I thought this was an appropriate verse, as we prepare ourselves for worship this weekend. Getting ourselves re-focused after the craziness and busyness of our week...
"...Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."
My friend Paula passed along an award to me. Paula received the award, because she is such an encouraging and inspiring person, and her blog fits this description:
"This award is for those bloggers who are nice people; good blog friends and those who inspire good feelings and inspiration. Also for those who are a positive influence on our blogging world. Once you’ve been awarded please pass it on to 7 others who you feel are deserving of this award."
Thank you for passing on the award to me, Paula! I feel very honored. These are the seven people I'm awarding:
I'm thinking today about what an awesome responsibility it is to have "Christ in me." How do I live out that reality? Yesterday, our parish priest spoke of not leaving Christ there (at the church) every week, but taking Him with you...out into the world. He exhorted us to take the life of Christ with us and share it with all around us. How do we flesh that out? How do we diffuse the fragrance of Christ to those around us?
It is now officially the new school year. We have two days of school "under our belts". Whew.
The first day was a little emotional (mostly for me!). The boys were excited and nervous. It was a hot, humid day. By the time they came home, they were worn out from the heat, and happy to have made it through their first day.
However, that night, #1 son was not happy about having to return again the next day. After five years of being home schooled, that seemed like an awfully long time to be away from home! Much talking and much prayer, and he was back to bed.
Yesterday seems to have gone well for them, for which I am truly grateful. #1 son hasn't mentioned anything more about not returning.
I'm doing pretty well, all things considered. The first day was pretty rough. Second day was a little easier. It's definitely nice to have them home for the weekend!
Thank you, dear readers, for your prayers and encouraging thoughts. We'll make it through, one day at a time! ____________________________
Additional note: I am adding comment moderation to my blog. I found that I sometimes miss comments left on older posts. I'll check in frequently for new comments, though!
I don't know if you're aware of it, but there is a phenomenon sweeping the world of Christiandom. It can be called many things, but I'll call it "seeking the whoopee!" The members of this movement are not always easy to identify at first. They arrive at a church as a newcomer, usually. Sometimes as a "mature Christian just looking for a place to worship". (Their words, not mine!) Sometimes they settle in slowly, and just blend in with everyone else. Sometimes they immediately want to sing/teach/lead. (I've found this to be the case more often than not.) Usually they want to be really chummy with the pastor/priest or anyone else they deem to be in leadership or positions of importance in the particular worshipping community. They may even become regular "givers". (Most don't like the word "tithe".)
But then it begins. If they don't gain quick access to a "position" of some type, they grumble: I was always asked to sing/teach/lead at my old church! If the pastor/priest/deacon/other leader-type person doesn't pay them special attention, they are being "ignored". If there is something in a sermon/homily that doesn't stroke their ego or support their own private theological positions, then they begin speaking against whoever preached/taught. They become disgruntled if the music isn't as lively as they want it (or as slow and worshipful, or whatever!).
But the final word before they make their grand exit is usually something like this: "I just don't feel the moving of the Holy Spirit here," or "God's presence just isn't that real to me here." Usually followed by an accusation against the pastor/priest/deacon/leader-type person...and then they're gone. Off to another place to see if they can find some more "super spiritual" folks just like themselves!
If you think I'm exaggerating, remember that my husband was a pastor for awhile. I am actually playing it down a bit!
The main issue is that too many church-goers see the whole Christian experience in a very me-centered (well, not ME...them...) way. You know what I mean. It's all about their feelings, their spirituality, and what they can get out of a service. If it isn't giving them chills, tingles, or filling them with the urge to have a "whoopee!" experience, then it just cannot be of God.
The problem with this attitude is that it is all focused on man! For some reason, I don't think that's how it was meant to be. Do you?
Anyone who wants to sit in a pew or chair (or even on the floor!) and just receive is just dead wrong!
It may sound really simplistic, but the words to the song are true: It really is all about Jesus! It really is all about His death and resurrection. It really is all about Him receiving praise and glory and honor as we gather, read His word, and receive of His body and blood. It really is about serving the poor in His name. It really is about showing the world we are Christians by our love. Because the One to whom we give our worship gave the example of being a servant as the way to show the world His love in us.
It's time to settle in and do the work, my friends, as we follow the One whose name we take when we call ourselves "Christian".
I know this is pretty heavy for a Monday. I look forward to your thoughts on this, too.
"We fall down, we lay our crowns at the feet of Jesus. The greatness of mercy and love at the feet of Jesus. And we cry, 'Holy, holy, holy' We cry 'holy, holy, holy' We cry 'holy, holy, holy is the Lamb' "*
*Words and music by Chris Tomlin copyright 1998 worshiptogether.com
Have I mentioned that I hate change? Okay. Well, I do!
We're in the midst of many!
Hubby started his new job this week. But he's also still finishing up at his old job. So this means? Days at new job. Nights at old job. Tired hubby. Trying to learn the new job. Trying to rest. Anxiously awaiting August 25th--last day at old job. What a week he's having!
I'm trying to get the kiddos all set to start school next week. Label each and every little thing with their names. Check the school supply list umpteen times to make sure we didn't miss anything. Check the dates another umpteen times to make sure we don't miss an important event. Label more stuff. Hair cuts. Are we ready for school yet? Only one more week!
In the midst of it all, new things starting at church. Preparing my mind for going on a trip in about three weeks. (Flying alone?!)
A few years ago, there was a big debate in the world of Christian scholars. Someone had written a book about Jesus being Savior, but not Lord. Then there were more books written about Jesus being Lord, but with less emphasis on Him as Savior.
As humans, we really don't like the term "Lord," since it means Someone has authority over us. Americans especially don't like the idea of bowing to anyone. We are individualists, living in our free nation, and we want to be our own "lords."
But then again, we don't like to see ourselves as weak, in need of Someone to save us. We're self-sufficient in this country! We don't really need anyone! As long as we're pretty good overall, don't murder, lie, cheat, or steal, then we've got it all under control.
Well, it's a theory, anyway.
Actually, I find great freedom in calling Him both Lord and Savior. As my Lord, He looks out for my best interests: what He knows is the very best for me. Yes, it means submitting my will to His, and letting Him be in charge. But since He has my best interests in mind, I can't lose!
As for calling Him Savior...whew. There's more to that word than I could express in hundreds of blog posts. The bottom line is: it's a relief to know I don't have to try to save myself! That sure takes a burden off my shoulders! Don't get me wrong, I do have a part in all this. But the work Christ did on the cross paid for the sins of the world. That includes me! (And you!) In response to that great gift, of course I will live out a life of serving others. Jesus said as much at the Last Supper, as He washed the disciples' feet. He was teaching them how He could be both Lord and Savior: Master and Servant of all. The crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension again show the beauty of Him being Savior and Lord.
There's no debate to it at all. The One who loves me most is the One I long to serve and submit to, as well as recognize the amazing gift of His saving grace.
"He who walks with wise men becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm." Proverbs 13:20
I was recently reminded of this verse. It set me a-pondering. What does it mean to "walk with the wise"? How do we choose the right people to walk with? How do we know who will lead us astray and who we should imitate?
Of course, there is the Scriptural rule: we will know them by their fruit. I'm new to this community, though. How can I obey the admonition to walk with those who are wise? How can I find those who truly live out the commands of Christ?
I think it takes time. We can't rush into anything. As we pray and spend time in fellowship with other believers, God will draw us to those who we can follow. He will show us mature believers who will contribute to our own spiritual well-being.
On the flip side of that, He may also show us ways we can be "the wise" for those who are new to faith in Christ. It's a big responsibility, yes. But it's definitely necessary, as we all work together to build each other up.
One way I've seen that I can "walk with the wise" is by studying the lives of those who have gone before. We have a wealth of riches to draw from when delving into the lives of the saints. They were ordinary people like you and me, who chose to live out their faith, even when it sometimes meant giving up their lives.
Today is the feast of Saint Lawrence, a deacon who lived in the 3rd century. During his lifetime, Christianity was actually illegal. He became a deacon in 257, and served as treasurer of the Church in Rome. He distributed monies and goods to the poor. The emperor at the time, Valerian, published an "edict of persecution" and commanded all bishops, priests, and deacons to be put to death. Another saint of the church, St. Sixtus (who was pope at the time), was arrested and led to execution. St. Lawrence followed the procession, crying for Sixtus. Sixtus ordered Lawrence to distribute the treasures of the Church among the poor. He did this, and even sold some items so there would be more to give the poor.
The prefect of Rome commanded Lawrence to surrender the treasures of the Church to the government. Lawrence promised to show the treasures to him. On the third day, instead of gold and silver, he presented the poor whom he had gathered. He said these were the true riches of the Church. The prefect was enraged, and commanded that Lawrence be slowly roasted on a gridiron. To his last breath, this true servant (for that is what a deacon is) prayed for the conversion of the city of Rome, and that faith in Christ would spread throughout the world. Several senators, who were witnesses to his execution, were converted to Christianity, and actually gave him a decent burial. This was in the year 258.
Lawrence only served as a deacon for one year. However, the life he lived in that short time was an incredible testimony to those who witnessed his acts of love and kindness.
I want to walk with the wise. I want to somehow emulate the lives of those who have gone before. Thank you, God, for the faithful witness of those who have stayed the course and followed You, even unto death.
"God, by his ardent love for You, St. Lawrence exhibited faithful service and attained a glorious martyrdom. Help us to love what he loved and to practice what he taught. Amen."
I received the following update, and wanted to pass it along to all of you...
Just a quick update on Maddie....Now that she is off all of the antibiotics, she is doing really well (she had a bad reaction to being on them for SO long but is doing great now).
She is scheduled for surgery on Sept. 20th at the Cleveland Clinic. This surgery will be done laparoscopically through her belly button. We expect this surgery to be a piece of cake compared to what she has been through.
They will keep her over night. And it will take a full 6 weeks for her body to totally heal but she should be feeling well way before that. She won't be able to horseback ride or carry anything heavier than a phone book for several weeks - but all in all they expect it to be an easy recovery. _______________ There will be another update after her surgery. And Kimber thanked us all for praying!
Okay, so you really want to know the big secret??? Really??? From the comments left on the previous post, and even an e-mail or two, I know this was a mean trick. I was just so excited...I had to say something.
The big news is: my husband got a new job! He has been hoping and praying that he could find something different for quite some time. He has been working at OfficeMax for about 4 1/2 years now, both in Michigan and Ohio. He was really growing weary of the retail world. He is taking some online classes to get certified to teach in a Catholic high school. However, there are no job openings at this time. He wanted to be done at OfficeMax before the Christmas shopping season. He kept looking online for jobs, but nothing really "worked" for him.
Well, God sure opened this one! Starting today, Keith is the new business administrator at our parish office. He is still working at OfficeMax, due to it being "back to school" season. That will end soon, though, and he'll be full-time at the church. What a wonderful, unexpected blessing! Thanks be to God!
While I'm on the subject of my husband...
I love that man so much. He has really sacrificed a lot to follow God's direction. He gave up a pastorate he loved, and a community he loved. He kept following and sacrificing, working jobs he absolutely detested, just to support us. I won't go into every detail of each situation. Suffice to say, he has given up so much, just to know that he was where God wanted him. I know a lot of men get a bad rap for walking out on their families, not supporting them, treating their wives in unspeakable ways, etc. But this wonderful man is a shining example of what it means to "love his wife (and kids!) as Christ loves the Church."
Thank you, my dearest Keith, for always being true to the leading of the Lord. Thank you for loving your family so very much. I am so happy you have this new job!
Today is the Feast of the Transfiguration. What a wonderful story of Jesus revealing His glory to His disciples. I've always figured Peter's suggestion was the result of being so overwhelmed by what he witnessed...he knew he needed to do or say something after seeing the great prophets and the glory of his Lord. Of course, God wanted Peter and the others to remember who was the only One worthy of praise.
"Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid. But Jesus came and touched them and said, “Arise, and do not be afraid.” When they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only." (Matthew 17:1-8)
That's my favorite part of the verse: They only saw Jesus. All the other distractions were gone. I often wonder if the lesson for us today is that we should never lift up other men, no matter how great or godly, to the level that we see them as equal to God. Sure, there have been some amazing saints (Peter, James, and John among them). But no one ever deserves the praise that is to be reserved for God alone. I'm sure that as other events unfolded (the resurrection and ascension; Pentecost) the three witnesses realized how Christ's Transfiguration was just the "opening act" to what they would later experience. They got a glimpse into His glory. Wow.
On a side "note" (yes, pun intended)...I had my first chance to sing and play again yesterday. The first time in a very, very long time. It was nerve wracking, yes. But it felt good to once again to be praising God, and encouraging others to do the same. I only sang pre-service and post-communion. But it was a good thing. Thanks be to God.
I'm sure by now most of my readers have heard about the tragic accident yesterday in Minneapolis, MN. A bridge spanning the Mississippi River collapsed during rush hour, crushing vehicles, throwing people and things into the river...lives have been lost or changed forever. You can see a bus in the picture above. I believe I heard on the news that, though injured, they thought all the children survived.
Having experienced the many emotions of the tragedy in Greensburg, my heart seems to feel the pain of others' tragedies even more keenly.
Please keep this city, the victims and their families, and the rescue workers in your prayers.