Tuesday, April 28, 2020

The Heart of Worship


Matthew 22:37
Jesus replied:  "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'"

I'm coming back to the heart of worship
And it's all about you,
It's all about you, Jesus.
I'm sorry, Lord, for the thing I've made it
When it's all about you,
It's all about you, Jesus.  ~Matt Redmon

The photo above is our church, Kennesaw United Methodist.  Needless to say, it's been quite a while since any congregant has been able to set foot in the building.  And even though our governor has given permission, under guidelines, to reopen churches in our state of Georgia, we will probably stay shuttered until mid-May.

Do I miss attending church, mixing and mingling with other members?  You know it!  And I'm willing to venture that you are missing church gatherings, too.

Yes, we can watch services online, and even meet as Sunday schools via Zoom, but it's simply not the same as being together, is it?

And this has gotten me to thinking deeply about all the whys and wherefores we attend church in the first place.

Do we show up on Sunday mornings in order to:

  • Teach Sunday school?
  • Spend time with friends?
  • Sing in the choir?
  • Serve the snacks and coffee?
  • Hear the sermon?
  • Put long overdue offerings in the collection plate?
  • Engage in corporate worship?
  • See and be seen?  (Perish the thought, but it happens!)
Being distanced from one another has provided plenty of opportunity for reflection about what the church truly means to us.

So, I've taken this time to reevaluate and recalibrate my relationship with Christ Jesus.  Am I growing stronger in my love for and trust in Him?  Am I praying with genuine sincerity, knowing He will listen and answer in His time?  Most importantly, does Jesus hold the seat of honor in my heart?

With all the distractions stripped away, it is easier for me to return to the heart of worship.  Because all the reasons we have for attending church are meaningless unless it's about the One who saves.

It's all about you, Jesus.

It's all about you.

Amen!

Click here to hear Matt Redmon's song, Heart of Worship

Friday, April 24, 2020

To the Age's End


Matthew 28:19-20
Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely, I am with you always, the the very end of the age.



Must I make this change?
A detour never asked for?
Where is the peace that passes
Earthly understanding?
When so confused, chaos
Reigns to boiling point
The Holy Blood poured out
Confirms that there is nothing
Deeper, wider, longer
Than the love of One
Who knows the coming, going
Of hapless, helpless souls
I am always with you
The Promise is and was
And will forever be
To the age's end.

Amen!

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

The Stones Will Cry Out!


Luke 19:38-40
"Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!"
"Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!"
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, "Teacher, rebuke your disciples!"
"I tell you," he replied, "if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out."

All across our land, people have compliantly adhered to the CDC rules of self-distancing, hand washing, and in cases of high risk, self-isolating.  Most of it has been accomplished without complaining.  No small feat for a nation founded on the God-given right of individual freedom.

And all this has come at a dreadfully cataclysmic economic cost.  We have watched a boom drop to a bust in a matter of two months.  Not sustainable!

But there is hope . . .

With the recent proposal of a way for states to reopen their businesses, many governors are answering the call, chomping at the bit for citizens to return to work.  Others, whose states have seen a greater impact from the Covid-19, or who are enamored with a newly found draconian power, are less than eager to make a positive move.

And in these particular states, peaceful protesters, who fully understand the complications of this virus, are insisting that their fundamental rights, guaranteed by the Constitution, be restored and upheld.  They take into consideration the sacrifices they have made over these long, interminable weeks, but are more than willing to take the risk necessary to reopen their businesses.

After all, isn't that something inherent in the spirit of America?  Risk-taking?

No amount of government assistance can ever replace a thriving American economy.  Ultimately, it should be up to the entrepreneurs and the workers to decide what is best for them and their economic futures going forward.

The once complacent stones are crying out!  And they will not be silent.

For as our Declaration of Independence states, the government does not grant us the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Only God does.

Amen!

Friday, April 17, 2020

Not Even Solomon


Matthew 6:28-29
And why do you worry about clothes?  See how the flowers of the field grow.  They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.

Currently, I am missing my neighborhood walks.  Why?  My IT Band on my right leg is acting up something fierce!  If you have ever experienced this problem, you know precisely what I'm talking about.  Yes, I'm doing exercises that seem to help, applying an ice pack to the affected area, and Danny is kind enough to buff my leg out with this:


Ahh!  I'm so glad he decided to invest in this baby a while back!

The walks I have been able to take, though, have made me ever so grateful that the lock down has happened in the spring, when everything is blooming, and there is color bursting all around.  So, I thought I'd share these cheerful photos of God's glorious creation with you.








Beautiful!  Not even Solomon in all his splendor was arrayed as these.  So, in the uncertain times in which we find ourselves, let us take comfort in knowing that our Father, who created the world and everything in it, is eternally in control.

And may we take time to admire and give thanks to Him for His handiwork and His infinite blessings.

Amen!


Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Try and Try Again


John 14:6
Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.


I try and try again
Yet, nothing happens
To convince him
That words of love sincere
Make a difference
Change a heart, a mind
Beg utmost for highest
Ignored, unheeded
The will, dangerous
Since the temptation
In the Garden, serpent
Lurks here and now
May light be sought
Tables eventually turned
In favor of the way
The truth and the life
Forever and forever
Again and again, amen!

Friday, April 10, 2020

Deployed!


Luke 24:4-6
While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them.  In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, "Why do you look for the living among the dead?  He is not here; he has risen!  Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee.

Are you missing being able to attend church, especially during this sacred Holy Week?  Yes?  Me, too!  Throngs of Christians are mourning the fact we can no longer meet in close proximity, to celebrate and worship God together in fellowship, and garner strength, comfort and wisdom from friends, who inspire us to face the week that lies ahead with renewed conviction.

But as we approach Easter, with today being Good Friday, when Jesus chose the agony of the cross for the forgiveness of our sins, let us rethink our current inability to be physically together in community.  Is it, all in all, a bad thing?  When we stop and consider Jesus' command to love our neighbors as ourselves, isn't that what we are doing when we self-isolate or practice social distancing during this pandemic?  It's a new opportunity to acknowledge the value of all God's children.

Then we hear the countless stories of Christians doing remarkable things in their towns and communities for those out of work and for those, like the elderly, who are cautioned to stay in place.  I hope you will share the ones you have heard, or perhaps, been a part of, in the comments!

Encouraging one another, and lifting each other up, doesn't have to stop.  We can reach out by phone calls, texts, social media, and cards.  When was the last time you sent someone a note via snail mail?  Just the other day, before this madness descended, I received an unexpected, but so welcome, post card from a blogging friend.  Her words lifted my spirits that day, and continue to do so as I keep her card front and center on my computer desk.

And of course, we can pray without ceasing, for all those on the front lines of this disease, for those who are ill and hurting, for the families in economic peril, for all who are working in essential jobs to keep this country going.  Yes, we can pray, too, for all those who hoarded toilet paper.  Didn't Jesus tell us to love our enemies?  That's a start!

Might it be that because we can no longer meet together in a physical church building, we are actually doing more for the Lord and His kingdom than ever before?

Because when we attend Sunday service, yet fail to carry the message we receive into the world, the church becomes a tomb.  One that stays sealed, devoid of the resurrection promise.

So, let's not view the empty church as a negative thing, but as the gloriously empty tomb the women discovered on that first Easter morning so long ago.

May we take joy in being deployed into this dark and hurting world to share the Good News of Christ Jesus like never before.

Isn't that what being a Christian is really all about?

May your Easter be blessed!

Amen!

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Easter Eggstravaganza!


Proverbs 17:6
Children's children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children.

Holidays bring back memories of precious times spent with family, and Easter is no exception.  I find myself recalling all the Easter egg hunts that my husband, Danny, and I host for our granddaughters.  I locate photos from the last several Easters, though for some odd reason, there are none for 2014.  Go figure!  Please allow me to share some of these special moments with you.

Virginia's first Easter



What a special occasion that was!

By her second Easter, she's old enough to hunt outdoors.



Savannah joins in for the first time!





Alexandra is just taking in her first Easter.




Now, all three have at it!




And the last Easter together?  Virginia has discovered who the true Easter Bunny is, so she volunteers to hide the eggs for her sisters to find.  So grown up!


Virginia at our church Easter Egg Hunt last year.




Virginia wasn't too thrilled when I ask her to pose with her sisters!

Now that they are all living far away from us, and with the travel constraints imposed by the Covid-19, seeing them, or anyone else for that matter, on Easter is prohibitive.  Still, I'm hoping that my daughter, Sarah, and her husband, John, will be able to hold their own Easter Eggstravaganza for the girls.  Can't wait to add their photos to my collection!

Have a blessed Holy Week, my friends!

Friday, April 3, 2020

Fifteen and Counting!


Mark 10:6-8
"But at the beginning of creation God 'made them male and female.'  For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be unified to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.  So they are no longer two, but one flesh."

Yesterday, April 2nd, my husband, Danny, and I celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary.  Wow!  Can that much time really have flown by since we said, "I do?"

We have traditionally marked our anniversaries with glorious trips to mountain cabins.






Of course, in these unprecedented times, travel is out of the question.  Our state of Georgia is now in full lock-down for the remainder of the month, and Governor Kemp has cancelled the rest of the school year for K-12 students.  Absolutely surreal!

So, this anniversary, Danny and I will stay put, recalling the blessings and the joy these years have brought to both of us.  Has it always been an easy road?  Not by a long shot!  We've had our share of bumps and potholes along the way, but never anything that the two of us, with God's help, couldn't overcome.

And we will persevere together as the coming days unfold, thankful to the Lord who brought us together, and who keeps us together, strong in the faith.

Happy Anniversary, Danny!  I love you now more than ever!


Even if the only view we enjoy this year is our own back yard.

Amen!

The Perfect Bread

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