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.

Kindness 13

 

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.

Kindness 13

Angels Among Us

angel cloud
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.

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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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Do You Know God

Unashamed of Jesus posted Love God tonight and it so spoke to me I felt the need to re-share his words. It is so very important that if you want to love God that you understand how much he love you.  He loved us first…so that we could then love him.

Enjoy Love God and take to heart the message from both writers… Unashamed of Jesus and God.

And always remember to be kind as a reflection of God’s love.

Gods love

Book of Judges and Today

Whether you believe in Christ or not the use of our dating system reflects before he existed and after he existed. The time periods before and during Genesis have no date reference in the bible itself, however, there is archaeological evidence around certain characters during that time period that is surfacing helping us piece together some of the historical information previously thought  lost. What does this have to do with today, nothing much other than proving life is cyclical and man does not learn from his mistakes.

The book of Judges is estimated to have begin around 1375 BC. The very first judge was Othneil – 1367-1327 BC. The reason for the judges in the first place is the people did not obey God by intermingling with the peoples of the land that God gave to them. The very people God told the Israelites to get rid of so they they would not intermingle with them and learn their ways, thus sinning against God. The people would realize they yet again screwed up, whine and beg God for  help, God would send them a judge. They would obey, get right with God and prosper until that judge died. Then they would forget and fall away from God, again following practices they should not follow. God would get fed up, turn away from them. They would get captured by these people they were supposed to have run out of the land and on and on and on. Through each successive judge the people would get right and prosper, the judge would die, the people would revert back to doing evil but as each new judge came along the people would not get fully back into compliance so they became weaker and more sinful as a whole. The judges lasted approximately 320 years with Samson being the last judge and during his time you really saw how arrogant the people had gotten including him and the “people did as they saw fit in  their own eyes.”

That’s kind of where we are today, right. Yea, but if you read history from the 1800s, those philosophers said the same thing about their generation. So, were they wrong? No. It’s all cyclical or pendulum-atic. Not a real word but a favorite saying of my father’s. Each generation thinks they have the right answer and the strong leaders run the people all in one direction, then the next generation throws the pendulum in  the opposite direction pulling all the people in  that direction with neither side learning from the mistakes of past generations, neither relying on the grace of God to drive them and no one really going in the correct direction at all.

Today we have no prayer in school, we are killing babies out of convenience and there is no God authority in any type of government or management and very little of teaching of right and wrong even at the home level. I totally understand the separation of church and state but I also believe God needs to be the driving force. So without the teaching of right and wrong in homers, government being totally greedy in their beliefs and not have God as the head, chaos begins to break out and crazy things happen like school or theater shootings, cars running over people on crowded side walks, then down on the home level, bored kids who are not being cared for are left to run the streets to become vandals and destroy property just for fun. Last night 6-9 cars on my street were the entertainment of a few of these kids. Makes you worry about what’s next and I am in a good neighborhood.

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Black spray paint. I was lucky with only a single line.

Each generation needs to do better not worse. I know that scripture says things will get worse until God has had enough but do we really want that. It makes me sad. And it is so hard to be encouraging sometimes but we must prevail. If those of us who try to always be compassionate, encouraging or kind fail and give up – that is when evil will have won, at least evil will think it would have won but those of us who are in-tuned with God know how the story ends so I remind you to pull as many as you can with you into the love and grace of God and always be kind.

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Fog Symbolizes Life

Last week Debbie Smyth of Traveling with Intent posted a picture called Trees in black and white that inspired me so I borrowed it and wrote this poem comparing the scariness of fog to the scary uncertain things of life. We can’t always see where we are going but we can always be assured that God is with us so be encouraged. In the old testament, Moses remind the people that God is always with you. Deuteronomy 31:6 says “Be strong and courageous. Do not afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you or forsake you.” In the new testament, Paul also reminds us of God always be there for us. Hebrews 13:5b says “because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'”  So rest assured knowing His love for you.

trees, Deb Smyth
Trees Shrouded in Fog

Eerie Quiet Fog

What is it about the eerie fog that mystifies us so

Moving quietly through the trees in the valley far below.

It snakes stealthy through forest engulfing each tree

 Overtaking the land which once was thought free.

The coldness of winter brings a new kind of fog

 Surrounding each limb and crossing each log.

Mystery overtakes them as we can no longer see

The coming together as one – quiet fog and tree.

In walking through fog, the light whisper you will hear

Is the trees reassurance, you there is nothing to fear.

If deep winter chill turns the clinging fog to ice

The crystal on limbs can make the tinkling sound nice.

But if the winds pick up shaking limbs all around,

The tinkling becomes cracking as limbs fall to the ground.

But a saving sun at last shows through, melting away the fog

Leaving only a dampness to linger around the trees and log.

The longer days of sunshine bring a warmth of hope to stay

As trees remember to wake and take in this bright new day.

The lessons we can learn when watching the fog and the tree

Remind us of God’s loving hand as he forever guides you and me.

                       Anita Neal

As you remember His great love for you, be a reminder to others of His love love for them. Always Be Kind.

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