Author Archives: Beth Ann

About Beth Ann

I'm into Christian Music and play acoustic guitar, sing on the choir and I am active in our local Via de Cristo movement.

My Own Little World

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I know that I’m guilty of living in my own world.  Something is going on in my life and I pull all the sensors in, so to speak.  I don’t look out into the world and see the pain and suffering that is out there.  If I don’t see it, I can’t do anything about it.  Not even pray.  I’m centered on MY pain and suffering.

When this song came out in 2010 I was starting to look out of my own little world.  Starting to pray for others and ask how they were doing.  Asking about that medical problem that’s worrying the family.  Their problems that I knew about.  I would start a prayer list and I would pray for them.  It’s too easy to say that you’ll keep them in prayer and then forget.

One thing that needs remedied in my own little world is shown in this video.  I don’t DO something.  Sometimes the only thing that you can do is pray but many times you can actually do something.

Listen to this song by Matthew West.  It reminds us that there is a larger world out there.

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Actions Speak Louder than Words…

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Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.

Yesterday I posted the song “Do Something” by Matthew West.  Not all of us are able to drop everything and run to another country to help spread the Gospel.  We are where the Lord has planted us and I’m sure if he wanted us to run off to another place to spread the Gospel He’d let us know.

Everyday we should go about our lives, being the hands and feet of Jesus.  Much of the time we don’t have to “preach”.  We just need to be.  I have a story I want to share that showed me how much this is true.

One Thanksgiving week quite a few years back, I got a call from my boss.  We were both off work that week for the holiday and she had never called me at home before.  She told me her husband had died in his sleep that morning.  She had woken up to find him in their bed, deceased.  She was quite shocked and upset.  I was being supportive on the phone with her and in the back of my mind I was wondering why she had called me.  Then she said “Would you pray for me?” I guess I could have said that I’d keep her in my prayers (and I did), but I just said of course and started praying.  I did offer to come to her but she had her sister coming and that was good.  I didn’t want her to be alone.

I don’t “preach” at work.  I don’t even have scripture hanging around my desk.  She knew that I was active in my church and that I sometimes took off from work to go on church retreats (Via de Cristo).  We may have had small conversations about faith.  But I was floored that she came to me and asked me to pray for her.

So keep in mind that as you go out into your world that you are “preaching” the Gospel whether you are talking or not.

Do Something

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This song captured me a few years ago.  Do Something by Matthew West has a message to all Christians.  We don’t need to just sit and say “Oh, those poor people…..”  It’s time to do something.

This video explains how the song came about.  He heard about this girl that went to Uganda and then stayed there and opened up an orphanage on her own.  She’s still there, she’s still doing something.

I hope this video opens up your heart.

By Our Love

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Christy Nockels song, By Our Love, speaks to us reaching out to help one another.  This is really what Laity is all about.  We should be the hands and feet of Jesus.

What does the Laity do? (Just a small list…)

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Do you go to church every Sunday?  Do you just go to Sunday School and Church and then go home and watch the game on TV and think that you’ve done your thing for God this week?  Have you ever thought about what goes on during the week before church?

Let me give you a clue…  Members of the church that you attend are busy doing large and small jobs so that when you come in on Sunday morning, everything is set up.  The Sunday School teachers are planning their lessons.  The choir and organist are practicing the music.  Someone is typing and printing the bulletin.  Someone else may be setting up the overhead.  During this week the council met to make decisions on how the church is run as a business, taking care of bills and other boring things (yes, those decisions must be made as well).

I used to be one of the people that just came to church on Sunday.  Then I decided that I wanted to get involved.  I was amazed at how much activity goes into one service.  How much needs to be done and how many decisions have to be made.  Just like everyone else I thought the pastor took care of it.  But this is absolutely not true.  The pastor is busy with doing his thing, the shepherding, meeting people for counseling, going to see the shut-ins, visiting the sick, writing his sermon.

Then there are the people who are busy during the service. Ushers, greeters, sound techs, nursery helpers, scripture readers, communion assistants.   The list goes on.  It’s enough to make you feel guilty for just sitting in the pew, huh?  Good.  Volunteer for something.  Your church will find something for you to do.

 

Piety and Me

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We’ve been blogging about piety this month and my thought is this:  What does it look like in real terms?  I usually get this vision of a person standing or kneeling with their hands together as in prayer with this light shining off them or a halo over their heads.  Hmmm, maybe not.  OK, how about someone who is always doing something “Godly” like going to church, doing good deeds for others….  No…  How about a monk or a nun who never leave the convent or cloister?

Since we live in a world where we can’t all just run to the nearest convent or cloister, we have to look at this from a real-world view.  We can’t withdraw from the world and spend all our time praying to the Lord and studying the Word.  We need to support ourselves and our families.  So, what do we do?  What does piety really look like and how do we go about starting to live this way?

Let me preface this with the statement that this is my personal view on piety.  I’m still working this out in my own life, believe me, it’s a process and I know that I’ll never see an end to it.  Why?  Because there is no end until Jesus returns.

Piety is personal and is between a person and God.  A person may think that if they do an hour of devotionals in the morning and an hour of Bible study every evening, go to church 2,3, or however times during the week, that they are “pious”.  Not that doing all that is bad, that’s not what I’m saying.  But why are you doing it?  Are you doing all that to impress God?  You want a gold star at the end of the world and a pat on the head? That’s not going to happen.  Doing “works” is good only if it comes from the right place in your heart.  Doing something to impress God or others doesn’t cut it.  Jesus said it like this:

 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.  But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.  Matthew 6:5-6

I think that passage says more about personal piety than anything I’ve seen.  Pray in secret.  Just between you and God.  Stay humble.  Go to church, study the Bible, pray, do devotionals everyday or when you can.  Work it out in your life.  But keep it between you and God.  Cause when you start looking for pats on the head is when you are doing all this for the wrong reason.

God of All My Days

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This song has been getting a lot of air play recently for good reason.  Casting Crowns has this song that points to piety or living your whole live toward Christ.  Just listen.  I’m sure it will touch your heart.

What is Via de Cristo?

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de-colores-cursillo-clipart-1I just recently came back from another wonderful Via de Cristo weekend.  Before I left for this weekend I did a little bit of internet research on Via de Cristo and other three-day renewal movement groups like Cursillo (Catholic, Episcopal and Presbyterian), Tres Dias and Walk to Emmaus just to name a few.  All of these three-day movements are basically the same.  Lay people, just plain, everyday people from the church that are not clergy, run them.  They are not run by a particular church, but follow the doctrines of mainstream churches like Lutheran, Methodist and, as stated above, Catholic, Episcopal and Presbyterian.  To keep this blog simple, I’m going to be writing about the Lutheran Via de Cristo.

During my research I came across some blogs and forums that really had some awful things to say about these movements.  We’re secretive, we’re a cult, we’re all crazy!! (really???), we’ll try to “convert” you; you can only go if you’re invited (goes with being secretive), we have all these “code” words, and on and on.  Now I have to say here that a three-day weekend isn’t for everyone.  Some stories about people who had a hard time when they attended a weekend really should not have gone in the first place.  Many felt they were pushed to go (some will say coerced).  No one should be forced to go on one of these weekends. In this blog, I’m going to talk about some of these issues.

To go to a Via de Cristo weekend, you have to be asked to go or be “sponsored”.  If you would really like to go and haven’t been asked you could talk with your pastor.  If others in your congregation have gone then he should know about it and someone would be happy to sponsor you.  Before asking anyone to attend a weekend, a sponsor should pray about and for that person.  The person who would get the most out of a Via de Cristo weekend is a person that already attends church regularly and may be searching for a deeper understanding of Christianity.  Perhaps someone who does not completely understand what living the life of a Christian is about. These are examples of the kind of people who may go, maybe with a few reservations, but they would be willing.

The weekend itself is three days of being away from the world.  We ask new participants to shut off their cell phones so they are not distracted.  This bothers some, that there is no contact during the weekend.  We want the new participants to concentrate on their spiritual selves during this time.  It is a retreat, and by the very definition of the term (the act or process of withdrawing…) you withdraw from the world.  If there is something going on and the participant needs to be in touch, then a word to the leader (or Rector/Rectora) will let us know that arrangements need to be made.

I’ll state here that there is a whole new vocabulary you learn when you participate in a weekend.  It is not a secret code.  Via de Cristo started in Spain many years ago and it has many of the Spanish names still in use, Rector/Rectora is only one of many.  The name Via de Cristo is Spanish for “Way of Christ”.  A song called “De Colores” is sung as a theme song of sorts.  This song was written years ago when the movement first started and is still sung today.  The word has also become a signal of sorts.  These movements are all over the world, so if someone who has gone on a weekend sees a “DeColores” sticker on your car, they will know you’ve been on a weekend as well.  De Colores means “in Color” in Spanish and there’s the thing with the Rooster.  You’ll have to hear the song to figure that one out.

During the three days you listen to fifteen talks, lay people give ten and pastors give five.  These talks outline the Christian way of life with an emphasis on Piety, Study, Apostolic Action and God’s Grace.  The pastor or spiritual directors give the talks on God’s Grace.  Surrounding these talks are others titled Ideal, Leaders, Christian Community in Action and others.  It can be very intense.  There is Chapel and communion offered at least once a day.  There is music, singing, food, fellowship and fun.  We do laugh quite a bit.  The cares of the world drop away and then as everyone relaxes the laughter starts.  It’s so healing.

If you’ve already been on a Via de Cristo weekend you then get the privilege of making one of these weekends happen for others.  You serve the participants by giving one of the ten talks, working in the chapel or the kitchen, cleaning up after everyone (we have several people who do this) or serving drinks and snacks in-between talks.

I look forward to serving on these weekends.  It is such a privilege to go and work for the Lord. I get a time to “unplug” from the world, serve the Lord and help others.  I really can’t see anything bad in that.

If you’ve heard anything bad about the Via de Cristo weekends, feel free to comment and we’ll try our best to answer any questions.

Fanning the Flame #6

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Joan has wanted me to blog about my experience writing out the vision for our church. I guess I should give a bit more background than you’ve been told so far. If you’ve been paying attention, then some of this will be review.

Fanning the Flame is for church re-vitalization. We have a team of about ten people and we call ourselves the Servant Team. We are the people who get all the training and our “jobs” (as I understand it now) is to take what we learn and spread it to the congregation as a whole (Joan, if this is wrong, please correct me!).

As a team we were “assigned” to pray and meditate daily for two weeks. During this time we were to concentrate our prayers and our thoughts on our church; how do we see our church in the future, to ask the Lord for “vision” of what he would have us do. I personally found this difficult because, as a working person, I hardly have time for any Bible study or devotions. I had to carve out the time to do this. And then you wonder while thinking of the church: is this me or an idea that the Lord put in my head? We were to put the ideas on 3×5 cards. After two weeks we collected the cards and I handed in a few. The cards were then sorted roughly into groups such as Discipleship, Missions, Outreach, etc. and handed to me.

My job at this point was to go through and pull all the cards together into a narrative. Some of us only handed in a few cards but others had quite a bit. I had a stack about 3 inches high. I developed an outline first, making a heading with the group name and then going through all the cards in that group and making a bullet point for each idea. This outline was four pages long (yes, typed pages!!). Many of us had the same ideas in the same group, so that made it easier.

The biggest twist on this writing assignment was that I was to write this from the future looking back. So I dated my document in 2028 and proceded to write a history of the past 10 years. Now I have to tell you here that I was praying this whole time. I’d have my christian music playing in the background and I would try to stay in a state of worshipfulness. But I just completed the easy part. Creating the outline was just a matter of jotting down ideas. Now the harder part started. I had to go over this outline and just write.

I wrote in spurts over several days and I’m not sure how I got it all in there but when I was done almost all ideas (a few small ones didn’t make it) were in a new four page document. While I was writing I just would pray “Lord, give me the words” and I would just keep typing (it’s keyboarding now isn’t it? Oh well…). I really can’t take credit for the narrative. I just sat down, prayed and wrote. A part of me says that I should have been scared about doing this, but I never was. I just trusted that the Lord would give me the words. And He did.

Be the Hands and Feet

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Before we leave the topic of Blessings, I want to tell you about two specific times that others have blessed me without even thinking about it.

A long time ago (or it seems that way to me!!) when my children were small, my husband and I lived in this old hotel on the third floor. Joe had just gotten out of the Army (volunteer, no conflicts at the time), and we were just re-establishing ourselves back in our home state. Joe had some trouble finding a job, but was working enough to support us. I was home with our two boys; our youngest not even age one yet. This place that we lived was terrible, it was mice and roach infested, very old and drafty and it wasn’t the best decision that we’d ever made to move into this place. But it was cheap, and we didn’t have much money. Food stamps and WIC helped to feed us. Our parents would help when they could. We lived there for nine months and it was nine months too long. Anyway, there was a little Lutheran Church down the road and every once in a while, Joe and I would get everybody ready and we’d go to church there. It was very “hit and miss”; we were not regular church goers at this time.

The holidays were coming up and I think I remember that our families were all going to Thanksgiving somewhere else. We weren’t invited to these dinners and I know that it was hurtful for both Joe and I that we got left out of everyone’s plans. We didn’t have money to have a big dinner on our own and the thought of going out to eat just didn’t cross my mind. I was resigned to just having a regular dinner; probably hamburgers or hot dogs with mac and cheese.

Just before Thanksgiving there was a knock at our door. I was floored when the pastor of the Lutheran church was there along with some people, all holding boxes and bags. They had brought Thanksgiving dinner to us. There was a turkey and all the fixings, not just instant potatoes, but a five pound bag! Not just a can of green beans, but five or six cans of a variety of vegetables. They gave us a dinner, plus food. I was so blessed by this act that even today, 35 years later, tears come to my eyes just writing this.

Fast forward about 20 years. Joe was scheduled to have a very serious operation at Johns Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore. The surgery was so detailed that we were told it would take about 7 to 10 hours to complete. Both Joe and I were terrified and Joe was convinced he would die during the operation.

Joe and I were a part of the Via de Cristo community by this time and we had everyone praying about this operation. One acquaintance came up to me and told me that he worked at Johns Hopkins and that he would meet me at a food court at lunchtime and let me know how Joe was doing. He knew that the nurses really don’t tell you anything while you’re waiting for someone in an operation. The day came, and it was nerve racking to sit all morning, waiting for a word of how it’s going. The people in the waiting room would come over and tell me that they just heard that everything is going OK. That really doesn’t tell you much. At lunch I went down to meet our acquaintance and he came up and told me he just came from the operating room after checking on Joe, that his vitals are good and the surgeon says that everything was going as planned.

After I picked my mouth up off the floor I was able to talk!! You were in the operating room? Yes, he does that all the time as part of his job. You actually talked to the surgeon?!? Yes, it wasn’t a big deal. Joe looks good, his vitals are strong. God is good. Then he left. I sat there in the food court and cried with relief. God had sent him to me to let me know that everything was well. It was one of the many times that God let me know that HE was in control.

My point through this long blog is this: You don’t know when you are going to be a blessing. The members of that church barely knew us and wouldn’t remember us today, but they made a huge impression on me. Through them the Lord took care of us. Our acquaintance didn’t think it was a big deal to swing by an operating room to see how someone was doing, but it was a huge thing for me. In both of these instances God used ordinary people in ordinary settings to send a huge blessing to me.

So as you go about your ordinary life, doing your ordinary things, remember this: you may never know if God will use you to be a huge blessing in someone’s life today. So as you walk out your door, be prepared to be the hands and feet of Jesus.