My life is worth the living…just because He lives

Sunday we celebrated the most important commemorative day of Christianity, Easter, which I prefer to call Resurrection Sunday. Although the incarnation of Christ was the beginning of the miracle of our salvation and reconciliation of man to God, the death and subsequent resurrection of Jesus actually “sealed the deal”! He took our sins upon Himself and died in our place (as if He was a sinner) but then defeated sin and death when He miraculously was raised from the dead on the third day.

Personally, I rejoice on Easter because I have experienced the new life given by Christ. But that’s not my only source of joy on this Easter Sunday, 2015.  This year I saw all five of my children on Easter weekend, although one son and his wife that just had a new baby couldn’t come home for Sunday worship. Nevertheless, it was a wonderful time with family. My greatest joy in life has been in the gift of my children…and now my grandchildren.

Twenty years ago, when I became a single parent, I became so burdened and worried that my children would suffer as a result of my divorce and the lack of a present father in our home. But as I cried out to the Lord for an answer, He assured me that I was not to fear, that my children would “come forth shining as gold” just like Job did after he was tested. We have all been through some difficult times in these past twenty years, but it’s true that after all this time, my children really do shine like gold! Just in the past two years, my family circle is complete and every one of my children has made a personal commitment to Christ. So although we’ve always been a close family, we are closer now as part of the Family of God.

As I celebrate the Risen Savior, I also celebrate the meaningful, victorious, life He has given me and the future He has promised me. Every day He allows me to continue this life is a gift from above. “Because I know He holds my future, my life is worth the living, just because He lives!”

New Life…On the First Day of Spring!

My life has been so busy for the past couple of weeks, and I’ve neglected to post some wonderful news! Just over a week ago, while I was on my way to North Carolina to visit my daughter, I received word that my daughter-in-law was on her way to the hospital to give birth to my new granddaughter! So I swiftly turned my car around and headed back west toward Kentucky! Harper Mae Zawko was born on March 20 (the first day of our long awaited SPRING!) to her daddy, Daniel, and mommy, Taryn, in Lexington, Kentucky. She joins her wonderful siblings, Ella and Danny! Although she was three weeks ahead of her due date, she was a good size: 6 pounds and 10 ounces. These three are my only grandchildren, but I expect my other kids will be starting families soon….the Zawko Gang is a competitive bunch!

Arlene and HarperAs I held my new granddaughter for the first time, there were so many thoughts running through my mind. Probably one of the most important was the truth of the amazing potential that one human life can possess! This baby girl already has a plan and purpose that God has written for her. It’s our job as parents and grandparents to nurture and grow the potential that God has placed within her. We actively do this by the godly choices and decisions we make when she’s small, and by pushing and prodding her toward the correct pathways of life, as she gets older.

Another thought: God’s truths and principles are passed from generation to generation. As I held this precious baby, my mind automatically went back to 33 years ago, when I held her daddy when he was born. The love and training that I poured into Daniel when he was an irresistible infant, a busy toddler, a wild-child, and an irrepressible teenager helped him become the man that he is now. Daniel is a good parent because he was loved and encouraged through his developmental years. But he’s also made some terrific choices on his own….some of which he never saw lived out, but he knows are needed in this age we in which we live.

So I’m rejoicing in this new addition to our family! And it’s such a nice touch to welcome her to our world for the first day of spring, 2015! It’s my hope that all my children will be together soon to welcome our new little girl into the Zawko Gang! As my five children live in four different states, it’s a pretty big undertaking for all of them to get together but we’re making this a priority. Hold your loved ones close, friends, while you have the opportunity. There’s nothing, short of Heaven, that even comes close to the treasure of Family.

We’re on the Winning Side!

As I near the end of my Truth Talk series, “It’s A Wonderful Life” I find myself reviewing all the lessons of the past weeks and searching for a conclusion that reveals an all-encompassing truth summarizing the most important components of the Wonderful Life God gives His people. And I have come to the conclusion that nothing is more important than the truth that Our Victory is Sure!

Here in Kentucky, my home state, we live out the definition of the word “fan” when it comes to college basketball. The word “fan” is a derivative of the word “fanatic,” which is defined as “one with excessive or single-minded zeal.” As loyal Kentucky basketball fans we begin each game with plenty of confidence but it’s always tempered with the knowledge that anything can happen in this game. Our team will likely win but there is no way to be certain of the outcome. There are just too many variables that can’t be predicted or controlled. The best and most reliable player in the world can still be injured in an instant.

But the incredible thing about this wonderful life we’ve been given in Christ Jesus is its absolute assurance of victory! Because our victory has already been purchased and provided, we don’t have to worry or wonder about the outcome. In Colossians 2:14-15, Paul writes, “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it.” (KJV)

I love how The Message puts the same passage, All sins forgiven, the slate wiped clean, that old arrest warrant canceled and nailed to Christ’s cross. He stripped all the spiritual tyrants in the universe of their sham authority at the Cross and marched them naked through the streets.”

The truth is, we can’t lose…because we’ve already won! Christ won our victory and the assurance of our Wonderful Life when He died on the cross and rose again from the dead! Because he became Victor over death He gave us victory in this life and in the life to come. You might be questioning how this can be true as we face hardship, difficulties, or even suffering in this life but the Word assures us that Victory is ours even in the midst of trials. One of my favorite passages of scripture is found in II Corinthians 4:8-10 when the Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Corinth and detailed his attitude about his own suffering. “We are handicapped on all sides, but we are never frustrated; we are puzzled, but never in despair. We are persecuted, but we never have to stand it alone: we may be knocked down but we are never knocked out! Every day we experience something of the death of the Lord Jesus, so that we may also know the power of the life of Jesus in these bodies of ours.” JB Phillips, New Testament

Many nights in the middle of overwhelming difficulty with no answer in sight, I’ve gone to bed quoting these words over and over:  And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28 KJV   And I’ve learned that God’s promises are true. The Promiser always keeps His promises.

Don’t be afraid or anxious about your life or future. As you face unplanned and often undesired circumstances in life you have the solid assurance that you cannot lose…You’re on the Winning Side!

Bring Back the New Again

Years ago I read an insightful testimony given by Max Lucado of a time when he was a child seated by his father in church. He found a straight pin (given by the Sunday School teacher to fasten an attendance ribbon) and to pass the time, he began investigating his father’s calloused hands with the straight pin. Over and over he pushed the pin into his father’s calloused fingers without any reaction from his dad. Finally, he administered a single sharp jab to one of his father’s fingers and with success, received the expected reaction. Later that day, he felt those same calloused hands bringing discipline to young Max. But as Pastor Lucado recalled that story he reflected that all these years later, he’s still in church, still trying to break through calluses. But now he is using the Word of God–not a straight pin. And he’s not trying to break through calloused hands; now he’s trying to reach calloused hearts.

What causes calluses? The formation of a callus is the result of a repeated pressure or friction. The action or movement is usually not severe, for if it was, the reaction would be blisters rather than calluses. Usually calluses form because of a constant repetition of or exposure to an action.

I’m not really bothered by calluses on my hands or feet, but I’m very concerned about calluses on my heart. As a believer, I am continually exposed to blessings of God and the movement of the Holy Spirit in my life and the lives of those around me. I love the constant spiritual flow and energy that is available to me as a born-again Christian. But after years of serving God, I find that it’s easy for me to become complacent about spiritual matters. Things that used to thrill me now are commonplace. And the newness I felt as a young Christian has long since worn off.

I’m often reminded of an old song by Gordon Jensen, “Bring Back the New Again” that brings the thought home in the chorus when he says, “… How did I miss the road? When did I lose the glow? Where did the wonder go? Bring back the new again.”

It’s imperative for us as believers to guard our hearts against calluses and to maintain a fresh and lively experience with Christ. After our long, drawn-out winter this year, spring is a welcome sight! And the same way, after a period of hardness and lethargy, our Lord Jesus desires to reawaken us to newness of spirit. As I continue teaching this new series, “It’s A Wonderful Life,” I’m awakening again to the truth that God wants us all to live in newness of life!

It’s a Wonderful Life

During this month, February, 2015, I’ve been continually nostalgic as I look back to February, 1995, twenty years ago.  In some ways, that time was the lowest point of my life; but in other ways I experienced my pinnacle. You see, on February 1, 1995, I, along with my five young children, ages 3-14, arrived back in America after a five-year tenure of missionary service in Romania. The circumstances of our departure from our field of service were humiliating and troubling as my marriage had broken up and I was now a single parent. When I returned to the home of my parents in defeat I was at the bottom looking up. But the point is….I was looking up.

In the Providence of God, my parents had only two months previously founded WYGE Christian Radio and within short weeks of my return to Kentucky, I was on the air for several hours daily. Initially, I worked “the board” and played programs and music in the late afternoon weekdays. But as I would play a set of music I began wondering if perhaps the music should be coordinated instead of random. After a few days of playing music themes, I started thinking, “Maybe I should say something about these songs!” And eventually, this was the birth of “Truth Talk”! The first broadcast of Truth Talk was on February 28, 1995. I can honestly say that this daily broadcast saved my life.

I’ve had many people tell me that the broadcast has been helpful to them and that they’ve received encouragement or insight. But I know that God gave me the broadcast for me. He knew that there was no way that I could stay defeated or be destroyed as long as I was preparing daily hour-long sermons based on His Word! So Truth Talk was His gift to me. But as is often he case, the gifts we receive are meant to be passed on to others.

I’ve expounded on many topics in these 20 years….especially during the first few years when I was often in Spiritual Warfare and continually struggling to raise my children, stay positive, and keep the right attitudes. So initially I taught on things like forgiveness, dealing with devastation, caring confrontation, and many others. But as time went on, I moved into many other areas of study such as the Beatitudes, understanding the Body of Christ, how to know the will of God, and Christian character. I’ve taught hundreds of hours during these twenty years and I’m grateful for all of them.

As I reflect on the past, I’m encouraged to celebrate God’s working in my life and ministry and I’m hopeful for the future! As an acknowledgement of all God has done through Truth Talk, I’m beginning a new series on the anniversary week of the program. On Monday, March 2, 2015, I plan to begin teaching on the subject “It’s a Wonderful Life”!

The series will cover areas of life that make us successful Christians. I will incorporate, as always, music that focuses on the subject taught. I’m excited to share some new music and artists that I’ve come to love and appreciate. My personal testimony will also be a part of the series. I’m anticipating a powerful response from listeners who are waiting to hear more of God’s plan for victorious living. And I hope to hear personally from many of you as you discover for yourselves the Wonderful Life God has planned for you!