Tuesday, April 28, 2015

A Tribute…

To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy - to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.
Jude 24, 25 

One journey ends…another begins.
A lifetime of experiences…an eternity of joy.
A legacy left behind.
An adventure continues…

On April 26, 2015 at 12:22 am on a Sunday morning, I stood at Heaven’s Gate and watched as a man walked through.

It was a moment of heartache and loss…
It was a moment of beauty and wonder…
It was a moment of holiness…

You see, this man was a Godly man. He had spent his years serving as a pastor, shepherding flocks, teaching and preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He officiated over my wedding almost 32 years ago. His daughter has been my dearest friend for almost 35 years. And one of the last things he did before he slipped into unconsciousness was call her and her husband into his room to pray for the Church. Romans 11:29 tells us that "His gifts and His calling are irrevocable." For this man, that was true; as he laying slipping into eternity, His call to the Church was still there.

He had been lying unresponsive for three days or so. I sat with his son, daughter and her husband, and one of his granddaughters…waiting, watching, reminiscing; sometimes with laughter, sometimes with tears. They remembered days in their childhood, homes they had lived in, some better than others. Conversations they had with their dad in recent days and in days gone by; vacations they had taken even as recently as last year. The joys of life and the heartaches of life.

We would laugh at some of the things he would say that a former pastor should, perhaps, not have said. And then the tears would come, as they told him how much they loved him, what an amazing father and “papa” he was; and while they would miss him greatly, he was free to go and rest in the arms of Jesus and be reunited with his wife of over 60 years, Ruth.

We had Pandora playing music in the background. Every now and then a song would come on that we would sing along with, filling the room with worship. And then a song would play that would be a little odd and we would chuckle and say, “Skip!”

Along about midnight on Saturday, his breathing began to change again. Instead of striving for breath, he became more peaceful and we knew the time was near. His granddaughter heard a woman giggle and say, “Come on!” His daughter crawled into bed alongside him and a song begins to play…

Bless the Lord O my soul, o my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before, o my soul
I’ll worship Your holy name.

And on that day when my strength is failing
The end draws near and my time has come
Still my soul will sing Your praise unending
10,000 years and forever more!

She looks at me and says, “What an appropriate song!” and lays her head down on his chest, and begins to weep as she listens to his final heartbeats. The song continues to play…

Bless the Lord O my soul, o my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before, o my soul
I’ll worship Your holy name.1

As the last notes of the song fade away, he takes his last breath. The gates of Heaven swing wide, and he walks through…free from pain, free from this earthly life and on to an eternity with joy unspeakable and full of glory! A holy moment.

On Sunday morning, April 26, 2015 at 12:22 am, Charles Wesley Samuels was presented before "His glorious presence without fault and with great joy."

One journey ends…another begins
A lifetime of experiences…an eternity of joy
A legacy left behind
And, for Charles, a new adventure begins

Reverend Charles Wesley Samuels
2/4/1928 – 4/26/2015

‘Lena Ehlert
©Whispers in Worship, 2015

110,000 Reasons by Matt Redman

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

God is my Stronghold!!

So, I had a kind of paradigm shift last night. Or maybe it was just a true revelation from God. Anyway, it changed the way I was thinking about strongholds. Last night at prayer meeting, Pastor Alec was reading Psalm 18 and though he read the first thirty one verses, I could hardly get past the last word of verse two:

The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
    my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
    my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”
Psalm 18:2 (ESV)

Wait… what? God is my stronghold?! In all my years of being a Christian, I have always thought of a “stronghold” as a tool of Satan – like a pit or dungeon where he keeps us bound up in sin . . . fear, depression, drugs, alcohol, adultery, lying, stealing, gossip, jealousy, etc. And yet, here in Psalm 18:2 David writes that God is my stronghold!

I stood there thinking about this and realized that all this time I have tried to fight my way out of Satan’s stronghold, prayed for God to break the chains that hold me in those strongholds, not realizing God IS my stronghold!!  

If God is my stronghold, then that place of safety and deliverance is greater and more fortified than the chains and cords of Satan’s strongholds.  What amazing freedom is in that revelation!

God is not only my rock, 
my fortress, my deliverer,
 my refuge and my shield….

“Little children, you are from God and have overcome them,
for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”
1 John 4:4

‘Lena Ehlert
© Whispers in Worship, 2014

Monday, November 17, 2014

Remember . . . Hope!

But this I call to mind,
    and therefore I have hope
Lamentations 3:21

I purchased a new Bible this past week and in the back of it is a reading guide. It is not your typical “read the Bible in a year” plan, in that it has specific dates for specific passages. So rather than begin reading this new Bible at the beginning, I began reading the Scriptures listed for the date I received the Bible. Saturday morning, the portion I was to read was from Lamentations. 

Okay...let’s just start with that word.

What comes to mind when you hear the word lamentations? The dictionary defines the word “lamentations” as: the passionate expression of grief or sorrow; weeping.  The Hebrew word ekah which means “how?!” and expresses dismay is used often in this book. The rabbis began to call the book “loud cries” or “lamentations.” It’s a book assumed to be written by Jeremiah after the fall of Jerusalem. One commentator said: 

“Like Job, Lamentations pictures a man of God puzzling over the results of evil and suffering in the world. However, while Job dealt with unexplained evil, Jeremiah lamented a tragedy entirely of Jerusalem’s making. The people of this once great city experienced the judgment of the holy God, and the results were devastating.” 

So my first thought as I began reading was not one of excitement or encouragement. Here are a few examples from the first few chapters:

 “Look, O Lord, for I am in distress; my stomach churns;  
my heart is wrung within me, because I have been very rebellious.  
In the street the sword bereaves; in the house it is like death” (1:20).

“How the Lord in His anger has set the daughter of Zion under a cloud!  
He has cast down from heaven to earth the splendor of Israel; 
He has not remembered His footstool in the day of His anger” (2:1).

“The Lord has scorned His altar, disowned His sanctuary; 
He has delivered into the hand of the enemy the walls of her palaces; 
they raised a clamor in the house of the Lord as on the day of festival” (2:7).

“My eyes are spent with weeping; my stomach churns;  
 . . . because of the destruction of the daughter of my people,  
because infants and babies faint in the streets of the city” (2:11).

“The Lord has done what He purposed;  He has carried out His word, 
which He commanded long ago;  He has thrown down without pity; 
 He has made the enemy rejoice over you and exalted the might of your foes” (2:17). 

“He has walled me about so that I cannot escape; 
He has made my chains heavy;  though I call and cry for help 
 He shuts out my prayer; He has blocked my ways with blocks of stones;  
 He has made my paths crooked” (3:7-9).

You get the idea… not a pleasant read. And even though the people of God had brought this on themselves through their sin, I couldn’t help but think of some of the things we ourselves are facing and having to live through that are not necessarily of our own doing. Yes, our sin separates us from God, but sometimes life just messes up and we find ourselves “lamenting” to God: “Where are You? Why haven’t you rescued me? How long will You ignore me?” Just read some of the Psalms David has written and you’ll see what I mean. Psalm 13 is one of my favorites.

This past week has been especially difficult for my family as we saw hope pulled out from under us. Some things we had been praying for and working towards, hoping resolution would occur soon, we discovered were not going to happen. And it was painful. And I lamented! I could definitely relate to Lamentations 2:11, “My eyes are spent with weeping; my stomach churns…” And Saturday morning when I was reading His Word and looking for peace and encouragement, I get assigned Lamentations??? Seriously?!

But I persevered…and in His faithfulness, He spoke.

About halfway through chapter 3, the author takes a breath and says:

But this I call to mind,
    and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    His mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
    “therefore I will hope in Him.”
The Lord is good to those who wait for Him,
    to the soul who seeks Him.
It is good that one should wait quietly
    for the salvation of the Lord.
Lamentations 3:21-26 (ESV)

This is what the Lord spoke to me in these verses:
  • Remember what He has already done; already promised you.
  • My hope is in Him and His Word which is “yes” and “amen” (2 Corinthians 1:20).
  • His love never ceases and His mercies, not only  will they never come to an end, but they are new each and every morning!
  • And then the reminder to wait quietly for His answer and salvation.
God is so faithful!
Hope in the Lord
Wait on the Lord!
Rest in the Lord!

 One more encouragement, this time from Moses: 

“Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord,
which he will work for you today.”
Exodus 14:13 (ESV)

‘Lena Ehlert
Whispers in Worship ©2014