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Last weekend I went to our family farm in West Virginia for what would be my last visit with my 96-year old grandmother, Granny.  As I write this, we are losing her.  I’m home in Charlotte, not there with Granny, but I feel it.  I know it.  She is leaving us.

It breaks my heart to lose her, but I am so thankful to God for His mercy and grace.  Granny is not suffering from a terrible illness or condition.  It’s simply her time to go and the Lord is ready to receive her into His presence.  Praise be to God!

Granny is going on to a place more wonderful than we can imagine.  The Bible says in the New Jerusalem the lion will lie down with the lamb – there will be peace; there will be no pain or suffering; there will be no gates for there will be no need for them – there will only be good, no evil; there will be no sun or moon, for the radiance of the Lord will be so great!  Surely His presence is golden and warm.  Granny will be resurrected with a new body, no longer in a human body, but in a body like that of Christ. (These Biblical truths taken from Isaiah, Corinthians, and Revelation.) What more could I want for someone I love?  I am joyful for her that she is receiving this magnificent reward at the end of her well-deserving life.

I have committed my heart to Christ, so although it hurts to say goodbye to her on this earth, I have the comfort and assurance of knowing that one day I’ll be with her again in that wonderful place described above – the place the Bible calls heaven. 

Peace be with you, Granny.  I love you.

I spent the weekend with my 96-year old grandmother, Granny, who appears to be reaching the end of her days on this earth. We had a wonderful visit given our circumstances.  I should be sad.  I do feel heartbreak when I think about losing her, but when I think of Granny I feel joy for her and joy in the Lord.  For several years she’s said she is ready to go, and all she’s ever asked was that she be able to remain in her ‘home in the hills’.  Praise be to God, she’s been able to do that!  

My aunt and uncle moved in to take care of her, and my mother goes as often as she can to lend a hand, too.  Thanks to their love and care, Granny has been able to remain at home.  Now hospice has joined them to keep Granny as comfortable and well as possible.    God has indeed honored Granny’s hope and prayers – and ours, too. 

At 96 Granny’s mind and spirit are as sound as ever, but physically she’s winding down and getting weaker.  She is not suffering from any disease, illness, or injury.  Her discomforts are minor compared to problems she could otherwise have.  For that we are most thankful.  It appears that her time is coming, and it’s as it should be.

Following is a list of instructions the apostle Paul gives for Right Living, found in Romans, chapters 12-15

RIGHT LIVING –  ROMANS, CHAPTERS 12-15

Give your bodies as a living sacrifice to the Lord.  (Every day ‘sacrifice’, or put aside your own desires, to pursue God’s desires for you.)

Don’t copy the ways of the world.  Be transformed by God.

Be honest in your estimate of yourself, basing your estimates on the amount of faith you have.

Don’t just say you love others – REALLY love them.

Hate what is wrong.

Take delight in honoring each other.

Never be lazy.

Serve enthusiastically.

Be glad for God’s plans for you.

Be patient in trouble.

Always be prayerful.

Help God’s children.

Host others.

Pray for those who persecute you.  Ask God to bless them.

Be happy for others.

Share other’s sadness.

Live in harmony.

Enjoy ordinary people.

Don’t act important.

Don’t pay back evil for evil.

Be honorable.

Live in peace.

Never avenge yourselves.

Feed your enemies.

Conquer evil by doing good.

Respect authority.

Pay taxes.

Pay your debts.

Live by the Golden Rule.

Shed evil and darkness.

Let Christ take control of you.

Accept weak Christians, and don’t argue with them.

Let the Lord condemn others.  It’s not your job.

Have your own convictions about your beliefs…eating, drinking, worship, etc.

Don’t do things that might make other Christians stumble in their faith.

Aim for harmony in the church.

Try to build each other up.

If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning.

Live as Christ lived, as a servant to others.

Accept each other as Christ accepted you.

Be charitable to others, even to those who aren’t Christians, that Christ’s love might be shown to them.

Pray for each other in our struggles to serve God.

Following is an outline of the life of the apostle Paul.  The information is comprised from what I’ve learned through personal study and information from the Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary. 

THE APOSTLE PAUL         

Missionary, theologian, writer, church planter

Jewish Born in Tarsus of Cilicia (Acts 22:3), from the tribe of Benjamin (Romans)

            Believed to be named for the most prominent member of the tribe – King Saul.

            Probably came from a family of tentmakers or leatherworkers.

            Family must have been wealthy because it is believed the “property qualification” in  Tarsus was a year and a half’s wages.

Roman Citizenship:  In addition to being Jewish born, Paul stated that he was a Roman citizen by right, not by purchase. 

            Roman citizenship provided certain rights and was desirable enough that people were willing to pay for Roman citizenship.

            Having Roman citizenship and the rights it provided was beneficial for Paul as a missionary.

            The penalty for impersonating a Roman citizen was death.

Jewish Teaching: Known as Saul at this time, Paul was raised in Jerusalem and taught about Jewish traditions and the ways of his Jewish ancestors.

            Trained by Rabbi Gamaliel

                        Gamaliel was regarded as one of the best Jewish teachers

                        Member of the Sanhedrin Council

In Galatians 1:14 Paul describes himself as a student: “I was advancing in Judaism beyond many Jews of my own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers.”   

Pharisee:  Paul became a strict Pharisee who despised followers of Jesus because of the threat they posed to the Jewish religion. 

            Paul received authorization from the chief priests to imprison and persecute believers.

            He describes this time of persecution in Acts, Chapter 26.

Paul’s Damascus Road Experience and Conversion (Acts, Chapter 9): While on his way to Damascus to arrest and imprison believers, Christ appeared to Paul in a blinding white light.  Paul surrendered to Christ immediately, spent three days blind, and was healed by Ananias. 

To Ananias God revealed that Paul was His chosen instrument to “bear His name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel” (Acts 9:15).

Saul becomes known as Paul:  Acts 13:9

Paul’s Work and Missionary Journeys: Paul spent time in Damascus with disciples, then immediately began teaching and evangelizing for Christ.  Led by the Holy Spirit, Paul pursued three missionary journeys teaching in synagogues and public settings, and planting churches among Jews and Gentiles.  He endured persecution for his Christian faith and won many to Christ.  He was as zealous for Christ as missionary as he had been against Christ as a mercenary.  According to Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (HIBD), some scholars believe Paul wrote 1 and 2 Thessalonians during his second mission trip.  HIBD also states that it was during his third missionary journey that Paul wrote 1 and 2 Corinthians and Romans. 

Eventually Paul was arrested (AD 57) and sent to Rome where he spent two years in house arrest awaiting his trial. Paul was allowed a Roman trial because of his Roman citizenship. 

The Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary states Paul wrote Philemon, Colossians, Ephesians, and Philippians during this time. It goes on to say that early church tradition suggests Paul was acquitted or exiled, but was later arrested again, treated harshly, and eventually beheaded by sword by Emperor Nero, probably in AD 67.  It is believed Paul is buried at a site covered by the basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls. 

Additional Notes from the Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary:

“Paul is a very important figure in the NT and in the history of Christianity.  He wrote 13 epistles that comprise almost one-fourth of the NT.  Approximately 16 chapters of the book of Acts (13-28) focus on his missionary labors.  Thus Paul is the author or subject of nearly one-third of the NT and the most important interpreter of the teachings of Christ and of the significance of His life, death, and resurrection.”

Praise the LORD!  For it is good to sing praises to our God; For it is pleasant, and praise is beautiful.   ~ Psalm 147:1 (NKJV)

Therefore, by Him (Jesus) let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.    ~ Hebrews 15:13

Today is one of those glorious mornings, so glorious and wonderful that my heart is filled with joy and praise!  The early morning air is crisp, cool, and  refreshing.  The sky is cloud free, brilliant blue, and the sun is steadily rising overhead, brightening and warming the earth as it goes, giving us the promise of a warm spring day ahead.  Thank You, God, for the beautiful world around me!

After five days of having someone home sick, each of us is healthy and well.  We’re all back into our daily routines.  Praise!

My husband is a good and godly man.  I thank God every day for his love and friendship. 

We’re not as young as we used to be, but we’re doing all right!   I give thanks to God for that, too!

My older son begins his ‘behind the wheel’ training for drivers ed today.  Yikes!   Do I really have a son old enough to do that?  Will he really be driving soon?  Wow!  And my other son has become such a cool, awesome kid in just nine short years.  It seems like it was yesterday he was a little toddler with his head in the mixing bowl as he literally licked the brownie bowl.  (Oh, that was funny!)  How time flies and continues to go by.  Lord, please help me to make the most of each moment! 

My mother’s shoulder is broken in two places; but although she has pain and is limited in the things she can do, she’s on the mend and doing well all things considered – and she keeps a positive attitude.  Praise!

My 96-year old Granny is slowing down and getting weaker, but praise the Lord for being merciful unto her and answering her greatest prayer – that she be able to remain in her ‘home in the hills’ on a beautiful sprawling farm in the West Virginia mountains.  Through the full-time care of my aunt and uncle, and now hospice, she is being kept at home as comfortably as possible.  God willing we’ll be able to visit her in two weeks.  Praise the Lord for each of those things!

Our church was suffering, but through much prayer and perseverence, it is thriving and growing again.  So many wonderful things are happening in the life of our church!   Praise!

I’ve messed up and made mistakes, but people have been kind and gracious to me.  Thank you, friends!  Praise be to God for your graciousness! 

I have friends who are struggling with serious matters; but their strength is in the Lord, and through prayers and petitions, those who love and care about them can be with them in their time of need to lift them up and help them along.  Praise!

There are troubles and evils all around me in this world, but in this moment I feel joy and praise.  Thank You, Lord, for all that You are and all that You do in our lives.  To You be all the glory, honor and praise. Truly every good and perfect gift is from You.   Amen. 

My husband and I just returned from a wonderful trip to the Mayan Riviera of Mexico, an area south of Cancun.  The trip was as wonderful as the name sounds.  We were with a group from the company he works for.  We enjoyed everyone we were with, and all the local people we met during our stay.  The resort was fabulous and the water was the bluest I’ve ever seen.  It was so blue it looked an enhanced photo, but it was real.  One afternoon we (the group) went out to sea on a Catamaran.  Fun!  Between the sky and the water, my eyes have never taken in so much blue at one time.   It was amazing.  We snorkled over the world’s 2nd longest coral reef, as determined by the famous diver Jaques Cousteau (sp?) who studied the reef and its marine life. 

We also toured Tulum, the site of ancient Mayan ruins dating back to 1000 BC.  A big thanks to Francisco who did a marvelous job sharing the history, culture, and stories of this impressive ancient civilization. 

What trip to the beach would be complete without walks on the beach?  My husband and I took walks together and I also took a long walk alone.  While walking alone I had time to think about the many things I’d seen and done during our visit to this area of Mexico.  I remembered the brain coral from the coral reef that Jaques Cousteau had dated as also beeing approximately 1000 years old.  Can you imagine looking at something that has been growing untouched for 1000 years?  We are such invaders of this earth – just here for a nano-second in relativity to span of time – and we do such damage while we’re here.  God created the earth first, THEN He created man.  At the end of each day of Creation, God paused to say, “This is good.”  (God, I have to tell You, Your world is better than good.  It’s amazing!)  I believe God is so loving that after creating an earth in which He felt everything was good, He had a desire to share it with beings who could return His love, so that’s why He created man.  He then entrusted us with His wonderful Creation by asking us to be stewards of the earth and all that’s in it.  (See the Creation story in Genesis.) 

I couldn’t help but praise God for this amazing world as I walked along the beach, my eyes taking in the brilliant blues that seemed to go on forever. 

Other sights that caught my eyes were the people on the beach, people who seemed to be from many other places around the world.  There were many precious children, and the adults came in every size, type and color.  I know because I saw much more of some of them than I wanted to see!  Not everyone subscribes to the “Modest is Hottest” theory (title of presentation by Shari Braendel of Proverbs 31 Ministries).  We saw people baring much more than they should have been!  Even if it wasn’t about modesty, it was about decency. You know what I mean?  As my husband put it, there were many people who had no business exposing all that they did out of respect to the rest of us on the beach…or did they?  After adjusting to the appearances of some of the beach-goers around me I admired their ability to be comfortable enough with themselves to just let it all hang out …and trust me…some of these people were really letting it all hang out!  It wasn’t always pretty!  But they were just lining in the skin they were in.  As opposed to me who took forever to find tankini suits that covered up all my problem areas and enhanced the areas that needed enhancement.  (Ladies, you know what I’m talking about.) 

Yes, it takes all kinds, and we’re all God’s children.  Some even have the ability to love the bodies God created for them in open public ways. 

Dear God, Thank You for this wonderful world You created, and for allowing us to inhabit this earth, even if it’s just for a short while.  I will try to be mindful of ways I can take care of the earth and do what I can to preserve it for future generations.  Please help me to also be more appreciative of the body You’ve given me (within reason, of course)) and do my best to take care of it, too.  Lord, I thank you for the amazing beauty all around us everyday.  It was wonderful being on a warm, sunny beach,  but your beauty surrounds us wherever we are.  Even the apostle Paul stated that everyone has experienced God because everyone has experienced His creation.  Amen. 

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