Sunday, March 30, 2008

Live Each Day

How often do you contemplate the brevity of life? Do you ever think that when you leave your house in the morning that you may never return? When you say goodbye to a loved one or dear friend do you ever wonder if that will be the last time that you might ever see him? If you die, are you sure you'll go to heaven? Truly, the importance of working out your own salvation with fear and trembling should be stressed to all believers. Death could come at any time and we should be ready to meet it. I believe that God has a purpose for my life and that His purpose has not yet been fulfilled. I was in an accident about six months ago. Being the way that I am, it really caused me to think. Had God taken me, I would have run to Jesus. But He did not. However, it might have happened. Did I remember to tell my family goodbye and that I loved them before I left the house this morning? Did I tell my dad that I loved him before hanging up the phone? Did I kiss my little sisters before leaving? Perhaps it is just the way that I have been brought up, but whenever I say goodbye to my grandparents, I hold them extra tight and make sure that I kiss them because they are growing older and I may never again have the opportunity to love them in person again. Whenever I hang up the phone with my parents, my sisters, my cousins, my family, my friends,I always try to remember to tell them that I love them: if I were to die before seeing any of them, especially my mom and dad again, at least they would know that I died loving them. Life is so precious. Life is such a gift. Live every day to the fullest, glorifying God as much as possible. Live each day as if it were your last--but don't forget that it really could be your last. Seek God while He may be found. Show love and affection while you have the chance. Never miss an opportunity to show kindness to someone. Love God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength. In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.


What am I leaving behind me? What will be remembered about me when I am gone? What kind of impact am I making? Often, little things remind me of my late grandfather. Thinking of him, it came to me that the legacy which he left behind him was great and I began to wonder what kind of legacy I will leave behind. Unconverted until the last three and a half months of his life, my grandfather was not what one would call a godly role model, one to emulate in the Christian life in his unregenerate state. However, he did have many good qualities and values which he passed on to his six children. The most important of these was his legacy of love. He taught the importance of love and of saying “I love you.” I cannot think of any family that says “I love you” more often than the family of Leo J. Wilcox. He taught us that those words are not to be saved for special occasions or Valentine’s Day, but that they are to be used frequently. Knowing that there are people who love me and care for me is a very comforting thing. Sometimes just hearing those words can brighten a day and bring a smile. His last words to me were “I love you.” Practically every time I hang up with an aunt, uncle, cousin, brother, sister, or parent, the words “I love you” are uttered by both parties. I even do this with many of my friends. Poppop's legacy was love. And yes, it is a very important legacy. As a Christian, though, I can leave an even greater impact and I should. How am I influencing others? Can they tell by my life that I love Christ? Am I evangelizing the lost and begging sinners to repent? While it would be wrong to do such things only to leave a mark behind me when I’m are gone, it does cause me to think. Am I living a godly life? Am I being sanctified? Am I guiding others toward the light or am I causing them to stumble? These are questions that I believe are legitimate for every Christian. Less attention should be paid to liberty and to walking a “fine line” and more should be paid toward seeking after holiness. This is needed in my own life and is something that I am working on. What kind of legacy are you leaving?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


I spent Easter with my family . . . my Big Fat Italian Family (just kidding). Ris and I drove up in my car and got to spend some quality time together. I drove, she dozed. Still, it was just nice to be together. When we arrived in New Jersey, we found that Mommom's dining room table was set for a million people. Typical. If there is one part of being Italian that I love most, it's hospitality. There is a revolving door at my grandparents home, their dinner table can hold limitless numbers of chairs, and the food supply is never ending (just in case someone drops in unannounced . . . which they always do!). Mommom is the most hospitable woman that I've ever seen and that has been passed down to her daughters and granddaughters. The Bible talks about hospitality:

Rom 12:13
Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.
1Tmothyi 3:2
A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;
Titus 1:8
But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate;
1Peter 4:9
Use hospitality one to another without grudging.

Being hospitable is obviously a good thing and a fruit of being a Christian. I am so blessed to have Christian and Reformed grandparents. I think that one of the most important lessons that I have learned from them, though, IS hospitality. There are just always people at their house, always people just showing up, and always there is coffee in the pot (you might not want to actually drink it though--no telling how long it's been around!). Thankfully, the hospitality bug was passed down to my mother. People come over often and we all love having company (cleaning the house beforehand is another matter!). Oftentimes, people sit around our dinner table on a Sunday afternoon, on our sofas on a Friday or Saturday night, or out on the porch swing or in the pool in the summer. It is such a blessing to fellowship and spend time getting to know people in a context outside of church or work. When you're at our home, you're family. One thing that I miss, though, is people just dropping by. The people in MD just don't do that. I wish they did. So, if ya need something to do . . . just stop by for a cup of coffee--and you KNOW it's always fresh at the Wilcox home!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Urgency of the Word

When you think about it, the free offer of the gospel is an AMAZING thing. It is so simple. I am overwhelmed when I consider the awesomeness of God's salvation plan. During my reading tonight, I came across the verses: "Ho! Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters; And you who have no money,Come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price . . . Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon." Isaiah 55:1, 6-7. How many other religions have a god who freely offers life to His people? Who is so kind, so loving, and so merciful? None. There is ONE GOD and He is Jehovah. So many people today, though, tend to overemphasize God's love. Yes, God is a loving God. Yes, He calls the weary to Him that He might grant them rest, but . . . The chapter here also says, "Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near." What does THAT mean? I think it's rather evident that God may NOT always be found and that He will NOT always be near. This really is striking home to me right now. I think it adds urgency to the message of salvation. When I am with my unconverted friends, family, and coworkers, I need to be more faithful and more diligent to share the Word with them NOW. If I neglect my duties of today, who knows if I will have a tomorrow? Who knows if God will be near tomorrow? I fully understand that it is God who works salvation in a person and that if He has not chosen to save a person then nothing I can say/do will change that, but I have been called to be a light shining in the darkness. People must be told not only of the mercy of God, but also of His wrath that they might see what a future without the nearness of God looks like. Therefore, I pray for the strength be more faithful in sharing the Word and not only the Word, but also the URGENCY of the Word. Seek God, yes, but seek Him NOW. Do not put it off lest your heart be hardened.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Dealing with Grief More Biblically

Wow, it's been a while. Oh well . . . surviving midterms was a necessary evil, I suppose.

As I consider where I am in this year in relation to my life last year, I am thankful. While life currently could NOT be called a piece of cake, I am in no way dealing with the kind of emotional issues that plagued me last year. Last year, during this time, I was watching my grandfather die. Seeing him slowly fade between visits, I really struggled. I've always been one to keep my emotions bottled up: to make light of them when asked and to hide them away in some secret place in my heart. As I painfully learned through the events of last year, this is a VERY dangerous thing to do. Early in the summer, I had the most painful five days of my life. A woman I loved took her own life on Thursday, my paternal grandfather died on Sunday, and my maternal grandfather was diagnosed with cancer on Monday. Did I share my grief? Not really. I didn't feel like dealing with people's pity, their sorrowful looks and words, showing my own weakness, or hearing that "Well, God is sovereign . . ." I knew God was sovereign and that did help, but that also didn't take away the grief that consumed me. I see how just how sinful and foolish my actions (or rather lack thereof) were. God means for His people to comfort each other. By stubbornly holding to my own pride, I deprived myself of the love that could have surrounded me. I became somewhat morose, I started gaining weight, and I was very unhappy. While I still struggle with various issues, I am learning to become more open. Containing my grief until it's simmered into bitterness is wrong. I am slowly taking things day by day, praying constantly that God would guide me and help me through my trials, and trusting that God does indeed have plans for a future and a hope for me.

Jeremiah 29:11-14 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the LORD, and I will bring you back from your captivity;

Friday, March 7, 2008

Tomorrow, Tomorrow . . .

I attend Bible study with the New Covenant Presbyterian Church college and career group practically every Tuesday night. For the past few weeks, we've been watching John Piper's Battling Unbelief conference series on DVD. Although I must confess that I'm generally EXHAUSTED by the time I get to study and occasionally have to get loving "Er, you're snoozing" pokes from friends, the sermon from two weeks ago really struck home. I'm a thinker. That doesn't mean that I'm some deep thinking genius, it means that I think about things, analyze things in my mind (okay, so maybe I OVERanalyze sometimes), and like to plan ahead. Well, maybe "plan ahead" isn't the best way to put it . . . worry ahead is probably a more accurate term. Regardless of how it's stated, I sometimes worry myself into the future. "How am I going to get through THAT?!?"and "What if I FAIL?!?" and "What if I'm not accepted?" and "What will . . ." As these thoughts swirl through my mind, they get faster and grow larger until I'm in complete panic mode sometimes. There is nothing wrong with planning ahead, but doing so anxiously is WRONG. Piper really emphasized that in his sermon. I learned a lot that night. Do not worry about tomorrow. Tomorrow has enough worries of its own. How will I ever get through tomorrow when I can barely STAND after today? Do not worry, God gives enough grace each morning to get you through the day. As of right now, I CAN'T get through tomorrow. I don't have the strength and God hasn't given it to me. But He will tomorrow. God will never give me more than I can bear. Each day is enough for itself. "Plug away, pray, and get through today" is my motto for today. It will be my motto tomorrow, the next day, and the next--but I'm trying not to think about those now because TODAY is my focus. If I am so worried about tomorrow, then I'm obviously NOT paying enough attention to the work/responsibilities at hand. I must do all I can to honor and glorify God and He has commanded my BEST. Performing at the max requires attention, energy, and thought . . . so does worrying. Personally, I believe that a conscious choice must be made to NOT worry (and that desire is granted by God, of course) and then prayed into my life. If I could take all the emotion and time that I have ever wasted in worry and then apply it to my life now, I'd be like Superwoman with limitless supplies of energy and time (the thing I seem to lack the most these days). That being said, I have a three hour class that begins in thirty minutes and the coffee is calling my name.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Witness in the Workplace

I have found that my new job has "diversified" my world. Now, I work with people from all over the world and come into contact with many who hold to different religious beliefs. I have Muslim and Hindu coworkers who are fast becoming my friends. While I definitely do NOT want to be one of those Christians with a clipboard and spectacles who has an agenda and says, "Hi! I'm here to convert you!" and then checks her duty off her list, I most certainly DO want to be a passionate sharer of the Good News. I can't just do my "Gospel dump" for the day and be done with it; however, living an authentic, unashamed Christian life before my friends and boldly sharing the Word of God is key. While no deep religious discussions have yet come up (and the workplace doesn't offer the best time/place to have such talks), my new friends all know that Erin is DEFINITELY a Christian. Interestingly, my Hindu friend is taking a comparative religion class. Today, she told me that she will have to write a paper comparing/contrasting Christianity and Islam. "I know nothing about either of those! When I write that paper, I know who I will be asking to tell me about Christianity! Erin! You and your friend will tell me!" she said. Wow! What an opportunity THAT will be! For now, I am only able to share little things with all of my coworkers as we chat between students who need attention: I go to church on a regular basis. "Oh, what denomination are you?" Reformed Baptist. "Oh, what's that?" etc. However, just recently I was able to share facts about the Bible, the Puritans, and the doctrine of predestination with someone else . . . "You sure know a lot about predestination and the Puritans." "Yeah, well, I believe like the Puritans and . . ."

As I read in my devotions tonight, God teaches "So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it." Isaiah 55:11. God has given me these opportunities for a reason. Despite the fact that I may never see any fruit come of my labors, I take comfort in the fact that God's word accomplishes ALL that He wills. Amazing. I'll just keep throwing out seeds on whatever soil comes my way and God will take care of the rest. I don't have to worry about anything beyond doing what He has commanded me to do: sharing the Gospel with a world in desperate need of His love, His mercy, and His grace. Please keep me in prayer as I attempt to be a loving, shining light in dark places. May God give me the proper words to speak, may He grant me boldness and tact, and may He even now be preparing the hearts that He will send my way.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Bring the Rain

As I was driving to attend church with some friends a few weeks ago, a song came onto the radio. I listened. I remembered how I was struck by the lyrics when the song first came out and how I prayed them into my life. Upon reflection of my life since then, God truly has "brought the rain" and poured it in bounty upon me. I still struggle sometimes with grief and I do sometimes ask God to show me what it is that He wants me to learn through my trials, but the song reminded me that I prayed for God to bring glory to His name through my life and He is doing just that. As a child, I learned that "Man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever." Right now, I'm supposed to be seeking to honor and glorify God in whatever ways possible--even if it means that God will bring tribulation into my life. When I prayed, I was sincere. There is a old hymn that says something like "God oft gives me times of gladness. Shall I grieve if He give seasons too of sadness?" This is so true, yet too easily forgotten. The same God who is allowing suffering in my life is the same God whom I praised during the bountiful and happy times. Will I now turn against Him because He wishes to refine me? No. God is honored and glorified by every season of my life, through my joy and in my pain, and, as Job said, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him."

Bring the Rain: (MercyMe)
I can count a million times
People asking me, how I
Can praise You with all that I've gone through?
The question just amazes me.
Can circumstances possibly
Change who I forever am in You?

Maybe since my life was changed
Long before these rainy days
It's never really ever crossed my mind
To turn my back on you, oh Lord,
My only shelter from the storm.
But instead I draw closer through these times.
So I pray,

Bring me joy, bring me peace.
Bring the chance to be free.
Bring me anything that brings You glory.
And I know there'll be days
When this life brings me pain
But if that's what it takes to praise You,
Jesus, bring the rain.

I am yours regardless of the clouds that may
loom above because you are much greater than
my pain. You who made a way for me, suffering
Your destiny. So tell me whats a little rain?
[1st Chorus]

Holy, holy, holy
Holy, holy, holy
is the Lord God almighty,
Is the Lord God Almighty,
I'm forever singing
[2nd Chorus 2x]

Everybody singing Holy, holy, holy,
You are holy
You are holy [2nd Chorus 2x]