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Thursday, May 8, 2014

Will He Find Us Faithful?

Below is a brief excerpt from a letter written by Franklin Graham, Billy Graham's son and President of Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. I was struct by the dedication of the soldier in the opening story. Do I have the same dedication to my Commanding Officer? Will I remain faithful against all odds? After concluding the letter I was encouraged and inspired to continue to live my life to the fullest, remaining faithful to my God! 

Dear Friend,
I have recently returned from holding an evangelistic Crusade in El Paso, Texas, and as I write, I am preparing for a Crusade in Sapporo, Japan. Sapporo is in the most northern part of the country, a city where the 1972 Winter Olympics were held. Not long after those Olympics, a surprising news report captivated Japan and the world when the last World War II Japanese soldier finally surrendered—30 years after the war.
Hiroo Onoda’s fascinating story came back into the headlines this January when he died at age 91 in a Tokyo hospital. As an officer in the Imperial Japanese Army, he had been stationed on the island of Lubang in the Philippines and given strict orders to stay there and carry out reconnaissance and guerrilla warfare. Lieutenant Onoda was directed not to leave the island or to surrender. His commanding officer, Major Yoshimi Taniguchi, ordered: “You are absolutely forbidden to die by your own hand. It may take three years, it may take five, but whatever happens, we’ll come back for you. Until then, so long as you have one soldier, you are to continue to lead him. You may have to live on coconuts. If that’s the case, live on coconuts! Under no circumstances are you [to] give up your life voluntarily.” He was told to carry out his duties until his commanding officer returned.
In the confusion that followed defeat, the Japanese army lost track of Onoda. For 30 years, this dedicated soldier evaded capture and continued to fight a war he didn’t know had ended. He didn’t compromise. He followed his orders without interruption until he was found in the jungle and his commanding officer, long since retired, returned in person to the island to relieve him of his orders.
This one-time enemy soldier’s devotion to duty spoke to me about the commitment we are to have as followers of Christ. We too have been given orders. Our orders are from the “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Revelation 19:16, NKJV). He is clear about them in His Word, and we are not to compromise. I’ve been shocked in recent months to hear about organizations who say they accept the authority of God’s Word but support same-sex marriage. I’ve heard of a Christian publisher planning to print a book that says actively practicing homosexuals can continue in their lifestyle and live as Christians. Not only is this compromising, it is heresy. What God calls sin is sin—we cannot call it something else. The penalty for sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord (see Romans 6:23). It is through the cross that God, in His love, provides forgiveness for those who repent. This is the Good News we must proclaim.
The last order our Lord gave us before returning to Heaven was to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth—“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, … teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:18–20). He will return one day soon, and will He find us faithful? Will He find us carrying out what He has asked us to do? Will He find us using our energy, our time, and our resources to share the Gospel message with a lost and hurting world that He loved enough to die for?

(Click HERE to read full letter)

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” - Matthew 20:18-19 


All text © 2013 From the Ashes| All Images © 2013  From the Ashes

Monday, April 28, 2014

He Shall Supply All Thy Needs - Morning Devotions

Are you troubled dear reader? Are there trails and temptations in your life you can't seem to fight through? Have the disappointments of life brought you down? Cheer up dear Christian, and take courage. The LORD is near and encourages us through His word. No matter what difficulty you are going through, He sees it and He hears the cries of your heart. Find strength through His promises.   

"Remember the word unto Thy servant, upon which Thou hast caused me to hope." 
--Psalm 119:49


"Whatever your especial need may be, you may readily find some promise in the Bible suited to it. Are you faint and feeble because your way is rough and you are weary? 
Here is the promise--"He giveth power to the faint." When you read such a promise, take it back to the great Promiser, and ask Him to fulfil His own word. Are you seeking after Christ, and thirsting for closer communion with Him? This promise shines like a star upon you--"Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled." 
Take that promise to the throne continually; do not plead anything else, but go to God over and over again with this--"Lord, Thou hast said it, do as Thou hast said." Are you distressed because of sin, and burdened with the heavy load of your iniquities? Listen to these words--"I, even I, am He that blotteth out thy transgressions, and will no more remember thy sins." You have no merit of your own to plead why He should pardon you, but plead His written engagements and He will perform them. 
Are you afraid lest you should not be able to hold on to the end, lest, after having thought yourself a child of God, you should prove a castaway? If that is your state, take this word of grace to the throne and plead it: "The mountains may depart, and the hills may be removed, but the covenant of My love shall not depart from thee." If you have lost the sweet sense of the Saviour's presence, and are seeking Him with a sorrowful heart, remember the promises: "Return unto Me, and I will return unto you;" "For a small moment have I forsaken thee, but with great mercies will I gather thee." Banquet your faith upon God's own word, and whatever your fears or wants, repair to the Bank of Faith with your Father's note of hand, saying, 
"Remember the word unto Thy servant, upon which Thou hast caused me to hope."
-Charles Haddon Spurgeon 

So take hope beloved, Christ is with you.



"My hope is built on nothing less 
Than Jesus' blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame;
But wholly lean on Jesus' name!


All text © 2013 From the Ashes| All Images © 2013  From the Ashes

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Praising God in the Midst of Trouble - Thoughts From Dad

Do you ever have one of those days when everything seems to go wrong? In fact did you ever have one of those weeks? Or maybe one of those months or even years when everything goes wrong?

I have had a debilitating disease for 13 years.---steadily losing control of my body. From the outside, it looks hopeless.

When my wife and I were married and took the vows promising we would be true in sickness or in health, we did not imagine what that actually meant.

When I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1994, my life was turned upside down. I didn't want to face what multiple sclerosis did and it began debilitating me immediately, taking me quickly to a cane. However, God had other plans and He resurrected me through diet and lots of prayers of many people so I could put away my cane and live more normally for the next four years.

But, God allowed the disease to come back and now it’s at the point where I am a dependent.

Where is God?

Has God abandoned me? Is God unable to heal me? Of course not. In fact, He gives something greater to me than healing---He gives Himself! He gave Himself for us all through His Son’s death on the cross AND He gives Himself through the constant presence and indwelling Holy Spirit who is our “Comforter.”

He promises us in His Word in Romans 8 that He will never “leave us or forsake us.” Nothing can separate us from His love! 

“For I am persuaded neither death or life, nor angels or rulers, nor things present or things to come, nor powers, nor height or depth, nor any other created thing can ever separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” That’s a promise that we can stand on and trust forever.

When Everything Seems to Go Wrong

This July, I was making great progress with the use of a hyperbaric oxygen chamber. I was increasing my weightlifting, my swimming strokes, my walking, my memory was getting better---- everything was improving. The first time in many years!

But then things began to go more wrong than ever. As I headed to the chiropractor, a man who wasn't watching in a Mac truck ran into the back of my mini-van. The truck is owned by a gigantic construction company and they are now denying liability, claiming I somehow hit the truck!

Our John Deere tractor and rototiller broke down. Our furnace and a/c died and I fell down from the heat. It cost us $12,000 to replace! Our bathroom water pipe burst upstairs and flooded the ceiling, and it turns out that our whole plumbing in our house is faulty and needs to be replaced to the tune of thousands of dollars!

My one hobby of collecting tropical fish was brought almost to an end that same month when we woke up to find 25 fish dead due to an imbalance in the water. Expenses became due for one of my children’s college education. My air conditioning went out on my minivan, which is necessary for me in the heat, and cost $1300 to replace. Then my brakes went out which cost $600. I hit a pot hole, which cost more money.

Where was God now? He was right there giving me the “peace that passes all understanding” Philippians 4:7 and His sustaining grace. And he used these crisis to give me the opportunity to share the gospel in full with the plumber, the 2 pet shop workers who tested my tank water, our neighbor who looked at our tractor, the furnace installer and more!

From Bad to Worse!

Then, on my way to help my son at Wal-Mart pick up something he had ordered and was looking forward to, I slipped in the rain off my car door and slammed my head onto the pavement causing a concussion and extreme dizziness for the next week and a half.

A week later, I fell at church while standing singing a worship song, into a sharp chair rail, and it pierced and spread my ribs. I covered my mouth to muffle my screaming as the church folks near me watched and cried. It caused such excruciating pain for the next couple of weeks that every time I moved my upper body to pull myself to stand, sit, lay down, etc. I could hardly bear it---my mind was on the edge of insanity.

Within a week from that time, I was in the bathroom and fell against the scooter, hit the controls, went flying into the wall, only to get catapulted into a wood box. I blackened my eye and scraped my forehead, and messed up my neck again. But the trouble did not stop there… my passport renewal didn’t come through so I had to cancel my flight to Canada where I was speaking in September. I ended up having to drive all the way there (about 11 hours)!

After coming back from a grueling (being up till 2 AM every night for four nights in a row), although successful trip, I came back to the office only to stand up in my chair, which rolled back, causing me to fall backwards and hit my head again. I got blood all over the carpet but I cried out and God kept the dizziness mostly away. I had to go to the chiropractor about eight times during that couple of weeks period and once to the emergency room.

Keeping Your Eyes Fixed On Jesus Christ

Through all that time, God hadn't abandoned me---He sustained so I could working full time, teach government class to 10 home school high schoolers, teach Bible class to 5 of my children, campaign for godly candidates, go to church, travel and speak, and survive each day. In fact, even though I've lost many of the great gains with the hyperbolic oxygen chamber, I’m now finally starting to regain.

God is teaching me to look at a cup half full, not half empty. That is the secret to keeping your eyes on Jesus Christ, I believe. We need to look for His cup of blessing in the midst of the pain.

What is Jesus Christ doing through this? We need to think and ask what opportunity is He making available to us so that we can glorify Him. We have to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and as we do that we begin to see Jesus in all circumstances. We will be able to say “all things work together for good and to those who love God and work according to His purpose” and really believe it and God did that. He promises that He will give us the peace that passes all understanding, He tells us that as we "keep our eyes fixed on Jesus we run that race with endurance." He says that we are to "take joy in our tribulations and trials" and relish the fact that we've been included in the “fellowship of the suffering”.

The disciples rejoiced when they were beaten in the towns and stoned for the sake of Christ. Can we do any less?

When we go through times of suffering Satan attacks his hardest. He wants us to give up, he wants us to wait, he wants us to curse God, he wants to neutralize us so we focus on our problems.

But we must once again put on the full armor God and securely fasten the “helmet of salvation” knowing that we are going to heaven and no one can stop us or “snatch us from His Hand.” We need to mentally and spiritually put on the “breastplate of righteousness” against the whole world, and certainly against the bad circumstances that come our way. We must “gird our loins with truth” and not listen to Satan’s lies to give up and think that we are nothing but a waste of flesh.

We have to “keep our feet shod with the preparation of the gospel” and “be ready in and out of season to give a defense and tell of the hope that is within us.” God makes it so clear: “How beautiful on the mountain are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things and proclaims salvation. Who says our God reigns.”

We must hold up “the shield of faith” standing on God’s truth and thereby deflect Satan’s fiery darts which He is sure to send our way. Finally, we must wield our sword, the WORD OF GOD, and cut through the trouble, horror, despair or enemy before us.
Ephesians 6:13-18.

Yes, we must keep our eyes fixed on Jesus Christ, but how do we do this. Let’s look at a few examples I cited above.

How To Keep Your Eyes Fixed on Jesus Christ

When our plumbing went out and the plumber came out late at night, I had another opportunity to share the gospel with this stranger and spent a half hour doing so. He received the Bible and materials I gave him. I did not fix my eyes on the problem and cost, but on what Jesus was doing in arranging a meeting!

When I fell and hit my head and got a concussion, I felt like throwing up and despairing, but instead I prayed began looking for Jesus. So I began speaking the Word of God verse after verse on my way to the CAT scan room and back to the despondent nurse. She ended up accepting Christ! God showed me the Divine missionary trip He set up!

As I fell in my own bathroom and blackened my eye, I learned while I was lying on my back in great pain to say, “blessed be the name of the Lord, You give and take away, blessed be Your name.” I found I could say this even though I was suffering and in pain. I had finally crossed the threshold of learning to praise God when physically there was nothing to praise Him about----like Paul and Silas when they praised God "in the midnight hour" chained in prison after a horrible beating. I praised Him with my heart even though my feelings were dashed.

As expense after expense came upon us, as our material things broke down from our car, furnace, to our piping, it gave Him an opportunity to provide and help us trust Him even more. And one by one, He has helped us to pay for many of the things in ways that I didn't know could happen. God was having me earn money in ways I didn't expect.

He held me up through the love of my incredible wife Tracy, faithful son Jesse, dependable son John and always loving and supporting daughters Bethany, Megan, Susanna, Charity and Amy.

Yes, God is with us--- Emmanuel. He will never leave us nor forsake us. When "we humble ourselves, He will lift us up. "And as I came to my wit’s end in trying to determine how we were going to finance all these calamities, and how I was going to be able to survive all my falls, when I needed my upper body to move and every movement for weeks I was in excruciating pain-God provided.

He rallied me once again. He enabled me to go to New Mexico from Sunday to Sunday and minister to many and be ministered to. He enabled me to speak and participate with the homeschool leaders, planning for legislation and do mediation. He enabled me to make the flight and spend some quality time with a lot of His people.

He enabled me at the 11th hour to find an 18-year old young man who was able to drive me to Canada where we saw Niagara Falls on the way and had a great blessed time of ministry in Canada. He enabled me to spread His Gospel through many tracts from New Mexico to all the way up to Canada through Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, and Canada. He enabled me to share His truth in the hospital, which was a place I wasn't even planning on going.

There is one set of footprints behind me--and they are not mine--there my Father God's!

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that He is showing once again that He is REAL and He speaks loudly from our lives if we will only let Him. He has opportunity for us to be a witness if we only see it. He asked us to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and not on our problems so we can feel value and worth.

Ask, persevere, endure, and He will open a way. Praise God for His mercies that know no end.

Maranatha! Maranatha! Come Lord quickly, but in the meantime let us be faithful to our mission and be good Christian soldiers. Let us never give up. Let us trust Him and obey. And one day He will say, “Well done good and faithful servant.”
And all along the way He will give us the grace sufficient, and through Him we can be more than conquerors because it is He who saved us and we can truly do all things through Christ who strengthens us. 


I’m still here and He’s still using me. You can count on Him doing the same for you no matter what the circumstance, no matter what the trouble, no matter how difficult it is. God is faithful and He’s true to His Word. Praise His Holy name!

-Chris Klicka
October 10, 2007




All text © 2013 From the Ashes| All Images © 2013  From the Ashes

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Sea How Far You Go - Sketch Book Muses



“Look at that sea, girls--all silver and shadow and vision of things not seen. 
We couldn't enjoy its loveliness any more if we had millions of dollars and ropes of diamonds.”
― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables


All text © 2013 From the Ashes| All Images © 2013  From the Ashes



Monday, April 14, 2014

Tag,You're It - So am I


I've always loved reading others tags, but I've never done one myself. Since my dear sister (Charity) invited me to participate in hers, I decided not to pass up the offer to create my first tag. 

Here are the RULES:


-Share 10 random facts 
-Answer nominator's questions
-Set your own questions 
-Nominate 10 more bloggers



RANDOM FACTS ABOUT ME:


>> I got married at 19.
>>I love fresh vegetables and fruit, and would heartily eat them at just about any time.  
>> I love reading. Simple as that.
>> Tall socks are my thing.
>> J.K. Rowlings series "Harry Potter" have become one all; time favorite fiction novels. 
>> I make almost every meal without a recipe. 
>> O have grown to love sleep more than I'd like to admit. 
>> I love being outdoors. Even if it's just lying on a blanket reading a book. 
>> I love water and marine life so much, that sometimes I wish I were mermaid. :) 
>> When I was 15 I went Skydiving. 
>> Dance is one of my favorite pastimes, all though I do not do as much as I'd like. 


QUESTIONS ANSWERED: 

1. Tea or Coffee?
  • I would have to say definitely tea. Iced, hot or blended with ice and honey (one of my favorite beverages). 
2. Ideal Job?
  • Hmm, my ideal job would be working on a ranch somewhere out West. I would love to spend my days outside, getting my hands dirty, working with cattle and working hard at it. If I get paid to do it, that would be a bonus. 
3. If you could live in any era, which would it be?
  • I would have to say the 1940's. There's just so much about that time that I love, specifically the dancing, music and simplicity of the time. 
4. Which Literary character(s) do you most identify with?
  • Hmmm, I would't say I identify with any one in particular. Though I've always seen myself as C.S. Lewis' Arvis (The Horse and His Boy) running away from the life she's always known to seek adventure. 
5. Favorite painter(s)?
  • Favorite Painter? I'm afraid I'm not much in to that sort of art. I guess I would have to say Thomas Kinkade, he always has a way of pulling the audiences into his paintings.
6. If you could have any pet in the world (regardless if it's tame or not), what would it be?
  • This is a difficult question as I really love many animals. I would have to say either a tiger (I would love a tiger because it looks like a cat, but has all the characteristics of a dog.) or a horse (and I have loved horses for as long as I can remember). 
7. If you could meet one actor/actress (past or present) and ask them one question, who would it be and what would you ask them?
  • I would ask Danny Kaye if he could teach me how to dance. 
8. Rain or Snow? Why?
  • I love a warm rainy day, but I love to venture out right after a big snow storm, not to mention snowboarding! So, I can't really choose one over the other. 
9. If you could recommend one book to every person you know, what book would that be?
  • One book? That's quite difficult as I could recommend at least a dozen. So it actually comes down to two books. Either A Higher Call by Larry Alexander and Adam Makos or Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. Both take place during the early 1940's, are inspiring and give insight into small, yet significant details of World War II. 
10. If you could change your name (first, middle, and last) or create a pen name, what would it be?
  • Well, I've always liked boy names more than girls, but if I had to choose for myself I would have to say, Marguerite Clarice  Lewis. It's a pretty name. :)


MY QUESTIONS FOR YOU:

1. If there was one thing about you that you could change, what would it be?
2. What made you first want to blog?
3. What is your favorite form of social media? (Facebook, blog, IM, email, twitter, etc.) 
4. If you could play in any cinema movie, what would it be?
5. If you could reside anywhere in the world, where would that be?
6. Favorite time period?
7. If you could meet one person in History, who would that be?
8. Favorite dessert? and Why?
9. If you could recommend one book to every person you know, what book would that be?
10. If you could change your name (first, middle, and last) or create a pen name, what would it be?


TAGGED
(even if you're not tagged, you are absolutely welcome to join along)

MaryRachel  | Kelsie | Amy | Heather Leigh| Charity| and anyone else!

If you end up doing this tag, I'd love for you to comment below with your link! 


All text © 2013 From the Ashes| All Images © 2013  From the Ashes

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Happy Birthday Dad - Remembering Chris Klicka

My Children, Don’t Feel Sorry For Me 


I long to hike a thousand trails
And have the strength in these feeble knees.
I yearn to run, jump, and climb

But my father ordained this disease.



I wish I could play basketball with you
And take my sweetheart to a dance.
I would love to carry heavy things again
Or climb on rocks, taking a chance.




Oh, how I miss kicking a ball across the field
And running hard around a track.
I wish I could just roll over in bed!
I so want to turn the clock back.



Yet don’t feel sorry for me!
Listen to what God’s let me do.
God has always been good to me,
With eagles wings I flew.



Sure my hands and legs are now weak
But for 40 years they worked well
I even played most every sport
And lifted 205 1bs. well.



Please don’t feel sorry for me!
I pitched many winning games.
I was a center and running back
And fired many guns with a steady aim.



I crawled through dark, dangerous caverns,
Backpacked the Appalachian Trail.
I repelled cliffs backwards and forwards,
All my muscles worked without fail.



My children, do not feel sorry for me!
God has let me do so much.
I was strong once like all of you,
I wrestled and tumbled and such.



For 20 years, I planted and grew gardens,
I painted whole houses until done.
I did carpentry, landscaping, and mechanics
And asphalted lots in the burning sun



Don’t ever feel sorry for me!
For I am blessed beyond belief.
God has used me to build His kingdom
When I cried out, He gave relief.



He has given me the very best wife.
A great job and cause that is rare.
Seven wonderful loving children,
And thousands who lift me in prayer.



Hey, don’t feel sorry for me! 
Mom and I have traveled thousands of miles. 
Across South Africa, Europe, and Japan 
Speaking on home schooling all the while. 



We have been on safaris and windjammer ships 
Locomotives and planes of all kinds. 
I have driven ski dos, snowmobiles, and speed boats 
And any scooter, cycle, and bike I’d find. 



Really don’t feel sorry for me! 
When I fight to walk or fall hard to the ground 
I’ve already lived a whole life in years 
Used by God to help thousands the world around. 



I’ve journeyed to all 50 states 
Visiting oceans, mountains, and dessert lands.
I’ve seen wildlife, battlefields, and big cities, 
And touched ages of history with my hand. 

I have argued before 3 supreme Courts 
Testified before many legislatures and boards.
Influenced Congress to change laws for good 
And witnessed to thousands about our Lord. 



Oh yes, don’t feel sorry for me! 
Because I don’t eat fast foods or treats.
In youth, I enjoyed hundreds of donuts, 
And tasted most every snack or sweet. 



I ate cheese and sausages by the pound 
And hot dogs and hamburgers a lot.
I drank milk, sodas, and shakes too 
And had much ice cream and many a brat. 



Just don’t feel sorry for me! 
Even though I sometimes complain.
I admit life is so very hard 
But God is with me through the pain. 



I am saved by the blood of the Lamb 
He has prepared a perfect place for me
This is truly “Momentary light affliction,” 
Nothing compared to life in eternity. 



Please, please don’t feel sorry for me 
God has given me countless blessings.
He faithfully carries me through the deep waters 
He makes my spirit soar on eagles wings. 



Just don’t let this disease be in vain for you 
Keep holding on to your Father God tight.
God has ordained my MS lessons for all of you 
To teach you to love and obey Him with all your might. 



Oh, try not to feel too sorry for your daddy! 
Though my body functions slowly die
My soul is forever safe; I will be alright 
Yet it hurts my heart and I may sometimes cry. 




I want more than anything else you can do 
To faithfully honor your mom with love
Help her, obey her, and bless her always
She is a precious gift from your Father above.  




And submit to God and resist the devil--he'll flee 
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.
Love Him and keep His commandments 
Honor Him and God will honor you. 




Endure and you will reign with Him 
Deny God and He will deny you
When we are faithless, He is still faithful 

His grace is sufficient to carry you through 



But I will fight the good fight and keep the faith 
With a scooter, running the race to win
Keeping my eyes fixed on Jesus Christ, 

Until I am free from this body of sin. 



Marantha! Lord quickly come! 
“I have no greater joy than this; to hear of my children walking in 
The truth!” III John 4 


Happy Birthday Daddy, I miss you.



All text © 2013 From the Ashes| All Images © 2013  From the Ashes