Build on the Rock


Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down and the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine [Jesus] and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash. (Matthew 7:24-27)

 Did you come to faith in a really moving church service, Christian Concert, or maybe in a desperate situation which led you to turn to God for help? Now that things have settled down and life is back to normal, do you wonder or maybe even fear that your faith is gone because you are not feeling the moving warmth which you felt in the beginning?

These are important questions because “faith” and “feelings” are closely related. The problem with human “feelings” is that they are not dependable. Faith does produce deep feelings in the human heart. But those deep feelings don’t always remain on the surface of our consciousness. And we are fickle at times. Our feelings may change and then we doubt ourselves – and our faith. Some may then wonder, when the feelings are gone, is our faith gone too?

Some days we are upbeat and flying high. Others we are down in the dumps. Does that mean that on the days when we may feel hopeless or depressed, or just plain blah we have lost our faith??? No, it does not. But we each need to ask ourselves these questions. What is my faith based on and/or What do I have faith in? If you are unsure how to answer, or if your answer reflects a faith that is based on the ability or strength of yourself or another human, then you need to rethink things. You need to better understand the meaning of having faith.

So, let’s talk a little about “faith…”

The first point we must make is that “faith” means nothing if it is not connected to something. It needs an object to be attached to and that object needs to be set on a firm foundation, like the house built on the rock in the verse above from Matthew. Without that solid foundation the house would never withstand the wind and rain, and the rising water of a strong storm. It would be washed away like sand on the seashore.

Faith needs a connection to something which is stable – something that will not move away from us when we reach out to it. Without that connection it would be like tossing a life rope to a person who is drowning and walking away without hanging on to it or connecting it to a dock or boat. For the Christian, that life rope is Jesus. You can be sure that when your faith is connected to Jesus you are safe and secure.

 Scripture defines faith as …being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see (Hebrews 11: 1). Faith is confidence that what we have learned and been taught from Scripture, is true even though we are sometimes unable to see it or understand it.

There is no earthly human who can predict or guarantee our future. Only God can. And He does not only predict the future, He knows the future and has the perfect plan for each of our lives. When we place our faith in God, we can be sure of His divine providence not only here on earth, but we can rest calmly and firmly in the hope He promises all believers for eternity.

Out of love for all people God sent His only Son, Jesus, to live the perfect life we are unable to live. Jesus not only lived a perfect life in our place, but He also suffered and died on the cross in our place. His innocent suffering and death paid the debt we owe to God for our sins. And it didn’t end with His death on the cross. He conquered death when He rose from the grave 3 days later. Because He lives, we also will live with Him in eternity when our life here on earth comes to an end. His promise to us? I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die (John 11:25, 26). In John 14: 19 He tells his disciples, Because I live, you also will live.

Jesus is the only firm foundation for our faith. Faith in Jesus means our house is built on a rock. The troubles and sorrows of this life will never wash away His promise to always be with us.  And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age (Matthew 28:20).

On busy days when we are focused on this earthly life, (for example work, children, school etc.) and God and faith are not in the foreground, our faith in Jesus is still there running in the background. Like the apps on our cell phones which run in the background even when we are not aware of them, so it is also with a faith that it is connected to Jesus.

When Jesus is the object of our faith, we will never find ourselves swimming aimlessly in the sea of life without hope. He will never let go of us, even though we may let go of Him at times. We can relax and rest secure in His promises and His Word and enjoy the freedom it offers. Jesus loves you and will never leave you.

Faith does produce feelings, but never base your faith on human feelings alone. You may end up like the man in the above verses from Matthew who built his house on sand. When the wind and the rain came his house could not stand. It collapsed and was washed away. But the house built on a foundation of stone stood firm in the wind and the weather. Let Jesus be the foundation (object) for your faith.

When we place our trust in Him, live by His example, and believe the promises in His Word, we are building on a firm foundation. We will be able to withstand the storms and troubles of this life. We can rest secure in His love and forgiveness and live in hope of an eternity with Him in heaven when we die.

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint (Isaiah 40:31).

Gloria Dei!

By Christine

MEMORIES


Photo Album

All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall [fade] because the breath of the Lord blows on them. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall [fade], but the word of our God stands forever. (Isaiah 40: 6-8)

Memories are a beautiful thing.

My father was called home to heaven when I was eight years old. After a few years I realized that I could no longer recall his face or remember the sound of his voice. I am thankful for pictures. The pictures refresh my memory of his face. There are no videos to help me recall the sound of his voice, but the pictures are a true blessing.

Memories are precious, but I know from my own experience that memories fade with time. In recent months/weeks I have been putting together memory books for my five grandchildren who lost their dad to brain cancer on April 6, 2017. All that remains for them now is “memories” of their dad.

When my son was getting close to the end of his life, his social worker suggested he make memory books for the children. She gave him five hard covered books which were a blank slate. She inked his hand and put his handprint on the front of each book. He wasn’t able to do them himself, so he dictated to his sister and I notes of memories that were precious to him and that he wanted the children to remember. I have been busy making a book of memories for each child. It includes his notes and many pictures of him with them while they were growing up.

As time passes I know their memories of him will fade, but the books will give each of them a reference. The pictures will preserve the memory of his face in their minds. In the pictures they will see his mannerisms and remember the way he played with them. The pictures reveal many of the fun things they did together i.e. fishing with the boys, carnival rides, birthdays, and Christmases. He loved his children. After God they were his top priority. Every life decision he made was made with their best interest in mind.

The verses above from the book of Isaiah remind us that this life is only temporary. Like the grass and flowers of the field, humans have a life cycle also. From the moment of our birth death is a shadow that hangs over each of us. Sickness, tragic accidents or old age will eventually touch each of us and our loved ones. But the last line states that though the grass withers and the flowers fall [fade], the word of our God stands forever.

This life is sometimes sad. People we love die. Death creates an emptiness in our hearts and lives. Thankfully the promises of God never change. Jesus promises to never leave us. He says, and surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age (Matthew 28:20). He is present in our lives watching over us and guiding us His children, along the road of life.

He promises that this life is not all there is. He tells us, do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. (John 14: 1-3)

All who believe in God through faith in Jesus His Son, will live forever with Him in heaven. Our heavenly home is ready and waiting for us. There will be no more death or sadness, no tears or pain. We will see Jesus face to face and we will see our loved ones who died in the faith also. What a beautiful thing to look forward to!

I pray that my grandchildren will retain their faith in Jesus and be reunited with their dad in heaven someday. I look forward to seeing him again also along with other loved ones who have gone before me in faith, where the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away (Revelation 21: 3, 4).

This life on earth pales in comparison with what is to come. We live here by God’s grace. His deep love for sinners brought His only Son to the cross where He offered himself as a sacrifice for sin. What a wonderful gift! It offers hope to a dark world of sin, suffering and death.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2: 8, 9).

Gloria Dei!

By Christine
The memory books were put together with love and are meant to be a treasure to the children. They are a little piece of their dad – a reference. When they miss him or are feeling sad they can reach for the book and see him. It will reassure them of his love for them and be a little part of him to keep close to their hearts.
This life on earth is very fragile. We, or someone we love, can be here one minute and gone the next. Our minds have trouble grasping it. After we lose someone we love to death, it often feels like their life with us was just a dream. Time seems to stand still for us, but the rest of the world keeps moving forward. We see our friends and relatives continuing as normal and feel like we are left stuck in time. We wonder, was that person real – was he/she really part of my life? Does anyone remember or still think of him/her? Pictures are a reality – something we can see and touch. They are a comfort to the grieving.
As an adult I have made a memory book of my own father from the pictures I have. It would have been very precious to me as a child to have had a collection of picture memories of my life with him to go to when I was lonely. I pray that these books will promote healing of the heart for my grandchildren and be something they can share with their own children someday.

 

 

 

OUR STORY


The following poem, written to the meter of  ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, was written by my husband, Andrew R. Backus.

For those who do not know us, it is the story of our lives – the circumstances under which we met, fell in love, and were married. Some may think the timing, circumstances and place where we were married a little odd, but we believe that the hand of God was leading and guiding us and put each of us in the right place at the right time. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8: 28)

Robert Toree Mom - Copy
Robert before his illness

Important Facts:

  • Andy’s first wife Dee passed away on Aug. 25, 2013 of Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM) Grade 4 Brain Cancer – a form of Brain Cancer that is always terminal.
  • My first husband Bob Pocza passed away on Feb. 2, 2016 of a blood disease called Myelodysplastic Syndrome after an almost 4 year illness. I was now a widow.
  • On April 18, 2016 My son Robert Pocza was diagnosed with Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM) Grade 4 brain cancer, the same type of cancer that Dee had. Being a new widow, I moved from my home in Michigan to Wisconsin to live with and help my son, who lived in the Milwaukee area. He passed away on April 6, 2017.
  • Our story is bittersweet, but in all circumstances we know that God is good and does what is best for his children.

Christmas 2017/Epiphany 2018

 

 Merry Christmas to one, Merry Christmas to all!

And this Christ is named Jesus, as you may recall.

He’s the One God had promised right after the Fall.

He came into our world as a baby so small.

God and man in one person, He paid for all sin,

And He opened up heaven so all may go in.

 

With this letter we greet you, this man and this wife,

As we share with you things going on in our life:

 

‘Twas about this time last year that something was brewing,

And in a few months there will be vows renewing!

For you see, there’s a God and He knows what He’s doing.

 

It was May 22nd of Twenty-Sixteen

That a man and his mother in my church I’d seen –

A new widow from Michigan here for her son

Who had a brain tumor, the same kind of one

That somehow had happened to Dee my late wife –

The kind that ends up with the ending of life.

 

I offered support to this mom and her son,

For we know that with Jesus all battles are won.

The time went by quickly as we grew together

And they worked through medicines, red tape and weather.

 

The cancer progressed with its ups and its downs,

While Chris and her son dealt with smiles and with frowns.

In the meantime, my role was to offer support

 As we helped her son Rob who was such a good sport.

 

But something was happening, to our surprise;

We began seeing love as we looked in our eyes.

 

Robert noticed it too and began to remind us

That perhaps we should leave being single behind us.

 

Well, believe it or not, that’s exactly the thing

That transpired, and suddenly Chris had a ring!

 

Robert tearfully told her it would make him smile

If he with his mother could walk down the aisle.

 

So we planned and we plotted as fast as we could,

But that doggoned old cancer was up to no good.

Robert moved to a place, Zilber Hospice by name,

Where my wife Dee had been; it was one and the same!

So with God’s guiding hand and beside her son’s bed,

Christine Pocza and Andrew R. Backus – were wed!

 

Now believe me, the story continues from here;

For the next day we saw Robert’s end drawing near –

The end that without faith in Christ some would fear.

Chris’ son now went home to his Savior so dear.

 

In church we our vows reaffirmed on May six,

With God’s Word, prayer and song a big part of the mix.

The service by Pastor B. Adams was led;

Robert’s memory made known by a rose that was red.

Sarah Kuerth played the organ, Don Buch us addressed;

With song “You Gift of God” by Chris D. we were blessed.

 

Since then Chris and I have begun married life

And are making a home as a husband and wife.

We live in the same place as I did before,

And Chris’ sister Barb’s at Clare Meadows next door.

I still do many things such as I used to do,

But a dog, fish and birds are some things that are new!

 

I would be remiss if I failed to mention –

And bragging and boasting are not my intention –

That my grandchildren now number twenty and eight! *

Steve and Heather bore Theo – last June was the date!

I baptized little Theo at Bash – I was blessed!

And our family still knows “Backus Bash” is the best!

(*Just in case you are wond’ring “What else will he say?”

I can tell you that there is one more on the way!)

 

We have seen some things change and some things stay the same,

Yet in all of life’s changes, sin’s shame is our claim.

That’s why God sent His Son who is Jesus by Name;

He redeemed us poor sinners, and that’s why He came.

Happy Epiphany from the Backuses!

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Andy & Chris, May 6, 2017