Fast away this old month passes – New one enters, cold and blue. Never have I felt such distance Separating me from lovely you.
My arms long to hold your heartstrings; My soul aches to feel your touch. Never did I think I’d feel so lonely- Never have I missed you so much.
I miss my church friends in the pew; I miss singing our hymns with you. I long to gather at your table And sip a glass of wine or two.
I miss the chance of volunteering Where I can go and serve with glee. I miss the sound of great crowd cheering. I pray you’ll soon be here with me.
Fast away this old month passes – No one knows where the end will be Of this dark and deadly outbreak. Won’t you pray for a cure with me?
Looking on the Brighter Side
Fast away this old month passes I’m reminded of how much I love Being safe and feeling healthy, Hearing coos from nesting doves.
I have much for which to thank God – And as April nudges through my door, May my heart be ever grateful For my safety and for so much more.
May I thank God daily for his watch Over friends and family – oh so dear. May I remember to show gratitude For all the blessings I have here.
Keep my eyes on all the wonders God has strewn across my path. Food to eat, a loving family, and Friends with texts that make me laugh.
Fast away this old month passes. I won’t let the new be blue. I’ll keep looking for God’s miracles And send His love daily to you.
My Thanks and Condolences
Thank you, dear blogging friends, for visiting JanBeek. You represent about 80 countries, my WordPress stats have told me. Some of you have lost loved ones during this pandemic… or you know people who have. 11,600 deaths in Italy alone?? It is unfathomable!! The USA’s latest toll is 2,900, according to today’s news… with no end in sight. No place, no person on our planet is immune!
My Heart Breaks
My heart breaks for all who suffer, who have lost loved ones, whose family and friends have tested positive, who are feeling the loneliness and the vulnerability I wrote about in the beginning of this blog. It is not a situation we should make light of! It is deadly and it is on the rise. Bee Well, my friends. Bee safe!
Let’s pray together: “Dear Lord, please make this COVID-19 go FAST AWAY!!“ Amen.
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:
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:
Evil exists in this world, causing bad things to happen to good people, so evident in these past weeks of the COVID 19 pandemic.
Secondly, we believe that our God is all-powerful; and
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)
(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 unfailingaround 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)
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!
In this crucial time We need to stop, look, listen Stop now and bow down!
In kindergarten, we were taught to stop, look and listen. We made traffic lights as an art project. As a kindergarten teacher in the 70’s, I taught the children to recognize their colors, write their numbers, sing their ABC’s and listen for the sounds the letters made. I taught them safety features. Looking out for themselves and for one another. Yes, we had partners who took care of each other when we went out on field trips.
It’s time once again For us to stop, look, listen Practice safety rules
It’s time once again To look out for each other Hold hearts across miles
Just STOP, everyone! Stay sequestered and stop now Look for ways to help
Listen for the cries Of people less fortunate Look for solutions
Kim Taylor Henry is one of the contributing writers for Daily Guideposts 2020. This week, she has taken us through her devotionals on a journey to the Holy Land. We stopped with her in Jerusalem and bemoaned the way “the city bustled on.”
Kim thought of the words of Jesus: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem… how often I have longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.”
She wrote that when she traveled to Jerusalem, she “had expected to feel connected to God through tranquility.”
Instead, as she stood on a hill looking down at the expanse of the city, she wanted to cry out, “Stop everyone! This is holy ground! Bow down. Worship. Praise.”
We were just like that – Chaotic, bustling, busy – Moving way too fast
Then this virus hit We came to a screeching halt Stop, look and listen!
Now we have the time We are forced to be at home How will this change us?
Will we use this time To reclaim our best values To reach out in love?
The city is still The children are in their homes It seems the world stopped
Take time to bow down Reconnect with your Maker Let His Will guide you
When Kim Taylor Henry left Jerusalem and traveled on to Gethsemane, she expected to find “a hushed highlight” for her trip. She wrote that she thought she would find “a spot where I would reflect on our Savior’s suffering, a place of pain, yet serenity.”
“Instead ,” she wrote, “I saw a fenced-off grouping of knobbly olive trees… It didn’t feel peaceful.”
Opportunity or Tragedy
We have the opportunity during this COVID-19 pandemic to create in our homes a place of peace, a spot where you sense a “hushed highlight” in the opportunity to just BE… just BE together with family or alone in your space…
We can create a tragedy where we feel “fenced off” and we can be resentful, and we can worry and let our fear blind us to the opportunities that are before us.
Indifference or Awareness?
Traveling on the Via Dolorosa, the road to Calvary, the place outside the city of Jerusalem where Jesus was crucified, Kim Taylor Henry wrote in her Guideposts devotional,
“I felt irritated by what I viewed as near oblivion to the sanctity of the path. Crass crowds and the array of souvenir shops disturbed me.”
But she went on to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and Golgotha, the hillside where Jesus and the two thieves’ crosses remained, and she felt a sense of hush and respect.
Kim asked herself, “Why is the Via Dolorosa bustling with indifference and commercialism while the sites of death and resurrection are worshipful?” And she postulated, “Perhaps it’s a reminder that I, like so many wrapped up in the world… realize my errors too late, and bow down after the fact – when crisis has already struck.”
Is it Too Late?
Help us not to wait Until the crisis has struck Devastating us
Help us to heed NOW The directions we’re given And let us bow down
Stop, look and listen Like kindergarteners did No, it’s not too late!
Thank you, Kim Taylor Henry, for permission to quote your writing. Thank you, Guideposts, for your wonderful DailyGuideposts 2020spirit-lifting devotionals. I appreciate this resource that helps me each day stay focused on the positive ways we can remain in His Word and “Walk the Talk” as we learn to better love and care for one another.
The outside pressures Try to squeeze peace from our souls But we can’t let them
Treat yourself to this beautiful rendition of “It is Well with My Soul” by the First Plymouth Church in Lincoln, Nebraska.
This hymn has a special meaning to me because when we were members of the Harvest Presbyterian Church in Ceres, CA, a dear family who were charter members there had a son, Robert, who was dying. His dad, Homer Jorgensen, was at his bedside with a hymnal. He was turning the pages of the book, asking Robert to blink when he came to a song he’d like to hear. Blinking was all he was capable of doing at that end-point of his earthly life. Robert blinked when his dad came to “It is Well With My Soul.”
Homer was reading the words of this hymn to Robert when his son took his last breath. Since then, both of Robert’s parents have joined him in their heavenly home. Rest in peace, Jorgensen family. I am praying for the beauty of your legacy to live on in our hearts as we listen to this gorgeous, meaningful song and consider the beauty of its words.
Let the Words Be Your Prayer
As you listen, my friends, pray for all those you know who need the peace this composer wrote about. It is the peace that only God can give. Lift your family and friends up as you enjoy these beautiful voices and appreciate the phenomenal, majestic organ.
God bless you!
Psalm 46:1-3 – “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.”
I will find the peace That comes from deep within me And I’ll sit awhile
Thank you that “before a word is on my tongue You, Lord, know it completely” (Psalm 139:4). Thank You that there are no surprises with You. Help me find deep comfort in the fact that You are unshockable and nothing is too great, too terrible, too large, or too heavy for You. Help me see the problems that I face today in light of how big You are. Amen.
Reprinted with permission from Max Lucado
So, the praying part is easy, right? There are folks like Max Lucado out there who can help us find the right words. Live in the faith that God hears – and He is with us – and it’s true: nothing is too great for Him.
But What About Perseverance?
How do we keep on keeping on? The Autobahn Assoc. shared this suggestion today:
“… talk about the power of birds, … this year they take on an even more powerful meaning. They enliven our days, brighten the trees, serenade in our backyards and city parks, and bestow us with so much joy and hope, all bundled together in feathers and lively personalities.”
Breathe in the calm of our feathered friends. Listen to their songs! Watch their deliberate and graceful movements!
We can find such comfort by watching the activities of our fine feathered friends. See how they continue to sing their songs.
In his podcast today Bob Goff asked us to “Hit the pause button. Step back and think about your life.” He asked his listeners to ask ourselves:
What opportunity has this Coronavirus-induced-shutdown given to you?
What can you do that in the normal routine of everyday you don’t have time to do?
How do you deal with uncertainty and ambiguity?
Where are you now and how are you feeling? Are you dwelling in fear?
What are your most important values and how are you exhibiting those during this time of world-wide crisis?
Bob Goff continued to make suggestions: 1) Be sober about what’s going on. 2) Be picky about what you focus on. 3) Turn the volume down on the hype. 4) Limit screen time. 5) Follow the recommendations of the experts – wash hands, avoid crowds, stay home if you’re sick, etc. 6) Live authentically, remaining true to who you were created to be.
Who Were You Created to Be and Do?
Bob Goff quipped, “Introverts have been preparing for this for years!”
But some of us are not introverts. We’re having trouble hunkering down inside and having our jobs, our volunteer activities, our restaurants, schools and churches all closed to us. What can we do to remain true to ourselves and feel like we’re not just sitting around wringing our hands helplessly?
How would you answer the question, “Who were you created to be?”
I thought about it and decided:
I was created to “Walk the Talk and Live with Integrity.”
I was created to “Reach out to others with love and compassion.”
I was created to “Use the talents God gave me to make the world a better place.”
What is YOUR Purpose?
How can you persevere in the face of this latest shutdown – and the gloomy predictions that this could last a year and a half or more?
What talents has God given you that you can use to make your life seem worthwhile in the midst of these world-wide changes? Using those talents is a way to remain true to your purpose.
I intend to: 1) Continue to post a blog here daily with ideas that uplift and bring hope. 2) Write cards/letters/e-mails/texts/messages and make phone calls to friends and family. 3) Exhibit love, compassion, tolerance, empathy, and joy – spreading those as far and wide as I can. (See photo below) 4) Do something I’ve always wanted to do but for some reason have put off. 5) Keep in touch with friends on-line by playing games like “Words with Friends” (Scrabble) and commenting on their FaceBook posts while I post positive things there, too. 6) Pray and meditate and daily read God’s Word and devotionals, such as Guideposts and In Touch magazine.
Do you have a half a dozen or so things you can list as your intentions?
Maybe deliver flowers or food to a friend who is shut in? Just call ahead and then drop it at his/her doorstep. I did that today.
Tell me what you plan to do to make the world a better place.