How Should We Love?

In the book of Acts we see the infancy of the church. As we read we find that as early as the third chapter of Acts, the body of believers was established after Peter addressed the crowd on the day of Pentecost. In Acts 3:42-47 we see the response of the believers, who devoted themselves to the teaching of Christ and to fellowship with one another. Some of the highlights of this passage: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship”, “selling their possession and goods, they gave to anyone who had need,” and “the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

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Five Things to Remember When Life Becomes Overwhelming

One of my friends shared on facebook that she is really struggling with all the things that life is throwing at her right now. Unfortunately, I think we can ALL identify with that feeling of being overwhelmed on occasion! Women, who tend to be fixers, sometimes have difficulty admitting they need help when life becomes overwhelming for them. So how do we learn to swallow our pride and ask for help? How do we let our friends and family know that we have reached a point where we are ready to scream, or cry, or just hide, until we can face life with equanimity again?

Photo by Anh Nguyen on Unsplash

For those of you who find yourself in this circumstance, here are five things I’ve found helpful.

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They Did Not Know It Was Good

This evening as I was sitting in our Good Friday service, listening to our minister eloquently speak on the significance of Good Friday, I couldn’t help but think that for everyone who was present that day, it was not such a good Friday.

The fact of the matter is that not one individual who was present that day knew with certainty what was really occurring, not even the disciples who had spent the last three year with him. Indeed, even the last week with Jesus did not prepare them for what they experienced, even though Jesus himself spoke of what was coming.

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My Comfort Zone

Do you ever go out of your comfort zone when it comes to serving God? It seems that since I have gotten older I have gone out of my comfort zone more frequently than when I was younger. I think when I was younger I was more consumed with parenting, being a spouse, and serving at church, than I was concerned about being out of my comfort zone. I think I worried more about making it through the day without a melt-down–either my kids or mine– than I thought about challenging myself to step out of my comfort zone more!

Recently one of my fellow church members contacted me and asked if I would be willing to speak on a rotation basis at a nearby assistant living facility. That was a stretch for me. I had been asked to speak for their small worship service and believe me, that was way out of my comfort zone. I speak for workshops and retreats for women’s groups, but I had never spoken for a service with older people. I was not sure exactly what to speak about as I wracked my brain for the normal topics I speak on. I prayed about what these individuals would want and need to hear about God.

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The Alabaster Jar

Recently in my morning reading I arrived to Luke 7: 36-50. Before you read the rest of what I write, I would like you to read this passage (below). There is much speculation as to the identity of the woman. Some say it was Mary Magdalene, but any other time in Scripture where Mary Magdalene was involved, her name was given. It was speculated that it was Mary, the sister of Lazarus. Indeed, we do read in Matthew 26 of a woman anointing Jesus with costly oil while he was in Bethany and it is likely that it was Mary. But in this passage, the woman is not named, just her reputation was what defined her.

Here is a woman who has learned that Jesus would be at Simon’s house. I have to wonder, was she part of one of the crowds that listened to Jesus’ teaching? Did she stand at the back of the crowd, with her face mostly hidden, so that she could hear this man of whom she had heard so many tales? Did she know someone who had been healed by him or had she just heard the rumors and stories that were floating around? Whatever it was, it was obvious that Jesus’ words and actions had deeply touched her life.

The imagery of this woman standing behind the feet of Jesus while he is reclining at the table is powerful. She wets his feet with her copious tears and then wipes them with her hair. Not only does she wipe his feet with her hair, afterwards, she pours very expensive perfume on them. In many ways, the sheer magnitude of what she did is amazing.

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My View from the Pew

Well, technically my view from the pew is really from the chair. We never had pews at my church. Believe me, chairs are far more comfortable and during the height of Covid-19 they were able to take out a lot of chairs in order to provide safe distancing. But I digress from the real point.

I am short and usually I sit toward the front of the church because I can see better. Invariably I will end up moving because someone tall sits in front of me. Last week, I came into the auditorium just before service started and had to sit toward the back. It was interesting how different the perspective was for me. But the cool thing was, I saw from the back what I normally did not see from the front.

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My Valentine’s Day

Today is Valentine’s Day. A day that brings joy to some people, and stress to others. My cynical friends will say that it is just a day for merchants to sell more merchandise, and indeed I noticed the flower prices in my local grocery store went up substantially the week before Valentine’s Day hit. But my more romantic friends will anticipate receiving flowers, candy, or any number of things to celebrate their love.

The first year after my husband died, I found Valentine’s Day a difficult holiday to face. Now the thing is, it had never been a big deal day in our home. We didn’t do fancy dinners, or spend unnecessary money on a dozen roses. We were lucky if we gave each other cards some years. But we were together, and we loved each other. There was something about that security of knowing someone loves you and that you love someone that makes the day special. After he died, I found myself longing to be back where we were. But you cannot go back, you can only go forward.

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Exposed to the Light

Our church is going through the New Testament together for the second time in as many years. I love the fact that so many of our family has been taking this to heart and participating in the challenge to read scripture daily. Each week our pastors read the same passages we read and share insights in ways I may not have seen before. It never ceases to amaze me when I read a scripture I have read multiple times before, God shows me something new. I do not know why I am surprised by that. He has been doing it ever since I became a Christian at the age of 12.

I was reading Matthew 10 recently and I cannot tell you how many times I have heard studies on Matthew 10:29-31. You know, the passage that says not one sparrow falls to the ground without God knowing, and the fact that God knows the very number of the hairs on our head. I have heard this passage used countless times to tell us that we do not need to worry because God knows our needs and is active in our lives.

But I rarely hear anyone do a study on the verses prior to this. Matthew 10:26-28 says, “There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body, but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. ” (NIV)

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Finding Joy in the Chaos, Part 2

Yesterday I talked about the stress and chaos that often robs us of our joy. Today we are going to focus on some things that help us in regaining and maintaining joy in our lives. Having joy does not mean that we are happy all the time, or that we never have problems. Instead, for the Christian, it is a deep contentment and happiness that is centered on the Creator.

So how do we find this contentment and joy? I believe a large part of the answer is found in Philippians 4:8-9. “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—If anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” Consider this–if we focus on the untrue, ignoble, wrong, unpure, ugly or abominable, then our minds will fill with depression and fear. But in focusing on the good things, we are much more likely to find joy.

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Fleeting Moments

Recently I was nestled in the Ozark Mountains during a writer’s retreat. It snowed most of the day and I awoke to a beautifully white, frozen world. The snow was pristine in its freshness because no tracks had marred the surface. The lovely white landscape was stunning. And if I had had the foresight to bring snow boots with me, I could have gone outside to play in the snow. But alas, no snow boots. By the afternoon all that lovely snow was fading away, and the moment for playing in the snow was gone.

Photo by Linda DeLay Wallace

But I savored that small moment where I glimpsed a serene beauty during the midst of winter. It gave me a sense of peace and contentment and reminded me that God is the best artist there is. But it took little time for the peace of the moment to flee.

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