Friday, November 28, 2014

The woman who came back to life

A remarkable story from the United States.

Forty-year-old Ruby Graupera-Cassimiro had been delivered of a healthy baby in a routine caesarean section when there was an unexpected complication. An amniotic fluid embolism in her bloodstream stopped her heart. Doctors say the condition is almost always fatal.

A team of more than a dozen doctors and nurses fought for 45 minutes to save her. They took turns to give CPR and gave repeated electric shocks. Nothing worked. Eventually the doctors stopped all lifesaving procedures. They told relatives there was nothing more they could do. Ruby's husband, mother and sister said their goodbyes and left the room.

They were about to record the time of death when Ruby's heart started beating again. Her family were praying in a room nearby when a nurse came in. "Keep praying," she said. "Her heart just started." 

When Ruby came round, despite being without heartbeat for 45 minutes, there was no trace of brain damage. There were no burns from the repeated shocks and there was no bruising from the CPR.

Then Ruby remembered what she thought was a dream she had had while she was unconscious. She met her late father, who told her it was not time for her to die.

"It was a complete miracle," said nurse Julie Ewing. "It was answered prayer. We were all there. We all witnessed it."

According to the doctors, there was no explanation for her heart starting beating again. Said Dr Amthony Dardano, president of the hospital's medical staff: "There's very few things in medicine that I've seen, working in the trauma centre myself and doing all the things that I do, that really were either unexplainable or miraculous. When I heard this story, that was the first thing that came to my mind."

Later, Ruby went back to the hospital with her baby for a tearful reunion with the doctors and nurses. "All I know is that I'm grateful to be here," she said. " I don't know why I was given this opportunity, but I'm very grateful for it."

You can read the full story here.

Monday, November 24, 2014

The best is yet to come

My father had a James autocycle. He rode it to Blackpool one day to find some accommodation for our annual holiday. For some reason, he didn't find any. On the way back, he got lost. He wound up in a little village, where he saw a sign in a front room window: Apartments. He went in and booked.

The village had two buses a week: one on Tuesday afternoon, and one on Thursday afternoon. If you missed the one on Tuesday, you had to wait until Thursday. On our holiday, my parents were bored to death. I thought it was marvellous. I revelled in the fields, the farms with their young calves and the stream running through the village with fish in it.

In those days, it was customary to have one week's holiday away each year. Almost no one had transport. You walked through the streets to the railway station and pushed your way on to a packed train, suitcases in hand. Most people went to Blackpool. The adventurous might decide to go to Morecambe. If you thought yourself a cut above the rest, you would go to Southport. Only company directors and Woolworths managers, it seemed, went to North Wales.

All that changed for me when I was 15 years old. I went on a coach tour to North Wales. The coach went along the A5 across North Wales. I sat by the window, captivated by the countryside. I thought I had never seen anything so beautiful.

I have had quite a lot of holidays since then. I have often thought I would like to see Israel again before I die. It doesn't look like I am going to manage it now. It doesn't much matter; I will see Israel again. When the Lord Jesus Christ returns and brings us with Him, He will reign in Jerusalem. We will reign with Him.

Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And he who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war.

His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except himself.

He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and his name is called the Word of God.

 And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed him on white horses.

Now out of his mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it he should strike the nations. And he himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.

And he has on his robe and on his thigh a name written:
                                                                                                                   Rev 19:11 - 16.

Blessed and holy is he who has a part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
                                                                                                                   Rev 20:6.

There's something to look forward to.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

How a Muslim found peace

"I grew up in a Muslim family. I became a very, very strict Muslim, because of the thirst and hunger I had for the Creator. I used to think that His name was Allah. In my wildest imagination, I couldn't imagine that that's not true."

This is the remarkable testimony of a young Muslim.

"I always had a love for God. I really wanted to get to know Him. They told me if you read Koran over and over and over again, you get extra credit. If you wake up early in the morning and read Koran over and over, that really will give you extra credit. That never made me closer to God. I was always so hungry and thirsty and desperate to know God.

"For 12 years I was pursuing God, but I couldn't have a close relationship with Him. I gave up. I was so angry.

"I went to this hotel in Cyprus. I saw a Bible. I said 'Can I read it?' He said 'You can have it.' I began to read the Bible. Jesus was popping out of the Bible. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. I think it was the third night I was reading the Bible. I read that Jesus was the Son of God. That made me so angry. I threw the book at the wall. 

"I didn't touch the Bible for three years.

"I went to this school and my teacher started to talk to me about Jesus. I couldn't believe that God is love because I never received love from God. I was a slave of God.

"I felt that I need to pray to Jesus. I asked a friend of the teacher's how can I pray. She said 'I receive you as Lord of my life. I accept your forgiveness. I accept you as the Son of God.'

"I said 'Jesus, I don't believe that you are the Son of God. I really don't. But if you are the Son of God I want you to come to my life. I don't believe your blood has any power to forgive my sin at all, but if your blood has any power to forgive my sin, I accept it.'

"I went to church. I went to church as a Muslim, but as a Muslim who was so disappointed. The pastor was preaching. I couldn't understand his preaching because I didn't have any knowledge of Bible.

"I saw a man standing behind pastor. I asked myself 'Who is this?' A voice inside of me said 'Jesus.' He walked inside me physically. Fire came all over me. My whole body was on fire. This hand came and touched my heart.

"She said 'Do you believe Jesus is the Son of God?' I said 'No, I don't. Now I believe that Jesus lives and He came to me personally. But Son of God? You need to convince me.' And I saw Jesus in heaven and He was standing on the right hand of the throne.

"He started to pour His Spirit all over me. He convinced me without saying anything. My heart knew He was the Son of God. I ran to the hotel and got to my knees. It was the most wonderful, the most beautiful moment of my life. I never had peace before. It was like I was swimming inside peace.

"If you don't have peace, if you have never received love from God, try Jesus. He will give you love. He will give you joy. He will give you peace.

"If I die today I know He is waiting there for me. I am going to jump into His arms. I am going to dance with Him. He is my closest friend. If you don't have peace, let Jesus come and turn your world upside down, and introduce Himself to you - as Love."

You can see the full testimony on video here.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Happy birthday then

Today I am 80 years old. I don't really know how I got here, to be honest. The last 20 years seem to have snuck by when I wasn't looking.

Admitted, there have been signs. Young women have started to offer me their seat on buses, and I have become a depository for old age jokes. Like The older I get, the more time I spend thinking about the hereafter. I walk into a room, and stand there wondering what I'm here after.

You know the sort of thing. 

Looking back over the years, I marvel at God's grace.

Recently I heard a wonderful testimony from a dear woman busy in God's service. When she was younger, she didn't need God. She was all right. She went to church twice a year, and besides, she had a GCE in religious studies.

The first time she went into an evangelical church, she couldn't wait to get out. But she was back the week after. And the week after that. Until she found God and was wonderfully filled with the joy of the Lord.

I was like that. I didn't want God. I wasn't hurting anybody. All I wanted was to be left alone to get on with my life. God spoke to me for months before I let Him into my life. And all He wanted to do was to make me His and bless me beyond anything I'd known.

We're all of us rebels, you see. Adam started it, by deciding he wanted to be able to make his own decisions. without God. And we kept it up. We're all sinners, you see, if only because we haven't given God His rightful place in our lives.

Even after I invited God into my life, I made mistakes. But that was all right too. He's a Father of the perfect kind. 

He's made changes in my life. For the better. He's made me more like the person He intended me to be.

If there's anything commendable in my life, it's not me. It's Him.

Friday, November 14, 2014

So how did we get in this state?

Where did the idea come from that we should worship celebrities and we aren't allowed to worship God as we understand Him? I guess that's a sign that I'm getting old. . . But there are a lot of us who are wondering where these celebrities come from and where the America we knew went to.

In light of the many jokes we send to one another for a laugh, this is a little different. This is not intended to be a joke; it's not funny, it's intended to get you thinking.

In light of recent events. . . terrorists attack, school shootings etc. . . I think it started when Madeleine Murray O'Hare (she was murdered, her body found a few years ago) complained she didn't want prayer in our schools, and we said OK. Then someone said you better not read the Bible in school. . . The Bible says thou shalt not kill; thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbour as yourself. And we said OK.

Then Dr Benjamin Spock said we shouldn't spank our children when they misbehave, because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem (Dr Spock's son committed suicide). We said an expert should know what he's talking about, and we said OK.

Now we're asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don't know right from wrong, and why it doesn't bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves.

Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out. I think it has a great deal to do with "We reap what we sow."

Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the world's going to hell. Funny how we believe what the newspapers say, but question what the Bible says. Funny how you can send jokes through e-mail and they spread like wildfire, but when you start sending messages regarding the Lord, people think twice about sharing. Funny how lewd, crude, vulgar and obscene articles pass freely through cyberspace, but public discussion of God is suppressed in the school and workplace.

Are you laughing yet?

Funny how when you forward this message, you will not send it to many on your address list because you're not sure what they believe, or what they will think of you for sending it.

Funny how we can be more worried about what other people think of us than what God thinks of us.

Pass it on if you think it has merit.

If not, then just discard it. . . no one will know you did. But, if you discard this thought process, don't sit back and complain about what bad shape the world is in.

The above was written and recited by Steven Levy on America's CBS Sunday Morning Commentary. It could apply equally to the UK.

Just thought you might like to think about it.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Mother pleads for child to die

A 12-year-old girl has died in hospital after having food and drink withheld - with court permission. It is the first time a child not on life support and not suffering from a terminal illness has legally been caused to die.

Nancy Fitzmaurice was born with hydrocephalus, meningitis and septicaemia. She could not walk, talk, eat or drink. She needed 24-hour hospital care and was fed and watered by tube.

Her mother, Charlotte Fitzmaurice (36), of Ilford, said "Simple things like birds singing and hearing children play would put the most beautiful smile on her face. She loved Michael Buble, and when I slurped my tea she would give out a hearty chuckle." 

Nancy had apparently developed neurological problems and screamed with pain, despite painkillers.

The mother told the High Court "My daughter is no longer my daughter, she is now merely a shell. I truly believe she has endured enough. For me to say that breaks my heart. But I have to say it."

Justice Eleanor King, granting permission for nutrition and hydration to be withheld, said of Nancy "In her own closed world she has had some quality of life. Sadly that is not the case now."  It took 14 days for Nancy to die.

Said Charlotte: "Watching my daughter suffer for days while they cut off her fluids was unbearable. She went in pain. All I wanted was for my daughter to die with dignity with me holding her hand. Although I will live with the guilt forever, I know I have done everything I can for her and she is at peace.

"Although I know it was the right thing to do, I will never forgive myself. It shouldn't have to be a mother's decision to end a child's life. I believe hospitals and parents should be able to decide without mothers or fathers going to court."

Said Dr Andrew Fergusson, of Care Not Killing: "It is never ethical to speed up the process of dying by any intervention which has the primary intention to end life. Weakening laws that protect the sick, disabled and elderly would put vulnerable people at risk."

ASAN, an American charity, said "Euthanasia of people with disabilities is an extremely dangerous and wholly inappropriate solution to inadequate pain management. In cases where painkillers are insufficient, a number of alternatives for pain management exist."

Monday, November 10, 2014

The world's most persecuted people

Christians are the most persecuted group of people in the world. They are being murdered, tortured, imprisoned and assaulted solely because of their faith.

Christians in many parts of the Middle East face wipe-out. Churches and Christian homes are being vandalised and destroyed.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including the right to change his religion or belief. Yet in many places those who choose to change their religion are beaten, imprisoned or killed.

The above facts are taken from a report on global persecution, containing almost a hundred pages of evidence, published by Maranatha, the Manchester-based Christian community. The report may be read or downloaded here.

Next Sunday, November 16, is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. A coalition of Christian organisations, impelled by the knowledge that more people had died for their faith in the 20th century than in all the previous centuries combined, decided in 1996 that the church worldwide would no longer be silent.

People from 110 countries pledged to pray in that first year. It has since become an annual event.

Will you pray? You can download a free resource pack here.