Shine Ministry
"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."
-Matthew 5:14-16
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Morning Follows Mourning
4/24/2008

Morning Follows Mourning
During a planning meeting a couple of months ago, someone said that if a theme appealed to me to speak about it. I looked ahead and saw this week's theme, Morning Follows Morning, spelled M O R N I N G follows M O U R N I N G. It stood out as something I could do a sermon on because I strongly believe in the promise of resurrection as told in John 11 verses 1-45. The funny thing is that I had finally gotten the courage to speak and then found out that plans were already made for a speaker on this day. I admit I was glad to be off the hook because I still am nervous about getting up here. I think my nervousness was Satan trying to shut me up, and my husband knows better than anyone that it can't be done. Plus, the theme kept speaking to me and I felt compelled to write a sermon anyway. I decided Saturday morning that I would get to work on writing it the first of the week. Then our pastor called Saturday night and asked if I was still interested in doing it and I really was, but still a little uncertain. Then I realized that I'd better just do it because if I wait until I am ready it will never happen. So I will go on with the promise from Doctrine and Covenants 156: section 8 which says. “the call is for workers in the cause of Zion; therefore neither tarry, nor doubt that I am. I know your perplexities and I am aware of your uncertainties, but if you will call upon my name my Spirit will go before you into whatsoever place you are sent and I will continue to bless you as you have need.” Another reason that I chose this theme was because I had already written an article for the City Gate in 2004 when my Grandpa Janes died so I could use it in the sermon as well. I will share it a little later. Right now, I'd like to talk about the scriptures for this week from John 11:1-45. They tell the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. In John 11verse 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been there, my brother would not have died.” How many times have we said, “Lord if you had only been there this would not have happened?” But we must realize that He is ALWAYS there and we often fail to see it. If we would learn to have faith and recognize His presence we would know the peace it can bring. In verse 22 Martha goes on to say, “But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.” Verses 23-27 start off with Jesus saying to her, “Your brother will rise again. “ Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day. “ Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this.” She said to him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the messiah, the son of God, the one coming into the world.” So I feel this story in John shows us that if we believe we will be resurrected and have everlasting life. We have been talking in class about how Jesus spoke in parables to help us understand and to make us think. Well, thanks to modern technology and email, I received a pretty good parable about death. Those of you in my address book have probably already read this one, so bear with me as I share it again. It goes like this; a sick man turned to his doctor, as he was preparing to leave the examination room and said, “Doctor, I am afraid to die. Tell me what lies on the other side." Very quietly, the doctor said, "I don't know." "You don't know?” the man said. “You are a Christian, and you do not know what is on the other side?" The doctor was holding the handle of the door; on the other side came a sound of scratching and whining, and as he opened the door, a dog sprang into the room and leaped on him with an eager show of gladness. Turning to the patient, the doctor said, "Did you notice my dog? He's never been in this room before. He didn't know what was inside. He knew nothing except that his master was here, and when the door opened, he sprang in without fear. I know little of what is on the other side of death, but I do know one thing... I know my Master is there and that is enough."Imagine what it would be like to have the same faith that the dog has. I know Dee can relate to this because I have seen the love her “girls” have for her when they come in the door. Another good thing I would like to share is a poem that Grandma Doris wrote that was on the obituary passed out at Claire's funeral. It is called Do You Remember
Do you remember when you were a child
When the snow was deep and the wind was wild
You went to play in the storm outside,
You froze, you fell, you sometimes cried
Do you remember rolling in the snow
Making “Angel wings” and snowballs throw
Do you remember the frozen cheeks
If you went inside the others called you weak
Do you remember building tunnels and forts
Playing “Fox and geese” or just run and cavort
Do you remember the bump on the nose
Being frozen stiff from your head to your toes
Do you remember finding the door
That wouldn't open ‘cause your hands were too sore
You gave it a kick with a foot too cold
And mother was there to comfort and hold
That's like death, the door we pass through
And Jesus is there to welcome you
To be battered no more by the storms of the world
No hurts, no sorrows, no wrongs unfurled
Jesus will cleanse us, God welcomes us home
Enfolded on love, never, ever alone
 
Looking at death this way and knowing that Jesus will be there when we are resurrected is very reassuring to me. Such is the case with the passing of my grandparents. I'd like to share the article I wrote for the City Gate in hopes of helping others deal with losing a loved one just as I hope it will touch you today. It is called FROM GRIEF TO RELIEF.
My mom called me to let me know that Hospice had been brought in for my grandpa on
June 21st. I had been expecting this call for some time. He was ninety one with diabetes, Parkinson's disease, and his body had been giving out on him since 2000 after he suffered a couple of strokes. Now he was confined to a wheelchair and had to be fed. I hung up the phone and cried. I kept telling myself that it was for the better, but the reality hit me that this was final and it was hard to let him go. John took me and the kids to see him on the 25th. When I arrived he was lying in his bed hardly able to breathe, drifting in and out of sleep. I was happy when he saw me and said, “Well hello! How are you?” He still had that familiar twinkle in his eyes. As my mom, my aunt and I sat with him Saturday they told me that on Father's Day they had taken him for a walk and he looked up the end of the road and asked, “Is that the stairway to Heaven?” (My aunt said he had told her he knew he was dying.) Then at one moment while we were with him he was telling us that someone else had come into the room. My aunt asked him who it was because it was just us in there. He told her it was angels. She and I told him to go with them. We said that it would be ok because Heaven is a wonderful place and God is always with him. He knew this was true because he had long ago accepted Jesus as his savior. I found out during his funeral that he had started a communion service at the residential care home where he was living. The first week five people were there and once the word got around about what he had done many more people came. He also knew this was true because my Grandmother had a heart attack in 2000 and saw Heaven. It wasn't her time to go yet, though. She came to and told my mom, “Kiddo, everything you've heard about Heaven is true. I know because I was just there. The bright light and peaceful feeling, it's all true.” A few months later her cancer became terminal and my family went to see her. She told me and my sister that she could see Heaven and she was going there. She mentioned beautiful flowers and seeing her mother. Non believers would probably say it was the morphine talking, but Grandpa was only on Advil when he saw the angels. I'm so glad I was able to be with them and hear that they saw where they were going. I guess that is why when I got the phone calls that they had passed I didn't cry. I felt more a sense of relief because their spirits had been set free from their pain stricken, old bodies. The suffering was over and they were at peace with their Father. I believe this is true because later my aunt, who was with grandma when she passed, told me that right before she died, her face changed and she looked young again. The main point I wanted to make with this article and from the stories is that knowing where you are going and who is waiting for you can be so comforting. I have talked about death and our physical resurrection. I believe some can also be dead spiritually. We want for material things and forget why Jesus died for us. In Romans 8:6-11 it says, “To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God's law – indeed it cannot, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.” Then there are those like me that fall in the middle that have never been totally spiritually dead. I believe, pray and eagerly await my physical resurrection. I just kept feeling that there was something more that I could be doing. I mentioned Grandma Doris earlier. Thanx to her and Dee and Mike I was introduced to this church. That is when I really understood what it was about. I learned about discipleship and ministry for the first time. I got baptized again and this time confirmed with the Holy Spirit and experienced my spiritual resurrection. I have a ritual of waking up in the morning and opening my curtains to see the beautiful sunrise. I'd like to share a poem that I wrote about that. It is called A New Beginning.
I watch the sunset as it ends the day
And I know things will be going my way
How can anything not be right
After seeing such a Heavenly sight?
Brilliant shades of pink and red
Let me know there is nothing to dread
The beauty takes my breath away
And I feel blessed to have this day
Though some nights clouds will get in the way
I will wake up the very next day
And there it is before my eyes
A new beginning in the sunrise
 
Each sunrise that I see reminds me that no matter how bad things get I have been given a new day full of possibilities and opportunities. There are times like the poem says that clouds get in the way. Things happen which cause us to suffer and then we tend to doubt or even lose faith. I'd like to elaborate on this a little bit but first I have to share a little testimony. I had been timing this sermon and it was still a little short. After all, the only sermons that I have written were in the form of a poem and only one page long. I prayed that if it was all He wanted me to say, to let it be. But if there was more for me to deliver, to please give it to me. Well, a few minutes later as I was eating breakfast and reading this month's Herald, I turned to an article on page 20 called “Suffering As a Missionary Tool” written by Lisa Wadden. It really brought to life what suffering is all about and why it happens. I know some think that it happens because we have done something wrong, or haven't been living right by God, but I just don't think God works that way. For like Romans 8:16 and17 says, “it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ – if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified.” So what does that mean and how does it work? Lisa explains it pretty good in her article by quoting Ether 5:38. It says, “And because thou has seen weakness, thou shalt be made strong” She also went on to talk about the Apostle Paul and how he testified of this and humbled himself before the church in Corinth. She quoted II Corinthians 12:5-10 which say,”I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say. To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” I would like to further quote her article as she says, “How many people, understanding that they are required to suffer well to be a witness of their Redeemer, would not need endowed courage and comfort to do so? Yet most believers pray, not for strength and patience, but like Paul, that the weakness for infirmity might be taken from them. That is not a lesson found in the scriptures. It is a major spiritual step for many Christians to embrace suffering as their missionary calling. “ After reading that, I understand that we are allowed to suffer so that the Lord can resurrect us and we can then go on to testify and help others. We were told in Temple class that all we go through in life can be used in our ministry later. That helps me realize that suffering is part of the plan so instead of grumbling about things, I should be grateful for each day that I can get out of bed and open my curtains and even to be able to see the sunrise. Sure I'm going to have suffering, but if I humble myself and have the Spirit in me I can get through it. I need to remind myself that just as Jesus suffered and gave His life on the cross and was resurrected, I, too, will suffer but can be resurrected every day. Keep in mind that you don't have to be down and out to be resurrected, either. It is a joyful thing that can be experienced at any given time. The key to this is to open your heart and let the Holy Spirit live within you as mentioned in the scriptures. One way to do this is to unselfishly serve others like Jesus did because nothing can make you forget your problems like bringing joy to someone else. Please bow your head as I close with a prayer. Dear Heavenly Father, I would ask that we all believe in physical resurrection and experience the comfort it can bring whether it is for us or in the passing of a loved one. Let us all know how wonderful it will be to be with Jesus and you. I would also ask that everyone can experience the same spiritual resurrection that happened to me. And that they also know that it is an experience that can be had at any time. Each time we see the sunrise, let us thank you for the New Beginning. Help us see what can be done to bring joy to someone else's life that day. Please, Lord, let us know that you will be there throughout our suffering and indeed Morning Follows Mourning. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen