Monthly Archives: April 2014

SPRING THAW

Hardness softens,
Cold warms,
Fragrances burst.

Dark becomes light,
Cold melts away,
Soil comes to life.

Trees awaken,
Flowers blossom,
All rejoice.

Country Springtime

Lonely country road winding through budding trees, dappled sunlight and beautiful purple flowers.

Lonely country road winding through budding trees, dappled sunlight and beautiful purple flowers.

ALL Our Needs

My God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:19 (New Revised Standard Version)
The tradition in which I was raised presented an image of a God who is sitting back, letting us fend for ourselves. Then, when we die or He comes, He will judge us.
I have since come to know Him and discovered that He is Personally interested in every aspect of my life.
Imagine: The Most High, the Holy One is pleased to call Himself my brother! (Hebrews 2:11)
Later, God taught me that He is my Provider; work is my assignment. I have found so much freedom in this.
Now, I find myself pondering the part of this verse that says, “all your needs…”
Really? All? That’s big!
That means, spiritual, mental, emotional, physical, relational, vocational, material, and whatever I left out, even needs I haven’t discovered or identified.
Philippians 4:29 also says He does this according to His riches, which are endless. Wow!
The God of the universe, who holds everything in His hand cares for little ol’ me and takes care of me out of his abundance.
Thank You, Papa God!

HONOR

How glorious are You, oh Lord!
Oh, Exalted is your Name!
No person, or thing in all creation;
On earth or in Heaven is the same!.
Rejoice, sing for joy, oh my soul!

Heaven and earth sing together
Old and new join in the song.
Now and forever, in every place
Offer your worship all day long.
Rulers, dominions and kings bow down.

Holy, holy, holy Lord,
Only You are worthy of praise!
never will I cease to worship
Or honor You with my ways.
Righteousness and truth are mine in You.

heart and soul and joyful voice
Open wide to shout and sing
North and south,east and west
Oh, happy praises bring;
Rhythmic song to honor You!

MY SONG IS LOVE UNKNOWN

When I was fellowshipping in the Episcopal tradition, we would sing this hymn on Good Friday.
It is probably my favorite one for this occasion.
Musically, it is beautiful; the words are lovely as well:

My song is love unknown,
my Savior’s love to me,
love to the loveless shown
that they might lovely be.
O who am I
that for my sake
my Lord should take
frail flesh and die?

He came from his blest throne
salvation to bestow,
but men made strange, and none
the longed-for Christ would know.
But O my friend,
my friend indeed,
who at my need,
his life did spend.

Sometimes they strew his way,
and his strong praises sing,
resounding all the day
hosannas to their King.
Then “Crucify!”
is all their breath,
and for his death
they thirst and cry.

Why, what hath my Lord done?
What makes this rage and spite?
He made the lame to run,
he gave the blind their sight.
Sweet injuries!
Yet they at these
themselves displease,
and ‘gainst him rise.

They rise, and needs will have
my dear Lord made away;
a murderer they save,
the Prince of Life they slay.
Yet steadfast he
to suffering goes,
that he his foes
from thence might free.

Here might I stay and sing,
no story so divine:
never was love, dear King,
never was grief like thine.
This is my friend,
in whose sweet praise
I all my days
could gladly spend.

Words: Samuel Crossman (1624-1683), 1664
Melody: Love Unknown (John Ireland, 1879-1962)

If you would like to hear this hymn, go to:

THE CROSS

It’s Holy Week, when many of us stop to remember Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross; then comes the celebration – His glorious, victorious resurrection!
With that in mind, I offer this poem:

Holy cross,
Symbol of grace,
Calls us to God,
To seek His face.

Tree so cruel
To slay the Lamb,
The Holy One,
The Great I Am.

Precious Lord,
You loved so much,
You suffered death,
Just to save us.

How could we
Ever repay
All that You did
To save us this way?

No good word,
Or work we do
could even begin
To come close to You.

Holy Lord,
Glorious One,
Precious Savior,
Begotten Son.

Please accept
Our humble praise
Of Your greatness
Your mighty ways.

Without You,
There is no life;
Only death and
Miserable strife.

But in You
Is life divine.
Fill us , Lord,
With Your new wine.

With great joy,
We turn to You!
Our Great Redeemer,
The God most true.

By Your grace,
We live our days
In Your service
and joyful praise.

Holy God,
No grave can hold
You or your people
In death so cold.

Glory to
The risen One!
Our All in all,
God’s Only Son!

Honor, praise,
All glory be
To Jesus Christ
Who set us free.

Angel hosts,
All creation adore
The Lord our God
Forevermore!

WHO ARE YOU?

Here is a question that we ask in one form or another, throughout our lives:
“Who am I?”
The answer is difficult to find because there are parts of us that are being birthed and others that are dying.
Still other aspects of our being are changing.
We are in process.
The only one who has the full anser is God.
He knows each of us fully
and loves us completely.
One important piece of this amazing and wonderful puzzle is that we must lay down any identity that is not God Himself.
If I try to build on the work I do, a skill or ability, relationships or associations, I am engaging in idolatry –
I am putting my trust in some thing or some one other than God, and am sure to fall when my idol is shaken.
Our lives are hidden in Christ; Our sense of who we are must come from that.

So, who are you?
You are Papa God’s son or daughter, precious and dearly loved. You are growing up to look like Him.

WHAT IF

What if my only purpose
Is to love and worship You;
What if my reflection
Is in simple things I do

What if my employment
Is always to believe;
Showing grace and glory;
Expressing hope and peace.

Not with brightness of my own,
Nor strength that comes from me;
Not of my own making,
So it’s You that people see.

What if everything I am
My spirit and my soul,
Live and move in You alone,
What if I am whole.

For by Your mercy and Your love
My being has been made;
With blessing and compassion;
With Glory that doesn’t fade.

God’s Loving Presence and You

What draws you into God’s presence?
What helps you to experience His love most fully?
We are created in the image of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
And each of us is a unique expression of Him.
When He created you, He had a specific person in mind. No one in all the world, throughout all of history is exactly the same as you.
Because we are individually formed, Each of us expresses himself or herself in his/her own special ways. We also receive differently.
What fits you?

Are you drawn to God outdoors, in nature?
Do you find yourself worshipping as you walk through the mountains or ponder incoming waves on the ocean?
Is working in the yard or garden holy time for you?
Do you experience His love in animals, flowers, trees and fresh air?

Are you more on the esthetic side?
Do you find yourself entering God’s presence through more classical music, art, stained glass windows and a beautiful surrounding? Do you soar to the heights of Glory as you listen to such compositions as Handel’s “Messiah: or “Sheep May Safely Graze,” by JS Bach? Do you see God’s love in a painting or sculpture? Are you one who can express praise in one of these forms?

Perhaps you are more on the expressive side.
You like contemporary worship. Dancing, clapping your hands, laughing and shouting suit you well. Form only ties you down. when you are aware of God’s love, you shake, cry, laugh some more or declare His wonders.

You might find that you are more contemplative.
Quiet time alone with your loving, holy Lord; hours lost in prayer and meditation. Soft music fits you much better, if you have noise around you at all. Time alone with God is a delight to you.

Are you a care giver or servant?
Do you find that you are most aware of God as you serve others? Do you find that His presence is real to you as you prepare a meal, check on the neighbor across the street or help with the Sunday potluck? Do you feel most in touch with God as you enjoy the satisfaction and exhileration of knowing that you made a difference in someone’s life today?

Maybe you are a Word person.
As you open your bible and delve into its priceless writings, you find yourself in the throne room, delighting in God’s presence and finding His love in verses such as, “By this we know love, that Christ laid down His life for us…” (1 John 3:16)
When you listen to sermons on Sunday morning, you are fed and blessed. You are encouraged when people share Scripture with you. digging into the meaning of words is your idea of a lovely evening.

Are you creative?
Do you find that its working with wood, painting, sculpting, writing poetry or composing music that draws you into that special place with God?

Don’t be surprised if you say, “Yes” to more than one of these. We are as complex as the One who made us. There is no “one size fits all” or single dimension.
You might find that you experience and express God in ways that have not been described here. What are they?

May you grow more deeply in love with Him; may you blossom and flourish as you come to God in ways that fit His precious creation – you.

WHAT IS THE CHURCH ANYWAY?

“The Church is made up of groups of people who share common beliefs; who get together for social contact and to support each other.” common statement

“So, what is the role of the church in society? For each member of the church to live a life worthy of the call in order to reach their own first, and in turn impact the world around them. Only then can our families be saved, our communities put back together, our nations healed, and our world impacted by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Society begins in the homes of each individual member of the Church. It is interesting that Luke’s summary of the great commission
call to preach the gospel to all nations, however, it also commands to begin in Jerusalem first. In other words, the commission begins at home.”
Dr SamGalloza
http://www.theologyexchange.com

“I believe the church has at least three roles to play in North American society. They are:
1. Witness to God’s love and power.
2. Call society to peace, justice and compassion.
3. Work toward the welfare of all members of society.” Duane Ruth-Heffelbower
http://www.peace.fresno.edu/docs/speech.html‎

“When speaking of the church, theologians often use terms such as the visible and local church as opposed to the invisible and universal church. The visible and local church is, of course, the physical churches that we see around us and around the world, as well as the members of those churches. The invisible and universal church, however, refers to all believers everywhere and is one church, united in Christ, not many physical churches. Everyone in the universal church is a true believer, but such is not necessarily the case with visible and local churches.
Why is it relevant to understand some basic differences between the visible and universal church? One key reason is so that we do not confuse what we sometimes see fallible churches doing with the reality of the universal church. Not only do visible and local churches often host nonbelievers, but also the believers themselves are imperfect, resulting in challenges and tensions in every visible church.
What Does the Church Do?
The church is not a building, but a body of believers with a specific nature and purpose. These biblical roles or ministries of the church are foundational to it. What are these roles? They are many, but key to any church are foundations in worship, edification and evangelism.
Worship is God-centered and Christ-centered. It is not about entertaining Christians with flashy displays or presentations, but about expressing our love by worshiping our Creator. We are to praise and glorify God in worship. As such, every Christian needs to be part of regular fellowship and worship.
Edification is also a role of the church. It involves edifying believers, but also nurturing, building up or helping believers to mature in Christ. To this end, churches are tasked with a variety of ministries such as Bible study, continuing education in related areas, praying for one another, acts of genuine hospitality and more.
Evangelism is also a key role of the church. This means reaching out to a lost world with the Good News about Jesus. Since people often have questions or doubts about Christ and Christianity, knowing the truth and being able to defend it (apologetics) is also part of the role of the church. But beyond evangelism in the sense of reaching out with the gospel, the church must also express compassion and mercy tangibly by helping others. In following Christ’s example to love others, the church, too, must seek to make a real difference in the world while not neglecting to share the message of Christ.” Focus on the Family
http://www.focusonthefamily.com

“People who have been set apart and called out from the world.”
http://www.bible.ca/ntx-what-is-the-church.htm‎

“As the church, we are to demonstrate God’s power through miracles.
Jesus demonstrated the Father’s heart. It is now our job to do that.” Bill Johnson,
“When Heaven Invades Earth,” pp 109

*****
I have heard a number of prophetic words that the church as we know it will change; that we will find each other by the leading of the Holy Spirit, instead of going to buildings with signs and pre-determined service times. We are the light in a darkening world.

*****

I say the Church is the company of all who have given their lives to Jesus, from earliest history to the end of time, in all parts of the world. We are “glory carriers:” We bring God’s presence into every place and situation. Offering people the opportunity to experience Jesus firsthand is our most effective work.

What do you say the Church is? What is our place and role in the world?