I found this image today created by Ray Ferrer and wanted to share it.
I am amazed by the way artists can create images with various media. In this face I see suffering and obedience. It hurts but He is determined to carry out God’s plan to redeem the world. I also see love in the eyes. Love for you and me and it gives me a wonderful sense of awe to realize that He would have suffered as He did even if I was the only one on earth that needed it. Or if you were the only one. That love is what held Him on the cross, not the nails. Thanks Ray.
What do you see?
I wanted to respond to this blog entry because I believe many people ask this same question at some point in their lives. I do not question God as some do; I believe that He is not the originator of chaos, pain or confusion. He is not to be blamed for these things. We live in a sinful world where we have each been given free will to choose a life of love in Christ or a life lost in disobedience to the will of God. Sometimes we do everything “right” and still bad things happen, but they are not sent from God. In these situations we are held by His mighty right hand and given all we need to weather the storms of life. Even in the hardest of circumstances. He is our Savior no matter what happens in this life. He is the One and only Hope of survival that we can cling to when the winds and waves of life knock us around. His is the hand that lifts us when we are at our lowest, gently dries our tears and soothes away our sobs. His the voice that speaks peace to an aching heart, His the love that will not leave us! Sometimes He uses His people to reach out in ministry just by being present with us. In this world we will have trouble, but thanks to God’s complete love for us, we will never have to face it alone! He has promised never to leave us! God keeps His promises!
In the words of a song by Laura Story:
What if your blessings come through rain drops
What if your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know you’re here?
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise?
Pain is never pointless
The other day a ‘man’ set fire to a litter of kittens.
Remember the drug addict who sold her toddler for drugs? The child was raped and killed?
What about the parents who left their toddler in a blazing hot car to die…on purpose?
What about the millions of animals boiled and skinned alive so someone can look ‘good?’
How about the airline recently shot out of the sky?
His eye is on the sparrow, but not on these subjects?
Help Me Out Here!
Is this old gospel song more symbolic nice words that at the core don’t really mean anything?
How would you clarify this simplistic query of religion and faith to an alien if you had to?
Lyrics: His Eye Is On The Sparrow
Why should I feel discouraged
Why should the shadows come
Why should my heart feel lonely
And long for heaven…
View original post 37 more words
I have a Father in Heaven, to whom I have access 24/7. It’s a great communication system not dependent on a good wi-fi or internet connection. The speed of the connection cannot be equaled nor can the clarity of the signal. In fact, you can say that it is a flawless system in need of no further improvement or tweaking of any kind on God’s part. But sometimes MY side of the communication system experiences great difficulty. My receptors and discerners need constant configuration and updates. I have to be vigilant to keep my side of the line open and listening and tuned to the correct frequency.
God’s Word tells me that I can bring anything at all to His throne room via this special connection. (Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4: 6-7) I can pray about people and circumstances that give me concern. I can bring Him my thanks and praise for the work He does in my life and in the lives of my family friends and acquaintances. I can just talk to Him. But sometimes there is so much pain or grief that I can’t form words. Even my thoughts are paralyzed, yet still there is communication! The amazing power of the Spirit of God knows my thoughts before I have them, understands my pain and communicates to the Father with “wordless groans”. Romans 8:26. And it is all instantaneous.
But just so you know, I’m going to write a prayer here so you can eavesdrop.
I know that you hold the unwanted, the unborn, and the innocent ones in the palm of your hand. That is the saving grace for the world. I am so sorry for the way we humans mistreat the most helpless among us. Somehow we esteem these lives to be of less importance than others. We have chosen some but not others to allow into our world. Your world, O Lord, it is Your world and as Jesus taught us we should let the little children come near to you. Who are we to stand in the way of the fulfillment of a created life? What insufferable arrogance we have displayed! Picking and choosing who gets to stay here and who does not! I know Lord that some lives get started with violence but Lord why do we punish the child so conceived? It is never the child’s fault! There are so many people who want and pray for a child to love, Lord why can’t that be the answer when precious babies are unwanted by their biological parents for whatever reason? That would be the loving and unselfish response, wouldn’t it?
Lord, we have formed Assemblies and go to conferences that won’t even endorse an overture to pray for these unborn unwanted innocent children. We have sinned greatly. We have become wise in our own eyes and arrogant and selfish. We want life to be convenient and on our own terms.
- We have strayed far from our first love. (like the church at Ephesus)
- We have tolerated immorality. (like the church at Pergamas)
- We have chosen to sleep through life, to be inert–almost dead. (like the church at Sardis)
- We have been indifferent to the needs of some and to our calling in this world. We have an inflated opinion of ourselves, O Lord. (like the church at Laodicea)
Father, I am sorry! Now I realize that I and maybe others like me have been sitting in silence, (asleep?) waiting for someone else to see these errors and correct them. Little by little over the years we have crept ever closer to the cliff’s edge. I look down and see that the church I have loved and served for so long has her toes hanging off the edge. It is past time to stop and change direction!
Show me Father, how to be a part of that positive change if that is your will for my life. Search me and know my heart, remove anything in it that blocks your will and create in my heart the fertile soil required for growing good fruit for you.
Thank you for this wonderful communication system in which I am free to pray about anything you place on my heart. Amen.
I just got back from 72 hours at church camp with 28 campers, a handful of teenagers, some young adults, and some adults with experience. We packed a lot into a short amount of time, we sang God’s songs, had Bible lessons, hiked on trails around the camp, canoed to “the rock” and then of course jumped off of said rock—numerous times. We splashed gallons of water out of the pool and played water games on the field. We made crosses and hearts and drew on windows and tiles. And we worshipped! Everyone needs to experience worship led by a young adult with a beautiful voice playing guitar in front of a wooden cross with the sunset as a back drop.
For 72 hours we held “all things in common”, we helped each other, we ate together, we prayed together, we cleaned up, set up, took down, folded up, stacked up, rinsed off, put away, (and repeat). We loved hosting the church family on the last night and having them ooh and ahh over our crafts, our music and our newfound love for each other.
None of us are the same people we were when we arrived at camp. We have added so much to our life stories that we will be forever different people. I pray the seed of God’s word finds fertile soil in the hearts of all. And I pray God’s blessings on Cherokee Retreat Center and all who have and will find God there for many more valuable years of ministry to come.
Thoughts on the PC(USA) and the definition of marriage
It is not my desire to judge anyone for the opinions they hold, or to imply that my opinion is the “right” one simply because it is mine. We all know the folly of “thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought to think”. I love the people who make up the church in my hometown, they have such a wide array of gifts and talents and wisdom that it is a constant adventure to work and worship together, and to nurture and be nurtured by this family. We are brothers and sisters in Christ, sharing each other’s burdens and rejoicing in each other’s victories. We help each other, we pray for each other, we “speak the truth in love”, and we laugh and cry together through whatever comes our way. We are and have been to each other the body of Christ in just the ways the church was intended to love and serve each other.
Our nuclear families don’t stay together the way they used to. Years ago, it would not be unusual to find three generations living in the same home, or very near each other. Now our sons and daughters grow up and move away, to near and far destinations, limiting that daily family interaction and support experienced in years gone by. So for many of us, our churches provide that family feeling. The friends we make and those with whom we work in both mission and ministry come to fill those places in our hearts so important for our Christian Journey. In the 26 years our family has worshiped and worked in this church, many tight bonds have formed, many a crisis has been navigated with the Faithful praying for each other regularly. Providing a meal and other tangible means of support and encouragement has been second nature here, just like breathing almost. But this family of believers also knows how to be present with each other in need – in those heart wrenching times when words are not enough – when presence is all you can offer and is in truth all that is needed.
The crisis we find ourselves in today is not one that will be over easily. It’s not a pothole in the road over which we must bump and jolt our way along to smoother pavement that lies ahead. This is a divided pathway; it’s a place where some will change busses to reach the destination by another route. We will all stand together at the end of the journey before a loving Father, who alone is in a position to judge our action and our inaction. We all have to follow the path we believe He has lined out for us. Sometimes that means that we no longer walk hand in hand, side by side, with some of our brothers and sisters in Christ. It does not have to rob us of the love we feel for each other.
I can see my stop approaching, I know that I’m going to have to change busses and leave the close fellowship of many brothers and sisters as I move along the path that is planned for me. I am not who I am by any accident, I do not believe what I believe by some coincidence; I am taking a path that has been carefully staked out before me by others led of God. When God says, “come this way”, how dare I do otherwise? I could say, “I just can’t say anything because I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. I’m just going to stay on this bus that has grown so comfortable and be quiet”. Then I think of Jesus looking at me with loving eyes ready to forgive even this – and I wonder how I can even think of not going where He wants me to go after His ultimate sacrifice for me?
I am not asked to sacrifice more than He did, not even close.
I recognize the sacred God – Blessed Sacrament of marriage as a holy union between one man, one women and their God. Religious denominations should stay away from politics and civil entanglements and remain steadfast in the face of cultural pressures.
I value a loving body of believers that is busy about the work of the Kingdom and yes ON FIRE with a burning passion for the scriptures and for God’s work in this world! I value a body that has found the passion of service and worship that enriches not only their lives, but draws people to the Christ flame with a hungry desire to know Him and the power of His resurrection for themselves!
Like Moses, I don’t quite know where I’m going, but I know the One who calls me to go and I know that staying on the wrong bus could take me someplace I’m not supposed to be.
I pray for the Peace and Love that only God can provide.
Julia Johnston (1911) used some great adjectives to describe God’s grace in the words to the hymn, Grace Greater Than All Our Sin. She wrote “Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace” that is “freely bestowed on all who believe” in one of her four stanzas. All true, but for me the title of the hymn says it best: Grace Greater Than All Our Sin.
When you think of the sins of all the world piled up together it would make a sizable mountain. Now imagine the weight of all that sin crushing Jesus as He suffered the agony of the cross for you. For me. For all who will accept His gift of grace any sin is covered, any sin at all, nothing is too bad, nothing too awful, nothing too shameful. Why? Because the freely given Grace of God is greater than the highest mountain of sin! How wonderful!
Once not too long ago or too far away there was a jar that no one could open though everyone tried. The strongest tried first using all his strength to loosen the lid, but to no avail. Finally the smallest among them tried using all the muscles he could, but the top was stuck fast. He looked at the jar a moment, walked over to the sink and ran warm water over the lid for a few minutes. When he tried again, the lid came right off, removed by brain power and not by physical power. The water covered that tightly stuck lid and loosened it by its sheer presence on the lid. That is what the redemptive “Grace Greater Than All Our Sin” can do for you too. It covers your worst problems even those you tried to solve yourself – to your own exhaustion. Whatever holds you fast will be loosened and you will be set free when God’s Grace washes over you like warm water over a tightly stuck lid.
We have to take our problems to that Living Stream where God’s grace abounds and let God’s grace wash over us, freeing us from whatever holds us too tightly.
Thank you for the Abundant Grace available for all those things that are too difficult for our efforts to free from our lives with our own power. Amen