Loving One Another

Posts tagged ‘church’

Faith Amidst Suffering


You know I take sermon notes each week
as I listen to the Sunday message
at our Madison Valley Presbyterian Church,
Ennis, Montana.

img_2035.jpg
No, this isn’t our church, but I thought it would be fun to show you the church in
Chippis, Switzerland where we attended with our daughter and family.
Ah, but I digress…

Today our pastor, Rev. Jean Johnson, was ill, so one of our church leaders, Lucy Ennis, read the message Rev. Jean had prepared.Jean was among today’s “suffering.” The sermon was based on John 12:1-8.

As usual, I listened with intent to take away the message I needed… a message to help guide my actions this day and into the coming week.

The bottom line of today’s message was quite clear,
“Surrounded by suffering,
go reach out to others.
Ready?
Start!”

Jesus faced Jerusalem
Knowing what’s ahead.
His disciples were warned
He soon would be dead.

Jesus returned to the home
Of Martha and Mary:
Friends who’d always be there,
His sorrows to carry.

He knew they would respond;
They’d give him a dinner.
They’d throw a party
For their Savior, their Winner.

Mary went out of her way
To show Jesus her devotion.
She bought expensive perfume
And poured it on Him in loving motion.

Judas was horrified, and cried,
“Why waste this? You should sell it!”
Jesus told Judas to be silent.
Mary knew His end was coming; she’d tell it.

The last reminder of what’s good
In this troubled, earthly life
Was a gesture of love by Mary,
She poured sweet fragrance on His strife.

Such gestures of love and assistance
Help get us through life with courage.
Reach out to others as Mary did.
Don’t let your troubles discourage.

Whatever you do, my friends,
Do it out of a pure and loving heart.
Surrounded by suffering, go –
Reach out to others. Ready? Start!

shrimp soup in white ceramic bowl with chili on brown wooden surface

Photo by Lovefood Art on Pexels.com

So, I did as my heart directed. Following church, I practiced with our little church choir. We are going to sing at the town’s Easter Sunrise service. Then, I went downstairs and helped serve at fellowship. (I had made and brought two pots of soup to share.)

No, that picture is not my soup. I’m afraid our little Sunday School kids and some of my church friends would not have appreciated all those hot peppers and garlic! But, doesn’t it look good? Mine was a more mundane potato soup.

What did you do to reach out to others and show your love today?

The Forgiving Father


Happy Sunday, my friends. Did you attend church today?

We did – and I took my usual sermon notes in poetry.
And we sang a great version of the scripture lesson.
I share it with you below.

classic close up draw expensive

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

The scripture the sermon was based on was Luke 15:1-32.

It is a familiar passage for most Christians.
It includes the parables of three things LOST: a Sheep, a Coin, and a Son.

The song we sang  after the sermon was a beautiful poetic summary of the scripture.
The words, written in 1999 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette are so “right on!”
I HAVE to share them with you.
.
As you read these lyrics, try singing them to the tune of “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” It’s magical! It’s gorgeous!!

.
God’s Great Love is So Amazing

 

Verse 1

God’s great love is so amazing!
See a shepherd with his flocks!
Ninety-nine are safely grazing;
One is lost among the rocks.

That good shepherd goes and searches
Till he finds the one astray.
So God says to fill our churches
With the ones who’ve lost their way.

Verse 2

God in love is always seeking!
See a woman with her broom!
For a single coin she’s sweeping
Every corner of the room.

When it’s found she calls each neighbor,
Telling friends from all around.
So God says to search and labor
Till God’s precious ones are found.

Verse 3

God keeps waiting, searching, yearning!
See a father’s heartfelt joy!
Thankful for the son’s returning.
He runs out to greet his boy.

To the angry older brother,
Hear the father’s patient call.
So God says to love each other,
For in Christ, God loves us all.

man holding boy

 

My sermon notes are not as professional as the poem above.
They lack the a-b-a-b rhyme scheme.
Mine is based on an a-b-c-b scheme.
You probably can’t sing them to a chosen tune.
But they capture the message I heard being preached.
See if you can relate to how our pastor took this scripture
and spun it into a lesson for us all.

The Forgiving Father

Sermon notes 3/31/19
Jan Beekman’s “take-away” on
Rev. Jean Johnson’s message
Madison Valley Presbyterian Church
Ennis, Montana

 

Leave ninety-nine vulnerable
For the sake of finding one?
The Lost Sheep story tells us
That’s exactly what Jesus woulda done.

 

Leave a pocketful of change
For the one coin lost?
Yes, that’s what Jesus said.
Look carefully at the cost!

 

The cost of losing valued
Possessions can be very high.
We leave behind the flock
And fly off to pie in the sky!

 

Open your eyes to the One
Who is right in your midst.
The Shepherd among us
Seeks the lost. He insists.

 

The least among us are
Lost until they’re found.
We’re to be the seekers
Who search, listening for the sound.

 

Listen for the lost sheep’s plea,
And know, in fact, we are they.
We all need to be rescued
From the flighty life we live today.

 

Jesus really spoke not of
Coins and sheep, but us.
We are the ones who need
To be found. We must!

 

We must seek and be found
By Christ who loved us first.
Let’s join His rescued sheep
And rejoice as He quenches our thirst.

 

Christ shows us God’s real joy
With the parable of father and son.
The wayward boy returned home.
He was lost, now found. Victory won!

Welcome Home!
Come join the party.

Amen?

Tell me about the message at your church or temple or synagogue today.
What was your take-away?

 

 

Keepers of the Aquarium


Are you a Fisher of Men
or
A Keeper of the Aquarium?

person in blue long sleeve shirt and black pants using fishing rod

Photo by Kong Ruksiam on Pexels.com

“Too many churches have stopped being fishers of men, and have become keepers of the aquarium,” said Pastor Ray at Bayside Church in Sacramento, CA in his Refuel devotional today.  http://baysideonline/devotionals/refuel-2018

(Go to today’s refuel: 3/28/19)

Check it out.

Pastor Ray suggested that as “Keepers of the Aquarium” we miss the chance to reach out beyond our own to help others. He suggested ways we might be effective “Fishers of Men.”

Our Aquariums

The imagery of us church-goers just swimmin’ in our own little tanks and feeding off of one another and keeping to ourselves tickled and troubled me. Tickled, when I realized we, like these jellyfish, all look about the same – very little diversity – and we’re swimming around in our own little circles, taking care of each other. Troubled, when I see that even in our own little space, our feelers are not quite touching most of the time!

jellyfish inside an aquarium

Photo by Nguyen Tran on Pexels.com

 

Be Inspired

The devotional (I hope you clicked on the link and heard the message) inspired me to look again at my servant/service role.

Oh sure, Bob & I are teaching a Sunday School – – – three darling little 3 to 6 year olds – – –  they feed our souls! But, how are we being Fishers of People? How are we reaching outside our aquarium to spread the Good News to others in the world?

Blog

One way is by the messages we post on our blogs. JanBeek is all about “Loving One Another.” Not just those in our aquarium, but in the lakes and rivers and big blue sea, too. I love my growing list of followers. I love that you represent countries outside the USA and states outside Montana! I hope you find inspiration here. I aspire to inspire and increase your belief in the grace of God, your faith in our fellow human beings, and the desire to reach out in love.

How Do We Show Our Love?

Yesterday I heard on FaceBook a fantastic message by the founder of https://www.charitywater.org/  I joined (with a small monthly pledge) the “Spring” to help provide clean water to more people in the world. Hopefully, the message of the Deliverer of Living Water will accompany the new wells provided by the teams who go to care for and share with these needy folks. Look at their website and see the teams of young people who are traveling to impoverished areas and bringing new hope. It’ll warm your heart!

So far, the statistics for CharityWater reports these successes:

35,281

Water projects
funded

 

9,562,163

People will get
clean water

 

37

Local partners

 

27

Countries

All donations (100%) go to the clean water projects. Salaries and administrative expenses are paid by companies, partners, philanthropists who contribute for that purpose. My little amount each month goes directly to the intended purpose: to fund clean water projects and delivery to those in need. Yay! That’s one way to swim outside your aquarium!

 

Find a Need Beyond Your Aquarium

Maybe you’ll look at ways you can improve your service to others, too. Reach out to your neighbors, your local Food Bank, Medical Center, Senior Living facility, Library, etc. There countless “fish” out there in your local sea of troubled waters who need what you have to give.

Reach Beyond Your Borders

Look for world-wide worthwhile projects that touch your heart. I am a follower and advocate of Bob Goff’s Love Does project. Another of my small monthly pledges helps this international project that touches my heart.

Bob Goff says, “We have been fighting for human rights and providing education to children in conflict zones for over 15 years.”

You’ll see him on his website – smiling his goofy smile and inviting you to get involved.

 

Bob Goff

Bob is a New York Times best selling author (Get his book titled, Love Does, if you have not already read it). He was a recognized lawyer for over 25 years. In 2001 he saw a need in India and founded what is now known as Love Does.

 

100%

Bob promises, “We understand it can be daunting to know where to give your time and financial resources. We promise that 100% of every dollar you give will go directly to fund our international programs.”

 

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Transparent

I promote LoveDoes.org because I have confidence in the work it is doing to improve the lives of countless people in need. Especially his work providing educational opportunities for children is near and dear to my heart. I receive regular updates.

Bob Goff says, ” At Love Does we strive to be transparent.  We have years of a proven track record and we want to invite you in to be curious. Ask questions! We want you to feel comfortable with where you are investing.”

Search Your Heart

Find the places, the people, the needs that touch your heart. Act today to reach out. Don’t get stuck in your aquarium!

starfish on brown stone

Photo by Guillaume Meurice on Pexels.com

 

Be a Fisher of People – not just the Keeper of Your Aquarium!

Acrostic Sermon Notes


Happy Sunday, my friends.

Did you go to church (or synagogue or temple or mosque) this morning?

Did you take time to worship God and hang out with your friends?

We did!

round stained glass

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

And, as usual,
I took my sermon notes in poetry as I listened to
Rev. Jean Johnson deliver her sermon
at Madison Valley Presbyterian Church.

The bulletin was so full of the picture on the front and print on the inside that there was little room for note-taking. So, I used the margins and wrote the main ideas vertically. Then I used those letters/words to create acrostics. Here are the words:

Reconciling The World

Love, Learn and Live Faithfully

Share, Restore and Believe

Now, as I listened, those words fleshed out the message for today:

R ejoice
E veryone!
C hrist
O versees the
N ations!
C hrist
I s
L iving
I n us
N ow; our
G od
T eaches us
H is Love.
E veryone in the
W orld
O wes their
R ejoicing to the
L ord who
D elivers us.

L ive
O nly in
V ictory,
E veryone!

L ive in
E nlightenment
A nd
R eceive
N ewness.

L earn with
I ntent to
V enture out
E verywhere.

F ill
A ll
I njuries with
T he
H ealing
F reedom of God
U ntil there is
L imitless
L ove in
Y ou.

S hare
H is
A wesome
R epairs
E arnestly.

R ealize
E veryone’s
S piritual Life
T hrough
O ur
R ecognized
E ternal gifts.

B ecause we can’t
E arn Eternal
L ife; accept His
I ntervention.
E njoy renewed
V itality –
E specially now.

Amen!

-If you attended a worship service today
what was the message you came away with ?

To Give or to Give Up?


Today is Ash Wednesday.
Many Christians around the world are wondering today,
“What should I give up for Lent?”

What to Give Up?

Once you decide, you ask yourself if this is like a New Year’s resolution. Will I be able to keep my commitment? Can I keep the spark alive for 40 days? Or will I give up?

monochrome photo of person holding sparkler

Photo by Sumit Rai on Pexels.com

 

Forty days is a long time! Can I give up coffee or carbs? Dessert or just donuts? How about carrots or cabbage, broccoli or brussels sprouts?

assorted vegetable lot

Photo by Magda Ehlers on Pexels.com

 

What do you obsess about?

A promise to give up something for Lent
needs to be a promise to rid ourselves
of something that we obsess about.

We need to cleanse our bodies and souls of something that distracts us
from focusing on the meaning of this season
in preparation for the sacrifice of the “Bread of Life”
who gave His body for our salvation.


If spiritual discipline is what fasting is supposed to be about,
does giving up something you can do without
really do the trick?

 

photography of pink doughnut

Photo by Jonathan Miksanek on Pexels.com

 

Looking at Lent through the eyes of Marjorie J. Thompson,
who wrote the book “Soul Feast,”
I began to understand
the concept of fasting a little better.
She wrote, “… the discipline of fasting…
has to do with the critical dynamic
of accepting those limits that are life-restoring.”
She went on to caution us,
“Do not underestimate what God can
accomplish in you through the consistent offering
of such a discipline.”

The discipline is that of “self-emptying.”

What is Self-Emptying?

Self-emptying is “giving up something”  –
but it doesn’t have to be food!
Fasting from a particular food we crave
is NOT the ONLY way to acknowledge the onset of Lent.

Let’s decide to “self-empty” of something.

The word Lent was derived from a Saxon word meaning “spring.” In the early church, Lent was viewed as a spritual spring, a time of light and joy in the renewal of the soul’s life. James Earl Massey wrote, “Fasting is not a renunciation of life; it is a means by which new life is released within us.”

What can we give up in order to release new life in us?

More Than Food!

Fasting is about more than food. It is about hungering for the things that matter most. It is about abstaining from those activities that pull us away from what we know we OUGHT to be doing.

  • What about fasting from constantly checking your cell phone?
  • What about fasting from daily absorption in the “breaking news” – the TV?
  • What about giving up the tendency to let our minds wander when in fact we want to be meditating and entering into prayful communion with God?
  • How about a fast from negativity or criticism?Those are some of the things we can “give up” without giving up the intent of Lent.


To Give or to Give Up?

But what about GIVING instead (or in addition to) giving up? What might I GIVE to honor God during this season of Lent?

A couple of years ago, I read in a Guideposts Magazine about a woman who had spent the 40 days of Lent in what I thought was a very unique way. She created a list of 40 people who made a difference in her life. These people who positively influenced her were from every walk of life – family, work, church, childhood friends, neighbors, teachers, etc. Once she generated her list, she wrote a letter a day. In her notes, she told each of them how important they were in her life, how much she appreciated them, how grateful she was for what they meant to her.

I read that and thought, “I can do that!
I can think of 40 people who deserve a thank you
from me for what they have done in my life.”

arts and crafts cardboard close up design

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

My trouble was, however, limiting the list to just 40. When you stop and think about it, I bet you can easily name 40 or more who have touched your life in a meaningful way. I had to make some of the names “couples.” Then, I was able to begin my 40 days of letter writing. It was a wonderful act of “giving” – and filled the time I might have been eating that food I crave!

Yes, you can give – and give up – at the same time.

What will you do to honor this season,
to create a time of “interior spring cleaning” 
that leads to God in the core of your being
while making your life more nourishing for others?

Think about it…
and tell me what you come up with
in the comments below,
will you?

Terribly Self-Serving?


Are the terribly blessed also terribly self-serving?
This is a question we were inspired to ponder
as we listened to the sermon in church today.

The sermon, by Rev. Jean Johnson
at the Madison Valley Presbyterian Church
was titled, “Blessed.”
It was a response to the scriptural message in
Luke 6:17-26.
Here are my poetic notes,

taken as I listened carefully and digested the message:

 

woman wearing gray scarf and gray coat near group of people

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

“How are you today?”
“Oh, me?  I’m terribly blessed!”
She answered me happier
Than do most of the rest.

illuminated high rise building

Photo by Brayden Law on Pexels.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She lived in a shabby
apartment for the poor,
But her attitude was
Blessed with something more.

Count your blessings!
You, too, have something more
Than most other folks.
But how do you keep score?

pexels-photo-899318.jpeg

Photo by Mat Brown on Pexels.com

Is it a warm, safe home?
Is it items of comfort and joy?
Is it how many things you have –
More “stuff” – a favorite “toy”?

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Jesus suggested a different way
To measure how much we’re blessed.
He told us being poor and hungry
Makes us more blessed than the rest.

What was Jesus really saying?
“Look out! Your blessings bring you danger!”
Do your good things make you proud?
Stingy to the needy, hungry stranger?

grayscale photography of man praying on sidewalk with food in front

Photo by sergio omassi on Pexels.com

Are we supposed to long to be
Hated and hungry and poor?
If we have so much to give,
Doesn’t that bless us to give more?

God takes the hand of the pitiful.
He says the mountains will be made low.
If our Madison Range was lowered
And our valley raised, we would know:

A leveling off of highs and lows,
A giving of our hearts to those in need.

brown haired boy

Photo by Arvind shakya on Pexels.com

The most vulnerable need us
To share our blessings, not harbor greed.

All should live with dignity.
All should have self-respect.

man person men old

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

We, the wealthy, must be willing
To help the poor, the sick, the wrecked.

The more we are blessed,
The more we are tempted to be
Selfish and terribly self-serving.
Lord, please take such temptations out of me!

orange fruit

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Help me be like the prolific orange tree
That freely gives from its abundant fruit.
Let me work for God’s “Leveled-off Kingdom.”
Let Christ’s generosity enter me and take root!

 

Prophets – Bah Humbug!


If you’ve been following my blog awhile, you know I take notes in poetry as I listen to the sermon in church on Sundays.

white house on green grass and green mountain

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

If you’re new to my blog, welcome! Thank you so much for following. You help me know with your “likes” and comments that I am not just writing into cyberspace. There are real people out there – my blogging “friends” – who may be touched, encouraged, tickled, or illuminated by my posts. If I help you somehow along this rugged path of life to step a little lighter, see a little brighter, or love each other “righter”, then I have accomplished my purpose.

Here are the notes reflecting the message I gathered from yesterday’s sermon. After the service, I told Rev. Jean Johnson, our pastor at Madison Valley Presbyterian, “Your message spoke to me. I think I’ll blog this one.”

So, here it is:

Prophets – Bah Humbug!

Who needs a prophet?
They are annoying, I think.
At best, they are pests.
At worst, they stink!

Tell ’em to take
Their soapboxes away
To some other place.
They harp doom everyday.

Isn’t it enough to try
To be good to each other?
Isn’t it enough
To love sister and brother?

Here we are this Advent
Being called to goodness and hope.
John the Baptist says we
Need baptism and repentance to cope.

He persists in saying
Mountains must be flat.
Paths must be made straight.
Who needs all that?

We like our high mountains.
We like crooked paths, too.
Who needs these prophets?
Do they annoy you?

Well, to be honest, I must
Tell you these truthtellers
Are important to us.
They’re really not such bad fellers!

They call us to be humble.
They show us the Christ-like way.
They remind us of past errors
And guide us to a better way.

Prophets help us discover
How love is better than hate.
They show us what really matters.
Heed them. Invite them in. It’s a date!

Be the love to the loveless.
Don’t worry and think you’re too small.
Listen to the wisdom of the prophets.
Their message is good for us all.

Let God’s light shine through you.
Be the prophetic face of love.
Go out and BE a prophet.
Share the message from God above.

Amen?

 

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