Be a Child of the Light

“You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.”  1 Thessalonians 5:5

The hymn, I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light was written by Kathleen Thomerson in 1966, after she visited Church of the Redeemer in Houston, Texas.  The simple folk-like melody is of her own composition.  It speaks of God’s sanctifying grace in our life as we walk with Him.  Listen and remember your commitment to follow the example of Jesus.

Until We Meet Again

Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 1 Thessalonians 4:13

A good Christian friend of mine is dying;  in fact, by the time you read this post, he may be gone.  This is harder for me than it is for him, because while he will soon be in the presence of God, I am will be left behind to grieve his loss.  I will miss his friendship, his support, his passion for Bible study and his sense of humor.  Fortunately for Christians, we do not grieve as the world does.  This life is not the end, and everyone who is part of the family of God can look forward to meeting one another again.  And so, the hymn, “God Be With You ‘Til We Meet Again” has been running through my mind.

It was written In 1880 by Dr.Jeremiah Rankin, Pastor of First Congregational Church in Washington, D.C. Dr. Rankin was was looking for a farewell hymn to close the service.  Not finding one that satisfied him, he decided to write his own.  Taking a dictionary from his book shelf, he looked up the words “farewell” and “goodbye” to see what ideas might create the image he was searching for.  He found that one definition for “goodbye” was “God be with you”– and the seed that created this touching Christian hymn was planted.

 

Fanning the Flame #2

“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.”  Philippians 2:1-2

Voting on the fanning the flame project was delayed for a few more weeks in order to insure that the requirements of our church constitution for a special meeting had been met, and proper notification received by all.  However, discussion at the meeting revealed a couple of things.

The good news — enough people volunteered to serve on the planning committee, if the program is approved.  As we are a small congregation, this was a legitimate concern.

The bad news — there is not yet complete agreement.  Some are concerned about the cost;  others don’t really understand what will be achieved.  There is probably even some fear — what will happen, and how will we have to change?  Will I be able to do what is asked of me?  Do I even want to do it?

My prayer for St. Paul’s is for unity in whatever decision we make.  Total unity is, of course, not possible this side of heaven, but if we’re sharply divided, if we’re angry with one another, if we’re intent only on getting our way, no plan will succeed. This is a time for listening — to one another and to God.

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances;  for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”  1 Thessalonians 5:16-17

Pray with me friends and readers, as we attempt to discern the will of God in this matter.

The Gift of Gab

I have been known to have people say to me that I have the gift of gab. So much so that I was cleaning out things in my attic last week (the clutter we have accumulated has been driving me nuts) and I ran across a box that has been stored for 6 years and never gone through. I opened it and came across my baby book. My mother passed away from cancer when I was 16 and now that our daughter is expecting her first child (our first grandchild) in September, I took it out to reminiscence.

My eyes immediately started to swell with tears as I saw my mother’s handwriting. As I thumbed through the pages for each year it became obvious to me that I have always been and always will be a talker with mad social skills! Page after page, toddler to preschooler, kindergarten to third grader, I was a social butterfly. My mom wrote on each of those years her observations about my gift of gab and she even wrote my teachers comments. Some good, some not so good.

Ever since I can remember my mouth has gotten me into trouble. God has taught me to live in the fruits of my spirit. When it involves talking, I still struggle to always speak in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and to  have self-control while doing it. I have come a long way and there are very rare occasions when I truly struggle with it. Usually it happens when I am witness to someone being mean and hateful to someone else. This is usually when it got me in trouble as a kid too. I always want to jump in, defend, point out the behavior, and right the wrong. In my heart, I have good intentions but God has taught me there is a better way to do it.

In 1 Thessalonians 2:8, the Apostle Paul tells the church that “So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not only the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear to us,”

Paul was a preachy person, before he was converted he yelled screamed, lashed out in anger, spoke down to people, even committed murder. But when God took hold of his life he was changed. His mindset was different. From this passage we know that God changed Paul’s heart and he not only preached the good news but he lived it out. He knew for him to be effective for reaching the lost and growing believers in their faith he had to follow Jesus’ example and model true piety in his own life. Did he still get mad and frustrated? Yes! Just read any of the Epistle texts and you can find evidence. But the difference was he shared himself with the people, he shared his very soul, and he did so walking in the fruits of his spirit.

On our Via de Cristo weekends we have a saying that I model my evangelism by, “make a friend, be a friend, and bring your friend to Christ”. It is the way I feel that Jesus did it, Paul did it, and I do it. I love people. God has given me that gift. I love to talk. God has given me that gift as well. And God reminds me all the time to always speak the truth whether others will like what I have to say, but to always do it in love. Reading Paul’s letters has taught me its OK to get mad and frustrated, it is OK for me to have feelings of anger, after all I am human. But the lessons God has taught me remind me to put that passion to work for the glory of Him and Him alone.

God Loves You And So Do I

Leslie

 

 

 

 

 

Thankful for Stress!!

Giving thanks to God is easy when times are good. Sitting around the table this Thanksgiving with family, it is easy to remember why I am so blessed and thankful for all of the things that God has given me. But what about in the more trying of times? I have always been a person who dislikes conflicts and gives in easily to stress, so there are certainly times when I am not feeling very thankful. Usually it is just something small- a stressful day at work, a real estate deal that fell through, or an angry customer or client. Do I give thanks to God for my blessings during these times? Nope- instead, I usually resort to self pity, complaining, and sharing the conflicts around with friends and family members.

Reading this verse helps me put things into perspective:

1 Thessalonians 5:18

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

It is important to remember how insignificant the specifics of each day are; it is just a drop in the pool of what is the ‘big picture’ or ‘God’s Plan’. It is comforting to take peace in knowing that everything is a part of this large plan; and that instead of feeling stressed, I need to look for the learning experience and grow from each small catastrophe in life. God is great and life is good!!

A Hard Teaching

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances;  for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”  1 Thessalonians 5:18

Give thanks in all circumstances?  Really?  Give thanks when the car breaks down?  When a loved one dies?  When I’m diagnosed with a chronic illness? When I lose my job? Am I really expected to do that?

The answer is yes.  The words of Scripture are plain.  Give thanks in all circumstances, for whatever is happening is God’s will for me.  In the last blog, I talked about our Sunday School lesson, and how God used the bad things in Samson’s life, even his weaknesses, to further God’s plan.  Our lives are no different.  Things that seem bad in the moment are ultimately working to accomplish something good.  Think about that.  What a wonderful hope we have when we trust in God.  We really can rejoice always because the bad word is never the last word.

So the next time I’m faced with a difficult situation, I’m going to pray and turn it over to God.  I’m going to react with hope and trust, instead of fear and dismay.  I’m going to give thanks in advance, for whatever good things God has in store for me and the world.

 

 

Encouraging Words

“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.  For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13

I just got home from a funeral.  Yes, the man was elderly.  Yes, he was suffering.  Still, he was a father and grandfather, he had family and friends.  People will grieve his death, and that’s okay.  The Bible doesn’t tell us not to grieve, but it does tell us that as Christians, we will grieve differently than the rest of the world. Because of the resurrection, we grieve the loss of our loved one now, but not without the hope that we will be with them in Christ at some point in the future.

When our daughter, Kate, was fifteen she went to Germany for a year as an exchange student.  To be separated from our child for a year seemed like a long time.  We were discouraged from making a lot of phone calls because she needed to adjust to her new environment.  It was hard.  I missed her.  However, I knew she was having an amazing experience and that in time, we would be reunited.  That took some of the “sting” out of our separation.

For Christians, death has lost it’s sting (1 Cor. 15:55) for some of the same reasons. Right now Art, the man who died is in the presence of God.  I know it’s a wonderful experience.  In the Book of Revelation the apostle John tell us:

“He (God) will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore because the former things have passed away.”

His Christian family and friends will see him again, and share in his joy. Because of the resurrection, our separation is not permanent. “… Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Cor. 15:56