From Darkness to Light

Bibles

My grandparents bibles.

To open their eyes so they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that by faith in Me (Jesus) they may receive forgiveness of sins and a share among those who are sanctified. Acts 26:18

Félix changed…I don’t know the exact date he changed, but I know he changed in 1956.

Félix was born 100 years ago today on August 13, 1915 and he was the oldest of ten children. He married Vivian Burns in 1940 and they had one son named Terry.

Félix liked to have a good time and he could party. He went out drinking…a lot! He liked to drink, gamble, and fist fight.

This is a story about how Félix changed sort of like Paul did on the road to Damascus.

But first, I want to tell you about his wild days before he changed. Félix lived in the small town of Sapulpa, Oklahoma. He was a hard worker by day and wild man at night. Most nights he would go and listen to Western Swing bands such as Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys, Johnnie Lee Wills, and Leon McAuliffe. Leon McAuliffe was an American Western swing musician who was famous for his steel guitar solos with Bob Wills and The Texas Playboys.

Félix’s wife, Vivian, dealt with her husband’s way of partying for the first 16 years of their marriage. I remember her telling me how hard these times were for her and their family. It really was the worst of times.

Then one day….. Felix changed.

In August 1956, Felix’s son, got really sick and had to be hospitalized. His appendix had ruptured and surgery was necessary to save his life. Felix realized he had spent his time and effort in all the wrong places. He begged God for a second chance with his son and told God if He would save his son, he would turn to him and change his ways.

Terry made it through the surgery and fully recovered.  If he had not, I would not be writing this post today since he is my dad. My grandpa kept his end of the deal and went to church and at 41 years old, he gave his life to Jesus. He changed and I mean really changed!

Félix changed

As far as the family knew, he never took another sip of alcohol after he came into a relationship with Jesus and many would say he was an alcoholic.

Felix changed.

On one occasion, he was leaving the movie theater and he saw two guys from his past.  One of the guys asked, “Félix, we heard you were a Christian now, what are you doing at the movies?” After that he never went back to the movies again. Honestly, in this day and time, it’s not a bad idea. What’s up with shooters in movie theaters these days? The enemy will try anything to make us live in fear and I refuse to be bullied by him! Oh sorry, I got distracted. So Félix quit going to the movies and the reason had to do with his witness for Christ. If someone saw him leave the movies and that caused them to stumble, then he shouldn’t do it. Romans 14:13b, Instead, decide never to put a stumbling block or pitfall in your brother’s way. Now he didn’t put this on anyone else. He did not care if his wife and son went to the movies. He looked after his own witness and listened to the Holy Spirit. I love how personal God is with each one of us regarding how we live out our life and walk with Him.

Félix changed.

He attended church regularly and taught a youth Sunday School class. He would sit at the kitchen table and go over his lesson with his wife. His son would lay in bed in the next room and listen to his dad go over his lessons before class. As a result, he would know all the answers in Sunday School. He also learned a lot about the bible which has stayed with him to this day.

Félix changed.

He was a deacon at the First Baptist Church for many years and he prayed powerful prayers. He had a deep voice that carried and his prayers were heartfelt and emotional. He would come off gruff but had the demeanor of a big olé teddy bear. You could sense the presence of God when he prayed.

Félix changed.

He visited the sick in the hospital and made home visits to those who were ill and aging. He didn’t stay long but long enough to check on the person and pray for them before heading out to the next stop. Again, this was something he did on his own as the power of God moved in him to serve. He did not expect anyone else to do what he was doing, but did this service because he wanted to serve God in this way. It’s interesting to me that in my position on staff at the church that I care for the sick and aging.

Félix changed.

As a result, others changed too. He became a well-respected man at work, in the community, and at home. The power of Christ in him spread like a sweet fragrance. By the time I came along, he was a fantastic grandpa! When I was a little girl, every time I went to his house for a visit, he would take me to get an icee. This became a tradition for us and one I will always cherish as a special memory. He loved me like crazy and not just me, he loved our whole family.

Félix changed.

At Christmas when our family would be opening gifts, he would record our voices on his cassette player (cassettes were used after 8-tracks but before CD’s) so he could play it later to remember our special time together. He would get emotional at the goodness of God for his family. He was truly thankful for us and all his blessings and would tell us often, especially at Christmas each year.

Félix changed.

I’m so thankful for his transformation. As I think about his life, I don’t know if he ever went on a mission trip but I know he did mission in his community. He was generous to others and willing to help those in need. He was a kind and transformed man who loved well.

Félix changed.

God brought this to mind today as I remember the fact that my grandpa would have been 100 years old this year if he were still alive. He died in 1997 just before his 82 birthday. I cherish his life and I cherish my Lord Jesus. You see I was staying with my grandparents one summer in Oklahoma when I knew I needed Jesus and guess what?

I changed!

If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9

How do you want to be remembered when others reflect on your 100th birthday?

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Grandpa Barnhart, me, and Grandpa Rivers on my wedding day.

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Three

kim

This year we celebrate the year “three”—
The start of Light Women’s Ministry.

Now bear with me and in the bible you will see
There are many references to the number three.

John gives a summary of the following three days:
On the first day, people asked, “John, are you the way?”

“Of course not,” is his reply, as he makes the path straight.
Day two, he points to Jesus, “the Lamb of God!” John proclaims.

Day three, there was a wedding where a first miracle took place
When Christ turned water into wine, can you imagine each face?

Now let’s look at the gospels: Matthew, Mark, and Luke—
Where Christ predicts his death three times and then it comes true.

And what about Peter denying Christ those three times?
Suppose he didn’t realize just how well known he was to Christ.

Then there’s Pilate, who asked three times, “what has this man done?”
He didn’t want to sentence him, but it was the crowd that won.

So there he hung, between two criminals, for a total of three to die.
His love, compassion, and mercy reached across the sky.

And Jesus was crucified on that dark black day.
Then came back as our Savior on that much predicted third day.

Yes, there is something special with the number three—
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are the Trinity.

These three work together, both individually and apart,
In the lives of the Christ believers who set Him in their heart.

Kim Thomas
December, 2014

2 Corinthians 13:14, May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

Keys to the Kingdom

keysThen Jesus replied, “Happy are you, Simon son of Jonah, because no human has shown this to you. Rather my Father who is in heaven has shown you. I tell you that you are Peter. And I’ll build my church on this rock. The gates of the underworld won’t be able to stand against it. I’ll give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Anything you fasten on earth will be fastened in heaven. Anything you loosen on earth will be loosened in heaven.” Matthew 16:17-19 

At the church where I work we are in the process of changing the key system for entry into the building. We have issued a lot of keys since moving into our new building six years ago. There’s some concern we may not have kept accurate records to know who all has a previously issued key. A decision was made to go with a completely different key system. We now have key cards instead of the old fashion physical turn-key. 

I was thinking and began to wonder who will try to enter the church over the next few months with a previously issued key and will find themselves not able to enter? 

Which leads me to think about keys to the kingdom. Do you suppose there are people out there who think they have a key to the kingdom of heaven and yet will find themselves locked out? 

Maybe they have a church key. 

Maybe their Christian friend may seem to have the key. 

Maybe attending church every week seems to be the key. 

Maybe going and serving others feels like the key. 

Having a family tradition of Christianity appears to be the key. 

There’s just this one problem….only one key works to the kingdom of heaven and that is a personal relationship with Jesus. 

The key to God is Jesus! 

They key to heaven is Jesus! 

He is the key to the kingdom of heaven and without Jesus there is no access to heaven. 

So when the Spirit of God moves and invites you to take the key, you make a choice to take it or leave it. Take the key. 

Romans 10:9 If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord”,  and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

A Righteous Man

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Matthew 1:18-21, The birth of Jesus came about this way: After His mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, it was discovered before they came together that she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit. So her husband Joseph, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her publicly, decided to divorce her secretly. But after he had considered these things, an angel of The Lord suddenly appeared to him in a dream, saying “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.”

This morning I noticed something special about Joseph. We often talk about Mary this time of year and rightly so. However, I noticed something about Joseph’s character that really struck me. He was a righteous man! He didn’t want to publicly humiliate Mary. Most likely his peers would have exposed her obvious sin and why not, this was a heinous sin in that culture. But before the angel could appear to Joseph, he already decided to show compassion and mercy. He intentionally decided to show grace even though he was deeply hurt.

What a powerful lesson for us today. When we are hurt by someone, we naturally want to retaliate or defend our position because we have every right. Especially if we are right! But what I see in Joseph is righteousness that only comes from a right relationship with God. We can have that too if we want it. I’m thinking about the next time I’m offended, what if I immediately responded with compassion, mercy and grace. Would the end result be different? I would imagine so.

This Christmas season is a joyous one but also can be difficult for some. Maybe family or friends have hurt you and you have every right to be upset. However, what if you responded like Joseph and extended grace? A right relationship with God through Jesus Christ makes this possible. This is the very essence of righteousness.

Next time, how will you respond? How will I?