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

Confidence During Quarantine

Confidence During Quarantine

Many viruses with new adaptations have emerged in the past twenty years but none as insidious and deadly as the Covid- 19. This virus has spread world-wide and caused chaos-signextensive damage and loss in its wake which is still ongoing. We were not prepared for a pandemic and all of its loss. Loss of loved ones, jobs, connections and vacations to name a few but the biggest has been loss of control.  I am glad to know that our God is in control and nothing is a surprise to Him.

We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps. Prov 16:9

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope      Jer 29:11

Human beings have always been able to adapt even though we do not particularly like change. As a New Englander I often comment on the changing weather but I can’t do a thing about it except adapt. It took awhile but most of us acclimated to the new “virtual world”.  How great to know that God never changes.

I am the Lord, and I do not change.       Malachi 3:6

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever       Hebrews 13:8

When the shutdown started – everyone started cleaning cupboards and closets out DSC_0927 (1)because they had extra time. What we learned is that we all have too much “stuff” lurking in various places in our homes. Many of my friends have “down-sized” and I know I have way too many hoarded treasures, my husband labels “junk”. There is nothing wrong with being comfortable or owning nice things but when do we say, “enough”?

Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal.20 Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.21 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.        Matthew 6:19-21

We still are not sure what this “new normal” will look like. Acceptance gives us a better family gamespicture of what needs to be or can be done.  Acceptance changes our perspective from what I can’t do or don’t have to being thankful for all I have and looking for new opportunities.  We can’t actually go very many places but we are grateful for our neighborhood and take walks to enjoy the flora and fauna around us. We have played more board and lawn games. It’s important to be mindful of the good things and enjoy life everyday.

 So go ahead. Eat your food with joy, and drink your wine with a happy heart, for God approves of this!8 Wear fine clothes, with a splash of cologne!9 Live happily with the woman you love through all the meaningless days of life that God has given you under the sun. The wife God gives you is your reward for all your earthly toil.10 Whatever you do, do well. For when you go to the grave, there will be no work or planning or knowledge or wisdom.              Ecclesiastes 9:7-10                                                                                        (Solomon had become a bit jaded when he wrote this.)

 We are so unprepared for the unexpected yet predictable.  For example, how many adults have a will, have written or even spoken about possessions and final wishes? Yet it is inevitable that we all will die someday. We need to be better prepared for the possible and inevitable whether it is an illness, retirement or caring for children and aging parents. The most important question is are you prepared for eternity? Where does your hearts’ desire lie? Have you nourished your soul? If today were your last day would you be ready?

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.          John 14:6

 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.         1 John 1:9

 13 I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life.14 And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him.15 And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for.        1 John 5:13-15

Dear Reader – I hope you are confident in the faith and in your future.  If you have any questions, please write to me – I would love to share more.  All verses are in the New Living translation.

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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

 

joy-quotes-

Hope is Alive

Hope is Alive

We call today “Good Friday” but over 2000 years ago it was anything but good.  The disciples of Jesus’ whole world had been turned upside down in one day. Confusion, womenatcrossDisbelief, Fear, Heartbreak and Shock were just a few of the emotions they were feeling. Rabbi, healer, miracle worker, they believed Jesus was The Messiah! The band of friends had just celebrated Passover together. It couldn’t possibly be real – it didn’t make sense – but they watched with their own eyes as the soldiers nailed Him to a cross like a vile criminal!

Some of the men and women, faithful followers of Jesus, gathered together trying to grasp the situation and others were in hiding. It was now the Sabbath and there was nothing they could do. How could everything go wrong in such a short time? He hadn’t done anything to deserve what happened. The disciples had put all their hope in Him and now it seemed gone.

While  Jesus hung on the cross He forgave the repentant thief, showing us that it is never to late to ask for forgiveness until our last breath.  On Passover HE provided the one and only perfect, holy and final sacrifice. His last cry  “It is finished” was not a cry of defeat but of victory.  The Temple curtain kept everyone and everything away from the holiness of God.  When the massive curtain tore in half it showed the access we now have to come before a Holy God through Jesus’s own blood sacrifice.

Jesus’ body had been quickly laid in a borrowed tomb just before Sabbath began. Early the next morning a few women gathered to go to the tomb and properly prepare His body for burial as was tradition.  They wondered how they would move the stone sealing the grave and if the soldiers would give them grief.  jesustombBut as they approached the burial site they were shocked to see the stone had already been rolled away….

But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead…..                                          Matt 28:5-7

Jesus is alive! He soon after met with them, ate with them and explained the Scriptures about Himself. Christians around the world celebrate Easter because our hope is not based on earthly wishful thinking but assurance from God. Jesus’ sacrifice provides forgiveness and restoration in our relationship with The Father. His resurrection offers us power and victory for everyday.

Jesushands

Tragedy can strike quickly and indiscriminately and it may seem hopeless. We are left reeling to try and make sense of the circumstances and figure out the next steps. That’s how the disciples felt on Good Friday.  Right now our daily lives are disrupted, loved ones are distanced and many people have died.  But Our Hope is Alive!

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.        John 3:16

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16  Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.         Heb 4:15-16

We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain,      Heb 6:19

 

                           We are loved.  We have help. We have hope. We can have peace.

 

Because He Lives

God sent His Son, they called Him Jesus,

He came to love, heal and forgive

He lived and died to buy my pardon

An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives.

Because He lives I can face tomorrow

Because He lives  all fear is gone

Because I know He holds the future,

And life is worth the living just because He lives!

Covid-19 and the Plagues of Egypt

Covid-19 and the Plagues of Egypt

During this Lenten season the much beloved movie, “The Ten Commandments”, staring Charlton Heston and Yul Brenner will be on television at least once.  I could not help but compare our current situation to the plagues that infected Egypt and our responses today.

Pharoah430 yrs. after Jacob and his family came to Egypt in good standing, a Pharaoh rose to power that did not know of Joseph or His God. God saw the oppression and cruelty the people faced and commissioned Moses to face off with Pharaoh. There was no way Pharaoh would let his slave labor force just walk away. So God sent a succession of plagues to annoy and exasperate all the Egyptians into letting the people go. The first two plagues affected everyone in the land. Can you imagine having frogs in your bed or to open your cereal cupboard and have frogs jump out?

The next seven plagues were sent to make a distinction between the Israelites and the Egyptian people. The last plague – the death of the first born – showed God’s ultimate Sovereignty over all life. Passover is a remembrance of His power, presence and the protection of His people.

The Egyptian gods were silent. They could not help, heal or protect from any of the plagues.  Pharaohs’ heart just became harder as he refused to believe and bow to the true God of Heaven and Earth. Out of grief, anger and frustration he finally ordered the Israelites to leave the country.moses part red sea But he later recanted and sent his army to chase the people to the edge of the Red Sea. (My favorite part in the movie)

 

 

The succession of plagues may have lasted up to a year. As soon as one plague got better God sent another. God’s people survived all of the plagues, took riches with them and walked through the Sea on dry land. But after all these incredible miracles we read that it didn’t take very long for them to start complaining.

I do not believe God sent Covid-19 as a punishment but does He have your attention? During this National crisis the gods of this world have been silenced. Our celebrity sports precautions hospitalare closed down, mega star musicians silenced, meeting places emptied and we are left with a lot of unknowns. Our God is not silent! His Word has a lot to say about trusting Him for today and the future. We are facing an unprecedented worldwide crisis. This virus and its global spread was a huge surprise to physicians and governments but is not a surprise to Him.

One of my favorite scripture passages tells us to be reasonable, focus our minds on the good and not negative media. We will experience true peace when we pray about our concerns and leave them with Him.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.5 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 4:4-7 

 

Our friends and family are watching to see how we face this crisis.We can share that we are not alone and God is in control. Let us share the hope we have because of Easter- the ultimate love of God.

Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. 2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. 3For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.                                                                                                                                                     Isaiah 43:1-3 

No matter what restrictions may be put in place and the uncertainty of the future economy, our God is in control. Especially during Lent, let us thank God as we remember His faithfulness  recorded in The Bible for us. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.

You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.                                                                                                                                        Isaiah 26:3 

 

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