Monthly Archives: May 2014

A Sacrifice of Praise

Todd Smith

Yesterday a long time friend’s life was remembered and celebrated. I unfortunately, was not able to attend his funeral but have heard accounts through mutual friends of his steadfastness of faith and love for our Lord Jesus Christ.  Todd Smith was definitely all of those things and more. His heart was always open for opportunities to help others and spread the gospel.  I can remember asking Todd to explain to a student I had years ago the nuts and bolts of purchasing a car. He calmly and patiently took time from his busy schedule and explained to this sweet girl exactly the steps she needed to take. It seems like yesterday that we all sat in Sunday School together as the young married.  As I remembered Todd, and prayed for his wife Lori and their four children yesterday, God reminded me of how this family taught me spiritual lessons long ago.

Lori and her children offered to the Lord a sacrifice of praise as they mourned the loss of their beloved husband and father.  At a moment in life when there seems to be so much confusion and hurt, they knew the one thing that needed to be done, was to offer praise to their heavenly father. My facebook newsfeed was full of witnessing accounts of the awesome strength seen from the family and the amazement that they could stand strong and worship during this time.  I myself witnessed this same ability in another Smith relative years ago.  It is a picture that stays in my mind and reminds me to find strength to praise God in times of trouble.

Lori’s mother, Carlene Hoskins, also exhibited the strength so many have been amazed by, years ago. She was one of several people who shared their testimony as part of a musical that our church performed. “God With Us” was a powerful event that echoed praise to God in all our circumstances. Mrs. Carlene did just that. After fighting more than one battle against cancer she spoke of God’s presence and power to the crowds that gathered. I don’t remember all the words she spoke but I will never forget watching her as she stood at her seat after speaking demonstrating true worship.  Although she was in a crowded sanctuary she worshiped as if she was standing at the foot of Jesus. She raised her hands in praise to the one who saved her soul and walked with her every step of the way.  You could tell that in her moments of pain and weakness He had made her strong and she had not forgotten.

By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. Hebrews 13:15

 

That mental picture of Mrs. Carlene has returned through the years when I’ve taught about worship or when I’ve been asked questions about worship. “It is well with my soul” was perfectly demonstrated by Lori’s wonderful mother years ago and now Lori herself has demonstrated it again.   What a spiritual heritage the Smith family lives before us!  My heart aches for Todd’s family and their loss and for the days they face. My prayers will continue for you all. Thank you for being a vessel God uses to teach us that there is power in His presence.

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That Moment When…

Hand in Hand

That moment when you receive word that life’s normalcy has been forever changed. We all experience moments of impending news that will be forever engrained in our memories. Forever memories like standing in the kitchen answering the phone to hear my grandmother’s frantic voice telling me that my grandfather was unresponsive to walking around the back of an ambulance that would transport my six year old to the hospital. Often times these circumstances create overwhelming feelings and thoughts. I have found myself many times in the midst of the mental process asking myself “Is this real?” Life seems to change quickly and furiously with news of test results, heart conditions, car accidents, seizures, tornados, the list could go on and on.

Recently I was reminded, as I experienced one of these type events, how deeply the fear and hurt goes through our minds. As I processed the situation, I was reminded that just like in Old Testament days, God goes before His children.

Deuteronomy 31:8

It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you;

He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed

I was able to see clearly that steps were taken and preparations made that proved God had entered the circumstances long before me. He wasn’t called in for a consult. God promises me He will never leave me nor forsake me because I am His child.

My husband and I received news that he may have a serious medical condition, that if not diagnosed, could be life altering. This news is what led me to begin this blog entry. I began to journal my thoughts and mediate on God going before me. I began the entry and set it aside to finish later. Unknown to me the next twenty-four hours would produce two emergency phone calls.

The first call came from my husband saying his pain was too much to handle and he felt we needed to go to the emergency room. After seeking medical attention, my husband went home to rest and I went back to work. Not long after arriving at work I received my second call. As I answered the phone I heard my daughter’s voice franticly telling me she had been involved in a car accident. I grabbed my keys and set out to the scene. As I drove, God reminded me of the second part of the verse I had just recently been given. I was overwhelmed with gratitude that my Lord not only had gone before me but was also with me and my daughter. I began to praise Him and remind myself to look for spiritual evidence of His presence. The crumbled car yet there were no serious injuries, the calmness both my husband and I experienced in spite of surroundings and his undiagnosed medical condition, witnesses at the scene that were able to immediately help our daughter until until we arrived were all examples of God’s presence.

I have endured many circumstance that evoked pain and sorrow through my life. Not all of the emergency call have ended in the way I would have prayed or hoped. Just like the present situation, I can look back and see God going before me and God being with me. Presently as we wait for a diagnosis of what may be life altering, I am not fearful or dismayed. I am choosing to see God’s hand instead of the brokenness of my circumstances. Oh, how it has blessed me to have the peace of God in the midst of this trial. I pray my family’s light of God’s glory is seen brighter than our circumstance. Only through His strength can we have this power and hope. My friend if you are not a child of God my prayer is that God would prod your heart to see just how much He loves you. He is there for you and can not only give you eternal life, forgiveness of all your sins but also a peace that passing ALL understanding.

Matthew 5:16 let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

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