A Good Quality of Life

Unshakable Hope

I’ve been thinking a lot about quality of life issues lately. More specifically, I’ve been trying to figure out why some people that (in the natural) possess virtually everything we think would make for a good quality of life, yet they’re miserable. Conversely, many others have almost none of the ingredients that we think must be in the mix for a good quality of life, but they seem perfectly content.

I think about this issue more and more as life with ALS becomes an even greater challenge. If ALS takes its natural course, the victim will die of respiratory failure. The muscles needed to breathe become weaker and weaker to the point where you just can’t breathe anymore. Oftentimes the flu or pneumonia are just too much for those with advanced ALS and can speed up this respiratory failure.

I had a severe case of the flu in February, and…

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Why I follow Jesus

You ask why I follow this Jesus?
Why I love Him the way I do?
When the world’s turned away from His teachings
And the people who serve Him are few.

It’s not the rewards I’m after
Or gifts that I hope to receive
It’s the Presence that calls for commitment
It’s the Spirit I trust and believe.

The Lord doesn’t shelter His faithful
Or spare them all suffering and pain,
Like everyone else I have burdens,
And walk through my share of rain.

Yet He gives me a plan and a purpose,
And that joy only Christians have known,
I never know what comes tomorrow,
But I do know I’m never alone.

It’s the love always there when you need it;
It’s the words that redeem and inspire,
It’s the longing to ever be with Him
That burns in my heart like a fire.

So you ask why I love my Lord Jesus?
Well, friend, that’s so easy to see,
But the one thing that fills me with wonder is
Why Jesus loves someone like me.

(Author unknown)

What a friend we have in Jesus

The Lord kindly brought this old hymn to mind while I was sitting at work feeling a little down. It made me smile and was a comfort. I hope it blesses you too:

What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged—
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful,
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy-laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge—
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,
Thou wilt find a solace there.

Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised
Thou wilt all our burdens bear;
May we ever, Lord, be bringing
All to Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright, unclouded,
There will be no need for prayer—
Rapture, praise, and endless worship
Will be our sweet portion there.

(Joseph M. Scriven, 1855)

Child-like Faith

This post reminds me that many of God’s most faithful followers praised Him while IN the fiery furnace, not when they were safely delivered from it. The following scripture comes to mind: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: 7 that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: 8 whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: 9 receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:3-9)

Unshakable Hope

As I’ve said in other posts, I do not believe that God causes trials. But He clearly does allow difficult times to come upon even those that are closest to Christ. (If you don’t believe this, please study the life of the Apostle Paul).

When you read the Old Testament, especially the book of Job, you’ll find that people of those times believed trials and tribulations only came upon the ungodly. Most of the book of Job is his so-called “friends” trying to figure out what Job did or didn’t do to deserve these horrible trials. Poor Job sits at their feet scraping his boils trying to defend himself against their baseless accusations.

Trials humble us and expose self-righteousness in others and in ourselves.

I’m thankful that I don’t have friends like Job. Today, when looking upon those going through difficult trials, the humbled believer will likely think,

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How do I know if my ministry is fruitful?

I was thinking today that my ministry is very small, certainly in terms of conversions. I honestly don’t know of one person I’ve influenced who has gone on to follow Christ. The closest example I can think of was a lovely 19-year old girl called Eva Rose who said she was considering “following God and Jesus” because of my example of faith. At the time this was a great encouragement but since then I have had very little feedback spiritually on whether I’m bearing genuine fruit for the Lord.

So this afternoon I started searching my site in earnest, trying to see what articles have been the most popular and helpful for people, if any. I came up with a small but, I feel, encouraging list:

There were other articles that were shared as well, which was a surprise and a little bolster to my faith, but the above are the dearest to my heart so I thought I’d mention these. I wanted to address the topic of fruitfulness in ministry because I’m sure I’m not alone in having anxieties about this at times. Another helpful strategy I adopted this afternoon was to comb Christian internet forums, trying to determine what others have done to overcome doubt and discouragement. I came across several helpful posts from http://www.puritanboard.com/f117/how-do-i-know-if-my-ministry-fruitful-48027/. I hope you find these encouraging too:

Firstly, this gem of a post:
“My grandmother used to fret about fruitfulness, because in her lifetime as a believer (she became a believer when she was 40 and died in her late 80’s) she never saw a personal convert. She told me that this bothered her until she realized that God might never show her fruit. What she didn’t see was the number of lives that had been changed (and are still changing almost 15 years after her death) because of her prayers and faithfulness to God. Abraham also believed without receiving the promise (see Hebrews 11:13 and the whole chapter in fact – my notes).

I don’t see in Scripture where God calls conversions or baptisms or large numbers “fruit”. He describes the “fruit of the Spirit” much differently. When I look at a pastor, I look at his personal life and example. I also look at his faithfulness to the word of God. If the congregation is healthy spiritually, then the pastor is doing his job.

Galatians 5 contrasts the fruit of the Spirit with the works of the flesh. If “body life” reflects the fruit of the Spirit, then the pastor is being the example he should be. If the church looks more like the works of the flesh listed in Galatians 5, then I believe the pastor AND the leadership should take a long hard look at themselves and ask God what is wrong.

Being around my pastor and elders has made me want to know the Lord more. I watch their example of loving Christ, loving the church, loving the lost, caring for the flock and be(ing) grounded in God’s word. They are men I want to follow, and it has produced more growth in me and in my family.”

Then this:
“God is not concerned about your success. He is concerned about your faithfulness to Him and His Word.”

So there you have it. With God, the external signs of success matter less than where our hearts are at. I hope this encourages you to keep on fighting the good fight of faith with me.

Until next time, Lord willing.

Jesus comes to you in your storm

This article was taken from National Prayer Bank (http://nationalprayerbank.com/), where a man called Thomas provided comfort to a lady suffering severe work stress, the dementia of her mother and a possible nervous breakdown by her sister. Her life was imploding so she reached out to caring believers for help and prayers. Below is what Thomas wrote to her:

In Mark 6, Jesus went off by himself to pray and sent the disciples ahead of him to Bethsaida. It wasn’t a long trip by boat, but they were blown off course by a storm, and when Jesus saw them struggling against the wind in the middle of the lake, he came to their aid.

Have you ever had a storm blow you off course? You had no intention of being where you are today in your job, your marriage, your finances. You’ve been blown off course by situations you couldn’t control. You feel like you should be there by now, but at this point, you’ve given up hope of getting to your original destination. You just want to get back to safety.

Maybe you had big dreams for your life that you gave up on a long time ago. You’re not even worried about progress anymore. You’re just wondering, “Can I survive?”

What does Jesus do when you’re at your moment of desperation? Mark 6:48 says, “About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water” (NLT). Notice he didn’t tell the disciples to come to him. He knew they couldn’t get to him. He went to them. When you’re at that point of desperation, Jesus comes to you!

I love the fact that Jesus did not stand on the shore and shout instructions. When you’re in a storm, you don’t need advice. You need a miracle! You need somebody to show up, and this is what Jesus did. He intervened in the disciples’ storm.

This is the Gospel — that God doesn’t stand on the shoreline telling us what to do. He comes out and meets us in our pain, our fear, our depression, our storm, and our discouragement. He comes to us. What a God!

You may feel abandoned right now, but you’re not. The Bible says in John 14:18, “I will not abandon you or leave you as orphans in the storm — I will come to you” (LB). You can count on it!

Satan Our Accuser, Christ Our Advocate

I am reblogging a very encouraging article from Levi Thetford. It comforted me and I trust it will be a comfort to others. We all have ongoing battles with spiritual evil in this planet: it is good to be reminded that the Lord Jesus has destroyed the enemy’s reigning power over us. He may worry us (as CH Spurgeon so eloquently put it) but he cannot claim us as his own.