Monday, June 30, 2014
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” Hebrews 11:1
Many of you are familiar with Jeremy Camp. He is a very successful Christian singer. Jeremy was born into a family that was rich in faith but economically poor. His mother’s favorite biblical reading is Hebrews 11 which begins with the sentence “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see”.
Jeremy recalls times as he was growing up that his family literally did not know where their next meal was coming from. He recalls his family praying together for God to provide and groceries showing up on the front step. This is really an example of seeing Hebrews 11:1 in action. Through out Jeremy's life he has been tested and his faith has always held strong.
Jeremy married Melissa Lynn Henning-Camp on October 21, 2000. She was in remission from ovarian cancer at the time. On their honeymoon the cancer came back and Melissa died at the age of twenty one on February 5, 2001. They had been married less than four months.
Some of his early songs reflect the emotional ordeal of her illness. "I Still Believe" was the first song he wrote after her death. "Walk by Faith" was written during their honeymoon.
During the dark days surrounding Melissa's death Jeremy observed that “my only option was to believe that my Savior knows the end from the beginning, knows that we will experience pain in this mortal life, knows we dwell in a sick world, and comes to us during out darkest hours to bring comfort, strength and understanding.” He actually recalls a time when he was questioning God and he felt that God was talking to him and saying “you’re not supposed to know why. That is not My purpose for you. I want you to have a testimony of walking by faith.”
Jeremy was able to rely on his faith to heal from the loss of his wife so soon after they were married. Since Melissa death he has married Adrienne. They have two daughters and one son. In 2009 Jeremy and his wife Adie suffered another loss when their pregnancy resulted in a miscarriage. Jeremy said he and his family felt a swell of support and prayers from many of his fans. “We felt God’s peace in such an amazing way,” he said. “When people are praying, you know God’s hand is in it.”
Sunday, June 29, 2014
Healing: Mark Bradley Morrow
Mark's story includes 4 Abortions in 20 months, 1 Vasectomy, 1 Adoption, 2 Reversals, 1 Miscarriage & 2 Beautiful Babies
Now I would like to introduce you to a friend of mine. He is a father. Some of you may have heard of him before. He is not only a licensed professional counselor; he is also a professional stand-up comedian and was a popular morning drive time radio personality for a Christian radio station in Erie, Pennsylvania. His name is Mark Bradley Morrow. His story includes 4 Abortions in 20 months, 1 Vasectomy, 1 Adoption, 2 Reversals, 1 Miscarriage & 2 Beautiful Babies To find out more about Mark please visit his web site www.markbradleymorrow.com
Mark accepted Christ into his life when he was 19 and still a virgin. During his college years he filled his time with bible study, prayer and fellowship. It was after college that sexual temptation became too much for him. This temptation led to sexual relationships, four pregnancies and four abortions. It was a secret he kept and struggled with for 18 years fearing that disclosure would ruin his career and family.
Mark’s first abortion experience came after a lustful night in which he did not use a condom. His girlfriend informed him of the pregnancy. He told her he would support the child financially but would not marry her nor would he be a father to the child. That was unacceptable to her. He then suggested adoption. Instead of embracing the adoption alternative she brought up abortion, Mark did not resist. He even drove her to the clinic, waited in the waiting room and paid for half the abortion. The middle two abortions he did not learn about until after the fact. The women knew he did not want to be a father so they went and had abortions on their own and informed him later. The fourth one he knew what the mother was going through but did not actively participate in the abortion process.
After the final abortion, he met his future wife. At the time, she was an unwed mother. He led her to Christ. Mark agreed to marry her and adopt her daughter but told her he did not want children of his own. She reluctantly agreed to this condition and he had a vasectomy before the wedding day. After several years of being a father to his adopted daughter he realized the joys and rewards fatherhood had to offer. He decided he wanted to have children of his own. He went through a painful reversal procedure only to have it fail. He then went to the Cleveland Clinic for another reversal procedure. This one was successful. In a short time, he and his wife announced on his morning radio show that she was pregnant. A few days later she miscarried. Mark wondered if he would ever be blessed with biological children. Eventually, he received the gift of a biological daughter and son. Mark still grieves for over the loss of his other five children. He lost four because of abortion and one as a result of a miscarriage.
Eventually, Mark decided to share the story with a friend, his wife, his pastor and finally with his teenage daughter. The reaction he got from his daughter was exactly the affirmation he needed to tell his story to the world. She looked at him and said softly “Dad, there is nothing you could have said that would have made me love you any less.” With that reassurance and support Mark went public with his story and his ministry of reaching out to other dads who have experienced abortion.
This might also be a good time to remind everyone that the sentiments expressed by Mark’s daughter are the same sentiments God expresses to us. No matter what we have done or said God cannot and will not love us any less. God is a forgiving and loving God.
What God has done with Mark’s life since he shared his past is an example of how God will use our bad decisions for good. Mark, now counsels’ fathers who have had children aborted, shares his story with others as a keynote speaker for crisis pregnancy center fundraisers, special church services, Right to Life Banquets, abstinence programs, men's events and Christian/Catholic school assemblies. Mark can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday, June 27, 2014
John Ramsey had it all. He was a successful businessman who earned wealth, a solid reputation and social position. He had a loving family consisting of his wife Patsy, and his five children, three from a prior marriage and two more with Patsy.
Many of us remember the tragic story of JonBenet Ramsey, the six year old girl who was killed in her home on Christmas night, 1996. The loss of a child is every parent’s worst nightmare. There can be no worse pain and I thank the Lord every day that I never had to experience it. It is just so out of the natural order of things.
I am sure having a child murdered makes the pain even worse. In the Ramsey’s case the situation was compounded because initial suspicion centered on John and Patsy Ramsey.
As a result the Ramsey's not only felt the pain resulting from the tragic loss of their daughter but also had to withstand intrusion into their private lives by the media, public scorn, damage to reputation and financial loss. It was not until twelve years later, in 2008, that he and Patsy were officially cleared of involvement in the murder.
The tragedy of losing a child under any circumstance would be difficult for anyone but what most don’t know is that this was not John Ramsey’s only loss. In 1992, he suffered the sudden death of his oldest daughter, Beth in a car accident as she was on her way to meet her fiancé parents. Then in 2006, he lost his loving wife, Patsy to ovarian cancer. Patsy was only 49 years old.
In his book, "The Other Side of Suffering", John observed that most of his life was spent gliding through the "Lord giveth" lane. It was not until His eldest daughter, Beth, was killed in a car accident did he really experience the "Lord taketh" lane. He observed that at the time he did not have an intimate relationship with God and was not prepared spiritually for such a loss. His faith struck rock bottom after Beth's tragic death. His cultural Christian faith proved empty and insignificant. Beth's death caused John to examine his Christian faith for the first time. John realized it was time to understand what God promised and what He did not promise. John’s faith did not come as the result of a “burning bush” moment but slowly developed over time.
Just as John’s faith was developing the unthinkable happened and his faith would once again be tested. His young wife was diagnosed with stage four ovarian Cancer and given only a 5% chance of living more than a few years.
God’s hand touched Patsy in a miraculous way. The family Priest called and asked if he and some friends could come over to have a healing service. The Ramsey’s agreed. Two days after the service Patsy had a CT scan and there was no visible trace of cancer. She remained cancer free until 2002, eight years later and lived until 2006, twelve years post diagnosis.
John’s biggest test came during Christmas season 1996 when his youngest daughter, JonBenet was murdered. John recalls this period of his faith journey in the following way “[d]uring my suffering after JonBenet’s death, I moved very close to God. When I opened myself up to His holy, loving embrace, something happened inside me that was wonderful. I so much wanted to be more receptive to God’s love and guidance that I began to spend more time listening for the voice of God.” He acknowledges that in grief it is not uncommon to question God. He said he would have chosen any torture on earth over that of losing my child.
John recalls a touching moment before his wife’s death. She was in a coma then suddenly for a moment, her eyes opened wide as if surprised, as if seeing something wondrous beyond him, beyond the room. Just then she died. I really believe that what Patsy was experiencing at that moment was Jesus fulfilling His promise in John 14:3 where He promised come back to take us to our eternal home himself.
Thursday, June 26, 2014
"The God I loved forgave me of all my mistakes. I know if God could forgive me I could forgive my mom. I think the feeling of peace is just a bonus God gives. A huge burden was lifted off of me.” Biggest Loser winner, Michelle Aguilar
Faith does teach us that God has a high standard for us, a standard none of us can possibility attain. In Romans 3:23 Paul reminds us that “…we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” The good news is that God is full of love, grace and mercy. He will forgive us if we accept His gift of grace. If God has the grace to forgive us, we should find it in our hearts to forgive each other. We all require God’s forgiveness. Throughout our lives we are always making withdrawals from God’s Bank of Grace. Just as God has generously shared His grace with us we need to extend that same grace to others when they fail us.
Christians are taught that God not only wants us to forgive others, He requires us to. When Jesus was asked to teach His followers how to pray He gave us a prayer. This prayer is taught to us in Matthew 6:9-13. In 6:12 the prayer specifically addresses forgiveness with the words “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”
In Matthew 6:14-15 Jesus expands on how important forgiveness is when he taught us that “If you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
Biggest Loser winner, Michelle Aguilar, while explaining how she was able to forgive her mother for leaving her father, provides a great explanation as to why we should forgive and the gift God gives us when we forgive. “Unforgiveness made me sick on the inside, but when I let go, there was a peace God gave. The God I loved forgave me of all my mistakes. I know if God could forgive me I could forgive my mom. I think the feeling of peace is just a bonus God gives. A huge burden was lifted off of me.”