Today’s sermon message by our guest pastor, Rev. Phil Taylen at the Madison Valley Presbyterian Church in Ennis, Montana, focused on the theological basis for our assurance of Eternity in Heaven.
It was timely, especially given the fact that this is the week my only sibling, my sister Sally, went to her eternal home.
If you die today, do you know where you’re going from here?
Is it Hell or a Black Hole?
My guess is that the choice is pretty clear. I was looking for a picture of a black hole… because some people believe this is it! We’re here and then we’re nowhere. A black hole… that’s where they think they’re going. They don’t believe there is a place called Hell where they will burn in the fires of an afterlife separated from God.
Or is it Heaven?
Rev. Phil Taylen’s sermon was titled, “Soaring with Eagles.” He began with that question, “Where Will You Spend Eternity?” His answer was part of a movement he called “The Evangelism Explosion.” Even though he grew up in the Presbyterian Church, he was ordained by an Evangelical Ministry – and his sermon lecture today definitely got down to the basics!
B asic I nstructions B efore L eaving E arth
Heaven by Grace
G od’s R iches A t C hrist’s E xpense
Grace is God’s Unmerited Favor poured out on us. Grace can’t be earned or deserved. Heaven is a free gift.
He cited Ephesians 2: 8-9 as further proof of the point he was teaching and preaching:
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
Not By Man
Good works are important, but they will not save us.
I am a sinner. I can’t save myself.
He cited John 8:24 to prove his message that man cannot save himself:
“Unless you believe that I am who I claim to be, you will die in your sins.”
God gave us basic instructions to live by before leaving earth.
God is Love. God is just and righteous.
In the Bible, our instruction book, God told us:
Psalm 46:10 Be still, and know that I am God. …
Heaven Through Christ
The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Jesus Christ is God.
Faith is Belief
Faith is the Connector. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
I don’t see the whole staircase. I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s Only Begotten Son, but I do not believe God will send all the Jews or Muslims or Hindus or Buddhists to Hell because they do not share my belief in Jesus as a part of the Trinity.
I believe God is bigger than religion. I believe God is omnipotent. I believe God knows all people – and He sees them through His eyes, not mine. That may make me a non-believer in some evangelical eyes. But I believe God is more inclusive than we can fathom.
I find enormous comfort in my faith – my belief in our Lord Jesus Christ – and I want to share that comfort and love with all I meet. I believe 2 Cor. 1:3-5 as quoted below:
Do you believe in Christ?
Thanks for visiting today. Have a Blessed Sunday. See ya tomorrow. Love, JanBeek
Today is World Mental Health Day. How is your mental health?
The Bible is full of wisdom that applies to mental health. Romans 12:18 is a perfect example. Living in peace with everybody includes Living in Peace with YOURSELF!
Some people live in a self-imposed prison, Locking themselves behind bars of self-hate; They fail to see the self that God created.
We all get those days that we just don’t feel good enough. Everything goes wrong. For me, I go to the bible to read the words of God. His personal dialog for us is filled with encouragement, hope, and lessons from which we can learn. Here are my top ten verses that uplift and impact me when I’m at the lowest of lows:
1. Philippians 4:13:
I can do all things in Him who strengthens me.
2. Psalm 46:5
God is within her, she will not fall.
3. Proverbs 31:25
She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.
4. Psalm 28:76
The Lord is my strength and my shield.
5. 1 Corinthians 25:10
By the grace of God, I am what I am.
6. Romans 5:8
I loved you at your darkest.
7. Psalm 62:5-6
Only God gives inward peace, and I depend on Him. God alone is the mighty rock that keeps me safe, and he is the fortress where I feel secure.
8. 2 Timothy 1:7
For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline.
9. 1 Peter 2:9
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
10. 2 Chronicles 20:15
The battle is not ours, but God’s.
Keys to Positive Mental Health
The link below to an article by Brittany Morgan offers ten keys to mental health that worked for her. I found the article to be greatly inspiring. Among her ten ideas that resonated most with me was #1:
1. Unfollowed ‘energy vampires’ on all social media platforms
This one might need a little explaining, so bear with me. An energy vampire is basically anyone who comes into your life and drains you of your positive energy. (Or, any energy in general, for that matter.) I’ve been unlucky enough, as I’m sure you have as well, to meet several of these energy vampires in real life. I’ve decided this past year to unfollow any and all energy vampires on all of my forms of social media, and you should, too.
Life is too short to expend any extra energy on perpetually negative people.
If you agree with her thinking on that idea, you may want to click the link below to see the other nine points she makes.
10 Things I’ve Done For My Mental Health Since Last Year’s World Mental Health Day
On Mental Health Day, I wish you great peace and joy. Let God take your cares.
Lift them up to Him And let them just float away; Replace them with love –
With LOVE for yourself – Remember your Creator Made you to be loved.
When LOVE is poured out, The empty cup returns full! God replaces it.
Put your hand in the hand of the One who stilled the waters Put your hand in the hand of the One who calmed the seas Take a look at yourself and you can look at others differently Put your hand in the hand of the Man from Galilee!
Don’t miss this wonderful song from 1970… One of my favorites!!
Play it again!! Sing along! Put your hand in God’s hand And have a peace-filled World Mental Health Day.
Today’s sermon was based on the story of two sons, asked to help their dad. One said yes and didn’t do it, the other said no, but did it anyway. Do you know that story? Imagine those were your sons.
Which of the two sons would you consider trustworthy? How would you react to their replies and subsequent behavior?
Our pastor, Rev. Steve Hundley, at the Madison Valley Presbyterian Church in Ennis, MT spoke on that topic today, inspired by the story in Matthew 21: 28-31.
The Parable of the Two Sons
28 “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’
29 “‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.
30 “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.
31 “Which of the two did what his father wanted?”
“The first,” they answered.
As usual, I listened to the sermon and took my notes in poetry. He started out by telling us about his grandmother’s advice to him when he announced (after graduating from college) that he had decided to go to seminary:
“When you stand up to preach, Don’t scold those who don’t come. They aren’t there to hear it,” My grandmother advised (she wasn’t dumb!).
“When you preach – remember To stomp on your own feet first. When you do that,” my grandma said, “You’ll serve living water to those who thirst.”
In today’s scripture, we heard Of two sons and their replies. One said yes and didn’t do it. The other, “No!” but did it. Which one cries?
The one who failed to follow through Was the one who’ll live with regret. Unlike him, we need to be obedient. Don’t say yes – and then forget!
Paul Tillick said, “In every human heart Is a faint recollection of our Maker.” If that’s true, we can see God Even in the disobedient faker.
The second son may have said “Yes, but…” In his response of a silent “No,” Other things may have taken precedence, But he didn’t want his “No” to show.
How many times do we say yes And then fail to follow through? Better to say No and then do it. I want to be trustworthy; how about you?
What jobs are you being asked to do? Are they tasks you look forward to? Or are you dragging your feet?
Schedule it for tomorrow After a relaxing Sunday afternoon/evening. And then… Just Do It!
Sermon Notes August 9, 2020 Rev. Steve Hundley Jan’s poetic notes taken while listening to Steve’s message based on John 21:15-23
“A Side-Long Glance”
Jesus was with His disciples on shore. Peter thought Jesus didn’t believe him. Jesus told Peter to feed His sheep. The answer failed to relieve him.
Have you ever felt misunderstood? Ever had your sincerity questioned bare? Peter told Jesus, “You know I love You.” Jesus had asked him three times there.
Was Jesus expecting too much of Peter? Does He expect too much of us? A tithe is a tenth of what you make. The visible return’s not much to see – why fuss?
Well, Jesus expected even more than a tenth. “What about him?” Peter asked. Like Peter, we question others’ faith. We want Jesus to take ’em to task.
There has to be a difference between Faith and foolishness – so it’s not fair Those rich folks don’t seem to give – They don’t seem to do their share.
We cast a side-long glance across the aisle, And we ask, as Peter did, “What about them?” And Jesus answers us as He did Peter, “What is it to you?” From where does fairness stem?
Jesus says, “Feed My sheep -just love!” Your side-long glance has no place here. You do your fair share and don’t worry about What others do. Give, love, and have no fear.
No side-long glances allowed. Look ahead at the One who stands Before a hurting world and says, “Feed My sheep in all My lands.”
Just follow Jesus – And what will happen today? To tell the truth, I don’t know! Just do it anyway!!
After church today we had a barbecue. It was the kick-off of the fiscal year’s drive for finances to fund the Pastor Search Committee and to consider our pledges for the 2020-21 church budget. Jesus said, “Feed My sheep!” and these sheep were fed in grand style out on the church lawn.
After the church BBQ, we went to my friend, Sue’s. Her birthday is tomorrow. We needed to sing “Happy Birthday!” while we socially distanced. She and her husband are being really careful around this COVID-19 … especially with Montana’s case numbers rising. They are being kept really busy at their beautiful home. Just look at their gardens!
Sue and Jerry joined the Madison Valley Presbyterian Church on the same Sunday Bob & I did nearly 15 years ago. We have been fast friends ever since. The two of them built this gorgeous house themselves! Just this summer they added that deck outside their bedroom window on the right.
Here is the front of the house:
Yes, we are blessed. We live in the gorgeous Madison Valley. We have a terrific church, a wonderful pastor who gives great sermons, beautiful friends, and a picture-perfect setting with glorious August sunshine and enormous “BigSky” drama. Ah, my friends, life is good!
No need for side-long glances. Keep your eyes on your own blessings, your own giving, and your own business. No need focusing on what’s “not fair!” Remember while you’re counting your blessings to share your love with others with your whole heart!
Do have a fantastic week ahead.
Thanks for visiting and for sharing with me the sermon and our visit with Sue. Happy Birthday, Sue!!
The God of hope brings peace and joy. He fills my heart with song. No matter what sorrow today may bring, I can sing His praises all day long.
My heart overflows with God’s sure hope That comes by the power of His Spirit. When troubles mount; fear fills my heart – I lean on Him and know He’ll clear it.
I trust today in God’s promises; I know His joy and peace. His love o’erflows within my heart His power is sure to all fears release.
So when the fear in storms erupt Sending troubles to your life, Just turn to Him and see beyond – Where Hope resides and Joy melts strife.
He is the reason I can sing today. He is the reason I have peace in my soul. He is the reason you can live with joy. Let the power of His Spirit make you whole.
After listening to the John Anderson YouTube version of this song, I wrote this comment: “What a gorgeous rendition of this song. Previously I had enjoyed only the Josh Grobin version. Beautiful as it is, this choir adds extra beauty to it with their gorgeous harmonies… such an important message in this troubled world! Yes, let Him lift you to His shoulders… and let’s BEE more than we can ever BEE without him!”
Let the Lord lift you; Let Him raise you up to Him – Strong on His shoulders!
Your faith empowers You to be more than you’d be Without His presence.
My grandson, Mike, in Switzerland, sent me this photo that he took of his girlfriend, Tania, high in the Alps, overlooking the Rhone River Valley where they live. Lifted up… high into the heavens … with the sun streaming down, the peace of Christ permeates the world.
May that peace be yours today, my friend. May you find joy and comfort in Him. May He be the reason you can “sing His praises all day long.” God bless and keep you.
Share with us your reason for a sense of peace and hope in today’s troubled world.
For God did not give us A spirit of cowardice, But rather a spirit of power and of love and self-discipline.
2 Timothy 1:7
Do we have enough self-discipline To take advantage of this time – This time to just BE and just LOVE And make the world a better place?
Ann Weems, in Putting the Amazing Back in Grace, wrote: “Remember, you’re in charge of remembering that God is in charge, and that’s a big job that will last a lifetime.”
God’s got this!! Have a peace-filled Sunday, my friends.
Oh, and in case you, like us, missed church today, here is the sermon for today that our pastor, Rev. Steve Hundley sent out via e-mail.
Find a comfortable chair, grab a cup o’ tea or coffee, and augment your Sunday with a worshipful, inspiring message:
INSTRUCTIONS FOR LIFE
Read Psalm 23
Not long after becoming the pastor of three small churches in the mountains of Virginia, I was asked to give the Baccalaureate Address to the graduating class of Bath County High School. It used to be, at least in the Bible Belt where I grew up, that local high schools have both a Baccalaureate and Graduation ceremony. The Baccalaureate was held one evening, a day or two before the actual Graduation Commencement. And it was tradition to invite a religious leader in the community to speak. However, I’m not sure that the message I delivered was what the school administration, or even the students, had in mind.
In most cases, the message given would be a positive one meant to motivate the students to go out and change the world, such as: “You are God’s ambassadors, the hope for a broken world!” Or: If you can imagine it, you can achieve it; if you can dream it, you can become it.” Or, perhaps: “Shoot for the Moon, for even if you miss, you’ll find yourself among the stars!” Most Baccalaureate, as well as, Commencement speakers would have them believe that they can be and do anything they set their minds to, (but with God’s help, of course).
I, however, felt that it was my duty to inform them that they were nothing but a bunch of “harebrained” sheep. I saw that! You raised your eyebrows, didn’t you? (Note from JanBeek, see the picture of sheep I put at the end of this sermon!)
Yet, that is what the Bible says. Yes, as much as we would like to think of ourselves as having the heart of a lion, we share more in common with sheep.
You see, like sheep, we tend to stray easily and lose our way. I’ve have been told that if one sheep spooks and tears off in one direction, all the others will follow. Imagine a bunch of sheep running up a hill. Suddenly the one in front makes a sudden left turn, and all the others, with no questions asked, mindlessly follow. If the one leading heads right off a cliff, tumbling to its death, all the others follow right off the cliff as well. But, you say, “We’re not like that!”
I heard recently about a young married couple. The wife bought a country ham to cook for her husband’s family who were coming over for dinner. Before putting it in a pot to bake it, she cut both ends off. “Why did you do that,” her husband asked. “I did it because that is the waymy mother always did it,” she said. Calling her mother on the phone, she asked: “Mom, why do we cut the ends off a ham before cooking it?” “I don’t know. I do it because it is the way my mother always did it.” Calling up her grandmother, she asked, “Grandmother, why do we cut the ends off a ham before baking it?” “I don’t know why you and your mother do it, but I always did it because it wouldn’t fit in my small baking pan.”
Yes, if one sheep spooks and tears off, all the others will follow. Still, you say, “We are smarter than that!” (Try to find a roll of toilet paper, or a bottle of hand sanitizer these days. Just saying.)
Attending a Montana State University lecture not long ago, the speaker, a journalist professor, pointed out just how partisan our country has become. He said that we have lost the will, and therefore, the ability to listen and dialogue with those who disagree with us. “We only listen to those news networks that confirm what we believe to be true,” he said. “We socialize with those who believe like us. In other words, we are like sheep who follow blindly our own flock.” Oh, by the way, did you know that a flock of sheep are called a “MOB?” Google it.
Secondly, sheep not only tend to follow their “mob”, they are also fragile creatures. Ken Davis, a comedian, tells of growing up on a sheep farm. He said there was an old ram on their farm that loved to sneak up behind him and butt him when he wasn’t looking. He hated that old ram. One day he spotted the old bruiser coming around the back of the barn. Determined to get back at that old ram, he looked around for something to hit him with. With nothing in sight and ram rounding the corner, Ken jumped out and hollered: “BOO!” It was all he could think to do.
“Startled,” Ken said, “that old ram just keeled over AND DIED!”
Later, his father confronted him, “Son, you hit that sheep, didn’t you?”
“No dad, I said, BOO! and it just died!”
A crack of thunder is all it takes to scare a sheep literally to death. As much as we like to think of ourselves as indestructible, this present pandemic and the fact you are reading this sermon in your own home, shows just how fragile we are. Our Lord Jesus said: “When you pray, say, ‘Our Father, who art in heaven…give us this day our daily bread…and, deliver us from evil’.”
Yes, we are like sheep who are in need of a Shepherd. We need help. Going it alone, depending on our own wiles, spells certain disaster. I remember one sheep herder/shepherd telling of turning his flock loose one night in the mountains to graze alone on their own. He knew it was a risk, because sheep cannot defend themselves, much less outrun, even the slowest predators. Sheep tend to go astray, grazing along without looking where they are going.
He did, however, leave them in the care of his trusty sheep dog. Locating them the next morning, he discovered that they had wandered into a rather rugged mountain park. Being the rather clumsy animals that they are, more than a few of them had managed to fall over while feeding on the uneven ground. He found sheep scattered around the meadow upside down on their backs unable to get up. He said: “I had to go around picking up sheep and placing them back on their feet.
The Prophet Isaiah warns the Israelites of the danger of going it alone. “See, the Lord’s arm is not too short to save … to pick you up when you have fallen.” (Isaiah 59:1)
While I doubt that anyone was prepared for me to compare the graduating class of Bath County High School to a “flock”, or should I say “mob” of sheep…the foolish notion that the future of the world rested on their shoulders is categorically untrue! The longer I live, the more I am convinced that what we need to make it in this world is not popularity and success, not financial wealth or even personal happiness.
What we need is Christ, the Good Shepherd, to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves and instruct us in the proper order of our lives. For, “The Lord is our Shepherd, we shall not want. He makes us lie down in green pastures; he leads us beside still waters; it is our Shepherd who restores our souls, who leads us in right paths. Even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we fear not evil…”
Notice how Psalm 23 reverses the order of how we tend to live our lives. It is our tendency to approach life head on, burning ourselves out. And then, turn back to God in search of rest and soul-restoration after a week of chasing the illusive American dream. Yet, notice that this Psalm reverses the order. First, there is the Shepherd who provides what we need most, rest and soul restoration. Only then is it possible to find meaning and purpose in God’s emerging kingdom or face dark valleys.
This is the blessing Jesus wanted Martha to see when she was burning herself out by busying herself in the kitchen. Jesus said to her: “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part…” (Luke 10:41-42).
Notice how the New Testament church began in Acts 2:46-47: “They followed a daily discipline of busying themselves with programs and activities, burning themselves out, so that people liked what they saw and everyday their numbers grew…” ??? NO! NO! NO!
It says: “They followed a daily discipline of worship in the temple, followed by meals together in their homes, every meal a celebration, exuberant and joyful, as they praised God. People in general liked what they saw. Everyday their numbers grew as God added those who were saved.”
Yes, Genesis tells us that “God created the world and on the seventh day, and then He rested.” That’s true, but WE ARE NOT GOD! Christ died for our sins, our weaknesses, and on the first day of the week He arose from the dead! So, we begin with rest, worship, and spiritual recreation before facing the challenges of daily living and serving our God.
We are His sheep, who find our rest in the arms of the Good Shepherd, so that He might equip us for the facing of this hour even as we face this dark valley of the shadow of death. For we are not alone, for God in Christ is with us. Amen.
Read Psalm 23 again.
In what new and unique way have you felt God’s comforting presence?
See ya tomorrow. Thanks for visiting JanBeek and for hangin’ in there together. Have a beautiful Sunday. Together, in FAITH, we shall overcome!!
My friend, Elaine, who has avoided poetry most of her life (after a high school experience in an English class (where diagramming sentences and picking poetry apart looking for rhythm and rhyme scheme and very hidden meaning turned her off) is discovering the poet in her soul! She sent me these Haiku. She wrote them this morning:
Our world is amiss One alone proves capable Gentle as a kiss
And here is Elaine’s second one:
Choose to share kindness Chaos only seems to reign Care completes circle
Kindness in Chaos?
In this crazy world where people sometimes are behaving irrationally, it is easy to write some people off and say they are off-limits! They are adding to the earth’s problems, rather than trying to solve them. One of my followers wrote this note yesterday:
“I’m all for being positive, Jan, but some people’s behaviour is sickening … like some here who are selling paracetamol on eBay for £10 and Calpol for ,£20!”
What to Do?
What should we do about those “sickening” people? Do we write off the toilet paper hoarders and the ones buying cases of hand sanitizer, and the price gougers? Do we condemn the politicians who sold off hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of stock after a preliminary briefing about the upcoming pandemic? Condemn ’em and throw all the bums out??
27 Jesus said in Luke 6:27-31 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.”
Kindness Rules! Kindness completes the circle of life as we want it to be.
Let your creativity reign. Give birth to your inner poet .
Be the change you wish to see in this world.
What kindness can you exhibit today to add love and sunshine to your home?