My church life…in a small community…


The other day, I was up in the balcony preparing the sound system and the morning songs on the overhead projector…once I had things set up (well, a few hitches during the service), I felt content.  Like I had finally found the place to worship God and learn more about Him.

 

Sort of how I felt when I attended this one really big church and would greet people as they came through the doors…excited to be part of a great ministry…and to see people gathering to worship the almighty and merciful God…

 

Though the church is small, there is approximately fifty people on an average Sunday morning; although it may seem small, the people have big hearts and the messages are usually powerful.  Most recently, I attended another church where they had a congregational sing-along with other churches in the community…what a great opportunity to meet others.  Of course, me, was shy and went into my little shell…but I’m slowly coming out…as I acquaint my self with a new community and church.

 

This church was initially discovered by my parents a few years ago so they have described its wonderful atmosphere and people, who are just as my parents described.  Then, when I moved here, I checked out one church that really didn’t seem like home…it probably feels fine to others but I wanted a close knit church…like a family atmosphere…after losing my husband…it was as if God was telling me to become part of a family again after listening to several messages the topic of family.  Which does feel like family especially by those who helped with the move like the pastor and a few others before I even met them…

 

Then, I paid a visit on a Wednesday evening after cleaning out a storage unit…the atmosphere was warm and welcoming as I felt myself drawn to the point of driving over an hour each way to attend its services.  Now, that I’m here, it feels strange to have the church only ten minutes away so that took a few days to adjust to not getting up at 5:30 on a Sunday morning…though the trip was worth it especially now that I have fallen for its many valleys and the community itself.

 

Now I can be more involved like recently helping with a yard sale, going to prayer meeting (something I’ve missed doing over the years), helping with the sound system (which has its own trials as I learn) and other areas as needed…I’m even practicing to eventually sing a solo (Yikes…I don’t do good in front of people).

 

Anyway, though my pastoral license is delayed, I can still do what my heart desires…helping at a church (since part of my spiritual gifts is serving), something I have loved doing since I was a kid in a church that feels like being with family…

 

So, what is your church like?  Have you found a church to call home?  If not, I pray you find one…after all, God is about community and a church is like a community where people learn about Him while being supported during the rough times…so come home to a place of family and fellow believers tow worship Abba Father…

A God Who Delights in Mercy…Like You


Hello everyone, how are you doing on this blustery fall evening?  Hope all is well with you…

So, this is my 100th blog and as I write this, I am reflecting on a final paper on the prophet Micah that I just wrote for my prophets class…

The passage that I based the paper on was Micah 7:1-20 and one of the verses was as follows:

Micah 7:18 (NIV):

Who is a God like you,
    who pardons sin and forgives the transgression
    of the remnant of his inheritance?
You do not stay angry forever
    but delight to show mercy.

This passage starts out with how the prophet is upset because the leaders of Judah are corrupt and even those within the community from friends to family members have turned against each other…sort of reminds me of today’s times.  Yet Micah wrote about a God who is merciful and does not stay angry with his people forever.  That the problems of the world can be overcome through God’s salvation…

Questions:

1) when  you hear a phrase “who is a God like you,” what do you think of?  Negative or positive thoughts?

2) If negative, do you know where these thoughts are coming from?  Have you been hurt by corruption or even people turning against you?  I’m praying for you and I know the feeling…I once thought God was negative because of the words Father that were associated with Him because of bad experiences yet after prayer and listening to a message one night, I realized He’s an Abba Father who does not stay angry forever and loves to have compassion and mercy on His children. Yeah, He may get angry at times because of things like social injustice, corrupt people, idol worship, and so on but He doesn’t stay angry forever and He forgives people because He loves them.

3) If positive, good for you and maybe use the positive thoughts to encourage those who are discouraged by negative thoughts?

So, I leave you with these thoughts and prayers that all is well with you…and remember God DELIGHTS to show His mercy…

I’m going to put together a contest soon to celebrate 100 blogs and I started a class on World Religions about the different religions around the world and how we as Christians can reach out to them…so stay tuned for the contest and a few words on what I am learning…

Blessings to all of you and sticking with me through the journey of 100 blogs…

Lost and Found


Well,  how was your week?  Have you been creative or reflective in your walk with Jesus?  Or even made an important decision to accept Him into your life?  Or do you feel lost rather you have accepted Him or not?

Throughout the book of Luke in Chapter 15 there are a few parables about sheep, coins, and even a son who were lost and so these parables reminded me of my own lost story this past week.  You see, I have been losing weight to fight a health issue and so my wedding ring has been getting loose.

Earlier this week, I ran a bunch of errands and noticed it was quite loose but I kept it on.  A few hours later, I noticed it was missing and went in an almost panicked mode…worst scenario – it was flushed down the toilet!  Or lost under the tires of a car in a store’s parking lot!  I even dug through the garbage, garbage disposal, hamburger, fish and so on (I’d split up the meat and produce picked up at the store)…but alas no ring!  We were both devastated and I moaned the loss of such a connection with my husband.

Then, a little voice kept whispering check the bags…check the bags…so I checked the baggie storage and then I checked on bag that had been shoved in an obsolete spot.  My heart leaped with joy as a small shiny object popped out and fell to the floor…rolling under a few more bags that had fallen!  Praise the Lord..after doing some more digging…I found my ring.

Quickly I tucked it away until I can find a nice chain to wear around my neck until the ring can be resized…

Lesson learned was that I need to tuck something precious away especially your ring if you notice it in a hazardous situation (yes I got the lecture from my hubby).

Above all, I felt like the woman did in Luke 15:8-10 whens he found one of her ten coins that signifies she has been faithful in her marriage.  She rejoiced just as Jesus rejoices when even just one sinner repents.  Or the Father who rejoices when His son returns home in Luke 15:11-32.

Questions:

1) Do you feel lost?

2) If so, where are you at in your walk with Jesus?

3) Have you said the sinners prayer?  Or even returned to Him after a long time away from Him?

4) How do you take care of your relationship with Jesus?  Are there warning signs that you are drifting away on the way to becoming lost?

5) Did you know that even if you have drifted away, God still loves you?

Wherever you are at, I’m praying for you and will rejoice with you once you are found and return to Him…

My testimony…early years


So, you’re probably wondering who is this person who puts out these blogs and how have I learned to be full of peace, for the most part…did I live a good life?  Has it always been so grand for me?

No, it has not so I thought I would share my testimony with y’all and let you know about me and how God has brought me out of some dark spots, which I have hinted at throughout my blogs.  this testimony will be part of a series for the next week or so as I discuss who I am, the good times, and even some of the trials that I have experienced in over forty years of living.

First, I come from a family of five children and a mom and a dad who will be celebrating 49 years of marriage this summer after meeting at a bible college up north.  There are numerous aunts, uncles, cousins, and a host of other relatives too numerous to count.  My ancestry goes back quite a ways – all the way to Sir William Isaac Wallace…possibly further…on my mom’s side – plus other interesting ancestors on both sides of the family.  Yet we seem to be unique and quite the adventuresome and creative type of people who love each other…

Yet, even with the love, there were the scars…

The first scar happened when I was about 2 years old and decided to climb on a table when my mom was not looking and then I fell, with a glass in my hand, and a cut on my cheek that is still somewhat visible today.  Though I do not remember the fall, I would remain afraid of heights for most of my life.  I put my guardian angels to work that day since it just barely missed my eye and I was not more seriously hurt.

More scars would occur throughout my growing up years that include abuse by neighbors and family…a sister who strayed from home…death of relatives…an attack that left me afraid to walk alone at night for most of my life…yet as I walked through each dark place, God was there alongside me, guiding, leading, comforting, and protecting.

Yet even in these dark days of my youth, God was still there, walking alongside me as  I became involved in various activities like drama, choir, Foreign Language club, FBLA, WA State Patrol Explorers, and other activities including the only female in a space club!  I was even involved with a bible study at school and have many exciting adventures along the way like an expo, an FBLA convention, youth conventions and camps…yet as I walked through each of these, God was still there.  Encouraging me as I focused on community, school, and friends.  My hobbies were writing, drawing, imagination, singing, exploring, and being silly.

Then there were my friends…my first boyfriend in fifth grade who I discovered is on Facebook after almost 30 years of no contact yet I held on to the letters that he gave me.  There were the two girls – Sara and Tina – who I have lost track of and would love to find.  We were the misfits – the unpopular kids – yet we bonded through being creative and acting like teen girls – pictures and stories are the only mementos I have of these two girls .  Finally, there was the friend from Norway, a pen pal, who I lost track of until Facebook brought us together again.  My favorite mementos of her are the postcards from all over Europe and a Christmas ornament that I hang on my tree every year.  Someday, I will have to visit Norway – the land of my dad’s people and the home of such a good friend.

Then the times spent at my grandparents’ place in Eastern Washington – an orchard and a single wide mobile home and tons of fun in the orchard and their lake.  Cousins from afar came every summer and we teased each other, went skinny dipping, and even cried together at times.  My favorite memory – walking around the lake with my grandpa and just hanging with him…those were the good times and now the place is a distant memory as the county turns it into a refuge for wildlife…so fitting since it was a refuge for me to get away from the dark times at home.  Yet, these dark times and the memories at my grandparents’ place have given me a dream to someday open up a similar refuge for those wounded by life.

Finally, I grew up with animals.  My mom says I had a cat when I was a baby and over the years I would grow to love cats.  Along the way, I would have chickens, turkeys, rabbits, and other animals as I bonded with them including a chicken named Cinnamon who let me hold her or the rooster that became dinner after he attacked a few of us kids.  Yes, many of our animals became dinner and I had to help pluck them…such a great childhood.  Of course, there was the time my sister and I chased the chickens and other animals around with a hose…boy oh boy…did we get in trouble…yet it was all fun.

So, what memories do you have your childhood?  Are they good or bad?  Perhaps do a timeline to see what you have experienced in your life…you may be surprised with what you find.

The Preacher’s Kid


Last Thursday, as mentioned in my last blog, my husband and I attended a concert with Steven Curtis Chapman, Laura Story, and Jason Gray.  Each had a story – one lost a child to a horrible accident, one struggled with a husband’s illness, and another struggles with a speech impediment.  Yet God is still using each of them through a gift of music.

I learned something yesterday while talking to my mom.  She mentioned about my dad was still being used by God for ministry – yeah!  Good for him and amen that even though he just turned 70, God is still using him.

You see, he was a minister when I was a young child.  We lived in a small town and I sat in the congregation listening ot my dad preach and attending various conferences and other meetings around the state as befitting a pastor with the Assembly of God.  He left the ministry and went into carpentry to feed us five kids.

After that, life in our home seemed to change and I struggled with both my parents and being part of a somewhat dysfunctional family.  it has only been the last few years that I have seen him change as he remains involved in his local church, even leading Bible study and filling in for the pastor when he is out of town.  My dad has returned to the faith even though he was away for several years – I am proud of him.  God still can use people no matter what their life was life.

I think of my own life – I’ve had struggles and I have not always been faithful to God.  Even now, as I write this blog, I’m struggling in my faith as our finances get tighter and I need a job or someway to stay home and bring in my income; otherwise, we may lose the car – which we need – or have to throw in the towel and return back to Western Washington.  Perhaps becoming the type of kids who move back with our parents – that is the worse case scenario! Yet, I am reminded of the many times God has provided – sometimes even at the 11th hour.

Yet, as I write this, my husband encourages me to remain faithful and I’m working on a bible study called Girls with Swords by Lisa Bevere and I am studying the faith chapter in Hebrews 11 and 12.  These chapters are about people who had weaknesses yet held on to their faith even until they passed away.

Therefore, I need to remain in my faith and push forward as God continues to use me through this blog and eventually becoming a pastor as I earn my master degree.

You see, even during the times I struggled to “love” my dad during the hard times, I wanted to become a pastor like him.  I hope to someday sit at his side as he teaches me how to put together a sermon or lead a church – though i’m scared when it comes to getting in front of a crowd of people and speaking.  Yet, like the artists at the concert and my dad, God will give me the strength to do it to fulfill His purpose.

In conclusion, what weaknesses are you struggling with that are keeping you from your God’s purpose for your life?  I’m praying that even God will still use you just like He is using my dad, me, and even my husband.