Tag Archives: inspiration

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.

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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.

God’s Book of Proverbs – Book Review

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I just received our latest book in the mail and am already excited about reading it.  Lifeway Publishing has taken the books and verses in Proverbs and arranged them by topic.  What a great idea.  It makes it easy ti find a particular reference when you need it.  All of the many categories are arranged alphabetically and are easy to locate in either the index or by thumbing through the pages.

The quotes are from the CSB version of the Bible and there is an introduction by Trevin Wax, a biblical and reference publisher.  It also has a page that you can use if you wish to give this book as a gift.

I give this book 5 stars, that is right, this is a necessity for all Christian libraries.

 

You can purchased the book at:

https://www.lifeway.com/en/product/god-s-book-of-proverbs-P005799586

Daddy’s Girl

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At the end of a trail of thought last night, I asked myself why, at 68, I am still such a child.

God replied, “Because you are my child.”

And it is true: We can never even remotely approach the maturity of God. This is our Father who expressed his love by sacrificing his Son so that we could live. The seriousness, the intensity, the integrity, the ineffable maturity of that love is beyond human comprehension – except to know that it surrounds us, and if we allow it, it fills us, and it draws us closer to him in preparation for that day when we will unite with him forever.

I suspect that there is still a little child deep inside each of us, full of uncertainty and prone to making mistakes. Yet it is that child whose faith truly connects to Christ, the big brother who loves and protects us.

So I’m not going to worry about growing up or growing old – just so I keep growing closer to my Father – just so long as I continue to be my Daddy’s girl.

Kids Today

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Anyone that has teenagers or younger kids probably knows that phones (as it were) are a big part of life. Back in my day . . . our phones were just that, phones. And they weren’t very portable. In fact a lot of them still mounted to the wall. And then there were those that sat on the counter. Still you were limited to the distance of the cord.

But I acquiesce, now its different. There is a world of information at your fingertips. Some good, some bad. Lately I’ve noticed a good trend, a musical one. Many of the games are based on a music. And the music that plays is largely classical. As they tap on the screen in time with the tune they’re immersed in wordless melodies. I think its a wonderful way to re-introduce our next generation to something besides glamour based hip hop. (Not that I haven’t indulged myself on  occasion.) But there is study after study that shows how classical music in particular, has various benefits to our human brains.

Do I know the science of it? Absolutely not. But I know that when I listen to music, something happens. There’s always at least an emotional reaction, and often if it hits home, I get literal chills. Y’all know what I mean right? Everybody has felt it. Everybody has that one song. That has to be God given.

And we may never know why exactly, but God seems to have given us this beautiful gift not solely for entertainment, but in part at least to inspire, and heal. In fact music is so important to God, He created Psalms. A large collection of music mostly written by a beloved warrior king. (I’d love to be able to go back in time to hear how they were originally meant to be heard.)

So while kids today have it pretty good, and technology is scary, God will always want to share His wonders with His children. And that’s pretty cool.

The Case for Christ – Book Review

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I just finished reading the book “The Case for Christ” by Lee Strobel and I felt I should mention this book to others.  I love reading articles and books that confirm the Bible in history, and Lee Strobel’s book fits that description perfectly.

A movie has been made from this book and I have to tell you that I haven’t seen the movie, yet.  I’m more a book person and will read the book, if available, before I see the movie.  I’m always asked how the movie compared to the book and usually I have to say that there is always more details in the book.

Now, this book is wonderful for anyone who is wanting to include historic facts to their evangelism.  Lee Strobel, who was once an atheist, goes on a quest to prove Jesus didn’t exist.  His wife came home one day and told him she was now a Christian and he had to prove how wrong she was.   Lee, who is a well known investigative reporter, starts interviewing the experts from all over the country, bringing all the questions and doubts that he and others have raised.  At the end of each chapter there is a list of questions for deliberation or for group study.  Lee gives a full list of citations and a topical index at the end for further study.

The book is in three parts: Examining the Record, Analyzing Jesus and Researching the Resurrection.  In each part is the transcripts of his conversations with each expert.  It’s not what I would call an easy read.  While you are reading you need to pay attention to what is being said.  However, the book flows and pulls you into Lee’s quest up to the part where he makes his own decision to follow Christ.

For any skeptics that are reading this I would encourage you to pick up the book or, at least, see the movie.  For the Christians reading this, I would encourage you to read the book so that you can add some of the references to expand your knowledge of Biblical history.

“Ancient Words” a song by Michael W. Smith kept playing in my head once I got about halfway through this book.  Here are the lyrics and a link to hear the song.

“Ancient Words”
Holy words long preserved, For our walk in this world
They resound with God’s own heart, Oh, let the ancient words impart

Words of Life, words of Hope, Give us strength, help us cope
In this world, where e’er we roam, Ancient words will guide us home

[Chorus:]
Ancient words ever true
Changing me and changing you
We have come with open hearts
Oh, let the ancient words impart

Holy words of our Faith, Handed down to this age
Came to us through sacrifice, Oh heed the faithful words of Christ

Holy words long preserved, For our walk in this world
They resound with God’s own heart, Oh let the ancient words impart

[Chorus:]
Ancient words ever true
Changing me and changing you
We have come with open hearts
Oh, let the ancient words impart

Here is a youtube video of the  song.  I apologize if there are ads; you can’t get away from them these days:

 

I don’t get what I deserve.

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What I deserve is Hell. Really, the ten commandments show me how true that is. According to law, I deserve nothing but punishment for the sins that I can’t help but commit. I’m selfish, I’m an ungrateful child, I’m inconsiderate . . . A glutton. For sure Sarah, the christian is not an iota better than her peers.

Yet for all my shortcomings, what makes me different is that I know something. I know Christ Jesus came and redeemed me. Linkin Park sings in one of my favorite songs,

“So let mercy come and wash away
What I’ve done
I’ll face myself to cross out what I’ve become
Erase myself
And let go of what I’ve done”
I wonder if they knew that Jesus is Mercy? I wonder if they knew when they wrote these words that Jesus does and did, wash away what we’ve done? I wonder too if they knew that they didn’t have to face themselves alone. Cuz, when we are left alone to meditate on our mistakes, it is truly unbearable. I certainly hope everyone comes to have the knowledge, that erasing ones self and letting go of what we’ve done, is only fully possible when Jesus does it for us. I know I deserve hell and the pain that comes with it. I also know (through the Holy Spirit) that Jesus saved me from that fate.
Thank the Lord almighty I don’t get what I deserve.
That being said, you now understand (I think) my perspective when I tell you that as I cancelled my appointment for a Spinal Cord Simulator ( https://www.spine-health.com/video/spinal-cord-stimulator-implant-video ) I did with faith. Faith that God knows what I go through. Faith that God is using my story for His good. Faith that one day I will get better than I deserve.
I passed the tests, I got approved, and it wasn’t enough. We came ten percent shy of being able to get it done. And time is almost out. Next year begins new deductibles and new hope. It’ll get done, or it won’t. And tomorrow me and my gimpy leg will wake up and move. I know what I deserve. And I know I’ve got it good. No one but God and I can see my pain, and that holds true with many others out there suffering and struggling with whatever.
 2 Corinthians 11:29&30
  29″ Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not burn with indignation? 30 If I must boast, I will boast about the things that show my weakness. “
Philippians 1:21
“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

 

No pain, no gain.

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No pain, no gain.

I’m gonna be totally honest. I don’t know what this month’s theme is. Sorry, I’m doing good these days to know what day it is. (Which literally happened, in the middle of class, announced out loud . . .) Things have been a little hectic, but bearable, and I of course know how immensely blessed I am. I don’t want to appear as though I’m whining. I’m well aware that I’m not the only ‘older-mother-of-three-going-back-to-school-and-working-part-time-person’ out there. And others have it much harder I’m sure. I’m leaving something out though. And I believe what I’m leaving out  might encourage someone else.

I have struggled for a long time with back pains and problems. Please no sympathy. It’s given me perspective and gratitude. At 29-30 years old (I can’t remember exactly.) I suffered a massive rupture. God provided for me that day with an attentive husband, he noticed I was hurting more than usual and stayed home to help. I slipped off the bed I was trying to get out of to make it to the couch (with my husbands help) and it was enough to leave me paralyzed from the waist down. I couldn’t feel either of my legs and (long story short) had surgery which gave me a lot of relief,  but permanent nerve damage and a modicum of weakness remained.

Five and a half years later I’ve had a new symptom, swelling. And I can do less physically than before. A whole day of work over the summer doing the wrong things and it takes me a day to recover, with the help of some strong pain meds. I’ve tried physical therapy, Ice/Heat, pain pills, exercises,  nerve medicine, (I hated that) and currently I have a compression sock and back brace. The sock helps with swelling and the pain a bit. Not to mention I sit with pillows and pick things up with my feet or a grabber. I’m rambling I know, but I’m going somewhere I promise. Well now I’ve had another MRI. Nothing ‘new’ per say. But put my MRI’s side by side and I look like a burn victim on the inside. I am technically healed. Except the scar tissue is part of the problem. And the part of my back that malfunctioned is now riddled with arthritis. I have been diagnosed with degenerative disc disease. No surprise to me.

Like I said, no pity. I have hope. Mainly in God and the after life, but earthly hope as well. There is a device called a spinal cord simulator. SCS is two wires (leads) they insert into your spinal canal that is attached to a battery pack. There’s a remote with various settings that you control. The whole thing is designed to send electrical currents through you blocking your body’s abnormal pain signals therefore providing relief.

I’m waiting on approval for a trial period to test this out. And I know I have lots of people praying for me. So I hang on to hope and faith, and get up every morning and put one foot in front of the other. God is good.

I

“This is the way; walk in it.”

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Isaiah 30:20 & 21 says this:

“Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it.'”

Our ‘bread of adversity’ and ‘water of affliction’ are of our own doing. Isaiah was speaking to a population and society that closely mirrors todays cities and social structures. They paid lip service (sometimes) to thier pastors and those they wanted something from. yet thier hearts remained selfishly hard and thier thoughts always turned inward. Only concerned with what would make them more comfortable. The problems facing those people then and us today were/are not the cause of anything God did. In fact I submitt to you that the same way darkness is the absence of light; so to, societies pains are an absence of God.

So many mistakes made, yet here God says, ‘look, I’ve brought you teachers.’ A gift given to us from the same loving Father that whispers just behind is in our ear which direction is best. God wants good for us always. But what we do is stomp the ground, stand firm and promptly run through a dark forest with no path in sight.

Somehow, then and now; we have convinced ourselves and our children after us, that obedience is a slaves punishment. That it could only be meant for torment and mockery. Why then, do troubled children from broken homes, speak of thier parents that do not hold thier children accountable or make them abide by any rules . . . as uncaring? I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard such a child say, ‘They don’t care.’ Ouch. How cruel to know that the people who are supposed to love you the most, don’t see the need to invest time and effort into teaching you.

Obedience is no punishment. It’s quite the opposite. A great and wonderful gift. God is saying “Look child. Let me show you the way.” Why reject such love? A son obeys his father out of love and respect. And in the process gains much more than was expected. A father instructs (a better word for commands) out of love and with great hope.

We have confused obedience in todays world, for something meant for a slave. But would a cruel master seek to better his slave? Why teach and loose control? Much better to keep an ignorant fool that cannot think a way out.

Children obey your father and mother. Soldier obey your sargent. Employee obey your boss. Student obey your teacher. People obey the authorities. Government obey the law and the President. President obey God Almighty.

See no one is exempt. Every knee should bow. Because God came and was obedent unto death. He knelt and washed our feet, He did what we asked of Him, He served and still serves us well. How then can we in arrogance refuse to do our part?