More Covid Effects?

image via wild apricot

Does anyone know of a church relatively close that does evening services? I’d love a Sunday night service but Saturday could work too. After Covid for the past year I’ve really loved our mornings at home on the weekend.” – posted on a neighborhood facebook page

This struck me as a very sad commentary on not just the effects of the “pandemic” but on our culture.

  • The person asks about a church – no denomination as it didn’t seem to matter.
  • The person is looking for a convenient service, something that wouldn’t interfere with Sunday mornings at home.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for the opportunity to watch/semi-participate in church at home. When things starting shutting down last year, before we even knew about Chuck’s illness, we watched our church in St. Augustine from afar. When our children came to Birmingham we were able to share with them together in our living room. For a few of them it was the first sermon they’d probably heard in years. After Chuck died, there were a few Sundays I just couldn’t face people yet and I was grateful to hear His Word proclaimed via YouTube.

But, as soon as I was able I attended in person, even though it was at two new locations where I had to/am having to get to know a lot of new people. What a difference; what a blessing! Now I crave that fellowship with God and His people. I pray God does not let me slip back into habits of ease and mediocrity.

The Six Degrees of Matt Redmond

This is about Matt Redmond, author of The God of the Mundane , not the well-known (to some, not me) worship leader Matt Redman.

I had to do some digging around back in time for this post, so bear with me. On August 22, 2013, I wrote a post titled Daily Praises – you can read it HERE. I first heard of Matt and his book via my husband who heard of him via Rev. Shane Lems.

Fast forward nine months and we are living in Birmingham, Alabama, where Matt lives. Somehow I found him, read his book, and interviewed him for a small local newspaper. We met at the library and I got to know him a little bit. I have searched high and low for that interview/article to no avail. But, an offshoot of that meeting was that in addition to our faith, we also have a love for music in common, his much deeper than mine. But he was the one that connected me to a guy who sold me tickets for the first Avett Brothers’ concert that Chuck and I went to. At the concert we saw Matt and were able to meet his wife Bethany. This was now November of 2017.

Jump ahead again to 2021. I’m attending Holy Trinity Presbyterian Church where I now live in Tampa and I meet a sweet woman named Suanne. She tells me about Tim Challies and I sign up for his emails. So, today’s email has a list of book recommendations and guess what shows up? Yep. the new edition of Matt’s book!

Side note: I just finished reading Ordinary by Michael Horton, which is similar in many ways to Matt’s book. Of the two, I’d probably recommend Matt’s only because it seems more focused on the topic, whereas Horton’s rambles around a little more. And, FYI, Matt’s was published first.

Rant in the time of shutterfly

I might just write this to get it out of my system and never post it. We’ll see.

I received what I consider the worst Christmas card of this year. Let me tell you why. First of all, it was addressed to A. Bell. Like junk mail, like from someone who doesn’t know me. Exactly.

On the back of the envelope is a handwritten line – from (insert name of church here).

So I’m thinking, it must be from my church. Sent out by someone I don’t know, but it must be a card from the church in general.

I open it to find a shutterfly, picture-perfect card of a family I’ve never met. I flip it over. More pictures, including the dog. No handwritten message. No signature. No Biblical message or scripture verse. Just a printed script about a trip they took and how 2020 was a different year with unexpected changes.

Yes, it was.

I search around and find this was from an elder in the church.

I leave you with your own thoughts.

Say Love

I used the song “Living of Love” as a springboard for a post last October. Once again the lyrics hit home. Some days aren’t easy, But, some are surprisingly wonderful. Yesterday was a mix of both. I heard a good message at church, but could hardly sing the hymns for the lump in my throat. I went to Pastor Eric’s home for lunch where I met some new people and got to know them a little bit. I listened to Eric’s mom tell funny stories and remembered my mom who could tell some funny stories. And Mom had a few good jokes up her sleeve, also. Just ask my family about the southern lady on the train.

If the days aren't easy and the nights are rough
When they ask you what you're thinking of
Say love, say for me love
Say love, say for me love

No matter how rough and lonely the nights, I can still Say Love. I think of God’s love and how He has not forsaken me. I think of Chuck’s love and all the little things I miss. I think of my kids’ love and all the ways they show it.

Bookcase Browsings #1: Main Street Baptist Church of Auburndale

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We are unloading our bookcases as a first step in our preparing to move. It is a slow process for me as I’m TRYING to get rid of a few books but that’s a super hard thing for me. Then I come across yearbooks, church directories, school anthologies and other such items that make me pause and travel down memory  lane.

Pictured above is the cover of an old church directory, circa 2001. The first page shows the “staff”. Of these ten people, four have passed on. The senior pastor, Dr. Jay Wimberly, is the reason we know and love these people. He and his wife, Shirley, were a big part of our lives for many years. They are both gone, but their daughter, Dawn, who directed the music, still lives in the Winter Haven area. Forrest Gilliam is gone – he was a very special man. His loving wife still lives in Winter Haven. He was a paraplegic for many, many years and she took care of him in a way that always drew my great admiration for her. The other one gone, Gene Manning, was a man that I always saw with a smile on his face. He just made me feel good.

Others gone but not forgotten: Mrs. Brown, Roberta, Helen, Mrs. Hendricks, Cheryl, Grace.

The kids who now have kids: Mindy, Katie, Stephen, Tiffany, Laura, Jarrod, Angela, Kyle, Ben.

I’m sure I’ve  missed a few – we haven’t lived in the areas since 2005. But I still count some of these fellow Christians  among my close friends: Tom, Peggy and Mary. I keep up with others via facebook.

Moving is never easy, but I look forward to being just a little closer to some of these old friends in Florida.

 

 

 

Out of the Mouth of Babes

I have been purging papers from my old trunk and elsewhere the past few weeks. I can’t believe all the stuff I’d saved. I took pictures of some things and sent them to people who I thought would appreciate then or get a laugh out of of them. I sent my friend (junior high, HS, college, still) pictures of sorority articles, the napkins from her wedding, newspaper clippings, thank you notes, shower invitations. My kids got pictures of pictures they drew in first grade and poems they wrote in high school. And I’m not finished yet.

In the process I reconnected, via facebook, with my sorority big sister and a former student who is now about 30.

One humorous item I uncovered was written by Elizabeth, a fourth grade student from my earliest years of teaching. She had evidently heard something in church. (Some punctuation and capitalization added)

 

Once there was a man named Jonah. He woke up and a voice came out of his window. It was God. God wanted Jonah to build an ark. It was going to rain 40 days and 40 nights. They were going to build an ark but Jonah hided from God and everywhere Jonah went God was there. He was sending men to build the ark.

“The rain is going to come in five minutes,” said the men.

Everybody was coming to the ark. People were coming and people were packing their stuff. The rain was coming. The rain finally came. There were floods. The floods were like an ocean. God made waves and a big fish came out of the ocean and swallowed Jonah. 

Pet Sins

I’m not talking about sins that pets commit. Pets can be bad and do things that are mighty inconvenient, but they can’t sin as they have no soul. Sorry, Virginia, but all dogs don’t go to heaven.

I’m also not talking about those sins that are our favorite little secrets. That’s for another day.

I’m talking about the ones that are the favorite ones to bring up in church. The ones we can mention over and over because we don’t think we’ll be stepping on any toes in the process. We can talk about how horrible abortion is, because surely there isn’t anyone in our fellowship that has ever had an abortion, right?

Homosexuality is another favorite, for surely there are no homosexuals sitting in our congregations. So, lets just make examples of those two horrendous sins so we can all nod our heads in agreement while patting ourselves on the back. Of course, we can occasionally mention gossiping and envy because we all agree we are a little bit guilty, you know, like, everybody does it. And it’s okay sometimes to bring up drunkenness because drunks are just plain funny, you know?

Just don’t go talking about divorce or gluttony because you might just offend too many people.

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Inside the Object

PAD Day 21 was to write about an object. So many of us confuse the church building with the one true church. I didn’t give this poem a title (yet), but I was think of the building that houses the church.

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photo- pexels.com

 

This building with its multicolored panes
That tell the stories of the saints of old
The highly polished wooden pews that creak
These pews that hold the sheep within the fold

This structure built upon a little hill
Though humble brick, within a message bold
Is spoken there for all who come to hear
The sweetest story that has e’er been told

This house of worship gathers saints who sing
Clear voices lifted up, God is extolled
Melodious and reverent the refrain
Amazing grace abounds in this stronghold

My Thoughts on a Millennial Rant

 

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So, I really got sidetracked today after reading an article  reposted by someone I love but  who really didn’t grow up in church. I feel like someone from the outside looking in, reading this article, could really find justification for despising the “church” as they understand it. Here I will briefly address each point the author makes with my insight, however flawed.

  1. Nobody’s listening to us “…millennials value voice and receptivity above all else”
    This seems kind of sad that this is valued above all else.
  2. We’re sick of hearing about values & mission statements
    I can agree here. Get back to the Gospel.
  3. Helping the poor Isn’t a priority
    The author talks about connecting people with similar passions – meeting and brainstorming. Individual Christians need to be serving the people where they are – it’s not always necessary to CONNECT and brainstorm.
  4. We’re tired of you blaming the culture
    True, perhaps, We need to call sin sin. I agree, we need to see how our lives should differ from the culture.
  5. The “You Can’t Sit With Us” affect  – The author speaks of “…authentic community with a shared purpose centered around service”.
    We need to be centered around worship. All the rest will then fall into place. He also says to “..create and train a team of CONNECT people…” This seems like just another program. We are called as Christians to do this regardless.
  6. Distrust and misallocation of resources “…millennials don’t trust institutions.” The misallocations of funds is true in many churches, especially the Mega-churches. But, many of these are just religious institutions, not a true body of believers.
  7. We want to mentored, not preached at
    I understand craving relationship and I believe it can be found within the church. The New Testament shows us this example in Paul and Timothy. But, this does not mean to disregard preaching. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God – Romans 10:17
  8. We want to feel valued. “Churches tend to rely heavily on their young adults to serve.” (yet later the author says the church is “… a smattering of mostly older people) I agree with his point about relying on young people – this isn’t in keeping with the pattern set out for us in scripture. The author goes on to say, “We desperately need the church to tell us we are enough, exactly the way we are.” This is completely false. None of us are “enough” – only in Christ are we worthy. Many millennials have been given trophies and told they could do anything they dreamed of, only to find out not everyone will be a NFL star or a grammy winner.
  9. We want you to talk to us about controversial issues  – “We need someone consistently speaking truth…”
    This goes back to #1 – sound preaching. He says to “Create a young adults program…” A program isn’t necessarily the answer. Sound preaching and teaching from home is. I will be the first to admit I fell down on the job on that one.
  10. The public perception – “It’s time to change the public perception of the church.” The perception may change when the church is worshiping and serving as scripture teaches. But, just remember the public perception of Jesus when He was on earth was pretty low. Why should it be different for us?
  11. Stop talking about us (unless you’re going to do something) I say this goes both ways.
  12. You’re failing to adapt. Here the author quotes Bill Clinton, and I’m thinking there is something wrong with that picture. Then he says, “You’re complacent, irrelevant, and approaching extinction.” I guess “stop talking about us” doesn’t apply here.

 

“The truth is, church, it’s your move.”
If the author is a Christian, he IS the church. If he’s not, all of this is moot.

Blessed Are

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I penned this after hearing messages on The Beatitudes brought by Mark Soud. It can be sung to the tune of Amazing Grace (just sing BLESSED , not BLES-SED)

Blessed are those whose dear spirits are
Counted among the poor
Theirs is the kingdom here and far
They enter by the Door

Blessed are those who on earth do mourn
For comfort will be theirs
Yes, for a time sorrow is born
O’er sin and worldly cares

Blessed is the meek and lowly one
Who for himself cares not
Looks not to self but to the Son
Gives glory as he ought

Blessed are those who for righteousness
Do hunger and do thirst
At the Lord’s table they’ll be guests
The last shall there be first

Blessed are they who are merciful
They will mercy receive
These promises are never null
To they who do believe

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they
Children of God will be
Kindness and peace is in their way
God’s love their very key

Blessed those who persecuted are
When God’s law they obey
On earth they suffer and are marred
Yet in God’s care they stay

Blessed are those who, when men abuse
When lies are told of them
It is for Christ that they are bruised
Still, they rejoice in Him

Rejoice and be exceeding glad
For great is your reward
The saints before you trouble had
Yet trusted in the Lord