Friday, March 31

SALVATION is for EVERY-DAY LIFE

In our pursuit of oneness with God, our Lord and Savior, as we love Him with our whole heart, He is there with us, always saving us, from our own poor choices, and from those circumstances that are beyond our control.

  As we write this testimony, we pray, as we regularly do, that it finds you enjoying all of the wonderful life-giving and life-saving benefits that come with being a member of God's Family. When we ask Jesus Christ to come into our hearts and lives to be our Lord and Savior, and make Him The Lord of our lives, He gives us many benefits of Himself, beginning with eternal salvation. When we make Jesus Christ The Lord of our lives, our heart's passion to press IN and build that family bond and unity with Him brings also His passion to reveal Himself to us in every-day circumstances of our life. That is why we are writing this testimony today, to encourage you in the pursuit of "oneness" with our Lord and Savior in every-day life that depends on Him.  Hebrews 13:5 says it this way, "... He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee."
I have found that so often, when the word "salvation" is mentioned, people tend to think of being guaranteed the rescue from eternity in the fires of Hell. Though what God did for us on the cross through His Son Jesus Christ was a gift to us for eternity, it covers so much more. Throughout our entire time here on earth, the gift of "salvation" is for the sake of our protection, provision, peace, joy, fulfillment, and many other benefits. Truly, the countless benefits, too many to list here, are to be enjoyed by all who are saved, who love Jesus, and who pursue "oneness" with Him for all the days of our lives. If you don't keep a daily journal, consider starting one to write down each of your personal experiences with The Lord as you are walking ever-closer in unity with Him every day. You may very well see your testimony of "salvation" experiences as similar to ours that follow... or maybe very different. Either way, be encouraged in your pursuit, as proof of your desire, of Him. (Selah)
Our daily salvation proves to be pertinent when we go through times of testing and heartache that seem unbearable!  For us, heartache struck hard just before Christmas of 2016 when our loving Dad Shealy grew terribly sick, out of the blue. Just a few weeks later, the family was devastated when doctors ran tests that revealed stage IV lung cancer.  It was sudden, seemingly out of nowhere, that cancer came, spread through Dad's body unbelievably quickly, and took his life.  He graduated into Christ’s Loving Arms on January 23rd, 2017.
Then we walked through the unexpected deaths of four more very dear people in our lives, in less than a month!  In fact, all five precious people we lost were deeply rooted in our life as a couple, and greatly shaped who Keith has become.  Just recently we made the solemn and emotionally-exhausting drive to and from the funeral of our 5th dearly loved one.  At that time, we began feeling the immense, mounting pressure of heartache that we compare to that of ripping five mature, solid oak trees out of the tightly-packed soil of our hearts!  When we were on the way home from the last funeral, despite feeling like going home to nurse our agonizing wounds, we decided to press through and take a detour to go see our loving “Uncle" Ted (as we endearingly knew him to be as a result of the deep, life-long bond he and Dad Shealy shared since childhood). Within weeks of Dad becoming ill, Uncle Ted became ill as well, and was at the point of being under 24-hour hospice care nearing the end of his fight against skin cancer.  When we got to his house, precious "Aunt" Connie tearfully shared with us how difficult things had been, knowing her life journey with her best friend of 53 years was coming to a painful end.
Driving home from our "Uncle and Aunt's" house, the sorrow began to weigh heavy on us, making us feel pinned down in an inescapable situation.  We were realizing that we will never be able to talk with Uncle Ted, our loving Dad, or the others, again.  With this reality hitting us, floods of memories came rushing into our minds.  The torrent of emotions was a real fight to press through, and almost took our breath away!  The fatigue, caused by so much sorrow surrounding us, felt so strong that we asked our Father in Heaven if the grip of this weariness on us was going to let up any time soon.  At that point, The Person of The Holy Spirit flooded Keith's mind with the most defining moment in his life to prove to Keith that, as the title states, "SALVATION is not only for eternity... it's for every-day LIFE!"
In a painstaking moment, I (Keith) saw, in my spirit's eye, the near-death experience in my past that defined for me God's Promise, "... I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee (Hebrews 13:5)."  God used this to show Brenda and I a direct parallel between how He is saving us through the current sufferings that threaten our every-day well-being, and the devastating surf experience He stepped in to save me from, that would've otherwise been my last.
One day I was heading out with a group of friends to do some surfing at the beach.  We were saying, as the surfers would say, "The waves are pumpin'!"  So excited to get in the water, I quickly waxed the deck of my board, but made a mistake of not thoroughly waxing its surface enough to offer the traction I would need to get on my feet.  When I dropped into the first wave, my left foot slipped off the board, out from under me and... down I went.  I found myself in the most tumultuous situation I had ever experienced up to that time in my life.
As soon as I fell off the board, and hit the water, the wave came crashing down on me, pounding the air out of my lungs.  Faster than a thought, I was slammed against sharp rocks underneath the water.  I was being thrashed around uncontrollably, much like a rag doll in a high-speed washing machine.  I couldn't tell which way was up, while I was being body-slammed against rocks, over and over.  Before long, I began to feel my body losing all strength and consciousness under the water, and I'll never forget the last thing I did! In my conscience, I prayed asking, "Lord Jesus, please forgive me of my sins."  As I was starving to breathe in a breath of air, I was unable to keep from inhaling any longer and I just knew that, with my last gasp, what my body was about to do is draw in water that would fill my lungs and drown me!  Instead, AIR??!!  I drew in AIR?!  In all of my experience as a surfer, there is no possible, or logical, way that my body, under its own strength, could've been anywhere near the water's surface!  In fact, nothing less than a miracle could've made a way for my face to break through the surface of the water, and get air when it did.  Because drowning was the only plausible outcome under the circumstances, being deep under the water as I was, it's only Christ Jesus alone, and only He, Who could've reached down and pulled me up to, and through, the surface.
By God's Saving Grace I was able to regain consciousness and begin making my way back to shore.  As if all that wasn't traumatic enough, about fifty feet from shore, I began to see blood in the water around me.  Hurting from the deep cuts on my body, and swimming fast as possible, my imagination began spinning out of control about sharks that accompanied us every now and then in these waters approaching me now, honing in on the scent of my blood.  I started to think that, if I can make it out of these waters with at least most of my limbs, I would be eternally grateful.  Needless to say, I made it out in one piece.  That is when I came to realize that salvation is for EVERY day!  THAT day, I realized how, Jesus Christ's involvement in our lives is continual.   God brought me to an intimate understanding of Acts 17:28, "For in Him we live, and move, and have our being;... For we are also His offspring." God literally reached down and SAVED me, time and time again, even more than those times I am aware of!
When God put us here in this life on earth, He never intended to abandon us.  Throughout the entire Old Testament, He spoke with the prophets and gave them commandments that, if followed, would assure a full, happy life for a prophet.  When we ask The Person of The Holy Spirit for wisdom as we read the every-day life testimonies written in the Old Testament of God's written Word (The Holy Bible) He lets us know that our Heavenly Father stands ready to answer when we call on Him no matter the time, day, or season. The very benefits the prophets wrote about enjoying IN Him through salvation, we likewise enjoy just by our "want" for oneness with Him as we ask and seek Him.  Then, He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to teach us further how to walk, and commune, with our Father in Heaven.  And, when Jesus arose and went to be with our Father in Heaven, He then sent us The Person of The Holy Spirit to teach us, guide us, and lead us, each and every day.  Once again, He is always there, benefiting us in our every-day life.
If you haven't been pursuing oneness with The Lord and Savior, the benefits that await you are for every day!  Like Jesus did for me that day in the life-threatening surf, He reaches down continually to "save" us from “drowning” under the pressures and circumstances of our life.
Yes, it's true that, losing my dad, along with so many other (now 5 more) dearly loved ones in our lives in a very short two months, we find ourselves struggling through feelings of suffocating pressure and crippling devastation. Even as things seem to have come crashing down around us, these trials can not succeed in stealing, killing, and destroying us, because we keep our eyes and hearts fixed on Him and "the peace of God, which passes all (human) understanding (Philippians 4:7, KJV)."
Brenda and I cannot express enough how the many prayers prayed for us have, in great part, contributed to Christ delivering us through this set of fiery challenges.  We declare this unshakable truth, "The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. And they that know Thy Name will put their trust in Thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee. Sing praises to the LORD, ... declare among the people his doings (Psalm 9:9-11)."  Won't it be fun when we stand in Heaven and see our Loving Father reveal to each of us all of those times when He reached down and saved us, yet countless were times that we were never even aware of what He did f-o-r us and our lives?!  From this experience, added to countless more life experiences in the past 35 years, we can rejoice, and encourage others to rest assured also, that each day we push through grief and trials by the light of "salvation" through Jesus Christ, is one day closer to reuniting with Christ Jesus and loved ones we miss so much. By pursuing oneness with Christ every single day, our whole heart becomes full with the light of Christ's "salvation", overflowing into the lives of others who may also need to be "saved", either from their own poor choices or from circumstances that resulted from beyond their control. Selah (meditate in Jesus Christ's Name).
We love and appreciate you for every way that you help lead others into oneness with God, including sharing this blog with your friends, loved ones, and associates. God bless you and yours!

  This blogpost is meant to be a source of hope, to fan the flame in your heart for Christ Jesus, His wonder-full ways, and His plan and purpose for us in this life. To ask questions, place a special order for books or CDs, or to share a testimony or prayer request with us, please click for e-mail, or write a letter and mail it to Toward the Mark, P.O. Box 1152, Yorktown, VA 23692-1152.

  We look forward to meeting here together again, for another PRESSIN' IN Toward The Mark testimony! We pray that God bless you in showing Him BIG in this world that sees Him small!

In Christ Jesus,



"See Titles by Flip cards"

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To Show GOD BIG in a World that Sees Him small… 
sums up the reason Keith stepped out in faith to focus on reaching the lost and strengthening believers everywhere, through Toward The Mark, Inc.  Keith and Brenda's prayer is that you will be encouraged and edified by the Secrets from God's Word that Keith recounts in our written and recorded products.  The complete collection of original podcasts, music, blogs, books, CDs, and other resources of Toward The Mark, Inc. are made possible by the prayer and financial contributions of the TTM Support Family.  We'd like to welcome you to become a part of TTM's Family as well!

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