Thursday, May 7, 2015




Larry Grecu

Baker, Florida

May 7, 2015

On October 9, 1970, my grandmother, Ella Mae Bobe Smith, passed away at Sacred Heart Hospital, Pensacola, Florida. She was buried at Holy Cross Cemetery on October 12th, her birthday. Two weeks prior to "Nanny's" death, I was able to be at the hospital quite a bit, helping to take care of her in her final days. It was pretty overwhelming for me. I was very close to Nanny. I remember one day, after she had had a stroke, she began motioning to me to do something for her. I was praying and doing everything I could to understand what she was wanting, when it dawned on me that she was asking me to put her glasses on her so she could see us better. I cannot describe the joy I felt inside just to be able to help her.

I had never witnessed anyone dying, and it was painful to think that the first person I was ever going to witness dying was someone with whom I had such a close bond. I did my best to hold myself together, especially since I was and still am one of the older grandchildren. I don't think there was anyone who had a bad thing to say about Nanny. We all loved her. In fact, the funeral director said he had never seen as large a funeral procession in Pensacola as he saw that day for Nanny.

The funeral was held at St. Stephen's Catholic Church on Garden Street. This was Nanny and Papa's parish church and had been for years. The children's choir in which some of my cousins were members sang at the funeral. I remember as Nanny's casket was wheeled down the aisle, the children sang these words from Psalm 121, "I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth." I had held myself together for as long as I could, when all the pent up emotions poured out of me as I ran out of the church sobbing.

I had been questioning over and over - without ever telling anyone - asking God just where Nanny was. Was she in Heaven? Was she in Purgatory? I just couldn't bring myself to believe that she was in Hell! If you are not a Catholic, you might not understand what I am talking about. You see, I was taught as a Catholic that unless you were some kind of super-saint, canonized by the Roman Catholic Church, most likely you were going to have to spend some time in Purgatory and not go straight to Heaven. And, of course, the only way out of Purgatory for you was the hope that enough Masses were said, rosaries prayed, and novenas attended by your surviving relatives and friends. (I had never really given it any thought as to when enough was enough - enough Masses, enough rosaries, and enough novenas). And, of course, I had never read the Bible to find out what God had to say about my worries.

But, you know, God has a way of meeting us just where we are. Like I said, as the children's choir started singing, I just lost it. Sobbing, I ran out the side door of the church and down the sidewalk, in between the rectory and the church. As I was sobbing, this voice spoke to me within and said, "Do not fear, she is with me." I cannot describe what happened next or how fast it happened. All worry, all fear simply vanished. I walked back into St. Stephen's Catholic Church a changed man.

I knew that although Nanny's physical body was in the casket and would soon be in the ground at Holy Cross Cemetery, Nanny was with the Lord. There was no priest, no bishop, no cardinal, and definitely no pope who could convince me otherwise. It was settled. In fact, it was so settled that I never mourned another minute for Nanny. I knew where she was, and it wasn't in Purgatory or Hell. She was with God in Heaven.

It was not until years later that I discovered some interesting details of an event that happened to my grandparents in the early years of their marriage. Part of Nanny's family was Baptist, and so both my grandparrents were around the Gospel message throughout their lives. When my grandparents were living in Meridian, Mississippi, where my mother was born, there was no Catholic Church for them to attend. And, because it was a command of the Roman Catholic Church to go to church on Sunday, they did a real no-no. They went to the local Baptist church. It was there that they heard the Gospel. I am sure that it was not the last time they heard the message. There were still plenty of Baptist relatives back in Pensacola who probably shared the Gospel over the years.

Anyway, whatever happened and whenever it happened, I knew that Nanny and Papa had both accepted the Lord as their Savior and found that the only satisfaction for their sins was the blood of Jesus Christ shed for them. While they were without strength, sinners, ungodly, and enemies, Jesus Christ died for them and, that having believed on Him, they received eternal life, never to be separated from Him in death. Later when I became a Christian, I read the words by apostle Paul, "To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord." I knew on the day of Nanny's funeral, she was with the Lord. Apparently, someone had forgotten to tell God about Purgatory.
If you're a Catholic reading this, I hope that you really begin thinking about what you have been taught and about what you have believed. Recently, a man who was a Catholic in our area passed away. He was so tormented about going to Purgatory that he even asked a Baptist ladies' prayer group to pray for him to the Lord so he wouldn't have to be in Purgatory a long time. In fact, he begged them to not forget him. You may have to pay a stipend to have a Mass said for your dearly departed Catholic relative or friend, but I am going to give you some free information. Read your Bible, the very Word of God, and see what He has to say about Heaven and how to get there. Unless Paul the apostle - the one taught by the Lord Himself - was lying, the Word of God still stands, if you know the Lord: "to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord." Pax vobiscum!  Amen!




Larry Grecu

Baker, Florida

May 7, 2015

I don't think that there are too many Christians in the United States who cannot see the handwriting on the wall of our nation. And apparently, we are not short on prophets who are more than willing to translate what the nation's leaders cannot decipher, at least those who are not participating in the destruction of our country. Additionally, I don't think it is beyond any Christian's imagination that the persecution of Christians is not only taking place throughout the world, but also within our own country. While still in the minor stages for sure, and not as severe as in other countries, persecution is coming to the United States in a big way.

This is something that Paul the apostle warned the believers of his day: "For ye, brethren, became followers of God which in Judea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews . . ." (I Thessalonians 2:14). Paul, as a faithful apostle, also told the Thessalonican church that he wanted "no man . . . moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto, For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know (I Thessalonians 3:3,4).

This coming persecution will include both Christians and Jews. I include Jews in this persecution because I believe that while God has been using "fishers" to lure American Jews back to Israel, most have not taken the bait. So, the only alternative is that God will raise up the "hunters," forcing the Jews out of the United States one way or another (See Jeremiah 16:16). Time will tell if I am right, but it is quite evident that there is a rise in anti-Semitism throughout the world, and even in our own country.  The hunters are rising!

This message, however, is actually more for Christians - praying Christians - who are praying for our nation and for a shift in the political influences governing it. Here is what I am getting at. Before the mass exodus of the Jews from Egypt, before there was a Pharoah governing Egypt who "knew not Joseph," the children of Israel were quite satisfied in their new Egyptian culture. They became so satisfied, in fact, that instead of staying in the land of Goshen, they filled the whole land of Egypt. God even increased His people greatly, and made them stronger than their enemies (Exodus 1:6-8; Psalm 105:24).

All of us would probably shout, "Amen! Hallelujah!" to any increase or multiplication received from the Lord. But, there are other things God did to and for the Israelis that may not necessarily line up with your theology. Psalm 105:25 reads, "He (God) turned their heart (the Egyptians') to hate his people (the Jews), to deal subtilly with his servants." What? You mean to tell me that God would do such a thing as that? Precisely. But, why? It was to get the Jewish people on the same prayer page with God. You see, God had a better plan for His people. He wanted to change governments completely. When the people got on the same prayer page with God, He heard their prayer and answered it.

Instead of looking for a new governmental regime to take over, God had two men he had prepared in secret, Moses and Aaron, the deliverers. If you look at the pattern in the book of Exodus, there was a new Pharoah who knew not Joseph; there was a change in how Egyptians viewed the Jews; there were increased taxes; there was increased, outright persecution; there was the murder of infants; there was a crying out to God by the Jews; and then, there was God's response with the deliverers. Does this sound familiar? Of course, all of this was followed by the judgment upon the whole country of Egypt.

There are many people in our nation, Christians and non-Christians, who are looking for something better in and from our government. But, are we fighting against God in our endeavors to put the right person in the White House, when God Himself might be behind the developing problems of Christians in America, when God Himself might be trying to get the attention of Christians throughout the nation?

If we are honest, there are many Christians who cannot be distinguished from Egyptians nowadays, many Christians who have become enamored with Egypt and all the riches it has to offer. Maybe change is what we all need. It might not be the kind of change we would like, but I am sure it was not the kind of change the Jews liked either. However, the change God initiated brought the results He was looking for: one nation under God, crying out to Him for deliverance. The Church has not reached that place yet, but it is on its way. If Exodus 1 and Psalm 105 are two passages of Scripture we need to take note of, then, prophetically speaking, we should not be surprised if and when God allows the heat to be turned up seven times hotter. Selah!