Loving One Another

Posts tagged ‘church’

Easter On-Line Service


Our pastor, Steve Hundley, and choir director, Fran McNiell, teamed up to present a wonderful on-line church service for us. It’s not a video. It’s a Word document with links to a couple of majestic Easter hymns performed by The Hereford Cathedral Choir and congregation with orchestral and pipe organ accompaniment.

Opening Prayer

Resurrected Lord, like Mary Magdalene alone in the garden we, too, find ourselves alone, separated from those we love on this Easter morning.  Risen Christ, come to us as You came to her.  Let no shadow of the grave terrify us and no fear of darkness turn our hearts from You.  Reveal Yourself to us this day and all the days ahead, as the first and the last, the Living One, our Immortal Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Celebrate the Empty Tomb

Today we celebrate the empty tomb and our risen Savior. Let us confess our shortcomings and ask our Savior to forgive us. Here is Pastor Steve Hundley’s

Prayer of Confession:

Almighty God, in raising Jesus from the grave, You shattered the power of sin and death.  We confess that we remain captive to doubt and fear, as CORVID 19 virus rampages through our world and alters our lives.  Forgive us, God of mercy.  Help us to trust Your power to heal, to give us life and make us new, that we may know the joy of life abundant given in Jesus Christ, the risen Lord.  Amen.

Assurance of Pardon: (I Corinthians 15:54-57)

“Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
“Where, O death, is Your victory?  Where, O death, is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Prayer for Illumination:

            God of life, whose Spirit raised Jesus from the dead and draws us to Christ, send Your Spirit now to give us deeper insight, encouragement, faith and hope, through the proclamation of the Easter gospel.  Amen.

Today’s sermon:

Overcoming Life’s Greatest Temptation

John 20:1-18

“Do not worry about anything.”  Paul said it.  Jesus preached it in His sermon on the Mount message.  It is Scripture to be obeyed.  But, is it really humanly possible not to worry about anything?  It is like telling a lame man to stop dragging his feet, or telling someone with a virus not to cough or sneeze so much.  If life were predictable, maybe we could avoid “worrying about anything.”  But as this deadly virus and empty pews on this Easter Sunday has reminded us, life is full of the unexpected—the unforeseen life interruptions that can turn our world upside down.

Of course, some unforeseen interruptions can be weathered better than others.  When an appliance breaks at the most inopportune time, it is annoying, but we can handle that.  Or, when we are late for an appointment and stuck in traffic.  I know, I know, this is Montana, but it can happen. 

And yet today, the whole world is in lockdown, in this, the mother and father of all unforeseen interruptions, and it has turned our lives upside down, stopping us dead in our tracks.  The boss says: “I am sorry but we are going to have to let you go,” leaving you without a job or health insurance.  The doctor says: “I’m afraid you’ve tested positive for the virus”; or, the paramedic says: “We did everything we could, but there is nothing more we could have done.”  And we wonder: “Why is this happening?  Where is God in all of this?”

Even though our faith assures us that God has a plan, it is little comfort as hopes, dreams, plans, and future crumble before us.  You see, the greater life’s interruption, the more it bleeds over into the love for whom we care most.

As a pastor, husband and father, I tended to be a bit of a workaholic with more than a healthy dose of guilt.  Some years ago, I was so caught up in my ministry that I was neglecting my own family.  Concerned that I was not spending enough time with my daughter, Elaine suggested that I plan some quality time with Bethany.  Elaine pointed out how much our daughter cherished the time I took her on a road trip to upstate NY.  We attended the Eastern Traditional Archery Rendezvous where we camped out and competed with traditional archers from all over the country.  My daughter described it as one of the best times of her life.

So, I suggested we take the same trip together.  She was beside herself with joy and could hardly contain herself as we began to pack the car for the eleven-hour trip.  I too, was so excited about getting away, I inadvertently left the car keys on the kitchen counter as I was telling Elaine “Goodbye”.  I ran back into the house, grabbed the keys and headed back out the door.  As I was about to climb into the driver’s seat, I looked up and saw Elaine standing at the edge of the porch with a concerned look on her face and the phone in her hand.  “What is it,” I called out?  “You really need to take this call,” she said.

Taking the phone, I learned that an elder and professor, beloved by her husband, young daughters, our congregation, and her students at the university, had just committed suicide.  No one saw it coming.  On any given Sunday, her face was the brightest and happiest face in the church choir.  She was so bright, bubbly, and attractive, that no one had the faintest idea that she had been fighting a long, but losing, battle with her own inner demon called “depression.”

 Stunned, I handed the phone back to Elaine, walked slowly to the car, leaned in and told my daughter that we would have to cancel our trip, for there had been a tragedy in the congregation.  I think what was most painful for me was the fact that my thirteen-year-old daughter didn’t cry.  She did not protest or fuss.  She just got out of the car, walked quietly to the house, passing her mother on the porch, never to mention the trip again.

Yes, life has always been filled with unexpected interruptions that catch us off guard, disrupt our lives, and keep us off balance.  What is so insidious about life’s interruptions, whether large or small, is that over time, they have the power to erode our trust and our very relationship with God.  For, those places where our faith is stretched so much, we begin to wonder whether we are actually “standing on the solid rock,” or whether it is “just shifting sand.”

Yet, in God’s great love and concern for us, and because of our inability to recognize God’s power over life’s greatest interruptions, God took a body like ours in order that we may witness God’s power more clearly in the life of Jesus.  In Christ, God has demonstrated for all the world to see His power over all life’s unexpected interruptions by: feeding the hungry masses, healing the sick, giving sight to the blind, making the lame to walk, and even by raising those who had died. 

In the person of Jesus Christ, God demonstrated for us that “nothing can separate us from His love for us in Christ: not life’s greatest interruptions; not even death, the greatest interruption of all.  And this is why, even in the face of this worldwide pandemic, we make our annual journey back to the empty tomb, remembering God’s all-encompassing power.

On this abnormal Easter morning, we remember how Christ’s own death on the cross interrupted the lives of his disciples and the life of Mary Magdalene.  We remember how they must have felt, when all that they had believed in and hoped for, was buried and entombed with the body of Jesus.

We remember Mary Magdalene and how devastated and alone she must have felt, there at the empty tomb.  Not only had they killed her Lord, but it seemed someone had even stolen His body, denying her closure.  Of course, Jesus warned them that this was to fulfill all scripture, but Mary didn’t understand the scriptures.  Peter did not understand the scriptures.  None of the disciples understood the scriptures.

Besides, who is “the other disciple” who entered the empty tomb and believed?  For that matter, what did he believe?  Did he believe that Christ had risen from the dead, or did he simply believe what Mary said was true, that the stone had been rolled away and the body was stolen?  After all, John says, “they left there and returned to their homes.”  And who is this “unnamed disciple?”  Is this simply a reference to John, or is it a reference to you and me, at home on this Easter morning?

Of course we remember that Mary lingered at the empty tomb, frozen in grief.  But then, the risen Christ appeared to her, called her by name, proving that not even death can interrupt God’s gift of everlasting life.  We remember, in spite of our own loss of life as we have known it, how Mary, overcome by shock and joy, threw her arms around Jesus, clinging to Him as if somehow she might shield Him from life’s greatest interruption once and for all.  Still, just being alive is not enough.  We remember on this Easter morning that Jesus is alive to do something for all humanity.

We remember on this Easter Sunday that:

Jesus is alive to make us all alive again.

Jesus is alive to make His God, our God; His Father, our Father.

Jesus is alive to raise us up from our own chaos and loss.

Jesus is alive to raise us up from death’s destructive power.

Jesus is alive to raise us up from every unexpected interruption that would threaten to separate us from the love of God.

JESUS IS ALIVE!

YES!  We remember that “JESUS CHRIST IS RISEN TODAY!”  And that the life, hope, love, and peace He gives can overcome all of life’s greatest interruptions!

YES!  DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP IN VICTORY!  O DEATH, WHERE IS THY VICTORY?  O DEATH, WHERE IS THY STING?

Let’s sing of His Victory over death. Let’s lift our voices in praise!

Pastoral Prayer

Almighty God, on this triumphant day, we know that the whole host of heaven—angels, seraphs, and cherubim raise their voices singing “Alleluia,” for Christ the Lord is risen today.  We want to join them, even though we are confined and suffering and the hands of a hidden and insidious enemy.  We want to sing with the pure joy of those who celebrate the life You give in Jesus Christ.  Give us freedom this day to lift our voices with all of heaven as we celebrate Christ’s victory over death.

Oh God, on this day some find it difficult to be glad.  For them, life has too much pain.  The present pandemic will not let them own too much hope.  Some are angry in their loneliness.  Some are worried about family. 

We pray for each other in this unwanted, but necessary, internment.  Touch us in our individual need.  Free us today to be glad; to rejoice in the promise of newness of life; to let our hope out of its prison.  Free us to shout and make joyful Alleluias. You know that we need to celebrate for You have done great things for us in the resurrection of Jesus.

O God, You know that we do not understand all there is to know about the resurrection.  You know that we have questions, we have our doubts, we want to believe, we do believe, we wonder about our own belief.  But on this day, help us to understand just enough about what faith means, that we are willing to let faith be what it should be; deep conviction without proof, trust without protested guarantees, joy in a promise which does not have to be fulfilled before it can be enjoyed. 

Yes, on this day grant us the freedom to rejoice and sing glad Alleluias, for “Thine Is the Glory, Risen, conquering Son; Endless is the victory Thou o’er death hast won!” 

As Christ bursts forth from the tomb,

May new life burst forth from us

And show itself in acts of love and healing
to our hurting world.

And may that same Christ,
who lives forever and is the source of our new life,

Keep your hearts rejoicing
and grant you peace this day and always. 

Amen.

Go Now!
for you cannot go where God is not.
Go with noble purpose,
and God will give meaning to Your days.
Go in love,
for it alone endures.
Go in peace,
for it is the gift of God
to those whose hearts and minds
are in Christ Jesus our Lord. 
Amen.

Spread Love & Hope!


Beautiful Words of Love

O love that will not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in Thee;
I give Thee back the life I owe,
That in Thine ocean depths its flow
May richer fuller be.

O joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to Thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain
That morn shall tearless be.

Today’s Worship Service

In the absence of a worship service in our church today because of COVID-19 and the need for social-distancing, our worship service was e-mailed to us. The hymns I include in this blog were chosen by our pastor Steve and our music director, Fran McNeill, and then e-mailed to us from our Madison Valley Presbyterian Church here in Ennis, Montana today.

The following sermon by Pastor Steve Hundley was printed for us to “hear” in the privacy of our homes. It is powerful!

Please take your precious time now and hear it with me:

Today’s Sermon

TRUSTING GOD IN THIS DARK TIME

Read: Psalm 130

Read: Romans 8

Some years ago, Rabbi Harold Kushner wrote a book entitled, “WHEN BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE.”  He wrote this book in response to the death of his 14-year-old son, Aaron, from a rare disease called “Progeria” which causes the body to age and die prematurely.

In his bestselling book, Rabbi Kushner concluded that we must decide between a God who is infinitely powerful, but not loving enough to prevent such tragedies as the suffering and death of his 14-year-old son, or, a God who is all loving but not all-powerful.  “You can’t have it both ways,” he says, “we must choose: all-powerful or all-loving.”

Yet as Christians, we believe that:

  1. Evil exists in this world, causing bad things to happen to good people, so evident in these past weeks of the COVID 19 pandemic.
  2. Secondly, we believe that our God is all-powerful; and
  3. Thirdly, we believe that our God is a loving God.

Now, I admit that our dilemma is that we can reconcile any two of the above philosophically, but not all three.  For example:  If evil exists in the world, how can a loving God be all-powerful?  Or, if God is all loving and all-powerful how can evil possibly exist?

Still, the Bible does not deal with human, philosophical questions, as much we would prefer it be so.  Instead, the Bible deals with divine faith questions.  So, even if we cannot know philosophically how evil can exist in light of God who is all-powerful and all-loving, what we “can” know from scripture is that “no matter what evils or tragedies we face in life, our God will not desert us.”  And, knowing that is enough. 

Yes, it is enough for most of us—most of the time.  But, in moments like this, that alone may not be enough.  When our entire world is paralyzed by this current pandemic, it is difficult in this dark hour not to cry out to God: “WHY, OH WHY, GOD?”  I don’t mean to make you feel guilty, for It is only human to want to know “WHY?”

I don’t know about you, but I find myself cringing every time I hear someone in the media refer to this COVID 19 pandemic as “AN ACT OF GOD.”  In all fairness, I realize it is an accepted way for referring to any such natural disaster.  Still, I am uncomfortable attributing such death and tribulation to the will of God.  As someone said: “If God is light,” according to Holy Scripture, “then why should we impart darkness to God?”

Visiting a young couple who stopped coming to church after their only child died of cancer, their pastor pleaded: “You can’t stop believing in God because of what has happened, can you?”  “Oh, I still believe in God,” said the grieving father, “I don’t come to church anymore because I hate God!”

It is for people much like that father that I have chosen to venture further out on the “thin ice” of what is called “the Theodicy Problem”, that is: “Why do bad things happen to good and innocent people?” 

So, I humbly dare to venture forward on behalf of all around this world who have suffered or lost loved ones in the midst of this unprecedented natural disaster that has and will continue to cost so many lives.

Let me begin by saying that the Bible, as I understand it, speaks of our all-powerful God who does not completely control everything in our fallen creation because of the limitations God has placed on God’s self in order to allow us freedom of faith.  Without freedom, there could be no faith.  Faith, by its very definition, requires us the freedom to love and believe in God, or to reject belief and love for God.  God does not desire us to be puppets, manipulated into having to believe in or love God.  Therefore, our God has granted us, and creation itself, freedom by relinquishing total control over our lives and the world.

The Bible speaks of Satan—and other dark forces at work in this world.  And, our own human experiences confirm that there is a dynamic evil force that exercises a powerful presence in our world contrary to the will of God.

“Yet, God in Christ,” writes Paul to the Roman Church, “broke the power of these dark forces on the cross,” which means that we are dealing now with mortally wounded, though still very dangerous “principalities” and “dark powers.”  Bad things continue to befall good people because these dark forces are still alive, powerful, and enemies of all that is good in this world.

As Christians, in this Easter Season, we have hope and assurance that through Christ and His resurrection, God’s eventual victory over the evil in our world is a foregone conclusion.  But, until that time “when every knee shall bow and every tongue confess Jesus Christ is Lord,” our God will do all that can be done to drive back these dark forces and utterly destroy them, as we continually pray and serve Him until God’s Kingdom comes on earth as it is in Heaven. 

Until that time, says Paul in Romans 8:19-23:

Creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.  We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.

In his book: “Christ and Time”, Oscar Cullmann uses the analogy of WWII to illustrate our and creation’s struggle against the powers of darkness.  He makes a clear distinction between two definitive days of the war: D-Day and V-Day.  D-Day was the day Allied Forces landed in Normandy and established a beachhead.  The strategizing generals on both sides recognized that the outcome of war was decided on that fateful day, June 1944. 

They understood that if the enemy had driven the Allies back into the sea, the Nazis would have won the war.  However, the Allied Armies prevailed in Normandy and sealed the doom of the evil Nazi regime.  Still, in spite of the triumph of D-Day, the Allies had not yet totally subdued the enemy.  Between D-Day and V-Day (Victory Day), there would be many months of suffering, death, and struggle.  There would be horrendous battles as the Allied Army, little by little, pushed back the Nazi forces.  Still, the ensuring battles would culminate in “Victory Day,” which marked the complete surrender of the enemy and the total liberation of Europe.

So you see, the cross and resurrection of Jesus were our D-Day.  God in Jesus won the decisive battle over evil and death in this world.  However, God and His children, as well as nature itself, continue to face struggles while driving back the forces of darkness whose power has been broken.  Still, dark forces are alive in the world and free to raise havoc.  God’s V-Day is not yet here!  However, we can be confident in God’s triumph over evil and death (and COVID 19), because we know how it will end. 

Or, as Paul says:

Who (or what) shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine or nakedness, or peril, or sword (or this COVID 19 pandemic)?  As it is written, “For Your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.  For I am sure that neither, death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8: 35-39)

Pastoral Prayer:

(Written by Rev. Steve Hundley and printed in our worship e-mail)

“In midst of life, O Lord, our lives have been interrupted by death: the death of our normal routine, the death of worship as we have always done it, the death of life as we have known it, the death of our personal plans, the death of innocence, the death of institutions, the death of promises, the death of those we love, the death that works in our own bodies.

In spite of our broken dreams we give You thanks for the gospel of Jesus Christ, whose message is not death but life: the life of the Spirit, the life of dreams, the life of faith, the life of love, the life of justice; life for the small people of the world, life for the meek, life for the broken and rejected, life for the diseased and afflicted, life for our loved ones, and life for us.

Lord, we pray for those who need hope, healing, and grace.  We hold up before you those who are alone and isolated, those who are sick, and those who are scared of what the future holds for them. Lord, help us to discover new ways of living: living for Christ, living for those around us, living for this frightened world, living for Your Kingdom.  Let the Christ of the empty tomb make empty tombs of all our disappointments and fears.  Come and reign over us, now and in the days ahead and forever and ever. Amen”

Verse One:
God be with you till we meet again; By His counsels guide, uphold you,
With His sheep securely fold you; God be with you till we meet again.

Chorus:
Till we meet, till we meet; till we meet at Jesus’ feet;
Till we meet, till we meet, God be with you till we meet again.

Verse Two:
God be with you till we meet again; ‘Neath His wings protect and guide you,
Daily manna still provide you. God be with you till we meet again.

Verse Three:
God be with you till we meet again; When life’s perils thick confound you,
Put His arms unfailing around you; God be with you till we meet again.

Verse Four:
God be with you till we meet again; Keep love’s banner floating o’er you,
Smite death’s threatening wave before you; God be with you till we meet again.

(Back to chorus)

Photo by 42 North on Pexels.com

Spread Love and Hope

I pray you found love and hope in these songs, these words, and these prayers.

If you did, as I did, you can spread love and hope by forwarding this post to your friends and family. Or you can sit with those in your household (as I did with my husband this morning) and read/sing these messages together. Or you can do both!

God’s got us in the palm of His hand.
He never fails us.
Spread His love and hope to this hurting world today.

Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com

God bless you.
See ya tomorrow.



Remembering Jesus’ Baptism


This Sunday we attended church at the Bloom in the Desert Ministries in Palm Springs, CA. As usual, I took notes while listening to the sermon.

The scripture was Matthew 3:13-17

“Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. John tried to dissuade Jesus by saying, I should be baptized by you, and yet you come to me!” But Jesus replied, “Leave it this way for now. We must do this to completely fulfill God’s justice.” So John reluctantly agreed. Immediately after Jesus had been baptized and was coming up out of the water, the sky suddenly opened up and Jesus saw the spirit of God descending as a dove and hovering over him. With that, a voice from the heavens said, “This is my Own, my Beloved, on whom favor rests.”

Through my poetic filter, this is what I heard as Reverend Kevin A. Johnson’s message:

The proper completion of a called journey
Is the return… the coming back.
In our creed, Jesus went down and came back.
The Jews and Greeks both were taught that fact.

Today’s scripture tells us that baptism
Is personal, and effective for life.
Some believe as babies, others think when older,
Is the appropriate time to wash away strife.

Baptism is a remarkable, memorable event.
It’s a ritual recorded long before Jesus was born.
A thousand years earlier, immersion was practiced.
The dove hovering was a symbol that glorious morn.

It symbolized the love of God entering in.
Baptism is a commitment – a starting point.
It doesn’t matter if it’s in the Jordan River,
Or if it’s in some crumby back-street joint.

Baptism is a time to promise a mind-set
That puts love, compassion, and respect first.
It’s a universal embrace of Jesus’ teachings –
A chance to promise, and then daily rehearse.

Photo by Sravan Reddy Sane on Pexels.com

Timing

Baptism can occur as a teen or an adult when the person is “of the age of reason” and chooses to publicly agree to live a life of love in God’s grace, with compassion and respect for others, following God’s commandments.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Or – baptism can occur as an infant. In that case, it is the promise of the parents to raise this child in love, teaching the child to obey the commandments … living in grace and obedience.

Remembering

Do you remember your baptism? I don’t remember mine. My sister and I were baptized when she was about two and I was an infant. There are no pictures, no certificates, no proof… but my sis says she remembers it, and my mom said it happened. So I should believe them.

However, as Rev. Kev said at the beginning of his message, baptism is a part of a journey… and it requires the return, the coming back. Rev. Kev showed us the certificate of his baptism. He can tell you the date, the place, and the time – and he went through confirmation later as a youngster (maybe about age 12) at which time he reaffirmed his parents’ baptismal promises.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Baptism’s Purpose and Proof

I tried to locate my baptismal records. However, the church where my baptism supposedly occurred no longer exists. Decades ago a fire destroyed it and all the records that were in it.

Baptism is an act of obedience symbolizing the believer’s faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Savior. It testifies to the believer’s death to sin, the burial of the old life, and the resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus. It is a testimony to the believer’s faith in the final resurrection of the dead. Do I doubt my faith in the risen Savior or question my membership in God’s family? Not for a minute!

Baptism has been a symbolic way of joining the Church from the very start of Christianity. The water used is a symbol of washing away sin and the start of a new life. Do I think perhaps I am not “a Child of God” because I don’t have the paperwork to prove my sin was “washed away”? No!!

But would I like to be able to say I have experienced a “proper completion of a called journey” by finishing the trip, coming back to my baptismal roots? Yes!

Baptism is Once and for All

Sometimes I question if infant baptism is once and for all. I wonder if perhaps I should be baptized as an adult now. Do you think at 80 I should reaffirm the baptismal vows that my mom agreed to when I was an infant?

Today’s sermon reminding us to remember Jesus’ baptism and affirming the importance of baptism has me pondering these questions.

What do you you think? Give me your thoughts.

See ya tomorrow

Be Kind – Be Right


Happy Sunday to you, my friends.
What are your plans for today?
Whatever you do,
wherever you go
(even if you stay home),
you will have an opportunity
to be kind
(even if only to yourself).

Choose kindness.
Be right!

Multi-Language Service

If you have followed my blog for a week or more, you know I attend church on Sundays and as I hear the message, I take notes – usually in poetry.

Today we attended the First Presbyterian Church in Redlands, CA. It is a beautiful church in the heart of the city with a mission statement: “Living in the Heart and Mind of Christ at the Heart of the City.” The service was conducted with five languages spoken alternately while the English translations were printed in the bulletin.

It was WONDERFUL to hear the melodic and unusual tongues of Urdu, Indonesian, Banyan, and Chichewa spoken – as well as the familiarity of English.

The pastor, Cheryl Raine, spoke on the topic, “The Mind of Christ.” The scripture on which the sermon was based, Philippians 2:5-8 was read orally in a language I had never heard of before. English-only folks like me read it in English in the bulletin while we listened with fascination to Wilson Kayange whose native language is Chichewa.

Sermon Notes

Morning has broken… like the first day –
Blackbird has spoken … here’s what he’ll say:
Look for the sunrise… it’s the new year –
Praise for the morning… filled with good cheer.

We are God’s people … we live in His love.
We are Christ’s people… we need a good shove!
We try not to stagnate … living in our own will.
We empty ourselves … and try to let Jesus refill.

Leaning on our own mindfulness… we stumble and fall.
We’re two days out from Epiphany … listen for His call.
He asks for patience and grace … decisions slow made.
He tells us to avoid selfishness… my renewal was paid.

Paid by our Lord … with His blood on the cross.
We’re asked to set aside self-interest … at Jesus’ cost.
Self-empty to love and serve others … As an offering, place
our lives before God… Pray daily for His extravagant grace.

Transform my mind … make it more like Christ’s mind.
Give me obedience … and cause me to be kind.
Give me extraordinary focus … on the way I can link
my mind to others’ needs … Let Your love escape with every blink!

The essence of His love… is lodged in me and grows
with each day I live and breathe … and God knows
I am choosing self-emptying … instead of selfishness.
God help me to live in Your will each day … in selflessness.

Amen

Following the sermon, there were more prayers and affirmations in the various languages before we sang one of the closing hymns… a favorite of mine: “Take Thou Our Minds, Dear Lord.”

Our unison prayer,
following the offering of our gifts,
affirmed the sermon message
and the inspiration of the hymn’s words:

“Holy God, thank you for reminding us
that we are to have the same mind as Christ Jesus,
for Christ willingly emptied himself for the sake of others.
In humility, we gathered these first gifts
of the new year for your ministries
through this beloved faith community.
Help us to be ever faithful
to your word and your ways
as we seek to glorify you with our very lives.
Amen.”

As I left the service and digested the messages of kindness, self-emptying, love, and selflessness … the importance of adopting “The Mind of Christ,” I found this meme. The “listening and loving” and the “be at peace with herself” resonated with me. The “healthy boundaries” are important as we seek to live with “the mind of Christ” in a spirit of joy – the spirit Christ personified.

Happiness in Kindness

As I sang,
“Teach us to know the Truth that sets us free”
and “Use us to make the earth like Heaven above,”
and “… yield ourselves to Thee, time, talents, all,”
I realized that when I yield to God’s will,
spread love and peace
using my time and talents,
and wear laughter and curiosity,
spreading kindness,
I am not only making myself happier,
but I am spreading happiness to those around me.

Photo by Jill Wellington on Pexels.com

Choose kindness.
Be right!


What will you do today to
spread happiness to those around you?

See ya tomorrow

20/20 Clarity


The word for this new year is CLARITY.

Do you have 20/20 vision?

CLARITY

It did not occur to me until yesterday that the decade to come, the 2020s, lends itself so perfectly to the idea of CLARITY. When you have 20/20 vision, you have CLARITY. You have perfect eyesight.

The message at the “Jesus Culture” church in Folsom Sunday was delivered by a dynamic young woman named, Debra Giles, whose topic , “Every Word,” was all about looking into scripture, and looking at ourselves, and looking toward the future with Clarity.

20/20 VISION
(12-29-19 sermon notes)

This is the end of
The fuzzy and mean teens decade.
This is the beginning of
20/20 Clarity. You are made
In God’s image and you’ll see
Clearly in these next ten years.
You are made in God’s image,
And you will hear through 20/20 ears.
You are made in God’s image
And this is the decade to say
What is in your heart.
Speak clearly from your 20/20 heart today.
Speak, hear, and see with Clarity.

Amen?
Amen!

20/20 Clear Vision or Blurry?

As you welcome this new year, this decade of the 2020s, are you wiping the clouds from your life? Are you sweeping the fuzzy deterrents from your path? Are you putting away the distractions that keep you from moving forward with clarity? Have you decided what those things are?

Looking Clearly Forward and Backward

I am looking through 20/20 lenses at the freshness of this new day. I am looking at opportunities with clear anticipation. I am taking a backward glance at the things we have given away… and am grateful for the love and joy those things are bringing to others.

An example of such a thing given away is the little red Porsche that Bob & I used as our only means of transportation when we were first married. It is definitely a California car and I can see with clarity that it belongs here, with our son, Ty, and not parked in a garage in Montana because the dirt roads and snow-covered terrain are not conducive to safety for its low-slung frame. Our son loves it… and is taking such good care of it. Clearly, it belongs here!

With clear vision, I am looking forward to a future filled with new joys, new opportunities, and new friends. I see our church growing in love and filled with the Holy Spirit. I see our neighborhood enhanced by new (and old) friends building new homes and moving into our “hood” with their uniqueness and their hospitality a welcomed addition.

Welcome to Ennis

Happy New Year

It’s New Years Day, and many people are creating their list of New Year’s Resolutions. Can you see with clarity what your 2020 commitments need to be?

We were asked at dinner last night what our plans for the new year are. What are our commitments/resolutions? We went around the table. My grand-son-inlaw, Kyle, had a wonderful, impressive list. I commend him for his 20/20 vision of what he hopes to accomplish. When it came my turn, I said, “Walk the Talk” – – – see why?

What is your 20/20 Vision?

Have a wonderful January 1st – and do
“Walk the Talk!”

See ya tomorrow

My Prayer For You


We had a wonderful day yesterday – the day of Bob’s 81st birthday. It started at our son’s house in Placerville where happiness definitely knocked on our door and entered in full array!

We went to church with our family at “Jesus Culture” in Folsom. We filled a row in the congregation of more than 1,500 people. It was amazing! Every seat was filled. People were standing in the aisles. The music and the message were God-inspired.

After church we visited dear, long-time friends whom we had not seen in a decade. We learned that our friend has stayed in touch with us (between years of Christmas cards) by following my Facebook posts. She doesn’t click “like” or leave a message, so I had no idea that she was one of my regular followers. When we got together, the years dissolved … and it was like we had never been apart. Do you have friends like that?

After that wonderful visit, with a delicious lunch and memorable, heart-felt, warm conversation, we returned to our son’s house where we celebrated Bob’s 81st birthday. Our daughter-in-law and granddaughter made Bob’s favorite birthday “cake,” a Jamoca-Almond-Fudge pie. Mmmm!

I pray that the happiness we feel be in your heart today. May it knock on your door, stay late, and leave the gifts of peace, love, joy and good health behind.

Happy December 30th.
Have a wonderful day.
See ya tomorrow.

God’s Miracle: Church


Sermon notes from today’s service in Ennis. Montana – Rev. Steve Hundley
Taken in poetry as I listened – written through JanBeek’s filters.

Church: A Miracle of God

I can’t scold you today –
Not because we are in this place,
Not because I’m in a good mood,
But because of the love in this space.

Because of the words of Paul
(the ones our Paul read so well today),
I am encouraged to join in
With what Gentle Jesus had to say.

He wrote to the Thessalonians
While he was out traveling, making a tent,
“We were gentle among you,” He said.
“We spoke soft words – whispered encouragement.”

Paul’s words to other churches
Were not so gentle and kind.
But to the Thessalonians, He set aside
Sternness – and praised the ties that bind.

The Gospel is a powerful book.
It can and does transform lives.
We are astonished at how God’s Word
Teaches, changes folks, lives, and survives.

The church, like the one in Thessalonica,
Is a place where people love and give.
They pray for you, they stay with you,
They make life better and help you live.

Our old church in McAllister, Montana was built in the early 1900s.
It has no running water, so when we use it for church services
once a year, we have to rent a porta-potty, chase the mice away,
and clean the mouse droppings from the chairs and alter.

But, it is a place that reminds of how simple God’s church can be.
It doesn’t have to be a large, elaborate cathedral to be worshipful.

Photo by Adrienn on Pexels.com

It is not the building that makes a church. In the early days, many of the “church services” were held in people’s homes. Some people in today’s world still hold their worship services in living rooms, tents, or on an open hillside. The Miracle of God that is His Church is not the place, but the people.

Photo by Luis Quintero on Pexels.com

Wherever we gather, with the focus on worship of our God, He is with us.
That’s what Paul was telling the church of Thessalonica.

1 Thessalonians 2:9-13 was what
our scripture volunteer,
Paul Carlson, read to us today:

“Surely you remember, brothers and sisters,
our toil and hardship;
we worked night and day
in order not to be a burden to anyone
while we preached the gospel of God to you.
You are witnesses, and so is God,
of how holy, righteous, and blameless
we were among you who believed.
For you know that we dealt with each of you
as a father deals with his own children,
encouraging, comforting and urging you
to live lives worthy of God,
who calls you into His kingdom and glory.
And we also thank God continually because,
when you received the word of God,
which you heard from us,
you accepted it not as a human word,
but as it actually is, the word of God,
which is indeed at work in you who believe.”

As Christians, members of His Church, that is our goal: to hear His Word, and respond to it by encouraging, comforting, and urging fellow Christians to live lives that demonstrate He is indeed at work in us. That is what makes our church “God’s Miracle.” Not the building, but we, the people.

Whether we are in our old McAllister treasure, or our salmon-colored church in downtown Ennis, our job is to love one another, support one another, and spread the Word to those who may not know the Peace of Christ that “passeth all understanding.”

Philippians 4:7
“And the peace of God,
which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds
in Christ Jesus.”

Photo by Nitin Arya on Pexels.com

God Bless You, my friends.
I hope you have the joy
of a supportive church family.
And I pray that you are one of those
who is God’s hand at work in this world.
Have a lovely Sunday night.

See ya tomorrow.

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