Is All Hope Gone?

IMG_1526He’s up well before dawn, already glued to his display of computer monitors.  Hour after hour after hour, he watches; analyzing every dip or gain on his screens; debating with himself the best course of action; celebrating or mourning his bottom line.  His whole life depends on how well he can play the game—the new home, the Lexus in the driveway, the kids’ private schools—all potentially gone in an instant.  He recalls the stories his dad told him of Black Tuesday, that terrible day in 1929 when the stock market crashed and people were literally jumping out of windows to their death.  What if it happens again?  What if he loses everything?

She stares intently into the mirror.  Is that little line a new wrinkle?  Better make an appointment for some more Botox.  Sure is a good thing she’s got great hair—oh, but wait; is that a strand of gray?  Breakfast is on the run with the latest high nutrition/low-calorie energy drink in hand, and she’s off to the gym to run and climb and lift and push and pull.  By the time she’s finished, every muscle in her body will have had a workout, and every ounce of fat will have been burned away.  Her career depends on looking great, no matter how hard the advancing years are pressing in; and she so stressed out by it all that somewhere in the week she really must make some time to see her therapist.

And so goes life for many people; perhaps in ways not as obvious as the illustrations above, but still jam-packed with worry and stress about jobs, family, education, health, the economy, world affairs.  Gone are the legendary ‘good old days’ when life was beautiful all the time.  Hope has disappeared, and the future looks bleak.  Just turn on the news if you think otherwise.  Right?

Wrong!!!

Hopelessness, discouragement, depression, fear; all of them are nothing less than smokescreens designed to keep mankind from seeing the truth that there is light at the end of the tunnel.  God’s light, and His words of love prove it better than anything I could ever say…

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand upright. Psalm 20:7-8

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”   Lamentations 3:22-24

I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. Psalm 16:8-9

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Psalm 46:1-3

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  John 1:5

God is On the Move in Southern California!!!

God is on the move in Southern California!!!

Every day, we are seeing new evidence of His handiwork, the magnitude of which is so amazing that it’s difficult to describe;  but my friend, Paul L Cox of Aslan’s Place, has done a wonderful job of writing an introduction to what is happening.

The Harvest Has Begun

Something is happening in the High Desert of Southern California, and it looks and feels like the early rumblings of revival.

Some weeks ago, I was with a pastor-friend from Hesperia and he told me the Lord had directed him to start going witnessing door-to-door. He was surprised but obedient; and in awe, he reported that at every house that he visited the people not only received him but also received Christ as their Savior. I am also hearing of this kind of evangelism beginning in other places.

My wife, Donna, and I recently began attending Abundant Living Family Church in Hesperia, a multi-generational and multi-cultural church fellowship. I was wonderfully surprised to see that Mark Graham, the pastor, invites people to stand to receive Christ as Savior during each service, and many people respond each time. I have not seen this since the Jesus Movement in the late 60’s and 70’s, and now, 40 years after the height of the Jesus Movement in 1974, it is happening again!

When Donna and I moved up to the High Desert in 1994 we began receiving many prophetic words that there would be a great move of God here. One particular word said that cars would be backed up at the off ramps of Interstate 15 in the High Desert waiting in line to reach the locations where the tangible presence of God was located. We also met many individuals who told us that God had told them to move to the High Desert because a revival would be taking place.

During the following years, everywhere that I went in the world I would hear similar prophecies of revival coming. Often, during our local schools and seminars, words would also come indicating that that we should anticipate revival and an amazing influx of the power of God. During all these years, we have seen many wonderful moves of the Lord, but nothing as dramatic as what has been prophesied. While many of God’s moves were gracious renewals of Christians, included many magnificent healings, where was the great outpouring that would lead to thousands coming into the Kingdom?

On Pentecost of 2013, Kevin Basconi of King of Glory Ministries in Moravian Falls, NC was visiting with us. Two days prior, the Lord had spoken to us to call for a gathering at Aslan’s Place and I invited Kevin to join us. We certainly were not expecting what happened! At sundown, as Pentecost began, we started by simply waiting on the Lord. Suddenly, I felt like someone had grabbed the back of my head and was squeezing it like one would squeeze an orange. We asked the Lord what was happening and the Holy Spirit revealed that I was discerning God the Father as the Power.

Matthew 26:64 (NKJV) Jesus said to him [the High Priest], “It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

Suddenly I had an insight that I had never had before. Just before Pentecost the Lord promised His followers that the Holy Spirit would come upon them and they would receive Power. Could it be that what they received was the revelation of the Father as “The Power”? It is the revelation of the Father as “The Power” that is being released on the earth.

JThis Power is now releasing a move of God that will result in a billion souls coming into the Kingdom of God. Doug Addison wrote of this September 16, 2014.[1]

“Arthur Burt was a revivalist in the U.K. and was given a powerful prophetic word from God in 1934 entitled: And There Shall Be No Ebb. “It shall come as a breath and the breath shall bring the wind and the wind shall bring the rain. And there shall be floods and floods and floods and torrents and torrents and torrents. Souls shall be saved like falling leaves from mighty oaks swept by a hurricane. Arms and legs shall come down from Heaven. And there shall be no ebb.” Arthur died August 28, 2014 at 102 years old. Bob Jones had prophesied that Arthur would see his 1934 prophecy come to pass in his lifetime. This is the year of the release of Arthur Burt’s life-long prophetic word and Bob Jones’ word of one billion people coming into the Kingdom. Both of these great men went back to Heaven this year. The prophetic sign in Arthur’s death: he died at age 102 on 8/28. Psalm 102 is the cry to God to see Him move again. But 102:28 is a prophetic word for what is coming.”

And, Psalm 102:28 says, “The children of Your servants will continue,
And their descendants will be established before You.”

On January 7, 2007, I was with Patricia King and several others at a summit for the New Year. This was just after the Lord had given us the Prayer to Release the Living Stones at Aslan’s Place. I remember wondering at the airport what would happen to me. Even though I had pastored for 20 years, it seemed there was no longer a place for me in the institutional church. I said to the Lord, “I know where I have come from, but where am I going?” With this reflection in my mind, I heard Stacy Campbell deliver a profound word.

“There’s a great transformation going on in the Body of Christ in the globe. And the forms and the structures—they’re coming down from the old wineskin, and a new wineskin is being built, but it’s very hard to discern. But what is coming? The harvest that is coming is so big, it cannot be contained in one structure. And this is the key—the life is in the bricks. Living stones. They’re alive! They’re alive! They contain His Spirit! So the key is not to discern the form, but the key is to discern the brick. Who are you in God? But whenever you discern the stone, uh huh, uh huh, I see that stone! I know that stone–that’s an Apostolic stone. That’s a Prophet stone. That’s a healing stone! And you begin to let the old stones go with the young stones. The male stones go side-by-side with the female stones. When you discern the stones, you will put those living stones that contain life together with other living stones that contain life, and they will build a container for the times to house the presence of God.  It’s too small! It will NEVER be able to contain what God is about, to millions and millions and millions. Yea, a billion souls harvest that will need stone joined with stone, joined with stone united, and not divided!”

It is now 20 years since we came to the High Desert. Last Sunday, September 28, Pastor Mark Graham shared in church that the Lord told him the night before that revival had come to the High Desert. During that service, the Presence of God filled the room and the pastor walked up and down the aisle praying for people. The Lord’s Glory was obviously present. No sermon was given, and no offering was taken. At the end of the service Mark said the Lord had asked him to call for 14 days of prayer, meeting each night at 6:00pm. Last night, Monday, September 29, 2014, he handed out a call to prayer. He was clear that this was not about a pastor or a church, but about the Kingdom of God. It was time to seek the Face of God and not His Hand. It was time to ask Jesus to come and live in our midst. It was time to cry out that His will be done on earth as it is done in heaven.

Would you join in prayer with those of us in High Desert of Southern California that His Kingdom will come, not only here but also in your community? Consider the following list of prayer points from last night, and pray that:

  • Jesus and His message will return to the High Desert.
  • Salvations in the High Desert throughout all of the houses of worship will explode.
  • Biblical signs and wonders will increase dramatically, both in our families and the houses of worship.
  • Our corporate obedience will increase to Jesus.
  • Our personal obedience will increase to Jesus.
  • Our regional government will turn over and be filled with Spirit-led politicians.
  • America will be shielded from all terror, and that our hearts as a nation will return to Him.

2 Chronicles 7:14–16 (NKJV), “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place. For now I have chosen and sanctified this house, that My name may be there forever; and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually.”

[1] Just in the month of September, 2014 the following articles contained reference to this new move:
– Rick Joyner: “The Full Manifestation of Jesus in Our Midst” September 28, 2014
– The Tsunami of Glory is Coming-Be There September 23, 2014
– Steve Scroggs: “The Signs of the Harvest! Can You See the Signs?”September 22, 2014
– Tim Sheets “The Alarm Clock of Heaven Is Now Ringing… Power to Prevail is Being Poured Out!” “My Shaking Has Come. I Am – Shaking Earth. I Am Shaking Heaven” “The Third Great Awakening Shall Now Advance in Tidal Waves of My Power” September 9, 2014

I Had a Dream of the Triumphant Church

 

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Echoing in my mind as I awoke a few days ago were the words made famous by Martin Luther King, “I had a dream;” and for the night that had just transpired, that was one of the biggest understatements imaginable. It had been an amazing experience as one dream segment flowed into another, and then another—waking often for a brief moment, only to quickly fall back to sleep for a continuation of the sequence. When morning finally arrived I knew I needed to write as much of it down as possible, but already the scenes were quickly fading.

In a dream, in a vision of the night, When deep sleep falls upon men, While slumbering on their beds, Then He opens the ears of men, And seals their instruction. Job 33:15-16

Like a dream when one awakes, O Lord, when you rouse yourself, you despise them as phantoms. Psalm 73:20

What remained was the sure and certain knowledge that I had just witnessed the glory of the LORD being released among His people in a way that we perhaps have never seen since the first Pentecost; since that day when Jesus’ followers who had obediently waited for the coming of the Holy Spirit finally received Him.

When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. Acts 2:1-4

Failing to recall all of the specifics, yet still reeling from the weighty presence of God throughout the night, I wrote the little that I could recall in my journal; and yet I knew that in one of my waking moments a familiar song had been resounding in my spirit, a song I knew I wouldn’t forget; but I did. So I asked the LORD to remind me if it was important and, to be quite honest, I didn’t really expect Him to do it. But i immediately remembered the Gaither’s incredible song, The Church Triumphant. Please, please visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WtCV_ysZC04 to listen and be blessed by the song, and join with me to rejoice that God’s Church is indeed alive and well.

In recent times, many of us have focused much attention on terrible circumstances—the terrible state of the world, the terrible state of the economy, the terrible state of our families or relationships, the terrible state of the modern-day church that has so compromised itself with the world. And indeed, the terrible truth of Romans 2:18-34 is everywhere we look.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

I would now contend that it’s time for the Church to change its focus. The evil all around us is only going to increase until the Day of the Lord, but we needn’t allow that to distract us from our triumphant Jesus. As a picture is blurred when the focus is off, so is the vision of the Church; and all we need is a simple adjustment to turn our gaze upon the One who has already overcome all evil at the cross. Romans 1:16-17 remains just as relevant today as the succeeding verses that were just quoted…

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

Remember those faithful disciples who went into that upper room and waited for the coming of the Spirit? Many of us have much in common with them! We have been waiting for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit for years and years and years. We have waited and waited, standing in faith on the promises of God. What if our wait is just about over? I absolutely believe it is!  I’ve have held onto that promise for such a long time it seems; but now, after that night of glory-filled dreams in which the church was exploding for righteousness at every turn, I’m certain that the Church, God’s Church, is very definitely alive and well; and the triumphant power of Jesus through the presence of the Holy Spirit is even now being poured out upon the world.

Let this day of Pentecost be a day that history will look back at as the turning point, as the day when the Holy Spirit began to blow anew throughout creation to revolutionize the Bride of Christ as she prepares for the arrival of her Bridegroom.

He’s Kidding…Isn’t He?

ID-10083939    Television, Internet, newspapers—any media; take your pick, and it will be full of bad news—violence, dissention, hurricanes, fires, deception, scandals, unemployment, and more.  So, while only God himself knows exactly where we are in terms of the end times, we’re certainly far enough along for people to be overcome with negative emotions—disgust, hopelessness, anxiety, depression, worry, fear.  But, as He explained what end times would look like to the disciples, Jesus said that these things should not be frightening .

 “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray.  And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet.  For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places.  All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.  “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake.  And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another.  And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray.  And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. (Matthew 24:4-12)

    He must have been kidding!!! Could knowledge of such a dire future be comforting?  Yes, because it comes with His promise.

But the one who endures to the end will be saved.  And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:13-14)

    These days it can be hard to trust others because, somewhere along the way, deception and manipulation seem to have become acceptable behavior in order to achieve a goal.  Some might ask how we can trust what Jesus said?  How do we know that He was any different than our leaders today; that He was telling the truth?  What’s His track record?  Are we really supposed to believe that we don’t need to worry?  That doesn’t seem logical, or even possible! 

    Evidence that God’s word is true is overwhelming, and many volumes have been written documenting fulfilled prophecies and promises.  So let’s narrow it down and get specific regarding His track record with people who were told not to fear.  Is there proof that He came through for them—that He kept His word?

    Abram was already 75 years old when God told him to pack up, leave his home, and go to another country; all based on His promise that, “I will make of you a great nation.”  Years passed—difficult years—years of famine, fear, family friction, battle—years in which no heir of whom a great nation would come had been born.

After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.” (Genesis 15:1)

    Even more difficult and disappointing years passed before Isaac finally came along; and Abram, renamed Abraham, was 100 years old.  Yet, through all of the trials, he steadfastly chose to believe God and to continue on in faith.

    Isaac had grown up and married when there was another famine, and God showed up to restate the promise he’d made to Abraham.

And the Lord appeared to him and said, “… I will be with you and will bless you, for to you and to your offspring I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath that I swore to Abraham your father.  I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and will give to your offspring all these lands. And in your offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.” (Genesis 26:2-5)

And the Lord appeared to him the same night and said, “I am the God of Abraham your father. Fear not, for I am with you and will bless you and multiply your offspring for my servant Abraham’s sake.” (Genesis 26:24)

    Eventually Isaac’s son, Jacob, had his own encounter with God.

Then God spoke to Israel in the visions of the night, and said, “Jacob, Jacob!”  And he said, “Here I am.”  So He said, “I am God, the God of your father; do not fear to go down to Egypt, for I will make of you a great nation there.  I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also surely bring you up again; and Joseph will put his hand on your eyes.” (Genesis 46:2-4)

    Fast forward to Joshua, just after Moses’ death.  Here he was, 80 years old and taking over the leadership of the Children of Israel, with years of battle ahead in order to seize the land of Canaan.  Talk about someone who could’ve been frightened!  There were giants in that land, and 40 years earlier all of the Israelites except Joshua and Caleb had been so scared that they’d refused to go forward, and ended up wandering around the desert until they all died and a younger-and-braver generation grew up.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:8-10)

[After Joshua’s death] the Lord raised up judges, who saved them out of the hand of those who plundered them.  Yet they did not listen to their judges, for they whored after other gods and bowed down to them.  They soon turned aside from the way in which their fathers had walked, who had obeyed the commandments of the Lord, and they did not do so.  Whenever the Lord raised up judges for them, the Lord was with the judge, and he saved them from the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge.  For the Lord was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who afflicted and oppressed them. (Judges 2:16-18)

    And along came Gideon.  One day an angel showed up with the news that God was calling him to undertake the thankless task of leading this unrighteous bunch.

Then Gideon perceived that he was the angel of the Lord. And Gideon said, “Alas, O Lord God! For now I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face.”  But the Lord said to him, “Peace be to you. Do not fear; you shall not die.” (Judges 6:22-23)

    And how about some prophets?  Jeremiah and Ezekiel were both commissioned by God to warn His hard-hearted people that they were headed for destruction—not a fun job, to say the least.

But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; or to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak.  Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 1:7-9)

And you, son of man, be not afraid of them, nor be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns are with you and you sit on scorpions. Be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, for they are a rebellious house. (Ezekiel 2:6)

    Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; Joshua; Gideon; Jeremiah and Ezekiel; all were told by God to not be afraid in the face of tremendous trials.  Oh, but they were Bible heroes—they were special—right?  No, they were ordinary men, and the only thing that made them that made them any different than others is that they made a choice to believe that God’s would be faithful to His promises.  They all chose faith over fear.  They all understood the truth of words that had not yet even been written by Paul the Apostle…

… we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5: 3-5)

    Still, they lived so long ago in Old Testament times—surely it’s different now.  No, not unless we choose to ignore Jesus, who repeatedly encouraged His followers, “Why are you so afraid?”  “Take courage.”  “Don’t be afraid.”  “Why did you doubt, you of little faith?”   “Do you still have no faith?  It is I—don’t be afraid.”

    So here we are, living in difficult, disheartening and even frightening times; and like those Old Testament believers, we have a choice.  We can choose to dwell in the mire of fear, or we can exercise our faith in God, for He can be trusted to keep His promises.

But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one. (2 Thessalonians 3:3)

Faith of our Fathers

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With Father’s Day approaching, my thoughts turned to my dad and words from an old hymn echoed in my mind, “Faith of our fathers, living still…” My dad’s faith definitely lives on, so in his honor I’d like to share the eulogy I presented at his memorial celebration on March 9, 2009.

Richard R. Kain (1925-2009)

Dad left us a week ago and, as we’ve planned for this memorial service, I’ve not once thought of him as being in this casket—every thought has had more to do with the joy he’s experiencing in heaven—indeed, he’s more alive right now than we are because each of us is still in the process of growing old and dying.  He’s been there and done that, and death can no longer touch him.

So we gather here to celebrate his life—a godly man who was a husband, father, grandfather and friend; a man who loved peanut butter, followed closely by cornbread and fish, a man that we will never forget.

Several days before Dad went home I sat beside his bed in the early morning hours and asked the Lord what He would want me to say at the memorial service and, with Dad sleeping peacefully beside me, I wrote these words:

I sit with my dad in the darkness, but the dark is not really dark for the glory of God is here.  I’m certain angels are here too, and the time is coming soon when he steps into eternity and they escort him home.  Moments, hours or days—it’s very close.  This is a godly man, completing his last assignment on earth—dying.

I’ve observed death many times but its strange watching it happen in my dad.  I’m sure it seems like yesterday to him that he was a child—that he met Mom—that I was born.  Yet, it’s almost done.  The truth of God is evident—life, like the grass of the field; springing up, blossoming, flourishing and then dying in a brief moment in time.  Oh, but it doesn’t end here.  Dad has just begun to live—he’s run his race within the limitations of time and space and I sense that, even now, Jesus is pointing to him and telling all those around to watch the death of a saint—instructing the angels, who long to look into the things of redemption, mercy and the grace that is available to man.  He must be saying, “Look at Richard—this is how it’s done.  All of his human frailties are as nothing—this one loves me—no, even more, he adores and worships me.  And I adore him.”

Perhaps Dad tarries here for a bit as Jesus puts the final touches on his mansion—a beautiful dwelling in God’s city of golden glory—a home where there are no weeds to pull or sprinklers to fix—the perfect place for him to luxuriate in his Lord forever.

And surely, within that cloud of witnesses in heaven there must be such excitement—his mother just dancing at the prospect of hugging her son again—his brothers and sisters joyously anticipating his arrival; ready to show him around and introduce him to the joys of heaven that they’ve already come to know.

Oh, and there’s more.   My dad didn’t see himself as much—he didn’t have a clue about his value and the impact of his life.  But he was—no, he is—an evangelist and an encourager—and a singer.  Can’t you just hear him shouting and singing praises to God, as one after another the many people who are in heaven because he lived and was faithful are introduced?  A child from the days spent in the church nursery for whom he prayed, as he loved on him.  A friend or co-worker that was so impacted by his testimony that they gave their life to God, but Dad never knew it.  And then, there are those he never met because they were halfway around the world—lives that were changed by his faithful giving and his prayers.

We’re told that the believer will receive crowns of righteousness and life.  Can’t you just see Dad with his crowns standing before the throne and joining with the 24 elders to lay them at the feet of his Father in joyful adoration and worship?  And can’t you imagine God saying, “Richard, get up.  You are a joint heir with my son, Jesus—you are also my son and I want you to just get out there and enjoy the treasures that have been laid up for you!”

We see the shell of the man—Richard Kain, this saint of God who the Lord once told me was a pillar of the Church.  We see a body that lived 83 years and 8 months—a body that remained remarkably strong right up to the end and certainly didn’t look its age.  But that body, as dear as it is, is not my dad.  My dad is alive and he can see with vision as sharp as an eagle; he can hear with ears that comprehend frequencies far beyond human understanding.  He can sing with a powerful voice—not just the very nice and pleasant voice we’ve heard, but with the voice of a master singer.  Oh, and he can not only walk, but he can run—I can imagine him running and jumping and dancing around from the sheer joy of being able to do so without any pain in his feet, legs or knees—walking all over heaven and meeting all of his neighbors, and nobody telling him he can’t go out because he might get lost.

As he joins with that great cloud of witnesses, I’m sure there’s one more thing he’s doing—he is loving us.  He’s praying for his “sweet, beautiful, pretty-thing wife.”  He’s praying for his sons and daughters.  He’s praying for his grandchildren.  And he’s joyfully anticipating that moment when each of us, in our own turn, joins him in Glory.

Dad’s life is not over—it’s just beginning.

One final thing; Dad no longer needs our prayers, but my prayer on his behalf is that every one of his descendants will make the choice to develop a relationship with God—that Dad will ultimately receive one of the greatest desires of his heart—to be able to spend eternity with his family—including great, great-great, and great-great-great grandchildren yet to be born.  My prayer is that not one will be lost, even down to a thousand generations, but that all will enter into the fullness of Christ Jesus.  Because there are two certain truths that can be spoken of my Dad—and I speak in the present tense—he loves God with all of his heart, and he loves his family with a boundless love that cannot be measured.

…the time has come for my departure.   I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.   Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.  2 Timothy 4:6b-8

 

To Do or To Seek?

I was speaking to a neighbor recently, a lady who is not a Christian and who has endured overwhelming trials during her 93 years; yet she still looks 20 years younger than she is, choosing not to dwell on her problems but to just keep on keeping on as long as she’s still here.  It’s a philosophy that sounds good on the surface, but the downside is the obvious fact that she is deeply wounded, has no peace, and all of her self-effort has resulted in a nice outward appearance that is nothing more than a mask.  In our conversation she repeated the advice, often heard from believers and non-believers alike, “God helps those who help themselves.”  What a lie of the devil!!!

Oh, how the enemy must whoop and holler when we fall for that one—when we succumb to our to-do lists and the multitude of responsibilities that we never should have shouldered in the first place; when we think we have to fix circumstances or other people; when we fall into the trap of doing things just because nobody else will—all without first asking the Lord if we’re supposed to proceed.

In our continuing efforts to be self-sufficient and successful, how often we skim over Jesus’ instruction to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.”  We may think we’re seeking after Him, but is He really FIRST on our agenda?  Or, is our ministry, job or family our number one priority?  Does our relationship with Him infuse every aspect of our life?  Do we pursue intimacy with God with as much fervor as we pursue all of the other things that we think we have to do?  Not likely.

Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor abIMG_1353out your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.   Are you not of more value than they?   And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?   And why are you anxious about clothing?  Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin,yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?  Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.   But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.  Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.  Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.  Matthew 6:25-34

Is God Big Enough?

The first week of nursing school and we were a little scared, excited, and hopeful—all at the same time.  Several of my new friends and I gathered around some seniors who would soon graduate and enter the workforce as registered nurses; hanging on every word, listening in awe as they spoke of diseases and treatments that were far beyond our comprehension.  Yet, even as we sat spellbound, longing for such wisdom, they began talking about how unprepared they felt to leave the safety net of our school and enter the world of nursing on their own.  But how could these smart, efficient women doubt themselves?  They seemed so knowledgeable and competent to our untrained minds.

Fast forward just a few short years, as my roommate and I were getting ready to go to our own graduation ceremony, sitting on our beds with those brilliant white caps in our hands—caps that for the first time ever were adorned with the black velvet stripe signifying that we were no longer just students but graduates of the LA County School of Nursing.  Our conversation mirrored that of those other seniors—we felt so unprepared; we didn’t know enough; we weren’t experienced enough; and what if we made a mistake that harmed someone?  Yes, we were excited, but at the same time overwhelmed—the responsibility just seemed too huge to contemplate.

Recently I came across my photo of a giant chair that is displayed in front of a home furnishings store somewhere in New England.  It reminded me of those old nursing school doubts, as well as the many challenges since, when life’s issues seemed beyond me; because as big as that chair is, I know that it’s still way too small for God.  He is sufficient to handle all that concerns me, as well as all that concerns everyone else in the world, without even lifting a finger.  Nothing is too big for Him.

And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling.  But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”  Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm.  But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!”  Mark 4:37-41

Yes, who can this be?  If He can calm an angry sea with a gentle command, surely He can calm the storms that threaten to wreak havoc in my life.  Surely He is big enough.  His name is Jesus.

Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you.  Psalm 55:22a

Stormy Seasons

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It has been a dark and stormy season in my life, yet each time I feel like I just can’t go any farther, the light of my LORD shines through to illuminate my path.

Several months ago, after an unwelcome emergency hospital stay, I was advised to have a major surgical procedure.  Needless to say this was not a concept that I embraced with joy; but finally a wise and compassionate doctor said to me, “Barbara, you’re a walking time bomb—you really don’t have a choice.”  So I reluctantly agreed and scheduled a date for surgery, but once the decision was made I fumed and complained to God almost nonstop.  Then I began to wonder how Jesus could have handled the knowledge of what lay ahead for Him at the cross, even as He ministered to others without complaint.  How did He keep from getting so depressed about His future that He couldn’t function or, at the very least, go around with a grumpy why-me attitude?  Yes, I knew He spent many hours alone in prayer, as evidenced repeatedly in scripture, but there seemed to be something I was missing because no matter how much I prayed I didn’t seem to be finding a lot of comfort.

And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.  Mark 1:35

And after he had taken leave of them, he went up on the mountain to pray.  Mark 6:46

Finally one day I “happened” across Hebrews 12:1-2, a scripture I’ve studied more times than I can count:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

But now the phrase, “Jesus…for the joy that was set before him endured the cross,” jumped out at me as never before.  Jesus was focused on the joy that was ahead, not the agony.  So I determined that if Jesus is really my example and if my life is really about being conformed to His image, then I’d better just get over it and start focusing on:

Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  Philippians 4:8

Amazingly I immediately lost the sense of dread and, while I still didn’t like the idea of surgery, I was able to look beyond it.

So now I’m finally about two weeks post-op, yet all around it seems dark and stormy again.  My recovery continues to be difficult and I’m certainly not where I’d hoped to be by now, so here I am “preaching to the choir;” reminding myself once again that I can still trust God, and I’m pressing into Him to try and figure out what it is I’m supposed to be learning now.  But my experience is nothing new.  Over and over the psalmists cried out in their distress to God, and over and over they proclaimed His faithfulness in every situation.  And so once again I too stand in faith on the Word of God.

Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.  He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.  Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.  Psalm 37:5-7a

Wealth and riches are in his house, and his righteousness endures forever.  Light dawns in the darkness for the upright; he is gracious, merciful, and righteous.  Psalm 112:3-5

In the Morning We Flourish…

 

The day lilies in my yard astonish me with their beauty—their delicacy and rich colors shout to my spirit of the vibrant imagination and creativity of God.  Aptly known by the scientific name, Hemerocallis, which comes from the Greek words for “day” and “beautiful,” they bloom one morning and have wilted by the next; great illustrations of God’s truth about the brevity of life.

He comes out like a flower and withers; he flees like a shadow and continues not.  Job 14:2

O Lord, what is man who you regard him, or the son of man who you think of him?  Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow.  Psalm 144:3-4

In the morning of our lives we flourish, blossoming out to become all that God created us to be; growing from helpless infants into accomplished adults, developing careers, raising families, reaching for our dreams.

But it doesn’t last long.  Soon, a look in the mirror reminds us that youth is fading and we may become desperate to hold onto it—turning to diet, exercise and Botox to ward off the inevitable.  And yet, time marches forward, and suddenly we have become parents, then grandparents, then great-grandparents; and we wonder how it happened so fast.

As I ponder the scope of my years, God puts it in perspective for me.  My life isn’t really about the brief time that I am confined to this body—it is about preparing for the eternity I will spend with Him—this is just my warm-up for forever.  So why should I lament the trials I go through now since He has made it plain that they are meant to strengthen me?

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  James 1:2-4

Watching the Summer Olympics, I realized that I’ve never heard an Olympian complain about the rigors of training—each one gladly pays the necessary price to compete in their games.  And so I too will persevere, remembering Paul’s words that,

Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.  2 Timothy 4:8

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Hebrews 12:1-2

 

God’s Provision

How much easier our lives can be when we live and move and have our being in Jesus; when we relinquish ownership of our problems and allow for His provision.  This truth was once again exhibited to me in the last few weeks as my parents’ home was sold at an above-asking price to a wonderful family after multiple offers.  When the tenants of the past three years called to tell me they had to move I felt an immediate certainty that God was in control so there was no worry; just a certainty the He had a plan.  Before Dad died he told Mom that he had given that house to the LORD and he didn’t want her to ever worry about it—so she didn’t; and for three years she had the most incredible tenants who made improvements and left the house in better shape than it was when they moved in.  My dad was a man who lived his faith and the truth of Mark 7:37 and Philippians 4:11-13 were evident in his life.

And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.” 

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.   I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.  I can do all things through him who strengthens me. 

My prayer that the following excerpt from Richard’s Story will be a blessing to many as the testimony of my Dad’s faith lives on.

Things became difficult during the last few years of Richard’s life, especially as his vision and hearing became progressively worse and Leota had several strokes.  Having survived prostate cancer, a hernia, a detached retina in one eye and macular degeneration in the other, cataract surgery, and a pacemaker; he was now also afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease.  Additionally, he was constantly worried about Leota, who was incapacitated by multiple strokes.  Regardless, he continued working in his yard almost every day, struggling to mow, keep the weeds out of the grass, and fix the sprinklers that kept breaking.  Things that he once could do in a few minutes required hours, but he kept on keeping on.

All of Richard’s and Leota’s kids were concerned about them continuing to live alone in Apple Valley, knowing they could no longer manage, and all of them came as often as possible to spend time helping out.  Finally though, their health issues became so critical that Barbara often had to drive up from Orange County, 100 miles away, to handle an emergency of some sort.  On several occasions it was when the neighbor called to say that Leota had been taken to the hospital by ambulance and he would stay with Richard until she could get there.  As a registered nurse, Barbara had serious concerns about the quality of care both parents were receiving so, in September 2008, she finally loaded them into her car, took them home with her, and got both of them appointments with doctors she knew were competent.

Richard’s new ophthalmologist provided one of the greatest gifts he could ever have received in his final months.  Previously, some doctor had told him that his vision was steadily deteriorating and he would eventually go blind, creating a dread and a fear that plagued him constantly.  The new ophthalmologist not only did a thorough eye exam, but also performed a laser procedure that improved his vision a little, and he was frequently heard happily proclaiming, “I thought I was going to go blind, but that doctor told me ‘Mr. Kain, I assure you; you are not going to go blind.’”

During the month at Barbara’s home, a condo about a mile away was leased for Richard and Leota.  As the new home search began, Richard was adamant that he didn’t want to live in the city and there was just no way he’d ever move into one of those places.  But then a miracle occurred—by what could only have been divine intervention, Barbara was told of a place that had just become available and wasn’t even listed on the market.  As soon as Richard walked in the door his face lit up and he exclaimed, “I like this place!”  A spacious 2-bedroom/2-bath condo with two enclosed patios in a beautiful setting was the answer to many prayers, and on October 1, 2008, they moved into their new home.  Richard often expressed his gratitude to God for helping him find the perfect place for Leota to live when he was gone.

As it turned out, Richard and Leota only got to share their home for about two weeks before she had to have surgery for colon cancer and then went into a nursing home for rehabilitation.  They were thrilled when she came home in good shape, but just another couple of weeks had passed when she fell, breaking her femur and ended up back in the hospital and nursing home again.  By this time, Richard could no longer be left alone and Barbara and Ed traded off staying with him.  He was quite a challenge because the Alzheimer’s had progressed to the point that he couldn’t go out and walk (as he loved to do for hours on end) without getting lost.  It didn’t matter how often he was told not to leave the house alone, off he’d go and the search was on once again.  Additionally, he was so very worried about his “sweet, beautiful, pretty-thing, wonderful wife” that he would moan and cry all night and there was nothing they could do or say to comfort him.  One time though, when Leota confronted him about it he replied, “But I was just praying for you.”  An intercessor right up to the end!  Ed wrote: “I was able to spend a lot of time with Dad during the last 4 months of his life while Mom was in the hospital or rehab facility.  With all our time together, I came to appreciate that Dad was the real deal; what you saw and heard from Dad was what he believed.  He experienced some tough times dealing with Mom’s medical problems, but he also had a faith in God that saw him through an extremely difficult time.”

In January 2009, Barbara received a call from Ed that Dad had fallen in the shower and he was unconscious and bleeding.  The paramedics were already there by the time Barbara arrived, and off everyone went to the emergency room.  Richard had a gash in his elbow that was bleeding profusely and required a lot of stitches.  During the routine screening which included a chest x-ray, it was determined that there was a massive tumor in his chest and he was admitted to the hospital for a biopsy.  The tumor was a malignant cancer for which nothing could be done (quite a surprise as two chest x-rays taken just eight months previously had been completely normal!). By this time he could barely walk due to pain from a tumor in his foot, so he was discharged from the hospital to the same nursing home where Leota was a patient—in fact they shared the same room for about 6 weeks before he died.

God’s miraculous provision was so very evident in all of this!  Not only did Richard get to spend his last weeks with his beloved wife at his side 24 hours a day, but they were both being professionally cared for; they were served meals that he enjoyed tremendously, either in their room or in the dining room; all of it was completely paid for by Medicare so there were no financial worries; and it was party city as all of his kids and the majority of his grandkids came to visit.  He was in his element surrounded by his family.

After entering the nursing home, Richard had one final doctor’s appointment.  Barbara took him to the oncologists office to get the official results of the biopsy and to see what, if anything, could be done about it.  Before the doctor even spoke, it was evident by the look on his face that the news was not good.  He actually had tears in his eyes as he explained that there was absolutely no hope for a cure and the best that could be done was to keep Richard comfortable for the very short time he had left.  Richard responded, “That’s OK.  It only means I’m going home sooner rather than later, and I’m ready.”  The doctor didn’t quite know how to respond other than to tear up again.  What a testimony!!