Month: February 2014

For Barb and Bruce Bryant

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Bruce Bryant’s funeral was Thursday. Bruce’s body died on Sunday, but Bruce is alive. His family grieves his passing from this life, yet at the same time celebrates that his days of pain are over.

On Tuesday evening, some of us gathered to pray for Barb. We prayed for God to comfort and sustain her through the difficult days ahead. He is, and He will. She also asked us to pray for those who would attend the visitation and funeral: For believers to be comforted and unbelievers to hear, believe, and receive God’s word of salvation.

“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.” – Romans 10:14-17 NIV

Everyone at Bruce’s funeral heard God’s word about Christ.

Some at the funeral will be challenged by what they heard. God’s word will sound comforting, and they may even want to believe it, but they will stop short of commitment because they aren’t sure salvation is that easy. Or they will think they are too unworthy. We prayed that the seeds of truth that were sown will take root. We prayed that the hearers will understand that grace means you can’t earn salvation; you receive it from God’s hand.

“It is by grace you have been saved.” – Ephesians 2:8 NIV

And, some who were there will be comforted by God’s word. They were reminded that though death seems final it isn’t. Death has been defeated. Death is the doorway into the presence of God. God’s word will comfort those who mourn.

“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” – John 11:25 – NIV

Dying and death are real. Every “body” will die, but not every person will. Those who don’t die, are those who have responded to God’s word and accepted the gracious gift of salvation that God offers through the Lord Jesus Christ. It is free to us. It cost the life of God’s one and only Son.

To reject God’s word is to choose to take upon your own shoulders the responsibility for the errors, omissions, failures, guilt, shame, and heartache you have caused throughout your entire life. To reject God’s word is to stand condemned to eternal death. No one has to do that. It is a choice

“I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins.” – John 8:24 NIV

Some of those alive at Bruce’s funeral will experience death for all of eternity. Some will live forever with Jesus. Where will you spend eternity? How do you know? Upon whose word are you relying?

 

Blood Tests and Heart Checks

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This morning I had some blood work done in preparation for my physical on Friday. I will sweat it out all week worrying about my cholesterol number!

Why do I fear that number? Could it be my family’s history of heart disease? Or that my dad had his first heart procedure at my age? Or that his cousin died from a heart attack at my age?

I walk. I work out. I watch what I eat (most of the time). I play hard with the grandsons. But my cholesterol numbers remain on the high side, they always have, and I just don’t want to start taking medication for it. Denial? Maybe. Self-deception? Maybe. Not wanting to admit I’m getting older? Maybe.

It doesn’t help that February is American Heart Month. I’d prefer to concentrate on Valentine’s during February, but for some reason, my annual physical has morphed its way into February. And, so on Friday, I’ll get the report. I will find out what is lurking in my blood.

What if we had a blood test that not only revealed the dangers that are coursing through our veins, but the ugliness that is hiding in our hearts? What if instead of triglycerides and glucose we could measure envy and anger? What if we could see the hate, deception, and hypocrisy?

I like to think my heart is not hiding anything from me, but I do know that my heart can deceive me!

The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? – Jeremiah 17:9 NLT

We know most of what is in our hearts. We know the secret thoughts, the schemes, the distrust and the sins we cherish. We know how quickly we lose our temper. We know how the desire for revenge stirs us. We know how good we feel when someone we don’t like fails. We know how well we hide sin.

And, God knows our hearts. There is no secret hidden from God. If we really wanted to know what’s hiding, we don’t need a test, we only need to ask God to show us.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you…” – Psalm 139:23-24 NLT

If you ask, God will show you.  You won’t need to sit down and go over the results; God will show you by what you say and do.

“What you say flows from what is in your heart” – Luke 6:45 NLT

“Above all else, guard your heart for everything you do flows from it.” – Proverbs 4:23NIV

My blood will be tested this week and I will know what action I need to take to stay, or get, healthy. The action we must take to have a spiritually healthy heart is to first recognize that it is not.

“Healthy people don’t need a doctor – sick people do. I [Jesus] have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” Mark 2:17NLT

Under Siege

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A little over five years ago, my friend’s family came under siege. Her husband was diagnosed with cancer. They engaged the fight.

Under siege, you have limited resources. At their disposal were surgery, medicine, wise doctors, time, faith, hope and love. They have used up all the procedures, medicines, doctors and clinical trials available to them. Now, they are hoarding the only things they have left: Time, Hope, Faith and Love.

Time is running short.  The enemy will try to rob them of time together with each call, text and email notification on their phone. To protect each precious moment with their family, they have asked their friends not to phone or text. We won’t. We will pray and stand by in silence. We will give them uninterrupted moments together.

Hope will soon end for my friend’s husband as he will no longer need it. He will see the face of Jesus. He will dwell, in the glory of eternity. He will hear “Well done, good and faithful servant.”  Hope gives this family peace today.

Faith will sustain them as they grieve his passing from this life into the next. Their faith is in the Gospel: Jesus’ perfect life, death, and resurrection. They trust in the salvation that Jesus purchased on the cross. Their faith is in God’s promise of resurrection and new life.

Love never fails, and love never ends. When this precious family is reunited in glory, their love for God and for each other will grow through all eternity.

What can we learn from my friends?

Time is running short. No one is guaranteed tomorrow. Not you, your parents, children, relatives or friends.

“The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.” – Psalm 103:15 NIV

Hope is the settled assurance that what God says is true. Our hope is in Christ alone. He is the promise that sustains us.

“In you, Lord, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame. For you have been my hope, Sovereign Lord, my confidence since my youth.” – Psalm 71:1, 5 NIV

Faith is confidence in what we hope for. We must confidently believe that the Gospel is true, and act on that belief by receiving Jesus as our Savior and committing our lives to Him as our Lord.

“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” – John 1:12 NIV

Love is sacrificial. It is how Christians act toward one another because this is how God acted toward us.

For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16 NIV

We are all under siege in one way or another and we have limited resources. Time is running out for all of us. How might you share hope, increase faith, and show love to others while you still have time?

Spring 2014 Newsletter

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Many of you have asked what is on my agenda lately, so I decided it would be good to put out a brief newsletter to give an update on how God is using me since leaving Bible Study Fellowship in September. Amazingly, there is life after BSF!

In addition to the blog (and a huge “thank you” to all of you who read it, share it, and encourage me through your comments), God is placing other speaking opportunities on my calendar. I’m so excited to have been asked to speak at these upcoming events:

Tuesday, February 25

  • Racine Bible Church, “Daughters of Grace”
  • Topic: “Mentoring”
  • Mentoring has been a passion of mine for many years. I look forward to meeting and sharing God’s Word with the members of the “Daughters of Grace” ministry.

Saturday, March 8, 1:00 p.m.

  • First Christian Reformed Church
    909 E. Greenwood Avenue
    Crown Point, IN 46307

    • Topic: “Unlocking Your Passion for Christ”
  • Tickets: 12.00 in advance, 15.00 at the door
    All proceeds will benefit the Teen MOPS program
    For more information contact:
    Janell Rottier teenmops@cpcrc.org
  • It is a privilege to speak at this fund raiser. Janell has put together an amazing afternoon of gourmet desserts, coffee, worship and testimonies. Be sure to get your tickets today! I hope to see many of my friends who live in the greater Chicago area at this event!

Friday, Saturday, March 28-29
Racine Bible Church Women’s Retreat
Sheraton Hotel, Brookfield, Wisconsin

    • We will spend the weekend developing a higher view of God so that we might serve Him with excellence. I look forward to teaching the Racine Bible Church women and I pray that God will enrich all of our lives as we retreat with Him.
    • cost is $45 per person. This includes the room and breakfast.
    • Registration deadline is March 23. Sheraton Hotel in Brookfield

Contact Terri Wood (twood_34@yahoo.com)

    I look forward to seeing you as we retreat together

Friday, Saturday, Sunday, April 4-6

  • God is pouring joy and excitement into my study time as I research the women whose lives we will be discussing over this April weekend. I pray that God will open our hearts to receive His amazing grace.

In addition to these events, I am still working on the writing projects that I mentioned on the website. I trust God will bring them to fruition and I will definitely keep you posted.

Brian and I will be travelling to Israel in April. We are anxious to learn more about the life of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, and walk where He walked. It will be my joy to share those adventures with you in upcoming blog posts!

Again, thank you so much for sharing a few minutes with me a couple of times a week as you read the blog posts. Please feel free to contact me via email, phone, or through the website www.marciafurrow.com.

With much appreciation!

Marcia

Ugh! Not Again!

This was my house on Monday, Feb 10. The sun was shining, and the TV weathermen predicted we’d pass the freezing mark by Thursday! Hope springs eternal!

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This is my house on Monday, Feb 17. We still haven’t gotten above freezing, and the TV weathermen tell us we can expect another eight inches of snow.

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Ugh! Not again!

What else should I expect? It’s the middle of February in the Midwest. It’s going to be cold. It’s going to snow. This is life… for now. But this isn’t life forever; we know spring will come because God tells us it will.

As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.” Genesis 8:22

We wouldn’t for a minute doubt that it will eventually get warm. We can trust God’s Word. What God says always comes to pass. Which is a good thing; because I wonder how often God looks at me and says, “Ugh! Not again!”

How often do I frustrate God? Do I give Him more than enough reasons to think about giving up and moving away from me? Do I push Him to the limit of His perseverance?

When I hoped for a thaw and it only got colder was my frustration as great as God’s when he hoped I would finally learn an important lesson, only to see me fail again …and again?

When I looked for sunshine and saw clouds, was I as disappointed as God was when He looked for me to give Him glory, but instead saw me take credit for a work that He did?

Does God think, “It’s just Marcia! She’s going to fall short, she’s going to disappoint. This is her life… for now. But this isn’t her life forever; I know who I’m making her into, I know who she will be!”

Fortunately God promises me that He will never give up on me. And, He will never give up on you!

“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6 NIV

God’s promises enable us to hold out for spring, and they also enable us to hold on to hope that we are not yet who we will become. And, God assures us that He won’t come to an end of patience with believers. He won’t give up on us, because He is…

“The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.” Exodus 34: 6-7 NIV

God knows that we are mere humans, fallen and sinful. God doesn’t wait for us to blossom into beautiful people before He lavishes His love on us. He loves us just as we are, cold, gray, dark and dreary, because He knows the warm, colorful, joyous and beautiful personalities He is developing within us.

Spring is on its way! And we can trust that God won’t give up on you or me, no matter how often we may cause Him to say, “Ugh, not again!”