Do You Want What You Earned?

As we continue our reflections during the season of Lent, I am sorry to have to discuss another prominent player. He is called the devil or satan.

Even though I hate to even think about him, we need to know he is still around. Peter warned us.

“Keep your mind clear, and be alert. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion as he looks for someone to devour.”

1 Peter 5:8

Satan has the uncanny ability to morph into most anything or anyone you always thought you wanted.

I will use the male pronouns to describe him, but he is really an “it” if anything, and is able to appear as male or female.

He can be beautiful. He can be handsome. He can be sexy. He can give you a false high. He will make promises he won’t or can’t keep. He will temp you to give up everything for just a taste of what he has to offer.

And when you bite (no pun intended to Adam and Eve), he will laugh and accuse you for being so stupid.

He will torment you and offer you more “get out of jail free” cards, but nothing is free with him. Everything has a price and it is a steep one.

If you keep him in your life, he will drag you to the bottom pits of hell right here on earth and potentially in the world to come.

Why would we even consider him in a story as beautiful as The Easter Story? We look at him because it was he who sought to be master and Lord.

It was satan who wanted The One God to bow to him.

It is satan who wants to make you pay for every sin you have ever committed. But his way of doing business is a little backwards to that. You commit the sin. He pays you, but not in any way you want.

It was not God Who wanted to pile your sins on you and beat the stuffings out of you. It was satan.

Romans 6:23 summarizes it neatly. “The wages of sin is death.” Hang with satan. Hang on to the sins. He will pay you what you earned.

If you want to get out of Satan’s pay line, then you can accept A Gift from Your Creator, Who never wanted you to suffer.

What’s The Gift? Eternal Life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Second part of Romans 6:23.

Why would anyone reject a Gift? If you don’t trust the one giving the gift, you may refuse it. You may think it’s too good to be true. You may wonder, “What’s The Catch?”

Satan knows God’s Gift is free to all. He knows it is a good Gift. He know your receiving that Gift is going to make it very difficult for him to hang on to you.

He can’t stop God’s Offer, but he hopes to keep you from accepting it.

Satan’s main goal is to convince us God does not love us. If we believe God does not love us, we will believe He has distanced Himself from us. If we believe God does not love us, we will distance ourselves from God.

And if we cease to communicate with God, we will not seek His Forgiveness for our sins. We will believe He would not forgive us, even if we asked. We will believe He would punish us.

We will believe we are alone. Satan will assure us we are not alone. He is with us. He will offer more things that cloud our mind and make us forget The Truths we knew about God.

Satan has tried to claim what victories he could through the Easter story. He threw everything he had at Jesus.

Even though he could not get us to forget the resurrection, he did succeed in getting some to believe God abandoned Jesus in His Time of suffering on the cross.

Satan loves to play up Jesus’ Words of, “My God, My God, why haven’t You forsaken Me?” Those words seem to fit in so nicely with all the other doubts about God that Satan planted.

God, angry with His Creation. Sending His Son to take a beating and die a horrible death to show the people what He wanted to do to them. And then looking away when His Son was suffering under a load of sin.

Satan, The Accuser, revels in the opportunity to accuse God.

But Jesus told us who satan is.

“He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

John 8:44

What is The Truth?

God, Jesus and The Holy Spirit are ONE. They were ONE at the cross, as they always had been and forever shall be.

When satan wanted to pay everyone for the sins they had committed, The ONE, said, “OK, let’s balance the books right now. Pay Me their wages!”

The horror of the crucifixion allows us to see how satan pays his wages. And if we look at the cross in its true Light, we will see a Loving God receiving satan’s wages in our place.

Isaiah knew someone would think it was God dealing out punishment, but it was not. It was God receiving on our behalf.

“Surely He took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered Him punished by God, stricken by Him, and afflicted.

But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him and by His Wounds, we are healed.”

Isaiah 53:4-5

So what about Jesus’ statement that seemed to imply God had abandoned Him? We will talk more about that in a future blog post.

For now, know this. Isaiah 59:2 says, “Your sins have hidden His Face from you.” God will still be there. Remember Paul’s Proclamation.

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 8:38-39

God will always be present, but you may think He is not. Your sins will be blocking your view.

Also know this. You should always read all of a scripture passage. Right after God demonstrated what sin can do to your view of Him, He demonstrated what will relieve you of sin and bring you face to Face with Him.

Jesus’ next action was surrender to God. Surrender is not giving up yourself. Surrender to The Spirit of God is allowing God to take off anything that has covered up what He created you to be.

Surrender to God frees you from satan’s grasp and allows you to fully experience being part of The Glorious One.

“Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Father, into Your Hands I commit My Spirit.’”

Luke 23:46

And at that moment, it was clear to all Jesus had not been abandoned. The Glory of Father, Son and Holy Spirit turned on all The Lights in the universe.

Satan hates light. He fled.

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

James 4:7

Those who were still at the cross knew they were in The Presence of Almighty God.

“And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, ‘Surely this man was the Son of God!’”

Mark 15:39

The Power Of The Three In ONE!

As we continue to reflect on the beauty of the Easter Story, today we will focus on The Third Powerful Member of The Three in ONE of The Trinity.

In my last blog post, we looked at how God and Jesus are ONE. They are not just ONE with each other. They are also ONE with The Holy Spirit.

Who is The Holy Spirit?

Paul revealed, “The Lord is The Spirit.”

2 Corinthians 3:17

The Spirit has been ONE with God and Jesus from the beginning, is now, and ever shall be.

In fact, we only have to go to the second verse of Genesis 1 to find The Spirit.

“Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and The Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.”

Genesis 1:2

The Hebrew word behind spirit means “air in motion.” It is the same word for “breath.” It also means “life.”

The Spirit is The Breath of God. Look at how The Three in One began creation. God spoke. When we speak, it is through our breath that words take form.

God sent out His Spirit in His Breath. His Breath took the form of Words.

Remember Jesus was identified as “The Word.”

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

“He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made.”

John 1:1-3

The Three in One created the world!

How did God create humans?

“Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”

Genesis 2:7

The same breath that powered Adam with Life powers you today and every creature that breathes. We are filled with God’s Spirit from the beginning. Without it, we die.

Job spoke truth when he said,

“In His Hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.”

Job 12:10

John understood Who God is. He said,

“God is Spirit and His worshipers must worship in The Spirit and in truth.”

John 4:24

“This is how we know that we live in Him and He in us: He has given us of His Spirit.”

1 John 4:13

Paul understood our bodies are Temples of The Holy Spirit we have received from God.

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of The Holy Spirit, Who is in you, Whom you have received from God?”

1 Corinthians 6:19

How did the Virgin Mary become pregnant with Jesus? Mary wondered how such a thing could happen? Mary asked the angel who delivered the news.

“How can this be? I’m a virgin.”

The angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come to you, and The Power of The Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the holy child developing inside you will be called the Son of God.”

Luke 1:34-35

God, Jesus and The Holy Spirit once again worked together in Creation.

When Jesus announced His Entry into public ministry, He told under Whose Authority He would be working.

“The Spirit of The Lord is on Me, because He has anointed Me to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent Me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s Favor.”

Luke 4:18-19

When Jesus was baptized by John, once again God, Jesus and The Holy Spirit were together.

“As soon as Jesus was baptized, He went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and He saw The Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on Him.

And A Voice from heaven said, “This is My Son, Whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.”

Matthew 3:16-17

How did Jesus perform miracles? By The Power of The Holy Spirit and because God was with Him.

“God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and He went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with Him.”

Acts 10:38

Jesus called The Holy Spirit The Spirit of Truth. He confirmed The Spirit comes from God and that The Spirit testifies about Him.

“But when the Helper comes, Whom I will send to you from The Father, The Spirit of Truth, Who proceeds from The Father, He will bear witness about Me.”

John 15:26

Jesus said The Spirit would glorify Him. And again, Jesus verified The Intimate Connection of God, Jesus and The Holy Spirit.

“But when He, The Spirit of Truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on His own; He will speak only what He hears, and He will tell you what is yet to come.

He will glorify Me because it is from Me that He will receive what He will make known to you.

All that belongs to The Father is Mine. That is why I said The Spirit will receive from Me what He will make known to you.”

John 16:13-15

Jesus was not alone at the cross. God and The Holy Spirit were right there too. They were there as ONE. And when “Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Father, into Your Hands I commit My Spirit,’” (Luke 24:46) it was the call to battle. The Three in ONE easily defeated satan.

Some believe Victory did not come until Easter morning. But in Truth, Death was defeated at the moment Jesus and God released The Spirit from the one physical body into The ONE.

What was foretold by the prophet Isaiah came into full evidence at the cross.

“He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Isaiah 9:6

They were All there.

Mighty God Who is The Everlasting Father, Jesus The Prince of Peace and The Holy Spirit Who is The Wonderful Counselor!

Now that we know God, Jesus and The Holy Spirit will be taking the journey to Calvary together, let’s see how that might change what we always thought about Easter.

Stay tuned for the next blog post.

Jesus — It’s Never Been The Same Since He Came!

In order to understand the true beauty of the Easter story, it is important to know God and Jesus were, are and always will be ONE.

God was not off somewhere watching The Passion Play. He was The Star! (And yes, God even announced His Entry into the world as Jesus by shining a big star!)

It has always been a little hard for me to wrap my head around how God, Jesus and The Holy Spirit can be ONE.

If God was Jesus, did He put the rest of the universe on hold and just shrink into one body? No. God was present in every part of the universe.

In fact, God’s Creation was His First Missionary. Paul aptly stated no one would ever have an excuse for not knowing God.

“Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things He has made. So they are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20)

But when God revealed Himself as a human, it was His most up close and personal Revelation yet!

And yes, God continued His Presence everywhere at once. Jesus put it this way,

“Believe Me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me.”

John 14:11

Jesus was both inside God and God filled His Body as Jesus.

How can two function as one?

A baby in the womb and the mother carrying him are separate, and yet function as one.

There are many parts to our physical body, and yet it functions as one.

We can see how one person can be someone different to multiple people.

My husband is my husband to me. But he is also the son of his father and the father of our daughter. He is also the grandfather of our grandson. And he has other relationships.

Is he more than one person? No. He is one person, who relates in a different way to different people at different times.

So it is with God and Jesus. They go by many different names, but They are ONE.

If you are still pondering trying to separate God and Jesus, you might ask, “What about that statement ‘God sent His Son …’” Doesn’t that mean God and Jesus were separate? No.

Let’s go back to our human example.

All the parts of our body work together to accomplish what we need to do. If we want to pick up something from the floor, our brain “sends” the message to the parts of our body that are need to become active to accomplish the mission.

Do those parts separate from the rest of the body? No. They are very much still a part of the body. Those parts do as they are told. Everything works together.

Jesus explained exactly how this worked with God.

“Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by Himself. He can do only what He sees His Father doing, because whatever The Father does The Son also does.”

John 5:19

That is The Real Easter Message. Easter is not just about Jesus’ Death and how we can buy “fire protection” from an angry God.

God’s Gift to us through Jesus is His up close and personal demonstration of how to live an Abundant Life. We receive this Gift by doing what Jesus said. Watch Him and do exactly what He did and said.

When Moses pressed God to tell him His Name, God told Moses His Name was “I AM.”

Jesus said, “I AM The Way, The Truth and The Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

John 14:6

Jesus was not giving us some pass through to gain access to God. He was saying, “Watch Me. Do just what I do and say. And you will discover if you have seen Me, you have seen The Father!”

John 14:9

God lived Life as Jesus to show us The Way.

God lived Life as Jesus to tell us The Whole Truth and nothing but The Truth.

God lived Life as Jesus to give us Life in Him, The One True God.

Stay tuned as we look further at how that Life unfolded, and what it has to do with us.

“I have come that they (you) may have life, and have it to the full!”

John 10:10

If You Only Knew Who Jesus Is!

As we begin the season of Lent, many will consider again the Easter Story.

It is indeed a nail biter (no pun intended to Jesus’ suffering on the cross). It has mystery, adventure, politics, betrayal, denial, and pure Love. And even better, it has a really happy ending!

But like many books, tv shows and movies, we may become so distracted by the action that we miss the message.

Sad to say, the true message has become distorted. Many of us loved Jesus from the beginning, but we were not so sure about His Father.

The way we heard it, God was very disappointed with the people He created. In fact, it was more than disappointment. He was angry.

And so, we were told, He hatched a plan to send His Only Son to the far off place, called earth to take their place in receiving all He wanted to do to them.

And, if we are to believe it, God The Father even looked away during all the torture.

We ended up profoundly grateful to Jesus for saving us, but we were pretty scared of God. And we were always a bit conflicted about how God’s Love really worked.

In the next several blog postings, I would like to address some of the flaws in the old, old story. Don’t worry. I do not plan to take anything away from The Wonderful Gift of The Grace of God through Jesus our Lord.

I only want to expand our view to see what a Wondrous Gift God has given us.

Let’s begin with one simple Truth. In fact, when Jesus was asked what was the most important commandment, He put it this way.

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, … “The Lord our God, the Lord is ONE. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”

Mark 12:29-30

That’s right. ONE. God did not “send” Jesus, as we think of “sending” someone off somewhere. God, Jesus, and The Holy Spirit are ONE.

We often say we believe The Trinity is One. Then we turn around and treat them like a three act play … God … then Jesus … then The Holy Spirit.

But they are ONE. Always together. Never apart. Always speaking and acting as One.

Jesus was called The Word. He was present from the beginning.

John 1:1 tells us, “In the beginning was The Word, and The Word was with God, and The Word was God.”

And then ..”The Word became flesh and made His Dwelling among us.”

John 1:14

God even told us it was Him from the beginning of His Revelation of Himself through the human named Jesus. Jesus was God with us.

“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call Him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

Matthew 1:23

Jesus confirmed Who He was.

“Believe Me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me.”

John 14:11

When Jesus’ Disciple, Philip, asked to see Jesus’ Father, Jesus again spoke The Truth plainly.

Jesus answered: “Don’t you know Me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?”

John 14:9

When we understand from the beginning of The Easter story, Who walked upon the earth and lived as one of us to be The Way to Life … The ONE Who showed us Life triumphing over death, then we will begin to see The Wonder of God’s Love.

God IS Love!

1 John 4:7

And The One Who is Love, loves us!

“I have loved you with an everlasting love!”

Jeremiah 31:3

Will You Be Remembered?

None of us can truly understand our impact on the world. Sometimes as I send writings, or videos into the world, I wonder if anyone is out there.

And then sometimes years after the fact, I am amazed at how far those seeds planted went.

I wrote an article for The American Journal of Hospice Care many years ago. After my time of journal publishing, I was largely out of public view. When I joined Facebook and also began publishing books and blogs, I was back in public view.

I was amazed to be contacted by a leader in Hospice Care who thanked me for the article and said it had become a cornerstone of hospice training, used in various workshops across the country!

At another time I was contacted by someone for whom I had written a letter of encouragement more than 20 years before. She was cleaning out her basement to prepare for a move. She found it and took the time to find me and tell me how much it meant to her.

I once wrote a song for a doctor who had made a great impact on my life. He thanked me, but was very understated. I was not sure he liked it. Years ago, we attended an open house. It turned out to be the home of the doctor. Prominently displayed in his office was the song and thank you I had written him.

I asked the realtor about it. She said all she knew was that one of his patients had given it to him and it was important to him. She had been told not to move it.

Take some time and think of those who have touched your life in a positive way. Tell them. Write them. Phone them. If they are no longer on earth, tell someone about them.

This touching video clip is from the tv series, Dr. Who. It shows what it would have been like for this artist who thought he had had no effect on the world, to have truly seen the effect he did have.

You are important. Someone has been, is now and will be touched by your life. Be memorable for good reasons!

Take a few minutes and enjoy this scene from the tv series, Dr. Who. It shows what might have happened if a famous artist could have seen the impact he would have on the world. As it happened, he died, having sold only one painting.

Here is the link.

https://youtu.be/ubTJI_UphPk

God’s Plan Versus My Plan

The Bible is filled with stories of things that made no natural sense.

Yet, when things were done at the Direction of God, they turned out to be the stuff of miracles.

Naaman was an army commander, who was considered a great man. He had defeated many in battle, but he could not conquer the leprosy that overtook his body.

Through a series of twists and turns, he ended up with the prophet, Elisha, who gave him The Word from God.

“Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.”

“Naaman went away angry and said, ‘I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy.

Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?’ So he turned and went off in a rage.”

2 Kings 5:10-12

Now before we find too much fault with Naaman, let’s stop and consider whether we have ever been in his shoes.

Many times in my life, when I have been in a jam, I knew how God could fix things. In fact, my prayers centered around what I wanted God to do to bring an immediate solution to my problem.

If it was a really big problem, I rounded up some “prayer partners” to “stand in agreement” with me. Sometimes my partners would add in some extra instructions for God to be sure He understood.

Then we “named and claimed” what we wanted and sealed the deal by saying “in Jesus’ Name.” We then waited expectantly for an immediate response from God.

If an immediate response was not forthcoming, we upped the ante and “prayed harder.” Sometimes I threw in what things I promised to do if only God would fix things as I wanted.

When He did not answer as I expected, I, like Naaman, was not happy. I whined. I reviewed my process. If I had followed what I believed to be the proper protocol, then I determined it must be God Who was the problem.

After a time of sulking, I gradually slid into “it’s just my cross to bear.” Of course, my testimony was, “See what I have to put up with when God won’t come through.”

Jesus Himself prayed in The Garden for the cup of suffering to pass from Him. He prayed passionately … so passionately blood fell from Him like sweat.

He asked His Disciples to be His Prayer Partners. They were not much help.

Jesus certainly prayed in His Name.

But Jesus also prayed in total submission to God’s Will.

“My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.”

Matthew 26:39

When I pray, I don’t want to even consider that what I am asking (or demanding) is not possible! Besides my just wanting it done, to say, “if it is possible” sounds like a lack of faith.

Is it a lack of faith or a lack of submission to God?

And after further prayer, when there was no indication The Plan was going to change, Jesus added, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may Your Will be done.”

Matthew 26:42

And in that moment, Jesus saw beyond the impending suffering to The Joy, not only His Own Joy, but The Collective Joy of the whole universe, who was going to receive His Gift.

“For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Hebrews 12:2

And as for Naaman, when he finally bowed to God’s Will, he received a Life far beyond what he had before.

He dipped, not just once, but seven times in the Jordan River. I suspect with each dip, he felt more and more confident.

I imagine him being so overcome with Joy in The Presence of The Lord that he flipped and flopped around in the water, and forgot he had leprosy. And in fact, he could forget because he no longer had it.

“His flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy.”

2 Kings 5:14

Whatever you are going through right now, know God has a Plan for you.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11

But also know what else God says about His Plans.

“For My Thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My Ways,”

declares the Lord.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My Ways higher than your ways and My Thoughts than your thoughts.”

Isaiah 55:8-9

So don’t be surprised when God comes up with a much better Plan than you could have ever imagined!

What If You Don’t Like God’s Plan?

https://carolynpriesterjones.org/2018/02/19/what-if-you-dont-like-gods-plan/

God Will Make A Way!

My parents were elderly, but able to live independently in their own home until one fateful day in 1997.

They left home as usual to go get groceries.  My mother had no idea when she closed the door that she was leaving her home of many years for the last time.  My father had no idea he would return there some weeks later alone.

They drove to the grocery store.  They did their usual creative way of shopping.  To conserve their strength, my mother took her shopping cart and collected the items from one side of the store, while my father took his cart and got the items from the other side.  They then met at the check out.

They then began the short drive back home.  On the way back, there was an accident and the car behind them hit them.

They were both hospitalized, but my mother’s injuries were severe enough she never recovered enough to come home.

She endured weeks of pain and declining health before she was promoted to her Heavenly Home.

My father was the self proclaimed pessimist in the family.  He said my mother always saw the flowers while he saw the weeds.

He said jokingly he read somewhere that the things you worry about never happen, so he tried to worry about everything he possibly could.

My mother never saw anything as impossible.  She frequently reminded us that with God, all things are possible.  She reminded us when the children of Israel were backed up against the Red Sea with their enemies in hot pursuit, God opened the sea and they passed through.

My mother was so filled with God’s Wisdom that people were drawn to her.  She made everyone she met feel special.

When she thought she would have to give up teaching Sunday School because she could no longer see well enough to prepare the lessons, the class begged her to continue.  They read the lessons out loud and waited eagerly for her comments.

And so, after the accident, as she lay on her bed of pain, my father fretted about the uncertain future.  She was not uncertain. She was certain God had The Plan and would reveal it in due time.

She said, “God has taken care of us all our lives.  How could we do anything, but trust Him now!”

When we were all begging God to heal her, she joined the prayer, but her prayer was different from ours.

She thanked God for everything she could think of.  Her prayers were filled with thanksgiving and praise.  She thanked God for all the times He had made a Way when there seemed to be no way.

She prayed for each family member and friend by name, thanking God for how we had each been an instrument of His Peace and Love.  She prayed Blessings on us in a future secured by God.

Never once did she question why she had been brought to the bed of pain.  Never once did she count herself a victim.  She was victorious because God was victorious through her.

She stayed on her mission assignment in two different hospitals before she was promoted to her Heavenly Home.  The doctors, nurses, housekeepers, visitors and others testified of her amazing witness in the midst of suffering.

When I come to the end of myself and I think there is no solution to my problems, I hear her voice, sweet and strong.  “Nothing is impossible with God.  He will make a Way.  He is The Way!”

”For nothing will be impossible with God!”

Luke 1:37

https://youtu.be/_rSWXf2Y4z0

The World’s Greatest Lover

For Valentines, I invite you to read about the world’s Greatest Lover.

Here is the link.

https://carolynpriesterjones.org/2017/02/15/the-greatest-lover/

The Grand Reunion In Heaven!

As a hospice nurse, I was at the bedside of many who crossed over to the other side.

There were more than a few who spoke with joy to those who had gone before them. I remember well the man who, in the midst of intense suffering, looked up, smiled and said, “Joe! What are you doing here?” He died shortly afterwards.

Joe was his brother, who had died several years earlier.

My cousins, John and Connie, had shared a long happy marriage. John died before Connie. Connie lived on until she was almost 100 years old. She often reflected on her memories of her life with John.

When Connie was near death, she said, “Oh I see him! I see John.” She was so happy, how could we do anything but rejoice with her!

When my sister in law died, my nephew puzzled over how she could be happy in Heaven without the family she loved so much being with her.

God then called his attention to 2 Peter 3:8, which says, “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.”

He said, “So maybe Mama knows we are still here, but she knows we will be there in a minute.” We all experienced great joy in that revelation!

My father grew up on a farm. When he was grown, he moved to town. But he went home every week to have supper with his parents.

He had a car that had a horn that was called a “mile away horn.” He could blow the horn when he was a mile from home and it was so loud his parents could hear him coming.

He said his mother would be waiting at the gate, so glad to see him. I told him I imagined she would be at The Gate Of Heaven, waiting for him when he got there. He liked that thought!

I believe those who have gone before us are still very near, but we do not see them in the same physical way as we did. They have changed form.

We find they are within us. When I say, “As my father or mother used to say …,” their words bring them back to life.

When I pass the mirror, and I look at my reflection, I sometimes catch a glimpse of them.

When I share memories with people who made those same memories with me when we were together with my parents, they are still in the midst of us.

Hebrews 12:1 tells us, “we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses.” I believe those witnesses are those who have gone before us.

And I believe those “witnesses” will be eagerly waiting for us at The Gate Of Heaven. And we will be very visible to each other.

Perhaps, just as my grandmother heard my father’s mile away horn, they will hear the sound of the trumpet, announcing our approach, and they will rejoice in our homecoming.

1 Corinthians 15:51-54 says,

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.

For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.

For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.

When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true:

“Death has been swallowed up in victory!”

And all the “witnesses” will say, “Welcome Home!”