Written by Esther Hylden
“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”
Bethel Free Lutheran WMF, Grafton, North Dakota, hosted a “Done with Chemo Party” last Thursday for two dear ladies, Carol Hensrud and Maxine Larson. In the early autumn days of 2013, both were diagnosed with cancer, and faced a long winter filled with chemotherapy. Their church and WMF friends watched as their faces grew pale, their hair thinned and fatigue became the way that they started every day. We sent cards, called with words of encouragement, offered rides…but felt helpless as we watched our dear friends struggle with yet another round of chemo. How many weeks left, we would ask? Eleven more weeks, nine more weeks…then finally one more week! At last they were done, and we rejoiced! However…we wanted them to know just how much we loved them, and how happy we were that their chemo was completed. So, we decided to “shower them with love” at our May WMF meeting. The Fellowship Room was decorated with flowers and balloons. We brought cards and presents…and waited for them to walk through the door. “Surprise!” we yelled as they entered. “What is going on here,” they gasped as they looked around. “We are having a Done with Chemo Party,” we told them. The room was filled with laughter as they looked around in disbelief. WMF opened that evening with a rousing chorus of, Count your Blessings, Name them one by One. We looked at each other as we sang…and know that each was a blessing…and that friendship was a gift. As we studied God’s Word that night…each verse…each comment…was precious.
Carol Hensrud shared Isaiah 43:2 with us, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” “Ladies,” she said, “notice that it says when you pass through the waters…not if.” “We have all been through hard times, be it chemo, the loss of a loved one, a job, trouble at home…but God is here with us…even in the hard times.” We nodded our heads in agreement …we had all been through hard times…and yes…God had been with us. We closed with this verse…a benediction…a prayer… “May the God of Hope full you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him.” Romans 15:13
IF YOU HAVE TROUBLE READING ON THE PICTURE THE MESSAGE IS BELOW.
Dear friends of the WMF,
This month we had the blessing of a ministry team visiting from the AFLC Bible School. They worked with the church youth to share Jesus with the children at the Bilingue elementary school. Justo was involved as well and did a lot of translation. Many children expressed a desire to know the Savior. Thank you for your part in the Lord’s work here in Ecuador. He is transforming lives!
In Him, Just, Tricia, and family
By Liz McCarlson
My thoughts for the past couple of weeks have been on one, simple verse, but there is so much truth packed into this verse, and hopefully it can be as much of an encouragement to you as it has been for me.
Jeremiah 31:3 (ESV) reads: “…I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.”
God loves you. Remember this, because I’ll come back to it shortly.
Because God loves you, He is faithful to you. How can you know? He has kept all of His promises. God was faithful to Adam and Eve by providing clothing for their protection as they were banished from Eden. God was faithful to Noah and his family by bringing them safely through the flood. He was faithful to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. He was faithful to Israel by bringing them out of captivity, through the wilderness, and to the land He had promised them. God faithfully kept Israel safe from their enemies. He was faithful to Israel during and after their exile…And that’s just to name a few instances of His faithfulness from the Old Testament.
I said I would come back to God’s love, and here it is: “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8, ESV) Just as He promised, God sent His son, Jesus, to this earth, as a baby, to grow to be a man, who, even though He was perfect, would take our sins upon Himself, would be rejected by His Father, would die and be buried, but would rise again, on the third day, defeating sin, death, and the devil. God loves you and has been faithful to you through His Son, Jesus. It’s a simple statement, but it is true, and it is everlasting.
by Lynn Wellumson
Last weekend I got to help out at my sister and brother-in-law’s ranch. They are in the middle of calving, always a challenging and exciting time for them. The calf puller had accidently been misplaced in the tractor bucket. The tractor had unloaded several loads of hay to many feeder spots and our mission, armed with a very large magnet, was to locate the three pieces before they were urgently needed. It had the feel of looking for a needle in a haystack. It also gave my sister and I a great chance to visit. The cow/calf pairs in the corrals we were searching seemed a little too aware of us. I spread my arms and announced “We come in peace”. My sister laughed the first time, but not the second or the tenth. It also had the feeling of walking through a minefield, as any misplaced step would result in serious shoe cleaning.
I’m happy to report that within a relatively short time, the lost was found! All three pieces! Order was restored in the calving world.
Jeremiah 50:20 says “In those days, at that time”, declares the Lord, “search will be made for Israel’s guilt, but there will be none, and for the sins of Judah, but none will be found, for I will forgive the remnant I spare.” (NIV)
Even God cannot find the sin that is covered by Jesus’ blood. Even things we think are impossible to find, are possible to find with God’s help. Jesus bore our sins on His body on the cross.
By Vicki Johnson
Oh, to be a child again!
A daily desire for some; a repulsive concept for others. As a child, I remember thinking how I couldn’t wait to grow up and be an adult so I could do my own thing and be my own boss. The adult world always seemed ideal, as I peered through childish eyes.
The tables have turned and now my spectacled vision regards my childhood days with envious longing. Those days are history,yet, my Lord draws me back to re-live them in light of eternity.
In Matthew 18, verse 1 the disciples ask Jesus a question they had been mulling over for some time. “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” they ask. In essence, who is greater, larger, elder, and stronger? I get the idea the question was asked with a supposed answer in mind. They simply wanted Jesus to confirm their assumptions. But, Jesus’ response would correct their focus from worldly perceptions to heavenly insights.
“ And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18: 2-4 (ESV)
Jesus gave the answer nobody wanted to hear. That happens to me so often. I ask Him a question after I have worked on the possible answer just to have Jesus come at my pre-conceptions from a totally different approach. Not fair, Jesus! I wasn’t ready for that one. He is the ultimate game changer.
So, who is greater, larger, elder and stronger in the Kingdom of Heaven? A child. A little one. The one who must look up to find her answers. One who must trust for strength from above to lift her higher than she could go herself. It is the child who asks for guidance at each turn and step of the way. A child doesn’t disguise fear, loneliness, and anger. She knows that fear is changed to courage, loneliness to belonging, anger to peace when she comes to her Father’s throne of Grace. She knows that she isn’t the Beginning and the End of all things, but she is a part of the One who Is, and that’s alright with her. Her response to Grace is uninhibited joy, wonder, and praise for the Grace Giver.
Mature faith is child-like trust. The kingdom of heaven is made of this.