Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A Word of Thanksgiving

Sailing from Plymouth, England on September 16 the 90-foot Mayflower contained 102 passengers plus crew. Enduring the 66-day voyage huddled in the tween deck on top of their luggage, they dreamed of freedom. 

The majority of these passengers left England to escape the religious mandates of the Church of England. The hope that carried them through their arduous and difficult journey across the ocean was to worship God as their conscience dictated.

Today that freedom is precious, and often assumed. Each weekend we drive to the church of our choice. We open the Bible for study and discovery at the will of the Holy Spirit. No one breaks through our doors and carries us off to pay for our sins of wrongful worship.

As you celebrate Thanksgiving with your friends and family, put near the top of your list this privilege to worship freely. Then take a moment to reflect, remember and be thankful for this freedom.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Aching for Our World

Wander into the world of social media and you will find it colored with grief. We are reeling and pained by the actions of terror in Paris, Beirut, and Baghdad. To try to fathom the loss of one life, and then to multiply that in order to understand the loss of hundreds is staggering. And so we post a new profile picture, filtered through our grief. We do this seeking to connect with the world and find hope. In a world getting-smaller-every-day we desire to share our pain. Then in that connection to find a spark of hope or a breath of peace for the day ahead.

Hearing of lives shattered and torn, ended and maimed can cause memories to rise up. These experiences can take us back to when this evil rose its head closer to home. Suddenly finding ourselves reliving and crying and hurting. Remembering brings us to a painful place of mourning. In the mourning the question comes, where is God? And the answer comes, “In that place.” “In this place.”

Jesus never shirked to walk into darkness. His hands reached out and touched the broken places, the shattered hearts, those suffering loss of hope. As the news reports pour in, and as the search for answers and those to blame continues, pause and remember Christ is here. 

While wandering through social media look and be the words of hope. Open your eyes and see words of hope start to turn up, statements of belief in God in spite of tragedy and questions.

The global community can support and encourage. A friend can raise our eye line from the pain around to the Savior who is present in the midst. And we can gather and worship this Savior in hope and find His comfort. Words like this prayer from Celeste Ryan: “Oh God, this morning in the wake of tragedies around the world, we come with heavy hearts, unanswered questions and in need of a word from you. As we worship you today, God, draw near to us, bind us together, bring us words of life, and grant us peace. In the name of Jesus who came to love and bring life, not hatred and death. Amen.”

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Memorize the Scripture

Do the words of Sabbath school memory verses still echo around your head? Do their echoes seem to come at just the right time? Words like: “For God so loved the world that He gave…” Words like, “If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive…” Or “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness…” 

When the Word of God becomes a part of you stressful situations will often trigger a memory, a God-given memory of one of His promises. Those precious words will bring comfort and hope in difficult times.

The challenge this week so to store more of those passages away in your heart. A few you may want to choose between are: Philippians 4:6, John 3:16, Galatians 2:20, or Romans 6:23. Write your chosen verse out on a 3x5 card, or set as a daily reminder in your phone. Carry these words with you so you can easily read over it several times a day. And as you memorize you let the scriptures become a part of your life and hope.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Beauty in Service

With a face covered in scars from a childhood accident, she often felt out of place or watched. She limited that time she must move about in common society, choosing to move quickly and quietly before retreating. Yet she found a place that made the thoughts of her scars sink deep into the back of her mind: when she served. 

The civil war raged, and those with nursing skills were in high demand. And so she went, first hesitantly, and then confidently. Moving among the wounded soldiers she found her place. Here her face wasn’t the first thing people noticed. It was her hands and compassion and caring that were noted. 

When asked why she volunteered to work among so much death and carnage, she replied, “The wounded soldiers don’t notice my scars as much as the others. To them, I’m beautiful.”

In service our scars fade into the background and what is seen is Christ’s character of compassion. Matthew 9 describes Jesus walking through the crowds, and at sight of the sick His heart moved with compassion. Our choice to serve is motivated by our love for Christ and how He sees them. Our hearts move with compassion, and so we serve.

My challenge to you this week is to find a place to serve. And in that place of service, let others know it is Christ living in you that motivates your service.