Are You On Your Way to Heaven?

Have you wondered how to get to heaven? Many people have ideas about getting to heaven. The sources for information that are readily available many times are the ones least likely to have the answers you’re looking for.

 There is an idea out there that if one has not offended humanity in some overt way, then heaven is surely possible. This is a popular belief of our day. Good works is a gospel quite prevalent in many religious sects. One must abide by a set of rules or do many works. This will surely reserve one’s place in heaven. The perpetrator of these lies leading people to hell is the enemy of our souls. The Bible says the devil, a predator, roams around seeking who he may devour (I Peter 5:8). He is successful in leading millions to believe in these ideas or others. Each of these mentioned is putting trust in oneself for salvation. It seems like a glance at humanity could bring an intelligent conclusion that salvation surely does not come from within the heart of humanity. But the enemy is vicious and clever, so the lies perpetuate from one generation to the next.

The Bible is clear that our works do not get us to heaven (Ephesians 2:8-9). We will express our faith through works once we are saved by faith in Jesus, but that is a compelling expression of our love and service to Jesus and His church, not out of obligation. The Bible is clear that no one is good, so all our sin is an offense to God (Romans 3:10-12). We all sin (Romans 3:23).

Many are missing the best information. There is only one way to fix the human heart. God made us in His image (Genesis 1:27), and He desires for us to know Him. God loves us. He loved us so much that He sent His one and only Son to die so we could have eternal life(John 3:16). Because there is only one way, there is no guessing. Jesus stated in John 14:6, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.” The statement is clear and spoken with authority by the One and Only One who can provide the way. The only way to God is through Jesus.

The world religions make it complicated and exhausting to get to God. Thank God for Jesus!. Jesus never sinned. This fact made Him the perfect sacrifice. In John 1:29, John the Baptist said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” The purpose is clear why Jesus came to earth. Jesus came to take away our sin. Because He never sinned, He could take our sin. He bore our sin when He bled and died on the cross. Because our sin is an offense to Him, we cannot get to heaven because no sin is in heaven. We have to be righteous, and when we receive Jesus, then His righteousness covers us, and we are declared righteous.

Jesus made the way for everyone to come to God through Him. Although He provided the way with His flesh and blood sacrifice, not everyone will choose Him. It is a personal choice that every person on the planet, past, present, and future, must make. What to do with Jesus? Those who choose Him can know that His resurrection ensures resurrected life for them too. The assurance is when He returns, every person who has put their faith in Him will be resurrected, whether in the grave or still alive (John 14:1-3).

Some people reject Jesus in their last bitter breath. Some receive Him in their last believing breath. But everyone will decide. It is not an objective decision. It is not an arbitrary decision. Philippians 2 tells us that one day every knee will bow. Every tongue will confess when Jesus comes again. What you find the hardest to do now will be forced out of you because no one will be able to be in His presence, see His presence, or know the reality of His coming without being in submission. But it will be too late at that moment. Every human on the planet, past, present, and future, has to decide whether they will make that choice now. Now is the time. It will be too late the moment you die or the moment He appears. Now is the time.

I’ve included verses that will help you ponder so great a salvation. The most important decision you can make now is what to do with God’s Son, Jesus.

As you read these verses, I pray that you will believe these verses. I pray you will receive Jesus as your Savior. Jesus is the only One who ever claimed to be God. In John 10:30, Jesus said, “I and the Father are one.” This so clearly declared Jesus is God. This is a life-changing statement of truth. Only Jesus could state this.

Please read and ponder these verses today. Jesus is the only way to God. I hope you decide to receive Jesus and claim Him as Lord of your life. He is so wonderful. He will be your dearest friend every day of your life. You will find His friendship the best and His love for you dear and kind. He is worthy of trust, and He has a plan for your life that you would never think of on your own. If you decide to follow Him, you will wonder what took you so long. I know others who would agree with me about this. Please give your heart and life to Jesus today. I’ve never heard anyone say they regret it. Jesus is the way to heaven, and once you know Him, your place is reserved.

If you are reading this and already have this relationship with Jesus, then please share this post with someone you know who needs to know how to get to heaven.

How to get to heaven:

John 3:16 & 17- “For God so loved the world, that He gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.

Romans 3:23-for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…

Romans 6:23- For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is
eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Ephesians 2:8-9 – I mean that you have been saved by grace through believing. You did not save yourselves; it was a gift from God. 9 It was not the result of your own efforts, so you cannot brag about it.

Acts 2:21 – And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

John 11:25 – Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me, even if he dies, will live.

Romans 10:9 – If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Years ago, my husband and I shared this wonderful news with a group and when we led them to consider these truths, one man declared aloud to his wife, “Now we know how to get to heaven.” This man was around 90 years of age. The Lord was merciful to him and let him live long enough to believe and receive Jesus in his heart. Maybe wherever you are now, you too will receive this wonderful gift of grace, given freely by Jesus, the Son of God.

Now is the time. May today be the day you can say with assurance, “Now I know how to get to heaven.”

These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.

I John 5:13

© Valerie Rumfelt

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No Ordinary Trees

I don’t know about you, but time and again, I’m amazed by how one can take great photos from an iPhone! In my day, great photographs came from a traditional, expensive camera, and there were people called photographers who took those photos. The rest of us attempted great shots but were often disappointed by blurry, oops, our finger in front of the lens, not great at all pictures. But these days, technology is so advanced that our devices can capture our lives with precision and clarity that is beyond our expectations. Additionally, free online classes that teach how to shoot these eye-catching photos with the iPhone give us skills at our fingertips.

One day as I was listening to an iPhone photography video, the instructor taught me how to frame a photo. There was one tree in a field that was his focus. When he talked about framing the picture, he said, “ It’s just an ordinary tree.” He was setting me up to show me how he could make an “ordinary tree” look spectacular. Instead, he sent my mind thinking, “ there are no ordinary trees!” As a lover of trees, I thought of the times a tree initiated my worship of its Creator. Trees are amazing as most things in creation, but trees have a presence and display God’s glory and what they offer to humankind, and the animal kingdom is magnificent.

Some trees are stunning in their form, whether my amazement comes from their stately form or their spindly or gnarly details. Others are dead yet still, display a hollow, docile beauty of their own, and others are floral or bear fruit, and fragrance wafts from their verdant form. Still, others are puny, unpruned, out of control, and fruitless. Whatever the tree’s condition, trees are incredible. There are no ordinary trees.

I think this is what our Creator God thinks because He uses trees throughout His holy Word to make points and underscore principles. There was one tree from which our Savior hung so that all who believe would be forgiven and gain eternal life. If you’ve not paid attention to the trees nearest you lately, perhaps these verses will bring awareness to the fact that there are no ordinary trees.

Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. Genesis 1:11

Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy. Psalm 96:12

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. Habakkuk 3:17-18

But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit. Jeremiah 17:7-8

“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit.”  Luke 6:43

The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and those who win souls are wise. Proverbs 11:30

Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep. All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” I Kings 19:5

He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. Psalm 1:3

Zaccheus was trying to see who Jesus was, and he was unable due to the crowd because he was short in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up a sycamore tree in order to see Him because He was about to pass through that way. Luke 19:3&4

The glory of Lebanon shall come to you, the cypress, the plane, and the pine, to beautify the place of my sanctuary, and I will make the place of my feet glorious. Isaiah 60:13

Then I will give you your rains in their season, and the land shall yield its increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. Leviticus 26:4

His shoots shall spread out; his beauty shall be like the olive, and his fragrance like the Lebanon. Hosea 14:6

The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. Acts 5:30

I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree.

Joyce Kilmer

©Valerie Rumfelt

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Notes off Notes App

Cleaning up my data on my phone recently when I discovered these notes. I’m passing them on to my readers. Remember the word content is not mine. Priscilla Shirer (daughter of pastor Tony Evans) was in person a few years ago at FBC Jackson and this is notes from that message. Take what’s useful.

Priscilla Shirer

Prayer doesn’t manipulate God, it gives you access to what He already has planned for you.

The enemy wants to devalue.

Psalm 133- God commands a blessing. 

Unity- He commands that there be a blessing.

Philippians 1:6 

We sit on our feelings like they are fact

You don’t execute- you just hold on to your knowledge.

We never need to pray about a command.

Only the Creator can define you and call you by your name.

You are not defined by anything other than who God says you are.

The applause of those around or lack of applause doesn’t define you.

Even your weaknesses can become a platform.

When I surrender all I am to God then I become a temple for the Holy Spirit.

When God encountered people He changed their name.

Align everything with your identity.

Over 8000 promises. To grab hold of them you gotta know who you are. 

When you don’t know who you are you get attacked by the enemy. 

Judges 6

And everyone was doing what they thought was right in their own eyes. 

The Middianites had conquered them.

Vs 11&12- Gideon was met by the angel and the angel called him a valiant warrior.

The angel of the Lord came to meet with mere people. It is God. Gideon is threshing wheat in a wine press. He is hiding. The angel of the Lord went to him. vs 11- He was there but in vs 12 he became aware he was near.

Open our eyes to see Him.

We want the manifest presence of God. We see Him. We see His tracks.

He hilights the word!

Spiritual senses so that our spiritual radar is up.

If you’ve not been able to detect God, and you can’t trust His hand then trust his heart. 

You know you are hearing from God, when you hear truth. He will not conform to us. We must turn into His likeness.

Truth doesn’t change just cause we don’t like it.

Ch 6&7

You’re entire family is waiting for you to figure out who you are.

The whole nation was waiting on one person.

Daniel- God didn’t take them out of the fire, He joined them in the fire.

Isaiah 65- I allowed myself to be found by people who didn’t want to be found.

©Valerie Rumfelt

After a Bad Day

It is only January 5th of 2022, but a bad day has already shown up, and you are discouraged. Is this your situation? If it is, let’s remember that if you follow Jesus, then He is with you. He loves you. You need not fret or allow your spirit to be troubled. Bad days are a reminder of how dependent we are to be on Jesus. They are not a commentary on how life really is.

Psalm 73:26 says, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

Often bad days are full of lies. They are meant to discourage you. While there usually is something to learn from a bad day, it is not a reason to give up hope, lose faith in God, or believe that a plan He’s made clear to you has ended. A bad day isn’t that serious. Try to keep your perspective because the same God who is with you before and through the bad day is with you beyond the bad day! Praise the Lord! Last night in a devotional piece by Amy Carmichael, I read this reflection:

“And if the day ends in what seems like failure, don’t fret. Tell Him about it. Tell Him you are sorry. Even so, don’t be discouraged. All discouragement is of the devil.”.

 She went on to say this…

Then let your soul hang on Him. “My soul hangeth upon Thee” (Ps. 63:9, PBV)—not upon my happiness in prayer, but just upon Thee. Tell Him you are sorry, and fall back on the old words: “Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee” (John 21:17)—unworthy as I am. Let these words comfort your heart: “The Lord . . . lifteth up all those that are down” (Ps. 145:14, PBV). “Cast not away . . . your confidence” (Heb. 10:35); there is a “great recompense of reward” waiting for you a little later on.

Carmichael, Amy. Edges of His Ways (p. 243). CLC Publications. Kindle Edition

There are a few other things to remember after a bad day:

1. God is still working even if your bad day was a direct consequence of your actions, a sin against God or another person. If it is because of another, then forgive them now. Move on.

2. God sings over you, and He is the lifter of your head. Zephaniah 3:17 says,

“The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in His love He will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”

You may not be singing, but He is. That is a mystery to me, but I choose to believe it.

But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high. Psalm 3:3

3. God is your hope. A bad day is not a predictor of the future. Go to Him in prayer. Sing a hymn. The devil is not coming around anyone singing to Jesus. Determine to focus on Jesus.

It’s a new year. Your emotions are not telling you truth. Turn to scripture for truth, and keep trusting God and putting all your hope in Him.

Happy New Year!

© Valerie Rumfelt

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Why the Angels Sing

0e3fe-hark-the-heraldChristmas music abounds with scads of beautiful and touching carols, but none has captured my heart more than “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.” I checked a few lists and this triumphant, happy song makes the top 20 Christmas songs. The theology in the hymn is crystal clear, and my heart rejoices to hear and sing it. The imagery of angels singing is not hard to visualize. The story told within the verses is joyful and masterful.

You may pick out some other Christian themes in it, but these are the ones obvious to me.

  • God sent Jesus into this world to save us.
  • All the nations rejoiced at His coming.
  • The angels proclaimed His birth.
  • Jesus is the highest and all supreme God, born of a virgin.
  • He deserves our devotion and allegiance.
  • The Trinity, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit were all present at His conception and birth.
  • HE IS WITH US.
  • He is the epitome of hope because He brings life to all who accept Him.
  • For those who accept Him, death is just a passage to the best life.
  • He is PEACE, He is RIGHTEOUS, He is LIGHT and LIFE.
  • He put His glory aside to come to earth as a humble babe.
  • Those who know Him, one day, will rise to reign with Him. And lastly…
  • All glory, any amount, should be directed and freely given to Him.

HARK THE HERALD ANGELS SING

Hark! the herald angels sing
Glory to the new-born King
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled
Joyful, all ye nations, rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With angelic host proclaim
Christ is born in Bethlehem
Hark! the herald angels sing
Glory to the new-born King

 

Christ,the everlasting Lord
Late in time behold him come
Offspring of the Virgin’s womb
Hail the Flesh, the God Head
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel!
Hark! the herald angels sing
Glory to the new-born King

 

Hail the Heaven-born Prince of Peace
Hail the Son of Righteousness
Light and life to all He brings
Risen with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His Glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! the herald angels sing
Glory to the new-born King

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC..Hark-the-Herald-Angels-Sing

This carol thrills my soul. Hearing the introductory notes, my heart and spirit get simultaneously glad, and the words bring tears to my eyes. True worship of our King Jesus is contained in this song. It’s easy to see why the angels sing!

Listen here…

Glory to the New Born King!

“Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests’.” Luke 2:13-14

 

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When God Has You in a Place

Do you remember a time when you thought you needed something and it didn’t come? Maybe it was a report from the doctor, a friend to show up, for a situation to end, for a situation to begin, or a hug. But it didn’t come. What did you do? Did you cry? Did you pray? Did you question God? Did you harden your heart? Did you praise God? Did you give thanks to God? Did you complain to others or to God? What did you do?

Sometimes God has you in a place. Sometimes that place has no door for exit and no window for hope. What do you do? What can you do?

There’s a sense of powerlessness. Whatever you desire is not in your control to fix or attain. You can’t push things along. You can’t escape.

God has you in a place, and you are forced to do things His way. You are forced to beg him for His intervention. You are forced to seek His perspective. You are forced to praise Him. You are forced to give Him thanks. 

Not too long after you begin to be honest with God and you quit carrying the desire, burden, need, hope, or longing, then you realize there is a burden bearer. There is a caregiver for your soul. There is a tear wiper and a compassionate ear. Even though He may seem silent, He is not inattentive. He is present.

When was the last time you poured out your heart to God? When was the last time you gave up being strong? When was the last time you went to your knees in surrender?

For the follower of Christ, this is where Christianity is proven. These are the places where no human can fulfill. You may know that God doesn’t even want you to share this with another human. It’s just you talking to Him. You didn’t think He was enough. You thought you needed a friend. A human. He is teaching you that HE is enough. He is your best friend. He is the one who can fix, fulfill, and fan into flame whatever the plan is. No matter how long you have to wait. Even if you don’t see Him do anything. Even if what you thought you needed never happens.

I could tell you what the Bible says about how valuable giving thanks is, being content, how He gives perseverance, how He gives strength to the weary, and so on. If you are a follower of Christ, you are familiar with all these promises. It’s your choice to cling to them.

What you may not be familiar with is waiting the way He wants you to wait. We will do most anything other than wait well. It seems so counterintuitive. But that is where the presence of God is. It’s that still, silent place, sometimes full of peace, sometimes uncomfortable.

Let’s not rush the process and ruin His plans with our own plan. He is a God of love who longs to give His children good things. Wait.

“Waiting silently is the hardest thing of all.”

Elisabeth Elliot

©Valerie Rumfelt

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Soul Survival Everyday

Psalm 25 is hidden in my heart, but recently when I revisited it, the first nine words grabbed my attention like a diamond in a well-lit jewelry case. My eyes and heart were fastened to it, and I could not move further into the verse or chapter. Here are the first nine words to this beloved Psalm:

To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul…

This is what saturated my mind as the Spirit of God had me slowed to a stop on these words.
God is the only One trustworthy to care for my soul.

To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul…

The Spirit undoubtedly directed David’s heart, and David knew that God was his absolute help for the eternal core of his being, whether in peace or crisis.

To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul…

Why wouldn’t I, too, lift up my soul to the only Soul Lifter?

Is there anyone more trustworthy than the Lord? 

To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul…

To experience what David knew in the very first line of this Psalm, then certainly we have to go to the Lord to lift our soul to Him. We can not remain unaffected by this great God we know.

We can not hide in our super busy life avoiding Him.

We can not be puffed with pride in our significant space.

We can not run by Him in ministry mode.

We can not excuse our presence with Him because of a caretaking call.

We can not rest in complacency in our relaxation room. 

No, we must choose to go to God.

To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.

Are you overwhelmed that you can even approach God? 

God is available to every follower of Jesus. He is our Father, and He is there for us anytime, any day, any season of our life. But we must choose to stop our life, and go get His life each and every day.

Why not every morning say to Him…

To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.

The soul actually demands as much attention as the body…the soul was made for God, and without God, it is restless and in secret torment.

Billy Graham

©Valerie Rumfelt

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Destinations Matter

For a decade or more, my husband and I led a Bible study in an apartment complex community room every Tuesday night. The gathering was part of our weekly life, much like going to the grocery store. We did this because a resident in the complex requested we come there because she said the residents needed hope. When we learned of this, the timing was perfect since we were new in the community and trying to build relationships and a reputation to birth a church. Establishing small groups was part of that strategy, so this invitation fit the vision. The years in the apartment complex yielded a harvest of Christ-followers, some precious friends, and vivid memories.This story is about one particular night my husband showed a religious Christmas film to the residents in that room. This movie is a cinematically beautiful one, with music riveting its viewers to the story throughout the film.

At the conclusion, the Gospel was presented. The room was hushed as each was hanging on every word my husband spoke. It was clear the Spirit was working after the dramatic depiction of Jesus’ birth in the movie. I thought surely no one would resist the palpable presence of the Spirit and prayed that no one would.

A time of prayer was offered to give anyone a chance to ask Jesus into their heart. Immediately after, since the room was quiet, it was easy to hear a very old gentleman talking to his wife. As he shared at a volume for his wife to hear him, some overheard him say that now they knew for the first time how to get to heaven.

Everyone at their table called my husband over as the man, and his wife signed their commitment card, which stated they’d prayed to receive Christ. All around understood the significance of what had occurred.This lifelong Catholic couple was in their 90’s. He’d been a high school teacher in the community for his adult life. But for those few moments in this community room, he recognized that stability in a community or a significant career would help him get to heaven. He realized that his need for stability, for certainty, would not come from anything he had done. It all became clear to him that salvation in Jesus was the only way to heaven.From that point on, this couple came to Bible study faithfully. Within a few months, the husband died.

Did it matter that we’d been obedient to that invitation to teach at the complex? Yes. Did it matter that this dear, aged couple learn about the One who could save their soul? Yes. Do spiritual destinations matter? Yes. Does God give each person on earth the dignity of choice when it comes to where they will spend eternity? Yes.

As believers In Jesus, some of our decisions are vital and life-changing for other people’s lives. It is important to be open to where God leads. It is important to walk in the Spirit, so you don’t miss opportunities. Where you choose to go could have a direct impact on someone else’s destination for eternity.

Jesus answered, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father, except by me. John 14:6

©Valerie Rumfelt

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The Best Sermon I’ve Heard About Work

This blog is about winning ways to follow Jesus. Work is indeed a biblical way to follow Jesus. We watched a sermon online yesterday from Tokyo Baptist Church. He did all the research on this topic, and I’m passing it on to you.

Pastor Takeshi Yozawa ·

He preached 2 Thessalonians 3:1-13. These are the notes I took. If you want to hear the sermon and take your own, then go here https://youtu.be/08DYW1UcC-A

Paul starts by saying to keep away from certain Christians because they don’t live according to tradition. Tradition means what is originally received from someone and passed on to someone else. This would mean a teaching from Jesus to the apostles, and the apostles pass it on to the churches. Paul says when we disobey the teaching of the Apostles, we disobey Jesus. 

Paul says there is disorderly conduct and idleness. They are out of order. He commanded the church to work, but some disobeyed. What does our work have to do with the testimony of the church? Our attitudes toward work should change.

Verses 7-9

Paul says he was NOT idle – He labored. He did this for two reasons:

-He did not want to be a burden 

-He wanted to be an example so that they would imitate him

In the modern, individualistic world, we tend to think vacation is great and work is a necessary evil. 

But work is a God thing. Work is our first calling as humans. Starting in Genesis 2:15, the man was placed in the garden to work and watch over it – 

Work is not a punishment. It is a gift – a blessing of God. 

Sin has made work harder.

John 5:17 My Father is still working, and I am also working – 

Work is in the Ten Commandments – You are to labor six days…

The rest of the command is the part we focus on about resting. Resting is good, but we are no longer under the Sabbath law because it’s been fulfilled in Jesus.

Work is the means for us to serve Jesus and bring glory to God. 

Colossians 3:23-24

I Corinthians 10:31b

Our workplace is the one place we will impact more non-Christians than anywhere else.

We can show Christ and bring glory to Him.

The calling of mankind:

To serve God

To show the character of God

To bring glory to God

2 Thessalonians 3:7-9

vs.9 – Paul was working as a gospel worker for the church. He believed he had the right to get support. But Paul didn’t receive support from a church he started. He would not make them pay. He was fine about outside churches supporting him.

Every pastor on staff at TBC was a church member before they were called to their current position – the supporting staff too. They were volunteer workers before they were ever paid by the church. Their hearts are about giving and serving others. Vs. 10-13

Those who were not willing to work – this was a particular group. He calls them busybodies, unwilling. 

He is not talking about the sick, people who want to work but can’t find work, or the old and retired who can’t work, or homemakers teaming with their spouse to run the home and children, or students working hard on their training and education. This is not who Paul is talking about. 

These are people unwilling, and he calls them busybodies. 

We use our gifts to glorify God and serve others, especially for the salvation of others. We are a peculiar people. It’s entirely different from others’ lives. We don’t work for ourselves. We rejoice to serve at home, church, and work. This is the Christian life. We live and work and serve. It’s the life of Jesus. 

©Valerie Rumfelt

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The Night of the Earthquake

We were still watching orientation videos and reading articles about our new home. The survival video in case of a massive earthquake and other related disasters was a bit intense, but my eyes were wide open to the information alert. It was a lot to take in; nevertheless, we were making a list of all suggested items for a GO BAG, and we were on a trajectory to get all the necessary supplies. We’d had smatterings of conversations with veterans on the field about the 2011 earthquake (its tenth anniversary commemorated this past week). It had us thinking. We were trying to get prepared. Perhaps we’d already experienced a few tremors, unaware! This was way more earthquake talk than I wanted to hear, even though preparation was on our minds.And then it happened. Sitting on our couch one Saturday afternoon at about 2:10, the couch and the iPad on my lap moved from side to side like soft jello when it hits the plate. The shift lasted long enough for me to understand what was happening. I’d say eight to ten seconds. Once things were still, I said, “Well, Lord, I guess that was a tremor.” Clark did not feel it in the other room. After I documented it, I went on about my day. Since this happened during the day, you know this is not the occurrence that gives this blog its title.

I love scripture writing. I have several blogs devoted to this topic and recommend this practice to anyone who loves the Lord.

Psalm 4:8 In peace, I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.

The verse above was the third one I’d scribbled down before heading into one of the deepest nights of sleep I can remember. I am no deep sleeper, nor do I write scripture every night. At 11:08 pm was when the movement began. I could not figure out what in the world the sensation was that seemed big, all over the room, and wouldn’t stop. The room shook from side to side. 20 – 30 seconds later, it stopped, and my husband and I marveled at the fact we’d experienced an earthquake. You notice I didn’t say our first earthquake. Let’s not go there. Later we heard our impact was only a four to five! The epicenter up north experienced a seven. Would you believe after we chatted, I again returned to sleep peacefully all night? For all who find that unthinkable, I do too.

Unsplash.com Shefali Lincoln

God’s power evident in our lives that night brings comfort for the future. The preparation for this peace started before the event. His tender loving care of not only our lives and our new dwelling place but over our minds and spirits is a blessed and wonderful promise realized.

Update: Another quake occurred on Saturday evening, March 20th, 2021, after dinner, a little after 6pm. This was a 3 on the scale but lasted more than 30 seconds.

We’ve had many more earthquakes. No catastrophic ones.

©Valerie Rumfelt

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Love Big

cathal-mac-an-bheatha-208192-unsplashAre you dreading Valentine’s Day? Expectations of an upcoming Valentine’s Day are looming as the day approaches. We long to be on the receiving end of any gesture of friendship or love. 

Last year, I took a class where John 12:1-8 was studied. Let’s see if the following thoughts can help you with your expectations and save you some hurt and disappointment.

In this passage, we find Jesus reclining at the home of Lazarus; Mary is near Jesus. Martha is serving. 

Readers of this story have a higher view of Mary because of her outward display of devotion toward Jesus. She gave all she had to worship Jesus and show her love to Him. This story is about one who loves big.

It was six days before the Passover Feast. Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived. Lazarus was the One Jesus had raised from the dead.

A dinner was given at Bethany to honor Jesus. Martha served the food. Lazarus was among the people at the table with Jesus. Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard. It was an expensive perfume. She poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the sweet smell of the perfume.
But Judas Iscariot didn’t like what Mary did. He was one of Jesus’ disciples. Later he was going to hand Jesus over to his enemies. Judas said, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold? Why wasn’t the money given to poor people? It was worth a year’s pay.” He didn’t say this because he cared about the poor. He said it because he was a thief. Judas was in charge of the money bag. He used to help himself to what was in it.
“Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “The perfume was meant for the day I am buried. You will always have the poor among you. But you won’t always have me.”

 


What lavish love Mary displays.

Have you shown this kind of love toward Jesus?

Do you know how to love that big? 

Compared to Jesus, we all fall short of loving big. 

        I don’t believe that people can love big if they haven’t fallen in love with Jesus.

When we fall in love with Jesus, our focus changes, and obedience to Him is first. We can enjoy His presence in our lives. We will do things we previously wouldn’t have done. Our actions marked by faith in the One

  • who has our back
  • who will see the purity in our hearts AND
  • who appreciates our selfless motivation and sacrifice

We live for the audience of One.

Loving big means we care more about what God thinks than how another human will receive or perceive our love. This is huge in preventing unnecessary pain. Please remember this part.  Now on with the story!

Judas’s weakness was that he cared only for himself. When he tried to deceitfully make a point about Mary’s love toward Jesus being misguided, the selfishness and darkness in his character were exposed.

The difference between Judas and Mary is stark. Judas cared only for himself, but not only that, he attempted to garner favor for his position by pulling in the poor as his cover. Acting in this way, Judas reveals his true colors. 

Jesus, of course, was the one concerned for the poor, most of all. The fact that Judas tried this tactic with Jesus present exposed even more unfavorable and repulsive traits about Judas. close up of figurine

Mary, on the other hand, is generous in her expression of love. To be clear, it was a display. Unabashed, Mary seems oblivious to the dark character sitting near her in Judas and still displays a lavish love for Jesus using a lavish product. She is one to admire and esteem.

Jesus knew both hearts, of course, and welcomed Mary’s love and worship while penetrating the darkness of Judas with a direct command to leave Mary alone.

This story thrills me. Jesus, a man willing to fellowship with friends and foes alike. And ready to defend the pure in heart, willing to receive a lavish love, and appreciate the sacrifice. Yet, in a few words, He exposes the motives and forces of evil sitting near Him.

This story gives new meaning to true love and can give you another reason to let Jesus love you and your heart. Your heart is safe with Him. Focus on your relationship with Him this Valentine’s Day. Celebrate your relationship with Him if you know Him.

Here’s an opportunity for you to try this Valentine’s Day. Why not write Jesus a love letter thanking Him for who He is and remembering how well He has loved you?

Mary held nothing back, and she’s a worthy example of one who had so richly experienced the love of Jesus and was eager to love Him.

Jesus is the answer to a dull and jaded heart. He’s the only One who can help us love lavishly. Usually, this shows up best in how we love our neighbors under our roof and around us. Jesus rewards a pure heart every time. A life of devotion to Him is a life marked by devotion to Him.

This Valentines Day, don’t hold back. Spend time with Jesus. Give Him your heart. Ask forgiveness for holding any part of it back from Him. Doing this will enable you to love big.

Let Jesus protect your heart.

We see in this story, He surely will.

©Valerie Rumfelt

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Walgreens, McRaes, Dillards Oh My!

My mother loved the store. It brought joy to her heart just to be in one. I’m not talking about the hardware store, but the standard department stores and drug stores. I’m not sure where this love for the store came into play since my mother grew up in the Georgia Baptist Children’s Home. It possibly originated back to her single days living in Atlanta, GA, when she worked and had some disposable income for the first time in her life. Perhaps she was introduced to the place of variety and convenience after she left the home at the age of 20. Whatever the reason, just entering a store, it seemed her brain would be like popcorn, full of ideas popping up. She would think of someone who needed something, whether they did or not. And then there was always a reason to buy another tube of lipstick, and she walked out with a fresh pack of juicy fruit gum or candy of some sort every time.

Back in her single days, some of the best stores in and around the Atlanta area were Woolworth’s and Rich’s. All through our growing-up years, her excitement over a store was in the background of my memories. I think mother felt like going to the store could make everything better. Once we moved to Mississippi, she enjoyed McRaes, and it was a big disappointment when McRaes eventually closed.

One year near Christmas, I took my mother to a Walgreens near her assisted living. I knew it would be challenging, but I thought giving her this joy was worth any challenge. By this time, my mother’s short-term memory was failing. Repetitive questions and conversation were how this manifested. In addition, her hearing and sight were quite limited, making her perception of her environment closed off and inaccurate.

 I arrived at my mother’s apartment and informed her we would soon leave, and while we were out, we’d go to Walgreens so she could Christmas shop. Her excitement showed as she said, “Oh boy,” and I assisted her in getting ready. She cheerfully shattered like a child. We soon walked the long halls slowly until we signed out and exited to the parking lot. She was happy as a bird in a newly blossomed tree. Hearing her chatter so joyfully pierced my heart every time. It made me sad for her to be this happy over a trip to a store. But her world was small now, her independence virtually gone. I had to focus on her joy.

Back in the car, and as I was backing out of the lot, my mother broke my heart in two when she said, “Valerie, you’re not taking me back, are you?” She asked me this every time I’d take her out, and she would become aware of the routine, the sense of conclusion to an outing, and heading back to a place that would separate us. This time, I prayed as tears filled my eyes, and I said, “No, mama, we’re going to look at the decorations in this neighborhood.” I acted like this was planned, but I could tell she perceived the area and knew it was near where she lived. Even as she understood she was on her way back to where she lived, she tried to be a trooper as we drove around the streets looking at the decorations.

When there was no struggle like this, the visit could be pure joy. Singing hymns together, reading her a children’s storybook, producing a video on the iPhone, a ride out of the assisted living, coloring pictures, eating a peanut butter sandwich with a real coke. These visits deposited some excellent memories for me.

I’m thankful mama is living her most perfect life now. No more struggle with how she wished things could be. I can only imagine that although she was grateful for her childhood in a Christian institution, she had an ideal life she lived inside her head, and only sometimes did life here match up with that scenario. But that is no longer the case. She is well and whole, and I know she is content and entirely at peace with life with Jesus, every longing fulfilled and every unspoken hurt defeated. I’m thankful my mother is in heaven worshiping Jesus. I pray she is playing her violin and visiting with some wonderful friends she met in Atlanta who helped her see she needed a Savior to forgive her. Hopefully, there is a store, and if there is, she is buying things for everyone and a little something for herself because, as I said, my mother loved a store.

But if my mother could speak now, she would want every person reading about her to know Jesus. He’s the One who purchased her life on the cross, paid her sin debt, and made her able to be with Him when she died. She would want you to know Him. If you want to know Him, Click or tap on this safe link and learn how you can.

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The Paperclip Matters

Do you work in an office setting? Whether you have a corner office, share a cubicle, sit in an area with a few others, or just report occasionally to your supervisor’s office, integrity is necessary to live with a clean conscience and to enjoy favor with God and man. This is why the paper clip matters.

For the sake of this blog, the paperclip will represent anything at work supplied to you when you got the job to help you with your job. It can include everything from ink for the printer, copy paper, publications, sticky notes, calendars, pens, pencils, writing or drawing tools, receipt books, tape, and containers holding any of these items., cell phone, vehicle, expense report, office furniture, secretary or assistant, anything. Some of these items are small and easy to rationalize if you just borrow them. Have you ever “borrowed” any of these to help your child do their homework or to avoid a stop by the store on the way home? Most of these things fit easily into your work bag brought from home. It would be easy to take one or two items from work now and then and rationalize it. Rationalization is the struggle keeping you from integrity. Let’s consider some of the mindsets of rationalization:

  • The company won’t miss it. Hey, I’ll even replace it when I get a chance.
  • I need this so that I can help my child get a project done. My boss would want me to help my child.
  • I’m so busy, and I already work overtime. I don’t have time to go by the store to pick up my own supplies to use at home.

Every time you “borrow” these items from your workplace, you are setting a new precedent for your conscience to tolerate. It’s the small decisions we make every day, which define our destination.

So what does it matter if you take a paperclip every now and then? Who does it impact? Why can’t I take a paperclip?

Stealing is when you take something that isn’t yours without permission. It is #8 of the ten commandments.

Integrity is living a moral and ethical life in the sight of God and man.

Maybe you think taking a paperclip is not a test of your character. But if you are a follower of Jesus, then He sees you taking it. If you go back to the definition of stealing, then taking the paperclip matters. Being a person of integrity may be a quieter life, one marked by humility, but it is a rewarding life because it affords you sleep at night and a sense of well being during the day. Why negotiate with your conscience, or even with the Holy Spirit, when you can simply live your life in peace?

We’ve started a new year, another beginning. Do you want to be a person of integrity? Integrity doesn’t care who sees. Integrity doesn’t need an audience. Integrity is a decision to be who God created you to be, whether anyone is looking. Integrity is a core value for a Jesus follower. It’s a way to shine your light in the darkness. People will notice and appreciate a person of integrity. Even if you work in a Christian environment, the standard may not be as high as what is presented in this blog. You can be the one to change this environment in your workplace by being a person of integrity.

Integrity is what you do when no one is watching; it’s doing the right thing all the time, even when it may work to your disadvantage. Tony Dungy

Trust and Hope

I’m thinking right about now there may be some of you hanging on by a thread with all the world events and personal sacrifice and losses of the year 2020. And now, moving into the next year, the troubles have not disappeared. Who thought all this was going away just because a page turned on the proverbial calendar? I did not. This is the world we live in, and yes, it is frightening at times, but amazingly, God is still bringing His peace and stability to all who want it.

Recently in a moment of faith, which is another word we could add to this title, I came up with these acrostics. Just creating the acrostics brought peace, and I thought maybe you could use them too. Here they are, and then below, I will list some ways you can make the most of them.

TRUST

T – Taking all I have

R- Reminding myself

U – Understanding His past care

S – Submitting my rights

T – Telling Him thank you in advance

HOPE

H – Having the same mind

O – Open to His future plans

P – Practicing Thanksgiving

E – Expressing Praise

So, you could make a list under each one. For instance, T – Taking all I have. List all you have that you can give to Jesus. R – Reminding myself – We have to do this. We have to remind ourselves who we are in Christ and who He is to us.

Do you get the idea? Just take each idea and expand it. By the time you finish, some peace will be restored.

Another activity you could do is to get out your Bible concordance and look up the words Trust and Hope and find all the verses. Write the verses. Say the verses. You could do this for a week at least and have plenty to look forward to each day.

We are not in control anymore. Whatever ideas we had previously about being in control are not working right now. We do not know if we will see those days again. But we haven’t lost Jesus. So if you are one of His children, this is not a time for the faint of heart. It’s time to spend time with your Father. Turn off the tv or whatever you watch and go sit down somewhere and find your rest in Jesus. It may feel awkward to you at first, but God honors those who honor Him. He will meet you.

If you have ideas of what you are doing now to abide in Jesus, list them in the comments.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit;apart from me you can do nothing. ” John 15:5

©Valerie Rumfelt

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Passport Quotes

If you’ve done any international travel, you have a passport. 2020 was our year to get new ones, and after we received them in the mail, I perused through and discovered the interesting quotes in front of this document.

You can’t get across any border without a passport, and these quotes tell of the freedom-loving country America is. How much longer will this freedom experiment last? We will see. But ultimately, freedom comes from Christ alone. And those who know this can petition the Father on behalf of this freedom-loving country and live in the knowledge of their freedom in Christ. Take some time to ponder these quotes. And take a moment to pray for your own journey with Christ and pray for America. Leave a comment below of your favorite quote.

O say does that star spangled banner yet wave O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

…and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth,

A Lincoln

We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessing of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

The principle of free governments adheres to the American soil. It is bedded in it, immovable as its mountains.

Daniel Webster

Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair.

George Washington

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

excerpt from the Declaration of Independence

We have a great dream. It started way back in 1776, and God grant that America will be true to her dream.

Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well of ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

John F. Kennedy

This is a new nation, based on a mighty continent, of boundless possibilities.

Theodore Roosevelt

Whatever America hopes to bring to pass in the world must first come to pass in the heart of America.

Dwight D. Eisenhower

For this is what America is all about. It is the uncrossed desert and the unclimbed ridge. It is the star that is not reached and the harvest sleeping in the unplowed ground. Is our world gone? We say, “ Farewell.” Is a new world coming? We welcome it- and we will bend it to the hopes of man. Lyndon B. Johnson

May God continue the unity of our country as the railroad unites the two great oceans of the world.

inscribed on the Golden Spike, Promontory Point, 1869

The cause of freedom is not the cause of a race or a sect, a part of a class – it is the cause of humankind, the very birthright of humanity.

Anna Julia Cooper

Every generation has the obligation to free men’s minds for a look at new worlds … to look out from a higher plateau than the last generation.

Ellison S. Onizuka

We send thanks to all the Animal life in the world. They have many things to teach us as people. We are glad they are still here, and we hope it will always be so. 

excerpt from the Thanksgiving Address, Mohawk version

©️Valerie Rumfelt

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