returns and the old Earth ends, the New Earth will begin. The Bible is clear that God’s ultimate Kingdom and our final home will not be on the old Earth but on the New Earth, where at last God’s original design will be fulfilled and enjoyed forever.

God promises to make not only a New Earth but also “new heavens” (Isaiah 65:17; 66:22; 2 Peter 3:13). The Greek and Hebrew words translated “heavens” include the stars and planets and what we call outer space.

Will the New Earth Be a new Eden?

If we take literally the earthly depictions of life on the New Earth, it allows us to make a direct connection with our current lives.  Whenever we see beauty in water, wind, flower, deer, man, woman, or child, we catch a glimpse of Heaven. Just like the Garden of Eden, the New Earth will be a place of sensory delight, breathtaking beauty, satisfying relationships, and personal joy.

God himself prepared mankind’s first home on Earth. “Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. And the Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground – trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food” (Genesis 2:8-9).

In the same way that God paid attention to the details of the home he prepared for Adam and Eve in Eden, Christ is paying attention to the details as he prepares for us an eternal home in Heaven.

In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. (John 14:2-3).
  .
What Is the New Jerusalem?  

Scripture describes Heaven as both a country (Luke 19:12; Hebrews 11:14- 16) and a city (Hebrews 12:22; 13:14; Revelation 21:2). Fifteen times in Revelation 21 and 22 the place in which God and his people will live together is called a city. The repetition of the word and the detailed description of the architecture, walls, streets, and other features of the city suggest that the term city isn’t merely a figure of speech but a literal geographical location.

The city at the center of the future Heaven is called the New Jerusalem. The city is portrayed as a walled city; its security beyond question. It is perched on the peak of a hill that no invading army could ascend. The city’s walls are so thick that they couldn’t be breached by any siege engine and so high that no human could hope to scale them. (Of course, the city won’t ever be under attack, but its structure will remind us of God’s might and commitment to protect his people.)
  .
What Will the Great City Be Like?

It will be the largest city that has ever existed-the capital city of the New Earth. The New Jerusalem will be a place of extravagant beauty and natural wonders. It will be a vast Eden, integrated with the best of human culture, under the reign of Christ. More wealth than has been accumulated in all human history will be spread freely across this immense city.

Presumably many other cities will be on the New Earth, such as those Jesus mentioned in the stewardship parables.

‘Well done, my good servant!’ his master replied. ‘Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.’  “The second came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned five more.’ “His master answered, ‘You take charge of five cities.’ (Luke 19:17-19).

The kings of nations who bring their treasures into the New Jerusalem must come from and return to somewhere, presumably countryside and cities lying beyond the New Jerusalem. But no city will be like this one, for it will be called home by the King of kings.

Heaven’s capital city will be filled with visual magnificence. “It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal” (Revelation 21:11).

John goes onto describe the opulence: “The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone.” (Revelation 21:18-19)

John describes a natural wonder in the center of the New Jerusalem: “the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city” (Revelation 22:1- 2).

Ghosts don’t need water, but human bodies do. The original readers, who lived in a bone-dry climate, readily grasped the wonder of constantly available fresh water, pure and uncontaminated, able to satisfy the deepest thirst.

Will we be ourselves  in Heaven?

Jesus called people in Heaven by name, including Lazarus in the intermediate Heaven and Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the New Heaven:

I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 8:11).

A name denotes a distinct identity, an individual. The fact that people in Heaven can be called by the same name they had on Earth demonstrates they remain the same people.

When Moses and Elijah appeared out of Heaven to stand with Christ at his transfiguration, the disciples with Christ recognized Moses and Elijah as the distinct individuals they were, the same men they were on Earth, infused with holiness.

When we’re told we’ll sit at a banquet and eat with Abraham and Isaac and others, we will be sitting, eating beside, talking with, and laughing with not a general assembly, but particular individuals .

What will our bodies be like?

Our resurrected bodies will be real physical bodies, just as Christ’s was and is. Our resurrection bodies will be free of the curse of sin, redeemed, and restored to their original beauty and purpose that goes back to Eden. Heaven’s delights will stretch our glorified senses to their limits.

To be restored to the sensory abilities of Adam and Eve would be thrilling enough, but it seems likely our resurrected bodies will surpass theirs. What God remakes, he improves. He could add new senses to our old ones. He always surpasses our expectations. It won’t be a lot different in the New Jerusalem.

Will we eat and drink in Heaven?

Words describing eating, meals, and food appear over a thousand times in Scripture, with the English translation “feast” occurring another 187 times. Jesus said to his disciples, “I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom” (Luke 22:29-30).

When angels, and God himself, took on human form, they ate human food: The LORD appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground. He said, “If I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, do not pass your servant by. Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree. Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed and then go on your way—now that you have come to your servant.” “Very well,” they answered, “do as you say.”

So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah. “Quick,” he said, “get three seahs of fine flour and knead it and bake some bread.”

Then he ran to the herd and selected a choice, tender calf and gave it to a servant, who hurried to prepare it. He then brought some curds and milk and the calf that had been prepared, and set these before them. While they ate, he stood near them under a tree. (Genesis 18:1-2, 5-8).

What will we know and learn?

It’s common to hear people say, “We don’t understand now, but in Heaven we’ll know everything.” God alone is omniscient. When we die, we’ll see things far more clearly, and we’ll know much more than we do now, but we’ll never know everything.

The apostle Paul wrote: “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:12).

In Heaven we’ll be flawless, but not knowing everything isn’t a flaw. It’s part of being finite. Righteous angels don’t know everything, and they long to know more.

It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things. (1 Peter 1:12).

Angels, too, are flawless . . . but finite. We should expect to long for greater knowledge, as angels do. And we’ll spend eternity gaining the greater knowledge we’ll seek.

What Will Our Daily Lives Be Like? Will we work?

The idea of working in Heaven is foreign to many people. Yet Scripture clearly teaches it. Work was part of the original Eden. It was part of a perfect human life on Earth. When God created Adam, he “took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it ” (Genesis 2:15).

Work wasn’t part of the Curse. On the New Earth work will be redeemed and transformed into what God intended: “No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him” (Revelation 22:3).

Jesus said, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working” (John 5:17).

Jesus found great satisfaction in his work. “‘My food,’ Jesus said, ‘is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work'” (John 4:34).
 
Will We Have Our Own Homes?

The intended meaning seems to be that we’ll have separate dwelling places on a single estate or even separate rooms within the same house. The New International Version rendering of John 14:2 is this: “In my Father’s house are many rooms …. I am going there to prepare a place for you.”

The New Earth’s citizens will build, plant, and eat, as human beings on Earth always have. Like Adam and Eve in Eden, we’ll inherit a place that God has prepared for us. But we’ll be free to build on it and develop it as we see fit, to God’s glory.

Will there be marriage, families and relationships?

One group of religious leaders, the Sadducees, tried to trick Jesus with a question about marriage in Heaven. They didn’t believe in the resurrection of the dead. Attempting to make him look foolish, they told Jesus of a woman who had seven husbands who all died.

They asked him, “Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?” (Matthew 22:28). Christ replied, “At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven” (Matthew 22:30).

There’s every reason to believe we’ll pick right up in Heaven with relationships from Earth. We’ll gain many new ones but will continue to deepen the old ones. The notion that relationships with family and friends will be lost in Heaven, though common, is not biblical. It denies the clear doctrine of continuity between this life and the next and suggests our earthly lives and relationships have no eternal consequence. It completely contradicts Paul’s intense anticipation of being with the Thessalonians and his encouraging them to look forward to rejoining their loved ones in Heaven.

The famous book, 90 Minutes in Heaven, is the account of a fatal automobile accident that took the life of a Baptist pastor, Don Piper. He was pronounced dead only to be prayed back to life by another Baptist pastor ninety minutes later. In those ninety minutes, Piper went to heaven, and much of what he reported he saw is described and promised in Scripture.

The pastor states that he saw the pearly gates and the golden streets; heard heavenly music and the swoosh of angel wings; and literally felt the glory of God.

He said, “I was home; I was where I belonged.” “I wanted to be there more than I had ever wanted to be anywhere on earth. Time had slipped away, and I was simply present in heaven. All worries, anxieties and concerns vanished. I had no needs, and I felt perfect.”

Piper’s account reminds us that heaven is more than a hope and a dream. It’s a real place. As Christians, we believe by faith what the Bible says about heaven, but Piper believes because of what his faith has shown him.

I thought it might be interesting to compare some of Piper’s account against what scripture says.

1. “We are confident, yes, well pleased, rather, to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 5:8)

Piper says, “Simultaneous with my last recollection of seeing the bridge and the rain, a light enveloped me…In my next moment, I was standing in heaven.”

2. “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)

Piper says, “I wasn’t conscious of anything I’d left behind and felt no regrets about leaving family or possessions. It was as if God had removed anything negative or worrisome from my consciousness, and I could only rejoice.”

3. “No one has seen God at any time.” (John 1:18)

Piper says, “I did not see God. Although I knew God was there, I never saw any kind of image or luminous glow to indicate his divine presence.”

4. “And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem…The twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.” (Revelation 21:10, 21)

Piper says, “The gate…was pearlescent…To me, it looked like someone had spread pearl icing on a cake…I paused just outside the gate, and I could see inside, it was like a city with paved streets. To my amazement, they had been constructed of literal gold.”

5. “Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne.” (Revelation 5:11)

Piper says, “My most vivid memory of heaven is what I heard. I can only describe it as a holy swoosh of angel wings…It was the most beautiful and pleasant sound I’ve ever heard and it didn’t’ stop. It was like a song that goes on forever.”

6. “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12)

Piper says, “I became aware of a large crowd of people…As the crowd rushed toward me, I didn’t see Jesus, but I did see people I had known…More and more people reached for me and called me by name.”

7. “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21)

Piper recounted his last experience just before he came back to life: “The only way I’ve made sense out of this experience is to think that if I had actually seen God, I would never have wanted to return. My feeling has been that once we’re actually in God’s presence, we will never return to earth again, because it will be empty and meaningless by comparison.”

We need to believe Jesus, not just believe in Jesus. He told us that heaven was a real place. “If it were not so,” he said, “I would have told you.” (John 14:2).  Jesus told us the truth. Heaven is a real place and what the Bible says about heaven – how we get there, what we will see, here and feel – is also true. And, its going to be a better place than we can imagine.

Self-employment continues to be of great interest as a career alternative for individuals from all walks of life, fueled, perhaps, by the lingering recession. The businesses operated by entrepreneurs are viewed as critically important to our society, since small businesses represent the majority of businesses. Yet, entrepreneurship is often difficult and tricky, filled with opportunities to misstep.

In my 20+ years of small business consulting, I have personally engaged in a variety of businesses, often having multiple businesses at the same time. I pray daily for heavenly guidance, that I might be granted wisdom to make sound decisions. I have lost some battles, won a few, and learned many lessons along the way. One skill I acquired is unrelentingly thorough business research, and market trends. I greatly enjoy sharing these insights and research results with clients during my weekly entrepreneurial webinars, a line of business now in its 10th year.

WHAT’S INVOLVED?
One of the most common stumbling blocks to getting started is understanding what industries are growing and what is involved in getting started. When you start your own business, you have to wear many hats, of course, and perform tasks unfamiliar to you. You may also have some great ideas, but not the administrative skills self-employment requires. You need to know your strengths and weaknesses, and get help overcoming your shortcomings.

Lack of management experience and failure to plan strategically accounts for a large portion of  small business failures. Entrepreneurs often think that they can do it all and may not ask for help when they need it. Don’t be hesitant to use the advice of experts, networking with other entrepreneurs and hiring or outsourcing to manage the tasks in which you have little skill. 

Networking in your business community is available where business people gather. Chambers of Commerce are excellent resources, as are Retail Merchants groups, and service clubs, such as Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions, Jaycees, and others. The membership of service clubs are largely business people who are working together to improve the community through charitable programs.

Seek out professional advisors, such as an attorney and accountant, etc., to provide you guidance. Ask other business people who they use for these services, and then strive to meet these professionals. Carefully determine who is going to be a good fit for you and your business, because there are going to be hard choices to make along the way, and you will have to be able to trust and accept their counsel. 
 
KNOW YOUR MARKET
Desire and persistence alone will not make you successful. You need to be sure that there is a market for what you plan to offer and that the competition isn’t already too strong. Market research is essential, and must begin with identifying who your potential customers are, and what features and benefits are important to them.

Using the results of interviews, surveys, focus groups, and other resources, you can develop a good marketing and business plan that takes into account customer needs, competition, pricing and promotional strategies. Make sure you are offering a product that is unique and competitive or at a lower cost than that of your competitors. Make sure you have the training, expertise and talent to run your business.

Twenty percent, or more, of all small businesses are started in the home. Home based businesses can be very successful, and statistics indicate that about 70% of these businesses survive the all-important first two years. If you are undecided about whether this is the right time for you to seriously consider self-employment, we recommend that you take the free on line  entrepreneurial self-assessment (Canada: http://www.canadabusiness.ca/eng/125/) or,
(United States: http://web.sba.gov/sbtn/sbat/index.cfm?Tool=4).

The Small Business Administration provides extensive free services to those in the U.S., while the Canada Business Centers assist startups in their service area. The SBA provides free computer-based-training modules in a wide variety of topics that you can take from the comfort of your home office. The courses, located at http://sba.gov/training/index.html, include topics such as Business Planning, Finance, Marketing and Advertising, Franchising, Strategic Planning, and Business Management.

Canada’s resource, Canada Business, http://www.canadabusiness.ca/eng/, provides an extensive listing of resources for the entrepreneur, including an Entrepreneurial Assessment and “Starting a Business” as a main topic. Articles, recommended links and checklists are provided to help with planning.

HOME BASED BUSINESS
Over half of all the small businesses in North America are home based. The IRS specifies that a home-based business must have its own location (away from the family living space) that is devoted exclusively to the business. The business must be in regular operation, profits must exceed expenses in order to claim deductions, the business must be conducted almost exclusively in the home and the motive must be profit.

The maturation of the baby boomer generation, born 1946-1964, is going to have a huge affect on business. As baby boomers begin to retire the demand for leisure travel is increasing. As of January 2010 boomers were retiring at the rate of one every eight seconds in the U.S. , and that rate is going to escalate and continue growing for the next several years.

WHAT BUSINESS SECTORS ARE GROWING?
An economic collapse means disaster for some businesses while others tend to grow. For every retailer in trouble, there’s a movie-theater experiencing an all-time high in attendance. For every industry that got gob-smacked by the recession there is a college bursting at the seams with adults seeking degrees for new careers. For those on the job hunt or considering self-employment, focus on the industries that are growing. Here is a listing of ten business segments that are poised to experience high demand in the years ahead.

MOVIES
Box-office grosses for January were up 20% since last year, for a whopping $1.028 billion intake. Attendance is up 16.78%. Watching movies at home is also popular.  Movie Gallery’s reported plan to shutter 1,000 underperforming stores, including Hollywood Video locations, could make $200 million in annual rental revenue available to competitors including local mom and pop rental shops. (http://boxoffice.com/)

PHARMACY AND RELATED SERVICES
Not only are pharmaceuticals necessary, but the companies that produce them are growing as the baby boomers age. These companies have matured to the point they can do deals with their own cash and their own stock without having to go to the capital markets and ask for money. (http://www.csustan.edu/manage/harris/industry1.html)

HOME CARE AIDE AND MANAGED CARE
Health care services of all types will continue to grow for the next several years in response to the maturation of the baby boomer generation. Home healthcare services of all types, including fitness programs, transportation, in-home care and home delivery services are likely to be in high demand. (http://www.nahc.org/HCA/home.html)

BOTTLED WATER
Bottled water is huge. It’s the fastest growing segment in the beverage industry and shows no signs of slowing. At this growth rate, it will be the #1 beverage worldwide by 2013.  Bottled water companies offer a wide array of bottled waters at prices that can provide healthy margins. http://www.bottledwater.org/

VIDEO GAMES
Sales of U.S. video games experienced a 22% rise in over the previous year, jumping 11% in 2008, to 409.9 million units, and rose 13% again the following January, presenting more evidence that even in the middle of a brutal economic downturn, U.S. consumers are willing to spend on video games. There will also be increasing demand for video game testers as the industry continues to grow. (http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/video-game-tester.htm)

INTERNET SERVICES AND RETAILING
Internet Service Providers continue to improve services available to their customers, and ultimately to the final consumer, as technology costs drop and competition matures. Retailing via the Internet is now a huge business as more and more people turn to this easy to use resource for everything from soups to nuts. Even in the recession eBay posted revenues of over $2 billion. (http://www.internetnews.com/bus-news/article.php/3816826/Revenues+Fall+but+eBay+Still+Tops+Expectations.htm)

PERSONAL CHEF
Just as the need for childcare grew significantly as baby boomers entered the work place, other personal services have experienced similar growth. Today, personal chef services are also in great demand. According to Entrepreneur.com, the personal chef business is among the fastest-growing in the country and one of the best home-businesses to start this year. Personal chefs typically earn $35-$50 an hour. Annual revenue from personal chef businesses is expected to hit $1.2 billion in 2010. (http://www.entrepreneur.com/businessideas/674.html)

LEISURE TRAVEL
According to some sources, the only industry that actually grew globally during the current recession was travel. Work from home opportunities in the online travel industry are already beginning to replace the mom and pop travel agencies of days gone by. One innovative company taking the lead in leisure travel consulting is World Ventures, a four-year old multi-level marketing company based in Plano Texas that will treat you like a preferred customer and waive airline booking fees.(http://www.leavontime.worldventures.biz).

PERSONAL CONCIERGE
A personal concierge service is based on the most basic of premises. People want things done but don’t have the time to do them, and are willing to pay someone to take care of it for them.  Although personal concierge services are a fairly recent development, the number of companies that serve time-starved clients is mushrooming, right along with customer demand for such businesses. Membership in the National Concierge Association, provides networking and educational opportunities to help you get started. (http://www.nationalconciergeassociation.com/)

BIG-BOX RETAILERS
Where do you shop for all those discounted home staples? If you’re like most Americans the answer is Costco or Sam’s Club and Wal-Mart. These large volume retailers are positioned to under price other stores and can pick up all the demand that’s lost at higher-end stores which are suffering the results of high unemployment. They’re going to need staff to respond to increased demand. (http://www.wikinvest.com/stock/Costco_Wholesale_%28COST%29)

If you feel that the proper conditions are in place for you to go forward with starting your own business, here is a checklist of the basic areas you need to cover before opening:

Decide on the Legal Form for the Business (partnership, corporation, etc)
Choose & Register a Business Name  
Choose & Purchase your Internet Domain Name 
Research & Write a Business Plan, Operations Plan  and a Marketing Plan 
Set Up a Relationship with professional advisors, i.e., banker, attorney and accountant 
Set Up Other Professional Relationships, consultants, suppliers, etc 
Get Licenses and Permits, and meet other Legal Requirements for Operating a Business 
Set the Price for Your Product or Service  
Determine the Financing You Will Need and How You Will Get It  
Obtain Office Space, Equipment and Suppliers  
Plan for Risk Protection, Intellectual Capital Protection, Business Insurance  
Set up a Financial Management System  

Ready to set sail toward a new life as an entrepreneur? Be sure to do your research to determine whether the business opportunity you’re considering is real . . . there are plenty of scams out there . . . and then make decisions about how to go forward. Check information sites like Inc .com, Entrepreneur.com, allbusiness.com, and similar information silos to get as well informed as you can. Remember, the more widely you read, the better the decisions you’ll be enabled to make.

Lea and I are high school sweethearts, and have been married 45 years. We have been blessed with successful careers, fun and adventure, wonderful sons and daughters-in-law, and grandchildren in whom we delight. And, God has always been a part of our lives.

The account of a man’s relationship with God is the story of how God calls him out, takes him on a journey, and gives him his true purpose. Many of us have thought it was the story of our acceptance of Jesus, and then avoiding doing bad things until we appear for judgment. Not so.

God created us to be Christ-like, and to carry the word of salvation to all parts of the world. If we aren’t serving Him in that manner, we are not fulfilling our mission, and He will, like any good father, try to nudge us in the right direction. If that gentle nudge doesn’t work, He will try a new strategy . . . perhaps a little more forceful. If those attempts don’t work, He may have to take even more drastic action to bring us back into line.

I am one of those believers God had to severely discipline.

Lost and Saved
I don’t remember not being saved. My childhood was mostly about church activities, Royal Ambassadors, Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts. I was taught to be independent and self reliant. I was raised Southern Baptist with a generations-long line of bible thumping fire-and-brimstone preachers who pastored churches and taught in summertime revival tents. God was always present in my life, although He was hardly the main focus of my life. I was a Christian on cruise control.

Danville Baptist Temple
The bible teaches that even though Satan cannot possess the Christian, he can oppress him. 1 Peter 5:8 says: “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” Satan is our enemy; an adversary who is out to throw us off track. He is out to drive a wedge between us and God! He was successful in my case.

When our sons were young boys, Lea and I transferred our membership to a startup Baptist church that was moving mightily in our community. The charismatic young pastor had a vision to create an entire Baptist campus which would include a retirement home and hospital for members of the church, and he was very aggressive in reaching out to young people in the community.

He had asked me several times to become involved full time in the ministry of the church. I had been successful in soliciting donations of cash and real estate for the campus building fund. Support from the community was outstanding, and the membership grew rapidly. It was a wonderful feeling to see God’s favor flowing on our church, and I was really under conviction to take the leap and join the ministry team. Lea and I talked and prayed about it extensively.

Then, overnight, the minister, his family, and the entire church staff, disappeared with all of the church funds! I was totally crushed. I just could not believe that such a thing could happen! I was so confused, and felt God had abandoned us.

I was too embarrassed to return to our previous church, and just could not bring myself to join any other. In fact, I shunned the church from that day. I reasoned that I could minister on my own. I felt that I could set a good example for my sons and for others around me, by professing my faith, and by keeping God in our home. After all, Jesus said, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20) This reasoning was how Satan drove that wedge that turned me from the church for many years.

Discipline
Scripture is clear that you cannot accept Christ and then just live any way you please. And, God, our heavenly Father, takes our obligation to serve Him seriously. He will often let us stray a bit to test the boundaries, as children will do. Eventually, though, He will bring us back into line by taking us to the woodshed for a good, corrective, spanking if necessary.

Hebrews 12:11 states, “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.” To rebel because of discipline is to turn your back on His will for you.

Even when we sense God’s disciplining hand upon us we should be encouraged by this, for it shows that God is at work in our lives. We should not lose heart when being disciplined. God will never go too far. He will never give us a burden larger than we can handle.

Lea’s Illness
I got one of His spankings, and the memories still hurt four years later. God led me through a six month living Hell while Lea was in Hartford Hospital with an illness that, medically, she wasn’t supposed to survive; Necrotizing Pancreatitis. Her pancreas had suddenly ruptured while we were on vacation back East, a thousand miles from home, and had started digesting all her internal organs. Her pain was horrible. The surgeons had placed her in a drug induced coma and said she had a 15% chance of surviving. They told me to call the family.

The Hell I’m talking about is not some storybook or Hollywood contrived representation of Hades. This was Hell; the real one. You can touch Hell. It can touch you. Hell is so palpable you can actually taste it. It is a much worse place than you have imagined. It was the most horrible thing I have ever experienced, and I certainly don’t want to ever have to go back there.

My Hell was a small, musty, dormitory room with carpet I hesitated to walk on barefoot. It had an outdated motel style bed & dresser, flimsy wooden desk with loose-jointed chair, coffee table, and a fold-out couch that made into a bed. And, yet, I was happy to be there, close to Lea.

The room was attached to the hospital by a series of dimly lit underground tunnels with water dripping from cracks in the ceiling. The tunnels led to another room, this one sterile, where the person I most love in the whole world was in a coma, her every bodily function tended to by people I didn’t know. I was only allowed in the room to be with her at various times, which was painful, but she was not able to respond to me in any way.

She may not, really, have known I was there at all. I realized even then, as I looked at her lying helplessly there, this was only her body, kept alive with drugs and machines. She may already be gone. She was in this state for 78 days, and certainly could have been taken away from me at any moment. Nothing I did to comfort or help her appeared to make a difference, because she was unable to respond or react.

Purpose of the Coma
She was in that coma for 78 days. She had 18 IVs going into her, plus hookups for dialysis, because her kidneys had failed, and plasma phoresis to remove fat from her blood. She had cuffs on her legs that would squeeze and release to circulate her blood, and a ventilator to breathe for her. During that coma she had over 30 abdominal surgeries. She died four times. The doctors weren’t even sure her brain was working after the first two weeks. This was truly Hell.

God got my attention. It felt drastic, but He had tried easier, more subtle ways. The previous year my two sons and Lea and I had done a family study of Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life. Praise God! Our youngest son was subsequently convicted and saved, which was an answer to years of prayer. This was clearly God at work, but, still, I continued my selfish, prideful, ways, rather than submitting to His will for my life. I used our lifestyle as an excuse for not getting back to church.

The Floating Vision
Before Lea’s illness, in May of 2005, God gave me a warning in the form of a vision. At the time, I was in the basement, building a number of wooden replacement storm windows for our Victorian bed & breakfast. I had kissed Lea goodnight as she headed upstairs to bed, and I went down to work on one of the storm windows.

Maybe half an hour later as I was brushing on some paint, I heard Lea call softly from the top of the basement stairs, “Larry.” I was a little surprised she wasn’t already asleep, and asked, “What?” She didn’t reply. Sometimes when she was looking for me she wouldn’t realize that I was in the basement, and would go on into the rest of the house looking for me.

But, tonight I had turned all the lights off when I went down to the basement, and had left the door open, which would spill light out into the dark kitchen. “Larry,” she called softly. “I’m in the basement, hon,” I replied a little louder than before. Again, no reply.

I wondered if I should go find her, but I was almost done, and didn’t want to leave the painting unfinished. “Larry,” she called softly again. I put my paint brush down, a little alarmed that she didn’t answer me. I hurried up the stairs and saw her in the doorway in a simple white, floor length, nightgown.

“What is it, honey?” I asked.
She said, “I died!” She sounded surprised.
“What!?” I said, thinking I must have misunderstood her.
“I died,” she repeated, and started to fade away. Just as she vanished, I noticed she was floating above the floor, her feet dangling.

I ran up to our bedroom, where I found her laying on her side toward the center of the bed. I reached out to place my hand on her arm, while praying silently that she was still warm. As I touched her, she turned slowly to me, nearly asleep, and asked, “What’s wrong?” All I could get out, was, “I just wanted to tell you that I love you.” She smiled faintly, turned back, and went to sleep.

I stood there for several minutes, unable to make myself leave her side. How confused I felt! The vision was constantly in my thoughts over the next several days, and I shared it with Lea and other family members.. Although puzzled by it, I didn’t dwell on it. It was just one of those inexplicable things that happen. Later that same week, however, I had another warning.

The Casket Vision
Lea had gone on to bed while I finished up some things downstairs. When I finished and went upstairs. I entered our bedroom and saw Lea asleep on her back, with her hands folded on her chest . . . and for an instant I saw her lying in an open casket.

The sight nearly brought me to my knees. I was really shaken. I didn’t wake Lea, but lay down beside her, and wept silently as I prayed for clarity. I know how final death is. There is no second chance to say the things you wish you had said. There is no “Do over.” If you haven’t said it, it’s just too late. And, you have to live with that regret.

I really understood, for the first time, how horribly I would miss her if I no longer had her at my side. I realized that I was being given a message to spend more quality time with Lea. To make sure that all those things that needed to be said between us were said. We had many warm, loving, friend-to-friend conversations over the next few weeks, and I felt closer to her than ever.

Revelation in Hartford
Six weeks later she was in that coma. I kept thinking about the visions, and how she had slowly faded away into thin air. And, now, I feared, the Lord was actually taking her away from me. I prayed constantly, as I often did . . . doing some task, and silently talking to God as though He was at my side. I prayed first that Lea would be spared, and that she could somehow beat the odds. But I was troubled.  I felt I wasn’t praying for the right thing.

As she lay there in that coma, God revealed many things to me. One of the most painful, was the realization that her body was there before me, seemingly asleep,  but her spirit was gone. The spirit, or personality, or soul, is what makes us who we are. Hers wasn’t present. I suspect it may have been with Him, but that’s another part of her testimony Lea will have to share.

It was in those first days I realized that all these years I had been in love with her soul, but what I had always seen was her body. Now, here, they were separated! Although I could touch her body, I couldn’t reach her.

I spent countless hours at her bedside reading to her and tending to her body, helping turn her every two hours to avoid bedsores, applying lotion to keep her skin soft, washing her hair, trimming and cutting her nails, so that, if her spirit returned, she would be comfortable in her body.

I talked to God constantly, and as I poured out my emotions to Him, and beseeched Him for healing, I began to listen to my prayers and realized that if I wanted Him to listen, I was going to have to change my heart. I had been praying selfishly. I was praying for Lea to survive because I didn’t want to lose her. I wanted her to recover because losing her would be painful and I didn’t know what I would do without her by my side.

Suddenly, I thought of the glorious heavenly rewards that must surely be hers. That mansion with the flower gardens she loves so much. Friends and family around her forever! What joy she is going to have! And, here I was asking the Lord to delay giving those rewards to her.

That revelation cut me to the quick! It examined the truth of my faith, because it made me answer the question, “Do you truly believe in heavenly rewards, and that she will be better off?”

I prayed earnestly for forgiveness of my self centeredness. I grasped her hand and told her that I wanted her to stay with me, so we could have more years together, but if she wanted to go on home, I would understand. I then began to pray for strength to accept His will, whatever that might be, and the wisdom to accept the challenges He put before me. I also promised God that if He chose to allow her to remain here, I would abandon my self-centered ways and make the next chapter of our lives about her, and our service to Him.

Book of James
As I prayed one night for strength and revelation, I opened my bible randomly to whatever page happened to appear. As I looked at the page, James 1 Verse 3 came into focus, “The testing of your faith develops perseverance.” Over the next several months there were countless emotional ups and downs as Lea would improve and then crash. Four times her body just gave up. Two of those times I was in her room and experienced her relinquishing her life. That is a deafening silence.

I knew that my faith was being tested, but I also knew that God’s will was going to be served, regardless, and that my test of faith could include Lea’s death.  But, once God helped me realize that if Lea died, she was going to be cared for much better than I could ever provide, and that He was going to lead my life from that day forward. And, with that, I was given an inner peace that enabled me to deal with the trials and challenges of each day, knowing that He was in control, and I was doing His work.

James 1:5-8 states,  5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 Those who doubt should not think they will receive anything from the Lord; 8 they are double-minded and unstable in all they do.” I resolved to be single minded, stable, and keep my wpromise.

James 2:18; “Faith without works is dead.” I had not been working for the Lord for a long time, because I let the devil, through my pride, turn me away from the church. God was showing me that He wanted me back in fellowship, and He and I were talking constantly during those days as He strengthened my faith.

James 4:10 – “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.” Pride has always been one of my biggest challenges, and I realized that it was at the root of my separation from the church years ago. I began working hard to let it go and confessed to God that I needed His help in casting that demon out. I continue working on humbling myself every day to bring my pride under control.

I thank the Lord for bringing me back into the fold, and for restoring Lea to a healthful state. I know that each and every day is a very special gift from our Father, God. I try to care for Lea, and look after her needs, as though she is very special to God, because I believe she is.

Lea and I feel that sharing our story is the ministry set before us, and we are blessed through giving you our testimony. Thank you for this opportunity to share with you. God bless!

Hear this testimony as presented during a recent service: http://kacfaustin.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=103&Itemid=116

The Life at Conception Bill – A Frontal Assault on Roe v. Wade

For more than thirty years, nine unelected men and women on the Supreme Court have played God with innocent human life. The result has been a brutal holocaust that has claimed the lives of more than 45 million innocent and helpless unborn children in America.

In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling forced abortion-on-demand down our nation’s throat.  As a result, many pro-lifers resigned themselves to protecting a life here and there — passing laws which slightly control abortion in the most outrageous cases. And other pro-life organizations always tiptoed around the Supreme Court, hoping they wouldn’t be offended.

The proposed Life at Conception Act Follows the High Court’s Instructions To Define When Life Begins . Working from what the Supreme Court ruled in Roe, pro-life lawmakers can pass a Life at Conception Act and end abortion by using the Constitution instead of amending it. A simple majority vote is all that is needed to pass a Life at Conception Act as opposed to the two-thirds required to add a Constitutional amendment.

When the Supreme Court handed down its now-infamous Roe v. Wade decision, it did so based on a new, previously undefined “right of privacy” which it “discovered” in so-called “emanations” of “penumbrae” of the Constitution.  Of course, as constitutional law it was a disaster. But never once did the Supreme Court declare abortion itself to be a Constitutional right.

Instead the Supreme Court said:  “We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins . . . the judiciary at this point in the development of man’s knowledge, is not in a position to speculate as to the answer.”

Then the High Court made a key admission: “If this suggestion of personhood is established, the appellant’s case [i.e. “Roe” who sought the abortion], of course, collapses, for the fetus’ right to life is then guaranteed specifically by the [14th] Amendment.” That’s exactly what a Life at Conception Act would do.

A Life at Conception Act changes the focus of the abortion debate. It takes the Supreme Court out of the equation and places responsibility squarely on the shoulders of the elected representatives who, unlike life term judges, must respond to grass-roots pressure.

National Pro-Life Alliance members have led the fight to end abortion-on-demand by passing a Life at Conception Act. They have generated over 1.5 million petitions to Congress to date urging lawmakers to cosponsor and fight for passage of a Life at Conception Act.

Those continued efforts have led to ever-increasing support for a Life at Conception Act in Congress. In the 111th Session of Congress, Pro-life Members of Congress introduced three almost identical Life at Conception Acts – two in the House of Representatives and one in the U.S. Senate.

The lobbying of National Pro-Life Alliance members led to the Life at Conception Act being introduced with the highest number of cosponsors, ever. And NPLA members will continue to hold the politicians accountable, pushing for an up or down vote on a Life at Conception Act.

In the U.S. Senate, pro-life floor leader Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) has introduced the Life at Conception Act, S.3346, in this session of Congress. Behind the Life at Conception Act bills in the House are Congressman Duncan D. Hunter (R-CA) and Congressman Paul Broun (R-GA). By introducing H.R.881, Congressman Duncan D. Hunter, the son of former Life at Conception Act sponsor Duncan L. Hunter, is following in his retired father’s footsteps.

Congressman Paul Broun, the author of H.R.227, is a former medical doctor who entered into the political arena in 2007. Congressman Broun has since sought to use his medical expertise to legally establish the scientific fact that conception marks the creation of a genetically unique human being, who should be guaranteed Constitutional protection, under the 14th Amendment.  An up or down vote on a Life at Conception Act will put politicians on record either for or against ending abortion-on-demand.

Pro-lifers are urged to take action and insist that their Congressmen cosponsor H.R.881 and H.R.227, and that their Senators cosponsor S.346 today.

Pray for our country. She needs your help!

For more information on the National Pro-Life Alliance, go to http://www.prolifealliance.com/default.htm

ABOUT HARTFORD LETTERS

Experience the Miraculous Healing and Recovery of Lea Vaughn, and the incredible spiritual journey of her husband during 180 days in Hartford Hospital. Read his original daily emails in "Hartford Letters" above. ____________________________

In “Prayer,” above:

For Dave
Praise: Lea
For Bill and Jane
For Megan
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Praise: fellowship
For Herb
Praise: Joe
For Lea
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