What if it’s too late?

Last week, while at the Denver airport waiting on my son’s plane to take off for Dallas, a woman came running to the check in counter, hysterical.

“I need to get on that plane! I have kids. We just got here!” She yelled at the gate agent. It had been at least 45 minutes since boarding, if not more.

“I’m sorry, ma’am but it’s too late. All the doors are closed and the plane is ready for take-off,” the gate agent said.

“But, it’s right there!” she yells looking at the plane. “And I have these kids with me,” she points at her 3 teenage sons.

She begs and pleads and I feel her pain as well as the other observers watching this woman.

The woman stares all around and now several gate agents are telling her she can’t get on the plane. She eventually calms down accepts the fact that she’ll be getting a later flight.

I didn’t know this woman’s situation. Maybe she was caught in traffic, didn’t gauge the time right, or just assumed her family would make it fine. The fact that this woman had missed her opportunity to get to her destination got me thinking about my time here on earth and the responsibility I have in sharing my faith with others.

I have friends I pray for each week that they would come to know the Lord, but I have to admit that sometimes it’s easy to give up hope and throw in the towel. Sometimes I coward and don’t want to go deeper. I fear what they’ll think of me. I’m really not crazy, I promise!

I don’t want any of them to be on the outside looking in only wishing they’d accepted God’s love but were so close. I know the truth in how precious and valuable life is and that as the cliche goes, we’re never promised tomorrow. When we die, we will give an account to God as to whether he was the ultimate authority over our lives– the one in whom we wholeheartedly trusted for our salvation by grace through faith– not because of any good thing we’ve done.

For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation. – 2 Cor. 6:2

I don’t know about you but I want to be bolder in my faith, especially as I get older. But I need God’s strength working through me to accomplish his will. I actually pray every day, “where do you want me Lord? What is my mission field for today?” I need his constant direction and guidance.

If you’ve been wanting to talk to a friend about your faith, but just haven’t, do it and don’t wait for the perfect timing, emotions, feelings or day. Count this blog post as a little nudge to go across the room and reach out through a Facebook message, text, phone call, or coffee outing.

Better yet, I’d love to be in prayer with you if you have a friend you’ve been praying for. Feel free to share with me here and I will remember and be in prayer for them.

God includes you in the work He is doing and it is exciting. May we be women who love unconditionally, boldly, and pursue God’s purpose for our lives by fulfilling the Great Commission right where we are.

Samantha

Samantha Krieger is a pastor’s wife, mama, and author of Quiet Time: A 30-day Devotional Retreat for Moms in the Trenches.

 

 

 

 

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When There are No Words, but Tears and Hope {Reflections on the Life of Cassidy Hale}

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Last Wednesday, I had just arrived at church for a prayer meeting when I heard that a serious accident happened just a minute away on County Road 41. It was a fatality.

My heart raced as I learned more about the family and their daughter, Cassidy Hale, who had just been hit by a pick-up truck while on a walk with a friend. She was only 15 1/2 years old. I had never met this beautiful family but immediately I began tearing up as we prayed for them. I couldn’t imagine the pain they were experiencing. One of our church members Roger told me had just seen her just a little bit ago.

My mind and heart immediately reflected back to when I was a freshman in high school in North Carolina and lost two classmates from a car accident weeks before school was about to let out for the summer. The same ache I had for them struck me thinking about Cassidy and her family. I couldn’t stop thinking and praying for them all week.

When I woke up yesterday, a dense fog hovered over our town. My heart had been anxious for this day. It was the day of Cassidy’s funeral. I got showered, the kids all dressed, and dropped them off to my neighbor Jill’s (my brave friend willing to take on a lot of kids!). My husband was there early among other pastors to help where needed.

As I parked and made my way into our town’s event center where the funeral was being held, I saw parents and students supporting one another, huddled in circles and crying on each other’s shoulders. They walked by the table to see Cassidy’s artwork and baby photos up until she was a teenager.

IMG_0522I then saw her casket over to the left. After signing the guestbook, I made my way over and saw her beautiful lifeless body. The moment felt surreal as if I was in a dream and my heart couldn’t keep up with what my eyes were seeing. Tears welled up in my eyes as I looked at her picture frame on top of the casket.

As I sat down, Christian hymns were played on the piano while people were being seated. “All in All,” is the one that hit me the most. As the funeral began, a family member read a piece that Cassidy’s dad wrote about her love for superheroes, overcoming the daily grind of life, and always putting a smile on people’s faces. The pastor spoke about her life and how she was a light, a ray of sunshine to all who knew her. She knew Jesus and was now with him and would want us to know how much He too, loves us. Many came up for prayer after the invitation and showed love and support to her family. About 700 people filled the room.

IMG_1353I never knew Cassidy, as we’ve only lived here a few months, but her life and this whole tragedy has impacted me deeply. Many people would say her life was cut short. And that is true, but she lived a full life, evidence from those who knew her best. In the short amount of time she lived, her impact will reach farther and wider than most people. Because of her life, others came to know the Lord this week. Because of her life, others were encouraged to shine their light brighter too.

It is so difficult to understand the why’s. I have found myself rethinking the accident scene and how it happened and why. I have driven by it a few times. There are no words to say about her sweet young life being cut so short and the pain and suffering her mom and dad and sister are bearing. It is an unimaginable grief.

While at the graveyard, I broke down in tears watching Cassidy’s mom, dad, and sister set their roses on top of her casket. As a mother to four children, my heart ached most for her mom as I watched the pain she was enduring for her first born child. Her precious daughter that she raised and loved and sacrificed for. It was an image forever seared in my mind that I will never forget.

The hope in the midst of such a heartbreaking tragedy is that this earth is not our home. This earth and everything in it will pass away. We have all been given a dash. Cassidy’s was from March 14, 2000 – September 16, 2015. God has an appointed time for me and you. We must be ready for that time because we never know when it will be.

Do you know Jesus? Not just know of him, but do you know him intimately? Do you have a personal relationship with him and are confident that when you die you will meet him face to face and will have to give an account of your life spent on earth? Do you know how crazy in love he is with you, so much that he suffered and died on a cross to save you from your sins? Are you ready to accept his free gift of salvation and choose him as your Savior?

These are the questions Cassidy would want us to confidently answer.

In reflecting on this tragedy and Cassidy’s life, I’ve also seen that there is so much hope and light seen when a community comes together and genuinely supports each other. We hear the news immediately. We pray on the spot. We show love through serving. No matter how well we know the person, we mourn together. It is an ache that does not go away.

IMG_1349There is hope when we know that one day God is going to redeem all that has been lost from us. There is hope because we know The story isn’t over. There is hope that one day Jesus is going to wipe away every tear from our eyes and there will indeed be no more suffering. For those who know Jesus and knew Cassidy, there will one day be rejoicing in heaven together.

After the fog lifted off our little town the day of her funeral, the sun peered through the clouds and there was a gentle breeze. It was as if God was letting us see the light to remind us of the brilliant sunshine that Cassidy was to so many people in our town. And to also remind us that it is only through that we will find everlasting life.

You are thought of constantly and remembered, Cassidy Hale. You are in my prayers Jackie, Randy, and Tayler.

10 things the Cross has saved me from

… continues to save me from:

anger, control, pride, fear, condemnation, envy, shame, bitterness, anxiety, lust.

The weight of my sin on the cross was great, but not greater than the One who took it upon his shoulders:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rFvMzDlsmig]

Whiter than Snow

Last week, while we were eating out I gazed out the window and snow started sprinkling out of the dark sky, covering the sheet of snow on the ground. It was heavenly. So clean. Fresh. Pure. I could almost taste it. I laughed and smiled like a little girl.

I was reminded of the verse in Isaiah that says: “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” – Isa. 1:18

Sin stains. It’s dirty. Evil. Wicked. It breaks the heart of God. It has separated all of us from His love. Its pathway leads to death.

Sin doesn’t deserve to be made whiter than snow.

But because of Jesus’ suffering on the cross, his resurrection, and our repentance and belief in Him, we’re made clean again. The crimson stain is blotted out because of his shed blood- as if we’ve never rebelled at all.

Today, even though there’s no blanket of snow keeping the ground warm here in Dallas, I feel like a little girl leaping for joy that my sins are forgiven, but also perplexed why God chooses to save us?


Josh Wilson: Savior, Please

I’ve heard a lot about singer/songwriter Josh Wilson lately. This song has been so refreshing and is a powerful reminder of who I am not, and all that God is and how he continues to save me day by day.

I hope you’ll listen to these lyrics and be encouraged by God’s love for you today.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=diUhGip85U8&eurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.journeymanproject.org%2Fpage%2F2%2F&feature=player_embedded#t=250]Savior, please take my hand .

My Surrender Anniversary

Today is what I call my “surrender anniversary.” The story goes like this… as a young girl growing up in Charleston, South Carolina, my Mom brought my sister and I to church every Sunday (my Dad at that time didn’t want anything to do with “religion” at that time). So she was faithful in bringing us and when I was six years old, our pastor Jack came over to my house. His purpose was to tell me more about Jesus- that He died for me and that I was a sinner in need of a Savior. If I believed and accepted him, I would have eternal life and would be saved from a life spent in hell.

In that moment sitting in our living room, I remember it as clear as day and I accepted “Jesus into my heart” that day. I truly understood that God was Creator and that I had some sin issues (ie. I stole a few lollypops from Eckerds drug store). I needed him and I desperately wanted to go to Heaven. That day I truly believed.

BUT… still being so young and as I headed into my elementary and middle school years, I kept thinking I had to do “good” and that if I messed up, God would be mad at me. I didn’t quite get the relationship part. I’m pretty sure I rededicated my life about 10 times at youth camps and Sunday services.

High school came and I dabbled in a few things that were keeping me from having the life God wanted. There were sins blocking my path and I knew it. One summer as a sophomore, I took significant trips back to back (that my parents graciously gave to me) that were milestones in my life. One was to Frontier Ranch in Buena Vista Colorado with Young Life and one was to Panama City Beach, FL with my youth group. Both trips showed me so much about life and God. One night in Florida, a youth speaker at our conference spoke on “Surrender”. I had never heard the word and didn’t know much about it, but the words he was saying shot straight to the depths of my heart.

So I asked my pastor David and he explained it me like this, “It’s giving God everything in your life and letting him take full control. As if to say, I’m done. I surrender.” At that moment, I got it. I knew I didn’t have a surrendered life. Jesus was not LORD of my life (He was just there). But I wanted him to be. So that night I allowed God to take my mess and turn it into good. It’s not that I wasn’t saved or didn’t believe at age 6, it was just all a part of this process that God was doing. And it wasn’t like I was going to be perfect right away. God just knew what my heart’s desire was and He was going to help me in this idea of making him first in everything in my life.

That was June 16, 1998. The date is marked in pink in my Bible to this day. Every year, I try and take the day to reflect on what God did in my life and to see where I’ve come from. His grace changed my world and the lens in which I saw him. And today my love for him is wider, as I see all that I am not and all that He IS.

His grace extends to all of us, no matter where we’ve been. And his grace holds us for future things to come.

Thank you Lord, that you are an awesome God.

A Cheap Gospel

Over the past few years, I’ve been wrestling with several things that pertain to true salvation and people who claim to be “Christian.” It seems like many people say they are a Christian or at least go to church but when it comes to watching their life day in and day out, you wouldn’t be able to tell that they’ve been transformed by Christ.

And before I go further, I want to mention I’ve had instances in my life where people would probably have said the same thing. In no way, shape, or form was I acting like Who I proclaimed to follow. But my heart’s desire was truly to do God’s will, but because of the sin still in me, I struggled (and by God’s grace, today, many of those struggles are gone- though I’m still not perfect). But I’m wrestling with why deeds aren’t often matched with a faith that is proclaimed. Paul said faith without works, is dead. And that we will know if someone truly knows Christ by the evidence of fruit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control).

For example, I have found myself really upset at people who claim to be Christian but hate others with a passion. When Jeremiah and I were at Bush’s Inaugaration in 2004, we ran into a sign (from a protester or something) by a “Christian” that read “God hates fags.” It made me so angry. This person had no clue about the true gospel. There are many churches out there that claim lots of things, but you can’t find an ounce of love in their blood. And you realize that it’s no wonder so many people hate Christians or won’t step foot in the church. I wouldn’t for one second, want to know to know about Jesus, if a person like that was all I had to learn from.

I won’t go too long on that soapbox but I think the gospel today has been sugar-coated, fit into a box of individual preference, and altogether cheapened. Because the gospel is nothing but costly. It calls us to come and die- to put Christ above self pleasures and to surrender our lives to Him. And if that happens to mean a serious illness, broken arm, or even death, it doesn’t matter because we live for Christ. And we can still have joy in the midst of trial.

It is about Jesus, coming down as a man, to die a criminal’s death to save us from our sin. The price of our sin was something we could not pay on our own. He bore our sins so that we might live for righteousness (again nothing we could ever do).

If this is the gospel we proclaim and if it’s a gospel that has truly transformed us, then we will go out into the world and love as Christ did and people will know we are His by the love that we give.

Is anyone else resonating with these thoughts?

The Weight of the Cross

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rFvMzDlsmig]Last week, a gunman in the small town of Binghamton, New York took the lives of 13 people, including his own. The ugly darkness of evil and sin were yet again exposed to our world. And in the midst of such tragedy (around Easter), I’m compelled to look inwardly at the evil and sin in my own heart.

I often relate Easter-time to the blue-colored peeps and big chocolate bunnies hidden in grass that I found in my basket on Sunday mornings growing up. But I’m learning that Easter is everything but that. Easter is about dealing and grappling with the sin in my heart in light of the cross.

Motivated by love, Christ took on his shoulders the weight of my sin. Ever since the fall, I’ve had a major sin problem—or you could say a “thought” problem. So God, in human flesh, descended from the heavens to enter my messy world and eventually die a criminal’s death on a cross to rescue me from that sin and bondage.

Mark 7:21 says, “For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery.” There it is. That sin problem disclosed again. I guess I was wrong and I’m not as perfect after all.

Christ came to heal every person’s brokenness and to restore his image within them. His wounds have healed us. Because of his resurrection, Jesus proved he wasn’t a liar or a lunatic. But that he was God. Because of his life, we now have life. And that is something worth celebrating this Easter.

Video Credit: Chad Madden: Bluefish TV

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