WAFJ Tribute

Saturday, April 29, 2006

General Maintenance

There is something about the Spring that energizes me to take on projects I have neglected throughout the winter. Today I have tackled two such projects. This morning I painted at The Dock. A splash of bright, new color was in order for the entrance to capture the attention of students the moment they walk in the building. This afternoon Christy and I spent about five hours working in the yard. My mowing and weed-eating turned into trimming hedges, planting flowers, pulling an endless number of weeds, and laying some pine straw. The time spent with Christy was most enjoyable and the work was much needed.

My mind drifted back to the resurrection story again. While walking with the two on the road to Emmaus Jesus said,

“How foolish you are, how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. (Luke 24:25-27).

Because I am so pious and so smart (as was discovered earlier this week) my attention was initially drawn to how foolish and slow of heart they were to believe. I want to say, “Come on, guys! Jesus is right there with you! Why are you so thick-headed that you just can’t get it?” Then I recognized the loving patience of Jesus as he goes through the whole thing one more time with them beginning with Moses and working his way through all the Prophets. Then the spotlight was turned on me.

My spiritual formation and growth are much like the yard and flower beds at my house. When neglected things get out of hand and the danger of losing beautiful plants and flowers to grass and weeds is imminent. It takes attention and work to keep things growing. The task cannot be relegated to once per year. Staying on top of it keeps it healthy and beautiful all year round.

How is your spiritual life right now? Is it overgrown with the weeds of doubt, fear, and confusion caused by neglect? It is worth the effort to spend the time alone with God. He will prune back the branches and make the adjustments necessary to keep your life healthy and beautiful. But remember it is not a one time solution. We need to give the Master Gardner free reign to cut and trim and fertilize and water our souls. I hope you are prepared for worship tomorrow!

Blessings!
Pastor Gary

Friday, April 28, 2006

Navigating the River

I did not post yesterday because I had a rare opportunity to spend my day off fishing on the river. Through my recognition of the Lord’s work all around me, I learned lessons from Him yesterday in just another ordinary situation. My friend launched his boat in Stevens Creek. The navigation to and in the river was treacherous from my perspective. The water is shallow and filled with tree stumps, many of which are hidden just beneath the surface of the water. The trek was slow and methodical as attention was given to steer as carefully as possible. Despite the precautions, unseen stumps scraped and jarred the boat all day.

Our time on the water was good. It was great being away from the routine and enjoying nature. We caught some fish and had them for dinner last night. In reflecting on the day, I realized it could have turned out quite differently. Fear of the dangerous waters could have prevented us from going. We would have remained safe, but would not have had the experience and stories to share. We also could have acted as if no danger existed and easily found ourselves in serious trouble. Because I went with one who knows the river and is wise enough to respect it we were able to enjoy a great day of fishing.

God reminds me of this same truth frequently. Apparently, I am hard-headed and slow to learn. He did not call us to live safe lives. He called us to go into all the world and preach the good news. We are called to do battle with the enemy. We are called to be bold and strong for Him. However, the zeal must be tempered with the acknowledgement that He is the one who knows the river. We must not get ahead of Him, but He promises to go with us and work for us as we allow Him the freedom to steer.

After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it. (Mark 16:19-20)

So do not be afraid of the uncertainty or the dangers that lie ahead. Keep pace with God, respond to His direction, and He will do the work.

Blessings!
Pastor Gary

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Real Men of Genius

“I am an absolute genius! Wow, it feels good to finally admit that! I must be one of the smartest and most insightful men on the entire planet. God sure did great things when He fearfully and wonderfully made me.” Apparently, my thought processes work like this from time to time. At times I think I am so smart I don’t even need God’s help, direction, and wisdom. I do my best to handle things in my own strength and figure things out with my great genius only to discover that I am standing in the quicksand of doubt, confusion, and fear.

Back to the resurrection ---

“When (the women) came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others…But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense” (Luke 24:9, 11).

The word “nonsense” jumped off of the page to me. The elite Eleven (the remaining apostles after Judas hanged himself) were so smart they realized it was absurd to think that Jesus had risen from the dead and that all of these supernatural events had taken place at the tomb. They could not even begin to believe until Jesus appeared to them personally and said:

“Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have” (Luke 24:38-39).

Satan is the author of doubt, confusion, and fear. If he can just be tricky enough to get us to rely on our own “genius” then our focus is taken off of the risen Christ and truth becomes nonsense to us. The disciples had a practical encounter with Jesus over a piece of broiled fish (v. 42) that brought things back into perspective. Take a step back from the struggle in your life today. Admit (just like I have to admit) that you are not quite genius status yet. Make time to get away with Jesus. Have a practical encounter with Him perhaps over a meal or down by the lake. Hear Him speak to you and allow Him to silence the nonsense of the enemy.

Blessings!
Pastor Gary

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

All Authority in Heaven and Earth

Last night, well after dark, I went outside to enjoy a beautiful evening. Christy was inside working while I lounged in the hammock looking at the stars in the dark sky. At first, there were only a few. As my eyes adjusted to the absence of light, more stars appeared. Picturing myself and my hammock in the perspective of a huge earth and an incomprehensibly large universe, I felt very small.

My mind went back to the resurrection text again for more lessons. Much like more stars appearing the longer I gazed into the sky, more truth is revealed as I spend more time taking in God’s Word. In Matthew’s account of the resurrection Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples…baptizing them…teaching them…and surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20). Does the One to whom all authority in heaven and on earth has been given really need me to do His work? My reaction is, “Not really.” However, He makes it completely obvious that regardless of whether or not He needs me, He definitely wants me. Either way, I am amazed.

Imagine receiving a call from the White House inviting you to serve in the President’s cabinet. What an overwhelming privilege! Hearing God’s call to service in His Kingdom can feel just as overwhelming even though the privilege may be clearly recognized. Our performance, though, is not based on our ability. The One who has all authority in heaven and earth is the One calling. He provides what is needed and, as we will learn this coming Sunday morning, is even doing the work. My task is to simply respond in obedience to His call. Do not fear the task to which God is calling you. He, who has all authority, is on it! Respond and watch Him work.

Blessings,
Pastor Gary

Monday, April 24, 2006

Early in the Morning

There is something about beginning the day and especially a new week with the Lord. There is indisputable evidence in my life and a marked difference on days I take time alone with God and when I do other things. There is a sense of purpose and focus available in His presence. My perspective of life and work and people is God-directed. There is a renewing of my mind that occurs when I am with Him and that transforms me just like Paul said it would in Romans 12. How helpful to begin your day that way rather than trying to recuperate after the fact.

Every gospel places deliberate emphasis on the early morning hours when recounting the resurrection story. Matthew says it was at dawn. Mark says, “Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise.” Luke reports it was very early in the morning. John writes, “Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark…” Finding a quiet moment in the morning is difficult in our fast-paced society, though. This morning I escaped to Langley Pond for an hour or so because there was honestly no quiet place on the entire church campus, but it was worth the effort to find a way.

If getting up earlier to spend time with God is absolutely not a possibility then try some other things just to focus your mind on Him. Pray silently while you are fixing breakfast or lunch for the kids. Listen to praise & worship music while you get ready or in the car on the way to work. If you drive alone to work then you’ve got 15-30 minutes you can spend with the risen Christ. He’s right there. Take advantage of His nearness and His desire to be connected with you during the ordinary and the routine. Allow Him to renew your mind today and early tomorrow morning.

Blessings!
Pastor Gary

Saturday, April 22, 2006

The Perception of a Problem

2Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb 3and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?” 4But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. (Mark 16:2-4)

It is frightening how easily and subconsciously we place God in a box. Even when we are “doing His work” we often feel discouraged and even hopeless because the obstacles blocking the task seem insurmountable. Tremendous amounts of time are spent wondering and worrying about how the “problem” is going to be resolved. Plans are devised to “fix” things with human strength and knowledge. Frequently, though, time is simply thrown away fretting over those things that never come to pass. Occasionally, matters are made worse by our rushing to solve the problem in our own strength.

God is ahead of us. His plan is being worked out for tomorrow while we are still in today. What we perceive as a problem God may already have worked out. What freedom could be found in learning to trust God with the problems of our lives especially in relationship to doing His work? Hear the peace-speaker say to you, “Do not be alarmed. I have a plan that is at work here. Trust me. I will take care of the details. Just keep following me and doing what you know is right as you walk in relationship with me.” It sounds childish and naïve to embrace such a level of trust. Then again, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 18:3).

Blessings!
Pastor Gary

Friday, April 21, 2006

Fear Factor

This morning as I was reading the resurrection story again from Matthew the “Fear Factor” jumped out at me. In fact, Matthew, Mark, and Luke all record the presence of fear among those who came to the tomb early that morning. The following verses from The Message indicate how easily it would be to feel unsettled to say the least:

“Suddenly the earth reeled and rocked under their feet as God’s angel came down from heaven, came right up to where they were standing. He rolled back the stone and then sat on it. Shafts of lightning blazed from him. His garments shimmered snow-white. The guards at the tomb were scared to death. They were so frightened, they couldn’t move” (Matthew 28:2-4).

The best of us would be frightened in that situation, don’t you think? There was no point of reference to any experience they had ever had before. They were gobsmacked! Nevertheless, the angel of the Lord spoke to the followers of Jesus and said, “Do not be afraid.”

The two truths I discovered this morning were: 1. God’s plan is often brought about in unsettling times. Throughout the Bible God’s power and will are frequently displayed in tumultuous ways. Noah had to have been frightened. David had to have been a little knock-kneed facing Goliath. Jonah was obviously terrified. Jesus’ disciples were so frightened they all ran away. Nevertheless, God’s plan was being worked out. In those times we are faced with a choice – Do we trust God enough to stand firm and watch His plan unfold or does the “Fear Factor” render us immovable like dead men? 2. The guards were armed with secular authority and weapons of destruction, but were incapacitated by fear. The followers of Christ heard the words spoken from the angel of the Lord, “There is nothing to fear here.” They had to come to grips with the divine, phenomenal event that was unfolding before them, but with God’s help and assurance they were able to continue walking in God’s plan.

What is causing you fear and anxiety these days? What has completely stressed you out? How deep is your trust reserve in the Lord? Hear Him say, “There is nothing to fear here,” and allow Him to be at work in your life. He loves you deeply. He will never abandon you. He will never let you fall at the hand of the enemy. The power of the risen Christ is at work in you. Stand firm.

Blessings!
Pastor Gary

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Familiar Acts

After Jesus left the two with whom He had traveled on the road to Emmaus they ran to tell the disciples. “Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread” (Luke 24:35). As I read this passage again, a simple thought occurred to me. The level of intimacy that had to have been present in their relationship with Jesus prior to His death in order for them to recognize such an ordinary, simple gesture as breaking the bread must have been very close. They saw a familiar gentleness and confidence in the breaking of the bread like they had seen in their friend and teacher.

Married couples experience this kind of intimacy. A husband recognizes and anticipates the smallest of gestures by his wife. It does not happen, however, the moment a ring is placed on her finger. It occurs after significant time has been spent watching, listening, and learning. Knowing the small things communicates a love that is deep enough to notice and a keen interest in knowing all there is to know.

We should be reminded that our relationship with the risen Christ is no different. We are in a life-long relationship with Him. The more time we spend with Him the more we know Him and the easier it is to recognize His work around us and respond to His voice. Practice His presence and see what you can learn from Him today.

Blessings,
Pastor Gary

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Talk the Walk

It is not uncommon to hear references from preachers and within Christian circles to “walk the talk”. It can be stated as, “Practice what you preach,” or “You can talk the talk but can you walk the walk?” All of these appropriately remind us of the need to live like we say we believe; to have consistency between what we say as Christians and how we live as ordinary people.

I am reminded today from the encounter on the road to Emmaus, however, that it is also most important to “talk the walk”.

Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them…They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scripture to us?” (Luke 24:13-15, 32).

The deliberate choice to discuss the things of God with others is an open invitation for the risen Christ to show up on the scene. It is His desire to open the Scripture up to us and open us up to the Scripture, but the opportunities for Him to do so are limited if we never spend time in His Word or discussing His Word. So today I encourage you to “talk the walk” and look for the risen Christ to show up in your conversation. In so doing, we will be better equipped to “walk the talk”.

Blessings!
Pastor Gary

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

When the Sabbath was over...

I continue to live in the resurrection message today. It is amazing! I have seen the resurrected Christ all over town! Before coming to work this morning I went to Waffle House and guess who was there…the risen Christ! I recognized Him as I was pouring my coffee. Then I lifted my head and I saw Him in the faces of those around me. I was engaged in His work as I asked for some ketchup and interacted with people around me. There were more opportunities to share the love of Christ in ordinary, practical ways than I could handle. I really needed some backup!

As I continue to read and re-read the resurrection story the truth continues to flow. The story in Mark 16 begins with the words, “When the Sabbath was over…” Interestingly, the high and holy day of the resurrection occurred after the Lord’s Day. In our understanding, it was a Monday morning! How much more practical and mundane and ordinary can it get than a Monday morning. This is the day we “stumble out of bed and stumble to the kitchen and pour ourselves a cup of ambition.” Living the resurrection is intended to occur in the real world. Be reminded and encouraged today. Look for the risen Christ as you go throughout your day!

Blessings!

Pastor Gary

Monday, April 17, 2006

O Sacred Head, Now Wounded

Final entry for the choir devo book

I’m not a real big fan of poetry or of King’s English. Shakespeare and I never really clicked. In fact, my first introduction to what would become one of my best friends in high school and college, Cliff’s Notes, came as a young middle school lad when I was studying Shakespeare in English class. ‘Whither’s, thither’s, and wherefore’s just seem like an extraordinarily complicated way to state what could’ve been a relatively simple sentence. But…there’s something about this verse: “What language shall I borrow to thank Thee, dearest Friend, for this, Thy dying sorrow, Thy pity without end? O make me Thine forever; and, should I fainting be, Lord, let me never, never outlive my love for Thee!” For people with a bent toward worshipping, this pretty much sums it up—much like the great hymn “The Love of God.”

Notwithstanding the ethereal, sacred and alluring musical quality of this particular arrangement, when you include a transfixing text such as this, you have a song that engages and stirs the mind, emotion and will. As I listened for the very first time to the demo of this song, I was sweeping the floor at home. I remember thinking when the violin started, I don’t know what it is but I like it. Then came the beautiful, familiar lyric. I stopped sweeping (not a hard decision), sat on the armrest of the couch, and listened. Then I played it again. As I do every time I listen to it, I took a deep breath as if breathing in the very fragrance of the presence of the Holy Spirit and whispered a thank you and renewed determination to worship, quality, and commitment to Him.

Strange as it may seem for a musician not to favor poetry, I can’t get away from this one. Read Isaiah 53. Read it in KJV! Meditate on the lyrics of this scripture and song and imagine standing before the cross while singing it. Allow the Holy Spirit to refresh your appreciation for Jesus’ work on the cross.


Pastor Mike McAdory
Good Monday Morning! What a fabulous day we had celebrating the resurrection this weekend! I was reminded this morning as I poured my coffee that the risen Christ was there. The practical living in the resurrection begins today.

“What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin – because anyone who has died has been freed from sin” (Romans 6:1-7).

The resurrected Lord longs to be involved in your ordinary life today. He wants to teach you and talk to you as you walk along the road. He wants to love you and help you during an ordinary meal. He wants to empower you and use you at work and at school. Recognize His hand at work in your life this week even in the little things and respond to Him in freedom. Blessings!

Pastor Gary

Saturday, April 15, 2006

...pity without end...

...for the choir devo booklet; by Laura Cross...

“What language shall I borrow to thank Thee dearest Friend, for this Thy dying sorrow, Thy pity without end?”

Many times we think of language as being something spoken, and certainly that is true. Yet we also must take into consideration body language. What does our body language say? As worship leaders we know that people are watching us- taking their “worship cues” from us. However, if we focus too much on what other people are thinking, or what their body language is saying, our personal worship may be hindered.

One of the many things I learned from Pastor Scott was to be free with your worship – not to be inhibited. He taught by example.

We don’t all have the same style of worship. That’s what makes worship so personal. Me, I’m a crier. Sometimes it’s because I need to feel His “pity without end” wash over my discouraged soul. Sometimes it’s because I just can’t contain the overwhelming feeling of His love for even me. He knows what I need.

What language are you borrowing? Whatever your language, feel free to use it to the glory of God. Read Psalm 150

Friday, April 14, 2006

...still working out "His Plan"

This entry in the choir devo booklet by Ms. Vicky...

I think this musical is the hardest for me to learn in my six years at Midland Valley. But one song stands out above the rest. And that song is "His Plan". It is not the words of the song that bother me - actually it is one of the easiest as a choir member, we have to sing. We mostly have to sing oh, and ah. Melinda and Pastor Mike sing the song beautifully. It is the title, "His Plan." His Plan, God's plan for me has changed my life and everything in it. Everything I look at and know will forever be changed. It is not that this is the first time that God's plan and my plans where different. It is just that this plan, God's plan, has been the hardest I have ever had to face.

But God shows me each and every day, every step I walk that I am not facing one minute without Him at my side. It is by His grace and support that I am even singing in the choir now. My fellow choir members you are loved and prayed for each day. Thank you for your love and support. The sun is shining on the mountain top, let's climb from the valley to the mountain top together.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Broken & Spilled Out

by Charlene Hamrick for the choir devo book...

I love this time of the year….. Easter… When I am reminded of what Jesus did for me on the Cross of Calvary…HE paid the ultimate sacrifice for me…. went through pain and agony for my sins and gave HIS life so that I may have life eternal. My desire is to be broken and spilled out for Jesus….to give my all and my best to HIM, to represent JESUS in all that I say and do and to remain faithful..… until that glorious day when he comes to take me to HEAVEN!!!!!!

One day a plain village woman driven by love for her Lord. .Recklessly poured out a valuable essence.. disregarding the scorn and once it was broken and spilled out the fragrance filled all the room…like a prisoner released from his shackles like a spirit set free from the tomb. Broken and spilled out for the love of you Jesus my most precious treasure lavished on thee. Broken and spilled out and poured at your feet--- in sweet abandon let me be spilled out and used up for THEE.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

"...for I know the plans..."

...by Sherrie Hawkins for the choir devo book

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord….” Jeremiah 29:11

In youth ministry that is our anthem, the promise we give to teenagers that God has everything under control. Graduation cards are filled with the verse as a send off from high school to the “real world.” We hear it so often it becomes almost cliché, but the song “His Plan” reminds us that this plan didn’t just start with us. He spared no expense, not even His Son to work out His plan for us. And especially now when “the world tries to stop Him and they say that Christ never came”, we need to be encouraged and spurred on that even though evil will try to be triumphant, we need only to hold fast for God is working out His plan. Let’s face it, a birth in a stable, shepherds, kings all coming to see a little baby. None of that makes sense, so in the most confusing of times, we can rest assured He is working out His plan.

Thank you, Lord for working all things out for my good, not just yesterday and today, but forevermore. Remind me of that when I start to question.

Monday, April 10, 2006

God is Working Out "His Plan"

...for the choir devotional book by Janice Lee

It was December 26, 2005. I was driving south on I-26, oops it runs east & west….then I guess I was driving east, headed home after spending Christmas Day & evening with my family and a Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir Christmas musical was playing. My mind was full of thoughts and my heart full of emotions from the past 48 hours, but I was quite preoccupied with our “journey” with Pastor Scott.

We, individually and as a church, had prayed for his healing. Maybe it was a selfish prayer on our part, but we didn’t want to lose him – I know I didn’t. Some had even questioned if we had enough faith when we prayed. My heart was breaking – for me, for the church, and especially for Vicky, Candi & Melody. Alone in the car, I asked God if Christmas Day had been the last time we’d see Pastor Scott as our pastor. I asked what was ahead for us…..and suddenly I heard the words being sung on the CD: “God is working out His plan. Ev’ry promise He fulfills, all according to His will…” You {may} know the rest of the words. I listened to the rest of the song and replayed 3 or 4 times back to back.

Have you noticed that the first chorus is written in past tense and the second is present tense? While listening the 3rd or 4th time I did, and a wonderful peace and calm flooded my heart as tears flooded my eyes. I was reminded that God has a perfect plan. Nothing stopped it that first Christmas, nothing stopped it that first Easter, and nothing can stop it 21 centuries later. I’ve since been reminded that “perfect” usually means “complete or fulfilled”, not “ideal”, when we see it in scripture. As we seek God and His (perfect) plan for us individually we will encounter both joy and pain along the way. But we must remember He has promised we will find Him, and that He will sustain and protect us along the way.

God’s message through Isaiah (46:9-11): “I am God, and there is none like me…My purpose will stand…What I have said, that will I bring about; what I have planned that will I do.”

Sunday, April 09, 2006

No Wonder

This choir devotional book entry by Dan Monahon:

"Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall." Psalm 55:22

This time a year ago, I was preparing for my first musical with this choir. Wow, what a work God did in my life through that experience. I was so excited that you could not pay me to quit listening to the music on my way to and from work. But this year something is different. The year 2006 has already been the most difficult year of my life. Some days, the only thing I know I can count on is my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. So as the Easter season has approached, I have found it difficult to prepare for this musical. However, through prayer and worship, with you my fellow choir members, God has reminded me of why I joined this choir. Your commitment to utilize the talents and gifts that God has given you has been an inspiration to me. Many of you will never know just how much you mean to me. In the past few weeks, God has renewed my commitment to serve him and given this musical a very special place in my heart. I am reassured that He will sustain me. "No Wonder they Call Him Savior." What a fitting title for this Easter musical. Until the other day, I was unable to even listen to the song "No Wonder" because it was not originally on our listening CD. But the first time I played it on my way to work, it brought me to tears. It is not only a wonderful theme for this Easter season but a reminder of how God is working in my life. Time and time again He has rescued me from the storms that seem too difficult to bear.

"Concern and compassion He offers, To those who lift up His name;
No wonder we call Him our Savior, For that same love He showed hasn't changed"


If your life has been so hectic that you have struggled to prepare for this musical; Remember: "He will never let the righteous fall." When you look back, you will know why He is your Savior.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

No More Night

By Michele Rahenkamp for the Choir Devotional Book

There are several songs from this year’s musical that speak to me but the one that strikes a chord deep within my heart at this time is “No More Night”. My grandmother went to be with the Lord last year on Easter Sunday after a few days in the hospital. The chorus “No more night, no more pain, no more tears, never crying again. Praises to the great ‘I AM’. We will live in the light of the risen Lamb” is such a wonderful promise that thrills me down to my toes! There are times when situations bring so much physical or emotional or spiritual pain that the deep hurt is followed by tears. Someone dear breaks a promise; someone dear gets sick; someone dear goes home to be with the Lord. I get sick; I hurt someone; I feel like God has abandoned me (though He really hasn’t). This song reminds me that “weeping may endure for a night (in the evening), but joy (singing) cometh in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5) The Lord reminds me that He is faithful and He keeps His promises. He is my Comforter and He continually wipes away my tears now (though here on earth, they sometimes seem to multiply like rabbits!) and He will wipe them all away later.

As I wait expectantly for later, I think of all four of my grandparents who gave my family such a rich Christian heritage. Their names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life and I will see them later. I will also see Pastor Scott along with millions of others. They all died in the Lord and He took away their pain and tears when He welcomed them home. “He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces;” (Isaiah 25:8) “For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.” (Revelation7:17) These saints are enjoying fellowship with Jesus right now and the promise of wonderful things to come helps me focus on Him in the here and now when things aren’t quite so wonderful at times. The Lord is my great “I AM” and I give Him all the praise and all the glory (He is worthy of so much more!)

Friday, April 07, 2006

Broken & Spilled Out

This is an entry in the choir devotional book by Sherrie Hawkins

Mark 14:1-11
The gospel of Matthew (26:6-13) records this same event of a woman coming into the home of Simon the Leper in Bethany to anoint Jesus for burial. However, I love the description in Mark’s account, particularly verse 3 where it reads “she broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.” There was no turning back, no keeping just a little in the jar for later, no holding on to just a remembrance of what she once had. How powerful...Can we be so open to the Lord? Breaking open our lives, our minds, our hearts so totally. No holding on to even a small part of our own will, not just a little of what I want.

The song was copyrighted in 1984 and I remember hearing it for the first time around that time. As a young mother I remember asking myself: “Do I have that complete commitment, am I completely broken and spilled out for You, Jesus?” That question still rings in my ears today when I hear that song. With so many demands on our lives today, pressure from every direction trying to set priorities for us, the story of the woman in Bethany is a reminder that Jesus calls us to be surrendered to Him “in sweet abandon” so that we can be “used up for Thee.”

Lord, let me daily be broken and spilled out in sweet abandon for Thee. Your ways are so much higher than my own, and You can do far more with what little I have than I could ever do alone.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Jesus is Alive

This is an entry by Diane O'Banion in the choir devotional book.

The first time that I was listening to my {Easter} CD I was on my way to work. The first song that jumped out to me was “One Day w/ Jesus is Alive.” How our dear Savior was nailed to the tree, how He suffered anguish, and was despised and rejected. He did all of this for me—to bear all of my sins and to redeem me. How He gave HOPE to the hopeless. We all lived last year as a year of HOPE. The good news is that we all do have HOPE. Pastor Scott showed us that no matter what you are going through or no matter what the outcome, there is HOPE with Jesus.
Living He loved me — dying He saved me — buried He carried my sins far away — rising he justified me and one day He is coming back for me.
The curse of sin is broken and we have perfect liberty. He’s alive. Each song has a special place in my heart; but on that morning, that song was meant for me and it just came to life for me. By the time I got to school I was crying and praising the Lord.
My prayer is that other lives will be touched and changed completely as we present this musical—not for our glory, but for the glory of our Savior.