Thursday, March 25, 2010

Plant a Seed of HOPE Today

Do you wonder when BAD Things Happen to GOOD People?

Recently, a South Florida District Superintendent of the Wesleyan Church wrote, “This morning, [Friday, March...12:15 a.m.], Shelley finished her last lap and crossed the finish line into the very presence of Jesus.”

Shelley Berry served as Administrative Assistant in the South Coastal district office. She worked in ministry with her husband Dan for more than 35 years. In September 2007, the Berrys were returning home to Conyers, GA, after celebrating Shelly’s final radiation treatment for breast cancer. Their vehicle was T-boned by a speeding vehicle, resulting in a horrible accident. BAD THINGS do happen to GOOD PEOPLE!

Shelley was life-lined into Atlanta. There she began a three-year hospital struggle with a brain injury. Her medical reports were viewed by thousands of people on the Web site, and they became subjects of many special prayer meetings. In spite of the best of everyone's efforts by family and medical support, she is now survived by two sons: one a staff member at a Lawrenceville, Georgia church, the other a dental student at Indiana University School of Dentistry, and two grandchildren.

Minister Berry affirmed that a “Christian’s death should be a road marker pointing toward Jesus. In the final hours of his tragedy, he declares, “I made a promise to see her on the other side. I know today that Shelley must be getting my place prepared . . . Today, she is worshipping around the throne of God and harmonizing with the angels.

As many of us have learned, the Christian life is NOT an insurance policy protecting us against tragedy, suffering, poverty, or death. Committing one’s life to Christ is NOT a guarantee to health and wealth. Christianity is far more than a “prosperity gospel.” Faith is not a peck sack we give God in exchange for what we want, although some try to reduce God’s loving grace to such a formula.

Fouad Masri, a peer in ministry, tells this story that helps us understanding this delemma. While in the Middle East this past summer, he writes, “the owner of a baklava store asked me, "Why does the New Testament says that Jesus died on the cross? It's not fair that the messenger of God loses." In return, I asked him, "What glorifies God more: that He escaped death or that He conquered death" (Emphasis added)?

Several moments passed, and the man smiled and said, "I've never heard an answer like that. Do you have a Bible I can read?" Although I didn't have a Bible with me at the time, I left that afternoon with a box of baklava, one less copy of the Adha in the Ineel, and the joy of knowing God had firmly planted a seed in that man's heart.

So many people lack hope of such a promise. Some struggle as they attempt to equate material blessings with the blessings of God. Muslims and numerous others believe they must toil for good deeds in hopes that when Judgment Day comes, their good works outweigh the bad (earn passage into heaven). Some are taught that Christians made up a shameful lie about the crucifixion and that Jesus escaped death on a cross; and, for them, the cross is the end.

For Christians, the cross is a beginning, a reason for re-telling the Easter Story. For Christians, Easter is not a one-day-a-year celebration but a 365-day-a-year walking relationship with the Living Christ. Romans 6:9 and 11 tells us, "For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, He cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over Him. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus."

Wayne at Warner’s World,

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