Tag Archives: Love one Another

Cookies & Cream Christianity

cookies and cream

Today begins the day that the earth, in our part of the world, is about to see the “big thaw.” Our single digit temperatures from a week ago are giving way to a balmy sixty degrees today! My aching bones are so ready. But ever ready on my heart is the answered prayer that there will be a big thaw in the church of God. I speak collectively across every denomination, not one in particular. My stomach turns at the thought of my own prejudiced behavior over the years of salvation where because of biased views I judged another’s faith. In truth I doubt you can point your finger at me without at least a little dirt beneath your nails, it seems to be the nature of the greater majority of us.

We realize that we’re wretched sinners, deserving of a Devil’s Hell, and by the grace of God we are gratefully saved. And for a while we look back at the congregation of God and see them as the greatest thing since ®Oreo cookies. Pure sweetness! But then, little by little, the dogma of men creeps into our hearts, and denominations are viewed as black and white, and the sweetness is gone. One is right, the other wrong, never the twain shall meet. I am not foolish enough to believe that different denominations should meet under the same roof; for those firm in our beliefs trying to convert doctrines would do nothing but cause an even deeper division, but… and here’s where big thaw needs to take place, the lost need to see Christ, not our opinion of Christ.

I believe that this thaw has begun in our community and it stirs my soul when I see churches extending the right hand of fellowship outside the church, whether or not they agree inside.  And while Pastor’s must set the standard, the congregation as a whole is to follow suit.

Jesus spoke a parable in Luke 6 that I believe can work to relate on the matter.

Luke 6:43-46

For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh. And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?

Tell me what type of fruit could possibly come from negative conversations about another church or even worse, specific church members. Rotten. It’s not like I’m airing dirty laundry that’s never been hung on the line, it’s been blowing in the wind for decades. My Mother tells of the two churches in her country neighborhood of Strange Creek, West Virginia, a Baptist and a Methodist no less, that were one in the same when they were kids. They’d attend one in the morning and another in the evening, they’d switch it up just for fun. They’d have church fellowships and all was well. Well, those days are long gone! And the effects are long gone too.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that church attendance is at an all-time low. The fruit for which our churches are bearing is not the fruit of the Word of God, but rather the rotten fruit of men. The concern for souls gets overshadowed by the concerns of men (and women as the case may be.)

Jesus concluded His parable in verses 47-49

Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.

When building the Church, the foundation is Christ alone. If you’re building with any other words than His, your not building the church, you’re tearing it down.

Wouldn’t it be great if we all got together for cookies and milk tomorrow afternoon and just loved one another!

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Who Will Know You Care?

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I ventured out to do some early Christmas shopping with my girls on Thanksgiving evening, and it’s always a little surreal. Yes, I know it’s a family day. Yes I know it’s crazy, but I was with my crazy daughters, so it’s all good! Please don’t judge. The massive crowds eagerly awaited to spend their last dime on what truthfully wasn’t even a bargain and I watched as several disappointed and angry people vented about having missed the big deal as if their entire life’s purpose hinged on that one purchase. I’m not judging. Put me in a music store and I can be every bit as unglued as the Walmart shoppers of 2013, I just don’t have the financial means to back it.

It’s Thanksgiving and they’re afraid they’re missing Christmas. Now that’s crazy! This morning as I sit in the quietness of my home, my Christmas tree is up, gifts wrapped beneath it and the mantle is decorated, and I’m afraid of missing Christmas too. It’s so very easy to get wrapped up in the festivities and forget what Christmas is about.

There’s a new Christmas chotchky in my décor this year. An owl. He looks rather festive with his music note body and a little silver here and there for added appeal. He’s my thought behind this Christmas message this morning. Strange I know, but the Bible significance of an owl lead me to focus back on the true meaning of Christmas. And it can’t be bought. It’s the purpose of Christmas and it can’t be found on a shelf in any store in the world.

A relationship with God.

We were never meant to be alone. God created Eve for Adam as a help meet for the garden, He sanctioned marriage between a man and a woman and would call the church the bride of Christ, and what an abundance of joy in my heart this morning to serve the One who feeds my soul this message. Life is relational. But what happens when it’s not? What about those who may be in a crowded room full of family and friends but they’re still alone?

David felt that way in Psalm 102:6 ~ I am like a pelican of the wilderness: I am like an owl of the desert.

He is silent in his affliction, alone, without friends or support, and yet David knew God. But the world had taken its toll on him. The sound of an owl in the darkness is lonely and wanting. Whoooo, whoooo. The very word is relational. I can feel the sorrow in my heart this morning for David who felt that everyone had forsaken him. Who would help, who would come to his aid… who really cared? I see that same cry in the faces of people I meet who may or may not know Christ. I want to do more to reach out to them and let them know they’re not alone.

That is the Spirit of Christmas. It’s building relationships with people so that they may know Who it is that cares. It’s giving hope in a hopeless time. Christ came to earth as a baby, but He walked the earth as man building relationships for the glory of God. So should we.

Who will know you care this Christmas?

When I Grow Up I want to be a Sonflower

Ephesians 4:11-15 ~ And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

This morning when I was creeping on somebody’s Facebook page that I didn’t even know (a friend of a friend) I found the sunflower picture. My immediate thought was, “Wow, that’s love.” My second thought was a question. “Why isn’t the church in love like that?”

The reason I creep is godly (most of the time). I like to see what’s going on in the lives of other Christians and their images generally tell a story a bout what’s important to them. I run across lots of family pictures and plenty of comedy! I occasionally run across some off color image that shouldn’t oughta be there on a Christian’s page (just sayin’) But mostly I run across pictures of people they love. So it has me thinking today, if God took a snapshot of the American Church today what would it look like? The body of believers is so fractured into denominations and then sects within the denomination, then clicks within the sects and Jiminy Cricket, God Himself probably doesn’t have enough film to take as many pictures as necessary because we can’t be included in that group because they don’t believe like us.

In the beginning of the New Testament Church it had already begun; the need for Paul to reign them in. Paul was trying to put the unity back in their communities. He wanted them to know Christ’s ideas (knowledge of the Son of God); he wanted them to un-know man’s ideas (be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men). He wanted them to grow up into a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.

Perfection doesn’t mean without sin, not until we come to Heaven will we know perfection. But we are made perfect through Christ in the unity of our faith in Him. Contrary to popular belief, when God pulls out His wallet of baby pictures, certain denominations are not on top, but there are some baby pictures. Crying, whimpering, selfish believers that don’t play well with others. Always tattling on the other believers to non-believers, telling them why they shouldn’t join so and so’s church rather than letting them see Jesus and deciding on their own. Paul tells them to grow up. Know what you believe and live it, stop creeping in other peoples churches, it’s messing up your own doctrine. I guess it was the Facebook of the day.

God has given us (in our church) where like believers are, our own preachers and teachers of the gospel for the work of the ministry. It’s time to get to work. That’s what people do when they grow up. They work. And we need to be edifying the body of Christ (that’s each other). I know it’s just an image, but when I look at the sunflowers faces I see the love of the artist that created it. It’s with that love that God created us to love one another. (But speaking the truth in love, may grow up). When I grow up I want to be a Sonflower and love people just like that.

Maundy Thursday… let’s do it!

Maundy Thursday; it’s not a tradition that our church acknowledges in service. It’s not even one that I hear mentioned too much in our neck of the woods. But through today’s Christian news events, it appears that multiple churches do hold Maundy Thursday events. The word “maundy” comes from a Latin word: mandatum. And mandatum means “mandate” or a “commandment”.  On the eve before Christ’s crucifixion, Christ gave a new mandate to His followers as they gathered in for the last supper. My heart breaks when I think back about the “last suppers” I’ve had with a few friends. If I had known that it was going to be my “last supper” with them I’d have hung on their every word, but I didn’t know.

The wonderful thing about the Word of God, is that we do have the Words that Christ spoke during this special time with His friends. His heart was heavy, He’d been betrayed and yet in the midst of that horrific time for Him He gathered those who He had grown so close to and gave them a new mandate, or a new commandment as it were.

John 13:34

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

Judas had left the building. It was now just Jesus and His faithful friends. Not perfect by any means, after all they too would leave Him when the going got rough the next day. But this day He needed them to understand what would be key to the mission He was leaving them to; that they love one another. He did not give them a long dissertation or a bullet point list of things they needed to check off to make sure the church as run correctly… as does the church of today. He said, “just love people.” If we did that, our churches would run correctly.

If we didn’t look on the outward appearance of man, if we didn’t look at their past sins “again”, if we just loved them, our services would be much different. Because in loving one another, all the Spirit squelching things would not be there and a service like “Maundy Thursday” would have the saints of God shoutin’ in the isles and glorifying God, not looking down the isle, and judging men.

Love one another. What an awesome idea. Let’s do it!