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“BE ENCOURAGED!” A Tribute to Ed Bentley

 

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Ed Bentley was a unique character… an unforgettable person who made a deep impression on many lives over his 99+ years on earth – I am one of them.

When my husband and I joined Wycliffe Australia almost 20 years ago, Ed and his darling wife Laurel were well past the usual age of retirement, but still serving in whatever way they could.

A talented artist and musician, Ed was born with a cleft palate and other difficulties that back in 1918 were life-threatening. Baby Ed was not expected to live past his first birthday. Yet his remarkable life was gently lived out in the presence of God and the people he loved with passion and loyal devotion for almost a century!

When you met Ed, his speech challenges quickly faded into the background as the twinkle in his eye captivated the heart. Both Ed and Laurel made us feel like we were the most important people on the planet when they greeted us – what a rare and priceless gift! You never came away from a conversation with this man without feeling uplifted and encouraged. In fact, Ed’s famous tagline was “BE ENCOURAGED!”

I have been pondering why encouragement was so important to Ed. Why did this godly man who had lived so long on the earth, against all the odds, through all kinds of joys and challenges (including two world wars) realize the necessity for encouragement?

Ed knew first hand how brave we all need to be to live well in this world. He knew for sure that we all need a truckload of courage to survive and to thrive and that there is only one source of authentic courage that makes the grade.

In his lifetime, Ed wrote out thousands of cards with hope-filled Bible verses, ending of course with his famous quote “BE ENCOURAGED”. I have one and will treasure it now that he has passed into eternity and is enjoying his Lord and Saviour, Jesus, face to face as he longed for.

The source of Ed’s courage was most definitely centred around Jesus and His Word. This is why Ed and Laurel became part of the Bible translation movement around the globe – all the love and encouragement they had received was just too good to keep to themselves!

I will especially remember Ed and Laurel for their love and care for us when Bethany was ill and passed away. When they said they were praying for you, they were people of their word and you just knew you were certainly being prayed for!

I want to share with you one more inspirational lesson from Ed to take hold of. The story goes that on his 92nd birthday, Ed was asked how he felt about reaching that ripe old age. His response greatly encourages me and I hope it blesses you too…

“The first 92 years have been a preparation for what God has for me tomorrow… I can’t wait to see what He has for me tomorrow!”

On the eve of my 52nd birthday (just a little spring chicken in Ed’s sparkly eyes), I am challenged by this precious man to view life with the same kind of courage that looks forward with hope and excitement. I am painfully aware that I am totally unable to conjure up the courage I desperately need to live – so I am thankful that I don’t have to! I have the very same resource available to me as Ed. So, filled with the Spirit of God, I too can look to the future with confidence and expectant hope. I too can live courageously in the midst of all kinds of circumstances life may bring.

Our CEO in his speech honoring Ed noted that the word ENCOURAGED starts with an E and ends with a D = ED! What a great way to remember a great saint of the Lord who has gone before us and still cheers us on!

Ed, our heartfelt thanks for leaving us a beautiful example and legacy that points the way to Jesus Christ. There is only one last thing to say as I hear your voice echoing in my head…

Friends, “BE ENCOURAGED!”

Wait patiently for the Lord. Be strong and take courage. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.” Psalm 27:14

Used with permission from Ed’s beautiful, courageous Laurel.

BE Washed in Waves of Tears!

“Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.” Psalm 42:7

IMG_5121 Steavenson Falls, Marysville, Victoria, Australia

Psalm 42 was written in waves of tears. In fact, the psalmist tells us in verse three that tears had been his ‘food’ both day and night. Themes of water flow through this ancient psalm of lament and it is one I strongly identify with.

A few weeks ago, I hiked on my own to one of my home state’s highest waterfalls – something new and adventurous for me. The journey was breathtaking and quite literally took my breath away as at times as I had to stop and gasp for fresh air to fill my burning lungs. I also gulped in the gorgeous sights, sounds and smells and my senses were filled as I persevered along the trail in a swirl of dewy rain.

When I finally reached my destination and stood on the bridge with a torrent of water crashing underneath my feet, I began to weep. Some of my tears fell into the whirlpool and disappeared into the magnificent cascade crashing over the rocks below. My tears seemed insignificant in the moment, lost and unnoticed.

I had just read a sign on the track that spoke about how there is never a new drop of water created in the earth and its atmosphere. Amazing when you think about it! The water we drink and expel has been filtered through countless people and animals – even earthworms according to the sign!  Each drop has been part of cyclonic storms, raging seas, still lakes, undulating rivers and yes, waterfalls.

As I stood in this place totally awash with water, I began to think about my tears in a new light. Perhaps the very same tears I had just cried were also cried by the psalmist all those years ago? The more I pondered, the more I realized that my tears do actually matter. They are significant. Have a look at this little nugget of truth proclaimed by king David…

“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” Psalm 56:8

As I allowed images of the waterfall to crash over my spirit, deep called to deep. My tiny but significant tears were now added to the never-ending circle of the ‘stream of life’ thundering below me. They had become part of the billions of teardrops now travelling at break-neck pace to wash and water the needy earth.

Friends, if indeed every molecule of water has been created by God and then recycled again and again to bring new life, our tears can do that too. I have to believe that every drop totally counts! Our humble droplets of sorrow offered to God can become LIFE to the decimated and thirsty. They can become part of watering those tiny seeds of faith, hope and love sown in dry times. God can use our tears to refresh the hearts of others who are weeping out their own tears of sorrow and grief.

What I haven’t mentioned is that this waterfall is the life spring of a township that lost everything to the Black Saturday fires in 2009. This once blackened, dead land is now lush green and full of life again. It has been watered in waves of tears and beauty has arisen from the ashes.

I have a desperate need to BE Watered in Waves of Tears right now. The Living Water of Jesus Christ is constantly on tap and available to me and to us all. As deep calls to deep, I open my soul to the Maker of the waterfall and allow Him to completely wash over me. His tears, and the precious water that flowed from His side on my behalf blends with my soul… soothing, healing, cleansing, satisfying… I drink it in and I live again.

“As the deer pants for the water so my soul longs after You! Take all my tears Lord and turn them into streams of living water that fall over the earth for Your glory!”

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BE Alight With Hope!

LFM_PosNormRGBThis week we had the opportunity to share a message of hope with the staff at one of the largest Christian radio stations in Australia. As we walked into the LightFM building, we could not help but notice the huge sign over the reception desk and the powerful words that assured us that God had placed us there at just the right time, for such a season as this…

LightFM every heart alight with Christian hope!

We went along to LightFM to share Bethany’s story of hope and were also interviewed in the studio in order to share this hope with our city! We talked in depth about real issues of the heart, including the faith challenges that came along with the sorrows and the joys of Bethany’s life and suffering and how she lived and died with tangible, authentic hope in Jesus Christ.

Christian hope is so unique and often poles apart from the way we think and talk about hope in our culture. Mere words from me cannot possibly explain Christian hope in a way that will set your heart on fire, so here are a few gems from the Bible that we shared with the LightFM team. May they help your body, mind and soul to BE alight with Christian hope!

CHRISTIAN HOPE IS AN ANCHOR FOR THE SOUL:

So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary. Hebrews 6:18-19

CHRISTIAN HOPE IS FULL OF PATIENT WAITING:

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. Rom 8:22-25

CHRISTIAN HOPE GROWS THROUGH TRIAL AND WILL NOT DISAPPOINT:

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. Romans 5:3-5

CHRISTIAN HOPE IS BASED ON THE WORD OF GOD:

My soul waits for the Lord, and in his word I put my hope. More than the watchmen wait for the morning, yes more than the watchmen wait for the morning.  Psalm 130:5-6

CHRISTIAN HOPE EXPRESSES ITSELF IN WORSHIP:

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
    Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
    for I will yet praise him,
    my Savior and my God. Psalm 42 & 43

CHRISTIAN HOPE IS A GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT:

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Spirit. Romans 15:13

CHRISTIAN HOPE IS ALL HEADED TOWARD AND CENTRED IN A PERSON:

In his name the nations will put their hope. Matthew 12:21

There are countless verses in Scripture about authentic, unified hope in Jesus. May you keep searching for more treasures of hope if yours is wavering right now because hope doesn’t just happen – it needs to be fed, nurtured and actively taken hold of!

My hope was failing earlier in the week and through a kind friend, God reminded me of this precious diamond of hope. As I took hold of it, He again proved Himself faithful to His Word. No friends, our hope is not misplaced if it is anchored in Jesus!

THE LORD RENEWS OUR STRENGTH AS WE WAIT IN HOPE FOR HIM:

Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
 but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.  Isaiah 40:28-31

To listen to the Wake’s hope-filled interview go to: http://lightfm.com.au/in-conversation-with-clayton/ ‘In Conversation with Clayton’ Sunday August 13, 2017, after 9pm or in Melbourne, tune into 89.9 FM around 8pm 🙂 

BE Tenderhearted!

Care Bears were big in the late eighties when I was dating my future husband. I thought I was being romantic on our first Valentine’s Day date when I gave him ‘Tenderheart’ – the cute Care Bear with a red heart embroidered on his tummy. Turns out it was more prophetic than romantic!

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We still have ‘Tenderheart’ as part of our bear collection and our kids have enjoyed playing with him over the years. He may be a bit battered nearly 30 years on, but the wisdom he personifies is fresh in my thoughts right now. What I didn’t know back then in the thick of our romance was that in order to survive and thrive in marriage, and indeed in all aspects of life, we would need to BE tenderhearted.

As much as we thought so at the time, it turns out that romantic feelings were not going to be enough to sustain us through all the storms of life. What we needed was an intentional mind set and an acquisition of some skills to cultivate the soil of our hearts. In order for a harvest of life and peace to shoot up from the seeds of our romantic love, we had to learn how to keep our hearts soft and open towards God and each other through all the challenges that were to come.

In the midst of the joys and tears, dreams and fears, we have learned these precious lessons by believing and living out the Word of God…

“Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” Colossians 3:12

We passed this wisdom onto our son on his wedding day and we need to keep it in mind each day too – not just in matters of marriage, but in all our relationships because we are robbed of peace, joy and deeply satisfying connections when our hearts get hard.

Remaining tenderhearted is one of the greatest challenges of my daily life. How do I clothe myself with a tender heart when everything screams at me to protect my heart from further hurt? Jesus is calling me to a lifestyle of vulnerable surrender. He asks me to lay down my rights, take up my cross, and make a daily choice to follow Him along a path which does not allow for one iota of hard heartedness.

It sure hurts to keep my heart tender – there is a cost to it that I find I cannot bear alone. But friends, can I tell you from the benefit of personal experience that it hurts WAY more to protect my heart with the armour of blame, bitterness, condemnation, unforgiveness, hatred, unresolved grief and shame that all keep me trapped in a place where my heart ends up dead – cold and hard as stone.

In this lonely place, I may feel protected from further harm, but it is an illusion. In this dark cave, I may feel a measure of self-comfort as I lick my wounds. But what’s really going on is that I am unable to receive comfort and help from God and I end up missing the family and friends He sends to minister to me.

You know, I have been told that my facial features change when I am harboring offence and I am protecting myself. I can believe it because I see the same contortions in the facial lines of some of my loved ones who are in danger of becoming hard hearted in their pain and disappointments. The other sad fact is that our stubborn, hardened hearts not only further wound our own well-being but also damage our most treasured relationships, often hurting those we love most.

OK, so how do we keep our hearts tenderly clothed in this harsh environment we are called to live in? Like me, you too have the daily choice to put on tenderness. No, it is NOT easy to BE tenderhearted and stay that way, but it really is the only way to live in complete freedom. Paul tells us the main garments we need to put on to enjoy a life of tenderhearted liberty. His words to the first believers still kick the same punch today…

“Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ has forgiven you.”  Ephesians 4:32

FACT AND FICTION:

FACT: tenderheartedness walks hand in hand with kindness and forgiveness. “Impossible”, you may be thinking right now. “I can’t do it! No way! I don’t even want to!” Yes, I know! It is absolutely impossible to be kind to some people and forgive some offences on our own. Indeed, to forgive fully, as Jesus requires of His followers, is utterly impossible without Him. But friends, believing that you cannot show kindness and forgive is FICTION. Here is the Good News – God is not asking us to do something that He has not done Himself and thankfully, He does not leave us to our own devices!

FACT: Our Heavenly Father is tenderhearted toward us and asks us to reflect the same kindness and forgiveness He offers us in Christ. He has given us both the example and the means to fulfil HIs command to BE tenderhearted in seemingly impossible situations.

FACT: Our Lord Jesus stayed tenderhearted right throughout His earthly life and even as He was dying He did not harden His heart. Incredibly as He was nailed to the cross in sheer agony, He showed kindness and freely forgave those who were mercilessly tormenting, torturing and executing Him.

FACT: Our Comforter, the Holy Spirit of God, is willing and able to give us a new, tender heart like His! Tenderhearted kindness and forgiveness are all possible in Him as He leads us to tenderhearted peace and freedom – what a precious gift!

Bethany has left us a wonderful example of tenderheartedness too. She had many reasons to harden her heart to God with the cruel injustice of her brain cancer. But we are so thankful that she made the choice to remain tenderhearted, just like her Saviour, and the result was beautiful. Not only could she receive all she needed from Him with her open and tender heart, she could also give out from this tenderness and minister to others as she lay dying – just as Jesus did. WOW!

Dear friends, the condition of our heart is something we must consider and treasure – for God surely does. We must never forget the ancient wisdom imploring us to guard our hearts ABOVE ALL ELSE because our heart is the very well spring of life! (Proverbs 4:23)

I would like to finish with another piece of wisdom from Peter, the friend of Jesus who believed the FICTION for a while but was overcome with the FACT that he was loved and forgiven. Filled with the Holy Spirit, he learned to love and forgive with a tender heart too.

“Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. BE tenderhearted and keep a humble attitude.” 1 Peter 3:8

“SO WHAT CAN BE DONE FOR AN OLD HEART LIKE MINE? SOFTEN IT UP WITH OIL AND WINE. THE OIL IS YOU, YOUR SPIRIT OF LOVE – PLEASE WASH ME ANEW IN THE WINE OF YOUR BLOOD.” (KEITH GREEN)

 

BE Dreamers!

Bethany Joy was a dreamer…

Contemplation

Dream #1 

Have a great life story that will make Jesus smile.

Dream #2

Marry an amazing (and organized) man and have six kids. (When I talked to her about how much work this would be, she just assumed I would be there to help her raise her happy brood!)

Dream #3 

Train to become a midwife and help women suffering from obstetric fistula. 

If you know Bethany’s story, you will know that those dreams didn’t come true -or did they?

Six years after her passing, it is a temptation to believe that those dreams are dead and buried – but are they?

The truth is, Bethany offered her dreams to the One who rose from the dead – and He is redeeming them!

Biblical concept of redemption = ‘buying back and restoring what has been lost’.

Do you need your dreams redeemed? I certainly do! Jesus’ disciples needed their dreams redeemed too –  into bigger, better, broader, eternal dreams they could not have imagined on their own! The One who paid the great cost for this redemption is breathing His resurrected life into my old dreams and it is our joy to catch some glimpses of the beautiful ways He is redeeming Bethany’s dreams too…

REDEEMED DREAM #3

Many women are receiving help through Bethany’s legacy!                                     Check out: www.cbm.org.au and www.wisechoicesforlife.org

REDEEMED DREAM #2

He is her amazing bridegroom and her life is birthing many ‘children of faith’!       (Just last week I spoke with a terminally ill woman who has come to know Jesus through reading Bethy’s story in ‘Heartbreakingly Beautiful’.)

REDEEMED DREAM #3 

Bethany has a great life story that makes Jesus smile!                                               (And that, friends, is the crux of my redeemed dream too.)

This blog has been inspired by a man who has needed his broken dreams redeemed. I recently shared Bethany’s story at a seminar in Melbourne, led by the inspirational Sheridan Voysey, called ‘Broken Dreams, New Beginnings’. I highly recommend that you check out his website which is loaded with great resources that will help even the most broken-hearted BE Dreamers again!

http://sheridanvoysey.com

Six Tests for a God-Given Dream

 Need A New Dream?

BE Givers!

Bethany was such a giver! We look back with pleasure and remember the times when, as a small girl, she literally emptied her little purse for those in need. We also recall, with lumps in our throats, the generous way she kept giving throughout her illness as a teenager. As she gave, Beth proved over and over the truth of the life-giving words of Jesus when He said…

“It is better to give than to receive.”

We are so pleased to report that through the generosity of many friends, we were able to pass on just over $2,000 to Wise Choices for Life on Bethany’s behalf! What a birthday gift!

A HUGE thanks to those who responded so generously. This is the second year we have promoted this wonderful organization, offering the opportunity to give a dollar for every birthday year in remembrance of our girl. Just over 40 people donated this year – so you can calculate that some were more than generous by adding an extra zero to their gift! Who says that zero = nothing! What a difference this gift will make on the ground in Uganda to help train people to pass on the Good News through reproductive health education 🙂

So, stay tuned for next March where we will again have an opportunity to BE Givers and donate $23 for Bethany’s 23rd birthday. We hope this new partnership will continue to thrive and that many will be blessed through the ministry of WCFL well into the future!

The Bethany Wake Stop Fistula Appeal is still going strong in partnership with CBM and for those who would like to give to a perpetual trust, The Bethany Wake Appeal through The Lord Mayors’ Fund is also a great option to BE Givers and provide ongoing support over many years ahead.

Remember friends, you can BE Givers on Bethany’s behalf at any time of the year – especially as tax time approaches! (Please feel free to check out the links below.)

“The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor.” Proverbs 22:9

With our sincere gratitude, Bethany’s family 🙂

WOW! We are so grateful that there are now several choices to BE Givers on Beth’s behalf…

WISE CHOICES FOR LIFE: BETHANY WAKE SCHOLARSHIP      https://www.wisechoicesforlife.org

CBM AUSTRALIA: THE BETHANY WAKE STOP FISTULA APPEAL https://www.cbm.org.au/bethanywake

LORD MAYOR’S CHARITABLE FUND:                          https://www.lmcf.org.au/waystogive/charitable-fund-accounts/list-of-charitable-fund-accounts

 

 

$22 for Bethany’s 22nd Birthday!

 

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Dear friends who knew and loved Bethany and those who have come to love her through her testimony and legacy,

We are delighted to present to you the opportunity to give a gift in honour of her birthday this year.

Last year, as we remembered her 21st birthday, many of us wore something purple to remember her and donated $21 to her legacy.

We raised over $1500 and this was donated to Wise Choices For Life – a fantastic ministry that has the prevention of maternal health issues at heart.

If you are interested in giving a gift of $22 to honour Bethany on her earthly birthday, here is what you can do by Friday 31st March…

1. READ the first attachment all about the new WCFL Bethany Wake Scholarship.
(Friends, we are so grateful for this new arm of Beth’s legacy and wholeheartedly support the team at WCFL – God has woven us together in a beautiful way!)

2. GIVE your birthday gift of $22 to the BE Blessings Trust Account BSB 013 308 Account Number 381 757 698 (overseas friends may need another option so please contact us).

3. WEAR something PURPLE on the day! (This is totally optional – especially for you guys!)

4. SHARE this opportunity with your circle of friends – especially those who knew Bethany and may have prayed for her and our family.

THANK YOU for helping us to keep Bethany’s memory and dream alive! To sign off, we share one of the Bible verses she loved about helping others…

“Blessed are those who have regard for the weak, the Lord delivers them in times of trouble” Ps 41:1

With love, Lyn and David

about the scholarship

BE Comforted!

Christmas Eve…

I awoke this morning to loud crashes over my house… an unexpected raging thunderstorm that made the house quake and terrified our dog! Yet the weather experts are promising us that the sun is surely on its way and that Melbournians are going to experience a very hot Christmas this year. As I looked outside at the height of the storm, I found this promise very hard to believe.

Christmas Eve…

I awoke on another Christmas Eve six years ago to different kind of thunderstorm that made our house shake and our hearts break. The palliative care team from the Children’s Hospital made an unexpected visit to our home to prepare us for Bethy’s imminent death. The promises of light and sun, life and hope, restoration and beauty seemed hard to believe that day too.

Yes, that day was dark and scary indeed. I can’t help but feel the ache and the weariness of waiting more acutely this year – it also being the first Christmas without my dear dad. But after such a dark, dreary, noisy morning, there is a little clearing of the sky and I can see some rays of sunlight coming through the windowpanes. Outside there is a gentle breeze is in the air bringing to me that lovely fresh fragrance that only comes to us after the rain.

Christmas Eve…

sun-after-thunderstorm 

A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn…

Like many before me, I am comforted by the words of my favorite Christmas Carol. ‘O Holy Night’ was composed by Frenchman Adolphe Adam in 1847 and based on the poem ‘Midnight Christians’ by Placida Cappeau. John Sullivan Dwight modified the version we sing today in 1855. It has been recorded by many famous artists over the years since then and was, in fact, the second piece of music, after Handel, to be played over the airwaves in 1906 – on Christmas Eve of course!

 

 O holy night! The stars are brightly shining, it is the night of our dear Saviour’s birth.

Long lay the world in sin and error pining, till He appear’d and the soul felt its worth.

A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

Fall on your knees! O hear the angel voices!

O night divine, O night when Christ was born;

O night divine, O night, O night Divine.

Led by the light of Faith serenely beaming, with glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.

So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming, here come the wise men from the Orient land.

The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger; in all our trials born to be our friend.

He knows our need, to our weaknesses no stranger,

Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend!

Behold your King, Before Him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another; His law is love and His gospel is peace.

Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother; and in His name all oppression shall cease.

Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we, lLet all within us praise His holy name.

 

Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever,

His power and glory evermore proclaim.

His power and glory evermore proclaim.

 

Christmas Eve…

BE Comforted my grieving friends. Whether you feel it or not, we are on the Eve of something wonderful. The crashing thunder will pass and the teaming rain will subside. The darkness will be pushed back by LIGHT and the morning will arrive as promised for He has surely come for us and He is surely coming again. Yes! It is going to be a hot and sunny Christmas, as promised, after all!

 

Christmas…

 … a time to remember that Jesus was born to be our Friend through all our trials.

… a time to give thanks that He knows our weaknesses and understands our how needy we are.

… a time to celebrate that He will break every chain, make ALL things new and that He will reign forever and ever!

… a time to worship the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and bring Him the gift He longs for most…    what else can we do except fall on our knees?

BE Torn!

Ever had your heart torn apart? Maybe it has been broken in two more times that you can count. What is the common factor that tears our hearts asunder and creates the kind of pain that makes every breath unbearable?

 Is it not the state of being separated from those our hearts are intricately connected to?

Is it not the denial of peaceful, intimate relationship with those we love and cherish most?

I am enduring that horrible heartache once again. My darling dad was ripped away from our presence suddenly and without explanation recently, leaving many things unspoken and undone. It hurts like crazy for those of us left behind suffering from raw heart wounds. Yet for him, the woundings of this life are finally healed and real life has just begun! He is reunited with his mother, brother, son and granddaughter and his heart is no longer torn – thank you Lord Jesus!

A few weeks before this, I witnessed another kind of heart-tear. Together with my family, we watched on as dear friends willingly chose to BE Torn for the sake of something bigger, something deeper and more encompassing than this life.

For the sake of the Good News of King Jesus, these amazing friends willingly allowed their hearts to BE Torn as their family intentionally separated and scattered across the globe. We were there at the airport, silent witnesses to an incredible scene, watching on as their large extended family granted their heart torn blessing and released them to fly across the seas to minister to refugees in Africa. Why would they deliberately open themselves up to such agony and what explains the unmistakable joy that was mingled in with the heart-breaking pain?

The pain of this heart tear is real alright – a tangible presence in our home as their two eldest daughters are now sheltering with our family for this season of separation. But the joy is also authentic and there is a sense of rightness about this time apart as each member of this family seeks God’s Kingdom and is not afraid to follow the dream He has placed inside them.

The concept of willingly allowing our hearts to BE Torn for the sake of the Gospel is not new. But every single time, it hurts like mad – there is no denying it! The apostle Paul sure knew what it felt like. In his letters to the early church, you can almost hear the fabric of his heart tearing apart as he endured many painful separations from those he loved and ministered to…

“God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus!” Phil. 1:8

 “…when we were torn away from you for a short time (in person, not in thought), out of our intense longing we made every effort to see you… for what it our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy.”   1Thess. 2:17-20

Most times we simply don’t have a say when our hearts get torn. The death of people we love and the end of relationships we treasure often come suddenly, like murderous thieves in the night, and we are plundered. But there is another kind of tearing we do have a choice to bear. Are we willing like Paul, like our friends and millions before them to allow our hearts to BE Torn for the sake of Jesus? This call to follow Jesus goes against our culture and against every self-preservation fibre of our being! But the concept bears further investigation as Jesus Himself promised that being torn for Him will indeed be eternally worthwhile….

“…anyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or fathers or mothers or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.” Mt. 19:29

The call to follow Jesus and BE Torn is a HUGE one for sure, but Jesus is not asking us to do something that He has not already done. He was torn for us – His body tortured and smashed, His heart literally pierced and broken in two. More than that, He was separated for a season from His Father for our sakes – a sacrifice that will take an eternity for us to fathom.

It is inevitable friends that in choosing to follow Jesus our hearts will BE Torn and we will separated from our loved ones for a ‘short’ time for the sake of His Kingdom dreams, for one reason or another. My family knows that searing pain within the heartbeat of the ministry God has given us – but thankfully it comes laced with a good dose of His joy!

Yes… followers of Yeshua are called to follow the way of the cross. Death, separation and brokenness are essential elements of the Kingdom journey of obedience. But let us ever keep before us the incredible promises of resurrection life that will last forever! Let’s not forget the exceedingly joyful reunions and complete healings that will restore what has been lost and transform these unbearable tearings into magnificent crowns!