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Fran & Jesus on the Job – Sad News

Mar 17, 2017

Program D-7795

Many years ago my young niece lost her husband of a year-and-a-half to an aggressive cancer that took him quickly. I remember saying to my brother, his father-in-law, “Why did this happen to one so young with so much hope and life in front of him? How did this happen to us?” My brother said something I’ve never forgotten. He said, “Mary, why shouldn’t it happen to our family? We’re not exempt from the sorrows of life, and death is the enemy.”

I knew that passage in 1 Corinthians 15 where Paul writes: “‘Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” I knew that, but I had never before experienced the truth that death is the enemy; death is the result, the sting, of our sin-cursed world. But thanks be to God for the victory we can have—even in the midst of sorrow—when we are a Christ-follower and we have his peace and comfort to see us through.

As I’ve tried to comfort some dear friends and a close family member who are going through the valley of the shadow of death in these last couple of months, I’ve been reminded again that we are sojourners here—we’re all on a journey that will end on this earth and begin in another place. The important thing to know is that when the number of our days comes to an end, we have done what is necessary to have victory over death.  We must make peace with God now, on this side of death, while there is still time to accept the Way, the Truth, and the Life—Jesus Christ—and believe in his redemptive death and resurrection. There’s only one way to be assured of eternal life with God, and that is through faith in Jesus Christ.

As Fran has been faced with the very sudden death of her dear father, she will now have a new normal, won’t she? She won’t have that earthly dad to run to for advice, that earthly grandpa as a friend and role model for her children. She will need to be there for her mom, who will experience deep loneliness and need much help in adjusting to her life as a widow.  Fran will also have to work through her own stages of grief. Hopefully, she will learn to trust God in new ways, to accept the love and help her friends will offer, and to remember that this is not the end of the story. She does not sorrow as one with no hope; she will see her dad again because he was ready to meet Jesus.

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Fran & Jesus on the Job – Sad News

Mar 16, 2017

Program D-7794

How do you help a friend or family member who is grieving the loss of a loved one? Suddenly on Thursday, Fran and her mom rushed to a hospital because Fran’s dad experienced a stroke while at work. After about six hours in the emergency room, where everything was done to save him, they were faced with the unbelievable news that he had died.

It’s the next day and Fran has so much to do to make plans for her dad’s memorial service; to explain to her young children what has happened to their much-loved grandpa; to be there for her mom who is hurting beyond belief after losing her husband of 47-years; and somehow in the midst of all that, to deal with her own grief. If you’ve ever been in such a situation, you know that you exist on adrenalin at first, just going through the motions and doing what you have to do.

Much food is brought to her mom’s house, but of course, they have little appetite. Friends and family stream in and out throughout the day, offering sympathy and comfort. One lady from her mom’s church seems to think it’s her job to “preach a sermon” to her mom. She boldly tells her mom not to cry, not to worry, because her husband is in a better place and all things work together for good to those who love God. Of course, that brings no comfort at all, but actually makes Fran angry and upsets her mom even more, so Fran tries to find a nice way of ushering her out of the house.

Then a long-time friend of her mom’s comes in, looks at her and says, “Oh, Liz, I’m so very sorry. This is so wrong, so wrong….” and the two of them hold onto each other for a long time, crying and sobbing. No more words are said; the feelings are too deep and the despair is too great. But weeping and sobbing with her mom is of great comfort to her.

Paul wrote in Galatians 6:2 that we are to “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” There are no words any of us can say to ease the grief of such a great loss, but by weeping with those who are weeping, we carry part of their burden with them, and that makes it a little bit easier for them.

There have been a lot of deaths in and around me during the last few months, and I’ve been reminded again that death is the enemy, and we cannot escape the sorrow that life on this planet will inevitably bring. But we can be instruments of God’s love and peace by simply weeping with those who are sorrowful, sharing their grief and pain as much as we can, and thus fulfilling the law of Christ.

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Fran & Jesus on the Job – Sad News

Mar 15, 2017

Program D-7793

Fran and her mom are in the hospital emergency room waiting for information on Fran’s dad, who was rushed to the hospital from his office. All they know is that he had a stroke and they’re running tests on him, but they haven’t been allowed to see him; it’s been four hours since they arrived.

Fran’s aunt volunteers to pick her kids up from school and keep them till she’s home. While they wait, Fran texts many friends and family members, asking for prayer, and soon her mom’s pastor comes to sit with them, as well as some other close friends and family. It’s beginning to feel very serious, very ominous, and Fran is trying to help her mom cope with this while keeping herself from falling apart.

Suddenly there seems to be a flurry of activity with doctors and nurses going in and out, and what sounds like lots of dire messages on the intercom. A nurse comes to her mom and says, “Mrs. Taylor, we think you should see your husband now. Come with me.” She agrees that Fran can accompany her, and they walk into a room where her dad lies with all kinds of monitors and tubes on his body. But Fran notices that they are beginning to remove the tubes and turn off the monitors.

“Mrs. Taylor,” a doctor says to her mom, “your husband had a massive stroke which eventually led to heart failure. We have done everything we knew to do, but I’m so sorry to have to tell you that we were not able to save him. His heart just gave out and that, very suddenly. Our efforts to revive him simply didn’t work. I am so sorry to tell you this.”

Fran’s mind goes into denial—no, this simply is not true! They’ve made a mistake. But then she realizes that she can’t think about herself right now; she has to be there for her mom, and her mom has almost collapsed, her knees buckling beneath her. They want her to sit, but she insists on being near her husband, holding his hand, talking to him.

Their pastor and friends gather round, and with many tears and sobs, prayer is said. Someone starts to sing a hymn. Arms are all around her, offering comfort, but Fran has no idea what they’re saying. Her mind is simply not functioning. The shock is more than she can bear.

When life throws you this kind of horrific news and, in a matter of a few hours, your dearest loved one is taken from you, what can anyone do to make it easier? How do you weep with someone who is weeping?

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Fran & Jesus on the Job – Sad News

Mar 14, 2017

Program D-7792

When your world is turned upside down in a moment’s time, what do you do? Fran got that dreaded phone call this afternoon, saying that her dad has been rushed to a hospital from his office. She and her mom are now headed to the hospital.

As they are on the way, Fran asks, “Did they give you any further information, Mom? I mean, did he just faint? Was that all they told you?”

“That’s all they said to me, Fran, and they just encouraged me to go to the hospital for additional information,” she says, with the tears now coming down her face. “He told me this morning that he was a little dizzy, and he stumbled and almost fell coming down the stairs, but he insisted it was nothing. We didn’t think anything about it. What do you think it is, Fran?”

Fran’s mind is racing. What could it be? A stroke? A heart-attack? Maybe just something he ate. “Mom, let’s not let our imaginations run wild until we see him. Let me pray.” As they drive to the hospital, Fran prays for peace for the two of them and for wisdom for those caring for her dad. And of course, she prays it will be nothing serious.

Walking into the emergency room, they expect to see her dad right away, but they are told that he is with a medical team and someone will give them an update shortly. Shortly means five minutes, right? Well, this “shortly” lasts over an hour, and Fran and her mom have to sit in a room with lots of other people, not knowing exactly where her dad is or what is happening. Several times Fran asks the person at the desk for information, and each time they give her the same answer: someone will be with you soon to give you an update.

She and her mom agree that the delay is not a good sign but they try not to think or talk about the possible bad report; instead, they silently pray for good news. Finally they call her mom’s name and direct them to a private room where they meet with two doctors who have attended her dad. “Mrs. Taylor,” they address her mom, “it appears your husband has experienced a stroke. We are running several tests to get a better idea of the severity, the location, and what the best treatment should be. We just can’t give you much more information until we get some test results. We’re doing everything we can.”

They bombard the doctors with many questions, but they seem reluctant to say anything more until they have more information. It could be hours; they might be able to see him soon; not sure when the tests will be done—they can get no answers to their questions, and so they are once again left to wait.

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Fran & Jesus on the Job – Sad News

Mar 13, 2017

Program D-7791

Fran and Jesus on the Job is a fictional story which teaches the principle of practicing the presence of Jesus. As a single working mom, widowed at an early age, Fran has faced many struggles and is learning how to be aware that Jesus is always with her and she doesn’t have to face life on her own.

Thankfully she has wonderful parents who live nearby and who have been with her through everything. She often phones her mom for comfort, and her dad for advice!

It’s Thursday afternoon and, as Fran is busily finishing up an important presentation for tomorrow’s meeting with a new client, her cell phone rings and she notes that it’s her mom. Well, she thinks, I can just call her back on the way home. But something prompts her to answer the call.

“Hi, Mom,” she says cheerily, “how’s it going?” “Fran,” her mom’s voice is shaky, “they just called me from your dad’s office and he fainted or something and they’re taking him to the hospital. I was just wondering…”

“I’m on my way, Mom. I’ll come by and pick you up on the way. I should be there in fifteen minutes.” And with that she literally picks up her purse, leaves everything else scattered on her desk, and heads to her car.

It’s the longest fifteen-minute drive of her life, as she starts to process this information. Her dad—her strong, capable, godly dad whom she relies on so often—something has happened to him. She tries to pray as she drives, but it’s more like a cry: “Lord, please, please….” She doesn’t even know what words to use, so she simply repeats the name of Jesus over and over, knowing that the Holy Spirit is interceding for her.

If you’ve ever had a phone call that changes your life, you know how Fran feels. You know, there are times when words just don’t work. Your heart and mind is so traumatized that you can’t really pray. Romans 8:26 says, “The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” Remember this encouraging truth when your words are inadequate.

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Unshakable Peace

Feb 25, 2017

Part II

Many years ago I spent a long ten years searching for what I thought would make me happy, wandering away from the Christian principles I had been taught, doing my own thing, as we say. And after that ten-year search, I was the most miserable, unfulfilled person you can imagine. In spite of career success and many blessings, I was not in any way at peace. That’s because I was not walking in obedience to God’s Word and I was totally self-focused and determined to run my own life. I mistakenly thought that doing it “my way” would bring the happiness and peace I so longed for.

How wrong I was. But I remember that when I finally came to the end of myself and turned back to God for forgiveness and restoration, the prayer I prayed was, “God, I’ll do anything you want me to do, I’ll be anything you want me to be, if you’ll just give me peace.” It was that peace that passes understanding which was sorely missing in my life, and I so longed to be at peace with God and with myself. I found that peace by giving it up—by letting go of the control of my life and declaring that God was God in my life from that point on.

That was many years ago, and I’ve been walking in the peace of God since then. Now, that doesn’t mean that I’ve been peaceful every minute since that prayer, but it means that I began to learn how to live in the peace that Jesus gives me. There are still times when I lose it—times when I don’t practice what I know to be truth. But God graciously and gently restores me and brings me back to the basic truth that the peace I long for is found in Jesus Christ and in obedience to him.

That is unshakable peace—peace that cannot be destroyed regardless of the circumstances because it is not dependent on circumstances. It is dependent on my relationship with Jesus Christ; he is my peace and he never leaves me or forsakes me. So, that peace is mine regardless of what’s going on around me or how I feel or whether I’m in good times or bad times. That is unshakable peace.

I find it very interesting that peace is listed in Ephesians 6 as a piece of our spiritual armor. It says, “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.” Why do you suppose we are told to put peace on our feet? At first you’d think it would be better to put peace on as a breastplate to cover our heart—peace in our heart. But no, we’re told to put peace on our feet.

Here’s how I look at it. Have you ever tried to get through a day wearing shoes that hurt your feet? Is there anything more miserable? Seems like you just have to quit if your feet are hurting, if the shoes don’t fit well.

Think about the boots that people in the army wear. Those shoes are designed to be comfortable and do the job no matter what the conditions are. If you’re marching in the hot desert, those army boots keep your feet from scorching; in the snow, they keep them from freezing; on rocky, rough paths, they protect them from cuts and bruises. With those boots on, you’re prepared to keep going no matter what the circumstances are.

When we wear the shoes of peace, we can keep going regardless of our circumstances. It’s that peace of God, which is described as passing all our understanding. Have you ever experienced that kind of peace, where you knew when you looked around you that you ought to be in panic mode, but instead you’re peaceful—incredible, unreasonable peace? When we wear the shoes of peace, we have peace whether it makes sense or not.

You need to make sure you put those shoes on every day, especially when you’re under lots of pressure. Ephesians 2:14 says, “For He Himself—Jesus Christ—is our peace…” Peace is a person—it’s Jesus. You just need to focus your mind on the person of peace, Jesus Christ. It’s really important to put on the shoes of peace each day, because then you’ll know peace regardless of the circumstances.

Peter tells us in 1 Peter 3:10-11 that the person who intends to love life and see good days must seek peace and pursue it. You have to go for it. It doesn’t just come like a blanket and settle upon you when all the circumstances are just right. It comes when you pursue it. Again in Romans 14:19 Paul says “Let us pursue the things which make for peace…”

It won’t just happen. You have to discipline yourself to stop at those panic points, and talk to yourself and to the Lord. Even in the midst of your workday, find a place you can get alone for one minute or five minutes for a peace break. Say out loud, “Lord, you will keep me in perfect peace if my mind is fixed on you. I choose to fix my mind on you. I put on the shoes of peace so that I can keep going, regardless of what’s going on around me.”

Jesus is the supreme example of peace in the midst of pressure. People were always crowding him, trying to talk to him, trying to touch him. He had a hard time finding any space or time for himself. He was constantly under pressure. But I notice that no matter how busy he was or how full the calendar seemed to be, he found time to be alone with God. I read something by R. A. Torrey once, which I wrote in the front of my prayer journal and to which I frequently refer. Let me read it:

“Some people are so busy that they find no time for prayer. Apparently the busier Christ’s life was, the more He prayed. Sometimes He had no time to eat, sometimes He had no time for needed rest or sleep, but He always took time to pray; and the more the work crowded the more He prayed.”

Lots of times when our schedules get very full, and the pressure starts to come in on us, the first thing we sacrifice is our time with the Lord. I find that’s the biggest reason I lose my peace, when I’m too busy to spend time with Jesus. I think that’s true of lots of us who are Christ-followers. When you don’t spend time with the Prince of Peace, when you’ve failed to go to the source of peace, then you’re left to face life’s pressures on your own and that usually means you lose that peace of Christ which you desperately need, especially when life gets very hectic.

What a silly thing for us to do as Christians. Here we have available to us the fountainhead of peace. Here we have the God of all peace ready to heal our frazzled nerves and bring calm in the midst of chaos. But foolishly we don’t go to him. “We’re too busy. He’ll understand. Something has to give.”

That’s a very foolish economy. Believe me, this is a lesson I must continually re-learn. I remember one particular period of time when the pressures and deadlines were great, and so the prayer time was minimized and sacrificed for a few days. In his oh-so-gentle way, God showed me that when I sacrifice prayer time to relieve pressures, I do just the opposite—I increase my pressures. He said, “Spend time with me, draw on my strength. You need me now more than ever. And I’ll take the remaining time and make it stretch to meet the responsibilities.”

Your lack of peace may be because you’ve sacrificed time with the Prince of Peace. Sorry, but it just won’t work. Like me, you’re going at it backwards. Give God the time, and see how he stretches it for you.

Probably the best testimony you and I can have in our hectic worlds is to demonstrate peace in the midst of a hectic environment. I have a dear friend who came to know Christ as her Savior because she kept observing one coworker who was peaceful in a chaotic work situation, and she decided she wanted what he had. She wanted peace.

That’s why I think the theme for our Annual Weekend Getaway this April is so right—Unshakable Peace. When you have it and you live it, you not only bring calm and contentment to your own life, but you shed the peace of Christ to those around you. You become a light in a dark world—in a world longing for personal peace.

One person wrote this after attending last year:

God brought me to the conference after being unemployed for a year. I just got a new job last month, and the conference came just at the right time as I am in a new season and trying to be a light at this new company. I met wonderful people, great ladies in the faith, with great stories of faith. I’m so thankful to have met them! God in his infinite wisdom and perfect timing is amazing. To God be the glory.

It’s testimonies like this that convince me God uses these weekend getaways to do amazing things in the hearts of those who attend. And as this woman says, a great part of the blessing is the women you meet and their encouraging stories of faith.

Our getaway is scheduled for April 21–23, 2017, and we meet in a lovely hotel in the Chicago suburbs. Women come from across the country for this time of spiritual renewal. I’d love for you to join me and enjoy the fellowship of these special women, the inspiration of our speakers, the time of worship with our musicians, the lovely accommodations and good food—and set this weekend apart for God to speak to you and meet your particular need.

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