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A More Perfect Way
Jesus left us a clear path to God and salvation.  With this page we will be presenting true stories, testimonies, and other valuable information that will edify the body of Christ...Here is our first installment.  Remember you too can be published.  Send us your manuscripts and we will edit with your approval and place on this page or the actual magazine.  Contact us for details and further information.

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We will remember and not be afraid!

II Timothy  1:7
"For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."

Stay Tuned For Updated Articles Coming Soon!!!

 Out of Darkness...
An Interview
by Phyllis Whiten
Part One
“Sometimes, I just feel like I want to run up and down the streets with a bullhorn, and shout about the goodness of my precious Jesus!" Today, life is good for Katherine, a 47-year old widow of three. With a permanent full-time job at the local hospital, a lovely apartment, a circle of good friends, a church family, and her two youngest sons, Charles and Phillip with her, the lady is living large. And yes, today, life is very good.

As Katherine looks back over her life, her story is not so different than countless others. She had one sister, two brothers, and her father who was an alcoholic, was not in the home. Their mother raised them and took them to the St. Peter's Claver Church every Sunday, whether they wanted to go or not. "Mom did a lot of talking, and she spanked us only rarely. Most of the time, when we were bad, she would just 'talk' to us." As a small child and into her adulthood, Katherine always seemed to shy away from her peers. She remembers feeling self-conscious because she was quite tall for her age, thin, and her eyesight was very poor, leaving her to wear glasses with very thick lenses. "The kids used to call them 'welfare glasses' and 'welfare coca cola bottles.' Mom always kept us clean and fed, and she did without so that we could have; but I always remember feeling as though I didn't fit in with the 'in' crowd because of the way I looked and the fact that they had so much more than I did. I was very young then, and I was looking at the material things; but no mother could have loved her children more. That's what's important. Her legacy to us was her love and her faith in God.  

"In high school, I became part of a crowd that accepted me. They didn't seem to mind the tall skinny girl with the thick glasses. They didn't mind because their thoughts were concentrated on drinking, smoking reefer and popping pills: red devils and yellow jacks. Finally, I felt as though I belonged." Here, with this crowd, Katherine felt comfortable. She told herself that she was very happy and content. Boys and older men of her new-found crowd started to notice her, which for her, was a first. She hung out with the crowd constantly. It was during this time that Katherine met her husband-to-be, and father of her children. He was her sole mate, but he was also her partner in getting high. Katherine became pregnant, and dropped out of school, much to her mother's distress. She loved and respected her mother deeply, and she knew in her heart that what she was doing was wrong. She also knew; however, that no matter how wrong it might be, in her mind, she was receiving a great deal of gratification. Finally, with the encouragement and support from her mother and her principal, she attended a school for pregnant girls and was able to return to Western High, work part-time, and graduate with her class.

Once Katherine graduated, she moved out from her mother's home and moved in with her boyfriend. Her mother refused to let her take her son because she did not want him to be in the kind of environment that he would be subjected to. "This didn't bother me that much because I knew what I was going to be doing, and the baby would only be a hindrance. Soon, though, my boyfriend began to steal to get money for our drugs, and was arrested. I moved back to my mother's home while he was incarcerated."

During this time, Katherine met a drug dealer who called her his "queen." She loved the fact that someone would call her a queen, and so she did pretty much what he asked her to - still not realizing that she was sick.  He told her that if she did drugs the way he did, that she would feel a lot better. She never liked needles, and told him that she was fine doing what she was doing.  "What I told myself was that if I kept doing drugs my way (snorting instead of shooting), then I was not a 'junkie'. I always hated that word and what it stood for. I always had a job; a place to live, looked good, had nice things, and didn't have to trick. Junkies lived on the streets, looked bad, and did whatever they had to, to get their drugs. Me? A junkie? No way. But in reality, that's just what I was. On the outside, I looked fine, but inside, my heart was aching; and in time, I looked just as bad on the outside as I felt on the inside."

When Katherine's boyfriend was released from prison, they were reunited and were married. "He became very abusive, and I remember making excuses for why he hurt me. I told myself that it was my fault because I didn't do something the way it should have been done, or said something to make him angry. It was OK with me, though, because I knew that whenever he physically hurt me, I was going to get high that night, and I was going to get most of the heroine, because that was his way of saying 'I'm sorry'. But something was changing. Before, when I knew my husband was stealing, I didn't like it. He always found a way for us to have our drugs, but I didn't want to know how. But now, it didn't matter. I didn't care anymore. All that mattered was that I got my drugs; and still, I never realized just how sick I had become.

"I first shot heroine at the age of 18, and didn't stop until I was 46 years old. I knew all the 'right' but wrong people. I could get drugs anytime I wanted, and as much as I wanted. I may have gone from job to job, but I always worked. And when I wasn't working, friends and family members helped me to get what I needed, not even realizing that they were 'enablers.'" They didn't realize it because this is a part of the disease that many people don't understand. This disease is a family affair. It's not only the addict who is affected, but everyone who loves that person is affected in some way. It's a manipulative disease. Addicts have it down to a science, just how to manipulate people, how to lie, and the right things to say in order to get just what they want.
Part Two
Katherine lost her mother during this time, her husband and a brother (her mother to illness and her husband and brother to drugs). "When I lost my husband, I remember feeling a sense of relief. I said to myself: now I am free. No, not free from drugs, but free from the constant abuse and beatings."

On September 11, 1992 both Katherine and her husband suffered from an overdose. This was her second, and her husband had had many. She survived; he died. She was thought to be dead, but when she finally came to herself, she remembers that the bathroom shone with a bright light. Not only was the room extremely bright, but she kept hearing the words over and over "I'm giving you a second chance." A mountain of guilt overwhelmed and overshadowed Katherine during this time, because that night, she was the one who insisted on getting high. So she would not have to face the shame, guilt and pain of her husband's death, she went on a 24-7 binge.

"But losing my mother was the most difficult time of all. She was my true love, and I had not been the kind of daughter I wanted to be - something that I deeply regret today. I will never forget looking over her (I was so high), and I tried to think of something sad so that I could cry, but the drugs would not allow me to mourn my mother's death. So I stayed on a constant high once again, to keep from feeling the loss, the shame and the pain of her going to her grave knowing what I had become."

Katherine always prided herself on being in control (or so she thought). But after the death of her mother and husband, things began to drastically change. She had also prided herself on loving and taking care of her children and grandchildren. What she did, she did away from them, and no drugs were allowed in her home. But all too soon, people started coming into her home doing their drugs, and she right along with them. "All the things I took pride in didn't seem to matter anymore." Katherine's youngest son was missing days and days of school, and the only way she kept from going to jail was to tell the school officials that he was sick much of the time because he suffered from asthma. It was also around this time, that whenever she used, she would cry uncontrollably. "My middle son knew what was going on, and today, I still remember seeing the disgust in his eyes as he glared at me one day after I had gotten high.

By now, Katherine's oldest son was selling and using drugs. "In the beginning, I would tell him how dangerous it was, and that he needed to stop and do something else with his life; but all of that went out of the window. His selling supplied my need, and soon, we even got high together. He was in and out of jail, and every time, I would bail him out so that I could get my drugs.

"My sister prayed and prayed for me and the children. I had begun to talk about getting help, and she came and took them while I was trying to get my life together. She did not want her nephews in that kind of environment, and neither did I, because now, instead of my children being more important to me, it was the people around me who were most important".

Katherine finally realized that she had lost control on December 26, 1997 when she returned the children's Nintendo to get money for her drugs. Three months later, she would enter a 28-day treatment center where she would try to climb out of the bottomless pit into which she had fallen so deeply and so completely.

Detox from heroine is described as being difficult and excruciatingly painful.  Imagine having a bad case of the flu, magnified ten times. Your entire body is in pain; there is uncontrollable vomiting and diarrhea and you are constantly hugging the toilet. There are severe stomach cramps, hunger and sleepless nights. Add to that, guilt, shame, fear, anger, frustration, fatigue, confusion, anxiety, self-hatred and hallucinations. Katherine was so sick that she thought she was going to die, and before the first week was out, she felt that she just couldn't get through detox. She desperately wanted to take the easy way out and go back to what she knew, thinking that then, everything would be all right. At this point in our interview, Katherine stops, and with the utmost of conviction, says: "I know that I did not bring myself to that treatment center - it was God who brought me there."
Part Three
The first activity that Katherine attended after coming out of detox was called The Eulogy. "There were names of people on the board who had come to the treatment center, but who eventually lost their lives to their addiction. Those of us who were in treatment at the time, could add our names of family members we had lost to addiction. That night was my first wakeup call. That night, I finally realized the horror of my disease, and just how much of a problem I had. It was the first time that I realized that I would have this disease for the rest of my life. Previously I had thought that once I came out of treatment, I would be cured. But here, I learned that treatment could not take the disease away, but that the dedicated and compassionate counselors at the center could teach me how to live with it. That night, I asked God to help me.

"The next day on March 28th, was the first time I called myself an addict, and God gave me the hope that I so desperately needed.  My counselor told me that he had seen determination in me the first day I came to the center, and at my exit interview, he said that 'if this were a college situation, I would choose you to be the most likely to succeed.' There were a number of us who had come into the treat center on that first day, all of us extremely ill from our disease. He told me that as sick as I was, and in all of my misery, I found the strength to lift my head to acknowledge him.

"The first day out of detox on that mountain was as though I had been dead and was now alive again!  All I could see were flowers, and trees, and ducks, and nature. I heard the birds and saw the flowers. This had been around me all my life, but on that day, it was like I was seeing them for the first time. I had heard the birds before, but I never listened to them. I never heard them sing.  The burst of beauty inside me was doing somersaults, and it brought tears to my eyes. I had been blind all of those years, but now, I could see the forest through the trees, and for the first time, I felt peace within myself."

When Katherine came into Frederick from the center, the first thing she did was to look in the yellow pages for a church. She told the first pastor she talked to, that she had just come from a treatment center. She explained that she was desperately looking for a church to attend on that Sunday, and asked if someone could pick her up because she didn't know her way around, nor did she have a car. He said "No, we don't have a van. Call First Missionary down the street." No words of encouragement, no 'can I pray with you' no nothing. End of conversation. Katherine got her first dose of rejection - from a Christian, and once again, she prayed. She then called First Missionary. She remembers sitting across from Rev. William H. Graham, and telling him her whole story. She hadn't intended to, but she remembers that this man was so meek and humble. He had a soft smile that didn't go away, and he never condemned or judged her. "He is a pastor who genuinely cares for his people."

Today, Katherine is an usher at First Missionary Baptist Church, sings on the Women's Choir and is secretary of the Pastor's Aid Ministry. "I belong here. It's warm here. Here, I have never felt 'less than.' The one time that I can remember feeling 'less than' was while riding to my first retreat. I was feeling that way not because of anything anyone had done or said, but just because of my own issues. I remember talking to Vera Smith, and after I had finished, she said 'everything will be all right.' Here, I have found love, and I have learned that I am good enough to be hugged. There are so many special people whom God has placed in my life today, and my soul is on fire for Him.  He works in my life on a daily basis, and I am so grateful. I have some guilt still with me today, but I learned from Rev. Eva Sapp that forgiveness is a gift from God, and if no one else forgives me, God will.

"As I look back over my life, I am not where I want to be, but I am nowhere near where I used to be. The long dark alleys, the dark rooms, and all the horrors that come with drug addiction are all behind me, and that is a true blessing of God's mercy and grace. That same mercy and grace, God has bestowed upon my oldest son, Charles. He is now in recovery from heroine, and has given his life to Christ. Yes, life is good. Today, and every day is a good day. Today, whatever is put before me, I know that I am not going through it alone, and I thank my precious Jesus!"

Katherine's story could go on to fill many pages; for the brief words here barely touch the surface in the life of a woman whose days were filled with the devastation of addiction.  For over 27 years, she lived her life in the darkness of despair, and the horror of this disease.

It is Katherine's fervent prayer that her story will convict souls (young and old alike) not to travel down this path; and to convict the souls of those who are suffering from addiction, to come into the beauty of God's marvelous light. To God be the glory, For He Has Done GREAT Things!

We encourage you to tell your story, it just might be what someone else needs to hear to motivate them to take that first step towards Jesus and salvation.

Out of Darkness
by Phyllis Whiten

(Note: The names have been changed, but this is a very real story!)

Look for the reprint in the first issue of the magazine coming soon!

Coming Events
Check the Coming Events Page.

 Fathers Beware
One Father's Testimony
By Larry Jones

“most people consider me
a great person to know”
Fathers sometimes we don't know what's best!  The case in point is, that a good deal of the time, we are out of the ballpark or in a simpler sense off base.  Let me tell you what happened to me on the way to my educational enlightenment.  You have to understand first of all that I am a very nice person.  In fact most people consider me a great person to know.  I'm a pretty good Christian, meaning I go to church very regularly (almost too much my kids have been known to say), and I am considered a leader in my local church and have been almost all my adult life.  This is only the religious side of who I am, for you see I'm also, I just found out, I am considered a successful professional.  Here is where my trouble begins, because during this time, I have also tried to be a father to four precious children.

Up until a few years ago I even thought I was a good if not a successful father.  I might have been a little bit stern at times and  sometimes boisterous as the case dictated and I even got in a few good bluffs to shake up the troops (children).  Oh yes, I even had to be the enforcer on too many occasions.  In case you are wondering, No! I have never been in the military.  The real issue is the combined effect of the church activity and work activity, while attempting to do a good job as a father to my now grown up children.  In the later area I now see that I have not been so successful!

Let me share some wisdom since it seems there are other fathers like me.  As a Bible student we are taught in

 I Timothy 5:8 “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he is worse than an infidel.”

I was not going to be called an infidel you see, and I have always been taught that “more is better”.  So when I was required by my job to travel a great deal as part of being successful (in demand) I felt I was doing what was right.  The great side benefit I saw to all the travel was the extra cash and all the things money could buy to improve our standard of living.  I even thought that those things were more important to my children than my being there.  You know, the toys, and excess food, designer clothes, riding in nice cars and living in a nice home, you know the “American Dream”.  Well guess what, I was wrong on all counts.

Being away weeks on end, which actually became months and then years extracts a very high toll on all parties.  In fact it stops being a party, i.e. no fun at all.  Truth of the matter is that nothing can compensate for just being there in person when that baby tooth comes out and telling that precious little one “the tooth fairy will leave money under the pillow”(OK, just bear with me if you don't believe in the tooth fairy.).  Nothing can take the place of a child seeing their mother and father sitting in the audience on school performance nights even if they do make a mistake or blow the wrong note or forget their line(s).  I found out almost too late that nothing can take the place of your child knowing that they mean more to you than any job assignment or church meeting or so called special trip.  

Realistically, however you and I know that things aren't quite that simple, the right jobs are not always easy to come by and the right time to schedule a trip or meeting is extremely difficult at best.  What this means is that we must simply pray for guidance and try harder!

Now lets get back to the wisdom of what I've learned.  The correctional activities that go with being a father are a part of our nurturing a child and training them to be healthy adult citizens like us.(smile!).  The “Don't do this.",  or Don't do that.”, the “Leave that alone.”, the hand checks when we say “Stop that!”, and the sometimes boisterous vocal attempts we make to gain control of a situation, are all our children remember when we leave for that next meeting or trip.  Here is a real tough one…I know it's difficult at best to do this but, take time to show love afterwards and even to say, “I'm sorry” when we find we are wrong. I'm not being naïve or overly simplistic, I'm just being real.  As an adult we must  take the conciliatory position sometimes in order to develop this trait in our children.  Again the Bible teaches:

Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.“

Face it, we cannot be right all of the time and in all situations.  The only one individual to always be right is Jesus Christ!

The next thing I learned was to lighten up.  I didn't even wear blue jeans while working on my cars.  I always wore a nice pair of slacks and occasionally a nice pair of dressy shorts and a nice polo type shirt.  I was always clean and looking good.  The truth was I was too uptight and no fun at all for my children.  It compounded the difficulty I had in coming down to the kids level and just letting things be fun and spontaneous.  Even having fun was like work to me.  Let's face it, the only way to train our children to play well is to play with them at their activities and at their level.  And keep in mind while you play, that sometimes things are just meant to be fun and enjoyed!

The final point to this story is this, “Enjoy Life, Enjoy Love, Enjoy Your Children every chance you get and remember to work on it daily with God's help through prayer.”

P.S.  Don't forget to listen to your wife.

 Building A Strong Marriage
By: Pastor Gary Hicks

I came across this bit of information earlier this week: "Evidently politics does make strange bedfellows. Ann Landers claims that one of her most unusual problems from readers came from a man who hid his wife's dentures so she couldn't go out and vote for a Democrat." Well, I hope you'll never have to hide your wife's dentures. And think about this: "If you want to be happy, healthy, successful, and live longer, give your spouse a kiss before you go to work each day.  

That's the conclusion of a study conducted by a group of German physicians and psychologists.  The study found that those who kiss their spouse each morning miss less work because of illness than those who do not.  They also have fewer auto accidents on the way to work. They earn 20 to 30 percent more monthly and they live about five years more than those who don't even give each other a peck on the cheek.  The reason, according to the study's authors, is that the kissers begin the day with a positive attitude. A kiss signifies a sort of seal of approval, and those who don't experience it, for whatever reason, go out the door feeling not quite right about themselves."  - Bits & Pieces July 25, 1992 Page 4-5  How many days this week did you kiss your wife on the way out the door?  "AS CHRIST LOVED THE CHURCH": Going the Way of the Cross for Our Wives  EPHESIANS 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy

Promise Keepers, Promise #4 - A Promise Keeper is committed to building strong marriages and families through love, protection and biblical values.  For a Christian man, there should be no higher priority than the priority to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.  And if the second greatest commandment is to love our neighbors as ourselves, there should be no neighbor whom we love more than our wives.  The Word of God instructs us to love our wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.  HOW MANY OF YOU HAVE DONE THIS WELL? On a scale from 1 to 10, how many have done 5 or above? How many have probably done 3 or lower?  This is a command that is impossible to keep without the continual flow of God's grace through our lives.  How can we go the way of the cross for our wives? It would be one thing to die for our wives, but can we live for them?  LOVE IS A DECISION and REAL LOVE DEMONSTRATES ITSELF IN OUR DAY-TO-DAY ACTIONS.

As men, we need to confront the reality of sinful human nature, and the reality of our own selfishness and self-centeredness.  It's a reflection of my own insensitivity that after 23 years of marriage I'm beginning to see how self-centered I have often been with my wife.  I want her to behave in certain ways for my convenience. I want dinner when I want it. I want her as a sexual partner at a given time, And if I don't get what I want, I sulk.  Does this ring a bell with any of you?  We want what we want, but we have disobeyed the command of scripture to LOVE OUR WIVES AS CHRIST LOVED THE CHURCH.  Recently I found myself getting angry with my wife, and it seemed like my anger was out of proportion  to anything Connie had said or done.  As I thought about it I realized, "This is the problem!  I'm not getting my own way.   I'm not getting what I want."   And I had to ask God to forgive me, and I had to die again to my own self-centeredness, and I had to apologize to my wife.  I hate apologizing to my wife! But I love her, and my love for her is stronger than my stupid pride. So I find myself apologizing quite regularly. Though hopefully now I mess up less often than I did 23 years ago.

"Broken marriages begin to mend and communication is reestablished when one of the partners is willing to make a breakthrough and say, "Lord, begin with me. I am the one who needs to change, to love more deeply and more wisely." Even if you think your spouse is 100% wrong, when you stand in the presence of Christ you will begin to see that you, too, have shortcomings. You will discern where you have failed to accept responsibility for the marital relationship, and you will be able to say, "God, change me." The Christian is committed to follow Christ who went all the way in love, all the time. So, for a start, stop demanding that your partner change his ways. Let God start changing you."  - Lionel Whitston, in Homemade, April, 1990

The natural differences between men and women can make good communication difficult.  In a Harvard study of several hundred preschoolers, researchers taped the children's playground conversation.  They realized that all the sounds coming from little girls' mouths were recognizable words. But 40 percent of the sounds coming from little boys were yells and sound effects like "Vrrrooooom!" "Aaaaagh!" "Toot toot!"  This difference persists into adulthood. Communication experts say that the average woman speaks over 25,000 words a day while the average man speaks only a little over 10,000. On average a wife says she needs to spend 45 minutes to an hour each day in meaningful conversation with her husband. What does her husband sitting next to her say is enough time for meaningful conversation? Fifteen to twenty minutes--once or twice a week! - from Gary Smalley and John Trent, Husbands and Wives.

Five major needs of women:
1) Affection
2) Conversation
3) Honesty and openness
4) Financial support
5) Family commitment

Five major needs of men:
1) Sexual fulfillment
2) Recreational companionship
3) An attractive spouse
4) Domestic support
5) Admiration

 Now God created men and women to be different from one another, to complement one another, with differing strengths and weaknesses.  But when we lose God's perspective, those differences can seem like obstacles to intimacy.  If we are to love our wives as Christ loved the church, if we are to give our lives for our wives, we must take these differences between men and women into account.  If we were honest, some of us would say that the quality of our marriage is only 3 or 4 out of ten, and we know a big part of the problem is POOR COMMUNICATION.

"The Harry S. Truman Library in Independence, Missouri, has made public 1,300 letters that the late President wrote to his wife, Bess, over half a century. Mr. Truman had a lifelong rule of writing to his wife every day they were apart. He followed this rule whenever he was away on official business or whenever Bess left Washington to visit her beloved Independence."  - Bits & Pieces, October 15, 1992, Page 15-16  Harry Truman went up in my estimation when I read that.  It can be so difficult for men to communicate clearly and honestly with our wives. It can be painful.  But it is absolutely necessary.
Next time I will give twelve rules for a happy marriage.

Coming Events
Check the Coming Events Page.

 Forgiveness...It's Not Hard...Or Is It?
By James Ingram

“You stepped on my new shoes! You made fun of me!  How could you sleep with my husband!  Why didn't you invite me to your party?  You didn't get me a birthday present!  You hurt my feelings...”

Well, I think you get the picture.  Whatever the reason, there are many people who are finding it almost impossible to forgive. There are brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, best friends, and so on,  who have been holding grudges for many years against someone who they felt has wronged them. Some have even pledged to take it to their grave.

I interviewed several people who were struggling with forgiveness, and I posed this question, “What if the person who wronged you died tomorrow?”  Silence! and a moment of reflection. There were some who said they really didn't care, “the act was just unforgivable”, one stated. This left me pondering with sadness.  This issue was worse than I could have ever imagined.

We are all sinners in need of God's forgiveness.  We need God's grace and we need to extend that same mercy to others.  This subject is the very essence of true Christianity.  Until we understand it, we will not really understand God Himself.  Matthew 6:14-15“For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:  But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

All of us will sin against God and others.  These sins block and hinder our relationship with Him.  There is no life apart from God's Love.  Therefore, there is no life from forgiveness, for forgiveness is the seal, the mark, and the proof of Love.  If we say we love and cannot walk in forgiveness, we fool ourselves and our “love” is not the real thing.

We must realize God's Plan's for us and if we are spending wasteful time and energy holding grudges, we are in fact “Blocking our Blessings”.  When we sincerely pray and ask God for a blessing, and our hearts are not clear, we send up mixed signals to God.  We must have a clear heart and mind.  1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Tips on Asking Forgiveness From Others

* Admit to yourself and to God that what you did was wrong, without presenting any alibis or spreading any blame.

* Ask God to help you forgive the other party for anything he or she did that was wrong.

* If at all possible, arrange a face-to-face meeting with the offended person so that you can make a verbal confession.  If the wrong you committed involved immorality, ask a pastor or a counselor to be with you when you ask forgiveness.

* Simply and briefly admit your wrong without going into details, mitigating circumstances or attempted justifications.

* Conclude By asking, “Will you forgive me?”

* If the other person is unable to offer forgiveness, avoid the tendency to criticize or complain.  Not everyone is ready to offer quick forgiveness, especially if the offense was serious.

* Whatever the outcome, pray again, thanking God for His forgiveness.

* Leave the results up to God!

 A Second Chance
By Robert Jones
(18 years old)
There are many moments and experiences in a person's life that can offer a lesson in which you learn something that will help you later in life.  I just recently had an experience that made me appreciate someone a little bit more.  It was about three months ago that my grandmother suffered a heart attack.  This was something that took the whole family by total shock as we were so caught off guard by this situation that fear was the first thing that many of us had on our minds.  We quickly got over to the hospital and went to the emergency room were upon arrival we were directed to the waiting room.

This was when the situation hit me extremely hard because I just couldn't believe that this was my grandmother.  This was the woman who has been there for me all of my life, and I felt so helpless because I couldn't do anything to help her.  This is one of the strongest women that I have had the pleasure of knowing in my short life, and to see her like this was something scary.  Besides being one of the strongest women my grandmother is perhaps one of the most hardheaded.  I sat there in that waiting room thinking that for over the last several months my grandmother had been going around with extreme pain running throughout her body.  See she had been complaining about a sharp pain in her shoulder that just would not go away.  I began to plead with my grandmother to go to the doctor and get that pain checked out, but she wouldn't listen she kept on saying that she was fine and that the Lord would take care of her.  No matter how much the pain hurt she would always say those seven words.  She learned that from her mother while growing up in Athens, Texas.

My grandmother grew up in a family of four boys and four girls.  They had very few things in the world but of all things that they had, they had two of the most important things; family and love.  She grew up wanting to be a medical nurse so that she could help those that needed to be helped, however marriage and children changed her career plans, and family life became her top priority.  But after many years passed and six children later she decided that she would go into the field of teaching where she worked for twenty-seven years.  However don't think for one minute that my grandmother left all of her work at school.  She would give her students her home phone number for them to call if they ever had a problem either it be on homework or just about something in life.

Then she would also take time out to help me with my homework or just to talk to me about anything that was on my mind.  I came back to reality as the doctors wheeled my grandmother past the waiting room.  All of the family rushed out to see her before she went into surgery.  Tears were forming in everyone's eyes as we said our prayers and well wishes.  My grandma just looked at all of us and said that she loved us all and that we need not worry as she had all of our prayers and God on her side.  The doctors then told us that we need not worry because they felt that she was going to be alright and that the surgery was going to take a little bit over an hour an a half and that the surgeon would be out to inform of the success of the surgery when it is done.

As we all went back into the waiting room there was a feeling of worry around the room as tears began to flow once again from everyone's eyes except for those of my grandfather.  He sat in that chair looking all confident that everything would be all right.  This was something that I wouldn't  have believed if I hadn't seen it for myself.  This man whose wife for fifty years was currently in the operating room didn't even have a look of worry on his face.  I sat there and looked at him and thought about everything that my grandmother had said to us before she went into surgery and I no longer felt worried.  I was overcome with a sense of relief and from that moment on I knew that everything was going to be alright.

As time passed the mood in the room began to change.  No longer was it a feeling of worry in the room as it was replaced with a feeling of happiness.  We all still had a fear for the worse but we all kept it inside ourselves.  We started to celebrate my grandmother for everything that she was about.  We all took on her attitude about situations like this as we just took it to the Lord.  My grandmother always says that the Lord will fix everything if you give him a chance, and he may not come when you want him but he will be there right on time.  We all started to tell jokes and stories about my grandmother as me and the rest of the grandchildren learned a lot more about my grandmother as a person than that of her just being grandma.  We learned more about our grandma in one night than what most of us learned about her in our life time.  I began to feel very bad because here I am with this very wonderful person in my life and I never really took the time to get to know a lot about her until I was about to lose her.

My grandmother always said to me that I must take time out to learn everything about the world around me.  It's funny that I never realized until now that I must also take the time out to learn everything about everyone who's important in my life.  As this was going through my head the doctors walked in to the waiting room and told us that the surgery was a success.  They said that she had 99% blockage in each artery in her heart and that it is a miracle that she was alive.  We all broke out in cheers of joy as we were given another chance to be around this remarkable woman.  Five minutes later she was wheeled out of the operating room wide-awake.  She said a few jokes to lighten up the mood and also reminded us that we needed to get some rest because we all had to go to church later in the morning.  After all it was Sunday.  A wise man once said that you never know what you have until it's gone, I was lucky, however, because I learned to appreciate what I have while it's still around.

 Let the Redeemed of the Lord Say So!
by Larry Jones

Psalm 107:2 Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom He hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy;”

The word “redeemed” should bring to the mind of a Christian certain vivid truths.  Immediately we should think of the blessings we have received.  We have been saved from the wrath of sin and delivered out of the hands of the enemy.  We should also recognize that we have been liberated from a snare that we were powerless to escape from on our own and ransomed at a price we ourselves could never pay.  And by no stretch of the imagination, we should automatically center our thoughts on who redeemed us (Jesus) and why?  My friends the reason Jesus came was God's love. (John 3:16)

The Holy Spirit reminds us, if we listen, that the Lord expects you and I (Christians) to be relevant and credible witnesses for the kingdom of God.  He commands that we be witnesses of His goodness with our lives.  “1Cor 6:20  “for ye were bought with a price: glorify God therefore in your body.”  We need to be a witness in word, we need to be a witness in actions, and we need to witness with our whole being and we can, as long as we are in harmony with the Lord's will.

When we look around us and see so much going wrong, the tendency is to turn our backs and go the other way.  People come to us in worldly trouble and we flee from them with only a prayer.  Our children go down the same troublesome paths that we went down and we offer them no words from experience.  We offer no wisdom to help things run smooth for anyone.  We are so used to learning from the school of hard knocks ourselves that we want everyone to experience things for themselves.

The challenge in this scripture is a real simple and direct one.  If God is good?, then those that he has blessed need to say so!  We are reluctant in most situations to witness to the deliverance of the Lord to anyone other than a Christian in our own congregations.

There is a statement that is repeated four times in this psalm found is verses 8, 15, 21, and 31: “Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men.”  To praise God is to acclaim or flatter God for His goodness.  We are also reminded in I Peter 3: 15 “…to be ready always to give a reason for the hope that is in us.”  Sometimes we are called on by circumstance to witness for righteousness itself.  When our world and way of life is challenged by the forces of evil, we have to be willing to stand on the promises of God.  The “Stand in the Gap” rally was necessary for Christian men to stand and be counted, but what happened after a rally such as this?  Did we go back to our communities and live out the 7 principles that the movement teaches or do we wait for the next rally.

We see criminal activity in our streets and say nothing.  We see children killing other children and we say nothing.  We see husbands beating wives and turn the other way.  We see discrimination in our society and try to become invisible so as not to bring any attention to ourselves.  We see drugs being sold and used and say “Somebody ought to do something about it”.  We see corruption in high places and just wish things would go away.

We say so quickly that we can't make a difference, but I say we can!  We have something real to say.  God needs our hands, our feet, our service and our finances, but what He needs, in most situations of life is our voice.  Moses used the excuse with the Lord that he couldn't speak well and the Lord told him that He would speak for him.  He will do the same for us if we let Him use us!

Let me close with something I learned from my experiences in life.  It's simply that “silence is not always golden” and in some cases it can be very dangerous.  Let the redeemed of the Lord say so!  Let the redeemed of the Lord do so!  The, so called, silent majority can be a overwhelming force in any community.

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