Loving One Another

Posts tagged ‘church’

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.

What is Heaven Like?


Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

If you’ve followed my blog for a week or more,
You know that I attend the Presbyterian Church
in Ennis, Montana each Sunday, and I take sermon notes.
I take them in poetry – that’s just the way my brain
filters the message as I hear it.
It helps me listen, and remember,
and share with Bob when we get home.

Today’s sermon by our pastor, Rev. Steve Hundley, was
titled, “What is Heaven Like?”
Here’s my take-away on it:

If Heaven is as it should be,
Then I’m gonna sit on the bank
Of a beautiful river with my rod
And thank God for every yank.

But I know Heaven is beyond
My wildest imagination.
I know it’ll be flowing with life,
With no death, tears or stagnation.

I’m gonna ask God for help to
Understand what Heaven is like;
And since I have a Harley here,
I’m gonna ask if I’ll have my bike.

I’m gonna ask God for help to
Understand how I’ll recognize
The loved ones who went before me.
Will I know ’em when I look in their eyes?

Our Bible assures us that we
Will experience joy beyond bounds,
So I’m sure I’ll know the angels
Who’ll welcome me with glorious sounds.

I know I’ll be healed and whole
In Eternity with those I love.
So, Heaven will be as it should be
When I join my Lord in Heaven above.

When I get to Heaven, I’m gonna
Run and leap like a frisky deer.
So, when I leave this earth, friends,
Don’t weep, don’t cry; Take joy and cheer!

Bikers will find their Harley, and …
I’ll meet my Bostons there!
And Jesus will meet me at the Pearly Gates!

It’ll be Thanksgiving
with all our loved ones gathered ’round,
and it’ll feel like a Homecoming!

What do you think?
Will you be flying solo?

Hah!
See ya tomorrow.

Are You a Natural?


Are You a Natural?

A Natural WHAT?
You want to be NATURAL…
But, NATURAL WHAT?

In today’s sermon, Rev. Steve Hundley at the Madison Valley Presbyterian Church used this as his sermon topic: “The Natural.”

If you’ve followed my blog for awhile, you know I have a habit of taking notes in poetry while listening to the sermon. It helps me listen better, and recall the message later on. I like to share my notes with you. Here are today’s:

The advertisement asked for
A new pastor for a tired church,
Worn down and worn out.
They were left in the lurch.

The Hebrew Church felt
The way this ad describes.
Weak knees and weak hands was
How they were depicted by scribes.

Jesus, the High Priest, is superior,
The scribes reminded them.
Pay attention to what He said and did.
They were given a long list from Him.

Be kind to strangers, remembering
You may be entertaining angels.
Be kind to one another, because
You, too, will someday be strangers.

Be kind and compassionate
Until that behavior is natural.
When people call you Christ-like,
Be sure that remark is factual.

Remember those who are suffering
As if you’re suffering, too.
Pay attention to those around –
They surely need love from you,

Behavior becomes a habit
If you practice it enough.
So, practice loving behavior
Until sharing it ain’t so tough!

Become a NATURAL Christian,
One who loves without a second thought.
Help us, Lord, to use our lessons daily –
Being as Christ-like as we’ve been taught.

Photo by Wendy van Zyl on Pexels.com

If I have the courage to “be myself” while realizing “I am a wonderful person,” then I need to be analytical. WHAT is it that I have been TAUGHT? And are all those lessons the ones I need in order to be a “Natural” at being a “Christian”? What does being a “Natural Christian” mean?

I need to ask myself, “Have you practiced loving behavior enough to be a natural at it? What’s your first response in the face of strangers?”

What do you think, friends, what are you a Natural at?

See ya later

Using Our Gifts?


Are we Using our Gifts?

Today’s sermon notes from the message delivered at
The Madison Valley Presbyterian Church
Ennis, Montana
by Rev. Steve Hundley
inspired by the message Paul wrote to
the church in Corinth: 1Cor.1:1-9

It’s really not OK to live in your own little world, keep your gifts to yourself, and fail to step out with courage and faith to share the spiritual gifts God has given you. Today’s message focused on the problem we have when we hoard our gifts, keep the to ourselves, fail to use our talents to glorify God and benefit others. Steve Hundley called his sermon “The Gifted Church.”

I listened and noted the message through my own filters writing:

Paul wrote four letters
To the Corinth people.
The church there had problems;
They struggled ‘neath their steeple.
But it wasn’t a typical
Place with steeple on a peak.
Instead, they met in a house
Large enough to fit those who who seek
To worship God through Christ.
It was an urban setting.
The church was being attacked
By the townfolk who were vetting
Their frustration at Christians.
There was a gap between rich and poor.
It was a hindrance to worship
When the poor were scorned by those with more.

Corinth was a diverse city.
The church was diverse as well;
But their real problem was their gifts
With which they were gifted. (Do tell!)
We are weakest at the point
Of our greatest gift, when it
Is a crutch, not shared, not used
To glorify God, help others, and send it
Out to make the world better.

But when we use our gifts
To be part of something bigger –
And we thank God who lifts
Us up, then our gifts are used
To make our talents worthwhile.
Like the people of Corinth,
We must not let our gifts go into a pile
Where they are lost and wasted.

Talents not shared are wasted gifts.
There are talents everywhere,
But until we use them for others,
who will know? Who will care?
This is a church full of talented people
Whose gifts are very apparent.
You use them here and in the community.
You spread your joy; your love is transparent.

If Paul were alive today,
He would write a letter to praise you.
Keep on sharing, caring, using your gifts –
And let His loving spirit raise you
To His blessings.

Amen

What talent are you willing to share this week? Make your gifts count!

.

See ya tomorrow

In the Same Boat


Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

SERMON NOTES

Bible Reference

Rev. Steve Hundley’s sermon topic today at the Madison Valley Presbyterian Church in Ennis, MT was “We’re All in the Same Boat.” It was inspired by the story in Matthew 14:22-36. Jesus commanded the disciples to get in the boat and sail out to sea while He went off to be alone for awhile. Then – in the darkness of a stormy night – He walked on the water to go out to them. Seeing Jesus walking on water toward them, Peter asked to be able to do likewise. The Lord told him to come ahead – and he did. All went well until he looked down at the growing waves, became fearful, and started to sink. “Why did you doubt?” Jesus asked him as he helped Peter back onto the boat.

Ah, courage and faith – that’s what it takes.
But only God can walk on water.

Sermon notes taken while Steve shared his message:

We’re All in the Same Boat

Jesus is the Loving Shepherd
But He is also our Commander.
He is gentle and kind, we know,
But we realize He’s a Great Demander.

Why did Jesus order His disciples
To go and get in the boat?
It was midnight, afterall!
Was that a good time to go for a float?

The earliest idea of the church
Was the image of a boat’s belly.
We’re all in this boat together.
It’s dark, stormy, and chilly.

We’re rowing as hard as we can –
And don’t seem to make any headway.
We’re busy trying to make it on our own,
Too busy to hear what God has to say.

But God comes walking on the water,
And He says, “Fear not, it is I.”
We look and doubt and test Him saying,
If it is You, save me!” Oh my!

Only God/Jesus can walk on water.
Sometimes our job is just to cling
To the boat and don’t presume
We can go it alone. Just trust and sing!

Following the sermon, we sang this song,
“We All Are One in Mission.”
See the song’s words below the sermon notes.

First we gotta get in the boat.
Then we gotta stay in it.
We gotta trust God is here with us.
We gotta gather and pray in it!

Help me, Lord, to remember
You will draw near to me – no fuss-
If we stay and pray and know
You’re here in the boat with us.

“We All Are One in Mission”

“We all are one in mission; we all are one in call,
our varied gifts united by Christ, the Lord of all.
A single great commission compels us from above
to plan and work together that all may know Christ’s love.

We all are called for service, to witness in God’s name.
Our ministries are different; our purpose is the same:
To touch the lives of others by God’s surprising grace,
so every folk and nation may feel God’s warm embrace.

Now let us be united, and let our song be heard.
Now let us be a vessel for God’s redeeming Word.
We all are one in mission; we all are one in call,
our varied gifts united by Christ, the Lord of all.”

Words: Rusty Edwards (Matthew 28:19-20; i Cor. 12:4-6
Music: Finnish folk melody

I am with you.
I’m praying you have a blessed Sunday.
..
and a week filled with God’s grace.

See ya later

Power!


Today’s Sermon Notes
Happy Sunday, my friends!

The power of the breath of God
was a focus of today’s sermon

Photo by Jakob on Pexels.com

by Rev. Steve Hundley (guest minister while our Rev. Jean,
who has served this church for the past 25 years
is away, recuperating from serious surgery).

Madison Valley Presbyterian Church
in Ennis, MT – a congregation in a state of transition

The Holy Spirit’s Power

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

A pile of dry bones
Littered the field.
Can these bones live?
Can they once again yield
Life with vitality?

Only You, Lord,
Only You can cause it.
The bones are dry;
Only God can pause it
And bring life to reality.

Our church may be
Those dry bones now.
But God can breathe
Life in us somehow.
Dry is not finality.

God can cause these
Dry bones to revive.
He can breathe on us
And help us come alive.
Life with vitality!

We have God’s Spirit
Deep within our heart.
Can these bones live?
Yes, God can help us start.
Make Your Power, Lord, a reality…

… in us.

Amen?

Help us see Opportunities
through Your Power in us!

Do you have an area of “Dry Bones” in your life?
Seek His Power for new life in you.
Ask God’s Holy Spirit to breathe vitality into
those areas of concern.
God Bless You!
See you tomorrow.

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