Pastor Mary’s Ponderings… April 2020
This is one season of Lent that will be filed in our memory banks! I don’t think I have ever experienced such a profound Lenten Season, where sacrifice and picking up our Cross has ever been physically and emotionally felt as this one.
During Lent we read and talk about sacrifice, about picking up our Cross and about repentance, but this Lent we are actually walking it! Due to the Corona Virus 19, we have had to give up our freedom to go and do whatever we please, in some cases we have had to give up income, stand by while our investments plummeted, repent our greed as we stocked up – leaving little for the next person., face our fears as we heard and continue to hear conflicting reports on the severity of this virus and we have had to face the possibility of our own mortality.
What I ponder about is what comes next? If Lent has been a tomb like experience as we social distance, what will Easter look like? What will our Resurrection – when we are allowed to roam and do freely again, look like? Will we have learned anything? Will our sacrifices have been lessons in humility and compassion – will we live out our repentance and change our ways of living, of communicating, of caring for one another? Or, will we revert back to the way we were before we cried out to God for deliverance from this new threat, cried out from our fear of the uncertainties that haunted our nights and closed us off from one another? Revert back to taking God for granted, for taking our freedom for granted or will we walk the path of resurrection that Christ has paved for us?
As we celebrate the Resurrection of Christ this Easter, may we truly be resurrected in heart and soul. May we grasp the true meaning of what it means to be a beloved child of God, forgiven for our wayward ways. Will we draw even closer to God and center our lives around Him instead of our own whims? Will we be the church in the world?
These are questions we need to ask ourselves. These are the questions we need to pray over as Easter approaches. What will our life look like from here on? Will our social distancing and sacrifices have been in vain or will they have been the foundation for a new life in Christ our Risen Savior?
At this point, we do not know if we can physically gather to celebrate Christ’s Resurrection, but we can gather in Spirit. We can rejoice in the fact that God’s promises are fulfilled and new life in Christ is ours. And, when our time of confinement comes to and end, when we walk out of our man-made tomb will we leave behind our selfishness, greed, our apathy and uncaring ways behind and walk in the Light of Christ’s Resurrection?
And, when our time of confinement comes to an end, when we walk out of our man-made tomb, will we leave behind our selfishness, greed, our apathy and uncaring ways and walk in the Light of Christ’s Resurrection?
Blessings of peace and health and resurrection power
Pastor Mary’s Ponderings… Feb/March 2020
When reading parts of the old testament, especially the segments that talk about being exiled, I often think of churches today. For instance, in Jeremiah 29, we find a letter to the Exiles from Jeremiah to the elders, priests, prophets, and all the people who had been exiled to Babylon . In essence, the letter tells the people to continue living as they have always lived.
Now you might wonder how I connect being in exile with the church of today. Well, I think many of today’s churches feel like they are in exile, feel cut off in some ways. The life of the church is not what it once was. I hear that often. It is not the center of people’s life anymore in many ways. It is almost as if the church has been transported to another time and place and we don’t know what to do about it. Sometimes, it feels like today’s church as been abandoned by God. Which is exactly how the people exiled in Babylon felt. They didn’t know what to do, how to be or what the future held for them and they wondered where God was in the midst of the chaos they were experiencing.
So, God addressed them and gave instruction.
“Build homes, and plan to stay. plant gardens, and eat the food you produce. Marry, and have children. Then find spouses for them, and have many grandchildren. Multiply! Do not dwindle away! And work for the peace and prosperity of Babylon. Pray to the Lord for that city where you are held captive, for if Babylon has peace, so will you.” (Jeremiah 29:5-7)
In other words, be who you are, where you are and work to make things better. Don’t give up, but live! And so it is with us, as the church. No matter how many people are in the pews, no matter how the finances are, no matter how bleak things may look – LIVE! Do the best you can with what you have and trust God to see you through this time of exile. Throwing up your arms and sitting in ashes will not accomplish anything but lead only to death. God’s people are God’s people no matter where they are or what circumstances they find themselves. But they must live as if they are God’s people.
Later on in the same chapter, God tells them this:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me in earnest, you will find me when you seek me. I will be found by you” says the Lord. “I will end your captivity and restore our fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and bring you home again to your own land.” (vs 11-14)
And so, it is with the church today, God has a plan, but we have a part in it. If you want the church to be the center of life as you once knew it, then you have a responsibility to make it the center of your life. You have the responsibility to pray for the church. You have the responsibility to make sure the church functions as it should, taking part in its future through leadership, activities and out-reach. You are the church, without you it does not exist.
So, the choice is ours, will we trust in God’s plan that has survived since the beginning of time or will we die in exile, while God’s plan goes on in the world without us.
Trusting in God’s plan
Pastor Mary’s Ponderings… January 2020
There is a verse in the Gospel of John, that is one of the most hope-filled verses:
His life is the light that shines through the darkness—and the darkness can never extinguish it. (The Living Bible vs. 5)
For me these are words of hope and promise. Words that remind me, us, that no matter how dark it looks to us, it is not dark to God, and in fact never will be. The light of Christ shines in the midst of our darkness and whatever that darkness may be – fear, weariness, heartache, doubts, financial woes, family issues, health, death, and so forth – the darkness can never overcome the Light of Christ.
Rulers will come and go, faith will swell and dip, churches will close and churches will thrive, but the constant through it all is the light of Christ.
We humans are strange creatures. We tend to feel that if we can not do something, it cannot be done. We tend to rely only on ourselves and when things get too hard, or too monotonous, or scary, we are ready to throw in the towel and say – “It is no use.” All we see is the darkness and the more we concentrate on it, the darker it seems to get until we give up all hope.
The words of John remind us, that there is always light, there is always hope. One little ray of light can illuminate a room, allowing us to find our way. Why do we insist on concentrating on the darkness?
The way I see it, we have choices in the life: to live in the darkness or live in the light; to live with no hope or be hope-filled no matter what. Do we trust God’s Word or not? Do we believe in His promises or not?
It is in the Light that we have life – in darkness there is only death for we cease to live as life was intended. So, we must ask ourselves: Are we people of the Light and do we live as people in the Light? If not, then we need to break the bonds of darkness and seek the Light. Christ was born for this reason, to bring Light to a dark world.
The Message Translation for that verse is:
The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness;
the darkness couldn’t put it out. (The Message)
May this year, be the year, we say NO MORE DARKNESS! Whatever comes our way, may we look towards the Light of Christ to guide us in His ways and break through the darkness.
Blessed be the Light of Christ!
Have a Blessed and Light-filled New Year!
Pastor Mary’s Ponderings… December 2019
Blessings upon each of you this Advent Season.
I was in prayer the other day and the Advent hymn “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” came to mind and I found myself singing it. The words came to life for me in a new way. It is hymn passed down through the ages. Originally a 9th Century – Latin Hymn. But I believe this hymn is still as powerful today as it was then.
Anyone who has gone through depression can identify with it’s words along with those who are in despair over the status of the church (personally and world wide), or our country, in despair over the darkness that permeates throughout: where anger, violence, a sense of hopelessness can not only permeate but consume us. Believers are being persecuted around the world and the church universal divided and fading. This outlook makes celebrating Christmas difficult. We don’t like to think or talk about it, for if we did, we fear we might succumb to it.
As you read the words of this hymn, drink them in, acknowledge the areas of your life, your faith where gloom needs to be dispersed, acknowledge any part of your soul that feels lost and alone and open it up to hope.
Come, sing with me.
O Come, O come Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here, Until the Son of God appear.
“Ransom captive” – the song writer is asking God to rescue Israel – to pay it’s ransom and free it from captivity.
Now, let us sing it again, but this time, instead of singing Israel, put your name in and or the name of our church or a loved one weighing heavily on your heart or our country/world and then continue on with the rest of the verses.
O Come, Thou Day-spring, come and cheer Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night, And deaths dark shadows put to flight
O Come, Thou Wisdom from on high And order all things far and neigh.
To us the path of knowledge show, And cause us in her ways to go.
O Come, Desire of nations, bind All people in one heart and mind;
Bid envy, strife and quarrels cease, Fill all the world with heaven’s peace.
These words acknowledge the despair that overwhelms us and keeps us from seeing the light at the end of the tunnel or a bright future ahead. It laments the deepest fears and desires of our hearts. But once acknowledged, they have no power over us and allows us to sing the refrain:
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to Thee O ____________
The Gospel of John, Chapter 1 verses 4-5 “Life itself was in him, and this life gives light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” This is the hope and promise that we celebrate, that causes our hearts to rejoice even in the midst of chaos. Jesus has come and will come again. He is the ransom that was and is paid that leads us out of our exile. Cling to that Assurance – all is not lost.
May we prepare for Christmas knowing there is hope, may this promise give you peace knowing that justice will come for God is with Us. Rejoice! Rejoice Emmanuel Shall come to you!!
Pastor Mary’s Ponderings… Oct/Nov 2019
The leaves are turning their brilliant Fall colors and silently falling to the ground in preparation for the Winter months. It is a time to reflect, a time to ponder, and a time to count our blessings.
Sometimes, our reflecting can lead us to dark places – where we wonder if we have accomplished anything, whether we have made a difference in the lives of our families, the life of our church or in the community in which we live. Sometimes we wonder what all our hard work is for – why did (do) we bother? Our thoughts lend us to just wanting to throw up our hands and say ENOUGH! NO More! All the work and aggravation isn’t worth it. It is better just to not bother and live our lives without striving to do better, without trying to make a difference, without the hope of a better tomorrow.
Actually, I think it is good for us to do that now and then – venture on the dark side of despair. There are many accounts in the Bible of people doing just that – from Abraham and Sarah, through the prophets and even Jesus in the garden cried out in despair. It is those moments of time that can actually pave the way for renewal – that help us see more clearly the blessings that are in our lives.
I have pondered on what a tree thinks (if a tree could think) – healthy, lavish, green leaves adorned its branches, then changes started happening and the leaves turned color, but they were still beautiful until they began to fade and drop off and the tree finds itself bare and naked, exposed to the elements around it.
I wonder if the tree, like we do at times, wants to just throw up its limbs in despair? I wonder if it contemplates its worth? In reality, those leave still have purpose – they nurture the ground and become nutrients for not only the trees but other plants, so that the tree and what grows around it, can survive the harshness of winter – a time where all looks dark and bleak and strengthen it for a time of re-birth – when Spring abounds once more.
Sometimes our blessings – our greatest blessings — are ones that come out of the ashes or in this case – the dried leaves of our lives, for they allow God to renew us.
Palm 40 is my favorite Psalm. It is one I go to when I find myself on the dark side of reflecting the state of my life. Below are a few verses (1-3), but please take time to read the whole psalm.
I waited patiently for the Lord to help me,
And he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the pit of despair,
Out of the mud and the mire.
He set my feet on solid ground
And steadied me as I walked along.
He has given me a new song to sing,
A hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see what he has done and be astounded.
They will put their trust in the Lord.
This is the greatest of blessings from God – the blessing of HOPE for tomorrow. So ponder, reflect and count your blessings for God will always give us a new song to sing. Let us take joy in being faithful, even in the midst of the changing seasons of our life and the life of the church.
Enjoy the beauty of the leaves this Fall and the promise they offer for tomorrow.
Pastor Mary’s Ponderings… August/Sept 2019
We have become a world of sound bites and text messages that are short and often use code that we don’t understand ( lol, omg, and so forth). We have forgotten the art of conversation. As families we don’t take time to sit around the table and talk about our day with one another. We don’t sit out on our porches and converse with the neighbors or others that might walk by. We don’t often even sit with a friend and just “catch up” let along share what is going on in our hearts. We have forgotten how to debate different ideas and ideologies. We have forgotten that conversation is a two way street and not just a clanging gong of individual voices trying to out do each other. We have forgotten the art of conversation.
I know that sometimes I want to say something but the words fail me or seem inadequate. Too often what I say comes out wrong or vague or sometimes too strong. Finding those perfect words, the right temperament that express clearly the thoughts one wants to express are hard to find sometimes. There are many times I feel like I must be speaking in a foreign language or live in the tower of Babel where no one can understand anyone!
Conversation – a talk a sharing ideas in a civilized manor – seems to be a lost art. But perhaps it is something the world needs to re-discover. Something we need to practice.
The good news is that God can use even our inadequate words to touch the hearts of others. The important thing is that we keep speaking, we keep trying to understand one another.
That goes for our prayer life as well. So many times I hear people say “I can’t pray” or “I don’t know what to pray for.” Paul tells us in Romans 8:26: “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know how we ought to pray, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans too deep for words.”
The important thing is we keep talking to God, even when our thoughts don’t make sense to us. He knows our hearts. The same goes with one another – keep communicating – keep reaching out – keep sharing ideas and thoughts with the love of God as our guide.
May we use our words and our voices to reach out in love. Take time to talk with one another and with God.
I am always available to chat! Just give me a call.
Pastor Mary’s Ponderings… June/July 2019
Lately I have asked myself “Do I live as though I believe the words of Christ? Do I truly believe in what I profess? Do I take to heart and live out the words of the hymns I sing and the scriptures I read? Do you ever ask yourself those questions?
A Christians, we are to live a certain way. We are to live in love and grace and mercy, for those things have been granted to us through Jesus Christ and since we have receive we are to emulate and give to others as we live out our life.
Paul tells us in Galatians 5:22-23a: “But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this in of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” As believers do we just see these fruits as the ideal or out of reach or do we strive to develop these fruits in our lives?
There are many who profess to believe in Christ, say they are “Christian” but exhibit none of the fruits. I know we are all a work in progress, including me. But how could I say I believe in Christ and promote hate? How could I profess to be a Christian and deny basic rights to others? How could I mistreat other human beings, no matter who they are, by demeaning their very existence?
The question I ask myself is; “Have we forgotten what it means to be Christian, a follower of Christ or have we reinterpreted the meaning – changed it to suit ourselves? How can we say one person is not as worthy as another? How can we justify one sin over another? How can we believe that someone else’s sin is worse than ours? How can we tolerate and justify unchristian behavior as an end to a means. How can we champion someone who spews evil and deceit and still say that we are a follower of Christ?
As Pentecost approaches, I have found myself praying for a true and profound coming of the Holy Spirit into our lives that will shake all who profess Christ as Lord to the core of our being and remold us into true followers of Christ, who live and breathe love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
May we, as the church universal, stand up for true Christianity in the face of the extorted views of Christianity that are permeating the world. Let us stand up to hate with love, let us stand up to discrimination with acceptance, let us overcome evil with good. Let us, stand up to the bullies who profess Christ with an iron fist and a dividing rod for that is not the way of Christ. Let us live as Christ commanded us to live not just when it suits us but in every area of our life.
This is how Jesus told us to live in the world: ““I give you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other. This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, when you love each other.” (John 13: 34-35)
May the ways of Christ prevail,
Pastor Mary’s Ponderings. . . April/May 2019
On April 21st, we will celebrate Easter – the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We might buy a new outfit – just because it is Easter and Spring has arrived, plus we want to look our best. We love to watch the little one’s hunt for eggs and enjoy their Easter baskets. We love to sing “Up from the Grave He Arose” and “Christ our Lord has Risen Today”. We cook a huge meal for our family or perhaps go out for a festive meal and enjoy each other’s company. But what about Easter Monday?
In the Gospel of John, Chapter 21, we find the disciples all huddled together. They had witnessed the suffering, the death and the resurrection of the Lord but now what? They felt lost and lonely and decided to go back to what they knew – fishing! They fished all night but caught nothing. Can you imagine how disheartened they felt? They didn’t know who they were anymore and now they couldn’t even fish successfully. That is, until a man called from the shore and told them to throw their nets on the other side. Then, their nets were full. The one whom Jesus had loved, recognized who had called out from the shore and exclaimed “It’s the Lord!” and Peter jumped in and swam towards him.
Too many, celebrate the Resurrection but think it was only Christ that was resurrected. In reality, if we believe – if we believe in the fullness of the Resurrection – then we too are resurrected from a life of darkness with no or little hope to a life of light and possibilities – a life that is new and wondrous – a life that is eager and willing to carry out the ministry of Christ Jesus!.
Because of the love of Christ, our future is certain. He will never forsake us. Paul says in Romans 8:38
“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
What will we do on Easter Monday? Will we go back to the same old, same old, hum drum life? – go back to what we think we know how to do? Or are we willing to cast our net – cast our passion, our desires on the other side. Will we look at what is around us with new eyes – resurrected eyes that close themselves to the impossibilities and opens them to the possibilities. Are we willing to live a resurrected life – A life filled with love and grace and mercy – A life with purpose – A life filled with new possibilities for service to our Lord?
On Easter Monday, let us wake up and recognize the Risen Christ as he calls out to us to cast our nets on the other side – to do something new and different. Let us, like Peter be so excited that we are willing to jump into the waters of life with both feet and swim like we have never swam before. Swim into new life with Christ. Let us feed his lambs, tend his lambs and feed his sheep. Let us be the hands and feet and love of Christ in the world.
Rise and Shine!
Pastor Mary’s Ponderings… February/March 2019
One of my favorite pastimes is building jigsaw puzzles. Some are really easy, others are quite the challenge but – who doesn’t like a challenge now and then! The one I am working on now is quite the challenge! The picture they give is not big and detailed so that you can see nuances and the colors are a bit muted, so not a lot of clear definition. However, it is a beautiful country scene!
My process is that I first hunt out all the edge pieces and build the frame of the picture and go from there, usually working on the larger scenes within the scene.
As I was working on it over the cold and frigid weekend we just had, I began thinking about the church and how we are much like a puzzle.
God gave us a loving foundation, guidelines to live by and the Church of Jesus Christ as the scene we are to create. The Holy Spirit comes into play as we “puzzle” together how the mission of our church will look – as we fit the pieces together.
One of the hardest things about building a puzzle is that each piece is needed, each piece has its own place – a piece that is to make up the covered bridge does not fit into the section where the trees are! I have had some pieces that all seem to be the same shape and color, but due to slight variations only fit together when in the right order. Sometimes it can get very frustrating. And so it is with building the church.
Each member, past, current and future is a piece of the puzzle that God has given us for our church. Each church is a piece in a much larger puzzle that God has created for our world. Each piece of the puzzle is needed to make the picture complete, even when we do not think it will fit anywhere, or as a piece, we do not think we are needed or fit in. But for anyone who has built a puzzle only to end up with once piece missing – you now realize how important one small piece can be. Without it, the puzzle is not finished, the picture flawed – The Church is not complete
God has supplied and equipped each of us with the color, shape and definition needed to fulfill our part of the puzzle. Each of us is important, each of us is needed to fulfill God’s puzzle for the world. As we piece together our strengths and weaknesses, our hopes and dreams, our faith and love of God and one another, the picture of Christ becomes more clear, the purpose of the church becomes more visible – more evident in our lives and the life of our church.
The best thing about this puzzle we call the church is that it is never ending. Just when we think we should give up – the Holy Spirit spurs us and we find the piece we have been looking for that is vital to connecting one part with another. Just when we think we are finished, God offers us more pieces and challenges us to expand what we thought was complete.
As we live out 2019, let us puzzle together, let us live into the scene that God has given us to build – let us find ways to live out the mission Christ has given us and be the Church and puzzle piece at a time.
Let us Puzzle!
Pastor Mary’s Ponderings. . . January 2019
A New Year always brings new possibilities; a new approach to our lives, a fresh start, you might say. The birth of the Christ Child began a new perspective of “God with Us” for the people of that time period.
Christ’s coming into the world brought a new way of seeing God. Seeing him not as a punisher for those who have done wrong or who did not follow His ways, but to shed light on the God who loves us so much, He would actually come and be with us.
Christ’s birth, life, death and resurrection shows us God’s love for all. Christ came to fulfill the law and to take away the sting of death, leaving us nothing to fear, but so much to live for. Our sins can be forgiven -we can always turn back towards the light of life and will be accepted and forgiven. Death is not final – it is a time of shedding our earthly body and putting on our spiritual body. These are wonderful gifts from the God of love and mercy, given to us through Christ.
Christ sheds light on the pathway of our living so that we can follow the path that God has set before us. If we stray, He calls us back, He comes and looks for us in the midst of our darkness. He reminds us how much we are loved.
In the Gospel of John, Chapter 1 (verses 4 & 14) we hear the words:
“The Word (Christ) gave life to everything that was created,
and his life brought light to everyone.
The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness can never extinguish it.
So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.
May these words of promise and hope carry you through this new year of life on earth. As Paul wrote in his letter to the Philippians, Chapter 4:
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
May your new year be one of complete dependence on our loving God.
Pastor Mary’s Ponderings. . .
My heart has been heavy these last months. The turmoil, name calling, shootings, violence against the police, mass murders, bombings and more. Evil seems to be running amuck. I don’t know about you, but when I allow myself to dwell on the darkness, it sucks me in, like a whirl pool, pulling everything around, in and down and under. The tendency is to throw ones hands in the air and give up. “What is the use?” I hear from some. “Glad I am old and won’t be around much longer.” says someone else. “Why have kids? What kind of a world will they grow up in?” says another. And after a while, I begin wondering too. But we must remember that although life may at times seem dark and hopeless,there is hope for us in Jesus Christ.
When the world comes crashing in, try lighting a candle and reaffirm that Jesus is the light of the world. who casts out the darkness of hopelessness. “I am the light of the world. Who ever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of
life.” (John 8:12)
I read a post on Facebook that made a world of sense. In essence it said that “no matter who becomes president—half will get to say, “yea! My person got it!” and the other half will be able to complain about the person in office for the next four years. Both candidates will still be rich and the problems around us will not automatically disappear. If we want the darkness to vanish, if we want the evil in the world to vanish, we are the ones who will have to shine with the love of Christ, so that this present darkness disappears.
Neither Trump nor Hillary or Johnson, or anyone else running for office is going to
come and teach our children how to be good productive adults, those are the things they learn from us. And not only our children, but all children.
If the world seems bleak and hopeless, it is because you and I left it become that way. Wehave forgotten that we have the power to change the world. We can sit back on our bum and watch the world grow darker or we can light a candle with the gifts that God has given us and shine the light of Christ on all.”
No one is too old, too young, too rich or poor, too uneducated, that one cannot show the love of Christ in their actions or in their words. Fortify yourself with the life and teachings of Christ. “The actions of our savior are so rich in meaning that every soul that ponders them find in them its own share of spiritual food to nourish it and bring
it to salvation.” – Catherine of Siena (1347-1380)
You want the world to change for the better? Then do your part. Pray for guidance. Align yourself with the Word, read and study it and live out the mandate of Christ to love one another as he loves you. Yes, even our enemies. Be Christ in the world. Be his hands and his feet.
Instead of griping and blaming, instead of throwing our hands in the air and giving up– livefor Christ and light up the world so bright, that there is no place for darkness and evil to be. Don’t be part of the problem, be the solution.
“For I can do all things throughChrist our Lord who strengthens me. “ (Philippians 4:13)
May He our strength and our courage as we minister to our world. Let your light shine,
Pastor Mary’s Ponderings . . .
There was a post on Face Book from “The Empty Chair”. I thought I would share it with you. It gave me much food for thought and I hope it does the same for you.
When I woke up this morning, I asked myself: What are some of the secrets of success in life? I found the answer right there in my room. The Fan said: Be cool, The Roof said: Aim high, The Window said: See the world. The Clock said: Every minute is precious The Mirror said: Reflect before you act, The Door said: Push hard for you goals,
And don’t forget, the Carpet said: Kneel down and Pray .
God our Creator had given us reminders of his love and his ways everywhere we look. . When we allow ourselves to open our minds and our eyes and ears to His leading, everything we see, everything we touch, everything we hear and taste are reminders for us of the ways of God. Everything becomes an opportunity to praise, honor, and give thanks to God and live life to its fullest.
If you look around and see only despair, hopelessness and cold objects, then your heart and mind are not in the right place. Instead of looking at the impossibilities try looking at the possibilities. The Bible tells us that “ALL” is possible with Christ.
Take time, right now, just to look at your surroundings.
What do you hear from the objects around you?
Are they reminding you of God’s love?
Are they reminding you that you are a child of God and worthy in his sight?
Are they reminding you that God has a plan for you and will equip you with all you need to accomplish his purpose for your life.
We can apply this not only to objects around us, but to one another.
Genesis 2: 7 says: “And the Lord God formed a man’s body from the dust of the ground and breathed into it the breath of life, And the man became a living person.“
God created us and said, “It is good.” All of creation – “is good”. Each and everyone of us, whether we acknowledge it or not, has the breath of God in us. God’s Spirit lives in us all. Each person alive today was created in the image of God. Not just those that believe, but all. That is sometimes hard for us to acknowledge, but it is true. When we dis-value a life, we dis-value God! It is as simple as that. There is not a life on this planet that does not have value in the eyes of God. Your life has value. All lives have value. If we do not honor this, then we dishonor God. Those who look different, act different, think differently then you happen to, have the same value as you do – are loved by God as he loves us.
When you see someone different from you: physically, culturally, economically, of a different faith-base or life-style than you—perhaps you can ask God to show you the similarities instead of the differences.
May you always see the potential, may you always see the Light of Christ in all things and all people. May you always feel the love of God around you and his spirit in everyone. May you always live life to the fullest you are able. This is my prayer for myself and for you and all of God’s creation.
Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! This is the great mystery of God. Something only God could do – break the bonds of evil and death, which frees us from its grip. We are no longer condemned to a life of bad choices ruining the rest of our life – there is now hope and death is no longer a “dead end”, but a return to God’s heavenly realm.
All this is rather confusing. Many of us are “Doubting Thomas’s,” but somehow in the midst of all the chaos of life, God’s light has shined through and new life is offered – all we have to do is believe.
Paul explains it quite well in Romans Chapter 6 beginning at verse 5: (The Living Bible)
“5-14 For you have become a part of him, and so you died with him, so to speak, when he died; and now you share his new life, and shall rise as he did. Your old evil desires were nailed to the cross with him; that part of you that loves to sin was crushed and fatally wounded, so that your sin-loving body is no longer under sin’s control, no longer needs to be a slave to sin, for when you are deadened to sin you are freed from all its allure and its power over you. And since your old sin-loving nature “died” with Christ, we know that you will share his new life. Christ rose form the dead and will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him. He died once for all to end sin’s power, but now he lives forever in unbroken fellowship with God. So look upon your old sin nature as dead and unresponsive to sin and instead be alive to God, alert to him, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
And in Chapter 8: 15-16:
And so we should not be like cringing, fearful slaves, but we should behave like God’s very own children, adopted into the bosom of his family, and calling to him, “Father, Father.” For his Holy Spirit speaks to us deep in our hearts, and tell us that we really are God’s children.
Jesus did his part and now it is up to us to decide how we will live. We can choose to continue in the ways of the world or we can choose to live the life Christ provided for us on the cross. It is not really that hard. Once we make the choice, we will live into becoming more loving, giving, forgiving, grace-full, gentle, joy-filled, compassionate and more. We are transformed into new beings with Christ.
Does this mean hardship and chaos will no long be a part of our lives? No, it means that we have the power to overcome, because we do not walk through life alone.
Christ arose – have we?
Pastor Mary’s Ponderings . . .
Something we don’t think about too much is Spiritual Warfare. We tend not to talk or even think about evil or the Lord of Evil, Satan. Perhaps it seems to surreal. But Evil is prevalent in our world and God calls us to do battle with him.
As we travel through this Lenten Season, if you pay attention to the scriptures you should be able to see the nuances of a heaven and hell battle for the salvation of God’s people.
In John 17, which is Christ’s priestly prayer, makes it quite clear. If you look at the words of Christ and how he prays for us – to be separated from the ways of the world. Let’s take a look – due to the length of the scripture – please look it up in your Bible, have hand a pencil and a highlighter. Circle the word “world” and highlight every reference to Jesus or God the Father. It is ok to write or put marks in your Bible!
After you have done this – ask yourself these questions What does verse 14 say about the world and us? What does Jesus ask on our behalf in verse 15? What is the main point of Jesus’ prayer for us (verse 21)? In your own words, how would you describe the Christian’ s place in this world?
After reading John 17, it becomes clear that if we are in the world but not of the world, we are going to have conflicts. Those conflicts are spiritual warfare. Why? Because the physical manifestations of the world, such as the trees, the ocean, and the sky are not the problem. It is the forces that control the world that are in conflict with God. We, as Christians, are God’s children. Thus, if the world is in conflict with God, the world is also in conflict with us. The prayer of John 17 expresses the heart of Jesus, as He knows the battles that we will face in this world. The world hates those who follow Jesus. We are not called to be of the world, or worldly, but we are sent in to the world to be a witness of Jesus Christ. This is a miraculous calling and it takes the miracle of the Holy Spirit living in us to fulfill it. It also takes training to discern between the ways of God and the ways of the world. Because we are born into this world, we naturally think according to it. We have to be transformed to understand God’s ways instead (Romans 12:3). God’s ways are not natural to us. We constantly need to crucify our natural inclinations and desires to receive all that God has for us. God’s gifts are far greater as they are filled with love, joy and peace than what the world offers. The world promises instant satisfaction and pleasures that fulfill the desires of our flesh, a tempting offer but one that Christians must be constantly on guard against. Jesus understood the temptations of the world. He knew that Satan would use every kind of enticement possible to lure man’s heart away from God. Jesus also knew how difficult it would be for those who believe in Him but do not remain faithful due to the cares of the world. (parts taken from biblestudytools.com)
We really need to pay more attention – our response to evil is essential. (And we do not respond to evil with evil, but with love.) We respond with prayer – asking God to cast out the evil spirits that invade our mind and hearts and also in others. It is the best way to combat evil. Bible Study is another – it keeps our minds and hearts basked in Christ.
So, this Lenten Season, let us share in Christ’s battle for new life. Let us practice putting on the Armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18) and join the battle of the ages, for our own sakes and for our world.
Let us pray:
Today I choose, Lord, to be strong in the Lord and in the strength of Your might. I put on the full armor of God, that I may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For my fight is not against people, Lord, but it’s against the rulers, against the powers, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.Therefore, I take up Your armor that I may be able to resist evil and will have the spiritual weapons to stand firm and fight against it. Amen.
What a joyous time of the year as we prepare to celebrate the Birth of our Lord and Savior!
Did you ever take notice to the Advent Candles and what they represent? Each week we light one. We start with the candle of Hope, then Peace, then Love and Joy and finally the Light of Christ. As I was pondering these themes, it dawned on me what perfect, absolutely perfect “Gifts” these are! They are ‘gifts’ that I would really like to receive – what about you?
The Gift of Hope – if we do not have hope in our lives we might as well hang it up! No use celebrating at all! I believe this “gift” is first, because without it we live in a dark, dark world. The Gift of Hope is found in the Promises of God – God promises to be our God; to never abandon us to ourselves. The Gift of Hope is the foundation of our faith that God’s promises will come to fruition.
The Gift of Peace – for me, peace, is not just, that there will be no more war, but that even in the midst of war and the chaos of our lives, we can have peace in our hearts, knowing that God is in control. We are able withstand whatever earthly things happen because our inner peace does not rely on those things, but on the hope that God offers us. The Gift of Peace provides us with a new way of living even in the midst of despair.
The Gift of Love – what a gift this is! The ability to feel loved and to be able to share love with others. When we are able to bask in the Love of God, allowing it to fill us to overflowing, our whole way of thinking, of doing, of living changes. The divisions that separate us fall away. The Gift of Love is like a fresh breath of air that fills us and renews us.
The Gift of Joy – I think this gift is build on the other three, Hope, Peace, and Love. When our hearts are filled with those gifts, then we cannot help but to be full of joy also. The Gift of Joy allows us to be free of all the burdens that earthly life throws at us and help us to look at the world with new eyes, seeing the blessings and realizing how blessed we are. Therefore, we can rejoice!
The Gift of The Light of Christ – the gifts of Hope, Peace, Love and Joy are the Light of Christ. These are the attributes of life that Christ brings us and when we receive, them, we find ourselves walking in the Light of Christ. All darkness dispelled.
The Gifts of God, for the People of God!
These are the true gifts that God brings to us through his Son, Emmanuel, Christ with Us! May we unwrapped these precious gifts each day, constantly offering these same gifts to one another.
“O come, Thou Day-spring, come and cheer Our spirits by Thine advent here!”