I grew up going to church practically every time the doors were opened. In fact, my dad was one of the holders of the church keys, so we were often the first ones there or the last ones to leave. I have many fond memories of that church building. It was there I heard the gospel of Jesus Christ. It was there I made my public profession of faith in Jesus as a child and was subsequently baptized by the pastor and my dad (a deacon) in a local pond on a church member’s farm. It was there I was asked to serve as the church pianist at age 15 because there was no one else to play. It was in that little building I committed to live the rest of my life with my husband at age 22.
Church. A place where a congregation of about 120 felt like a big extended family. A place where I learned about Jesus and His Word. A place around which our entire lives seemed to revolve. We didn’t belong to a country club or civic group. We had family and we had church. But is “church” merely a place to attend? Or is it more than that?
Recently, I had the opportunity to read The Jesus Paradigm by David Alan Black. In his book, Dr. Black challenges us to take a hard look at the way we “do church” and compare it with the example Jesus gives us in the Bible. Continue reading “Recommended Reading: The Jesus Paradigm”
Consider this a book review. My personal opinion.
I just read Vance Pitman’s book: Unburdened: Stop Living for Jesus So Jesus Can Live Through You and it is a life-changing read! So many of us, as followers of Christ, feel that we have to follow rules and be perfect to be sure of our salvation. In essence we say we are saved by faith but kept by works, saved by grace, but sanctified by works. We can get caught in the trap of focusing on the works we do as Believers, rather than focusing on Christ Himself.
In his book, Pitman challenges us to abide in Jesus through simple and pure devotion to Him. He teaches that the life of a Jesus-follower ought to look like the life of Christ because as we abide in Him, He lives through us. Pitman’s study of the Gospels of the Bible revealed that Jesus’ life was centered on relationships with God the Father, with His disciples, and with the world. Relationships, not religion. Continue reading “Recommended Reading: Unburdened: Stop Living for Jesus So Jesus Can Live Through You”
Recently, a friend said to me, “You’re such a warrior.” Maybe it was her Southern accent, or maybe it was my poor hearing, but I didn’t hear “warrior.” I heard “worrier.” So, my response to her was, “Well, I used to be, but I’m not any more. God rescued me from the pit of worry.” She was puzzled by my response and spelled it out for me: “W-a-r-r-i-o-r, not worrier!”
Me? A warrior?
I’ve shared before about my struggles with worrying (read more in “The War with Worry”), and the Lord has done a great work in me. He has rewired the way I think. No longer do I jump headfirst into the deep end of the pool of worries and woes. No longer do I let my thoughts run over the cliff like a runaway train with no bridge ahead. How did He do it? It was a process, for sure, but the final blow to my habit of worrying came through the gift of cancer. Continue reading “From Worrier to Warrior”
It’s February and love is in the air! Red roses and heart-shaped boxes of candy greet shoppers as they enter the stores. Bright reds and pinks flood the aisles of greeting cards. Valentine’s Day is all about love, and about taking the time to express love to the special people in your life.
All of this reminds me of my childhood and the love notes that kids passed to each other in school. A scrap of notebook paper, folded into a tiny wad bore this simple message: “I love you. Do you love me? Check one box (yes or no).” The one writing the note was putting himself out there to be accepted or rejected. It took guts to put his name on a note like that and pass it to his beloved, watching with great anticipation or trepidation as she discreetly unfolded the note, read it, and checked one of the boxes. What would her answer be? Continue reading “A Love Note From God”
It was our last night of vacation in Jamaica. We wanted a picture of the sun setting over the water, so we lingered on the beach long after most of the tourists had called it a day. As we waited there, we noticed a lone security guard nearby. We knew nothing about this woman, but we felt prompted to strike up a conversation with her. Continue reading “The Fear of God in You”
What’s that smell? Cookies baking in the oven? Popcorn popping in the microwave? Burgers on the grill? Those aromas can create a hunger in me even if it isn’t mealtime! But while these scents can make my mouth water, there are other food-smells that have the opposite effect. I’m not a fan of collards. They give off a distinctive, strong odor while cooking. It is such a strong smell that I’ve heard some people cook them outside so that the odor will not permeate the whole house. I wouldn’t want my house to smell like collards, but you may love the way collards smell. The way we evaluate scents depends on our own preferences – it is very subjective.
Like foods emit aromas to us, if we are Christians, “we are the aroma of Christ to God” (2 Corinthians 2:15). Continue reading “A Pleasing Aroma”
At this time of year, many people start thinking about summer vacations. It pays to plan ahead because you can save money and ensure that you stay where you want to stay when you want to stay there. If you don’t like to plan all the details, maybe you would prefer to do what we did recently: pick your destination and let someone else do all the planning.
My dad and I chose our destination: Israel. That’s the only thing we did. Continue reading “The Ultimate Journey”
Traveling to Israel, “the Holy Land,” was life-changing in ways I had never imagined. In the middle of our 10-day journey, we found ourselves at a lovely hotel at the Dead Sea. This was a much-needed respite from all the walking we had done and still had ahead of us later in the week. I thought it would be like any other day at the beach, but I was wrong. Continue reading “Dead Sea, Living Water”
On October 2, 2017, our family was struck by tragedy when my husband’s only brother was murdered – shot and killed in his own driveway while heading out to work. In the days that followed, the Lord clearly called us to share our story and our hope with others. It started with my mother-in-law sharing at his funeral. From there, my mother-in-law, niece, and I have been walking through every door the Lord has opened to us to offer His hope to others.
Sensing that our call was not just to a particular church or denomination, but rather to the entire community, we sought the Lord about where to go and how to start. Continue reading “Answering His Call”
The Olympics: The torch, the ceremonies, the medals, and the athletes. Night after night, we are engaged by the competition and by the inspiring background stories of the competitors. They have trained for years, investing endless hours in the gym, on the slopes or on the ice, just to compete here. Each one has a unique story, some of which are full of adversity along their paths to the Olympics – injuries, the deaths of family members, financial distress, etc. We are inspired by their ability to overcome their circumstances and to focus on the end goal: a medal.
Every person faces adversity at some point, and like these athletes, we must focus on the end goal.
One of my own challenges came in the form of my cancer diagnosis a few years ago. Continue reading “Eyes on the Prize”