Loving One Another

Posts tagged ‘Christianity’

What Do We Know?


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What Do We Know?

One thing I do know:
I was blind and now I see.
First sight – a new life –
Could such as this happen to me?

I claim to be sighted,
But can I really see?
What ideas or things
Are blinded to me?

Am I aware of my blindness?
Do I know what I can’t see?
The more I think I know,
The more ignorant I seem to be.

I thought I knew –
So smart, so clever and true.
But I was blind – unaware.
Might that be true, too, of you?

Jesus looked on the blind man.
He made mud with His spit.
He rubbed it on the blind eyes,
And told the man to get rid of it.

Wash it off in a river nearby.
Go and do today what I say.
What does Jesus ask us to wash,
To get rid of in our lives today?

Believe and follow!
Seeing Light is self-authenticating.
See Light through the eyes of faith.
To do less will be self-humiliating.

Obedience is the key
To seeing what God can show.
Then “I was blind, but now I see,”
Will be my song. This I know!

Amen?
Amen!

First Sunday in Advent


advent-coming

Only God knows when
The Son of Man will come.
When we least expect Him,
He will overwhelm some.

But, as Christians, we
Won’t be surprised at all.
God already is with us,
So we live expecting His call.

We can’t solve our mortality.
We can’t achieve eternal life.
We know our days are limited
As we live in both joy and strife.

Our lives are vulnerable;
We find security in routine.
But with God, no day is mundane.
We are at risk. Know what I mean?

When God is revealed in you,
You live expecting the end,
And you understand intrusion
With continuation around the bend.

God will come, so be prepared.
He’ll come to you and lift you
To life in His Kingdom.
In anticipation, know He’ll shift you.

Divine Advent; Be ready!
God will break in like a thief in the night.
He will just show up!
So, better live in His Light.

Amen?
Amen!

Outsiders


Jesus on the Cross

Jesus – simple, yet complex

Outsiders

A prophet is known
by the company he keeps.
If Jesus were a true prophet,
the right people would be His sheep.

But baaaaad people hung out
with Jesus – sinners of the worst sort.
Jesus scandalously kept company
with tax collectors, folks report.

His circle included prostitutes.
He dined with people of ill repute.
How did He respond to complainers?
Did He have a good word of refute?

No, He told the story of the lost –
Lost coins, lost sheep, lost kids.
Find the coin, search for lambs,
Be relentless finding others, Jesus bids.

But, though we’re concerned,
We have our limits, right?
Do we seek unending until we find?
No, it’s not about us and our plight.

It’s about God who searches.
It’s about our Lord who actively calls.
He needs us all …  you and me.
Invite the outsiders. Break down walls.

Amen?

Make Us One


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I take notes when I listen to the sermon in church. It helps me  internalize the message in a way that sticks. Then, I can share with my husband, Bob, whose mind wanders during sermons. We discuss it on the way home and I read my notes to him. Usually they are in poetic format. That’s how my mind holds on and interprets.

Here is my take on Rev. Jean Johnson’s message from John 17: 2-26.

MAKE US ONE

May the love I have for you
Also be in you.
May my words echo in your heart
And ring loud and true.

Each day I pray for you and yours,
For health and strength and peace.
My prayers include family and friends,
My kids, my sis, my niece.

I pray for us and our health, too,
And ask for family unity.
Jesus prayed that we be ONE –
Mend divisions between you and me.

From time’s beginnings, splits occurred –
From Adam, to disciples, to now.
Jesus asked God to make us one
Stop our bickering somehow.

Set aside our differences.
Teach us, Lord, to pray
That we can love as Jesus loved.
Make us one today.

Amen?

 

 

 

Easter Sadness


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I have heard holidays are sad times for some people. There are more suicides near the various holidays each year than at other times of the year. Have you heard that? Have you ever related to such sadness? I’m not THAT sad, but this was not a typical Happy Easter day.

I grew up in a typical American family in the center of California. At least I thought we were typical. Since then I have begun to question what is “normal” – is there such a thing as “typical”? In my world, I Love Lucy and Bugs Bunny made me laugh, Sundays were church and family time, gatherings at our house or at relatives’ homes were the norm for Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas. So, when I found myself in a funk this year as Easter approached and no family was coming to gather, I should not have been surprised, right? Wrong! I was caught off guard! Where is the laughing, carefree Bugs Bunny when you need him?

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Our church hosted a potluck after church today –  Easter Sunday; designed just for folks like Bob and me whose family is a thousand or more miles away. Ham would be provided. Last night I created my favorite comfort food for the occasion- scalloped potatoes Andre’ style. I put them in the garage refrigerator for safe-keeping. I spent an hour this morning up in my sanctuary, as usual, in prayer and Bible Study, in meditation as I listened to the robins singing outside the the window. “He is risen indeed!” Shake it off, Jan! ReJOYce! It’s Easter!! Pick up your music. Pick up your Easter lily. Pick up your spirits. Get to your house of worship!

We arrived at church 45 minutes early to practice with the choir. Surely potatoes au gratin and “Up From the Grave He Arose” would lift my sagging spirits. Oh no! I forgot the potatoes where I had safely stored them in the garage refrigerator last night! A dear friend, Susan, who arrived early to work on the potluck volunteered to drive back to our house to get them. Only five minutes away, thank God! Christian friend to the rescue! God bless her. She put them in the church oven and returned to her seat in the pew just as the service started.

I perused the church bulletin. The songs were not “He Lives!” or “Hallelujah, He is Risen.” Instead, “Low in the Grave He Lay” and “In His Time” with a sermon topic, “Failure.” What? Here I am feeling low, missing family, beating myself up for forgetting to bring the potatoes, and the sermon topic is about FAILURE? I drew a sad face next to it! I was not prepared for a downer message from the pulpit! But then as the service began, we all sang, “He Has Made Me Glad!” and the choir sang, “In Christ Alone/Solid Rock.” My spirits were lifting and I paid particular attention to the words of the next song, “Hymn of Promise,” by Natalie Sleethe. The second verse especially spoke to me:

   “There’s a song in every silence, speaking word and melody;
   There’s a dawn in every darkness, bringing hope to you and me.
   From the past will come the future; what it holds a mystery,
   Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.”

What a wonderful segue into the sermon. Listen carefully, Jan. Take your sermon notes in poetry – as you usually do – and see what “Failure,” as spoken by Reverend Jean Johnson, says to you:

Silence is in Failure.
Shouts in Victory.
Resilience lies in Failure –
Lessons there for you and me.

Moral Victory or Losing?
Which lesson do you see?
Is the score the truest measure
Of a win for you and me?

Defeat: Success is gone.
Rationalization: Better now.
Reality: Acknowledgement –
There’s a future – somehow!

Failure feels miserable.
Hope seems surely gone.
But the loss is temporary.
New beginnings greet the dawn.

God doesn’t call it quits.
He fills our loss with LOVE.
His peace is ours eternal;
Ours is Victory from above.

Christ defeated death and darkness.
Shouts of VICTORY ring ever true.
His resurrection is our promise.
Hope rings eternal for me and you.

Amen? Amen!

I drew a cross next to that sad face – and on the other side of the cross, a happy face.

No need to stay in a funk! Listen to the last verse of Natalie Seethe’s “Hymn of Promise.”

“In our end is our beginning; in our time, infinity:
In our doubt there is believing; in our life, eternity.
In our death, a resurrection; at the last, a victory,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.”

Thank You, God. Thank You for Jesus… for His life, His death, and His resurrection. Thank You for the promise of Eternity. Thank you for helping me see You, the source of all life and hope, all joy and peace, all compassion and justice – alive and victorious this day and always. May my life be a witness to the new life You offer. You are new every morning. So am I! Happy Easter!

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Abounding in Hope


In this month’s Guideposts magazine (December 2013), two quotes from “The Up Side” caught my eye. These quotes from positive thinkers fit right in to the theme of our sermon at church yesterday. The first was by Jon Gordon, “If you think your best days are behind you, they are. If you think your best days are ahead of you, they are.”

The second quote that caught my attention was by columnist Marilyn Vos Savant, “Being defeated is often only a temporary condition. Giving up is what makes it permanent.” Yes, it is the giving up that signals defeat… and that was the main message of the sermon we heard yesterday. It was titled, “Abounding in Hope.” I took these notes while I listened:

If I think I’m not good enough,
If I quit before I try,
I tell myself I’m a quitter.
That message is a lie.

The lie lived on inside me;
My confidence suffered most.
I thought I was a quitter.
I began to lose all hope.

Despair and hopelessness consumed me;
I felt useless as can be.
I knew I wasn’t good enough
To change anything even one degree.

To enter Hell is to give up Hope,
According to Dante who penned those words.
The Bible tells us otherwise.
With God, hopelessness is absurd.

Realize that God is in control.
Whatever our future holds near,
Remember God won’t abandon you.
Trust in His Hope and have cheer!

God will take care of you.
God will give you joy, peace, and power.
Allow God to work inside you.
His Hope is yours – every minute – every hour.

You may not be good enough
If you set out to go it alone,
But you don’t need to solo it.
Take God’s Hope and make it your own.

Amen?

Amen!

When Troubles Shower You


Today’s sermon was titled, “Out of the Whirlwind.” It was presented by a guest pastor, Rev. Carol Shellenberger.  As is my habit, I listened to the message and took notes poetically. The message was based on Job 1:1, and 2:1-11. Through my filters and personal experience, here is what I heard her say:

Job was faithful and blameless.
He was upright, loving and kind.
God was praising him to Satan,
“Job’s the most respected man you’ll find.”

Satan told the Lord, “Job is protected;
He has everything and is richly blessed.
If you take it all away from him,
He will curse you to your face like all the rest.”

So God allowed Satan to do whatever
Against all he owned, and eventually to him.
For 37 chapters, Satan took his health and wealth.
Job’s life was gruesome; he felt doomed and grim.

Finally in the 38th chapter, God spoke to Job.
Essentially His message was, “I am God, you know?
Where were you when I made the earth?
Who are you to talk so much and question so?”

It wasn’t God telling Job not to complain.
It was God setting boundaries and establishing power.
God is indeed all-powerful, The Omnipotent.
Job responded, “No one can oppose your mighty shower.”

It is alright to shout and complain
When life showers you with troubles galore.
God doesn’t promise you freedom from trouble;
He promises you PEACE and so much more.

I know my notes only partially reflect the message the preacher intended today. But, I think I caught the flavor of her message. Job has always been a troublesome book for me. It doesn’t paint a very pretty picture of God. Not the loving, compassionate God I want to turn to in time of trouble! So, when troubles shower you, how do you find comfort in studying Job? Misery loves company? Job survived it so I can, too? Nothing is so bad that with faith and perseverance, we can’t endure it?

I have a friend with a brain tumor. Her pain is so intense some weeks that a shower is not possible. The water hitting her body hurts too much. There is no cure. It’s inoperable.

Another friend who was the caregiver for her mom who had pancreatic cancer, lost her five-year-old daughter in an accident just weeks before her mom died. A month later my friend was diagnosed with breast cancer.

A cousin whom I dearly love has been through the trauma of bankruptcy. She and her husband lost their home and their business in the recent economic downturn. From a position of wealth, security, and family harmony, she suddenly was homeless, broke, and facing marital difficulties as a result of the financial strain.

You have friends or loved ones, family members, neighbors who struggle against seemingly insurmountable odds, too, don’t you? How do they cope? Some take seem to manage better than others. What makes the difference? Job cried out to God, but he never lost faith. He complained bitterly, but he never stopped believing. In the end, God replaced his home, his animals and crops, his wealth and his health. The family he lost could not be replaced, but he found new love and he found peace again.

When troubles shower you, the message of Job is this: do not let the sorrow overtake you. Do not let the shower wash away your faith in God. Keep your conversation open with God. Complain bitterly, question His motives, ask WHY as often as you want – but in the end, know God is God. He will not forsake you. Heaven awaits.

The bulletin at church had a very meaningful Prayer of Confession followed by an Assurance of Pardon. Let me share it with you.

“Redeemer God, we like to see ourselves as Job saw himself – blameless, upright and God fearing. We would like to present ourselves before You, worthy of Your bountiful love and care, but we know we are not. Some of us avoid all news that is bad. Some of us imagine that there is little news that is good. Some days we exchange places with each other.

Forgive our customary silence that says nothing and does less. Forgive our usual despair that dreams of shadows and hopes for night. Forgive our lingering doubt that wonders where You are. Help us to hear You calling us in the whirlwind, reminding us to whom we belong. Come, Spirit of God, to inspire our speech, our vision, and our trust.

God’s hope is more tenacious than our despair;
God’s joy is more resilient than our grief;
God’s love is more compelling than our disgust.
By grace, we are gathered to God.
By faith, we rest in God’s promises of forgiveness and restoration.
Friends, believe the Good News.
In Jesus Christ, we are forgiven.”

God is with you.

By God’s Omnipotent Power, be at peace.

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