Monthly Archives: August 2009

Therefore GO!

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This guy is an amazing chalk artist. He inspires me. Greatly.  Jesus Christ inspires me first and foremost.  My heart’s desire is to lead people to Christ by using art.  I want to be an encourager, not a discourager. I want to share God’s love, to offer peace & hope ; I want to shine the light of Christ through my artwork.  I want to reach people in a new and different way.  God has instilled this desire in me and lately I have been feeling the pull of the world, “to just forget about it, let somebody else do it, you don’t have what it takes, it’s not for you, you aren’t that good at it, it’s time consuming, it gets in the way of family life.”  I have been focused on other people and things and not on the things of Christ.  I am an approval addict, probably one of the world’s biggest!  I also have this little tape recorder in my head that plays all the negative, discouraging CRAP, over and over again.  Yes, I said crap.  Because you know what? That’s exactly what it is!  It’s not from GOD. 

Ephesians 6: 10-19 says: 

The Armor of God

 10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

It says: BE STRONG in the LORD and in his MIGHTY power!!!!!!!!!!   God is all powerful & ominiscient.  ( having infinite awareness, understanding and insight.  Possessing a universal or complete knowledge!)  He has all the knowledge, understanding and insight that we all wish we had.  He asks us to do things we never dreamed we would or even could do.  He is NOT going to ask you to do something that He won’t bring you through.  He is the ALL MIGHTY!  There is no one else like God.  No one.  ( By the way, I am giving myself a pep talk and if you want to listen in, feel free!  )

We are to put on the FULL armor of GOD, not just part of it, but ALL of it.  The Belt of TRUTH, the Breastplate of RIGHTEOUSNESS, feet fit with READINESS that comes from the gospel of PEACE , a shield of FAITH to extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one , the helmet of SALVATION, and the SWORD of the Spirit which is the Word of God.   When you play softball you have to have all the players in order to have all the bases covered.  Infield, outfield, 1,2,3 bases, catcher, pitcher, hitter, umpire.   If you are missing even one player, you aren’t going to have as good a game as you would have had with them all.  It leaves you weak in one area.  If you are missing two or more, then you are working overtime to cover those positions as well as your own.  Well, the armor of God is like that too.  We can’t have one without the other.  They all work together in unity.  So if I am praying, but I am not being faithful, righteous or peaceful, I am going to be in trouble.  I will have to work overtime to cover those three that are missing.  This causes me to stumble and fall.  The good news is that when I do, God is right there to pick me up and dust me off. 

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( Emily)

When I was a kid I loved to ride my bike.  I  lived between “Lottie’s Hill and Sutterby Hill” and I would race down one hill and back up the other.  Well, there were quite a few times when I wrecked at the bottom.  I always had gravel in my knees and blood running down my legs.    There was one summer when my parents were always picking me up and toting me to the emergency room!  They were always faithful to pick me up, dry my tears, wipe my legs off and cart me to the emergency room to get my wounds tended to.  Thanks Mom and Dad!   This is what God does for us too.  He lifts us up, embraces us, wipes away our tears and puts salve on our wounds.  Wounds that we are not to forget too soon!  It is in the pain of the wound that we grow in understanding and knowledge.  We learn when to apply the brakes on our bicycle, we learn when to speed up, with time and experience we learn to balance the two until we are confidently riding in the wind again.  We have to be fully armored, alert, ready and prayerful in all that we do. 

“I want to live with a fearless courage, courage that’s coming from trusting GOD!  It’s constantly guiding me though the road may seem dark, I want to live with a fearless heart. ” ( Point of Grace)   I don’t know how to do this without God.  The world scares me, needs are great and I am but one miniscule of a dot on this earth.  A dot that is a body that God planned long before I was ever thought of by my parents.  God filled me with this yearning to help people see Him, to want to do, to be useful, to be needed, to be real, to be an encourager, to be a peacemaker, to create , to love all people, regardless of race, nationality, color, creed.  God made us all and not one of us is anymore special than the next.  We are ALL special because we are created in HIS IMAGE!    That’s the story I want to tell and I can only do it with Christ by my side giving me the strength and courage I need.   Thanks Chalkguy.  You inspire me! 

 

 

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Living Sacrifices

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Romans 12

Living Sacrifices

 1Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual[a] act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

This verse from Romans 12 has become my motto in the past several months.  I have dealt with being overweight my entire life and while I was home on vacation this summer, I got a good look at myself, physcially, mentally and spiritually.  I knew I had to do something different.  I had tried a lot of different things but none of them ever worked for very long.  I wonder why?  Because I was focused on the problem and not on God.  My friend Ronnie says that admission is the first step to recovery and he is right.  I had to get real with myself and with God. 

This verse says that we are to offer our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God.  It is my humble opinion that we are to be careful of what type of food we place in our mouths & how it is prepared.  The fresher and leaner the better.  We need to be intentional in our planning and think about what we eat before we eat.  Not just grab the quickest thing that is available. Dave Ramsey says we pay a high price for convenience.  He is speaking about money matters and  I think this extends to our diet and lifestyles too.  If we grab a whopper and FF just because it is quick, then we have just consumed 1260 calories!  ( yes, I looked it up)  That’s 71 grams of fat!  WOW!  I love whoppers and FF and I don’t eat them very often and this is why.  A junior whopper is 390 calories and 22 fat, the small fries are 230 calories and 11 fat.  That is still a LOT!  That convenient food has filled our bellies for a short while, but it has also added that much more fat and calories to our intake for that day.  So we pay for the convenience in the way we feel, how our clothes fit and the amount of cholesterol and fat we fill our arteries with.  Blech!

We need to plan, plan, plan.  If you’ve ever taken a finance and budgeting class, you already know how to do this!  Instead of doing it with money, we do it with our food.  It means writing out a menu, which I am not very good at, and then make a shopping list and adhere to that list as we shop!  We want to fill our bodies with the things from God’s green earth and not from the chip aisle or from the candy bar rack in Wal Mart.  Let me just tell you that this is NOT easy to do by ourselves and if we try to do it by ourselves we will ultimately fail.  It is only when we hand these things over to God that we will succeed.  It takes a lot of prayer, encouragement and reading of the scriptures to remain strong and steadfast in the goal to be holy and pleasing to God.  It is only through Christ that we can do this.  When we retrain ourselves to eat and think healthy, then we have transformed ourselves by the renewing of our mind and this is exactly what this verse means.  When we focus on GOD then we are holy and pleasing to Him!  THIS is our act of spiritual worship.

This song by Point of Grace defines how I was feeling about myself:

” Broken Thing”

I tried to walk quickly past the water’s edge

Didn’t wanna see my own reflection

but I just stepped off the highest ledge

and fell into the sea of imperfection

and just like every other time before

I washed up in pieces in  the shore.

You found beauty on this broken thing

made angels dance with wounded wings

I can’t imagine anything more beautiful.

you took the damaged part of me

restored what little dignity was left inside

this broken thing.

Yeah i was wading in deep despair

wandering with no sense of direction

thinking prayers just vanished in the air

cause I got myself in this situation

and just like every other time before

you made the pieces into so much more

You found beauty in this broken thing

made angels dance with wounded wings

I can’t imagine anything more beautiful.

You took the damaged part of me

restored what little dignity was left inside

this broken thing.

I know I’m not worthy of

this never ending perfect love.”

This morning I went to an aerobics class at First Baptist Church in Hillsville.  It is a small class, about 7 people, including myself.  My friend Donna Kaye teaches the class.  She starts out with warm ups to Christian music.  Then she works up to an aerobic pace, and then back down again, with stretching at the end.  When we were members of the Wellness Center I used to be in her class there.  It was always a workout and a lot of fun!  I had forgotten how much!

As we exercised to the music, DK encouraged us to release our stress and think about what the music was saying to us, to think about God.  She had a Nicole Mullen CD in and if you are familiar with her, you know she is quite a singer!  As we exercised and laughed I thought about this verse from Romans today, how we were being holy and pleasing to God by exercising our bodies, minds and souls in this aerobic act of worship.  Because for me, that is exactly what it was.  As I stretched and kicked, I thought about how God was using this class to strengthen and tone my body for the work He has planned for me to do, not just for today, but for everyday.  I admit I hate to exercise but the benefits that I receive from doing the workout cannot be bought with any amount of money.  It is our spiritual act of worship.    Once we stretched and cooled down, DK asked for prayer requests and she offered up a beautiful prayer to our Father in Heaven.  Our morning had started out right…with Special K!  ( being in tune with our King!)

 

King of the World

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This video is a children’s book written and read by Cindy Morgan.  It is beautiful!  It will make you cry as you think of your Dad.  Get a kleenex!

The music video is the song that Point Of Grace sings that goes with the book.  Like I said, get a kleenex!

Enjoy!

Teeter Totters

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lumpy-friends-teeter-totter

Teeter Totters.

Harumph!

Seems like I’ve been on one end or the other, just like these Pooh characters.

I have trouble with my “balancing act.”  Do you?

Today I feel a little like Rabbit does up there, in the middle of the frightening crowd.  ” Is elephant going to get off or not?” and if he does, “what ever will I do?”  “Which way will I go?”  ” Will my landing be a soft one, or a hard one?”  ” Who will catch me?”  ” Will I get hurt?”   My thoughts have been running amok lately.     So many questions, not many answers.  Where is my hope?  Why am I feeling this way?  Why can’t I balance my act? 

God has been telling me to SLOW down, to be more like Eeyore.  Relax a little, take a stroll, enjoy life.  I feel like I’ve been on a high wire.  I’ve been there so long that I’ve gotten myself dizzy and sick.  I guess I better listen to God and Eeyore…take a stroll and enjoy the hundred acre woods, bounce a little like Tigger and eat a pawful of honey like Pooh.  Sorry Rabbit, but I’ve been too much like you lately, fretting and worrying over my garden.  It’s not really my garden though, is it?  Harumph!  

The only one smiling at the high end of the teeter totter is little ROO. Why do you suppose that is?  Do you think he knows an adventure when he see’s one?  Do you think he is along for the ride and the excitement?  Do you think he’s a little like a kid on a rollercoaster?  I want to be like ROO, ALL THE TIME!  Lord, help me enjoy the adventure and the ride, even when my legs are off the ground flailing around.  I know you will be right there to catch me and you will cushion my fall.  Like little ROO who is embraced by Kanga’s comforting pouch, you too are my comforter, my Savior, my Friend, my Balancing Act.  Oh Lord I give it all up to you and ask that YOU balance my act, not me. 

Silly old bear…

Pray!

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1 Corinthians 13:8 (The Message)

 8-10Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.

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“Our incomplete will be cancelled.” 

Can you imagine being 100% complete, knowing all the truth and having a love that never dies? 

It takes my breath away thinking about it.  Only Jesus Christ, the Son of God, will be able to make us whole again.  Without Him we are nothing.  With Him, all things are possible.  I cannot imagine a life without Him.  Can you imagine not thinking about Jesus for months?  Or how about being in the ministry, preaching, teaching and serving communion and admitting to not having thought of Jesus in a long time?  I cannot fathom it.  But it does happen.  Our pastors, preachers, lay people, and everyone in the ministry needs our intercessory prayers.  Thier burdens are heavy and they are but one person trying to serve many.  Can you imagine having 300 people call on you all at once for counseling, prayer & problems?  Most of the time pastors hear the bad stuff, not much good stuff.  Look for the good stuff and let them know about it!  It is so important that we lift them up EVERYDAY in prayer.  They desire it and they need it. We have no idea what they go through everyday.   They also need our encouragement and appreciation.  When we are working for the Lord, there is always some type of confrontation, battle, question, advice, criticism, etc..  

 Pray for our Pastors and church leaders to be bold, strong, and committed to serving the LORD, and not the world.   

Pray without ceasing!

 

 

God calls for obedience

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Hi! 

 This was my SS lesson for yesterday, which I didn’t get to present due to being sick, and Oliver McBride kindly did it for me.  THANK YOU OLIVER!!!!   Today’s lesson is called GOD CALLS FOR OBEDIENCE!  I think this is sort of funny because when Sue asked me to teach for her a month ago, I kind of hemmed and hawed and told her I’d let her know.  Well, when I looked at the title I had to laugh and say, “ OK God, you win! I’ll do it.”  I called Sue and told her and we had a good laugh together.

 The PURPOSE statement is:  To respond WHOLEHEARTEDLY to God’s covenant love by FAITHFULLY OBEYING God’s law and TEACHING others.  The scripture is from Deuteronomy 6: 1-9, 20- 24.

  The KEY VERSES are Deuteronomy 6:4-6

Hear O Israel:  The LORD is our God, the Lord alone.  You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.  Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart.

This verse of scripture is known as the Great Commandment or the Shema.  The word Shema is the Hebrew word for HEAR.  It tells us to LISTEN and OBEY. 

The LORD is OUR God, the Lord is one.  It doesn’t say his, hers or mine, it says OURS.  The God of the entire faith community, Creator of Heaven and earth.   We are to have NO OTHER GOD except the Lord, and why would we want any other?  Our God is a God who only wants to pour His blessings upon us. 

 God is undivided and consistent.  He gives us a sunrise every morning and a sunset every evening.  He alone holds the universe upright. ( Psalm 111:2)  Great are the works of the Lord!  They are pondered by all who delight in them.

 Now let’s ponder on these words today: 

You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.

  Israel was called to live a life of total devotion and commitment to the Lord.  Today we too are called to be committed and devoted to God in everything that we do. When we love someone we respect and revere them.  We look up to them, we seek their advice, their love, their teaching and even their discipline from time to time.  This is what God wants from each of us.  I think this is what wholehearted love is.    It is NOT emotions, it is ACTION!  We show our love to God when we do what He is asking us to do.  That is faithful obedience.  Like Noah building an ark! 

 Laura Holderfield said it best when she said, “ Compassion takes action!”  That doesn’t mean sitting on our hands, it means getting up and doing, even when we don’t want to get up and do!  This means visiting shut ins, serving at Open Table, teaching a SS lesson, serving communion, going to Nicaragua, Africa or Slovakia.   Each of us must decide, individually, how to respond to God’s commands.  

 The teachers guide says that  when we read the words, heart, soul and might, these three words function together to portray a WHOLE BEING who is totally devoted to the Lord.The word HEART refers to a person’s center of thought and decision making.  To love the Lord with one’s heart is to be fully devoted and centered on obeying God with one’s thought world… decision making… and will. 

Soul is not the spiritual part of a person, but the totality of the person.  To love the Lord with one’s soul is to be fully devoted and faithful to God with all that one is- with our entire being- with all of our gifts, passions and talents.  It requires 100 % commitment. 

 The word MIGHT means muchness.  It points to going ABOVE and BEYOND the call of duty!  We are to love God with our heart, soul,  and might, or with everything we have and then some!   In Matthew 22: 37 Jesus says, “ Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 

 Obedience goes hand in hand with teaching.  We must teach our children, grandchildren and as many people as we can about God’s great love for the world.  As a mother I often feel like what I do isn’t important, but God has gently reminded me that it IS!  Think about this the next time you share God’s story with someone, YOU ARE important and YOU are helping to shape the Kingdom of God when you teach anyone about God’s great love.  This is obedience! 

Psalm 119: 33 says:   “ Teach me O Lord, to follow your decrees:  then I will keep them to the end.  Give me understanding, and I will keep your law and obey it with all of my heart.  Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight.”  Laura shared this with us after returning from her mission trip  “True happiness is being in the middle of God’s will.”

 We are to teach our children that God created the heavens and the earth, that Noah built an ark and that there WAS a flood!  That they were knit together in their mother’s womb and that they are fearfully and wonderfully made, that Jesus was born of a virgin, suffered, died and rose again.  Why? Because GOD loves us and He longs for us to embrace him.   It is our responsibility, as parents, grandparents, and the church family to teach our children what the bible says.  Not what the tv or radio says, but what the WORD OF GOD says.  Our focus must be on the Lord, not on the world.

In doing this lesson I have been reminded of my oldest daughter Corynn, and how her life has been shaped by years of teaching her God’s Word.  Not only by Cort and I, but by all of you also.  This church has had a huge impact on this young woman’s life.  During the first week of school she got into a huge debate in her science class.  The teacher was teaching on evolution and Corynn had some pertinent questions on this topic.  She is quite knowledgeable on the topic of creation thanks to two past SS teachers who have a passion for creation.  She told the teacher, and the class, that she was “ tired of hearing one side of the story and that she wanted to hear them both!”  Creation & Evolution.  Well, this started a debate in the classroom.  Several other kids had the same questions and several others verbally told her to “ sit down and shut up.”  She pointed to the Bill of Rights that was posted on the wall and said, “ See that?  I have the freedom of speech and I am not going to keep quiet!”  And she won’t.  How did she get so brave?  I am certainly not that way!  Does she sound a little like someone else we all know and love?  Someone else who has been taught by all of you?  Someone who sings of her love for the Lord with all her might?  Corynn is being shaped and molded by all that she sees and hears, and all of that comes from YOUR faithful obedience!  Our children are under constant attack by the outside world and we have to keep the word of God on our hearts at all times in order to give them the armor they need to defend themselves from the evil one. 

 The WORDS OF GOD must be engraved on our hearts.  A life of faithful devotion to God begins with constant attentiveness to the WORDS OF GOD.  They must be at the front of our mind at all times.   As you teachers know, we learn best by repeating things over and over. 

The Jewish people made these leather prayer boxes with long leather straps and tied them to their foreheads and to their left upper arm.  Inside the boxes written on parchment were scripture passages, a constant reminder of how to live each moment, always being conscious of God’s will and God’s way in their daily living. 

 HERE IS A PICTURE OF THE BOXES…

 

Jewish tefillin

 One of the ways I remember is by drawing. 

 The Shema full size

 Some other ways to remember are by reciting the Apostles Creed, taking communion, being baptized, memorizing scripture and teaching, reading, singing, storytelling, and writing about the story of God.  I also wear a cross.  I don’t wear it for any other reason than for me to be reminded of who created me, whose I am and who I follow.  When I touch it I am reminded of what Christ did for me when He died.  It is my constant reminder, like the boxes are to the Jewish people. 

I want to end the lesson by asking you to think about who your mission is?  Is there someone in your life that God is calling you to build a relationship with?  Someone who needs to hear about love? Someone who needs to be loved?  Someone who is unlovable??  Someone who needs to hear that they ARE indeed loved by our creator, Father of Heaven and earth?  Let us pray.

 Father God, Creator of Heaven and earth, We thank you for this beautiful Sabbath morning and for your Words of Truth.  As we depart today, I ask that you guide each person here to teach someone about your abundant love for the world.  I ask that the Holy Spirit fall fresh on each and everyone of us as we speak of your love.  May YOU be seen in all that we think, say and do.  We love you Daddy,

Amen

 

I Believe

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Hi!

These beautiful stained glass windows are located in Princeton NJ, at Princeton United Methodist Church.

These are the apostles,  Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Note how young John looks and how he resembles what we think Jesus looks like.    He WAS the youngest one, around 16.  The Beloved Disciple.

2-apostles

The Apostles Creed is a belief statement that is recited in many church congregations around the world.  It tells people WHO we believe in, what he created, how he was born, how he suffered, died, and victoriously rose again!  It’s about forgiveness and an incomprehensible love.   It’s about you. It’s about me.  It’s about a relationship with Jesus, the lover of our souls. 

The Apostles’ Creed

I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
   maker of heaven and earth.

And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord;
   who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
      born of the virgin Mary,
      suffered under Pontius Pilate,
      was crucified, died, and was buried;
   the third day he rose from the dead;
   he ascended into heaven,
   and sitteth at the right hand of the Father Almighty.
   from thence he shall come again to judge the quick and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
   the holy catholic Church,
   the communion of saints,
   the forgiveness of sins,
   the resurrection of the body,
   and the life everlasting.

Amen.

 

Last night I went to choir practice, which I don’t normally do.  I felt like singing.  I think it was divine.  I’ve been doing a lot of self- examination & praying for God’s will to be unfolded in my life.  It is, little by little.  It has also caused me to really look inward and ask myself some very heavy questions.  This song we sang in choir was a new one and it really spoke to me…here are the words…

I Believe

When I said that I would follow,

it was with an honest heart;

but I didn’t fully understand the cost-

’cause there are saints throughout the ages,

and there are those today,

who show us what it really means to carry the cross.

But that only fuels my devotion,

no matter what comes I will say:

Yes, I believe; I believe- with all that is within me.

Yes, I believe, though the world rises up against me.

I will be faithful to the choice I have made.

I am determined I will not be ashamed to so the whole world can see that

YES! I believe.

There will never be a reason to loose this confidence,

for I have found where my assurance lies.

It is not in my own power,

but in WHO my Savior is.

And the truth of this conviction makes me shout to the sky:

Yes, I believe;  I believe with all that is within me.

Yes, I believe, though the world rises up against me.

I will be faithful to the choice I have made.

I am determined I will not be ashamed to live so the whole world can see that

YES! I believe.Yes, I believe.

He is risen.

Yes I believe.

We are forgiven.

Yes, I believe, I believe and one day we’ll see Him,

and together we’ll say:

Yes, I believe;  I believe with all that is within me.

Yes, I believe, though the world rises up against me.

I will be faithful to the choice I have made.

I am determined I will not be ashamed to live so the whole world can see that

YES! I believe.Yes, I believe.

Jesus pencil sketch

I believe with all of my heart, mind, body and soul, and I don’t think I can ever fully comprehend the love, joy, peace OR the cost that goes with the belief.   One thing I do know is that Jesus is worth it all.    It’s all about Him.  Not about me.   As I sing this I will think of those who carried the cross before me in the past, those who carry it in the present and those who will carry it in the future.  I will sing for those who lived & died for what they believed in…the same thing I believe in….Jesus Christ, the Son of God, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate,was crucified, died, and was buried;  and on the third day he rose from the dead;   he ascended into heaven, and today He sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.

YES! I BELIEVE!

 

Homecoming # 2

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Please listen to this while you read!

 

Hi!

I like to see how ideas grow, much like how a garden grows from many seeds.  The following pictures are all from my sketchbook and lead up to the final drawing for Flat Rock.  They are pretty much all the same with a few differences.  Interesting though. 

This is the very first idea I had, after visiting the church one time.

Flat Rock Original drawing

 This one looks like the church itself.  Steeple and all.Flat Rock drawing 2

 This is the chalk drawing I did for the service.  White chalk on a black sheet with the letters in blue.100_1883

As you can see the chalk and dark sheet give it a totally different feel and effect than pencil and paper!

The JESUS picture in the background is by Warner Salman.  It is the most famous Jesus painting in the world.  This one seemed to come to life for me.  It was placed under the lights and the way the light hits his face makes the painting very lifelike.  It is a beautiful painting for this little church!

100_1881 

Unfortunately this is not a very good photograph and I did not get a picture of this drawing matted.  I presented this one to one of the church members as my gift to them for new beginnings!  One of the church members, Anna, sang a song that talked about how failure opens doors and that starting over brings new life again.  This is so true.   I am gently reminded that there IS new life in the pain of failure and that God is always there with us, even when we can’t hear or feel His presence.  It’s not because He is gone, it is because we can’t hear, feel, or see through our pain.  It is so great that it consumes us, not leaving room for anything else.  Sometimes it is that pain that stretches us and makes us grow.  When we get to the other side, we begin to see how God carried us through it and we are forever grateful. 

Flat Rock Rise Up

 This last picture is my all time favorite!  ( see below) I was sitting on the front row and there were 3 kids sitting behind me.  As I was drawing, they “leaned in” to get a closer look, you know how you do when you hear a good story or watch a good movie?  You scootch to the edge of your seat and listen intently.  Well, these kids were like that.  I realized later that maybe they had never seen anyone draw in church and that just maybe this was holding thier attention while Mitchell was giving the message.  Anyway, I could feel thier 6 little eyes on me and once I turned slightly to my right and I saw the little boy, eyes big and wide behind his glasses, standing beside the end of the pew, peering around the seat so he could see better.  I turned back to the drawing and just grinned.  It really made my day.  When I finished the drawing, I sat down and I handed my bulletin to the two girls in the seat behind and I told them to draw something for me.  Well, I was pretty tickled when I saw what they had drawn!  They took turns drawing it!  Talk about teamwork!  There is a lesson on unity here!  This drawing gives me goosebumps and I know it is making our Father in Heaven just grin from east to west!   Thank you Kelly and Sophie!  I love you girls!  You are two beautiful and very talented artists and it is my prayer that you continue to glorify God with the gifts He has given you both! 

Flat Rock Kids pic

When I left the church that day I felt very inadequate in what I was doing.  I felt like I had left something undone, that I had not done enough.  Can we ever do enough, can we ever reach enough people, can we ever speak enough, love enough, give enough, sacrifice enough?   Probably not, and we can’t save the world no matter how hard we try.  That’s not our job.  It’s God’s.  My job is to share Christ with all I meet and let God do the rest.   When I look at this picture and I see the little Jesus in the doorway with his arms stretched wide I know I have done what God has asked me to do.  God has used these two little girls to bless my socks off.  He has big plans for them and I can’t wait to see them unfold!  WOW! 

Thank you precious Lord Jesus, I love you so very much…

D.

Homecoming #1

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Hi!

Yesterday I was doing ministry at Flat Rock Methodist Church located in Independence, VA..  It was their Homecoming.  ( 120 years of service!) It was also the first Sunday service to be held there in 2009.  Mitchell Vaught, a layspeaker from First UMC in Independence was giving the message.  His message was on raising Lazarus.  I was his artist sidekick and I drew a picture of the church being unbound.  If you have been following along in my blog, you will remember that Flat Rock was supposed to have been closed.  Well, today, it’s doors are still open thanks to the love and care of many who are devoted to the rebuilding of this church’s congregation in this community.  It is a sacrifice of love.  This church is a beacon of hope for the lost, the lonely, and the broken.  It is a place for us to meet God, a place where we can embrace God with all of our strength when we feel lonely and scared, a place where we can melt at His feet in willing obedience, a place where we can be lifted up, a place to be filled, and a place to soar on eagles wings.  It is not just a building, it is a legacy.  A legacy of love, disaster, hope, faith, renewal and sacrifice.  Every church has a story to tell.  Do you know your church’s story?  Do you know the people in the story?  Have you met love, faith and hope there?  I bet you have!  I certainly have!

Mitchell’s message was strong and full of details and history of the bible.  It was personal and convicting.  Mitchell spoke of the sin that binds us to this earth.  The sin that keeps us from soaring.  The sin that makes us shuffle along because we are so wrapped up in it.  Lazarus was bound from head to toe by graveclothes.  He couldn’t undo them himself.  He had to have help getting them off.  Jesus said, RISE!  He rose, and then the disciples had to help unloose Lazarus so he could be free to move.  We all need help from time to time, even the church needs help.  We should be ready, willing and able to help when God calls us to do so.  Yes, I said, when GOD calls us to do so.  I don’t know about you, but I can get so wrapped up in pleasing people that I forget to please God.  Then I get myself in a mess.   God doesn’t intend for us to say “YES” to everything that people ask us to do.  Just the things that He asks us to do.  We need to approach life prayerfully.  Put God’s requests first and foremost.  It’s not an easy thing to do and we must train ourselves to think of GOD first. 

Back in the spring I heard a message by Beth White about Lazarus being raised.  It was awesome and God spoke directly to my heart through Beth.  I realized that God was unbinding me so that I could do what He was asking me to do.  I had my own graveclothes that needed removing.  Over time and experience some of them are gone.  I refer to them as chains.   They aren’t gone by anything I have done, but by the people and opportunities that God has placed in my life.  He has filled me with a desire to be obedient and to be willing, no matter what.  NO MATTER WHAT!  If it were up to me, I wouldn’t be doing it.  But I have learned that bucking the system doesn’t work that well either.  God keeps cleaning the grime off of my windshield until I can clearly see the road ahead of me.   He keeps sending people to guide me on my journey, to pray for me, to love me, to teach me, to unbind me of all that keeps me shuffling…until I can confidently put one foot in front of the other and WALK! 

So, what does all of this have to do with Flat Rock?  Well, it has been unloosed, just as Lazarus was.  The doors are open and Jesus is waiting there with open arms!  Can you imagine what Lazarus did after he was unloosed?  Can you see it now?  Lazarus running, feet free, arms pumping, and open wide to give Jesus the biggest bear hug ever!  WOW!  What an embrace that must have been!  It is the very same embrace we  will receive when we meet our Lord face to face.   It is the very same expression I saw on the faces of the folks at Flat Rock yesterday.  It is the very same joy that my friend Betsy felt when she preached at her home church, FUMC Hillsville, last night.  It is the same joy, love and longing I will feel when I return from Slovakia.  HOME!  It is my lifesong to hear those words from Jesus when I meet Him at the pearly gates , ” welcome Home my child, welcome home.”