Are You Prepared To Give An Account

by Laura Courtney

I thoroughly enjoy quotes. I have a special notebook dedicated to my favorites that I have heard or read through teachers and professors, friends and family, books and movies, songs and poems, scriptures and pastors, etc. & etc. There are two that have continued to come back to my mind over the years. Both are related to the same idea and yet are from two completely separate people, places and times.

The first is from a professor I had in college, Dr. Mary Ann Meiners. She would routinely start each class with a short devotional. One day she said, “When God takes our breath back, we will be accountable as to how we have lived with it.” (And yes this is an exact quote because I loved it instantly and of course wrote it down in my notes and later transferred to my quote journal.)

The second comes from Jeffrey Dahmer. “If a person doesn’t think that there is a God to be accountable to, then what’s the point of trying to modify your behavior to keep it within acceptable ranges…I have since come to believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is truly God, and I believe that I, as well as everyone else, will be accountable to Him.” He stated this in a news interview, after having come to faith while in prison.

Both, in my mind, reflect this simple verse in scripture:

So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God. (Romans 14:12)

Genesis 2:7 states that God “breathed into [man’s] nostrils the breath of life, and [he] became a living
being.” Yet one day, when we ”all stand before God’s judgment seat” (Romans 14:10), we will have to give that breath back to him. And we will have to be prepared to give an account and accept responsibility for what we’ve done with that breath.

I won’t start a theological debate as to where Jeffrey Dahmer—having committed some of the worst crimes in history, yet finally proclaiming his faith and acceptance of Jesus as his Lord and Savior—is currently spending eternity. But I often think about this question: If a person like Jeffrey Dahmer can acknowledge and fully expect to be held accountable for the actions he committed in his life, am I ready to give an
account of what I’ve done?

Are you?

Heavenly Father, you breathed your own breath into us and gave us life.
Now please, dear Lord, help us not to waste it.


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Night to Shine

by Chris Thomas
 
For the past six years, Tim Tebow has hosted an event called Night to Shine. It is a “Prom” for special needs adults, both young and old. This prom is held in 70 countries and in over 300 churches. The genuine love and dedication Tim Tebow has for special needs people is beautiful. His mission is to help us all realize that the life of every person on this earth is valuable.
 
For the past couple of years, I’ve been following the Tim Tebow Foundation on Facebook and I was always so moved by the pure joy on the faces of the “Kings and Queens” of the prom that I pledged to one day be a part of that tremendous event.
 
Well, this year I did. My middle granddaughter, a friend of most of us, Nathan Renoll and I participated as “dates” for the prom guests. All I can say is WOW! You can see the photos and videos of these events on the TTF Facebook page, but nothing compares to seeing in person the love, compassion and care that the over 300 volunteers at our local event showed each and every one of the guests as they were heralded in on a red carpet and then participated in a variety of events throughout the evening. The entire night was covered in the showering of God’s love. Those of us who have volunteered at the CABC Down Syndrome Camp understand and appreciate the effect special needs people have on us all.
 
To see the smiles, the laughter, the dancing, the uninhibited expressions on each face is so humbling. I looked at each guest (over 100 showed up!) and felt a little sad for the lives they have to live, but realized that they are living good lives. They are happy, protected and alive! It was the simplest treats that brought them the most joy. Joy. That’s the best word to describe the evening. And that’s their mission to us—to show and remind us to seek and to hold on to the amazing joy in our lives.
 
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. (Psalm 139:14)

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Precious Memories

by Emma Turner 
 
I feel like I’ve been taking a ride on a roller coaster without leaving the couch. It is amazing how just sorting through old pictures and clippings can cause such emotional ups and downs. I really want to make a family scrapbook.
 
Ah-h-h, I love this picture of my dad sitting there under a big oak tree, looking so proudly at that huge pile of sweet, juicy watermelons he had grown. I can almost taste them now and feel the juice running down my arm. Here’s one of Jim at the age of 12, holding his baby sister. Jim always told me this picture was taken within days of his dad being killed in a car/train accident.
 
Rummaging again through the collection of snapshots of my life, I see the country church in which I grew up. My favorite spot was on the piano bench next to my mother as she played for services. At this church I trusted Christ as my Savior from sin at the age of eight and a number of years later walked down the aisle after church one Sunday morning to become Jim’s bride.
 
Memories cascade around me on the couch as I remember again the day each of our children was born and so quickly they grew up. How wonderfully the Lord blessed us those years in serving Him together as a family. Then, one by one, the children were gone, on with education, marriage, and serving Him elsewhere.
 
The same pictures that bring so many memories of happy years with family and friends also bring tears to my eyes. How can a full life of God’s abundant blessings bring so much sadness now? I feel like in looking at the pictures I relived my whole life, and so many people I have known and loved are no longer here. They have gone ahead of me. And then it hits me: the best is yet to come!
 
…eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. (1 Corinthians 2:9)
 
As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness. (Psalm 17:15)
 
Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:11)
 
This Lenten season I’m thankful for CABC, our pastors, staff, and church family, who model grace day after day to one another, the local community, and various ministry partners. As we celebrate God’s grace, may we be messengers and imitators of God’s grace. May we love, accept, and forgive others, just as God did for us.
 
“To accept grace is to accept the vow to give it.” Max Lucado

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I Am With You

by Lisa St. Ledger March 24
 
When life seems to be a bit bumpy, I think of a line from one of my favorite songs, “even though I love this crazy life, sometimes I wish it was a smoother ride.”
 
Life can be really hard sometimes. I struggle with the stresses of traumatic life events, everyday life problems, injustices and the unforgiving nature of today’s society. I pray for peace/love and answers for the hardships in life and sometimes I feel like I am alone or that God does not hear me.
 
While my prayer may not be answered today, I can still see God’s hand in the day-to-day life with the presence of a good friend, the beauty of the sunrise, the kindness of a stranger, or the adoration of the family pet. All of these things bring joy to my heart, reminding me that even in my difficult times He is with me and is showing himself through these beauties of life.
 
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)
 
Isn’t it wonderful to know that even when you feel disheartened, God is there to strengthen and lift you up? Look for him in all aspects of your life and you will find His presence, even in the smallest of ways.

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Grace

by Sharon Luckenbaugh 
 
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
 
In Him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. (Ephesians 1:7-8)
 
Lately in my leisurely reading there has been an underlying theme of God’s grace. Maybe it’s the Holy Spirit gently nudging me to extend that same grace to some squirrelly kids at school, the impatient driver who was riding my bumper on the way to work, and the loved ones God has blessed me with. Grace is God’s free gift of unmerited favor and love to those who accept Him. Receiving the grace of God does not mean we simply live our lives as we please, being thankful that we’re forgiven. Those who accept His free gift of salvation are instructed to extend grace to others.
 
In Max Lucado’s book, Grace, More than We Deserve, Greater than We Imagine, the author describes the horrible massacre of innocent Amish children while attending the West Nickel Mines Amish School in Lancaster County, PA. As neighbors to Lancaster, you may recall the tragic event of October 2, 2006. In the days that followed, I remember watching the news and hearing local and national commentators express amazement over the Amish community’s testimony of grace. They remained peaceful and composed, while extending kindness and forgiveness. Lucado writes, “Half of those in attendance of the shooter’s funeral were Amish. An Amish midwife, who helped deliver several of the schoolgirls who died, prepared a meal for the shooter’s family.”
 
Our world asks, “How could they do that in the midst of great loss, hurt, and grief?”
 
Lucado explains, “Grace is not blind. It sees the hurt full well. But grace chooses to see God’s forgiveness even more. It refuses to let hurts poison the heart. Where grace is lacking, bitterness abounds. Where grace abounds, forgiveness grows.”
 
Lucado references Hebrews 12:15, See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. The Amish community, despite the painful loss of loved ones, demonstrated God’s grace to the world in powerful and practical ways.
 
For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father” Or again, “I will be his Father, and he will be my Son.” (Hebrews 1:1-5)
 
Jesus is everything!
Amen

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Dearly Beloved

by Joe Becker
 
To address anyone as “Dearly Beloved” should, by grace, and due course, reveal a spray of ’playful light’ about the text. These days, however, such an address may appear as far from an inkstand as 1976, when the term ‘inkjet’ was first coined. Within our generation pens are no more quickened, neither yielded or wielded to write much at all. Cursive writing seems cursed by the cursor and any playful light gets produced by some “icon” or “emoji”. And when that is mixed with a velocity so adverse to one’s being still, I can only throw fits against such wit foreign to my own. Then the Holy Spirit, once so intercessional to the letter of conversation, seems to succumb even further to my ineptitude with and dislike of electronic devices. Would I then grieve the Holy Spirit?
 
So I retreat to the book shelf, in search of some comfort, outside the realm of cell phones and the world of pixels. There is my Lord’s heart, as revealed to Elisabeth Elliott. She has written in the context of God’s Word on being still.
 
“We can know only that Eternal Love is wiser than us, and we bow in adoration of that Loving Wisdom. Response is what matters. All events serve His Will.” (Elisabeth Elliott, Be Still My Soul, 2003)
 
Now in all this dressage, when the Pastor and others face the congregation, quite nearly pleading for contributions to our Lenten Devotional, it behooves us to Respond.
 
Dearly Beloved, take the time to perhaps pen a letter. It may become your joy to share in the ministry of our annual devotional. It bolsters our growth, unity, and fellowship here at CABC.

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