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Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee has died aged 95 after battling a long illness and just a day after Tweeting a picture of himself in WWII Army uniform on Veterans' Day
By Chris Spargo For
Published: 18:45, 12 November 2018 | Updated: 19:43, 12 November 2018

Stan Lee has passed away at the age of 95.  The co-founder of Marvel Comics had been in declining health for the past year, and there had been a number of battles regarding who would inherit his $70 million fortune.  An ambulance was called to lee's home in the Hollywood Hills early Monday and he was rushed to Cedars-Sinai according to TMZ.  He died shortly after arriving at the medical facility.  Lee is survived by his daughter and only child Joan Celia, known as 'J.C.'  His wife Joan died in July of last year after suffering complications from a stroke. The pair had been married for 70 years at the time of her death.  Lee was also a veteran, and his final tweet was sent out by his team on Sunday and commemorated his time in the service with a photo of the beloved comic-book creator in his uniform during World War II.  Lee rose to fame in 1961 when he turned Timely Comics, where he was started out in the industry as an assistant, into Marvel Comics.  That change came about in the 1960s, and Lee then proceeded to oversee the creation of many of the iconic superheroes people around the world know and love to this day.  The Incredible Hulk, Thor, the X-Men, Dr. Strange, Iron Man, Spiderman and Captain America were just a few of the many superhuman, and super flawed, characters crated by Lee and artist Jack Kirby.  The relationship between Lee and Marvel had grown contentious in his final months however, and in May he filed a billion-dollar lawsuit against the company.  The complaint, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, alleged that POW! Entertainment CEO Shane Duffy and co-founder Gill Champion failed to fully disclose to Lee details of the firm's 2017 sale to Camsing International.  Lee said that the company took advantage of him at a time when he was despondent over the death of his wife Joan and suffering from macular degeneration, a condition affecting the eyes.  As a result, he was duped into signing an agreement giving away the rights to his image and likeness states the complaint.  Lee also argued that he was unable to read the document due to his eye condition and suggested the signature on the paperwork was not his own.  The comic-book legend was still a big part of the Marvel universe until his death though, making a cameo in every Marvel Studios film since 1993, with his most recent appearance being in Venom, which has proven to be yet another blockbuster.  That film, released in early October, had grossed $674 million at the worldwide box office as of Sunday on a $100 million budget.  Lee also served as an executive producer on these titles, which helped boost his fortune in a very big way in recent years.  In fact, in the past 10 years alone, Marvel Studios has released 20 films in the Marvel universe which have made over $17 billion at the box office.  This has easily earned it the title of the highest-grossing film franchise of all time.  There was a long time when Lee's comics were thought only good enough for the small screen, with CBS turning the Hulk into a successful television series in 1978 which lasted five season.  And on children's television a number of his comics were turned into cartoons.  Then, in 2000, X-Men became the first of Lee's comics to be turned into a feature-length studio film.  It was a roaring success and earned $130 million at the North America box office, a number that was best two years later when Spiderman earned $400 million.  Four of Marvel Studio's pictures Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Avengers and Black Panther are among the the top ten grossing films of all time.  This success ledr to much fighting over Lee's wealth in his final days.  His legal woes began back in January, when revealed that Lee had been accused of groping his nurses in a lawsuit, which was dismissed as his daughter as a shakedown of the old man.  Lee then sought a restraining orders against one manager and fired his road manager claiming he was victim of elder abuse.  At the same time, some are pointing a finger at his daughter J.C, with allegations her penchant for shopping and buying luxury goods was eating away at her father's fortune. 
Christian / Re: Devotion
« Last post by Daffy on November 10, 2018, 11:01:44 pm »
Sometimes You Just Need to Breathe
Oct 18, 2018 | Sharon Jaynes

Today's Truth

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither whatever they do prospers.  Psalm 1:1-3

Friend to Friend

It was one of my favorite trees. And it was dying.  We live on a lake, and my dying tree was truly a “tree planted by streams of water.” So how could it be dying? How could  branches right in the smack dab middle of the bushy green be turning into kindling?

It didn’t make sense.  I called an arborist to come out and take a look. He saw the problem right away.  “Ma’am, see how that tree looks like a telephone pole stuck in the ground? That’s not the way a tree should be planted. You should be able to see some of the roots spreading out from the trunk. Those roots are covered up with dirt, grass, and these pretty perennials you’ve planted at the base. The tree can’t breathe.”

“It can’t breathe?” I asked.

“Yep. You see a tree is a living organism that needs to breathe just like you do. If the roots are smothered, then it can’t. Trees need sunlight, water, carbon dioxide and nutrients from the soil. Those flowers you have planted around it are actually stealing the nutrients.  The dirt covering the roots is suffocating it. It has water, but it needs more than that.  “Bottom line, your tree is stressed out.”

Ah, words I understood. “Stressed out.”

So, the arborist cleared away some of the dirt from around the roots to allow the tree to breathe and cut away the dead limbs. Then he dug up the flowers and tossed them aside. I could almost hear the tree take a deep breath as if to say, “Ah, thank you!”

Three months later, it looks like the tree is going to make it after all.  All this thinking about my tree planted by the water made me think about my schedule my life. And of course, that led me to your schedule your life.  I like to think of myself as a tree planted by the water similar to the one mentioned in the first psalm. I get up every morning and soak in God’s Word before jumping into my day. That’s my water. My living water.  But it’s not enough to drink in the morning and then smother my day with too many activities, commitments, and deadlines. I need more than water to thrive. I need to be able to breathe.  I can plant “beautiful” activities in my life like those flowers, but they may be sucking the nutrients right out of my soul. Those activities might look nice on my calendar, but they might not be soul nice. I can smother my roots with commitments and pile on the soil so that I look more like a non-living thing stuck in the ground a telephone pole rather than a fruit-bearing tree.  So as I begin this fall season with its activities left and right, I need to stop and examine if they are exactly what God wants me to do, or if they are just “pretty flowers ” that are keeping me from being that tree that yields fruit in due season.  As I think about my fall schedule with its commitments and deadlines, I need to ask myself if I am covering up the roots of my heart smothering it from the very air I need to breathe.  And that’s what I want you to consider today. Let’s do more than survive. Let’s thrive! Clear away what needs to be cleared away. Toss out what needs to be tossed (even if it looks pretty on your schedule). Make room to breathe.
Christian / Re: Devotion
« Last post by Daffy on November 10, 2018, 10:51:50 pm »
The Wisdom of Having Wise Friends
Oct 17, 2018 | Gwen Smith

Today's Truth

Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.  Proverbs 15:22

Friend to Friend

God always needs to be our go-to guy when it comes to counsel. Our first call. But the Bible also gives us the directive to connect with other Christ followers for guidance: seek godly counsel.  “The LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He holds success in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless” (Prov. 2:6–7).

When I make an effort to seek godly counsel, I benefit from the power of the Lord that is at work in the lives of those around me. I benefit from their mistakes and from their successes. And it frees me from the pressure of having to figure everything out on my own. It frees me to move forward beyond my own limited experiences, faith, and knowledge.  Struggling with a tough work situation?

Tangled up in a messy marriage knot?

Are you being held captive by fear, doubt, and insecurity?

Get some godly counsel. Proverbs tells us, “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed” (15:22 ESV).

My husband is a wise man, and God has placed him as the head of our home, so I like to talk through difficult things with him. He gives me a perspective that’s often quite different from mine. When I need to hash out confusion, I sometimes go to the small group of women I call my besties. They are godly. They love me. They like me. They laugh at and with me. They pray for me. They mentor me and provide counsel.  We’re all in different seasons of life and have different needs for godly wisdom. I am a poppy, you are a rose, she is a daisy we are a wildflower bouquet! If you’re single, divorced, or widowed, you might be the head of your home. If so, you could connect with a pastor for godly counsel, or a trusted friend who follows hard after Jesus, or a godly family member or coworker. Another person I encourage you to reach out to is the women’s ministry director of your church. Grab coffee or lunch with her. She will love you!  There are many ways you can gain wisdom and add greater power to your life. Add to this list as you discover what works for you. Are you a journal girl?

Write about the areas in which you need God’s wisdom. Write a prayer in your journal that spells them out in black and white. Pursue the treasure!  And here’s a wonky twist: sometimes God answers our prayers for wisdom by sending us to talk with someone who doesn’t even follow Him but has the knowledge we need. When our son Preston broke his jaw and needed reconstructive surgery, Brad and I got counsel from a highly trained oral and maxillofacial surgeon. We prayed for the Lord to lead each decision we made and to guide the hands and choices of the surgical team, but our medical counsel came straight from the medical expert. His faith had nothing to do with it. Though that medical advice may or may not have come from a follower of Christ, Brad and I prayed for the Lord to lead with His wisdom in, on, and through it all.  God’s Word promises that He will walk you to the understanding you need. Just ask. I know you want His leading as much as I do. So when life gets crazy confusing, remember that you can gain clarity and power when you surround yourself with godly people of wise counsel.
Fun, Games and Silliness / Re: Jokes
« Last post by Charlies Girl on October 24, 2018, 09:22:54 pm »
My older son loves school, but his younger brother Tommy absolutely hates it. One weekend Tommy cried and fretted and tried every excuse not to go back on Monday. Sunday morning on the way home from church, the crying and whining built to a crescendo.  At the end of my rope, I finally stopped the car and explained, "Honey, it's a law. If you don’t go to school, they'll put Mommy in jail."

Tommy looked at me, thought a moment, then asked, "How long would you have to stay?"
Christian / The Perils Of Preaching Grace
« Last post by Charlies Girl on October 24, 2018, 09:20:03 pm »

The Perils Of Preaching Grace
By Ron Forseth on Jun 19, 2013

We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. - John 1:14b

God's grace freely provides what we have the inability to produce ourselves. Grace elicits the confidence that he will accomplish that which he requires of us as we cooperate with and obey him. When we preach grace, we motivate our listeners to trust God in confidence rather than shrink from him in fear.  "Ungrace," on the other hand, leaves people looking to themselves to produce the very thing they lack and therefore leaves them burdened and discouraged.  Grace empowers righteous living. Ungrace disables it.  Grace motivates obedience because God has generously given us what we need. Ungrace demands obedience under threat of condemnation if we come up short.  Grace begins with the provision of God and ends with the completeness of the believer. Ungrace begins with the incompleteness of the hearer and ends with the same. Grace leads to freedom and victory. Ungrace leads to bondage and defeat.  Grace looks to God as the source of that which is required and much is required! Ungrace looks to people to produce what they lack.  Grace is the mark of New Testament preaching and the key to empowering right living.  And yet, some pastors fear that preaching grace can lead to pitfalls. Here are five frequently raised objections to preaching grace:

1. Grace can be mistaken as a license to sin and the last thing we want to do in our preaching is encourage sin. But for the believing heart, it provides the very motivation to say "No" to sin. It is grace and grace alone that will empower people to overcome sin! The road to victory over sin is paved with grace.

2. Preaching grace will undo sacrificial giving. Actually, for those giving from a confused motive to start with, it may well affect their giving. But if preaching grace decreases your church's giving (which is unlikely over the long run), then better to make do on less money than to elicit more money in a graceless or manipulative manner that leaves people in legalistic bondage. (See Paul’s commentary on the value of legalism in Galatians 5.)  There is nothing like grace, properly understood, to unleash greater giving, because the heart of grace is God’s own incredible sacrificial giving. Sure, manipulation can achieve a short-term and short-lived result. But grace is the path to long-term, sustained results in the hearts of people.

3. It could lead to a drop in attendance. Similar to giving, grace motivates the believer to engage and not pull back. If your church members are coming because you’ve withheld grace or exercised law over them, it’s only a matter of time before they stop coming anyway.  Grace will not rob a preacher of the right to say the hard words or make challenges or ask for commitment. It enables us as preachers to make challenges with the best hope of a lasting result. Preaching grace with power will yield a greater long-term result than will legalistic manipulation.

4. We will be perceived as morally spineless or, worse yet, actually encouraging sin. Grace never has, and properly understood, never will encourage sin. Grace was bought by God at the highest of prices. And grace dispensed from that account will never take sin lightly. But it will address it from a different posture and actually empower victory over it.

5. Grace may lead to a de-emphasis on truth. Actually, grace emboldens a proclamation of truth because it provides the only appealing path back to truth. The path to truth and holy living is paved not with manipulation but with grace.

To overcome these fears, we remind ourselves that:

Preaching grace does not mean avoiding a confrontation with sin.  Preaching grace does not mean avoiding a call to commitment.  Preaching grace does not mean serving up spiritual mush with no caloric value for the soul.

But here's what it does mean:

Preaching grace always keeps an eye on the incredible forgiving nature of God.  Preaching grace does mean refusing to manipulate your hearers to accomplish an objective in a fleshly, legalistic manner.  Preaching grace does mean loving your hearers in spite of how they respond to your message.  Preaching grace does mean trusting God to accomplish his objectives in his way and in his time.  May God give you, first of all, an unshakeable confidence in his grace for you as his child. And then, may he give you the wisdom and the heart to generously dispense that grace through your preaching.  Freely you have received, freely give. - Matthew 10:8
Christian / Re: Devotion
« Last post by Twiglet on October 23, 2018, 09:36:07 pm »
When You’re Struggling with Strongholds and Strangleholds
Oct 11, 2018 | Sharon Jaynes

Today's Truth

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.   Corinthians 10:3-5

Friend to Friend

A stronghold is one of those churchy Christianese words that is hard to wrap our minds around. It’s not a word we use everyday. So what exactly is a stronghold?

Let’s take a look.  A stronghold is a thought pattern that forms a fortress around the mind, holding it prisoner to faulty thinking. It is formed brick-by-brick by repetitive faulty thinking or all at once by a onetime traumatic event such as a rape, molestation, or abuse.  In the Old Testament, a stronghold was a fortified dwelling used for protection from an enemy. David hid in wilderness strongholds when he was hiding from King Saul, who was trying to kill him (1 Samuel 22:4; 23:14). These were usually caves high on a mountainside or some other structure that was hard to attack. In the Old Testament, God is called our stronghold: “The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble” (Psalm 9:9).

The New Testament writers took this same imagery of a fortress to describe the spiritual tower of bondage, not protection, that we put ourselves in by developing thought patterns and ideas that hold us captive. Beth Moore calls a stronghold, “Anything that we hold onto that ends up holding onto us.”

It is anything that sets itself up against the knowledge of God. A stronghold does not protect us, it protects the enemy who is manipulating our thoughts and suggesting our actions.  A stronghold might be a thought such as:
I’m no good.
I’m damaged goods.
Nobody loves me.
Nobody cares about me.
I can’t do anything right.
A stronghold might be an addiction such as:
Sexual promiscuity.
Feeling sorry for yourself.

The enemy locks you up in hopes you’ll never reach for the key that is certainly within your reach. But you can.  The only way to expose the enemy and defeat him is to tear down the stronghold, the fortress where he is hiding.  An ungodly habit becomes his habitation, his stronghold in our lives.  Once you recognize a lie in your life perhaps something that has even taken hold of your imagination and stirred ungodly feelings such as jealousy, worry, fear, or anger you reject the lie and replace it with truth.  Each time you reject the devil’s lie, you knock one more brick from his fortress, and pretty soon, he’s exposed for the liar and deceiver he is.  I do not want to give the impression that this is an easy process. Some of us are so comfortable with our strongholds we don’t even realize they are there. That was the case with me.  I had been walking around saved but enslaved for so many years. I dragged the ball and chain of inferiority, insecurity, and inadequacy around with me everywhere I went, and I grew so used to my limp, I didn’t even notice it.  I was comfortable with my weakness and served Satan a cup of tea every day I sat hidden away behind the wall he had helped me build. But praise God, Jesus opened my eyes to the truth and called me out of the fortress that had become my prison cell.  Destroying strongholds is not easy, but it is simple. Paul used words such as struggle, resist, tear down, and fight. The good news is that we’re not a one-woman demolition crew. The Holy Spirit gives us the power, Jesus gives us the light, and God is overseeing the entire project. We simply agree to participate through obedience.  When we talk about strongholds, we’re not talking about random thoughts or occasional sins. A stronghold is a thought pattern or habitual sin. It is a fortress built with the bricks of thoughts and held together by the mortar of emotions. Strongholds become our perception of reality.  In my own life, replacing self-defeating lies with God’s truth helped me chip away at the stronghold of inadequacy that led to a negative cycle of discouragement, despair, and defeat. Rejecting the devil’s lies will tear down those strongholds, and after a time, even the ruins are removed.  When we realize the enemy’s true identity, recognize his lies, and replace the lies with God’s truth, we’ll be free.
Health Concerns / 5 Truths for Ministering to Those with Mental Illness
« Last post by Philippa on October 23, 2018, 09:26:20 pm »

October 9, 2018
5 Truths for Ministering to Those with Mental Illness
By Pastor Rick Warren

I’ve always said our greatest ministry comes out of our greatest pain. That’s why Kay and I have focused the last few years on helping churches better engage people with mental illness.  Many of you know that our younger son, Matthew, battled mental illness almost his entire life. His profound suffering impacted everyone in our family. He experienced many, many moments of despair over his short 27 years of life. Then, in 2013, in one impulsive moment of despair, Matthew took his life.  In the months after Matthew’s death, Kay and I decided we wouldn’t waste our pain. We wanted God to use the pain to help local churches around the world faithfully serve the mentally ill.  As we prayed about what God wanted us to do to help Saddleback and other churches minister in this area, God gave us five biblical truths to establish the foundation of everything we do:

1.  Every person has dignity.

God made every single person in his image and for his purpose. Mental illness doesn’t change that truth one bit. If a person’s heart is beating right now, God has a purpose for his or her life, even if it isn’t easy to see.  Isaiah 46:3 says, “I have cared for you since you were born. Yes, I carried you before you were born” (NLT).

God cares for us from the moment we are conceived to the moment we stop breathing. That means we don’t have dignity because a government says we do. We don’t have dignity because of our economic status. Our dignity doesn’t come from our appearance or from psychology.  Our Creator gives us our dignity.  Just read Psalm 139. The Bible says that God formed each of us in our mother’s womb. He saw us before we were born and scheduled every day of our lives.  That’s how much God thinks of us and all other people on this planet, no matter how confused their minds may be.

2. All of us are broken.

As we deal with people struggling with mental illness, we must remember that we live in a fallen world. All of us have mental illnesses. We all have our own weaknesses and wounds. We have our own fears, obsessive thoughts, and compulsions.  We don’t minister to those with mental illness by lording our mental state over them. We’re not better than them. We are them.  That means we need each other. It’s why God allows disabilities. If you didn’t have any disabilities, you would be arrogant. You’d be self-centered. You wouldn’t need anyone’s help.

3. Even though we’re broken, we’re deeply loved and valued.

I love what God says in Jeremiah 31:3: “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (CSB).

God’s love for you and for everyone living with mental illness is unconditional and unending. God’s love isn’t fickle. It’s consistent. Our brokenness doesn’t make God love us any less. What we do doesn’t add anything or subtract anything from our value.  If I wadded up a $50 bill, would you still want it? If I rubbed it in dirt, would you take it?

Of course you would! No matter how much damage you do to a $50 bill, its value doesn’t change. It’s still worth $50.

The same is true for people who are struggling with mental illness. No matter how sick people are, God still loves them. God still values them. We should, too.

4. We get well within relationships.

No one has all of the solutions to mental illness. But we have each other. This is where the church really shines. We’re better together.  Galatians 6:2 tells us to reach out to those who are oppressed and fulfill Christ’s law of love. Mental illness tends to create isolation. It’s one of the most tragic ways mental illness impacts people’s lives. Nothing is worse for someone who is struggling with mental illness than to be isolated from others.  Our churches must become places where people can be honest about their mental illnesses. We need to become places of hope and refuge for broken people. Too often people with mental illnesses must wear masks everywhere they go. Let our churches become the places where people with mental illness can discover they will never be alone again.

5. What isn’t healed on earth will be healed in heaven.

That’s good news that’ll keep all of us pressing on when this kind of ministry gets difficult (and it will). We can’t give up. We can’t stop helping because this world isn’t the end of the story.  But I’ve read the end of the book. We win. We win against illness. We win against brokenness. Revelation 21:4 reminds us that one day God will wipe away every tear from our eyes. Pastor, the men and women struggling with mental illness need to know this. They need to know that mental illness will not win.  I believe we’re just at the beginning of what God wants to do through the church to minister to those with mental illness. With these five truths as the core of our mandate, God will use the church to heal the broken and battered of this world.  Know that we’re praying for you and pulling for you in this work!
Family and Life Challenges / How to Survive the First Year of Grieving a Loved One
« Last post by Philippa on October 23, 2018, 09:15:13 pm »

How to Survive the First Year of Grieving a Loved One
Dan Wheeler Author of Hurricane of Love

This article is based on the book, Hurricane of Love.

My two daughters were hugging my wife, Beth, and I was holding all three of them in my arms, when Beth took her last breath on October 30, 2015 at 2:40p.m. We had three years to consider the possibility that this day would come. Still, there was no way to totally prepare for it.  Even though I was relieved that Beth was finally out of her pain from battling stage 4 cancer, my heart ached from the realization that after spending 37 years with her, I would never see her again this side of heaven.   I had no idea that this was just the beginning of my grieving process. The year of firsts was coming.  For the next five weeks:

    I had trouble getting out of bed in the morning.
    Taking a shower, shaving and getting dressed just seemed like too much work.
    I didn’t want to leave my house.
    I spent my days looking at photos and watching videos of my late wife.
    I didn’t really want to see anyone other than my daughters and my grandchildren.

Before long, Thanksgiving arrived. This was the first holiday without Beth. It was the “first” in my “year of firsts,” and I didn’t realize how gut-wrenching every first holiday, anniversary, and birthday was going to be without her.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock/grinvalds
1. Recognize these will be tough days.
1. Recognize these will be tough days.

My family had celebrated every holiday since 2010 with my oldest daughter’s family and her in-laws. We usually had Thanksgiving dinner at her in-law’s home. Her father-in-law, Ed, did all of the cooking. All I had to do was show up and eat. When Beth was alive, I always looked forward to having Thanksgiving dinner with them. But now that she was gone, I didn’t feel very thankful, and I didn’t feel like pretending that I was. Everyone was understanding and caring, but I just wanted to eat and go back home.  When we sat down for dinner, I realized they had a place setting and a chair at the table for Beth. It was a nice gesture, but it felt like a dagger to my heart. I kept looking at the chair, and I kept thinking she should have been there.

“I begged God to give me the strength...”

I remember when I crawled into bed that night, I cried myself to sleep. I begged God to give me the strength to make it through Christmas. I knew it would be brutal, and I had no idea how I would survive. I had no desire and no intention to put up a tree and decorate. In fact, I didn’t want to celebrate Christmas at all, but my daughters wanted me to. “Mom would want us to celebrate Christmas,” my youngest said.

I knew that every ornament and every Christmas song would bring me to tears. I finally carried the tree and the ornaments up from the basement and began what turned out to be one of the hardest tasks I have ever done.

2. Express how you feel.

My second “first” came just days before Christmas on December 22nd. It would have been our 31st wedding anniversary. My daughter very wisely suggested we all go to New York City for two days, so I wouldn’t just sit in the house and cry. I bought tickets to “The Lion King” on Broadway, figuring it would be entertaining for everyone including my two grandsons. It was good that we stayed busy as a family. While we were all thinking about Beth, the change of scenery helped.  Christmas Eve came and we all went to church together. This was always Beth’s favorite service. She loved the end of the service when the congregation lights each other’s candles and the sanctuary is slowly transformed from complete darkness to light as we sing “Silent Night.”  I always loved this tradition when Beth was standing next to me, but this year it was just another event to endure without her. My eyes opened up into a river of tears.

3. Celebrate holidays. It honors their memory.

After the Christmas Eve service, we went out to dinner as we always did and then came back to my house. Beth would always buy everyone new pajamas to wear on Christmas Eve. That was the one gift we opened at night, saving the rest for Christmas morning. When we came back to my house, my daughters looked in Beth’s closet and were shocked to discover that their mom somehow managed to order each of them pajamas during her final days.  We took a picture of them wearing those pajamas in front of the Christmas tree. They posted on social media that their mom was still sending them gifts from heaven. This tore me up emotionally, but it also brought me some comfort.  The pajamas made me realize that I was being selfish wallowing in my sorrow. I thought maybe this was a sign that Beth wanted us to celebrate Christmas in a way that honored her memory. I tried really hard to enjoy Christmas day. It was emotionally draining, but I tried to picture her being there with us encouraging us to celebrate the birth of our Savior.

4. Live in the moments you have.

The next “first” was Beth’s birthday on February 3rd. We got together as a family and decided that we would celebrate the day together. We started a tradition that would be a meaningful for us all. We went to her favorite restaurant for breakfast. We have gone there for years and all of the waitresses and cashiers know us. They loved Beth and sent a beautiful bouquet of flowers to our home five days before she passed into heaven.  We all ordered what Beth always ordered: two eggs over easy, bacon, rye toast and coffee. After breakfast we got purple helium balloons (Beth’s favorite color) and sharpies. All of the anniversary of her passing.

5. Hold on to hope.

While her first birthday was very tough, I began to feel hope that it wouldn’t always be this difficult.  I was seeing a Christian counselor at the time to help me work through my grief. I knew in my heart that God was in control, but I was struggling with Romans 8:28 which says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God....” 


Even my wife’s stage 4 cancer? 

I’m told that the surviving spouse often has a great deal of guilt. I certainly did. I wondered why I was still strong and healthy, but Beth had to go through stage 4 cancer. I kept asking myself if I was a good enough husband.

“…I still have a race to run…”

When I told my counselor what I was wrestling with, she looked me in the eye and said, “Dan, do you really think Beth is in heaven judging you? No! She is cheering you on!  She is telling you to finish your race and to take care of your daughters and grandchildren!”

That really connected with me. I realized that I still have a race to run and that Beth was cheering me on!  The “firsts” kept coming, and it seemed like they would never end.

6. Lean on your family and friends.

Easter was yet another difficult “first,” but it wasn’t as bad as her birthday. The summer holidays were hard because we always had the family over to our house on Memorial Day, the 4th of July, and Labor Day. Beth loved being the host, and she loved being by the pool. We all talked about her, and we realized that we were all in the grieving process together. It is vitally important to lean on your family and friends during those “firsts.”  Finally, the one-year anniversary of Beth’s entrance into heaven arrived, and we all went to the cemetery and released the purple helium balloons with messages to her. We did the same thing on the second and will do it again on the third.

7. Remember God will never leave you.

I wrote about my wife and how I made it through the grieving process and the “year of firsts” in my new book, Hurricane of Love published by WestBow Press.  My prayer is that our story will help to calm your fears, strengthen your faith and inspire your hope. God will never leave you, even in your darkest hour. Hold on to the hope that you will see your loved one again in heaven.

For those grieving:

If you are grieving, or caring for someone who is terminally ill, just know that “the year of firsts” is coming. But have hope that you will make it through. The year of seconds will be a little bit easier. What’s important now is to live “in the moment.”  Pour your love into your loved one. Don’t hold back in expressing how you feel through your words and your actions. And as you go through the year of “firsts,” recognize that those are going to be very tough days. Try to use them to honor your loved one’s memory and draw on the strength of your family and friends.
Christian / Re: Devotion
« Last post by Philippa on September 24, 2018, 05:02:04 pm »
Love Lives Here
Sep 18, 2018 | Kathi Lipp

Today's Truth

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:26-28

Friend to Friend

For years, home was not my happy place. There were tense words, loud conversations, lots of noise, and a whole bunch of chaos. I remember thinking, “When these kids grow up.  When my husband is nicer.  When we have more money things will calm down.”

But peace isn’t determined by our circumstances; it’s determined by the way we respond with God’s help to those circumstances. God sent His Son so we could experience peace, not just in the quiet of life, but also when chaos hits.  If you are approaching your home with dread at the end of the day, perhaps your place needs a peace makeover, like mine did. Here are a few things you can be intentional about when it comes to creating a peace-filled home:

Speak Words that Build Peace

So much of what determines our level of peace is the choice of words we use in our home. Are we speaking words of respect and kindness?

Are we lifting up the people we live with?

How can you build into the lives of those you love with an “I love you!” and “I’m proud of you!” A “You make me happy!” and “I forgive you”?

And it is not just the words we speak, it is the words we allow into our home. Carefully consider TV programs, music, and especially sites you visit on the internet. All of those words that come into your home can promote or tear down peace within your four walls.

Create a Home that Promotes Peace

One of the main biblical definitions of peace when translated from the Greek includes “to be complete or whole” or “to live well.” A home that promotes peace is one where healthy food is served, clutter is controlled, systems are in place and people are cared for. These may feel like the everyday acts of a woman just keeping her home running, but really, they are the hundreds of small decisions we can make every day to promote peace and live whole lives in our homes:

Create meal plans for healthy eating.  Put things away when we are done using them.  Balance our bank account.  Pay our bills.  Invite others over to share a meal.  Serve our neighbors when there is a crisis.  Tend to a garden.

Be a Woman Who Promotes Peace

When someone insults me online, on the phone, or even in the line at the grocery store, I need to commit deliberate, defiant acts of peace toward that person. Those acts of peace can be, depending on the situation and the person, quick forgiveness, kind words to quench the hurt, or praying for them instead of responding. Peace is not powerlessness but refusing to give someone else the power over your response.  As you drive home tonight, think about what feeling you have as you approach your front door. Is it relief that you are finally home and have a soft place to land, or do you hesitate because inside your house carries the same amount of chaos as the rest of the world?

If peace doesn’t meet you at the door, make the decision to be someone who doggedly pursues peace in your home starting today.
Christian / Re: Devotion
« Last post by Titch on September 21, 2018, 09:34:05 pm »
Getting to Know Him
Sep 17, 2018 | Mary Southerland

Today's Truth

The God who made you is like your husband. His name is the LORD All-Powerful.  Isaiah 54:5

Friend to Friend

When Dan and I were first married, I really struggled with what to call his parents. Mr. and Mrs. Southerland seemed too formal, but Jerry and Norma seemed too familiar and did not address my level of respect for them. On the other hand, “Mom”  and “Dad” were just a little too intimate for me – maybe because I was still working through a lot of issues concerning my dad who died when I was four years old. My mom was both mother and father to me for most of my life. It almost seemed disloyal to address another woman as “mom.”  I solved my problem by not calling them anything which was not really a solution at all. I loved them both very much and wanted to convey that love to them. After years of marriage, the death of my own mother, and the survival of many family crisis with Dan’s parents, I one day found myself calling them “Mom” and “Dad.” It was not a conscious decision on my part but seemed perfectly natural. In fact, I did not even realize that I had made that transition until Dan commented on how much it meant to them that I would call his parents “Mom” and “Dad.” As I thought about his comment, I realized that over the years, I had not only grown to love and respect them more, but my relationship with them had grown to a deeper level. The same should be true in our spiritual journey.  How can we know God in an intimate way on a marriage level?

We get to know anyone we meet by first exchanging names. At an early age, we taught our son that a simple way to meet someone new is to say, “Hi! My name is Jered. What’s yours?”

Names are very important.  God has a first name Yahweh or Jehovah, a Hebrew word that means, “I am.” “LORD” should be translated “Yahweh” meaning that Yahweh Almighty is His name. Translators did a great job with the Bible but here they took the name of God and substituted a title. When you see “LORD” in all caps, read it as “Jehovah.” Yahweh Jehovah is a personal name that reveals the very core of His being, His sufficiency and holiness. God wants to be on a first name basis with you and me and wants us to come to Him just as we are in our weakness and incompleteness. When we come honestly before Him, sharing who we really are and what we really need, God then shares His last name. God’s last name is always based upon the current need of our lives.  God came to Moses and said, “I want you to be on a first name basis with me. My name is Yahweh Jehovah” and from that point on, whenever the people had a need they cried out in their insufficiency saying, “God you are the I Am. Come and meet Me!”

God would then come, meet them, and give them His last name.

•  In Exodus 16 the people cried, “God we’re out here in the desert with no food or water, literally starving to death! Jehovah Yahweh, where are You?” God says, “I’m right here. My name today is Jehovah Jireh, which means “Provider.” All of a sudden, quail are raining down from heaven, manna is found on the desert floor, and new water begins pouring out of a rock.
•  In Exodus 17, the people come up against a vastly superior military force and cry out to God saying, “We can’t do this! This army will wipe us out! Please help us!” God says, “I’ll be there. My name today is Jehovah Nissi, which means “Banner.” In Biblical times, when tribes went to war, flags and banners were carried out in front. Therefore, God is telling the people that He will go before them and fight the battle for-them.
•  In other passages, people came to God overwhelmed and anxious. God says, “I am Jehovah Shalom, your Peace.”
•  David came to Him in a moment of desolation and said, “God, I am in the wilderness totally alone.” God says, “I am Jehovah Shammah. I am here.”
•  Jesus cried out to God saying, “Abba Father” which means “Dearest Daddy.” This name paints the picture of a broken-hearted child climbing up into the lap of the loving Father. There the child finds comfort and safety. The Father wraps His arms around that child and becomes a refuge.

God wants an intimate “marriage level” relationship with you, His child. You can come to Him, calling Him by name, and He will meet the need of your heart.
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