the depth of death

I was engrossed in my reading yesterday, while waiting for the boys at the mall, and was brought back when someone loudly said, “If you’d get your head out of your Bible for 30 minutes, you might be able to help someone. They need directions to Ruby Tuesdays.” This was only the beginning of the 5 minute conversation that included asking me why I was sitting there? Was I homeless? Why was I reading my Bible? His girlfriend needed saved, what does she need to do? His wife smiled at him as it was apparent that they were married. He was abrasive as he continued to throttle me with questions. He yelled to a couple walking by and shouted, “Are you saved? Come to this table here and you can be saved!” They can be saved? They just needed a prayer and they would be saved?

NO.

It is a choice. To die to sin and believe in Christ. To begin a relationship with him that goes beyond a marriage covenant of death do us part. To work out our salvation with fear and trembling. It’s more than a prayer.

Now as he walked away hooting and hollering I turned back to 2 Kings and began to read again. Each time I read in the Old Testament I can’t help but think of how they were given the Law through Moses and when they disobeyed death ensued. They were a chosen people, a holy nation, they belonged to the Lord. He showed countless acts of His mighty power and provision to them. He is a just God.

A few examples include:

  • Moses never entered the promised land because of his act of anger.
  • A gentlemen lost his life because he claimed to kill the anointed king Saul in order to make himself look important to David. He died.
  • David’s first born child with Bathsheba died because of their sin. (She had belonged to Uriah)

The point?

Who am I not to have died 100 deaths already? I should have died a long time ago. I too have sinned, I have heard the same stories of the Old and New Testament that my siblings have,  I have confessed Christ as Lord, I have tasted and seen that the Lord is good, yet am I living according to His Word? At any moment is he just going to be done with me, done with my disobedience? Done with my saying yes to him one minute and acting contrary to that the next?

The depth of death? Jesus died and went to hell. He conquered the grave and He is Risen. He made a way to the Father, sent His Holy Spirit, and there is no other way to heaven. Only through Jesus Christ.

He died for me. His grace is sufficient. He’s not just going to be done with me. He is the Victor. He is not waiting for me to mess up one last time and walk away, he is waiting for me to get it right. And you know what? He is waiting for you too…

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My beloved is mine and I am his, Song of Solomon 2:16a .

I can be who he has created ME to be. Today I was reminded of that with the message shared by Pastor Matt Wilson (Ekklesia Christian Church) .  So who am I?  I am Vicki L. Moag, child of God. I love Jesus. I love my husband Mark and I long for him to grow in his personal relationship with Christ, as I do each of my children. I am the laughing, dancing, singing, author. I enjoy teaching my children at home and the community we have with other homeschooling families whether with Classical Conversations or not. I love MOPS and the mommies who walk through the doors, whether their kids are kicking and screaming or running in to meet their friends. I love my church family. I love my friends. I love my parents and siblings and their families. I love you.

Happy Sunday, celebrate in the depths of His love.

 

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A time for building

Dear Ekklesia Christian Church and our brothers and sisters in Christ. Peace be with you.

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Nehemiah speaks of rebuilding, revival, and reform. In the Bible he responds with his obedience to speak with the king and return for a time to Jerusalem to rebuild the wall. (Click here, this will take you to Nehemiah. This is a must read! (NKJV)) Chapter 2 verse 18 reads (NRSV) I told them that the hand of my God had been gracious upon me, and also the words that the king had spoken to me. Then they said, “Let us start building!” So they committed themselves to the common good. But…” The reading continues with them being mocked for the very work they were committed too.

Sound familiar church? Don’t be discouraged, continue reading with Chapter 3 and take notice of the different sections of the wall being built and those responsible for helping. Look at their job descriptions. Do you see the perfumer and the goldsmith? They certainly didn’t build walls for a living! Each of the men called by name however, were united in there commitment and saw it through. This is the task before us, to see the building of Ekklesia Christian Church through to completion. There are no mistakes with God’s timing in that each of you and your families have been called to this place for such a time as this.

In Nehemiah each had a different load, some replaced and repaired more than wall; they replaced gates, bars, doors, and bolts. United in purpose, the task that at first seemed insurmountable day by day became a reality. Chapter 4 verse 6 reads, “So we rebuilt the wall, and all the wall was joined together to half its height; for the people had a mind to work.”

“So we prayed to our God, and set a guard as a protection against them day and night.”

Don’t be afraid to be you in this task, you have exactly what is needed, the Lord will go before you, he will be your rear guard, and hold your right hand so that you will not be shaken. You just need to believe it and get to work.

 

The $13.00 Race

Many changes have occurred in the lives of those affected by Hurricane Matthew. I see people emerging out into relationships and being the hands and feet of Jesus. There are so many ways that you can help make a difference, share a smile, or be an encouragement to someone in their time of need. You can’t do everything, but you can play your part. As you are asked to help with families who have lost everything, or help the victims in Haiti, or help build a church, remember it’s your choice. I’m choosing not to give up and I encourage you not to either. You can make a difference.

I’m asking for you to consider helping out, here are just a few ways…

1.You can bring donations to families in need – find more info at Disaster Relief Day that will be held tomorrow Oct.22, beginning at 9:00am.

2. Help Haiti through Compassion International.

3. Donate $1.00/mile (through gofundme) for my upcoming half-marathon (13miles) scheduled for October 23, 2016 in Myrtle Beach, SC. All proceeds will go to the building fund of Ekklesia Christian Church in Conway, SC. (This is my first half-marathon ever, and many thanks to Sharon Gardner who challenged me and inspired me to get running!)

Perseverance. It’s not in Nike, milk, or money. It’s a choice to keep moving.

 

Dear Church,

I tossed and turned last night pondering my recent visit to the mountains. Sunday I longed to be home attending church with our church family. As I neared the local church during my morning run, singing could be heard through the open windows. I glanced around and noticed 5 vehicles parked outside the old red brick church. As I rounded the bend I wondered who had made it to church that morning, and why so few? Then it hit me. Church members were becoming fewer in number while those attending the local KKK meeting were expected to be 150. What has happened to the local church? If one part of the body is hurting, isn’t it all affected somehow?

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This is where my story continues, years ago a man told me he loved me and showed me in ways that would later be deemed as inappropriate as I was still a child. No matter what he did to me, I tell you, that wasn’t love. I became full of bitterness and anger. I found my life spiraling downward and I lashed out at everyone. In my deepest rage True Love stepped in and wouldn’t let me go. The sin I was trapped in wouldn’t stop until I spoke out against it. Jesus is the reason I am still here. He has been healing my heart over the years and I sit here now writing to you with tears of joy because he set me free.  His Love is immeasurable. His Love is real. His Love is eternal.

In that small back country place, bitterness and anger rears it’s ugly head tempting men, women, and children with alcohol, drugs, and sex. These things won’t ever satisfy. There is so much more that waits for them, I know because I’m living it. I urge you Christians to share His love. People are hurting, they are lost, and they are unsatisfied with anger and bitterness. These things can only be healed with those willing to serve. Those willing to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Christians, don’t be afraid to speak the name of Jesus.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. – Joshua 1:9

Perhaps they aren’t the only ones hurting…

 

 

 

The Biltmore- the dining room

In Matthew 22 Jesus begins with the Parable of the wedding banquet comparing the kingdom of heaven to the wedding banquet a king was holding for his son. All the preparations had been made and the invitations sent, but no one would come…

Three times in the first four Gospels it is recorded what Jesus spoke at the Last Supper. Matthew 26:27-29 “Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the[b] covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” 

How exciting is that? Can you  just imagine the preparations that are being made?

Now let me tell you about the dining room at the Biltmore…

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The dining room was the grandest I had ever seen. The large wood table seated not just one at each head, but two, and were lined in a rich fabric of a red hugh.

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Armor and flags were mounted on the walls in significant places. Over the main entry doors guests could read the inscribed Latin above them as they exited. (If only I could tell you what it said, the only familiar word to me was pactum, meaning peace!) Seated at the head of the table one could see all the festivities of the room and the great organ pipes that where stationed above the side entrance we had come through to see the room.

I couldn’t help but stare at the table and think of Jesus. I had remembered the story told me this way; when Christ comes there will be a great wedding banquet and all will gather whom he loves and who loves him, and then he will drink of the cup which he has not touched since the night he was betrayed. Only this time it will be in celebration, a victory, for he will be reunited with his bride, his beloved people. It will come full circle from the first miracle he performed to that time.

I shared with my children and Mark what I was thinking about.  Samuel turned to me smiling said, “That table isn’t big enough.” No Samuel indeed it is not.

And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” -Revelations 19:9

 

The Biltmore- Home

We stood on the stone wall taking in the view. The gardens lie to the left of the home, the stables to the right, and the driveway continues along the gate to the front steps and then exits. Everyone that we meet associated with the home is kind and welcoming which is truly refreshing compared to the days that are filled with some who choose otherwise.

Decidedly we stepped to see the stables first, which have been converted to small shops, a café, a restaurant, and an ice cream parlor. As I stood leaning against the brick wall waiting for my family I took in the evidence of the time and labor that must have been taken in building the stables. The brick floor, the detail of the stable doors, even the sizes of each stable grabbed my attention. I could almost hear the horses shoes clacking along the brick. The rider speaking and caring for the horse and the stable hand helping with food and hay. For a moment I stepped into that view and almost forgot I was surrounded by people shopping.

The craftsmanship of the house reminded me of old cathedrals and was breathtaking to me. The gargoyles that arched their necks above us, the lion statues that guarded the door, the details and figures in the stone above the entry way, each different- each told a story or held a symbol of meaning that I could only imagine.

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Here I stood with my family, taking it all in. I couldn’t help but think we made it. We were actually at the Biltmore and walking to its entrance.  I could hardly believe it, stepping up into the front door I was overjoyed.  Beginning our self guided tour we turned to the right and gazed at the room that was filled with plants of a great variety. These plants didn’t belong here all the time, but were so positioned beneath the glass cathedral ceiling in order to maintain growth throughout the winter season.

Here in this moment looking into this glass ceiling that was comprised of great wooden arches of grand design that had been labored over meticulously and with great care, I remembered what Jesus said about going ahead to prepare a room for us in John 14. Verse 2 reads, “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?” In the same moment I remembered that all these earthly things will pass away and a new heaven and a new earth will come. And those who have done the will of God will live forever. (1 John 2:17 and Revelation 21:1)

As I contemplated these truths I stood there pondering it all. I can’t even imagine what that beauty will be like knowing Christ has gone ahead to prepare it.

Hebrews 12:1-3

12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

 

The Biltmore – entering the estate

As we approached Biltmore Estate in Ashville, NC, I had to contain my excitement as for some time now I had desired to see the house and the grounds. I must confess we had attempted to see the house once before and had only made it as far as the building that sold the tickets for entry. That was over 5 years ago when our children were smaller and we were not prepared for the price necessary for admittance.

We approached the first man whose hearty welcome and smile set the stage for what was yet to come. He kindly told us we had arrived; the ticket house was ahead on our left and to enjoy our stay. And so we did. The ticket house rests on a small hill that overlooks all who enter and exit the grounds. There as well we were greeted by a hostess who explained the exhibits through out the home and she too shared a warm greeting with us. Upon our ticket purchase we were given instructions on how to officially enter the grounds and park our vehicle.

We did it! The tickets were ours. Now we could enter the grounds. We gathered back in the car and rode the 8 miles to the parking lot gleaning all the beauty of the woods as we passed along, beside, and within them.

Once parked we decided not to ride the shuttle but to walk along the trail that led to the house. Our steps were light and quick and as we turned the corner there was evidence we had reached  our destination. Ahead a gate opened so that once passed you could see the home to your right.

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The  gate extended towards the home with statues a top stone pillars that welcomed guests through with vehicles.

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A great stone wall lined the premises to the left of us that once having climbed the stone steps  you could see the house from an amazing view.

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There the house stands in its detail and craftsmanship; in its beauty.

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The Biltmore Estate, Ashville, NC

It truly is a sight to see and I look forward to sharing with you a few of the wonderful treasures we discovered…