Thanksgiving Day 2017 we ate, we played games, we celebrated birthdays, took a fun Christmas card photo with grandkids and watched a beautiful sunset. Our hearts are full.
When Jesus said in John 10:10, “I came to give you abundant life,” we believe there’s nothing more satisfying than a relationship with Him and relationships with Forever Family. We know this is only the beginning of eternity together!
Mac & Mary
There are some 60 catacombs near Rome, in which some 600 miles of galleries have been traced. These galleries are about 8 ft high by 3-5 ft wide, containing on either side several rows of long, low, horizontal recesses, one above another like berths in a ship. In these the dead bodies were placed and the front closed, either by a single marble slab or several great tiles laid in mortar.
Both pagans and Christians buried their dead in these catacombs. When the Christian graves have been opened the skeletons tell their own terrible tale. Heads are found severed from the body, ribs and shoulder blades are broken, bones are often calcined from fire. But despite the awful stories of persecution, the inscriptions breathe forth peace, joy & triumph.
Here are a few:
“Here lies Marcia, put to rest in a dream of peace.”
“Being called away, he went in peace.”
Remember when reading these inscriptions the story the skeletons tell of persecution, of torture, and of fire.
But the full force of these epitaphs is seen when we contrast them with the pagan epitaphs, such as:
“Live for the present hour, since we are sure of nothing else.”
“Once I was not. Now I am not. I know nothing about it, and it is no concern of mine.”
The most frequent Christian symbols on the walls of the catacombs, are, the good shepherd with the lamb on his shoulder, a ship under full sail, harps, anchors, crowns, vines, and above all the fish.
The Christian Church spread throughout the world largely as a result of the persecutions by the Romans. What Satan intended for evil God gave these brave Christians an eternal home with Him. No more sadness, no more pain, filled with peace & victory.
“It’s a wrap! The Celebrate Recovery Summits are over for 2017! Thanks to the over 5500 pastors and Celebrate Recovery leaders that attended. God is moving in Celebrate Recovery! I stand in awe on how He continues to bless and grow this movement!” Pastor John Baker
If you didn’t get to attend one of our CR Summits this year, come join us for a One Day seminar this Fall in the following cities:
Sept. 23, The Chapel, Fort Wayne, IN
Oct. 7, Fellowship Bible Church, Rogers, AR
Oct. 21, beachCHURCH,Myrtle Beach, SC
Nov. 4, New Life Baptist Church, New Wilmington, PN
Nov. 18, First Baptist Orlando, Orlando, FL
To register go to www.celebraterecovery.com
We are grieving the loss of our son’s adoptive father, Robert Arthur, who died on March 27, 2017. I was talking to Heath’s mother yesterday. I listened as she poured out her heart. Robert was a veteran and Cynthia was given a free tombstone to honor his service in the military. This reminded me of a story my father told me long ago.
“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Those words fell from the parched lips of a dying thief, hanging on the cross. Hanging there between him and another offender was Jesus, dying like a criminal. At the beginning of the ordeal, both thieves joined in with the crowd, hurling insults at Jesus.
But something happened to cause one of the thieves to change his mind. Was it the inscription, “King of the Jews,” nailed to the cross of Jesus? Or maybe it was the touching words of Jesus asking His Father to forgive those who were cursing him?
The poor soul had nothing in his hands to offer Jesus, for iron spikes held his hands to the cross. His feet weren’t able to go and do some good deed, for they, too, were nailed through with spikes. All he had was a repentant heart, one begging to be remembered. Time was running out turning to his partner in crime he said, “Don’t you fear God…since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”
The man looked at Jesus and said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Then just as his life on earth was ebbing away he found eternal life. Jesus said to him, ‘Today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:42-43) He found living water in the desert of the dying.
No matter how much wrongdoing we have done, deep down inside every heart is a longing to be remembered. Just visit the cemetery and read the tombstone inscriptions. In Bible lands, tombs have been discovered with the single line on the headstone, “Remember me.”
My father told me the story about him going to the old country graveyard where my great-great-grandfather, William Hardy Howard is buried. There was no marker left on the gravesite. The weather of some 125 years had destroyed whatever marker was once there.
My dad had a feeling of disappointment and emptiness. Here lay the remains of a man who survived one of the most distressing times in United States history. While serving as a soldier in the Civil War, my great-great-grandfather had contracted a disease that would contribute to his death some 15 years later.
Although this man had ultimately lost his life because of his service, no marker remained on site telling others of his sacrifice. Yet, a marker of a different type has survived for over 90 years. That marker is our grandson, Summit, as his middle name is Hardy.
The dying thief hung from a cross. Perhaps no one was there to fix a marker for this man dying in shame. Perhaps no one would claim the body of this criminal who would likely be dumped in the garbage as food for the vultures, for people thought of him as a nobody. But Jesus granted his dying request: he would be in paradise with Jesus that very day!
The answer to our longing for being remembered was sealed on that day on the cross with Jesus’ blood and by His resurrection from the dead on Easter morning. It is here, in believing in the gospel, that we are remembered and given our headstone that neither winds, nor storms, nor death, nor sands of time can erase or deface. We have a hope and a future!
We hope you will find a church near you to attend this Easter weekend to hear more about the greatest rescue in history. This hope we’ve found is real. There is hope and healing for you too!
Because He lives,
Mac & Mary
Mac likes to get in the hot tub between 4-5 a.m. every morning, because at that time in the morning, he sees a lot of shooting stars. He talked me into getting in this morning to watch for a shooting star. As we stared into the darkness, gazing at the countless twinkling stars, I proclaimed out loud, “The heavens declare the glory of God. The skies proclaim the work of his hands, day after day they pour forth speech, night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.” (Psalm 19)
We sat there quietly soaking in the magnificent beauty and vastness of God’s creation. Then out of the darkness 2 BRIGHT HUGE SHOOTING STARS dashed across the sky!
“To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, forever and ever. The four living creatures said Amen and the elders fell down and worshipped.” (Revelation 5)
Wow, I wonder what it’s going to be like when we come into God’s presence?!
Good Morning, Pikes Peak!
Some Bibles have a blank page between Malachi, the end of the Old Testament and Matthew, the beginning of the New Testament. This blank page represents to many believers that God was silent for 400 years.
Can you imagine how God’s people must have felt during those 400 years of silence? As we read in Matthew, Rome is in charge now. Rome is the biggest, toughest, strongest, wealthiest, ego-centered nation while God’s people are still captives.
God’s people didn’t know what was about to happen on Christmas Eve. Most were feeling hopeless wondering, “What about the 300 predictions of a Savior? Where is He? Is God still with us? Have we done so much wrong that God finally has had enough of us?”
When you read about the birth of Jesus in Luke 2, there are two people who continued to hold out hope of the Lord’s Messiah. Simeon and Anna had grown very old. They believed that no matter how far God’s people had gone away from Him that surely God still loved them. They believed, “Surely God will rescue us. Surely God will send the Savior He promised.”
These two heroes of patience always held out hope and never gave up. Simeon and Anna received their reward for faithfulness and trusting God when they got to see the Messiah with their own eyes when Joseph and Mary brought baby Jesus to the temple to be consecrated.
God had a plan all along throughout those 400 years of silence. He had the date marked on the calendar when the Savior of mankind would come into the world.
Today, there are times when we may feel like things are hopeless. Remember this, history will repeat itself either good or bad. We must hold onto hope, just like Simeon and Anna, and we will be rescued as well. The same Savior they held in their arms over 2000 years ago is now ready to hold you in His arms.
Jesus Christ has come to save us. Our God is reliable and trustworthy. He has been sovereign throughout history. Jesus is coming back. The date is already on God’s calendar! Who knows, it may be today! Let’s wait patiently and with eager expectation while sharing the hope of Jesus with others.
Merry Christmas from Mac & Mary
The Incline in Manitou Springs, Colorado begins at 6600 ft. in elevation and climbs to 8600 ft. in less than a mile. An average grade of around 45% with stretches that hit 68%. It consists of approximately 2744 steps of unevenly spaced railroad ties. It’s a rite of passage for Olympic trainers. If you have a fear of heights, I would think twice about doing this. I heard one guy tell his friend, “Whatever you do, don’t look back down.”
Another guy went up and down it TWICE while we were hiking the trail! Mac & I went slow & steady. Many passed us up. But then we passed some of them as they ran out of steam. So many things went through my mind as we climbed. I asked Mac to stay with me since I knew he could out climb me if he wanted to.
Reminds me of a CR sponsor setting the pace while walking the journey together. Mac kept telling me, “Don’t focus on others passing us up. Focus on one step at a time. We WILL make it to the Summit.”
I noticed some people didn’t have on the wisest choice of attire for the hike, like sandals, blue jeans, slick shoes. Reminds me of our journey in Celebrate Recovery; you need the right tools to be equipped to make it to the “Summit.”
When we were coming back down, some would ask us, “Did you make it to the top? How far do we still have to go?” (They were needing some hope.) We replied, “We made it! It’s amazing at the top! One step at a time. You can do it. It’s worth the hard work.”
When one woman asked how far she still had to go, we had to tell the truth she was 1/4 of the way there. She exclaimed, “Wait what? I’ve already been walking for a long time!”
It was an incredible experience with my man. It took us 1 1/2 hours to get to the top and the same to get back down. Feels good to be sitting in the car now looking for that extra protein bar. 🙂
Our dryer went out and the technician said it would be ten days before they could check it out. I was thinking, “I can’t live a day without my dryer!” I asked Mac if he would make me a clothesline. The MacGuyver that he is; I had a functional clothesline between the Aspens within minutes.
Walking outside with my basket of wet clothes there was a nice cool breeze rustling the Aspen’s leaves, fluffy clouds were floating in the sky and birds were singing…I felt like I was in the “Sound of Music”!
As I hung each article of clothing on the line, I thought of the old saying, “Don’t air your dirty laundry.” That brought back memories of me keeping secrets for so many years. Satan taunted me with, “No one will love you. You aren’t good enough. You never will be. You’ve made too many wrong choices. It won’t turn out good. You better keep your dirty laundry to yourself.”
In Celebrate Recovery, I believe it’s the only place where you will get a standing ovation when you share how messed up you’ve been. At the same time, giving God the glory for how He has made you white and clean as freshly fallen snow.
I love this adventure we are on as the recovery journey continues.
Hope to meet you at one of the Summits!
I was recently sitting on the back porch enjoying a cup of coffee while watching the Canadian geese that show up on our lake every Spring. It’s interesting how the geese treat other members of their own family. They run them off, squawking and chasing after them until the other geese leave. But then two mallard ducks, a drake and a hen, land on the lake and the geese let them stay. They enjoy the lake together.
Sometimes we are nicer to other people than we are to our own family. We show up at church or to Celebrate Recovery with a big smile and giving everybody hugs. While at the same time we were just arguing with our family on the car ride there. Or maybe we were grumpy and complaining to our spouse that morning. Every day we are given choices. One of those is how to act.
When we say we’re going to voluntarily submit to every change God wants to make in our lives, this includes every aspect of it. At church or at work or at home. Even when it’s just ourselves.
We need to daily choose how we are going to act, both with those who only see us occasionally or with the fellow geese we share our lake with.
How are you showing acts of love and kindness to those around you?
What choices will you make today to bring lasting change for tomorrow?