I want to tell you about George.

He’s my big brother. When we were children, growing up on the coast of south Georgia, I thought he was the greatest person that had ever lived. In my eyes, he knew everything, and he could do anything.

George was the one who taught me how to play jackstones and marbles. He taught me how to jump rope and how to play baseball in the street.

Sure, he would stick me in the closet and dangle cockroaches in my face, and he would say things like, “Does your face hurt? Well it hurts me to look at it.”

But he didn’t mean any harm, he was just having fun.

He was my big brother.

Every now and then George would get into trouble because of his playfulness. Like the time he demonstrated his infatuation with Imogene by throwing pine cones at her. Her mother didn’t like that very much.

Then there were the times when the teachers would call and say that George was talking and laughing too much in school. He was disturbing the class.

But he was always having fun. That was George.

George would often get me to help him play pranks. One year Santa Clause brought him a movie projector for Christmas. One of the films which came with the projector had a slow motion spot in it. When we were showing the movies to friends, he would get me to say at the right time, “George, show it in slow motion.”

The friends thought that the projector was especially advanced. If they asked later to show something in slow motion, he would say, ” That part doesn’t look good in slow motion.”

As the years went by, George remained George. He did well in school, but his playful nature continued.

Then there were some surprises.

He surprised me when he came home from school in 9th grade and said that his choral director wanted him to sing a solo in the upcoming concert. I didn’t know that George could sing especially well. He then stood up at the end of the dinner table, and boomed out “Ole Man River,” astonishing all of us.

He had a beautiful voice! What a surprise!

Another surprise came when the senior-in-high-school George came home one night, his eyes shining from tears, to announce that God had called him to preach. We had been attending some revival meetings, and he had felt God speaking to him. He then had taken it upon himself to visit the evangelist at his motel and solicit his prayers. My parents, my younger sister, Ruthie, and I all surrounded George, hugging him and congratulating him.

All of us cried, because this was a big moment.

Soon after, George was accepted at Emory University, and received a ministerial scholarship. Before he left for school, our pastor asked George to preach one night at church. His sermon was very short, but profound. He preached on “mountain-moving faith,” from Mark 11:23-24. This was years before we had heard of Kenneth Hagin. I never had heard a sermon quite like that.

He was truly full of faith!

Back in those days, we didn’t know about spiritual warfare. We just took what came our way, and trusted in God, so we were blind-sided by what happened to George at Emory. George’s behavior became very erratic.

He decided that he wasn’t called after all, and started seeking other careers. First he decided that he was going to be a geologist, then an attorney and enter politics. (He even had some friends who were going to back him). He finally left Emory altogether.

George seemed to stabilize the next year at a junior college, and then he entered Georgia Tech.

My brother was 24 years old, and studying aeronautical engineering at Tech, when tragedy struck. He started having blind spots in his eyes and lack of muscle control. The diagnosis came of a debilitating disease, and within 6 months, George could no longer walk. He had the best doctors from Emory University, but little could be done for him.

The next 13 years he spent with my parents, his health continually degrading until he died at the age of 37.

I’m not one for sob stories, and I have never written about this. In fact, I’ve seldom even talked about it. But I think that there are some things I needed to share.

Do I think that God’s will was for George to be sick? Absolutely not!

But even when God’s perfect will is not being done, He brings good out of the sorrow.

First, my parents throughout those 13 years showed incredibly unwavering devotion to their son. Their home was not one of gloom, but of laughter and joy. But they sacrificed totally for George’s welfare during that time.

I have heard many people since say that the demonstration of Christian love shown by my parents caused them to turn to Jesus. They too wanted that kind of character, which could only come from Christian love.

Secondly, God’s work will go on with or without individuals. Two years after George died, I came to the Lord in a new and powerful way, receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit and a new understanding of God’s work on the earth. A few years later, God called my husband and me into the ministry.

This may sound strange to some, but I truly believe that God passed the torch of George’s call to us. There was a work to be done, and He wants us to fulfill it.

Thirdly, the soul-searching  – and truth-seeking –  I did after George’s death, made me more determined than ever to take all the wraps off of the Gospel and press toward the greatest manifestation possible of God’s love and power in the earth. So many times when someone encounters a disappointment in their personal life, they are tempted to build a doctrine around it. (i.e.George didn’t get healed, so healing isn’t for today). But I am determined not to go that route.

I know where George is. He is in Heaven, in that cloud of witnesses spoken of in Hebrews 12:1. And if he could talk to me today, he would say, “Go for it! Run that race!”

I am determined not to let my life on earth be stopped in its tracks by hurts of the past. I have my own race to run, and I intend to do it.

After all, our time on earth is like a point at the beginning of a ray which extends forever. (You know, “to infinity and beyond”). The time here is short, and I want to make the most of it. I will see George again, along with my parents. (I hope there aren’t any cockroaches in Heaven).

In the meantime, I will run the race set before me.

Maybe you have had some disappointments. If so, I want to encourage you not to let that stop you from the life God intends for you.

Our God is a remarkable God. He can and will heal every hurt in a way that seems impossible, and He will let you learn some lessons even from the pain. Those lessons will allow you to take the reality of His love to others in a way that you never thought you could.

I’m striving for the higher call of Christ.

How about you? I know that you are too.

Let’s Keep on Soaring!

A Greater Purpose of Faith

A Greater Purpose of Faith

We often talk about faith, because “without faith it’s impossible to please God.” (Hebrews 11:6) We know that we receive all that he has for us by faith. (“Through faith and patience we inherit the promises”). (Hebrews 6:12). It pleases our Father to bless us with His presence and all that He has provided. But this is not all that there is to faith.

When we are walking with God, we will begin to feel His heartbeat and His purpose will grow within us. The purpose in His heart is not just for us to have a blessed life. His purpose includes eternity and all that implies. The first implication of eternity is who is going to be there. Are you? Of course you are. But what about your neighbors? Are they?

I want to challenge you to do something. Purchase a notebook and write down a list of people who come to mind who are not walking with God. Your family members, neighbors, co-workers (yes, even that mean one), and friends. Then pray over that list everyday. Lay your hand upon the page and pray for these people to have their eyes opened to the truth. Ask God to show you if there is anything you need to say to them. Do you need to share about your relationship with your Savior?

Every situation is different, so you need to listen closely to God’s direction. Many of those you know have been hurt by those who proclaim to be Christians. Perhaps legalism has crushed or frightened them. Perhaps the hypocrisy of leaders has disillusioned them. And of course, many lies have been perpetrated to confuse and discourage those who might be seeking the true God.

One thing is for certain – these people do not have the faith that they need to walk with God. They do not have faith that their prayers will be answered. They certainly do not know that God loves them and has a good plan for them.

So that’s where you come in. These people need your faith. They need your prayers. While you couldn’t save yourself from your sin, Jesus did that for you. Now you will extend His ministry by doing for others what they cannot do for themselves.

Ask God to open your eyes to this ministry of intercession. You will pray for those who can’t pray for themselves, asking God to show His mercy to those around you. He wants His grace to be available to all. When those around you don’t know how to pray for themselves, your prayers on their behalf are crucial to His plan.

Yet there is more. After you pray, you may need to share your faith or encourage those for whom you have prayed.Tell them of God’s love for them as individuals. Answer questions, pray with them, and be the ambassador of heaven you were called to be.

There are so many in our society today who really want to know the truth, but have never had it represented in a credible way. You can be that person they need to hear. They need your word, they need your prayers, and they need your faith. Will you be one who represents your Lord in the earth?

That’s the greatest purpose of your faith.

Forever Upward,

Suellen Estes

How Do We Get The Faith We Need?

How Do We Get The Faith We Need?

We know that we need to have faith in God to live our lives to the fullest. But how do we get it? Where does faith come from?

One day when my daughter, Leslie, was young, she came home from school very excited. As she slammed the door and threw down her books, Leslie told me that she had prayed with a friend to receive Jesus as Savior. She went on to say that she had asked Jack if he believed in his heart that Jesus was raised from the dead. He tensed every muscle in his body, scrunched up his face, held his breath, and gasped, “yes.”

Aren’t we like that? We feel as if we need to try harder to somehow conjure up the necessary faith. We strain harder, but it just doesn’t happen.

Well, there’s a reason that we can’t conjure it up. Faith doesn’t come that way. We can’t force ourselves to have great faith by tensing our bodies or holding our breath. Faith is a natural outgrowth of meditating on the word of God.

Romans 10:17 says “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” So why two “hearings?” That word for hearing in the Greek is “rhema.” It refers to God speaking to you. In other words, when you read the Bible, God begins to speak to your heart. It’s truly a supernatural thing that happens. You read and meditate on the word of God and you begin to hear God speaking to you personally. As you hear that, you find yourself believing.

I believe that one of the greatest miracles in our world today is the Bible. God, over hundreds of years, spoke to men and gave them His wisdom. He laid down His plans and revealed His nature. Centuries before Jesus came to the earth, God spoke through Isaiah and others, telling of the sacrifice that Jesus would accomplish. At first people didn’t understand it, but later, when Jesus fulfilled the scripture, men were able to “get it.”

If you haven’t read your Bible much in awhile – or ever – I challenge you. Begin to read it on a regular basis. And don’t just read it. Find some scriptures which are especially speaking to you, and say them over to yourself throughout the day. Ponder them. Let them stay in the forefront of your mind. You will begin to believe what you are saying.

Just as the physical food you eat automatically becomes nutrition for your body, this spiritual food of God’s word will strengthen and develop your spirit and you will find yourself growing in spiritual strength. Your faith will grow by itself as you feed your spirit.

Life is truly an adventure when we nourish our spirits this way. God’s plan is such a great one, if we will just get in on it!

Forever Upward!

Suellen Estes

A Greater Purpose of Faith

I’m Not Living From The Sidelines!

I can remember, as a child at my piano recital, waiting for my performance to come up on the program. I would sit quietly, but totally distracted from music being presented. I was waiting for “my time” to come. That’s what I was there for. And when our group went back stage, it would have taken the national guard to keep us from running and playing as we waited. We were waiting for “our time.”

I’m sure that many who played sports would have similar recollections. We were there to do our part. Of course, we pulled for the team, but we wanted our part.

As children we longed to be in the game, but what happened to us? Maybe put-downs or discouragements, maybe setting goals so high only supermen could have accomplished them, but for some reason, as adults we are different.

As adults, we seem to have a “bleachers” mentality. No longer do we want to be in the game, but we live from the sidelines. As a result, we cheer for our team, and if they win, we think we have won. Then we turn on TV and watch American Idol or some reality show about which guy gets the girl. Later we pick up the latest gossip magazine and discover who is in crisis, but also, who is buying the most expensive cars, or having the most elegant wedding, or wearing the most costly shoes.

We are watching from the sidelines.

Even in the church this mentality exists. We watch celebrity teachers, and love the big accomplishments of big ministries. We often sit on the sideline and think that’s what it is all about. We were there or we heard the teaching, so that was our part.

Not me!! I don’t want to live from the sidelines. I know that God gave me this life, and I want to live it. I want to fulfill all that he has for me.

Now don’t get me wrong. I have received lots of inspiration and understanding from big ministries. But the important thing is not that I heard them, It’s what do I do with what I heard. Do I just put another Easter egg of revelation in my basket and put it back on the shelf? Or do I take the new revelation and apply it to my life, so that my life is continually changed for Him?

I want to do the latter. See, I know that each one of us has a part, and every part is important. Our part isn’t just to watch others, but to do what our Creator has called us to do. Can you imagine what the world would be like if all of us were actively doing “our part?” Some would be teaching or preaching, others would be exhorting and encouraging, then there would be those who were behind the scenes keeping all of the wheels oiled so that God’s machine could operate correctly.

The ones who teach wouldn’t think too highly of themselves, but neither would the “oilers” think too lowly. Everyone would be doing their part for God’s great plan to be accomplished. Just thinking about it puts a smile on my face!

So I am determined to be active everyday, pursuing the plans my God has put in my heart. Sometimes, no one knows what I am doing but Him. But He knows, and that is what counts.

As long as I am actively living my own life, I won’t be on the sidelines! And neither will you!

You Are Loved

Hope you have a great week. Thought this reminder would help.

Thanks to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association for sharing this with us.