By Velma Amundson
We recently watched the movie “Heaven is for Real”. I really enjoyed it. I have to say, I’m no expert on whether or not this little boy “went to heaven and back”. We know that God took Enoch and Elijah directly to heaven, and we know from Revelation that John was given a vision. I’m willing to leave it at that.
What struck me, though, was the title: “Heaven is for Real”. My first thought was “Duh”. I mean, after all, isn’t that what we hope for, what we look forward to? One of my husband’s favorite Bible passages comes from John 14:1-2, “Let not your hearts be troubled, believe in God. Believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so would I have told you I go to prepare a place for you? (ESV). I think of all the songs we sing, “Beyond the Sunset”, “Mansion on a Hilltop”. The first verse of one of my favorite songs, and I have many, says, “This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through. My treasure is laid up somewhere beyond the blue. The angels beckon me from Heaven’s open door and I can’t feel a home in this world anymore.” There are so many songs which tell us of the hope that we have that God has provided a place for us to be with him for all eternity. What a glorious promise and hope to cling to.
I hope that this spate of summer movies featuring religious themes has given you hope and inspiration. I hope that if someone asks you about it you can say, “Yes, of course Heaven is for real, God promised so it must be”. I hope most of all that as we live our lives we remember that hope and cling to our Lord, Jesus Christ, who made it possible for us to hope.
By Velma Amundson
Most of us in the colder areas of the United States understand winter, I mean with a capital W and bold, you know WINTER. By this time of year we are so sick of being cold and looking out our windows and seeing nothing but white. White ground, white skies, sometimes I think even the air is white. We’re tired of having to bundle up in our coats and walk on “eggshells” to keep from slipping on the ice.
I know you get it. Today I was sitting in a restaurant silently grousing about at least two more months of winter, regardless of what the calendar says. I know we probably won’t get spring before the end of April. Anyway, as I sat there silently grousing, a Bible verse popped into my head. Now, I know when I give it to you, you’re going to say I’m using it strangely. And, you’re right. But you will see it works. The verse is from Genesis 2:6, “and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground”, ESV.
It dawned on me. I had written a book for my granddaughter about the life cycle of a tree, from spring through winter and back to spring again. I had told her that God knew that even the plants needed to rest, so He made them to “sleep” in the winter. If it rained now, while the plants were dormant, they couldn’t use the water, they’re “sleeping”. Not only that but that blanket of snow on the ground acts exactly like a blanket, insulating the roots of the trees and the dormant plants, protecting them through winter. Then when spring approaches and the land begins to warm up and the snow melts there is water available for the reemerging plants. Without this cycle, it just wouldn’t work.
The Bible verse reminded me that God cares for His creation. In His wisdom, He knew how to make things just right. My grousing turned right then into praise. I praise God that He has the wisdom. I know that He will care for the world, for me and all of His children.
By Velma Amundson
I’m a grandma again. Our son’s wife gave birth to a healthy baby girl Nov. 16th, a day after Josh’s birthday! Less than a week later we received a phone call from them asking for help. They were exhausted, and needed me. Of course, I went. As I walked that new baby (her name is Sakura), I couldn’t help but think about Mary and Joseph in a strange city with no one to help them. Were they exhausted by a newborn that didn’t want to sleep, or that was fussy? (I know, we never think of Jesus being that way, but He was fully human, and I’m sure He cried like any other newborn). I wondered, did someone notice this new mother and offer help? I know Josh and Lizz expressed how much they appreciated my help for the week that I was there. Then, of course, I went home.
As I’ve pondered the miracle of this birth, I think of the Bible verse from Psalms 139:13, “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb”, and Jeremiah 1:5a “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you…” The Jeremiah verse is the calling of Jeremiah, but it fits for me here. I am satisfied that God knew Sakura before she was born, that he formed her in her mother’s womb, and that everything is ok because she is a child of God.
I don’t know the future. I don’t know what troubles or blessings that Sakura or any of us may face. But, I do know who holds the future and will care for my granddaughter as He has for me. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” The song, “Because He Lives”, says “Because I know He holds the future and life is worth the living just because He lives”.
I will leave her and the rest of us there, in God’s hands, knowing that whatever comes, He walks with us.
By Velma Amundson
I’ve walked through the malls starting in October, and all the Christmas stuff is out. They’re all nicely displayed and designed to make you want things. The stores are saying they’re not even waiting for “Black Friday” to start holiday sales. The commercials on TV are designed to appeal to our vanities, and get us to want what they have. I even term those “infomercials” for things like Genie Bras, etc as “gotta have it” commercials. I’ll confess I’ve already begun to go Christmas Shopping. It’s so easy to get caught up in what we want. I could want a new computer, a tablet, a new sewing machine, new clothes, etc. And there is nothing wrong with wanting things…..except.
Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness…” We need to put things in order. The Bible tells us the most important thing is to seek God. We need to seek His will, follow him, store up “treasure in Heaven”. We do that, not by seeking the “treasures” of this world, the material things that pass away, but by sharing the Good News of Christ’s resurrection and gift of salvation. We do that by putting others before ourselves and seeking their good. We study the Bible and bury its treasures in our hearts so that no matter what we go through, we can lean upon God to get us through.
After reflecting on these things, I’ve decided what I really, really want. I want, when I stand before Christ on his judgment throne, to hear the words of Matthew 25:21, “Well done, good and faithful servant…” I hope you want that too.
By Velma Amundson
This theological discussion took place between my two granddaughters and was overheard by their mother;
Katie: “Jesus saves sins.”
Miriam: “No He doesn’t”
Katie: “Yes He does”
Miriam: “No He doesn’t”
Katie: “Yes He does. Jesus saves sins.”
Miriam: “No, you have it wrong. Jesus saves us from our sins”.
So which girl are you like? Do you picture God, or Jesus up there somewhere with a huge book in which he records all your misdeeds? Then he uses the book to punish us for every infraction we ever did? Some people do see God like that. We certainly can do it ourselves,and do it to ourselves, keeping track of everything we have ever done (did) wrong and reliving or remembering it over and over.
But of course, Miriam has it right. The book of Romans has many verses concerning sin and salvation. I like these: Romans 5:8-9 ( ESV ) “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God”, and Romans 10:9 ( ESV ) “because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved”.
What comfort it brings me to know that God loves me so much that He loved me before I was even born, that faith and repentance are (is) all that is required, and His Word also promises (adding to it is this): Hebrews 8:12 ( ESV ) “For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” So, not only does Christ love me and forgive(s) me, He blots out my sins and does not remember them again.”
Praise God for His love and mercy.
By Velma Amundson
I have psoriasis. When I get out of the tub, I can see these ugly, red blotches on my legs. I imagine that’s what sin looks like on my soul. These ugly red blotches that mar the purity that God planned. I’ve tried a lot of things to get rid of my psoriasis, and so far, nothing works. It’s the same way with the sin spots. No matter what I do, how hard I try I can’t get rid of the spots by myself. Fortunately, I don’t have to. I have a Savior who takes away the sin. In fact, John 3:17 says, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.” In Psalm 51:7, the Psalmist says, “Purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean, wash me and I shall be whiter than snow”. Now I consider that this is GREAT news. My Savior, Jesus, can save me of my sins and wash the sins stains away, and make me pure. Even better, Ephesians 2:8 tells me this is the gift of God, not of my own doing so I can boast about it, but a free gift.
I see the spots, and think ugly. My husband sees the spots, I know he does, he’s not blind. But, in a way he is. All he sees is me. You see, he loves me with his whole heart and he loves me just the way I am. The same is true of God. John 3:16 says it all, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosever believeth in him shall not die but have eternal life”. If possible, Romans 5:8-9 says it even better, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. Since therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.”
I pray that if you are reading this and you do not know Christ as your Savior, that you will turn to Him today and ask His forgiveness. He will come in, forgive you and cleanse you.
by Velma Amundson
“Wake up, wake up, wake up friend Owl! The new prince is born. Ya better hurry up!” This is how Shirley Temple began to tell the story of Bambi on the old record we had when I was a girl. A short while ago, Britain’s Princess Kate gave birth to a little prince, Prince George. It’s been kind of like watching an obsession. The media, the paparazzi, it seems everyone has been anticipating his birth all year, and it’s all they’ve talked about…Will it be a boy or girl, what will they name it, what will they buy for it, how will they raise him…etc. I understand. New babies, especially new princes, are exciting. However, we have a King we need to be anticipating. The song says, “The King is coming, the King is coming…” Do we look forward to the return of our King with the enthusiasm that the world has shown waiting the birth of this little prince? Are we watching to see if it might be today? Why not? The return of our King will literally usher in heaven on earth. We will get to be with Christ. Now I admit, I don’t know exactly what it will be like, but I know it will be perfect, because God is perfect. We talk about running the race and standing firm. And we need to do those things. But, where is our excitement and anticipation? Should that be there too? Should we want to be with our King? The Bible says, “so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 1:7 NASB) Let us live our lives anticipating the return of our King with as much excitement as the world has shown anticipating the birth of this human prince.