GOING THROUGH THE MOTIONS

We may have already used this particular post, but it bears repeating.  From our own, Lee Pierce…take a look. -anita

*****************                                                                 

“There will be an outward form to our worship, but it must not be dead formalism.” I read those words this morning in an essay on worship, and it made me take pause to reflect on them. I had to seriously ask myself: “How often do I just worship my God but do so on ‘autopilot’?” Autopilot, as you may know, is a feature of airplane flight where a pilot can set the plane into autopilot and have it keep the plane on a prescribed course, altitude, and such. When autopilot is engaged, the pilot can relax a bit (while still overseeing what the autopilot computer is doing), which is a boon on long, transoceanic flights, for instance. But, if I’m on autopilot during worship, is that okay?

Now admittedly, there are times when I go to church and am distracted, maybe tired from the night before, or caught up in worrying about some person or event in my life that is consuming my thoughts and emotions. But I consider it important to gather with (assemble with) the body of believers because the Bible tells us to do so. So, I almost always go, even when I’m not focused. But is that okay?

John 4:24 says, “… [we] who worship [God] must worship in spirit and truth.” The truth portion of that passage I can easily understand. God’s word is truth—because He is truth—and in His word He tells us how to worship Him. But what about the “spirit” part of that passage? What does that mean?

Dr. R.C. Sproul is my spiritual mentor (he doesn’t know that, in fact he’s never met me nor I him), and I value his opinions and interpretations on holy Scripture a great deal. So what does he say about this topic? According to Sproul, “To worship God in spirit is to worship Him with the right spirit… and not worship that merely goes through the motions.” Sproul’s last thought on the matter is this: “To worship in spirit is to set our hearts and minds on the Lord when we praise Him.” And there’s the rub for me.

If I’m in church and it’s praise time, or the pastor is speaking on a passage of Scripture, and I’m worrying about someone in my family who is sick, for example, clearly my heart and mind isn’t set on Him. It’s set on the one who is sick. Wait a minute, though. God tells us to love, care, and provide for our families doesn’t He. So shouldn’t I focus (and pray for) that sick one He and I both love? Well, yes and no. Yes, I should pray for that one but, no, the time isn’t right. To live a total, godly life I believe means that you talk to Him all the time anyway. You bathe your family and friends in prayer to Him every single day. More than that, you include Him in everything that’s going on in life which concerns you. That sick family member: I should have already prayed multiple times for him or her the minute I discovered the sickness.

What I’m saying here is that God typically gives us plenty of time and opportunity to deal with the concerns of our life. But, when it’s time to worship Him formally, we need to focus all of our being totally on Him. I strongly believe that the concept of worship encompasses all the acts of love we perform because we know Him. The giving, the volunteering, the outreach, even the prayers we lovingly and faithfully pray every day, I believe all are done with God in mind and are part of our worship of Him. But I believe there comes a time when we formally and intentionally set out to worship our God. At that time, I think it’s important to clear the deck, focus our thoughts on Him, exclude all other thoughts, people, and events around us, and point our being singularly toward Him. I think in Mt 6:25-34, this is, in part, what Jesus was teaching us when He said to not be anxious about our life but that God will take of the needs and troubles in our life. Rather, focus on Him and His kingdom.

Now, most of us are intentional worriers and highly practiced at the fine art of worry. So what I’m suggesting here doesn’t come easily to us. But think about it. Jesus said in that passage noted above: “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” And, we might add, heal that sick family member, or pay that bill that we don’t have the money for at the moment, or on and on….

The point being, then, is that God really is the only One who can make a complete difference in our life and in our problems. So, when it’s time to truly worship Him—the God we love and on whom we rely for everything—we need to give Him every bit of ourselves. Nothing else matters, nothing else intrudes, nothing else is allowed to invade our thoughts, no autopilot. Nothing but the Lord. I, for one, don’t do that nearly often enough. Do you?

THE IMPORTANCE OF “SPEAKING” THREE WORDS…

If you’re a mom like me, you know how busy we are…ALL THE TIME!  From the moment our feet hit the floor in the morning, until we climb into bed at night, we are running!

First thing I do when I get out of bed is take care of the cat and dog.  The dog has to go out, and they both need to be fed.  When that’s done, it’s time to make breakfast and lunches for my husband and my son.  Then…the fun really starts; it’s time to get my nine-year old up, make sure he brushes his teeth, get him dressed, and drive him to the bus stop by 6:40.  By the time I get back home, it’s time to get my husbands stuff together…      coffee, lunch, keys, badge, etc.  Then he’s off to work.

The coffee I poured for myself at 5:45 is stone cold by now…but I am thankful to have a moment to sit in the quietness and savor every drop!

Those few minutes are abruptly ended as my eye catches the piles of laundry on the floor waiting to be done!  I sort out the loads, start one, and see the dirty dishes screaming for attention.  My dishwasher is on the ‘fritz’ right now, and groaning loudly…”UGGGH!” I run a sink full of hot, soapy water to soak as many as I can.

OOPS!  The washing machine stopped…time to hang some of the items and put the rest in the dryer, then start another load.  This cycle repeats for half the day….

In between laundry cycles, there’s vacuuming, dusting, bathrooms, beds…etc.  After that, it’s time to pick up my son from the bus stop.  Once he gets back home, time to enforce the rule of “homework first”, then play time.  Almost time for dad to get home…that means dinner has to get started.  After dinner, time to put leftovers away, and clean up.

Finally!  Time to sit and relax for a couple of hours!!  Then…time to get my son in the shower and ready for bed.  Since we all get up so early, we, (my husband and I) watch the early news, and go to bed.  LONG DAY!

My point to all of this?  Most times, us mom’s are so busy “taking care” of everyone, that we forget to tell them how much we love them, how special they are to us, and how much they mean to us…how wonderful it is to have them in our lives.   We take for granted that they should automatically know this, because of all the things we do for them; but we must speak our love as well as show it!

Put a note in your husband’s lunch…let him know you are thinking about him!  Make a heart note and put it in your kid’s lunch…just saying, “Mom loves you!”  It will make a big difference in their lives, and your’s as well.

SHOW LOVE…SPEAK LOVE!

Anita

A GARDEN? …. OR A WEED PATCH?

I love my garden!

My husband Mike is the one with the ‘green thumb’; my only contribution is to water, pull weeds, and…when I see a storm coming that could produce hail, I pray over my plants and flowers and plead with God to keep the storm from coming over my sanctuary!

This morning as I watered, I noticed that the weeds I pulled last week, are back 😦   They seem to blow in out of nowhere, and take root instantly!

Then…this thought came into my mind about my heart.  Let me just say…I’m not perfect! Far from it!  But I do try to ‘weed out’ the ugly thoughts I have in my mind before they take root in my heart.  I don’t always achieve my goal…but I do try.

I have found that the things I think…my thoughts, are like seeds.  Most things I think about produce beautiful flowers in my heart, but…there are a few seeds that have no business in the garden of my heart!  They are wicked, evil, and downright UGLY! Sometimes they come from my woundedness….things done to me in my past.  Other times, they spring up immediately after someone has hurt me with their words…the word revenge comes to mind at those times.  Then there are those seeds of pride.  The “flowers” created by this seed, look beautiful…but they are still weeds!

If you’ve planted seeds of kindness, love, hope, and joy…those things will come back to you and your life, even with its up’s and down’s will be blessed.

However, if you plant seeds of discord, anger, hate, and doubt…you can expect a miserable life!  You’ll be known as a sour, crotchety, rude person that no on wants to be around.

Every day…every moment really, we must decide if we want a garden full of flowers…or a patch of weeds growing in our hearts.  The Bible puts it this way:

“Finally my brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things!” -Philippians 4:8

Your choice.   …But be careful how you choose; one choice makes you win…the other makes you lose!

Anita

 

THE GREATEST OF GREAT LITERATURE

You are going to enjoy this one!  Submitted by our own Lee Pierce.  This is awesome! -anita

*****************************

I’ve always been a reader. I had two minors in college: one was philosophy and the other was English literature. I’ve always enjoyed reading old and vaunted examples of great literature. Beowolf, written in the early 8th century, Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, Homer’s Iliad and The Odyssey, Sir Thomas Malory’s Morte Darthur (The death of King Arthur), the Epic of Gilgamesh, Aesop’s Fables, Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War, the writings of Aristotle, Plato, Socrates, Sophocles, Euripides, along with  Josephus’ The Jewish War, Augustine, and many, many more.

One great writing, I regret to say, I never spent much time on when I was younger, however, was the Bible. All of the great texts cited above were the product of a single author, each penned in his lifetime. Conversely, the Bible has no such author uniformity. The Bible was written over some 1,500 years, by some 40 authors, and comprises 66 books. Interestingly, most of the authors never knew one another personally.

What to me is even more astonishing, the authors all came from widely divergent socio-economic backgrounds. This fact alone would tend to suggest that the writing style, vocabulary employed, plot sophistication, and other literary attributes would be tremendously different. Moses was a highly educated political leader, Solomon a great king, and Joshua a great military general, but Amos was a shepherd, Peter a fisherman, and Matthew a tax collector. The biblical books were written on three different continents (Africa, Asia and Europe) by authors in vastly different geographic and circumstantial environments. Moses in the desert, Jeremiah and Paul in prison, Luke during his travels, John during his exile on Patmos, and David while on the run in the mountains and, later, in his palace. Yet, despite all this diversity, the Bible flows or, as the kids say, “It hangs together.” I can go from reading Psalms to reading a long, scholarly passage in Romans and it flows nicely and I’m not put off by the different styles one bit.

The writers of the Bible utilized many literary forms to tell their stories. Lyric poetry (the Psalms), epic poetry (Genesis), dramatic poetry (Job), historic narrative (Samuel, Kings and Chronicles), patriotism (Esther and Daniel), practical wisdom (Proverbs), philosophy (Ecclesiastes), moving depth (Isaiah), short stories (the Gospels), letters (NT epistles), and even mysticism (Revelation). Yet form notwithstanding, every portion of the Bible cross references numerous other portions of the Bible. I find that so amazing!

As I read various passages of Scripture, I am constantly enthralled with the wisdom, the profundity, the beautiful literary flow of the words used. Some examples (thousands more, literally, could have been chosen):

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps—Prov 16:9

They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint—Is 40:31

He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end – Eccl 3:11

I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well – Ps 139:14

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life…Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?—Mt 6:25-27

For when I am weak, then I am strong—2 Cor 12:10

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword…discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart Heb 4:12

Can a leopard change his spots –Jer 13:23

The Lord sought him a man after His own heart – 1 Sam 13:14

A soft answer turns away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger—Prov 15:1

Do you not understand that everything that goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and is eliminated? But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. Mt 15:17-18

Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” – Lk 5:31-32

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see—Heb 11:1

No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.—Mt 6:24

 

We are so blessed that God saw fit to give us His words… words of truth, love, wisdom, and blessing. The greatest of man-made literary efforts, as entertaining and insightful as they might be, pale before the words given to us by our heavenly Father. Words of life…words of Jesus. Do be sure to read them—your life depends on it!

Lee Pierce

Reflecting the Righteousness of God – sermon notes by Daniel Leavitt

 

  1. Spiritual Strength
  2. Purpose of Life
  3. Servant of All

 

Spiritual Strength

Luke 1:80

And the child continued to grow and to become strong in spirit, and he lived in the deserts until the day of his public appearance to Israel.

 

 

Ephesians 3:16 (NIV)

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,

 

1 Peter 4:1-2 (GNT)

A Life Long Gym Pass

… strengthen yourselves with Jesus’ way of thinking … then, you must live the rest of your earthly lives controlled by God’s will and not by human desires.

 

1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 (MSG)

Don’t suppress the Spirit, and don’t stifle those who have a word from the Master. On the other hand, don’t be gullible. Check out everything, and keep only what’s good. Throw out anything tainted with evil.

 

Righteousness “Kryptonite”

  1. Selfish Desire (vanity, self indulgence)
  2. Apathy
  3. Resentment

 

 

Selfish Desire

Galatians 5:17 (CEB)

A person’s selfish desires are set against the Spirit, and the Spirit is set against one’s selfish desires. They are opposed to each other, so you shouldn’t do whatever you want to do

 

Apathy

Revelation 2 (NLT)

4 “But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! 5 Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first. If you don’t repent, I will come and remove your lampstand from its place among the churches.

 

7 “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. To everyone who is victorious I will give fruit from the tree of life in the paradise of God.

 

Resentment

Job 5 (GNT)

2 To worry yourself to death with resentment would be a foolish, senseless thing to do.

 

Job 18:4

You are only hurting yourself with your anger!

 

Proverbs 29:11 (GNT)

Stupid people express their anger openly, but sensible people are patient and hold it back.

 

 

Righteous Habits

  1. Getting Alone with God: Prayer, worship

Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.   – Luke 5:16

 

  1. Gathering: Serving, Encouragement and accountability

Let us not give up the habit of meeting together… Instead, let us encourage each other . . .

Hebrews 10:25

 

1 Corinthians 12:14-20 (GNT)

For the body itself is not made up of only one part, but of many parts.

19 There would not be a body if it were all only one part! 20 As it is, there are many parts but one body.

 

Galatians 6:2 (NKJV)

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

 

  1. Forgiveness

Colossians 3:13

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

 

Matthew 6:14-15

14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

 

 

 

Galatians 2:20

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

 

 

1 John 4:4-6Living Bible (TLB)

Dear young friends, you belong to God and have already won your fight with those who are against Christ because there is someone in your hearts who is stronger than any evil teacher in this wicked world. 5 These men belong to this world, so, quite naturally, they are concerned about worldly affairs and the world pays attention to them. 6 But we are children of God; that is why only those who have walked and talked with God will listen to us. Others won’t. That is another way to know whether a message is really from God; for if it is, the world won’t listen to it.

 

 

 

 

 

Barnabas

Acts 11 (TLB)

23 When Barnabas arrived and saw the wonderful things God was doing, he was filled with excitement and joy, and encouraged the believers to stay close to the Lord, whatever the cost. 24 Barnabas was a kindly person, full of the Holy Spirit and strong in faith. As a result, large numbers of people were added to the Lord.

 

 

KEEP ON KEEPING ON!

“The heavens over your head shall be brass…” =Deuteronomy 28:23a

******

Have you ever experienced the above verse?  …You know…when you pray you feel as though you’re hitting a brick wall and nothing is getting through to God?  It’s like He isn’t hearing a thing you say….  He doesn’t seem to be listening.

I often feel this way, especially when I’ve been praying about something for a long time and see no change.

But, then I read another verse in the Bible that says, “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened that it cannot save; neither His ear heavy, that it cannot hear.” -Isaiah 59:1

The truth is, God is always listening, and if we can be quiet and still, we will hear His voice and see that He is working all things out for our good.

Take heart!  Keep on praying for that loved one…keep on witnessing, and sharing Jesus’ love for them.  God will use those “seeds” you plant and cause them to grow in their hearts and be fruitful!

Anita

Read the Bible, Go to Church, Pray, and…

I read this the other day on one of the blogs I frequent – Those Who Sin Differently. It says it all! Take a look… -anita

Those Who Sin Differently

While talking with a couple of Christian leaders over pizza one day, one of them suggested to my wife and I that, “Some people know more Bible than they will ever use”.  His point – at least, as I understood it – was that continued study of the Bible without doing something about it wasn’t beneficial.

Today, although this is several years removed from that day, I want to offer a couple of things for your consideration:

Do Some People Know Less Bible Than They Need?

As general knowledge about the Bible wanes in some populations (including my own culture), I fear that we have an increasing number of people who do not know more about the Bible than they will use.

Some don’t know about the Bible at all, or only know bits and pieces (but not enough to understand its larger message).  Others may think that they know the…

View original post 684 more words

RELATIONSHIPS…

I was out at the crack of dawn today, (literally) watering my garden, and had a revelation. Many of you have probably already realized this…but I have never noticed. Let me explain…

As I watered, I noticed that the plants and flowers that were standing alone looked rather bedraggled.  The plants and flowers that were in a pot, or patch were thriving. That’s when it hit me; God made ALL things to have relationships.

Wolves hunt in packs, birds migrate in flocks, fish swim in schools, lions live in prides…and the list goes on.

God made Eve for Adam because it was not good for man to be alone.  That was at the beginning…and it’s still NOT GOOD for men and women to be alone in this world.  We need friends!  We need relationships!

When we isolate ourselves from others, the devil can have a hay-day!  He can wreak havoc in our lives that will end badly if not corrected!

Take a look around….  Homeless folks isolate themselves from mainstream society, those addicted to drugs and alcohol could care less if they have a companion…all they want is a fix or another drink.  Prostitutes have many partners…but there is no connection…no love…no feeling.  Folks that are plagued with depression or thoughts of suicide want to be alone.

Don’t isolate yourselves!  Find fellowship…relationship with Believers!  You will thrive if you have others around you to share your burdens with.  They will encourage you when the devil begins to whisper that “all is lost! ….”  They will remind you that God is still in control, and that prayer still changes things!

God most of all wants a relationship with us!  A personal one.  He’s always there.  He’s always listening.  He sees what is happening in our lives.  All we have to do is call on the name of JESUS….  He is there to help us through any problem.

Notice the word, “through”.  You WILL get through your problem if you let Jesus walk with you!

Call someone…email someone…go next door and visit your neighbor!  Don’t isolate yourself!

Most of all, call on Jesus…He’s waiting 🙂

Anita

GUARD YOUR MIND AND HEART!

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” -Romans 12:2a

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” -Proverbs 4:23

*************

Everyone today is worried about their health.  We join Gym’s, eat healthy, exercise regularly, some even wear gadgets on their wrists to tell them how many steps they have taken in a given day.  All these things are good for our bodies! ….But what about our hearts and minds?  What are we doing to improve their health?

The verses above, talk about keeping watch over your mind and your heart.  The Bible…Jesus Himself, has much to say about these two things.

If Satan can get into your mind…he will eventually end up in your heart!

There are two “gates” in which the devil can enter in; your eyes…and your ears.  For this reason, we need to be careful of the things we look at and listen to.  In this day and age, those two “gates” are difficult to guard.  Even if you are careful at home regarding the things you watch and hear on TV and radio…most of us still have to go out into the world everyday for our jobs.  It used to be that men were the abusers of vulgar language…but now, most women are more vulgar than men!  Even in our schools-children of all ages spew out curse words.

Pornography is rampant on the internet, lewd scenes are seen on “family” TV shows…it’s almost inescapable!  You can find anything on Social Media!

But…GOD said, “Guard your heart and mind!”

When we fail to guard our hearts and minds, we are susceptible to many things.

*When Anger comes knocking, we open the door wide and invite him in.  We end up hurting ourselves, and others with our words and actions.

*When we feel the need to get even, we call Revenge, and offer him our couch, and let him into our plans and dreams.  The result of this sometimes lands us in prison for assault, or murder.

*We all know that Misery loves company-so when he shows up, we throw a party.  This is how addictions come about.

Jesus guarded His heart and mind constantly!  If HE thought it was important…shouldn’t we?

Anita

EACH DAY…

The following is written by Max Lucado  It is found in his book called When God Whispers Your Name.

I wanted to share it with you, for it really strikes a chord with me.  I am an early riser… sometimes getting up before 5.  I love that time of day!  Everything is quiet, and you can watch the hand of God paint a masterpiece in the sky.  Beautiful!  Take a look at what Max has to say….  Oh…and by the way…THANKS MAX! -anita

******************************

It’s quiet.  It’s early.  My coffee is hot.  The sky is still black.  The world is still asleep.  The day is coming.  

In a few moments the day will arrive.  It will roar down the track with the rising of the sun.  The stillness of the dawn will be exchanged for the noise of the day.  The calm of solitude will be replaced by the pounding pace of the human race.  The refuge of the early morning will be invaded by decisions to be made and deadlines to be met.

For the next twelve hours I will be exposed to the day’s demands.  It is now that I must make a choice.  Because of Calvary, I’m free to choose.  And so I choose.

I CHOOSE LOVE…

I CHOOSE JOY…

I CHOOSE PEACE…

I CHOOSE PATIENCE…

I CHOOSE KINDNESS…

I CHOOSE GOODNESS…

I CHOOSE FAITHFULNESS…

I CHOOSE GENTLENESS…

I CHOOSE SELF-CONTROL…

Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control.

To these I commit my day.  If I succeed, I will give thanks.  If I fail, I will seek His grace.  And the, when this day is done, I will place my head on my pillow and rest.

Max Lucado –When God Whispers Your Name