What’s in a name?

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Elvis has left the building…

That is historically what promoters used to say at Elvis concerts to encourage fans to depart. Sadly, I think today we could say that about the modern church.

Have you noticed the proliferation of churches that have unusual titles? Cornerstone, Summit, and Fellowship styled names are replacing churches that have Christ. God, their chosen denomination or saints on the signage.

We are “branding” and marketing church but forgetting who started it all – no crosses, no hard reminders of a life well lived and a sacrifice made for all.

I do believe in sharing the good news but that means sharing the whole story of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The story to be shared may get messy but it has a great ending!

The “message” today is more about good news, prosperity and a rock star quality musical performance. They are bringing people in by the thousands.

I honestly don’t know what to make of this. I find it sad that the emphasis is on the experience while downplaying  the reality.

Is it me or has Jesus left the bulidng?

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,
There’s just something about that Name.
Master, Savior, Jesus,
Like the fragrance after the rain.
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,
Let all heaven and earth proclaim,
Kings and kingdoms will all pass away,
But there’s something about that Name.

 

Public displays of perfection…

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I don’t know why so many people feel that we have to wear a public persona that creates an image or brand we want the world to see. I feel certain it is because we desire to be judged favorably by others.

The demand for perfection increases with our perception of what we are led to believe is acceptable by others especially through television and print media. Even Christian programs promote a certain type of believer who is valued over others. 

We sometimes make the mistake of allowing outside influences to affect our faith. We try to change ourselves to be something we are not. We try to fit a Christian “mold”.

I love an imperfect Christian. In reality, that is ALL of us. It’s the little blemishes and warts that make us desirable. The Christian who is striving for more and for a closer walk with God is the perfect Christian. The Christian who loves their neighbor is the perfect Christian. The Christian who realizes that perfection really won’t be accomplished until we cross over into eternity is my kind of person. 

In short, let’s be original. Let’s be authentic. Let’s accept our differences and try to be better. That’s truly the path to perfection. 

Save the bees – save the world…

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My daughter is a bee keeper.

In truth, this is an accidental thing – she did not ask for them to take residence in her golden-rain tree but the Queen and her busy hive have established a home and destroyed the tree in the process. They are what is commonly called feral bees. For some reason, my daughter loves these unwelcome guests.

My daughter, who loves all creatures, has started a personal campaign she calls #savethebees in her quest to find someone to humanely relocate this feral colony from her yard. It is just too dangerous for bees to be around her small children.

These feral bees are active, threatening and highly protective of their home. They would attack if provoked. They can’t be trusted.

For some reason, these bees remind me of the turmoil exploding around the world. We have feral colonies attacking and hurting small babies and innocent people. There is no way to save these evil-doers. Nothing but God can fix this fight that has been going on in the name of religion for way too many years.

I wish we could #savetheworld. I wish people would acknowledge peace and allow people to live without fear. 

I wish Jesus would return and set the world to rights.

…I wish

 

But I said to you, “You will possess their land; I will give it to you as an inheritance, a land flowing with milk and honey.” I am the Lord your God, who has set you apart from the nations. Leviticus 20:24

Pass it on…

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I think my husband is taking my writing seriously.

Not that he hasn’t been supportive…he is always supportive. But today, I returned from a brief work trip to find a 27 inch Mac computer on my desk. This thing is AMAZING and about the size of my dog.

What does a computer have to do with Jesus? Not really much except that I can type the speed of sound and share my love for God with the latest in technology.

I find it incredible that Christianity spread throughout the world basically by word of mouth, letters and eventually the written Bible. Starting with a group of loyal believers who embraced the faith and shared the transforming story of the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is astounding.

Now we come to the present where the world needs to know the peace of Christ more than ever. I truly believe we still have a responsibility to spread the good news. The fact that advanced technology aids in our journey as we try to reach others for Him makes it even better.

To God be the glory.

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Mark 16:15

Another day, another mammogram

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Today was my annual mammogram that all ladies love to hate.

Having lost my Mother to breast cancer, it is important to follow through and have this important exam each year.

I would be lying if I said this is not stressful and nerve-wracking. I had to watch my Mom’s courageous battle for fifteen years and while we were blessed to have the extra days…it was also an experience I do not wish to re-live.

So this morning when I opened my email there was my daily Bible verse shown above and I was grateful. It was almost like my Mom was still there for me and reminding me that all was well.

The hurt of losing her will never go away. I never take my health for granted. I’m grateful for the loving arms of our sweet Jesus who reminds us every day that he will restore our health, either in this life or the next.

Praise him from whom all blessings flow. 

Until next year…

 

Be Kind Anyway

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Some days I still have the capacity to be shocked.

People of faith tend to be the ones who disappoint the most. I expect more of them, but this is pretty unrealistic even in the best of times.

I’m not totally jaded, I still expect good behavior from everyone although this is often not the case. If I were honest, I am probably just as guilty.

I revert to the words of Mother Teresa “If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.”  When wronged, we must let it go and forgive as we take a step forward in faith.

To dwell on the negative is self-defeating. And the thing I refuse to be is defeated!

Today…I will be kind anyway.

 

Go Rest High on that Mountain.

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I love old cemeteries. I find them peaceful. Death does not scare me.

Near our home in North Carolina there is a small, private cemetery. It holds the remains of soldiers killed during the Civil War.

These three crosses mark the site of soldiers unknown to locals. Their final resting place is marked with a simple cross. Someone took the time to honor them thus and still tend to this small patch of earth.

But it doesn’t matter.

God knows them by heart. He knows their names.

We put great effort into marking our territories which includes our homes, our cars, and our grave plots. But mark your heart. 

Mark it for God.

I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name. Isaiah 45:3

A place of peace…

 

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Years ago when I was expecting my first child, the lamaze instructor was adamant that I find a place in my memory that was peaceful. It was to be somewhere that my mind could wander and calm my soul. It took me about a minute to pinpoint my sweet spot of undiluted happiness.

I was lucky enough to grow up with amazing parents. Not perfect, but wonderfully made and so loving to me. 

Our Miami home was located on a beautiful spring-fed lake with gentle winds that cooled our home. The back yard was impressive with a seawall overlooking the lake and shaded by a huge oak tree which served as the host for a large wooden swing.

This swing was my place of peace. Hours and hours spent with my Dad talking about everything and nothing. Quiet and solitude. His dreams for my future and my Dad’s memories of his past. It was absolutely heavenly.

While in a long labor, I kept my mind mentally on that swing. I was in a labor and delivery room but I could hear a soothing voice and a soft breeze. It made a difficult time more bearable.

To this day, I go there. I go back to my swing and I talk to my Dad. He’s not with me anymore but I know he waits and I am comforted. 

I know he waits for me with Jesus. 

Peace fills my heart and I am calm.

Herding Black Sheep

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I think black sheep get a bad rap. Let’s be honest, we are all black sheep…there is not a spotless lamb among us. 

I become exasperated when I hear anyone say they don’t attend church because it is consumed by hypocrites, liars and thieves. That’s just an excuse. If anyone thinks the church is perfect and blameless then they are ignorant. Any church that claims to be so should be ashamed.

To be honest, the church isn’t the problem – I compare the modern church to a hospital for those who have the incurable illness we also call sin. This world won’t fix them – only God can do so. The church just puts a sturdy band-aid on the problem.

To dismiss organized religion under the excuse of avoiding sinners is the absolute height of hypocrisy. I don’t know about you…but the plank in my eye is so large and sin so great that I wouldn’t dare to condemn anyone else of wrong-doing. I’m working too hard on my own issues.

Church is exactly where sinners should be. A fellowship of believers who strive for “more” is a good thing. It’s where we belong. 

In this world, the church is a safe haven for sinners until we reach glory where we will be washed white as snow by the only One who remains blameless and free of sin.

The good Shepherd awaits.

We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:6

It’s all about me

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I have found that most people think the world revolves around them. It’s just human nature to think of ourselves first…and it’s hard to deny it.

When my Dad was sharing his secrets to being a great salesperson, he told me that I would be successful if I just asked people to talk about themselves. He was right. Most clients love to share. I love to listen. It’s a good strategy.

I think back to Jesus’s disciples. James and John asked for an honored place at His side in glory. As you can imagine, this didn’t go over well with the others. Everyone thought they were special. It is what I love about these men. Ordinary guys living during an extraordinary time…and they are simply clueless about some things.

We all want to be important. We all want positions of power and authority. We all want to be honored. We want it to be all about us.

It is good to know that Jesus wants to give us an honored place in His kingdom.

What a day of rejoicing that will be.