On this National Day of Prayer, I would like to share my favorite childhood "camp song" with you. The words and feelings behind this beautiful hymn are just as true today as they were back then...and every day going forward. :-)
PS: Jesus loves each and every one of us!
Hymn by William Batchelder Bradbury
"The National Day of Prayer is celebrated (on the first Thursday of May) by Americans of many religions, including Christians of many denominations, including Protestants and Catholics, as well as Sikhs, Muslims, Hindus, and Jews, reflecting the demographics of the United States. On the National Day of Prayer, many Americans assemble in prayer in front of courthouses, as well as in houses of worship, such as churches, mosques, synagogues, and temples. Luncheons, picnics, and music performances revolving around praying for the nation are also popular observances. Traditionally, the President of the United States issues an official National Day of Prayer proclamation each year as well." - Wikipedia
Reading the Bible in a year...it's something I haven't attempted since I was a child.
While surfing Christianity.org, I found an excellent "beginning to end" plan and decided it would be a good addition to this website (and good for me as well!). If interested in a guided plan, please check out the Read the Bible in a Year section. :-)
Jesus Has Risen!
On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; He has risen! Remember how He told you, while He was still with you in Galilee: 7 ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” 8 Then they remembered His words.
9 When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. 11 But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. 12 Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.
On the Road to Emmaus
13 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus Himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing Him. 17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”
They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”
19 “What things?” He asked.
“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21 but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23 but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said He was alive. 24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”
25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter His glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself.
28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if He were going farther. 29 But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So He went in to stay with them.
30 When He was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him, and He disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.
Jesus Appears to the Disciples
36 While they were still talking about this, Jesus Himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
37 They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. 38 He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 39 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.”
40 When He had said this, He showed them his hands and feet. 41 And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, He asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and He took it and ate it in their presence.
44 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about Me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”
45 Then He opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
The Ascension of Jesus
50 When He had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, He lifted up His hands and blessed them. 51 While He was blessing them, He left them and was taken up into Heaven. 52 Then they worshiped Him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. 53 And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.
Luke 24: 1-53
Poem Author Unknown (but I'd be happy to credit him/her if I knew who wrote it)
Jesus is the gift that perfectly fits every heart,
and it is with His love that all celebration starts.
We rejoice in Him as we remember His birth
and thank God for sending His only Son to earth.
His life led from a manger to a cross on a hill
where He faithfully followed His Father's perfect will.
He freely laid down everything so that we could live,
and there is no greater treasure anyone could give.
Like a scarlet ribbon, His love wrapped around the cross
and He offered it all to us at the greatest cost.
So each time we give gifts, we remember what He has done
and honor the perfect gift, God's one and only Son.
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16
This morning I woke feeling exhausted and a bit sad. This is all too common in life with Lyme.
Instead of staying buried in those feelings, I decided I needed to hear a message on Hope.
I went back to Living Stones Church, to their 2014 archive, and found an awesome message of encouragement.
It's worth devoting time to listen to what God wants for each of us.
Video Cred: Living Stones Church
Message Cred: God
It's Holy Week. One of the most important times of the year (next to Christmas when we celebrate the birth of Jesus). I found this GodTube video earlier...or rather, the Spirit guided me there. It's brilliant because it depicts true accounts in a creative way. It's a bit more than 5 minutes long, but it's worth watching every second. Hope you enjoy this video as much as I do.
God is good! Jesus is love! We are blessed!
We all have at least one TV series, movie “empire” or book trilogy that we enjoy. There are so many great ones to choose from. However, how many of you have found yourselves really into the 1st season, first movie and/or first book in a series only to be disappointed by the sequels? Of course there are exceptions...some sequels are very awesome. But we all have to admit that for we've wondered what the producers, writers and/or authors were thinking...if those responsible were out of their minds, burned out and grasping for ideas or just high on something. :-)
Let's take the Star Wars movie empire for example. LOL...I can already feel Star Wars devotees squirming at the possibility of insulting George Lucas' greatest creations. I love Star Wars...so no offense is intended.
Star Wars is a great example of a series that started strong and whose follow ups were good on their own level but just couldn't replace the originality of the first few films. So the special effects tech wasn't as sophisticated. Did that really matter? No. Why? Original, quality writing and outstanding performers outweigh other qualities and are perhaps taken for granted in this new age, new way of doing things. I don't have anything against special effects. They're rather cool, but they can be overdone. The overuse of special effects is like high frequency usage of the F-word and graphic sex into a novel to make it more interesting. It is an incorrect assumption that all consumers want that stuff. You'd be surprised how many quality original works use very little or none of that as a foundation of their success.
Rambling point to a close, sometimes once bright and inspired works falter. They fail to go back to their origins to discover what worked and blend it with new possibilities so that they can maintain their success while making the best provisions for their new and existing fan base.
Disappointment in our favorite media is believe it or not similar to the feelings some (or perhaps even most) of us have about our relationships. Relationships with spouses, significant others, friends, family, colleagues, whomever. Many relationships start out great and can be quite invigorating. There’s nothing quite like the thrill of the first date and the excitement of the first day at a new job and meeting new people.
But somewhere along the lines, things can fade. Even in the strongest relationship. Maintaining authentic interest, warmth, happiness and love in all relationships is vital. Being comfortable is nice, but sometimes that leads to taking others for granted and eventual distance or disconnection. Learning to refresh and revitalize is one key to keeping relationships strong.
Maintenance is a heart matter. It's the most difficult part of keeping quality connections with those in our lives because it takes authentic effort (and a lot of it) from all involved...the responsibility doesn't just fall on one person. Throwing money and gifts into relationships is nice, but it doesn't address the core of relationships. As mentioned at the start of this paragraph, this is a HEART matter. Authentic caring. A must. And people change in time so to think what was true about them say 10 or 20 years ago is the same now, is a bit presumptuous. Sure some things could still be the same, but perhaps some things have changed. So it's important to hold dear to what we first loved while making an effort to maintain what is now. The effort is worth it...even if it's all over again and feels like the movie Groundhog Day. :-)
Remember, relationships can grow moldy and stale like the foil-wrapped mystery in the back of one’s fridge. You wouldn't want to serve that up for dinner, would you? No. Keep it fresh and enjoy every moment of it when you have it. And to be fresh, remember that it doesn't require a lot of "special effects".
Now, I hope I haven't lost you with this long post, but I'm about to talk about the most important relationship now.
The most important relationship you'll ever have...
One can't help but give a special shout out to Jesus. It is Palm Sunday after all. It's a great day to examine one’s personal relationship with Jesus. It is the most important and sacred relationship we will ever have. And unlike media stuff and our interpersonal relationships, Jesus is the same today...yesterday...forever. You'd think that would make relationship maintenance with Jesus easier, but if we're all being honest, it's one of the most difficult relationships to maintain. New Christians (and the toughest warriors) are always easy to pick out of a crowd because they're "all in" seemingly most all the time. For some of us (perhaps the majority), it's not as easy. It turns into a task or work. What should be beautiful becomes routine or finds less of a priority in our days. Our narrow path forward with Christ becomes riddled with potholes, mud puddles and overgrown weeds.
Why is a relationship with Jesus so tough to maintain?
Well, many reasons. But the major kicker is the devil. And oh how clever he is, in particular when one is trying to get one's life on track and be a stronger Christian and walk the good path. One of the ways the devil gets us is by distracting us. There isn't a person in this galaxy immune to this tactic. The devil enjoys providing distractions masked as people and things we love. People and things we consciously (or unconsciously) feel are more important than anything else at the time. Work (enjoyable or not). Hobbies. Social lives. Finances. Physical fitness. Social media. TV. Movies. Books. Games. Gardening. Post-grad work. Home improvement. Shopping. Sit-ins at Starbucks. So many distractions. Distractions that are yes important to us, but should never in the long run be more important than our relationship with Jesus Christ.
But I go to church every week…isn’t that enough?
No. Nope. Nada. No way. It requires consistent and authentic effort, dedication and love.
My church has an exit sign in its parking lot that reads “You Are Now Entering The Mission Field” for a reason. Worship, thanksgiving, Biblical love…It’s all so much more than going to church once a week and an occasional prayer.
It’s taking time to read the Life and Death Handbook, i.e., The Bible. Witnessing. Communion with fellow believers—and those who are “on the fence”, who question and who don't believe. Prayerful meditation, i.e., a time when one talks with Him. It's living one’s life according to Biblical values and laws…the 10 Commandments weren’t a suggestion and Jesus’ teachings aren’t just tales to tell at Bible camp.
I’d be a hypocrite if I said I didn’t need to work on my relationship with Jesus. My walk with Him, living in His image…those need to be primary. I do need to be consistent about what's most important. I’m not a “religious nut”, I’m a Christian; an imperfect little girl in an imperfect middle-aged woman’s body trying to make her way in the world and trying to share what I feel is important in hopes of making a difference.
I’d also be a hypocrite if I said I didn’t need to work on relationships with my family and friends…if you’re reading, I love you and you aren’t far from my heart and thoughts. If we haven’t texted, emailed, talked or visited with each other in a while, perhaps we should.
Now, having read this post, what do I, the reader, need to work on?
Taking the first steps to improve any and all relationships might be tough and tedious, but it will get easier in time. Have honest conversations with Jesus. Read a few passages from the Bible. Call your dad. Instead of going out to eat, cook dinner with your significant other and instead of turning on the TV, simply talk to each other. Visit a friend in the hospital. Help your colleague with that assignment that keeps him up at night. If you feel like you’re having to do all the work, talk to your spouse, significant other, friend, family member, colleague, whomever about that. Pray about the relationship(s) that need work. Jesus always listens, even during the times when you think He’s silent.
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