Loving One Another

Archive for May, 2013

Who is This God?


Last Sunday was Trinity Sunday.
Trinity… Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
A matter of FAITH.
Read John 16: 12-15. Then ask yourself…

Who is this God who comes to us as a Teacher?
Why is there a prevalence of evil in this world?
If God really exists, as we see Him in our Design,
Then why does our Designer allow hate to be hurled?

If our Intelligent Design didn’t just evolve,
Does there have to be a Benevolent Creator?
With all the violence and disasters and cruelty,
Where is the Creator, the Good and Evil Separator?

If we begin with an observation of what we see,
Our starting point limits us to only what is rational.
What about the place FAITH plays in our belief?
Faith is belief in the unobservable; Sometimes it’s irrational.

Our faith IN God is FROM God through the Holy Spirit,
From the quiet inspiration of the TRUTH Christ revealed.
God climbs down to us, revealing Himself to us
Through the Holy Spirit, the Teacher, through whom lives are healed.

Quietly, the Holy Spirit opens us up to the Good News.
Boldly we affirm our faith in a Loving Father.
How can we see the love in a hurting world of sin?
Be the Love; Live the Faith. Dwell on hate? Nope, why bother?!

(Sermon notes – from JanBeeks’ take on what she heard
Rev. Jean Johnson preach on May 26, 2013)

Watching the Wind


We returned to Montana from California yesterday. It was a whirlwind trip. We dashed there to celebrate family events (birthdays, graduation, acceptance into the Navy). While there, we arranged also to spend time with friends and to attend my husband’s high school reunion. All the way from Ennis, MT to Elko, NV we watched the wind part the storm clouds before us as we drove in the sunshine. The roadsides were sparkling with new fallen rain, but the sun and wind dried the roads. We had smooth sailing! Reaching the central valley of California, we were told it had experienced a heatwave the week before… unseasonably hot – in the 90s. But as we sat with old high school chums on the patio midst the almond orchards, the cool breeze kept the temperatures in the mid-70s for us. Watching the wind rustle the new leaves on the recently blossomed branches was delightful. Not too strong… no paper plates were blown away… just right! Ah, thank You, God!

At our son’s in east-central California, again there had been storms just before we arrived. The wind parted the clouds, gave us perfect temperatures, created glorious sunsets and sunrises, and made our stay picture perfect!  Days in the mid-70s allowed us to take drives in his little convertible sports car with the top down, casually walk around the shopping malls with our granddaughters comfortably attired in shorts or sundresses, and leisurely lounge on their patio for barbecues and blab sessions. What a life!

Back in Ennis, watching the wind takes on a whole new dimension! The sky was gray and threatening as we drove into the Madison Valley. Deer, antelope, elk and eagles, usually plentiful and visible in the late-afternoon, were hunkered down out of sight for the night. Angry wind blew in heavier clouds which dropped their contents as we slept – happy to be back in our comfy bed with our own pillows and our snoring pup between us! Whistling wind continued in the mistiness of morning. It blew the storm clouds to the Madison Range east of us. Blue sky and sunshine emerged again. Watch the wind. It’s strong. It has a mission. Welcome home!

Heaven is Here


I sometimes drift into negative thinking, remembering my shortcomings of the past, projecting them into my present. You don’t ever do that, do you? I engaged in that kind of harmful reminiscing this morning when God hit me upside the head and scolded me: “Knock it off! Open up your devotional for today and see what I have to say!”

OK, OK, I don’t know why I was dredging up that old stuff. Sorry, God! Totally unproductive, I know. OK, what does “Mornings with Jesus” have to say today?

The scripture for today is Philippians 3:13-14, “I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it…” I paused. Taken hold of what? Paul is being pretty vague here, Lord. What should he have taken hold of? Read on, Jan! OK, OK…  “But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal…”  Just a minute, Lord. What goal? I can understand the bit about forgetting what is behind. I can see the wisdom in understanding that we can’t change one single thing about the past and so it is pointless to dwell on it. But, how do I strain toward the goal if I am not sure what the goal is?

“Beeeee paaaayshunt!!” God urged. Read on!

“… the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

There! Now, let me read that again. “I do not consider myself YET to have taken hold of IT. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 3:13-14 (emphasis mine)

Now I get it! “It” is the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward. Heaven is the prize. And, the best news of all… Heaven is right here! Right here where I live. Right there where you live! Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy Will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Here – on earth – where His Will is done, – here is Heaven on Earth!

Lord, as I love in gratitude for this place where I live and for its people, help me strive (yes, even strain) to make “IT” a more heavenly place. Let the peace of Christ rule in my heart – and let thankfulness for today and bright hope for tomorrow radiate from my life through YOU. In Christ’s Name I pray, Amen!

End of Your Rope?


Rope_knot : rope fastened in knots

Do you need encouragement? Read John 5:1-18. It’s about a man who seemed to be “at the end of his rope.” He had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. For “a very long time,” he had been lying by a pool near Sheep Gate in Jerusalem. The pool was surrounded by “a great number of disabled people,” waiting for the water to be stirred. Scripture teaches that healing would come only to the first person who entered the pool after the water was stirred. When Jesus saw the man, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”

For most of us, that question comes across as rather strange. “Well, duh! Why else would I be lying here?” would have been a rather disrespectful answer, don’t you think? A simple, “Yes,” would have sufficed. But the man replied, “Sir, I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”

Some people might read that as whining. They might interpret the man as one who lacked creativity or tenacity or sufficient faith or courage. I have even heard pastors and Biblical teachers speculate that he might have made his paralysis a way of life, and was content to just be there, maybe begging for a living or thriving on the sympathy of others. But, I think this man was at the end of his rope, and Jesus saw his tenacity, appreciated his struggle, and His heart went out to the man. He did not chastise him for complaining that he had no help. He simply said, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.”

The story tells me, when I am at the end of my rope, it’s OK to complain to Jesus. It’s OK to cry to Him when there is no one to help you.

Imagine your rope is stiff jute, hanging only halfway down from the ceiling. You’ve tied a secure knot and you’re hanging on, but you’re tired of the struggle. Your grip are getting weak. By faith, you DO want to be made well. You rely on Jesus. He changes the rope to a bungee cord and it stretches to the floor where you can get your feet on the ground again. Pick up your mat (or your rope) and walk.

That was today’s message for me. Hang on until by God’s grace, you CAN walk again – or you can compensate – you can rely on other attributes that multiply in you – and make life do-able again. Then – healed by faith, count your blessings, and go out to tell your story! Radiate God’s Hope so that others can keep on keepin’ on when they come to the end of their ropes.

Here are today’s sermon notes (message from Rev. Jean Johnson, adapted – interpreted – and rendered in poetic form through my filters):

How to Get Well

Are you at the end of your rope?
Do you really want to be healed?
What are you doing to create a knot
And hang on where the knot is sealed?

What Super Glue sealed the knot tight?
Your fingers grasp at the end of straws
Looking for what solutions dangle there –
Within reach of your grasping claws.

Are you responsible for catching the clues?
Is healing a matter of finding and grasping?
If we whine and passively hang without doing,
Is this the key to healing that’s lasting?

No, firmly clasping that knot you’ve made
Requires faith and strength and tenacity.
Ultimately, healing comes from God’s grace.
Our gratitude gives that rope elasticity!

That’s the Good News! Bounce on down!
Untie the knot and let go of the rope.
By God’s grace – His goodness alone –
Walk, healed by Faith, to radiate God’s Hope!

Do you need encouragement? Read John 5:1-18. Hang in there!

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