Archive for My Faith Journey

Does Jesus Care?

Saturday, our county mourned the senseless killing of one of our police officers.  On Sunday, I attended a memorial service of a friend who died suddenly from an illness and on the way home received news of a tragic car accident killing a twenty year old of an acquaintance and son of a local business owner on his way home from church and injuring his brother.  Add to that the news of horrible tragedies around the world of senseless, hate-filled terror attacks. This is just one weekend in my small sphere of planet earth!

It makes me stop and think about the brevity and uncertainty of life. None of us are immune from hardships, trials, sickness, injury, death, grief, sadness, despair, injustice, depression, or tragedy. In fact, we are guaranteed to suffer because of them. We do not have the promise of tomorrow or even the next minute but we do have the promise of eternity with Jesus if we have prepared ourselves and serve him as Lord of our lives. Christians know about the love and compassion of a Heavenly Father who cares.

I reflected on the beloved old hymn, “Does Jesus Care?” penned by Frank E. Graeff in 1901. Hymntime.com records….”Graeff went through some very difficult trials. The period before writing this song was one of great despondency, doubt and physical pain. When he turned to God’s Word, I Peter 5:7 gave wonderful comfort: “He cares for you.” After meditating on that truth, Graeff wrote these lyrics with the resounding affirmation in the chorus, ‘O yes, He cares.'”

There is something about difficult times that makes us acutely aware of an ache in our hearts for God. Somehow, deep in our spirits we know that God is the only answer and we reach out for His help, protect and care.  God cares. He cares for me and He cares for you.

Does Jesus care when my heart is pained
Too deeply for mirth or song, As the burdens press,
And the cares distress, And the way grows weary and long?

Refrain: O yes, He cares, I know He cares,
His heart is touched with my grief;
When the days are weary,
The long night dreary,
I know my Savior cares.

 Does Jesus care when my way is dark
With a nameless dread and fear? 
As the daylight fades Into deep night shades,
Does He care enough to be near?

 Does Jesus care when I’ve tried and failed
To resist some temptation strong;
 When for my deep grief
There is no relief, Though my tears flow all the night long?

Does Jesus care when I’ve said “goodbye”
To the dearest on earth to me,  And my sad heart aches
Till it nearly breaks, Is it aught to Him? Does He see?

“I Will Remember”

Dark, stormy clouds, driving rain from the east, and a brilliant sun setting in the west made perfect conditions for a rainbow. I kept watching and suddenly, there it was….the sun reflected on tiny droplets of water creating a beautiful arch of seven colors with one end touching down between the woods and silo right behind our house. The spectrum of colors are always the same and in the same order: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.

I have never seen the end of the bow touch down so close.  I tried to get a picture but the rain was blowing in the door and I had to snap fast.

Ancient “folklore” says there is a pot of gold at the end of the bow if you can find it.  But Genesis records “ancient fact”, the real story of the “great flood” that covered the whole earth, covering the highest mountain tops.  Only Noah and his family were spared because they were righteous. The Bible says that God was so grieved at the sinfulness of man that he was sorry that he had created him. When the flood was over and Noah, his family, and all the animals emerged from the ark, they offered a burnt offering to God. God was pleased and blessed Noah and all his future descendants (which includes every living person on the earth) with a promise.

God said, “The rainbow shall be in the cloud and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and  every living creature on the earth.”

Genesis 9:16

When God sees the bow in the sky, He remembers His promise.

Do you know what that promise is?

“I establish My covenant with you; Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood; never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.”

Genesis 9:11

When I see the bow, I remember that it is a reminder of God’s promise.

It was neat to see the rainbow and remember God’s special promise this evening. I always, always, always, remember the meaning of the rainbow when I see one. I was also reminded again that God sees the rainbow.  He saw it touching our farm. God’s gaze was close at hand and He remembered.  This evening on our farm, God was reminded of a promise he made long ago: a promise that He is and will keep until the end of time.

Footwashing, Finger Pointing and Shadows

“I am come a light into the world, that whoever believes on me will not abide in darkness.”

Jesus

(John 12:14)

You may wonder at the combination of words in this title but in a strange sort of way they all fit together.  Each year at our special faith celebrations,  different thoughts hit me in a way that make the observance new, fresh and meaningful. Resurrection Sunday climaxed the most holy and meaningful time of year for Christians world-wide. It is the rock foundation that our faith is firmly built on:  Lent, Ash Wednesday, Holy Week, Palm Sunday, Communion, Footwashing, Maudy Thursday, Tenebrae, Good Friday, Easter Sunrise, Easter and Resurrection Sunday.

Footwashing. Yes, our church still observes this very meaningful service.  It is not weird, uncomfortable, out-of-date, or embarrassing.  Once a year on Maudy Thursday (Thursday before Easter), we observe footwashing with our communion service. It is a special time of reflection as Jesus spent his last hours with the disciples, his closest friends, before his arrest, trial and crucifixion.

Jesus and his disciples were reclining at the table. I suspect the atmosphere was heavy with a darkness that only Jesus understood and dreaded. Perhaps, they ate in silence, each one lost in his own thoughts and reflection. After all, Jesus had told the disciples that they needed to go to Jerusalem where he would be killed.  What did that mean? They didn’t understand and yet each had vehemently declared that they would go and die with him. Confusing thoughts swirled in their brains as they had just participated in the joyous, crowd shouting, triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem where the crowds had shouted, “Blessed is the King of Israel that comes in the name of the Lord.” (John 12:13).  The fact that it was a donkey and not a horse, as ridden by political kings, was noticed but did not seem to matter. But now, hours later and alone with Jesus, the disciples could sense an ominous foreboding they couldn’t explain.  Flickering candles cast lengthening shadows in the darkness.

As supper ended, Jesus quietly stood, wrapped a towel around his waist, picked up the untouched prepared basin of water and to the horror of his disciples began washing each of their feet. Peter’s heart pounded in his chest. He could not bear that his friend, teacher and Messiah would take on the role of a servant and wash his feet. No, no, NO!  It had to be stopped.  But Jesus did just that and in the process showed and taught his disciples and us a valuable lesson on servanthood.

“If I then, your Master and Lord, have washed your feet; you ought to wash one another’s feet.  For I have given you an example, you should do, as I have done to you.”

John 13:14-15

In our church, women wash feet with women and men with men. I sat and watched. A lady in her nineties washed the feet of a 50 year old. A mother and daughter lovingly knelt before each other.  Friend washed friend. Three little girls about 8 years old figured out how to do a threesome. I observed how feet bare the stress and hardships of a life time of walking and living. No one seemed to care about varicose veins, bunions, or bent toes but tenderly lifted her partner’s foot, cupped a hand full of water and let it lovingly flow over a foot,  before taking a towel and gently wipe it dry. When the task was completed, each stood and embraced, whispering words of encouragement and appreciation.

No longer is it necessary to wash the feet of a guest when they arrive at your home, nor do we have servants to do our menial tasks.  But the task of washing feet still has deep spiritual meaning when we do as Jesus’ requested.

After Jesus had broken the bread and shared the cup, he told his disciples some gut-wretching and disturbing news. One of them was going to betray him. It was a bombshell to the already unsettling evening.  How could that be?  They loved him and just hours before had proclaimed their willingness to die for him.  But betrayal-this just couldn’t be. Instead of  pointing fingers at another,  sorrow and fear gripped their hearts as each became aware of his own vulnerability.  “Is it I?” (Mark 14:19).

Is it I, Lord? Would I really do such a thing?

Judas’ dark heart was exposed when Jesus answered his question; “Go and do as you have planned”.   A few hours later the other disciples fled into the night in fear and Peter cursed and swore he never knew him.

This horrible night of Jesus’ suffering and death is remembered in the most solemn and somber of services, Tenebrae. Tenebrae is a Latin word meaning “shadows”.  As the light is quenched, darkness descends and shadows cast their hue.

Shadows.

In a moment of time “Hosanna” became shadowed by “crucify him”, a donkey shadowed a cross, the Messiah shadowed a criminal, the cross shadowed a tomb,  life shadowed death.

Satan thought he won.  The “Light of the World” was blown out.

Darkness.

“And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.”

Mark 15:33

Fear. Hopelessness. Betrayal. Death.

Jesus said, “It is finished,”  bowed his head and died.

John 19:30

Grief: raw, emotional, unfathomable, grief.

Miraculously,  on the third day, (Resurrection Sunday) the power of God conquered death. Blinding light forced shadows to flee. Satan lost when Jesus won the victory. He arose!

“For God so loved the world that He sent his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.”

John 3:16

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(On Easter morning I caught the sun just at the right moment as it shoned in the atrium doors at church  and reflected or “shadowed” 3 crosses on the tomb scene.)

A New Morning

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This was the view from my kitchen window this morning. Wow! Doesn’t it make you think of God and what a wonderfully awesome, magnificent Creator we are privileged to serve and worship?

Usually I do not get to see gorgeous sunrises as the tree line blocks the view, leaving me to see only the colorful fringes of the glow.  From the look this morning, it must be falling weather big time! Remember the saying, “Red in the morning, sailors take warning, red at night, sailors delight.” Did you know that is biblical?  When religious leaders came to Jesus demanding a sign in the heavens to test him, he gave them an object lesson using God’s weather forecasting sign that is displayed in the sky each day.

He (Jesus) replied, “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’, and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. (Matthew 16:2-3 NIV)

This morning God quietly splashed across the eastern sky a reminder that it is a new morning, a new day, a new beginning, a new chance, a new opportunity, maybe even a new season. Will I embrace it? What am I going to do with it?

Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you. (Psalms 143:8, New Living Translation)

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning, great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23, NIV)

From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same the LORD’S name is to be praised. (Psalms 113:3, KJV)

Those who live at the ends of the earth stand in awe of your wonders. From where the sun rises to where it sets, you inspire shouts of joy. (Psalms 65:8, New Living Translation)

There are mornings when joy does not spring forth from my lips. I face the day with dread and don’t want to face what is before me. There are days when the future looks overwhelming sad, hard or complicated. On those days can I say, “God, I trust you and I praise you. Your love and faithfulness will be as sure as the sun rose this morning.  I know you love and will not fail me even if it doesn’t go like I want it to go.” Will I choose to embrace the day with thankfulness? Will I choose to see the goodness of His day and walk in it?

Today is a new morning and a new day. Like the Psalmist I say, “This is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalms 118:24

“10,000 Reasons” (Bless the Lord) by Matt Redman is one of my favorite praise songs and it expresses my sentiment so elegantly. Enjoy!

A Little Push From Behind

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The snow this past weekend made our driveway very icy and slick. The 7 plus inches of snow was light and fluffy but underneath it soon became a sheet of ice. Gene scraped the driveway but because of the frigid cold and very little sun it did not melt, just developed a hard, slick glaze.  Our store is located down a hill just past the house. We had several tractor trailers in on Monday and they needed a little boost to make it back up the hill as they were leaving.

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I saw it as a good illustration of our journey in life.  How many times have I needed a little “push from behind” to get something accomplished, achieve a goal or survive a difficult challenge?

When I was around six, I became the proud owner of my first bicycle.  The excitement soon was replaced by fear but with a little push from behind I soon accomplished riding on just two wheels!

When I was in the fourth grade, the teacher called me into a conference room for a little talk. She needed to know my version of what I had witnessed in an incident involving another girl. I lied to protect my friend and the teacher knew I was lying. She asked me if I wanted her to call my mother. Absolutely not! That little push from behind made me confess the truth and I have been very careful with truth telling ever since.

When I was a young adolescence, the Sunday School superintendent would ask at the beginning of the year how many had read their Bible all the way through the past year. Two very quiet, older women who had very little education always raised their hand.  I noticed and it so touched me that I wanted to be like them.  That little push from behind has motivated me to have disciplined daily Bible reading as I have read through the Bible 40 plus times.

Back in the early 90’s, I was asked to lead the Sunday School department at our church and to be in charge of children’s worship. There was no way I could see myself doing that especially having to follow the lady who very successfully had done it for a number of years with a big children’s musical. I said, “no” but with a little push from behind finally accepted and the following years were a delightful highlight of ministry for me.

In 1978, we experienced the devastating illness and death of our five-month old daughter. During her time at MCV hospital, we were faced with many decisions and questions. One evening in the midst of a very difficult time, our local family doctor called to just check on “us” and let us know he cared and had heard about what we were going through. I poured/cried out my heart to him and when I was done he said, “Just remember, Keith (1-1/2 year old) needs a mommy, but Karla needs a nurse.” That was the push from behind I needed to say no, we can’t bring Karla home from the hospital with a roomful of medical equipment and round-the-clock care.  Oh, the peace that came from that loving, gentle push from someone who dared to see the bigger picture.

About a year after our second son died from the same genetic illness as our daughter, our Sunday School class at church decided to help a family who had just moved to Powhatan and had two Cystic Fibrous daughters. The “motivator” behind the service/care project decided I needed to go see this couple. I honestly wanted nothing to do with them. I did not want to be involved with more sick and dying children. The “motivator” pushed and pushed and finally I agreed to take a meal.  I fell in love with the couple and we became instant best friends. That big shove from behind led to one of the most endearing, God-sent friendships for my husband and I and numerous other opportunities to walk hand-in-hand with grieving families.

In 2011, I had a customer/friend who kept telling me I needed to write a blog about life on the farm. I wasn’t sure I had anything worthwhile to say but she kept assuring me I did!  With her little push from behind, I bravely posted my first blog on January 8, 2012.  Five years,  256 blog posts and 90,255 views later, I am hooked and you are stuck with me!

We never know what a word of encouragement will do for someone who had a little hill in front of them to climb or maybe even a mountain. Sometimes the greatest comes from those who thought they couldn’t.  Sometimes an unforeseen opportunity happens for those not looking.  Sometimes your life passion is unknowingly spurred by another. Sometimes you can’t see over the fence because your nose is pressed against the planks.

I believe the hand of God directs our “push”, bringing people into our lives to encourage, support, direct and give us wisdom. We may never know what a kind, encouraging word can do to help another. That push from behind just may be the stabilizing force that keeps someone from skidding off the cliff or careening down the mountainside.

Thank you to all who have and will “push me from behind”.

The Simplicity of Christmas

nativity

 

Each season my mind focuses on a different aspect of Christmas. Several weeks ago as I was preparing to teach a Sunday School lesson my mind centered on “simplicity”.  Would you believe the next Sunday our pastor focused on the same thought as we started the Advent season.

Jesus was born to simple, ordinary, country folks who were faithfully seeking to follow God. His father was a carpenter and his mother a young peasant maiden approximately fourteen years of age. He walked the hills of Judea as a homeless teacher with a group of ragtag, “chosen” disciples; teaching, healing,  and calling folks to believe that He was the Messiah, the Son of God.  He was loved by a few, but generally misunderstood, doubted, betrayed, mocked, deserted,  and finally condemned to die a horrific criminal’s death.

But, then the extra-ordinary happened. The Son of God arose and became the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Messiah, and Savior. He calls us, simple, ordinary folks, to believe and accept who He is; “The Way, the Truth and the Life”, and to “come” and follow Him.

There is such a tendency to make Christmas glitzy with lights, gifts, trees, glitter and food that we forget the real story of a humble birth in a lowly stable when God became man and dwelt among us so that we can know the Father and live eternally with him.

There is a poem I really like that expresses these thoughts so beautifully.

One Solitary Life

He was born in an obscure village 
The child of a peasant woman 
He grew up in another obscure village 
Where he worked in a carpenter shop 
Until he was thirty when public opinion turned against him

He never wrote a book 
He never held an office 
He never went to college 
He never visited a big city 
He never travelled more than two hundred miles 
From the place where he was born 
He did none of the things 
Usually associated with greatness 
He had no credentials but himself 

He was only thirty three 

His friends ran away 
One of them denied him 
He was turned over to his enemies 
And went through the mockery of a trial 
He was nailed to a cross between two thieves 
While dying, his executioners gambled for his clothing 
The only property he had on earth 

When he was dead 
He was laid in a borrowed grave 
Through the pity of a friend 

Nineteen centuries have come and gone 
And today Jesus is the central figure of the human race 
And the leader of mankind’s progress 
All the armies that have ever marched 
All the navies that have ever sailed 
All the parliaments that have ever sat 
All the kings that ever reigned put together 
Have not affected the life of mankind on earth 
As powerfully as that one solitary life 

Dr. James Allan Francis © 1926.

The Pearly Gates

I was sitting at the table in my sister-in-law’s house last weekend when I glanced out the patio doors and what I saw made me pause and stare. When I exclaimed, “I see the pearly gates,” everyone jumped with anticipation to catch a glimpse!  There they were; beautiful, decorative, dual arches of pearly gates!

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It took us a moment to figure out where the reflection was coming from. The sun was shining on the front door that  has a decorative glass insert at just the right angle to reflect on the patio doors that were across the living room and dining area. It is not a straight line across the room, but somehow all the right reflectors lined up to give us an imagery of pearly gates!

It was neat even if it was a pathetic simulation of “the heavenly pearly gates”.   I have been thinking about those heavenly gates ever since. One day my eyes are going to lock onto the most spectacular gates of pearl imaginable and I suspect I will gasp at the wonder that is before me.

There are many pearly gate jokes with St. Peter as the keeper of the doorway. You have to convince him that you are worthy for him to unlock the gate and let you slip in.  But scripture gives us a different visual.  In Revelations 21 there is a description of the New Jerusalem coming down from heaven.  It is an immense and beautiful city with a wall built of jasper and twelve foundations of different gems. There are twelve gates, each made from a single pearl and the street of the city is pure gold like transparent glass. (Revelations 21:21).  This city descends from God, out of heaven, down to the new earth (Revelations 21: 1-2).  Contrary to popular belief, the gates do not bar entrance to the city as they are never shut.  However, these gates can only be entered by those who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ. “Nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Revelations 21:26-27).

Those pearly gates will be a dazzling sight. I visualize Jesus standing there with arms outstretched before the wide open gate as I run and fall into his embrace.

There is so much about heaven we do not know and understand. We catch glimpses in scripture of its beauty and glory. The details are not important, but what is important is to believe in and know Jesus Christ as your redeemer. Jesus is the only way to the Father and heaven. There is no other. Jesus told us plainly, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except by me” (John 14:6).

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Just a few thoughts for further reflection.

To my surprise when I got studying and looking at scripture on the pearly gates I discovered that I had adopted some of the “religious” myth about the gate. There actually is very little scripture about a gate to heaven.

The “Pearly Gates” are associated with the New Jerusalem which comes down from heaven to a new earth when the present earth is destroyed. There are twelve gates, one for each of the twelve tribes of Jacob (Revelations 21:12) in the walls of the huge city which is shaped as a cube; three gates on each side.  Scriptures says these gates will not be shut at all by day for there is no night there but only those who names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life will be able to enter.  (Revelations 21:25-27).

The only other reference to a “gate” is in Matthew 7: 13-14. “Enter by the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way that leads to life and there are few who find it.”

To my surprise, I could find no mention of entering a gate to heaven when I die!  People who have had “after life” experiences report seeing a brilliant, intense, bright light and being drawn to it. Most see a beautiful gate with people gathered to welcome them home.  It is beautiful, comforting imagery. Whether or not it is totally true does not matter. We do know heaven is real and beautiful beyond what we can imagine.  Jesus will be there to welcome his loved ones home.

 

 

 

 

My Morning Prayer

I just want to thank you for a good nights rest. But I also realize that many did not sleep well last night because of stress, worry, fear, pain or insomnia.

Thank you for safety through the night. I realize that many experienced danger, injury and harm.

Thank you for peace in our land. I realize many are living in fear and danger and some are hiding or fleeing for their lives.

Thank you for my family. I realize many are living with shattered lives and splintered families. Some may not even know where their family members are.

Thank you for breakfast, lunch and supper today and snacks in between. I realized many will wake up hungry and may not have access to even one meal.

Thank you for our warm house.  I realize many are homeless, living on the streets, or refugees fleeing a war-stricken land. I realize some are going through hard times and can not afford to pay for the basic necessities of life.

Thank you for my health. I realize many are suffering deeply today and dying from broken health.

Thank you for my husband. I realize many marriages are shattered and living in despair.

Thank you for my job. I realize many do not have a job to go to today to earn money for even the basic necessities of life.

Thank you for my church. I realize many do not know the privilege of having a caring church family.

Thank you I can live my faith openly. I realize many in the world are a part of the underground church and live with the daily reality of persecution and death.

Father, I am so thankful. I want to be more grateful and have a generous heart. I do not want to take this privileged life for granted.

 

God On the Mountain

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Another year (2015) is coming to a close.  Remember fifteen years ago??? We were told doomsday was around the corner and our computers would crash.  The “experts” in Silicon Valley just could not possibility know if our computers could read 2000!  What a scam!  Remember seven years (2008) ago? Our world was shattered by an economical crash that still has lingering effects. Remember two years ago?  Words such as racism, political  correctness, and marriage had totally different meanings.

For better or for worse, the world is still spinning on it’s axis. What will 2016 bring?  Someone asked me that question today. I said, “I do not know but there is one thing I can tell you with certainty. We are in for an unprecedented nasty political season.”  It makes me shutter to think of what we are going to have to endure the next eleven months.

This evening my mind wandered to a true story about a terrible storm.* The disciples were in a boat on the Sea of Galilee in the wee hours of the morning when a huge storm unleashed its fury on them. Jesus was not with them as He had gone into the mountains to pray by himself. The disciples were exhausted and afraid as the waves tossed them helplessly in the middle of the sea. Suddenly, they catch a glimpse of a shadowy figure walking on the water. They screamed with fear and gasped in terror, “It’s a ghost!”  What else could it be? No human walks on walk in the middle of the sea. Jesus speaks to them above the roar of the storm and says, “Be of good cheer (be happy). It is I; do not be afraid.”  Peter stammers out, “Lord, if it is (really) You, command me to come to You on the water.”  And Jesus responds, “Come” (Come on Peter. Come to me).  Without hesitation, Peter swings his legs over the edge of the rocking boat and takes a few steps on the rolling sea.  Suddenly a lightning bolt slices through the blinding rain and Peter sees the monstrous wave rolling over the turbulent sea towards him.  Thunder crashes.  Peter instantly is intensely aware of the storm and sees his impending doom. As he sank into the sea he cries out, “Lord save me.”  Jesus instantly reaches out and firmly grasps Peter’s outstretched hands.  Together they walk through the storm back to the boat.  Peter is now walking with confidence.  And then, there is peace. Dead quiet, instant stillness.  The calming, serene, divine presence of Jesus brought them to their knees in worship.

To be honest, I sometimes feel like we are in the midst of a huge storm that is threatening to destroy our very existence. My faith trembles like Peters as I hunker down against the raging wind and shield my face against the biting rain. The noisy clang of political pundits threatens to drown out the calm voice of Jesus gently calling, “Come…walk in the storm… come to me…. do not be afraid…. I will walk with you…I am your peace.”

Where will my eyes focus?

Our pastor has reminded us several times lately. “As Christians, we know how the story will end. We do not need to fear.”  In other words, in the midst of troubling, uncertain and even destructive times, our security, our hope, our faith, our trust is in Jesus.  Jesus has told us with his own words that this world will one day come to an end. But before it does, there will be a terrible time (storm) of war, pestilence, earthquakes, lawlessness, corruption, evil and persecution of Christians. But in the end,  He (Jesus) will return and take all believers, all who keep their eyes focused on Him, to that grand and glorious place He has prepared for us-heaven (Matthew 24).

Some of the last words of Revelation 22 are an invitation to “come”.  I have a choice.  Which will I choose? Do I focus on the storm and coward in fear?  Or, do I trust Him and reach for His outstretched hand?

The storm is raging….

  • Social media slanders, belittles, intimidates and destroys
  • Terrorists stalk our comfort zone paralyzing us with fear:  killing, intimidating and destroying
  • Monstrous storms rage across the globe
  • Love is hate and hate is love
  • Truth is evil and evil is good
  • Political rhetoric spins out of control
  • Political correctness squelches freedom
  • Corruption, immorality and injustice are winked at
  • Respect for authority is mocked
  • The right to life is mandated by “personal rights”
  • Riots, killings, war, and lawlessness of every imagination

….the lightning bolts are striking close and the thunder is booming. The boat is rocking perilously, threatening to capsize.  Do you see a “ghost” on the water?  It is really the Master coming to calm your fear. Don’t take your eyes off of Him.

I love the song God On the Mountain”.

Life is easy when you’re up on the mountain
And you’ve got peace of mind like you’ve never known.
But then things change and you’re down in the valley.
Don’t lose faith for you’re never alone.

For the God on the mountain is still God in the valley.
When things go wrong, He’ll make it right.
And the God of the good times
is still God in the bad times.
The God of the day is still God in the night.

You talk of faith when you’re up on the mountain.
Oh but the talk comes easy when life’s at its best.
But it’s down in the valley of trials and temptation
That’s when faith is really put to the test.

For the God on the mountain is still God in the valley.
When things go wrong, He’ll make it right.
And the God of the good times
is still God in the bad times.
The God of the day is still God in the night.

For the God on the mountain is still God in the valley.
When things go wrong, He’ll make it right.
And the God of the good times
is still God in the bad times.
The God of the day is still God in the night.
The God of the day is still God in the night.

Author Unknown

In several hours the ball will drop in Times Square and bells will chime as we welcome 2016. It will be a new year with the inherited problems of today.  There are many things about the future I do not understand, but, I know who holds my hand.

Happy New Year!

* Three of the gospels record this story: Matthew 14: 22-33, Mark 6:45-52 and John 15:21.

I Love My Church

It always makes me smile when I see someone wearing a t-shirt that says, “I love my church”.   In four words I have just learned that this person belongs to a church fellowship that cares about them and is dynamically invested in people and faith.

David, the Psalmist, said, “I was glad when they said to me, let us go into the house of the Lord” (Psalms 122:1).  In Old Testament times, there was only one place to worship. Jerusalem.  At the appointed times, as directed by God, people would gather and travel together in large groups to the tabernacle to worship. For many the pilgrimage covered many miles and as they walked they would be joined by others.  It was a fun, festive time of talking, reconnecting and singing.  Their love for their church was showed by the spring in their step and the joy on their faces as they set their faces towards Jerusalem.

Recently our pastor preached a sermon on “Thankfulness for the Church”.  This Thanksgiving season I want to express my gratitude for my church, Powhatan Mennonite.  It is that one special building whose doors I pull open every Sunday and walk inside. It is a haven that refreshes my spirit after a week of work. It is a community where I can share my joys, fears, concerns and grief. It is a fellowship where I am comfortable to worship with other believers and seekers. It is a church family that I know and care deeply about and they for me.  But most importantly, my church is a place where I meet God.

For me going to church is something I look forward to every week.  I anticipate and prepare for Sunday.  It has been a part of my weekly routine since I was born 63 plus years ago. I am blessed that my parents always went to church; we never missed a Sunday unless we were sick or it snowed. It was not a “negotiable” activity. If the doors were open, we were there.   When Gene and I were married we had to make a conscience effort to keep this a priority for our family also.  Going to church may be a habit but it is a good habit. We know, without question or discussion, that this is what we will do every Sunday. We are not legalistic about it but we have determined not to let anything become a routine excuse not to go.

Paul gave believers a challenge to preserve in gathering together….

spiritual-friendship-agape-hlce030313-21-638

Together at our church we worship, learn what it means to be people of God,  pray, fellowship, and care for others. Sometimes we laugh, cry, grieve, help, play, and even eat together.

Today our church sign reads….

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This Thanksgiving season I want to say, “Thank you God for my church. You are good and I have experienced Your love through my church family”.

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