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24 is Pure Gold!

Today, Clay, you are 24 years old. Kobe’s number! How is this possible?!  You are the same age your dad was when I married him. He seemed older than you feel to me. Perspective is interesting isn’t it?!

I wonder at what I can say to you today that would be even be close to what I want to express to you. You are my son. Actually, my only begotten son! And my favorite son! I can remember all of your 2 dozen birthdays and wish I could relive them.

24 karat gold is the purest unit that the precious metal is. The Bible talks about the refining process of precious metals like gold and silver as a comparison to the process that God does in each of our lives. While I would never want to wish that God would “turn the heat up” in anyone’s life, I do know that it is the only way to transform us into the image of His Son. We are similar to lumps of unrefined gold. The sacrifice of God’s Son to reconcile us shows just how much he values us — even while we are lost and separated from him. He is the refiner and we are unrefined gold, full of impurity and full of potential beauty. God loves us too much to leave us as we are because our impure selves cannot reflect clearly all of who He is!

Our fullest joy is realized in the growing brilliance of our reflection of Him in our lives. The refining process is hot. To refine gold, heat must be applied to force the impurities to the surface. As the impurities rise, they are removed and more heat is applied. This process continues and continues, heat is applied and re-applied, until the gold is pure. The refiner knows the gold is pure when he looks into the gold and sees His clear reflection. We know that it isn’t easy but it does yield the peaceful fruit of righteousness (Heb. 12). The process ends when we meet Jesus face to face, and he looks into our faces and sees his clear reflection.

May this year bring you more glimpses of God’s refining work in your life and His power displayed in and through you. I love you Clayton and I want you to know I can see Jesus in you. Keep reflecting the King! – Mom <+><

30 is the Next decade!

XXX is a turkey in bowling. It is the number of days in most months. It is the age that Jesus started his public ministry. Abraham Lincoln said that a man should not make any serious decisions until he is 30. Well, Connor, it is too late for that philosophy, since you have already chosen a relationship with the Lord and found your life partner.

I remember my 30th well. It was 2 surprise parties in 2 states followed by a good year. It seems like others began to see me as an adult (finally) and there was enough distance from childhood to feel like I was really independent and capable. Most twenty somethings think they know what is going on; but by the time you get to your thirties you realize that no one really knows what they are doing because they have never been that age before. So life becomes just about accepting things. The best question I learned to ask myself is, “Is this really going to matter in five years?” (This is also the “don’t sweat the small stuff and it is mostly all small stuff” mentality). It wasn’t until I was in my thirties that I got healthy enough to process the idea of family, both creating one of our own, and considering the relationships of our families of origin to get over the hurts and issues and find a way to make it work on even footing.

Unless you are already dead — mentally, emotionally, and socially — you cannot anticipate your life 5 years into the future. It will not develop as you expect. In our 20s we have a lot of dreams. We believe that we have all of the time in the world to make those visions a reality. By now many of the ideas and things you dreamt about defining your life either are true or they never will be. But the good news is that many things you never expected and still cannot anticipate are in your best days yet to come. You have developed competencies that perhaps you didn’t even intend to, but they are part of who God designed you to be.

The world does not teach you how to be a man. It just demands conformity and taxes. I pray that your values always be in conflict with those of the world, and that your toughest decisions be behind you. Everything in life is a trade-off. We give up one thing to get another and we can’t have it all. This realization comes in one’s 30’s much the way that a kid of 12 or 13 realizes that Christmas was better when they were younger! The best thing to do is live gratefully for what we do have and give thanks daily and wholeheartedly to the King for choosing us and blessing us.

I certainly love you Connor and I am proud of you. May this year be your best yet for the glory of the Lord. And may all your birthday wishes come true. With Hope, Miriam

A Different Kind of Homelessness

The saying is “home sweet home” rather than “house sweet house” and the reason is obvious. The idea of home is so much more than a place. It is full of intangible things like love, comfort, safety and a strong sense of belonging, both those who belong to me and those to whom I belong.

Sometimes I think that I am homeless. I waiver because I do have a roof over my head and I own more stuff than can fit into an abandoned shopping cart. Nevertheless, I think that homeless is what best defines me sometimes these days.  Home for 30 years was a relationship with my person that was mostly warm and happy and that occasionally needed figurative redecorating or a fresh coat of paint. When Jim died, I began to lose my sense of home, although not entirely, because I still had the kids at home and that gave my life meaning and purpose. Now that I have emptied the nest, I feel a bit lost. I am not sorry for myself, but the economy in Southern California provokes in me an ire and a level of shame based on being marginalized as a single person.  I feel trapped by my lack of income to create a new, safe space that feels like home.  

Put another way, a house is a roof and 4 walls and a home is everything inside. Without the generosity of a friend, I would be without the house. I do consider it my home because I have things that make me smile, memories that show up in my sentimental collections.  Losing that space and moving in with someone else would erase that making me homeless. I know I will always have family and former houses and homes that I can go to and for that I am humbly thankful, even though I cannot see how I will ever feel they are “mine”.

I long for the day when I will no longer yearn for my real home. There are many, too many, families around the world without a home. There are even more that not only do not have a home they do not have a house, a tent, a boat or a cave, etc. to live in. One day, soon I hope, we will join Jesus in the eternal home he has prepared for us. Then I will finally be at home!

Running to Win

Today, I watched my son run a race; actually he and 8 friends ran a marathon (26.2 miles). I am proud of them all for finishing! I personally hate to run. I cannot imagine doing that for 4-6 minutes, let alone 4-6 hours! I often wish I had that kind of drive and commitment, but I don’t. I like to joke that I don’t run because only the evil run when no one is chasing them (Prov. 28:1).

Actually, the Bible calls us to run the race set before us. To do our best and never give up. To endure to the end. To lay aside every weight and focus on the goal. To run in such a way that we win. And even though it is not physically as difficult as a race, it certainly takes all my energy to discipline my life and heart to press on to win the prize for which I was called heavenward. May we all keep on running to win.

Upside Down

It is interesting to me how backward, upside down and topsy turvy the Christian faith is. Think about it.

Jesus won by losing. He taught that to be great, be a servant; to be first, go last; and to be promoted, humble oneself.

It gets even more radical when Jesus says to bless those who curse, to turn the other cheek and to forgive instead of seeking revenge. It is counter-intuitive to do good to and to pray for those who hate and use you and yet it is the way to live upside down.

In school, we do the work and then get a passing grade, but in spiritual terms, we get the passing grade and then we study and learn and grow. For the believer, the war is already won, but we do battle every day. We have already won the race, but every day we run full speed ahead, throwing off every obstacle. We learn to go to the end of the line and to give our lives, resources and money away. We don’t have to work to win God’s favor; rather we serve because we enjoy God’s grace.

Impossible outside of the Kingdom! And, in truth, the world is actually upside down; Jesus came to right the wrong and to teach us to put a premium on the things that are important and discount that which does not matter. As a Christ follower we are to be about learning the value of things like a home, friendship, communication, relationships over the price of a house, a meal, a phone, time.

In the spiritual ballpark, we are to play by a different set of rules set by our coach. And all this is based on the fact that our faith is based on a God who loves. No other religion operates from a starting place of grace and acceptance. Christianity alone does not need to appease the wrath of the gods. We choose to live in a manner that pleases the one who loves us unconditionally, who seeks us wholeheartedly and gives us freedom and his righteousness according to His mercy.

Mohler Christmas 2019

By the time you read this it will be a Happy New Year card! I don’t know about you but it feels like I just wrote a review of 2018 and sent out Christmas Cards.  Where did the year go?! 2019 is nearly history. It was a good and busy year. 

Some things are fairly typical for me including Dodgers and Disneyland, time with my kids and extended family, and spending time with friends. I went to Northern California and Arizona a few times and I went to Grand Rapids, MI in August. But the highlight of my year came in September for my 60th birthday when I was blessed to go on a dream vacation to Europe with one of my good friends, Ann. I finally saw Salzburg, Austria and toured the Sound of Music sights. We also traveled through Italy seeing Venice, Murano, Burano, Verona, Florence, Pisa, Cinqueterra and Milan. We went through the Swiss alps and Zurich on our way back to Munich, Germany. It was the trip of a lifetime. 

This year also included hellos and goodbyes. When my nephew Jonni married Kelly, I added a new niece. There were other weddings and babies to greet this year too. My biggest hello was in the beginning of December when I got a new left knee. Yes, I am now bionic.  Goodbyes are always hard and I can’t wait until there are no more of them; several weekends were spent at funerals. Heaven is the long hello!  

My kids are doing well. Connor and Emily have been married almost 5 years. They have 2 cats and work in Chino in ministry. Clayton is living in Fullerton and working in Irvine as an accountant. He bought his first new car – a Toyota Corolla Hybrid. 

I am looking forward to 2020 and would love to see more of you. Until then, I will close out 2019 wishing you all the best.  With joy and love, Miriam

Remember 2019

The heart of thankfulness is about remembering. So this season for my annual gratitude list, I will share a few things that I never want to forget.

11/1 Ps. 105:5 says to remember the wonderful works God has done. There is no way I could list them all, but today I am grateful for the 2 beautiful people he allowed me to parent.

11/2 PS 107:1 says to give thanks to the Lord for He is good. Today I am cheerfully remembering how good life is because God IS

11/3 Ps. 106:1 says to praise the Lord for His steadfast love endures forever. God’s love shows up over and over often through people. I am grateful for the many people who have shown me undeserving love and kindness.

11/4 Remember to hold on to hope. It is a good thing, maybe the best of things. Phil. 1:6 reminds me to never forget that God will finish what He started in my life.

11/5 Thanksgiving is found in remembering. Today I gratefully yet sadly remember the day Jim breathed in heaven for the first time. Prov. 10:7a says that the memory of the righteous is a blessing. And remembering Jim is definitely that! It is a severe mercy that Jesus came to restore us and bring our suffering to a permanent end. I am fixed on the finished work of Christ, where his divine love merged severity and mercy.

11/6 The heart of thankfulness remembers. Today I am thankfully remembering those who have poured into my life, especially my pastors, teachers and mentors. I am so grateful for the person I have become because of your impact. “Remember your leaders who taught you the word of God. Think of all the good that has come from their lives, and follow the example of their faith.” (Heb. 13:7) 

11/7 Gratitude comes in remembering. Today I am remembering that God is enough. Actually He is more than enough. Phil. 4: 19 says He will supply every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. I can let go of what I cannot control (which is everything). As long as I lean in to His grace I will be satisfied and content. I can wake up every morning grateful for everything in it, including my losses and hardships. I am overwhelmed with peace and joy because God is more than enough.

11//8 It is important to remember to laugh. Prov. 15:15 says that a merry heart has a continual feast.  Those that know me, know how important this is to me – enough to start a business with Tibby called Jest in Time over 30 years ago. Honor the Lord with a joyful heart!  When Jim passed away we decided to make his birthday Corny Joke Day in honor of one who joyfully laughed and played and spread joy everywhere in magical ways! (Happy 64th Birthday Jim – your 9th in heaven!)

11/9 Gratitude grows with remembering. Today I give pause to consider the relationships in my life, specifically the treasures I call friends. The girl scout song says that friends are to be compared to silver and gold. My friends, the ones I enjoyed for a season and the ones who have stood the test of time are my golden rays of sunshine in the best of times and my silver linings through the worst. They are strong, kind, generous, funny and brave. They have shaped my life with their wisdom, faith, honesty, loyalty, integrity and compassion. They have strength of character and some are just characters! I am the richest person because of the blessing of these people. Today I gratefully polish these relationships so they will continue to shine and sparkle as silver and gold.

11/10 Gratitude grows as we count our blessings. Ps. 103:2 reminds us not to forget His benefits and Ps. 116:12 is a reminder that we are to give back to the Lord because of His goodness to us. The thrill of hope comes when I see the glass as half full or even when I am just happy to have a glass! Remembering the blessings I receive everyday changes my focus so that I can befriend the stars when life is dark. I think I have more blessings than there are stars in the sky actually

11/11 Today I remember and thank those have fought for my freedom both as an American and as a person. I am so humbled by the true freedom I have because of what Christ did on my behalf. My response? I choose to
“Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God.” 1 Peter 2:16,17

11/12 When I remember to give thanks in the middle of my story, a grateful heart grows because I am reminded that God is the author of my life. Every story is a biography of wisdom and grace written by another. Every twist of the plot is for the best. Every new character or unexpected event is a tool of his grace. Each new chapter advances his purpose. Lam 3:23 says, “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

11/13 Remember that perspective changes everything and joy is a choice! May I always remember that thanksgiving and gratitude have power! Being grateful overpowers negativity and tells it that it’s not in charge. Small emotional space is like a tight parking place. Choosing to be grateful for finding a place is the key. When I choose gratitude then the tight space is enough; in fact the circumstance is made more spacious by thanksgiving. Giving thanks is always a choice. 1 Thess. 5:18 says, “Whatever happens, keep thanking God because of Jesus Christ. This is what God wants you to do.”

11/14 Remember to flush and wash your hands. Remember to brush your teeth, turn out the lights, and put away your things. While we all know to do those things after years of training and practice, I am reminded that it is the little, ordinary habits that are important to growing a grateful heart. I am working hard to remember to take things for gratitude instead of for granted. I am thankful for running water and indoor plumbing, electricity, all the things I have to put away, doctors and dentists. What a glad privilege it is to see, hear, walk, talk, hug and hold….I am overflowing with thankfulness (Col. 2:7)

11/15 It is important to remember that the world is not a level playing field and not everyone has the same advantages. Many people have a lot less and just as many people have struggles that I cannot ever imagine. I believe that remembering those who are suffering (for Christ’s sake) is part of living a grateful life. I do not mean to imply that I am thankful for suffering. I don’t mean merely to be thankful that I am relatively unscathed by comparison, but thinking consciously to be compassionate and prayerful for those who have no voice and to gladly take an active stand. “Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.” Heb. 13:3.

11/16 Remembering is the heart of thankfulness so today I remember that every day is a gift and I am owed nothing! When I remember what I actually deserve and that there are no guarantees ever, I find myself more thankful for the many blessings that come my way. Rather than feeling entitled, I cherish the times and the people who come into the day with joy, knowing that God chooses to bless me because that is His character. The relentless love of God is mind-blowing!

11/17 One of the most important things I have learned in life is to REMEMBER to hold my tongue. Complaining and whining focuses on what I don’t have instead of be grateful for what I do have. Additionally, a cheerful heart blesses others around; grumbling only makes life more difficult. Col. 4:6 reminds me to make sure my words are always seasoned with grace and truth so I know how to answer each person. In other words, Holding one’s tongue leads to thankfulness!

11/18 Since remembering is the way to gratitude it is good to remember that work is a gift. Some days it does not feel like a gift and I often wish I didn’t have to but the reality is that meaningful work is a blessing. There are people who cannot work as well as those who have no opportunity. I am grateful for this gift. Col. 3:23 says to give it 100% and what a privilege it is to partner with the Almighty.

11/19 Serving others is a way to gratitude. Additionally, it is a privilege to partner with God in raising kids and helping them, even when we are tired and would rather be waited on or tending to our own needs. I remember fondly the chances I was given to minister to my family. It is such a short window of time – be grateful for chance to practice kindness. Serving friends is another joy and privilege. I am grateful for those who have and continue to “carry my stretcher” and “water my camels” as well as the opportunity to do the same for them. I am so thankful when I can help and serve!

11/20 Remembering grows gratitude and we are a very forgetful people!  We are also a very busy people; while work is a gift to be grateful for it is a terrible “god”. It is even more important, as a result, to remember to take time to slow down and rest. Ex. 20:8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy is a very disruptive command. It represents time set aside to worship God and for the restoration of our soul. And restoration doesn’t simply mean “rest,” as in, take a nap. It was for re-alignment. It was a day set aside to worship and think about life – it is a gift that changes perspective as life gets bigger. Rest is designed to reorder life and time and it builds gratitude when practiced.

11/21 I am remembering that trials are another chance for God to show up and develop character in me and produce endurance.  Remembering to count it all joy when I face trials means evaluating the difficulties in life with eyes of faith and seeing them in light of God’s good purpose (James 1:2-4) I am grateful for a God who sees, and loves and never lets me go. I am beyond grateful for all the struggles I have made it through – to God be the glory.

11/22  Since the heart of gratitude grows with reminders, I want to remind myself of the truths that I already know! It is “misbelief” when I forget what it cost God to save me and when I forget the pit from which I was rescued. There really is no cure for “misbelief” except replacing falsehood with the truth. “Therefore I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you 2 Peter 1:12”

11/23 Remembering to say thank you out loud is the exclamation on a happy heart . Why is it that we often think thankful thoughts, but don’t express them with words? If only we had the habit of speaking encouraging, thankful words much more freely than saying critical words. Words can bring life and refreshment to a weary soul. Likely we all could stand to grow in recognizing all the reasons we have to be thankful — they are all around us. But simply becoming more grateful in our hearts is just the beginning. If gratefulness rises up in our hearts, but never spills out of our mouths, we are only experiencing the beginnings of joy. Gratitude is only fully enjoyed when we share it with others. As C.S. Lewis said, “We delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment! I am humbled by friends who drop what they are doing to spend time with me, who generously share their time and resources, who treat me to vacations and pay for meals. I have others who sacrificially and creatively serve in quiet and diligent ways (I notice and need to tell you out loud). I am grateful to pastors/shepherds who diligently prepare and preach the word every week. Practicing appreciation brings fresh wind and spurs us on to keep on keeping on. So Thank you!!!! – you know what you did!(Heb 10:24-25)

11/24 Gratitude grows when we remember. The most amazing gift ever is that innocent blood was sacrificed so that the guilty could go free. And when he (Jesus) had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 1 cor. 11:24 . The Lord’s Supper/communion is repeated over and over continually to reinforce the saving work of Christ and our need to be sustained by Him.

11/25 Remembering is the heart of gratitude and Psalms says (Ps. 105:8) that God remembers his covenant forever, the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations. God is faithful and remembers me always! Not only that he chooses to not remember my sins! So God is God. He is omniscient. He knows everything past, present, and future. But the “not remember-ing” (intentional forgetting – Is. 38:17, Micah 7:18)) is a not calling to mind for my destruction and a not calling to mind for anything except what’s good for me. May I remember God’s faithfulness and remembering me! Further, If God chooses not to remember my past sins, I can choose to set them aside as well and embrace the future He promises to those who love Him (Heb. 8:12, Rom. 8:28)

11/26 Sharing what ! remember grows gratitude in the next generation. A central aspect of bringing up kids and pouring into students in ministry is simply to share with them my gratitude for the goodness and the many blessings of the Lord in my life. As I verbally pour out my admiration and gratitude of our great God, “my” children will catch a vision of the magnificent Lord I worship. My enthusiasm and love for Jesus will hopefully be evident through my words and life. Psalm 145 tells us to commend our works to the next generation. Sharing how God answered a prayer, provided a necessary resource, or replaced my sorrow with joy encourages others to find their hope and satisfaction in God. Gratitude can be as contagious as complaining. Jim was clear on this point when he got cancer – that the God he had served, taught about and loved was worthy for all His faithful goodness even in the tough times! “Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children— Deut. 4:9 “It only takes a spark…”

11/27 Today I gratefully remember that NOTHING can separate me from God. What a happy thought- what an amazing reality! I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Rom. (8:38-39)

11/28 It is easy to take for granted that I have more than enough and expect it! But remembering that I have food everyday and a choice even in that makes me grateful.  Michael Benzing used to say that it is important to not eat like no one else is hungry. Ps 111:5 He provides food for those who fear him; he remembers his covenant forever

11/29 The heart of thankfulness is about remembering. I am gratefully remembering to pray knowing that God answers prayers. 62 years ago today my parents married; God answered my dad’s prayer affirmatively to “give him” my mom! Today, Jonni & Kelly become husband and wife and again God answered the prayers of their parents. Keep praying. Keep thanking for the answers. Remember His good answers are for our best interest and His greatest glory! (Phil. 4:6,7)

11/30 Today I am remembering to keep God’s Word hidden in my heart and I am grateful for how it guides me and keeps me walking obediently and joyfully all the way home. (Ps. 119:11)

Easier?!

Sometimes I am asked by others on the grief journey if it ever gets easier. I am not sure, even after 9 years, how to answer that question. I usually respond my rote response; “It never gets harder.” I guess that is because I am not sure if “easier” will ever happen and I am not sure that is even the best word! I don’t know what it would mean to be easier and I think that straddling heaven and earth is not ever meant to be easy.

Easier is a really tricky word because death of a spouse is so permanent. It is a really good word when learning a skill and practicing it over and over and the progress can be measured. The reality of grief is that it is always there and it will never be easier to live without my best friend and life partner. At the same time it will NEVER get harder than Nov. 5th, 2010.

Grief is different because it is not linear. It is learning to tread water and sometimes being overwhelmed by the surf and taking in huge swallows of water. I am overall managing each day better than the day before and the days and weeks have turned into seasons and years. But, that does not mean that I no longer am sucker punched by waves of sadness that knock the wind out of me.

Easier is not the right word for me; instead I think it is different. It used to feel like a constant hail storm and now it is softer at times and louder at others. It has become unpredictable too. I like the quieter days with some sunshine and light breezes when the remembering is nice and the pain is less. Grief evolves with time.

The thing is that life is still beautiful. Jim lives on in memories and in the children he raised, in the spiritual children he mentored and in those who he raised up in ministry. I am reminded of the movie, Coco, and the importance of keeping memories alive. Death is not a bad thing but just a reminder that we live in light of eternity. Additionally, family matters, listening is important and it is never too late to forgive!

I don’t even think twice about looking out the front windshield when I am driving; it is the way I learned to drive! What is in front of me is far more important than what is behind me when I am heading down the highway! The rear view mirror is smaller and is designed that way because we are only supposed to glance in it occasionally. I doubt I would find anyone who would argue with me.

In life it is easy to “drive” in reverse, but it shouldn’t be! Just as looking in the rear view mirror to drive is a bad idea, so is focusing on the past, becoming nostalgic for the “good ol’ days”. When our past consumes us, we can’t make good decisions for today and for the future. It is not healthy to pay more attention to where we have been than where we are going! I am not suggesting that we never look backward! It is important to remember and to learn from history. I am, however, reminding myself that time marches in one direction. I cannot relive or change the past, but I can live with little to no regrets for the future.

This is the season when I tend to spend more time trying to “back up” and gaze to longingly in my life’s rear view mirror. This is the season when Jim left earth for heaven and I find myself remembering those last days wistfully, wishing that I had a chance for one more goodbye. So that I live life with the right perspective on the past, I keep working on creating a place for those memories. I give myself permission to remember and then I close the “photo album of my mind” with intention so that I can get on with living today, creating new history as I go.

Lord, I want a windshield life.

I had the blessing and the privilege of visiting Europe, specifically Germany, Austria, Italy and Switzerland, with a friend (Ann W. ) in honor of my 60th birthday. It was an amazing trip with good food, plenty of adventure, and a great friend. We averaged 11 1/2 miles walking every day (yes my knees survived, even if they were not happy about it) and we saw places I never thought I would see in real life. Many people travel so perhaps my trip was just another one like everyone else’s, with one exception! It was mine – Ann and I created memories and bonded over our own adventure choices and sights.

One thing I thought about while traveling is that it really is like our relationship with God! Everyday, where ever we go, we have this traveling companion (Jesus) who goes with us and who we lean on and talk to and who knows what we like and does it with us.

As the 2 weeks went by we saw so many beautiful sights from mountains to rivers and waterfalls, from antique treasures to beautiful expressions of art, from cathedrals to chapels, from fortresses to expansive countryside vistas. It was all so stunning and photo- worthy. As I took it all in and marveled at God’s handiwork and man’s creativity, I was struck with the reality that all this is temporary! Even more, the beauty and wonder of heaven is going to be better than all the amazing sights and sounds we will ever experience in this life. Wow! It takes my breath away when I realize that my future in eternity is beyond anything I can ever imagine. Sculptures by Michaelangelo is like preschool playdough and masterpieces by Da Vinci are like kindergarten coloring pages by comparison to what is to come. I am overwhelmed by the gorgeous world I have experienced and in many ways this trip was worshipful, yet it is only a glimpse of what is coming!

In the words of Karl Barth, worship is “the most momentous, the most urgent, the most glorious action that can take place in human life.” That’s because it gets us ready for what’s to come.

There are people all over this planet. Many who have suffered. Many in need. All broken and wounded and in need of the Savior’s love. I found myself praying for God’s grace and the reality of His love and forgiveness to be made known. It is weird to be in a place where the most visible buildings are churches and yet they are only full of tourists who don’t see or hear the whispers of the God they were created for. I gained a renewed commitment to praying for and supporting those who are called to cross a culture to spread the best news in all the world — that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came into the world to save sinners by dying in our place and rising again. Missions exists because worship doesn’t. Because I have tasted the joy of worshiping Jesus, I found myself aching for all those not yet included, to wake up and consider the purpose of the monuments, the art and buildings they are seeing; that they would see, hear, understand and respond to the gospel.

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