Love is…

What an open ended statement. Love is many things to many people. I have been away from my computer for a few days as I have been busy with one of my loves…gardening. We have finally been blessed with spring weather, temps anywhere form low 60’s to mid 70’s. Awesome. And this is what I did. You can buy the plants and put them in hangers or buy plants already in  hangers. I did some of both. Plus added some to the ground. But in reality, I am just getting started.

I was trying to get it all done before the rain started last night. Thank goodness I didn’t as what we call where I come from, Blackberry winter, has come upon us. Good grief, wasn’t the real winter long enough. Apparently not. Therefore…the hangers are now decorating my living room as temps are expected to drop below 30 with an inch of that dreaded white stuff. Sorry guys that are already in the ground, hang on.

So since there was no loving to do outside I sat down with another love and read. I finished the next to the last book of a 14 book series by Jan Karon called the Mitford Series. It is a wonderful series set in the North Carolina mountains about everyday life, its tragedy’s and triumph’s. Since I am from the south, I was very familiar with the areas she she spoke of and how very true the conditions she wrote starting in the early 2000’s are even today. I strongly suggest reading this series. You will laugh at the absurdity of its richness and cry with the truth of the pain.

Reading this series really brought home to me God’s love for us as people, human beings and how we as humans are just so…lost sometimes. It is astounding how we as a creation of love can cast off another human or animal as discarded trash or a conquest as we strive to what we believe is a higher purpose leaving destruction in our path. I looked through my study bible to see how many time the word love was used – didn’t want to count them as it was a full page and a half. Scripture tells us to love our neighbor as we love our self. Do we not love our self? And who exactly is our neighbor. My opinion is we are all neighbors, all brothers and sisters, all family. Do I fail at loving my neighbor …daily.  But if we as humans who can reason with some form of clarity about how we are supposed to be, we should be getting closer to our created purpose, yet at times we are in far left field.

So as I write my blog, I always try to remind all of us about the beauty of life that has been handed to us. Yes our circumstances may be in the bottom of the barrel but we can always CHOSE to have joy. There is a vast difference between joy and happiness. Happiness is a feeling we get due to circumstances around but joy is having inner peace. This peace comes from Christ. Jesus says “My peace I give you.” Its a peace beyond all understanding to our human minds but it is a free gift. A gift we often do not use.

As you go through your week next week, remember the inner joy and let the light of it shine through you to others around you so that to may enjoy the light and the joy it brings and always be kind.

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Dark Day of Mourning

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Today we mourn the pain and sorrow of ourselves and what Jesus did for us on the cross. His love for us is so strong; stronger than a parents love for a child as we are His children.

Jeremiah 13:3 tells us – “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.”

He loves you regardless of how well you think you are doing to be worthy of His love. As Jeremiah says I love you with an everlasting love, a love that flows from eternity with out limits or conditions.

Today’s devotion from Jesus Calling by Sarah Young remind us that on this day he showed us just how much he loved us. He died for us so that we may live. So on this day of sadness and reflective mourning, know that you are loved more than you can imagine and His love will always remain.

Even though this is a day of mourning, lets us feel His love warm us and let us share in  His loving-kindness for others to feel His astounding love.

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Horrifying to Amazing, Worship

ND Cross
Even with the roof debris scattered on the floor, the cross remains…and seems to be glowing.

So many feelings have run through us over the tragedy at Notre Dame. Watching it blaze, knowing what the building stood for over the centuries. The history that took place in that building. The love the people of Paris, France and around the world people had for this building. The art it contained. Such a loss, and yet, now as the dust is settling, we are amazed at what was not lost. The millions of people who visit this place daily were not there. The most sacred artifacts were saved. A lot of the artwork was saved. Some of the beautiful stained glass windows as in the beautiful rose window was saved. The fireman did an amazing job saving as much of the structure as they did from the over 200 foot high flames that rose about this structure with an intense heat that I could never imagine.

The unity of the people on the streets as they sang hymns in loving memory of what it used to be but I think the comment I heard says a lot about this tragedy and the fact it is Holy week. As Christ died this week, he arose to bring new life. This building will again rise to bring new life. My hope is that the love and passion felt in the streets as it seemed the building would die, would remain and go forward in the Godly love that is to come out of any building of worship of our Father.  However, Acts 7:48 reminds us that ‘The Most high does not live in houses made by man.’ We must never worship the building or anything in the building. And we must also remember that we who follow Christ have Christ living in us and we together are the church. We go to worship in a specified building to honor him for what he did for us on the cross. This is Holy week and that must be our focus, whether we are a fine church or a tent meeting, needs to be Christ and what He did for us.

Jansen-photo challenged us for today’s Tuesday Photo Challenge on Worship in  honor of the tragedy of Notre Dame.

I am enclosing pictures of my church as it is nearly 200 years old and has many beautiful stained glass windows. It would be tragic for us if we lost it but we know we would continue onward. In 1955 a tornado took off the tall spire of this church and it was not replaced when repairs were done.

Below are the 3 large windows that I thought you might enjoy. All of the windows in the sanctuary and parlor are beautiful stain glass that reflect color all through the room when the sun is shining.

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My favorite. Jesus carrying us, His beloved lambs.
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Baptism by John
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Jesus in His youth

As we focus on the meaning of this week, Holy Week, let us remember to share the love God shared so richly with us. You never know what tragedy someone may be going through in their own life so always remember to be kind. Kindness is a reflection of God’s love.

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Palm Sunday, First Day of Holy Week

Jesus on donkey

For Christians this is a very reflective week. Today is the remembered day of Jesus’ triumphant entrance into Jerusalem  prior to the celebration of Passover. The city was busting at the seams with people. There were zealot groups with their own agenda; Roman soldiers on high alert to anything strange; Jewish leaders on the ready to be rid of Jesus who could disrupt their way of life and then others that were just trying to get through the city and the festival unscathed.

John 12:13  They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,

“Hosanna!”

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Blessed is the King of Israel!”

As Christians we believe Jesus is the son of God, part of the Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. According to a recent conversation with someone of the Jewish faith, they are still looking for their Messiah to take care of just Israel, not Israel and the rest of world. They know they were originally the chosen people, the beginning people but are not quite ready to be part of the rest of the world. Interesting. From the studies I have done, the Jewish nation was looking for a political leader to rid them of the Roman oppression, a leader that they could see and touch…like the other nations had, a king. Although they knew God was real they could not get over the hurdle of having a leader they could not see.

Are we any different today? I don’t think so. Some find it hard to believe that Jesus was anything but a prophet. In today’s culture I am afraid we are too caught up in being “us” than believing in the true meaning concerning ‘good and evil’. My challenge for anyone interested in what this week is about, to really understand the significance of today, Thursday, Friday and then Sunday. It is a strong emotional roller coaster of love, caring, encouragement and acceptance.

John 15:13 says – “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” Jesus counts us all as his friends for those who accept him. He died on the cross for us friends to keep us safe from the second death. The second death is the final judgement death from God at the end of time. But to believe any of this you first need to accept the reality of Jesus as the Christ, the son of God.

I wish you all a blessed holy week. May you feel his presence in all that you do. And as you go about your week, remember as always to be kind. Kindness is a reflection of God’s love.

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Angels Among Us

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Finding amazing thing in clouds

Man has been forever curious about angels. Are they real or just some made up hope of  some much needed help and Godly intervention during fearful times. I think if I were to see one face to face, I would behave much the same way as the earlier peoples of the bible who saw them and fell flat on their face in fear.  But I do very much believe in angels and while I have probably been assisted on more than one occasion by angels not realizing it, there is the one specific time where I have no doubt of them coming to my aid. But that is not what this post is about. I am in research mode. In doing the research for book 2 of my Home of Love series, I am delving into the angels described during the visions of John  and Ezekiel, as in the living creatures. And of course as with any extensive research, you get taken on many rabbit hole chases of similar information but not necessarily what you are needing. I do love the story of Elisha in II Kings where God opens the eyes of the servants to ease their fear of the army on the hill that was coming after them. And as God open their eyes to see God’s army of angels surrounding them he also blinded the eyes of army on the hill so that they could not attack. It ties in with a picture on the bulletin board at church to encourage people that they are never left alone.

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This army is always ready and accessible to assist

The is the usual mental picture of angels when we think of them as in human type form with wings assisting children or people to safety or the glorious views of angles we see depicted during the Christmas holidays.

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The angels, ie living creatures, spoken about in Revelation and Ezekiel are more on the scary side because we do not understand the imagery depicted. So lets back up a bit and try to get some understand that may help us wrap our heads around these creatures. Sometimes when we think of angels, our mind also goes to the cute little cherub like being at Valentines day, naked baby floating around, all cute and cuddly. But cherubim are actual creatures in scripture. Cherub (single) or cherubim (plural) are mentioned in Genesis and Ezekiel. In Genesis they are somewhat fearful creatures with flaming swords banishing Adam and Eve out of the garden of Eden because of  sin; far from the Valentine Day or greeting card image. Cherubim were also placed on top of the Ark guarding it and statues of cherubim were placed in the Holy of Holies. The Holy of Holies is the most sacred high holy place in the Jewish temple. In heaven, cherubim guard God’s Holy domain and presence from any sin or corruption. They are also known as throne angels. Another creature listed along these lines are the seraphim. Cherubim are different than Seraphim as seraphim seem to be the ones constantly flying above the throne calling “Holy, Holy Holy is the Lord Almighty, who was and is and is to come” while Cherubim are guards.

In Ezekiel there seems to be an additional type of angel or living creature, that is in the form of man with four face and four wings, and there are four of them. Through my study, it seems that the living creatures have some of the features in common with cherubim and seraphim. The four faces represents all of creation with one face being of a man, one face being of a lion, one face being an ox and one face being an eagle. The man face represents the intelligence of man and Christ as the perfect man. The lion represents the creation of all wild beasts and shows the strength of Christ as the Lion of Judah. The ox represents all domesticated animals and there service, also depicting Christ as the servant. The eagle represents all flying creatures of creation and represents divinity as Christ is the divine son of God.

four-living-creatures

These creatures are also depicted through the four gospels of the new testament. Matthew(Lion) presents Christ as the lion of Judah, Mark(Ox) presents Christ as the servant, Luke(Man)Presents Christ as the perfect human, and John(Eagle) represents Christ as the divine son of God.

But in  Revelation the living creatures look a little different in that again there seems to be four of them but each being has only one face. They still represent that same meaning as those in Ezekiel, Man, Lion, Ox and Eagle. Another difference in John’s, if taken on the surface, can be like something Hollywood would create, as the creatures are covered in eyes. But if you dig into that meaning you understand is the eyes represent “seeing” as in understanding the past, present and future, not so much as visual. While this is not really a place for humor but this reminds me of the idea of mom’s having eyes in the back of their heads. We generally had a pretty good idea of what our knot-head kids were doing. Another difference between Ezekiel’s vision and John’s vision is the wings. Ezekiel saw 4 wings where John saw 6. John did describe what the wings did which I thought were interesting. Two covered the face as the beings are constantly in the presence of God and His brilliance and God is always refereed to as bright lights; even Moses came back from Sinai with a brilliance to his face from the reflection of God’s light. Another set of wings covered the feet as the feet were always considered unclean. Remember the importance of Jesus cleaning the disciples feet. And the 2 wings were used to fly.

As a whole, angels, cherubim, seraphim, living creatures are all created to serve in  some fashion. They serve God and do His request for the good of creation, all of creation. Hebrews 1:14 tells us “Are they not all ministering sprints sent out to serve…”

While I have given you a lot of information that I have read, understand I am no pastor or  biblical scholar. This is just what I have gleaned from my research. If you disagree with me, then I challenge you to research this as well and come to your own understandings and conclusions. I would love earnest discussion on this subject.

And remember my motto for everything you do. Even on you worse day you can still be kind. So I ask you to remember others are hurting just as much as you so spread kindness as you go and I promise it will make you both feel better.

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With Praise and Worship We Come

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As our church is coming together to redefine the worship service to be more of a glory to God and not of man, today…today was amazing. The music starting the service was ‘All Creatures of Our God and King’, written by Sty Francis of Assisi in 1225 (794 years ago), music written 1623 and revised by William Draper in 1926. You could feel the electric presence of God in the room, the warmth, the love, the reverence. It was still there when we went to the ‘reaching out with hands of fellowship’ greeting. The sincere love of the people was evident, it bleed into the room of fellow Christians and visitors. Then when the sermon started Pastor Rob made a statement we knew to be true but probably didn’t think much about. Of all the many times we come into the church building throughout the week, whether it be for bible study, youth activities, choir activities, ladies circles, community activities and so on and so on, these are all activities to feed our own selves. We come to those activities to learn more about God or we are there to meet about other needs the church may have or other things we may need help with. But Sunday worship is about God. We are not there for us (but we are), we are there for worshiping our God and King. Its an entirely different purpose. God is always worthy of our praise and worship regardless of our circumstances and while we do that during the week, Sunday is the day set aside where we come together as a family(the church) and praise and worship Him together, sharing in the fellowship of love he bestows on us for us to bestow on each other. That love brings us peace, peace that can only come from God. John 14:27 tells us of Jesus explaining His peace – ‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you….do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.’

So as the last verse of All Creatures of Our God and King says, Let all things their Creator bless, and worship Him in humbleness, O praise Him, Alleluia! Praise , praise the father, praise the Son, and praise the Spirit, three in one, O praise Him, Alleluia.

I don’t know if this link will work but if not go find this song on you tube and really listen to the words. There are several version, I just preferred Sovereign Grace Music, Prayers of the Saints.

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And as always, as you go through your day and encounter creatures of our God and King, remember He don’t ever make junk and all things have a love and a purpose so remember to always be kind.

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