A Call to Remember

A Call to Remember

I am sitting at my desk writing this blog on September 11th – a day of remembrance. What started out as a very average day, when people went to work, school, shopping or began a trip away from home became a day of horror, fear and survival for millions around our Country. Anyone who is 5 years or older can remember where they were and what they were doing that fateful day. I solemnly watched part of several memorial services across our country – names were read and the bell tolled. We are called to come together as One Nation and remember the day when an unprovoked and undeserved attack struck our land killing thousands of innocent people and causing unprecedented mass destruction. Memorials have been placed in many locations to help us not forget.

God Himself instituted a Memorial Ceremony called Passover to help His people remember their last day as slaves in Egypt and how they were called to be a the Nation of Israel. The blood of a perfect lamb needed to be placed over the doorposts of believers to escape the Angel of death that night. Soon after, they marched out to freedom as God lead the way performing incredible miracles of salvation, provision and protection.

Jesus was celebrating Passover with His disciples on the night He was betrayed and sentenced to a cruel death He didn’t deserve. What started out as a joyous feast became Jesus’ last chance to enjoy time with all of them. Judas left early but the others followed Jesus to the Garden. They left the feast singing, but their eyelids heavy from a big meal and so they fell asleep instead of praying and watching. The following events recorded in the Gospels are a shocking mix of betrayal, unprovoked brutality and unexpected horror. Jesus knew everything that was going to happen yet submitted to The Fathers’ will.

Christians around the world are called to remember Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection power. Whether in a small group or a huge Cathedral, all denominations that call themselves Christian celebrate Communion. Jesus gave His disciples simple directions to follow that hold profound meaning.

As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “Take this and eat it, for this is my body.”27 And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them and said, “Each of you drink from it,28 for this is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many. Matt 26:26-28

I ask all of you to stop and remember September 11th , 2001 . Where were you? What did it cost you? What were your reactions? How has life changed? If you are a Believer of the Gospel – do you remember a particular day when you realized what Christ had done for you and asked His forgiveness? Do you remember asking the Holy Spirit to take control of your life? How has life changed?

Then REMEMBER who you are: I am a son/daughter of the King of Kings – I am forgiven – I am worthy (He paid a great cost) – I am free – I am LOVED – I am never alone – I belong – I am part of the family of God

REMEMBER WHO HE IS: He is The Creator and Sustainer of heaven, earth, seas, sky and galaxies beyond – Giver of Life – Provider, Protector, He sees you and knows your name – He is everywhere – He knows everything and He is All Powerful – Never failing, Never tiring, Never ending. He alone is God.

Eye of the Storm

Eye of the Storm

Once again the eastern coast has been bombarded by a devastating hurricane.  Hurricanes are the most violent storms on earth. The warm tropical air rises, causing an area of lower air pressure below while air from higher air pressure pushes in becoming warm and moist too. The whole system of clouds and wind spins and grows, fed by the ocean’s heat and water evaporating from the surface. As the storm system rotates faster and faster, an eye forms in the center.  When the wind speeds reach 74 mph it is officially a hurricane and winds could then increase up to 157mph or greater.

The calmest part of the storm is the center or “eye”. It has no wind at the center and typically clearer skies. Located just outside the eye is the eye wall, the place within a hurricane that holds the most damaging winds and intense rainfall. A common mistake is for residents to exit their homes to inspect the damage while the eye passes over, only to be caught off guard by the violent winds in the opposite eyewall. 

Meteorologists watch these storms carefully to warn us of the impending danger – if everyday life had such warnings would we really listen? I think not.  Just like the people who insist on “riding out the storm” despite official notice, we think we know better or just don’t care. A lot of folks don’t pay attention to environmental, health and safety warnings. The Ten Commandments give us basic rules for living peacefully but they have been taken off the government and school walls.

Jesus told a parable about wise decision making for the storms of life.

Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock.25 Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock.26 But anyone who hears my teaching and ignores it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand.27 When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.” Matt 7:24-27

2020 has held severe damaging winds of uncertainty, loss and un-normal change. A tiny virus has upended the whole world. The bad actions of a few have caused political upheaval, protests and riots. There have been fires on the west coast and now hurricanes on the east coast. Whether you are in the middle of a horrible “storm” or if you find yourself waiting in “the eye” – you have to finish the course.

One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and started out.23 As they sailed across, Jesus settled down for a nap. But soon a fierce storm came down on the lake. The boat was filling with water, and they were in real danger.24 The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and the raging waves. The storm stopped and all was calm!25 Then he asked them, “Where is your faith?” The disciples were terrified and amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “When he gives a command, even the wind and waves obey him!” Luke 8:22-25

Our God is in control despite the biggest storms. He can be trusted because He is our Creator, Sustainer and Friend.  Nothing is new to Him or unknown.  Just like the disciples, we can cry out to Him to help us and He does hear our prayer. He is the source of peace beyond normal comprehension. Won’t you trust Him for today? There is nothing better than feeling His arms around me when I’m in the eye of the storm.

Eye of the Storm by Ryan Stevenson

In the eye of the storm
You remain in control
And in the middle of the war
You guard my soul
You alone are the anchor
When my sails are torn
Your love surrounds me
In the eye of the storm

Social Distance is an Oxymoron

Social Distance is an Oxymoron

I am sure that I am not the only one who has been clearly confused at how we can be alone together. Being in small crowds as our only choice has left us feeling weirdly normal and in some ways like the walking dead. Another side effect of the quarantine has been overeating as I now look like a jumbo shrimp.

together-apart

The word social by definition means; someone or something that enjoys being with others or has to do with people living or gathering in groups.  Distant means separated, far away or not immediately connected.  The very definitions are opposites and don’t belong together but are a new social phenomenom .

As a registered nurse I understand all the rationale for quarantine and precautions and I do comply. My heart has a hard time seeing empty churches– they were built for corporate worship. Playgrounds were built for playing in, beaches are for swimming and exploring and parks to picnic in etc…. Isn’t it amazing that a tiny virus – invisible to the naked eye – has temporarily turned the whole world upside down?

covid -neighbor

From the beginning of time God created us for community. He states in the book of Genesis that, “it is not good for man to be alone”.  God created us for a relationship with Him and each other. Adam and Eve also tended The Garden – maybe that’s why I love spring.  He also created the Sabbath for rest and in today’s culture – we don’t often take it.

It has been so easy to be distracted and depressed during this time because it is not normal.  The dreary weather did not help our state of mind.  Our usual schedule has been disrupted by restrictions and additions. Now we have the extra time we always wanted but can’t go anywhere! Frustrating!

King Solomon stated that nothing is new under the sun.  He was right! There have been plagues throughout the centuries and various responses to them. Economies have risen and fallen while people groups have been separated and humanity has lived in fear and uncertainty.  But fear is a great energy gobbler and serves no purpose if we do not do something.

We cannot change our circumstances but we can choose to change our response and attitude. We cannot be alone together – it’s an oxymoron – but we can keep in contact due to technology (zoom zoom). But be careful, I know that I am guilty of wasting too much time with electronics. We also need to be very aware of what we read and repost on social media because it is not all true or unbiased!   It is important to choose wisely what input is allowed into our over taxed brains.

whateveris lovely

What have you learned?  I learned that most of us have far more than we need (like hoarding toilet paper) and I do not have to be on the go all the time.  I am trying to be grateful and content in all circumstances (it’s hard).  I have enjoyed walking more and playing board games and alternative learning. I enjoy watching the birds return and plants grow. What have you enjoyed during this shut down?

God is in control – He sees us, hears us and knows us by name. Hold tight to His promises and trust in His love and faithfulness for He will guide you through this amazingly awful and bittersweet time.

Serenityprayer

 

 

 

 

 

Peace and Joy in Difficult Circumstances

Peace and Joy in Difficult Circumstances

Do you ever have times when a particular theme keeps reoccurring? Maybe you just read about a topic and then you see a sign about it or hear a song on the radio that reminds you again. God has been whispering in my ear… “Child, pay attention”.

I just finished a month long study on the book of Philippians. One of the main themes is Joy and another is Peace. Joy is not a fleeting or a superficial and soon forgotten feeling but a deep inner emotion that lasts and is remembered. Russell M Nelson stated, “The joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives.”

In this pandemic crisis and world of social distancing it is hard to feel joyful. Instead,we are afraid, depressed, sad, overwhelmed and over worked. Our brains are tired from adjusting and trying to live with new restrictions, changing rules and new expectations. Remember, the apostle Paul was writing from prison when he challenged the early Church.

                    Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice        Phil 4:4

We are to make the Lord our focus and not our circumstances. He is the source of our strength in each new day.  Our relationship with Him needs to take higher priority over anything else. It’s easy in times like this to reverse that order but we will only feel more exhausted. When I am “too busy” to read my Bible and pray I end up with a bad attitude and more stress.

Contrary to popular opinion, Christians do not have to have it all together. It’s okay to feel burnt out, confused or frazzled….or whatever emotion you may be feeling. And it is okay to have good days and bad ones. That is the only thing normal right now. Most Moms weren’t planning to run their own one room schoolhouse. Most service people weren’t expecting to be facing a health risk on the job. We were created for community not isolation. Every day we are facing a lot of uncertainty and it is stressful but we can choose our focus and adjust our attitude.

Anxiety is a joy robber. It’s been said that “worry is like sitting in a rocking chair – you think you are moving but it doesn’t get you anywhere.”

 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.      Phil 4:5-7

Remember “the Lord is near” : we need to live with an awareness of God’s presence (read Psalm 139:1-12 and Joshua 1:8,9)  Other translations for “reasonableness” are; be considerate, gentleness, forbearance, work together. God gave us our emotions so it’s okay to talk to Him about how you are feeling. Get it off your chest – He already knows anyway. When we leave our fear and doubt at His feet we exchange those negative feelings for inner peace. He will guard our hearts and minds – our attitudes, emotions and thoughts.

Our problems are real and won’t go away instantly but our hearts can change. Faith is exercised when things cannot be seen. We can have peace and joy in difficult circumstances when we remind ourselves that God is Sovereign and in control. We choose to trust in His faithfulness and promises for each day – one at a time.

 Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you       2 Cor 13:11

 

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