Religion

Mama, I’ll never say goodbye

What is a Mother; or better yet, who is my Mother? 

She is the one that labored 16 hours at my birth so I could enter into this world. She was the first person to ever lovingly caress me and speak the words, “I love you, Tommy.” She was the first one that held me in her lap and sang, “Jesus Loves Me.” She was the one that made sure I was dedicated to the Lord as a baby. She was the one that made sure I never missed Sunday School or church. She was the one that prayed for me every night of my childhood.  She was the one that took me to piano lessons and listened to me play and sing gospel hymns. 

My mom was very protective of me and once said, “If anyone ever hurts my son again, I’m going to come to this school and knock them into the middle of next week!” My mom never missed a sporting event of mine in my childhood days. Every baseball, basketball, football game and every track meet from the time I was 9 years old until 18 she never ever missed. The coaches thought the game could not start until Mrs. Meekins showed up. She yelled louder, screamed louder and had a few choice words for the referee when she didn’t like the call.

On a spiritual note, she was the most faithful member of Church On The Rock. She was always early to church to lead prayer for the service and she sat in the same chair every Sunday in the second row. She was the kind of person that would spend a dollar on herself and give a hundred dollars to someone else.  She was a faithful prayer warrior for Love Network in the early days as well as a faithful giver.

In the last days of my mom’s life we had a special conversation. She was dying and it was a special blessing that she spoke over my life. She spoke about 4 categories regarding my future. She said, “Please continue the Love Network concerts because these concerts are special and brings unity to the churches in the Baytown area. The second thing she mentioned was that she thought I should write a religious column for the Baytown Sun. Thirdly, she said, “Tommy, I see nothing wrong with you putting The Coastliners back together. Your music put a lot of smiles on so many faces. People loved your music and will love it again.” Finally, she mentioned to me as she looked into my eyes, “One day, you will build your beautiful home, Oakland On Burnet Bay.”

My mother, Velma Lee Meekins passed away on Sept. 24, 1997. Shortly after her passing, I realized as her main caregiver that I never had a final moment with my mom to say goodbye.  One day in prayer, I approached the throne room of grace and I asked the Lord, “Will you allow me to say goodbye to my mother?  I know she has been gone just a short while but would you grant my request?” 

Whether in a dream or whether I was received up into heaven, I’m not sure, but I was standing before my mother. She had a solemn, but happy look on her face. We were in a room full of light and there was no one else around.  She had on a light blue robe as we stood face to face. We both shared a loving but abbreviated smile. When I spoke, I was surprised at what I said. I simply said, “I’ll never say goodbye, I’ll only say, I love you.”

On a final note, all the things my mom spoke to me have come to pass. The Love Network concerts have continued since her death in 1997. The Coastliners began rehearsing the next month after her death. I have been writing for the Baytown Sun for 20 years and my first article was a Mother’s Day article entitled, “Who Is My Mother?” Also, the vision of my home came to pass Oct. of 2002; “Oakland On Burnet Bay, a taste of Heaven On Earth.”

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom, and may heaven shine brighter because you are there.

— Tommy Meekins

Don’s Daily Parable - All of a Sudden

We’ve all heard or used that expression a lot of times haven’t we? “I was going down the street and all of a sudden…” You can fill in the rest. If you analyze that expression, it really doesn’t make much sense, does it? “All” of a sudden. Not just “part” of a sudden. How about “Most of a sudden?”, or “Not quite of a sudden.” Anyway, you’ve heard it and used it.

The expression describes an event that occurs when we least expect it. We are typically not expecting it. I can think of an event that I have relayed to you in a parable quite some time ago, when we were in a very bad car accident back in September of 1971.

We had just purchased a 1971 Oldsmobile Cutlass, the first new car that we had ever had. It was very pretty and kind of sporty. It was a two-door hardtop. This was on Labor Day. Pat and I and Jarrod and Paula had been to visit with my brother Paul and his wife Rita, and their son, David in Houston. I had just washed and waxed the Cutlass and was so proud of it.

On the way back from Houston, it started pouring down rain. We were on Hwy-225 in Pasadena when, ‘all of a sudden’, a car was right in front of me, headed in my direction. He attempted to make a right turn in front of me. There was no signal light at the intersection, so the driver just took his chances, thinking he could make it. There was no thinking on my part. I doubt that I even applied my brakes. I was knocked unconscious during the wreck, so I have no idea of what happened during the accident, other than what Pat told me. 

The first thing I remember clearly was waking up in the emergency room with a doctor stitching a cut on my forehead. I found out that my femur was broken, just below the hip joint. A few years prior to that, my hip was surgically fused so that it would not bend at all. Seat belts were not required then, so when our vehicles hit, I went forward with my head hitting the windshield post and snapping my femur. 

As a result of that, the doctor had to put in a metal plate, and I had to once again, return to that body cast. I cannot tell you how pleased I was to hear that (note sarcasm in my voice). That turned into a 3 ½ month stint, then a second surgery when the bone graft did not take. So, you can see, ‘all of a sudden’ can mean big changes in a very short time. Things like this have happened to all of us. As you have heard, things can change in an instant, with no warning at all. 

One day, we will hear the trumpet blow and Jesus Christ will come back. No man, and even Jesus Christ himself knows the hour or the day. We MUST be ready. Are you? I can tell you how. He’ll come ‘all of a sudden’. God bless you.

—Don Cunningham

Faith News: Ascension

I once was privileged to perform a wedding in Provence, France. The young couple invited me to spend a week in a French Chateau with them and the whole wedding party as we prepared for their wedding. Each day they planned a special trip somewhere in the French countryside. On Thursday, though, all the banks and many of the places we wanted to see were closed.   

I couldn’t figure out why things were closed. Then I read an explanation in French. I don’t know any French, but my knowledge of Spanish was enough to verify that the banks and museums were closed because it was a national holiday: Ascension Day. Yesterday, May10, was a national holiday in France.

Now some of you may sarcastically think that the French jump at any excuse to have a holiday, but I like the fact that they observed a national holiday that we do not.

In the opening of the Acts of the Apostles, Luke tells about the apostles asking that question of Jesus before the Lord ascends into heaven: "Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?"

We do not know when Christ will come again or when God will establish his kingdom on earth. Jesus said that repeatedly in the Gospel stories. "Of that day or that hour no one knows," Jesus taught, "not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father" (Mark 13:32). Jesus himself did not know the time, and if people claim that they do, they are saying that they know more than our Lord knows. Thus, Jesus' command to us is, "watch!" Be prepared for his coming again.  

Having said that, Jesus ascended into heaven, and as he did, the disciple’s jaws descended. 

Following Jesus’ exit there entered two men in white, reminiscent of the two men in white at the tomb after Jesus was raised from the dead. These two men in white, who apparently are angels, ask the disciples a question. “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven?" Like sightseers in New York City mesmerized by the height of the downtown skyscrapers, the disciples stand awestruck, drop jawed, staring into the sky. 

Then the angels gave the promise of Christ's second coming. "This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven." The two men in white brought them back down to earth. They said, “stop staring and get moving!

Today, there are still some staring at the sky.  There are some people who spend a lot of time standing around looking up, being so heavenly minded that they are little earthly good.  Even today there are people trying to figure out the date of the Lord's second coming — making charts and posters with lines and arrows and numbers and dates. Ever since Jesus ascended into heaven there have been countless times when someone has decided that such-and-such a date will mark the time when the Lord Jesus will return.  I think April 23, 2018 was the most recent prediction. I’m still here. If you are reading this, so are you.

We have not been called into the Christian faith as disciples of our Lord to stand around gawking up into the sky and to engage in idle speculation about when Jesus will return. We have been called to tell about our new life in Christ to all the persons around us, and in fact, to the ends of the earth. We are called by the way we live our lives and by the way we testify in our homes and in our society and in our world that Jesus Christ is ascended to the Father and now reigns as Lord over all. We are called to live in such a way that when the end does come, whether it’s our end and we go to be with Jesus, or it is THE end and Jesus returns to be with those who are still alive on earth, our Lord will be able to say to us, "well done, thou good and faithful servant. Enter into the kingdom prepared for you." 

Should our time come before he comes again, we will observe first hand, not just an anniversary of his ascension, but we will be caught up in our own ascension.

—Jim Gill

Kingdom of Heaven 

The phrase “kingdom of God” is found 69 times in the New Testament, and “kingdom of heaven” is found 32 times (all contained in the Gospel of Matthew.)The Bible teaches us some very important things about the Kingdom of Heaven.

1. John, Jesus, and the 12 apostles all preached that the Jewish people should “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Matt. 3:2; 4:17; 10:7.) In fact, “Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom” (Matt. 4:23.) That the kingdom of heaven was “at hand” indicateds that it’s establishment was near, close. 

2. Prophets foretold of the coming of the Kingdom in the Old Testament. Seven hundred years before Christ was born, Isaiah prophesied, “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom” (Isaiah 9:6-7; cf. 2 Sam. 7:12-13). 

2a. The prophet Daniel said to King Nebuchadnezzar: “And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever” (Dan. 2:44). In interpreting King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, he spoke of four distinct, earthly kingdoms: Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Grecian, and Roman. Daniel declared that in the days of that fourth kingdom (Roman Empire), the God of heaven would set up a kingdom that would never be destroyed. Of course, the Romans ruled the world at the time of John and Christ (Luke 2:1-2; 3:1). 

2b. Later Daniel also recorded that he was “watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, Coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed” (Dan. 7:13-14). Prophecy was fulfilled following Christ’s resurrection from the dead and ascension into Heaven (Mk. 16:19; Acts 2:33; Eph. 1:20-23; 1 Pet. 3:22).

3. The Nature of the Kingdom – not of this world, spiritual, and eternal in its duration. Jesus told Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). When the Lord was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He said: “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you” (Lk. 17:20-21). The angel told Mary that her Son Jesus would “reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end” (Lk. 1:31-33). 

Please visit us at www.biblework.com.

—Jesse Flowers

The War Between Good and Evil

A great deal of human activity is prompted by the historic conflict between good and evil. Many of us have been conditioned religiously and culturally to believe that when we engage in any form of resistance to perceived evil that we are doing God's own work. Such involvement is an act of righteousness, in effect.

Logically, then, those against whom we act in righteousness are  minions of Satan. Nothing would seem to be more straightforward and incontrovertible in our own minds. We all honor above all our individual ability to determine what is right and wrong. Then we are driven by a combination of pride, aggressiveness, civic responsibility, and religious fervor to eliminate the proponents of the evil, often with a ruthlessness that justifies any and all means. Stated national principles, traditional ethical standards, and even religious doctrine are often summarily dismissed in the propagation of this "righteous warfare".

However, if one pays attention to the early Bible story you notice that Satan was the one who lured mankind into gaining the knowledge of good and evil, which forms the background for all the subsequent good versus evil drama. God warned Adam and by extension all humanity against the pursuit of good versus evil, but Satan intervened and subverted God's message. As a result mankind has been on a history long mission to make the world a better place by applying the knowledge of good and evil so as to eliminate one another. In the process the concept of righteousness has been defined to include repeating the original sin.

In a recent television documentary I heard sociologists suggest that human warfare was a form of catalyst for the development of civilization. Such is actually suggested by the Genesis story since the presence of the Tree of Knowledge made the acquisition of its fruit basically foreordained along with the resulting consequences to the mindset of mankind.

Humanity's obsession with conflict may have been a part of God's plan in the beginning, but nothing says that this initial need to experience the effects of the knowledge of good and evil should remain the focus of human thinking and behavior forever. In fact, the story of Jesus loudly proclaims that all the old ways in which mankind pursued righteousness were actually detrimental. Jesus taught and lived according to a different mindset, one that developed out of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge but not by pursuing that fruit but by learning to avoid its poisonous effects. Jesus, in stead, embraced the fruit of the Tree of Life, which mirror the fruits of the spirit.

The two Trees in the Garden beckon to us to this day. We pick and choose between them in almost every decision we make about our relationship with one another and simultaneously with God. When we operate out of the Tree of Knowledge we do Satan's bidding and not God's. Please visit us at http://sjolanderroadfellowship.com.

—Rick Crotts

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