Weekly Newsletter – April 26, 2021
FROM THE HEART OF DR. REXELLA VAN IMPE
How could I ever find words to adequately express the great blessing of having a godly mother? Not only did this remarkable woman endue me with life, but also through her living introduced me to my heavenly Father. She was my first connection with God.
Perhaps the Bible best describes her in Proverbs 31:28, 29—Her children arise up, and call her blessed…Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. I can truthfully say that out of all the many fine women in the world whom I have known, my mother, Esther Shelton, was by far the best of them all.
My earliest recollection of anything is of being in my mother’s arms and hearing her singing. Mom used to sing continually—it was a joy for her. She sang as she ministered to my brothers and me. She sang as she did her housework. In the kitchen, especially, she was singing…joyful music, always about the Lord. Whether she was happy or had a heavy heart, she always had joy that came out in her singing.
So since the passing of my dear mom to her eternal home a couple of years ago, I’ve been trying to adjust to a world that seems a bit empty now because of the absence of her physical presence. Her earthly song has ended…but the melody lingers on.
Accepting Mother’s home going has required letting go of a little of the spiritual part of myself. There is a vacancy inside me that the Lord is filling up with blessed memories…and the comfort of His presence.
Mother’s influence continues
Not only did Mom’s life bless my brothers and me and the rest of the family, but she also had a profound and far-reaching influence on so many others. Since my husband, Jack, mentioned at the end of one of our weekly telecasts that she had gone home to be with the Lord, I’ve received a multitude of beautiful cards, notes, and letters from my mother’s friends all over the country.
People wrote such loving tributes—”She was a great woman of God.” “She was my best friend—the one I could always confide in.” “Esther met my need when I had no one else to turn to.” “My memories of her are nothing but precious!” “I shall never know anyone like her again.”
Mom had a stroke and was only in the hospital for a little more than two weeks before she died. She had been living in an assisted living center that she had chosen as a place to minister. She not only knew the name of every person in the place, but she also knew each individual’s burden and prayer requests.
Two days after Mom had the stroke, a worker from the assisted living center came to the hospital and asked, “Could I please see Esther?”
I said, “Yes, she can still communicate, and I’m sure she’d love to see you.”
She came into the room and said, “Esther, I had to come to see you,” and she started weeping. Through her tears, she told how five months earlier God had led her to go to work at the center where my mother lived. “Just a few weeks later,” she said, “you led me back to the Lord!” (Interestingly enough, this lady was the daughter of the pastor who led Jack Van Impe to the Lord many years ago!)
Others from the living center also came to visit my mother in the hospital. The lady in charge of all the activities sat beside the bed and held Mom’s hand. “Esther, you were a blessing to all of us,” she said. And Mother just smiled.
One of the ladies who used to sit at Mom’s table at mealtime came and said, “Esther, everyone loves you! Everyone will miss you!” The couple who conducted the morning service at the living center on Sunday came to visit, and told me, “We’re going to miss your mother so much. She’s the one who got everyone together for the service, and she would always close in prayer.”
Mother had chosen the assisted living facility close to our International Ministry Headquarters. Some of our ladies would often join Mother for lunch. Oh, how she loved having them – not just for the lunchtime, but for the fellowship in the Lord. I remember thanking our ladies for taking the time to be with Mother, but in unison they said, “Oh, we have received the blessing by being with her.”
Almost exactly a year before Mother’s promotion to heaven, her friends at the living center voted her their queen for Valentine’s Day. They presented her with a crown that she wore for the day, and took her picture and put it in a frame that was engraved “Queen Esther.”
I couldn’t help but smile at that—Queen Esther! But in many ways her friends’ tribute is so apropos. There are many apt comparisons between the lives of my mom and Queen Esther in the Bible.
The beauty of a queen!
First of all, both of them had great physical beauty. The Jewish maiden, Esther, undoubtedly was strikingly beautiful to have been selected as queen to the ungodly king of Persia. My mother was also extremely attractive, with a regal bearing. She had gorgeous platinum-gray hair, a lovely complexion, clear blue eyes that could look deep within a person, and a magnetic smile that drew people to her.
Often when I’d take Mother out to lunch or Jack and I would take her to dinner, total strangers would walk up to the table and say to her, “You are so beautiful!” She would graciously acknowledge the compliment, and then quickly change the subject.
As I was growing up, my mom always taught me that inward beauty was much more important than outward appearance. When I was about 14 years old, I went through an awkward stage. I was tall and thin—five foot five, as tall as I am now!
I went into my mother’s bedroom one day and said, “Oh, Mom, look at me. My skin isn’t clear, my teeth aren’t quite right, I’m taller than other girls—I’m just a mess!”
She smiled and patted my hand. “Beauty is as beauty does, Rexella. You’re going to turn out just fine—you’ll see! So for now, just concentrate on letting people see the real you…who you really are right now.” And she impressed on me the importance of inward beauty.
I am so thankful for my mother’s godly wisdom. One day, when I was a teenager, I went into her room and found her reading her Bible. I thought, This is a good time for me to confess something to her. So I knelt down beside her and said, “Mom, you told me not to do this thing, but I did.”
“Oh, Rexella,” she said gently, “when did you do that?”
With tears streaming down my face, I replied, “About three months ago!”
“Oh, honey,” she said, “I’m so sorry you had to bear that all alone for three months.”
That’s the kind of wisdom she had. I have so many rich memories of our long talks, the godly advice she shared, the unique phrases I never heard anyone else say but her. She had tender and loving ways. She could comfort, correct, encourage, and offer support. No wonder everybody loved her.
Strength to endure
Queen Esther must have had great inner beauty and inner strength to help deliver her people, the captive Israelites, from the evil plans of those who wanted to destroy them. Truly, God had brought her to the kingdom for just such a time!
My mother, Esther, also had great courage and strength. My parents had some serious financial setbacks during their marriage. My father had to move north in order to find work. They went through very difficult times, and knew firsthand about poverty. But my mother was always there by his side, encouraging him, helping him. She never complained about money, and became an expert in making something from nothing. She managed to stay calm and collected, inwardly serene, through very trying circumstances.
During that time, Mom lost two children who died as infants—I have a brother and sister in heaven—but she never wavered. Her faith in God was steadfast and sure.
Mother had been converted at age 14. She was baptized and dedicated her life to the Lord’s service. She knew where she was going all of her life, and I never knew her to waver. I never saw her anxious or angry.
Oh, she could be firm, with strong convictions. But she got her point across without resorting to shouting or violence. She never yelled, and I never felt a slap. But by example, she taught me how to live and always to do the right thing.
Overcoming through resourcefulness
Esther the queen was a very resourceful woman. Although she lived in the palace of a cruel and powerful oriental despot, surrounded by evil men who were plotting to destroy all the Jews in the kingdom, she found a way to gain favor with her husband, the king. And she devised a way to counter the evil plot of her enemies and save her people.
My mother, Esther, was very resourceful too. Even with limited resources, she always seemed to find an answer to every problem and need. She could take little or nothing and make it into a wonderful dinner. She baked bread that was absolutely irresistible. And I never had to ask if I could bring a friend home to dinner. My brothers and I just brought our friends home, and they were always made to feel welcome. There was always room at our table.
In fact, one of the cards I received not long ago was from a high school friend who often experienced my mom’s hospitality. She wrote, “I remember your mother—what a blessing she was to me!”
My mother’s resourcefulness was an inspiration to me. When Jack and I got married, I joined him traveling in evangelism. It wasn’t easy. Although my husband had a strong call of God on his life and even then was especially anointed by the Holy Spirit, in the beginning years it was a struggle to get established and earn the respect of pastors and people. But because Mom had helped to prepare and train me for ministry by her words and example, I found courage and stamina deep within my heart that was a reflection of my mother.
Solving life’s problems…serving others
Like the beautiful queen of Bible times, my mother, Esther, was skilled at finding solutions and a place to be of service. As a lay person in a church of 1,500 people, she became the choir mother. She made sure the robes were clean and pressed, and she was there every Sunday morning to help everybody get ready.
When I would go out to sing—especially to do a solo—she was there to give me a hug and a pat and say, “God bless you.”
When the church had a visiting evangelist, Mother was the one who invited him over for dinner. And when missionaries came to town, there was always room for them at our house.
She was a great prayer warrior. One reason her pastor preached powerfully was that he had mother praying for him faithfully. One reason God blessed Jack and me in our ministry is because my mother prayed. Everyone counted on her to pray. She prayed a lot of people into the kingdom of God because she recognized that praying was a powerful ministry that she could have.
She was extraordinary in that she always had a word of comfort or encouragement for people in need. She would send out cards to the sick, make phone calls, and make pies. She extended herself to everyone—no one was left out.
That’s why I say that Mother was like Queen Esther who found a solution to overcome the sentence of death that evil men had decreed on her people, the Israelites. My mother could have been there. She would have devised a strategy. She would have created the banquet that Esther prepared. She would have invited just the right people, and she would have found the right opportunity to make her case and persist until she prevailed. I can say that with absolutely no reservation!
Esther Shelton always put everyone else’s needs and feelings ahead of her own. Very few times did I ever see my mother lying down in the daytime. She must have gotten tired and weary from her labor, but I never saw her stop for a nap. If I looked for her and found her in her bedroom, she’d always be praying or reading the Bible, but never sleeping! Mom was a truly wonderful person who demonstrated her faith by her good works (see James 2:18).
My legacy of love
Mother bestowed upon me the richest and most beautiful legacy that any daughter could have received. My memories of her have become a precious treasure. The faith she left with me links me with eternity and clothes me with peace.
Not long ago I picked up the New Testament she kept by her chair. Inside I came across a note she had written to Jack, her son-in-law. It said, “I wanted you to know that Daddy and I had our prayers answered. We wanted the best for our precious daughter, Rexella, and you are the one-in-a-million son-in-law we prayed for. Thank you, dear son, for being so sweet to our daughter. God bless you both as you look to the years ahead. We love you.”
I also found a page torn from one of her several devotional books—I just know she left it for me. The highlighted line said, “Death to the Christian means heaven, happiness, and Him!”
I never saw these notes before I found them in her New Testament. Mom left messages to my husband and me when she became aware that the Lord was going to take her, knowing that we would find them after she was gone. How resourceful is that? And how thoughtful!
The day before she went into a coma, I spent some time beside her bed at the hospital. When it was time to go, I said, “Mother, I won’t be here tomorrow because Jack and I will be in the TV studio all day.” She shook her head that she understood.
“You pray for me while I’m taping the TV program,” I said. Then, putting my face close to hers, I whispered, “Will you be praying tomorrow?” And she said, “Yes.”
Then I said, “I love you.”
And she softly replied, “I love you more!”
The next morning while I was at the studio, someone at the hospital called my brothers, Bob and Don, and said, “Mrs. Shelton is asking to see her sons.” Mom didn’t ask for me because she wanted me to be at my post, serving the Lord.
When Don got to Mom’s hospital room, he said, “Mama, you called for me, so it must be really important.”
She smiled tenderly and said, “Yes, son, I want to go home.”
Then my brother, Bob, walked in and sensed what was happening. “Oh, Mama,” he cried, “you’re going to go home. You’re going to see the Lord, you’re going to see Daddy, and you’re going to see your mother and all the saints!”
And with all her remaining strength her face brightened at the thought and she replied, “UH-HUH!” She was expressing, “Oh, yes, that’s my choice!”
So her last words to her children were—”I love you more.” “I want to go home.” “UH-HUH!”
And in a little while, with no pain or struggle, she quietly slipped away to be with Jesus and her loved ones in heaven.
Mother’s doctor, Kathleen Norton, who cared for her the last twelve years, came to the viewing at the funeral home. I said to her, “Doctor, Mother is going to have a big crowd of welcomers in heaven!”
“Oh, Rexella,” she said, “Esther has been such a blessing to so many that when I get there, if I stand behind her, God won’t even see me!”
Mom’s funeral was a day of remembrance, a time of celebration and rejoicing, filled with flowers, friends, and beauty. I kept envisioning her arrival on the other side, with the Lord reaching out His hand and saying, “Welcome home.”
I certainly can identify with the songwriter who penned the poignant words—”Heaven seems nearer since Mother is there!” Now, more than ever, I know I want to go to heaven when this life is through.
A CLASSIC MESSAGE OF HOPE FROM DR. JACK VAN IMPE
Daniel Admonishes the Young Ruler
Daniel 5:17 – 24
Then Daniel answered and said before the king, Let thy gifts be to thyself and give thy rewards to another; yet I will read the writing unto the king, and make known to him the interpretation.
O thou king, the most high God gave Nebuchadnezzar thy father a kingdom, and majesty, and glory, and honour:
And for the majesty that he gave him, all people, nations, and languages, trembled and feared before him: whom he would he slew; and whom he would he kept alive; and whom he would he set up; and whom he would he put down.
But when his heart was lifted up, and his mind hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him: And he was driven from the sons of men; and his heart was made like the beasts, and his dwelling was with the wild asses: they fed him with grass like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven; till he knew that the most high God ruled in the kingdom of men, and that he appointeth over it whomsoever he will.
And thou his son, O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knewest all this;
But hast lifted up thyself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of his house before thee, and thou, and thy lords, thy wives, and thy concubines, have drunk wine in them; and thou hast praised the gods of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know: and the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified:
Then was the part of the hand sent from him; and this writing was written.
Now, after waiting for Belshazzar to stop talking-probably babbling out of sheer nervousness-Daniel begins to speak. I can see him in my mind’s eye: strong, erect, courageous, with all of Belshazzar’s guests wondering what on earth is happening. This was supposed to be a fun evening at the palace. But instead, it had become “sermon time,” and Daniel took advantage of his captive audience by talking about his relationship with Belshazzar’s grandfather, Nebuchadnezzar. He was giving Belshazzar a refresher course in the life of the former king. He pulled no punches. There was no revisionist history here. Daniel told it like it was, and his poignant message was:
“Nebuchadnezzar genuinely learned his lesson when one day he called on the only true God for mercy. But you, young man, have not yet gotten up to speed, and you’re going to pay big time for throwing this wild orgy and for desecrating the sacred utensils set apart for temple worship.” This was the sermon to an unhumbled heart, addressed to a man who was drinking out of God-honoring vessels to gods that could neither see nor hear. That’s what idolatry was all about then, and that’s what worshipping other gods is about today.
God Versus the gods
King David said in Psalm 115:4-8,
“Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not: They have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not: They have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat. They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them.”
Daniel is saying the same thing to Belshazzar: “Look, it’s just a piece of wood covered with some metal. You made it with your hands. It can’t see, hear, talk, move. . . and yet you worship it. Won’t you learn from the example of your grandfather Nebuchadnezzar? He paid a terrible price, eating grass like an animal and wandering around insane. But even after knowing this story, you still remain unconvinced of God’s power. Because of your unbelief, you took the vessels from God’s house and made a mockery of the utensils representing redemption.”
Shame on You, Belshazzar!
I’d call that an earful, and Belshazzar had little choice but to sit there and listen patiently to Daniel’s lecture. But the prophet wasn’t finished with his scolding. He concluded by saying that the young ruler, too, would pay a dreadful price for his wicked, reprehensible deeds, because God promises to bring every work into judgment (Ecclesiastes 12:14).
Daniel Interprets the Handwriting
Daniel 5:25 – 28
And this is the writing that was written, MENE, MENE, TEKEL,UPHARSIN.
This is the interpretation of the thing: MENE; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it.
TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.
PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.
Take another snapshot of the occasion. The party revelers have slowed down. No more dancing or drinking at the moment. The orchestra has played its last tune, and the cavernous hall is now silent as Belshazzar and his guests wait for Daniel’s interpretation of the words written on the wall by a disembodied hand, words which in Aramaic appeared as Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin.
The reason for repeating the word Mene-“your days are numbered”-is that the Medes and the Persians were, at that very moment, waiting to make their move into the city to subdue it, so there was a Mene for each one-one for the Medes, and one for the Persians. They were already assembling beneath the city walls, gathering for the attack, just as God predicted the event on a plaster wall for all at the party to see.
Then Daniel turned to the word Tekel-meaning “you are weighed in the balances, and are found wanting.” Belshazzar was lacking in everything: in morals, in integrity, and in the fear of God. He had done nothing to honor or glorify the one true God. Here, God engages in the kind of irony He so often has used in the Book of Daniel by changing the word Upharsin to Peres-just a few vowels away from the word Persia. He said that not only will the kingdom of Belshazzar be divided, but right at this moment, one of those enemies-Persia-was but a spear’s throw away.
While the foolish young ruler and his irreverent guests had been drinking themselves into oblivion, the “predicted ones” were almost in the hall, weapons poised to murder the brash young ruler.
CHANGED LIVES-one at a time
I became a Christian in the fall of 1958 and shortly after that I attended one of Billy Graham’s Crusades and after that I ran into The Jack Van Impe ministry. Off and on over the years I ran into your ministry and can give praise to the Lord that you were always as faithful in your ministry and message as the very first day I heard you preach…
Thank you Rexella for keeping your relationship with Jesus as the primary focus for your lives and ministry from 1958 (and before) to the present. I cannot guess just how many lives you must have reached during all these years but I am sure Jesus will be able to update that number when you meet him shortly at the Rapture. Thank you for a life time of service to God and his children and I am looking forward to meeting you in Heaven when we get our new up dated bodies which should work much better than our present ones.
In Christ Love and Salvation,
I am so thankful for your program. I accepted Jesus back in 1995 in my home when Rexella gave the invitation. I am 66 years old and widowed twice, I live alone with my little dog. I faithfully watch your show and have Jack’s Prophecy bible and ordered videos, thank you so much. I was not raised in a Christian home and was and am a sinner, but I believe, simply put, what the bible says. My life has trials. But I know Jesus loves me and He died on that cross for me that is thanks to you and Rexella for showing me the way.
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