SO MANY BLESSINGS

I want to share with you some truly amazing blessings from Ministry Affirmation Sunday at our church the end of June.  Although we were celebrating the licensing of two new pastors, the focus of the service was the line on the back of every Sunday bulletin stating that every member of our family is a minister!  Pastors Dara, Blake and I shared about ministry among us these last 6 years and recognizing YOUR gifts for serving our Lord Jesus Christ.  Any ideas on how to use your gifts this summer?

What a pleasure to realize and praise His blessings in our midst, that ministry Sunday:

  • There was a huge group of loving elders, including several from the past, gathered at the altar, laying hands on Linda and Tim in prayer!
  • Several visitors mentioned that they looked forward to returning to this “incredible family!”
  • Looking out our congregation, I rejoiced seeing many tears of love and joy!
  • Many of us were truly overwhelmed by the movement of the Holy Spirit flowing through our family that morning and often!

It just doesn’t get any better than that!  Hallelujah!

Remember the blessings you have worshipping with your church family together this summer.  I’ll never take this gift of time in His Loving Presence with my brothers and sisters in Jesus for granted!  How about you?

Bless you,

Barbara

LIVING IN THE SPIRIT

Have you ever wondered what your life would look like if you were so full of the Holy Spirit sent by Christ as our Comforter? How do we “live in the Spirit?” As always, the word of God has the answer.

Our Pastor Blake’s Pentecost Sunday message centered on Stephen in Acts 6 – 7 as he walked in the Spirit. When a need arose in the Christian community, the disciples chose seven among them who were “known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom,” (6:3) to meet this need while the disciples were dedicated to prayer and ministry of the word. Stephen was one of this group.

“Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power,did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people. (6:8)
What a stunning example of an ordinary man achieving ordinary deeds through the power of the Spirit!

When men tried to argue with Stephen, they couldn’t stand up against “the Spirit by whom he spoke.” (6:10)
What protection in the Spirit!

But they persevered. Soon, through lies against Stephen, they angered the people and brought Stephen before the Sanhedrin. Stephen was so in touch with and living in the Holy Spirit that, “ All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that
his face was like the face of an angel.” (6:15)
Standing against these sinners, the Holy Spirit shown through Stephen!

After Stephen rebuked them all for not obeying the law sent by angels and murdering Jesus, the Sanhedrin were furious and stoned him. Facing this terrifying opposition, “…Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to Heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.” (7:55)
Jesus cared for and welcomed Stephen for his life in the Holy Spirit.

As he was stoned to death, Stephen prayed for Jesus to receive his spirit and not to hold their sin against his killers. A final act of amazing forgiveness in the Spirit! (Rev.Blake Heffner, 2017)

What a comfort and blessing to know that when we dedicate ourselves to Jesus Christ, committing to live a life in the Holy Spirit:

• Our ordinary lives can be so extraordinary
• We have the protection of Jesus and the Spirit with our adversaries
• The Holy Spirit will shine through us in adversity
• Jesus is watching and caring for us as proclaim His name to all the Earth
• Through the Holy Spirit, we will have the mighty power of forgiveness

I am so incredibly thankful for this message of encouragement in ministry, and pray that you are blessed as well. Hallelujah!

Barbara

Being a Child of God

 

Every once in a while, we all become discouraged, don’t we?  Whether it is some family issue, a person or project at work that just isn’t humming the way we wish or just that tired feeling that brings us down.  Will I ever feel that old energy again?  I know that part of my dismay is connected to the aging process, but I also know that when I forget who I am it’s bound to get worse!

I am a child of the most high God!  If someone asks you to whom are you a child, is your response Harry and Sue?  or Barbara and John?  Katharine and Warren (my parents)?  Obviously, these are our earthly parents, mortal parents who, unfortunately, will not be on this earth to nurture us forever.  Aren’t we blessed that we will never be left alone, either on this earth or in the heavenly realm, because, spiritually, we are children of our God?  The Bible says that we are made in HIS own image…can you imagine what that entails?  No one but our amazing God could have created an intricate brain which tells the rest of our body what to do, including our heart pumping into every little vein of our being!

Paul tells us that NOTHING can ever separate us from this God, our father, and His mighty son, Jesus Christ who was, is and shall always be…forever and ever!  Believe it every day and discouragement will fly in the wind as we flourish with Him!  Hallelujah!

Many Blessings,

Barbara

 

 

 

BLESSED ASSURANCE

“Perfect Submission – all is at rest

I in my Savior am happy and blest;

Watching and waiting, looking above,

Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.”

(Crosby and Knapp)

A few weeks ago, while we were vacationing in Florida, I received the tragic news that a dear friend of mine’s 39 yr. old son was killed in a car accident.  This touched me very deeply, even causing me to go to that dark place of fear that this could happen to my own precious son.  Hoping to get control over all this, I started on my daily walk on the beach.  I stopped and just looked out over the vast water, as I often do to feel peace.  Slowly, the words of the song to which I had awakened crept back into my mind, “Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.”

Lost in His Love…I wasn’t aware of anything or anyone around me.  The air was soft and warm cuddling my shoulders as I felt my heart healing, the fear fading, the sorrow softly shrinking.  I was totally lost…in the love of Jesus.  This place was “filled with His goodness,” as I heard Him gently whispering not to worry, her son was forgiven, washed clean and welcomed into the Heavenly realms.  We had prayed so often for this young man, and instantly I knew that God had heard every single prayer and that this child of His had heard the promises of Jesus.

Lost in His Love…in “perfect submission – all is at rest.”  In totally submitting to Jesus, I felt an aura, an inner peace, a “blessed assurance” indeed!  In this one mighty hymn verse, it is so very clear, so simply expressed, what a life lost in the love of Jesus can be:  Our perfect submission to Him brings us rest, happiness and endless blessings.  Filled with HIS goodness, we watch and wait, anticipating when we will join Him above, in the splendor of glorious eternal life!

Come, Lord Jesus – we want to live lost in Your Love.

Amen.

Barbara

 

 

“…all ye who labor and are heavy laden…I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11:28)

The picture in my mind is of me carrying the weight of all the chores I have to do and the obligations I have to meet on my shoulders hanging down from one of those yokes they put across cattle.  At this time, how many of us have clung to these words of Jesus, have grabbed them and rubbed them all over our bodies like warm lotion, have taken them deep into our hearts when we feel like we just…can’t…do…another…thing or take…one…more…step?  I know that I have and that I do!

While we are blessed with days of vacation and time away from our daily routine of life, I am fortunate to have time to catch up with many things…with my writing, but more so, with the reading that I long to do.  I just finished reading A. W. Tozer’s amazing book, The Pursuit of GOD.  One of the most powerful messages Tozer gives is the description of what it is that makes us “heavy laden” and how Jesus can give us rest from that.  He says if we examine our burden ,we will find it to be an interior one, attacking our heart and our mind and reaching our body from within!  Have you ever imagined it that way?  I know I hadn’t.

What does it mean to have an interior or internal burden?  Of course, Tozer mentions specific types of interior burdens, but this idea struck my awareness of some of my own individual buried burdens hanging so heavily on that shoulder yoke.  Maybe it’s feeling unworthy and critical of myself.  Or maybe it’s a painful hurt coming as a result of a criticism or comment that someone made to or about me.  Perhaps it’s when I feel I’ve not done something as well as I think I should have.

Jesus wants to give me rest.  In the Bible he wants me to find who I am in Christ…not who I am in this world… but who I am in Him.  Slowly, these beautiful scriptures chip away at that heavy yoke bringing me down:

  • “I am a child of God” (John 1: 12)
  • “I have peace with God” (Rom. 5:1) The wood is cracking…
  • “I am not condemned by God” (Rom.8:1) The yoke splinters to pieces…
  • “I am completely forgiven” (Col. 1:14) It is nothing but a pile of wood on the ground!
  • “I am tenderly loved by God” (Jer. 31:3) Hallelujah!

“Here,” Jesus says, “Take MY yoke upon you, and learn of me…and you shall find rest unto your souls.”  (Matt. 11: 29-30) This new yoke feels like thick fleece wrapped around my shoulders on a chilly day; this new yoke fills my heart with smiling joys; my soul’s love runneth over!”  Why?

Our Jesus says, “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”  (Matt. 11: 29-30)  Wearing the yoke of Jesus gives us rest because it reminds us of how incredibly loved we are by Him and by God.  And…wear it every minute…it NEVER wears out!  Thank you, Jesus.

God Bless you,

Barbara

ASH WEDNESDAY – 2017

SERVICE

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” (1 John 3:16)

On this first day of the season of Lent, I like to select a theme to guide my study and prayers for the weeks until Easter, the day of Resurrection! This year I am reminded of a Bible Study we did in our small group on our Spiritual Gifts. In this study, the authors divided our gifts into two main categories, gifts of Speaking and gifts of Serving. Of course, both are intertwined in bringing glory unto God, but I have been struck by the gifts of Serving. In recent messages on humility, our pastor has stressed that the true gifts of Service include placing the needs and concerns of others above our own. During Lent, I have pledged to myself to be more aware of others and less into my own issues and wants. What will that look like?

Our “corporate” daughter always suggests we have a “plan” when facing challenges in our lives. I think my plan must be built around a question posed by our pastor, “…are we willing to identify with John the Baptist who said, ‘[Jesus] must increase, but I must decrease?’“ How can I increase my Jesus in my life?

When a friend is hurting, more of Jesus will mean laying down my life for her in prayer, in listening, in hugging, in accepting her nonjudgmentally right where she is, in thinking how I can comfort her today as I plan my activities.

When a friend is excited about a new venture or success, more of Jesus will mean feeling her joy, encouraging her future with absolutely no comparison to something great I have done, but that it be all about HER and nothing about ME.

When folks hear me speak, will they hear a humble sinner who is nothing without her God and Jesus? Will they hear an inflated spirit, full of myself or one that is bursting with the joy of the love of Jesus? Whose concerns will folks hear first, mine or my honest interest in each one as a child of our God?

So, I look back and I remember those humble Christians I know and have known who always have affirmed my beliefs and successes first, have asked about my life first thing when we meet, have prayed, guided and strengthened me in the scriptures.

The way that they are much more of Jesus than of themselves inspires me in my plan to serve others during Lent. What is your plan? I’d love to know so I can pray for you as I hope you will pray for me!

God Bless you,
Barbara

Celebrate Our Savior

It’s always nice to reach February, the month of Love, Cupid, Valentines and all that great stuff! (It also says to the Northerners that Spring is just around the corner.) Along the theme of Love, Great Love, I’m looking back at Christmas. We received a Christmas card from dear, Christian friends, who have been our mentors for many years. This card struck me deeply so I saved it and am returning to it now to talk about Love. It says:

“His destiny was the cross…
His purpose was love…
His reason was you.

MAY YOUR CHRISTMAS BE A CELBRATION
THE SAVIOR
(DaySpring Christian expressions)

Was your Christmas a Celebration of Our Savior? Mine?
Jesus knew He was destined for the cross; He lived His life in that destiny; He perfectly obeyed His father’s will, even as He asked that it not be so in Gethsemane…He obeyed, “Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39 NIV)

What was the result of that perfect obedience to God? LOVE. Not the Valentine’s Day love, necessarily, but the total, submissive love…the agape love…the love of God the father, brought to the world by His Son Jesus. “God so loved the world…”

Whom did God love? He so loved YOU and ME that He gave His only begotten son so that (WE), who believe in Him, will not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16 in my words.)
Jesus’ reason for going to the Cross was Love for YOU!

Maybe it takes a lovely Christmas card to shake us up a bit and make us remember that because of Jesus, we can live this life with hope and joy at our core and the peace that passes all understanding in our very soul.

Maybe it takes a lovely Christmas card to bring us to our knees in constant praise as we once again commit to the will of God for our lives! ”…not as I will, but as you will.” Every morning, in God’s mercy, we can start anew to be totally obedient to God in grateful thanks for His love.

Maybe it takes a lovely Christmas card to raise that warm smile across your face, my face, when we stand in prayer, in the presence of our Mighty God and KNOW, truly KNOW He loves each of us because we are His through our Jesus Christ.

You think that deserves a celebration?? You bet it does!!

May God continue to Bless You,
Barbara

Happy New Year 2017!

Happy New Year!
And a fantastic New Year in Christ it will be!

Back in October, after our pastor preached an amazing message on hearing from God, I challenged our church family to write down when they heard from God! In the days after that they were probably saying, “What ever happened to those papers? Why did she have us do that?” At the time, Pastor Blake asked me the same question, “Now what are you going to do with them?” And…I had no clue…until yesterday!

Let’s start at the top. When you ask if our church folks hear from God, the resounding answer is YES!! Hallelujah!! What did I do with the almost 30 responses they wrote? After placing them on the altar and praising God for speaking to us, I carried them home like little gold nuggets, read them with tears in my eyes and then put them all in a list. Would you like to know what God’s been saying to all of us? There were two main areas where He spoke in our lives. First, was to give us guidance in our life commitments, our need for worship, to center on and share love! Over one third of our lives were guided by God!! Amazing. Second, another third of us heard the name of someone to visit, to encourage, to invite, to comfort and to pray for! Folks, God knows each of us by name and calls others to help us when we are in need. His faithfulness is right in black and white on those little slips of paper. Praises that our family answers His call! Many others were thankful…for joy, for peace, for family. They knew they were to trust, to serve, not to fear, to tolerate, to be strong in the face of illness.

I don’t know about you, but I was blown away by these results. You know why? I can say that I belong to a church family where so many hear from God and answer His call. As we enter into this new year of 2017, I want to challenge ALL of us to make our lives devoted to hearing from God, in every area of our lives. Priscilla Shirer shares Five Ms to knowing the voice of God:
• Look for the Message of the Spirit
• Live in the Mode of Prayer
• Search out the Model in Scripture
• Submit to the Ministry of an Eli (wise, mature, believer)
• Expect the Mercy of Confirmation (God makes sure you know it’s Him)
(Priscilla Shirer. Discerning the Voice of God.)

In closing, it is my honor to share a few of the actual words of my brothers and sisters in Christ that really touched my heart and gave me some ideas about where our church will be heading this new year!

“It was good to be in the House of the Lord today.” Let worship be a priority!
“I Love to tell the Story.” Get out there and share Jesus with everyone we know!
“I feel the Holy Spirit filling this sanctuary! Amen.”
WOW! It just doesn’t get any better than THAT!!

These folks are truly amazing and I love them all!
Happy New Year! Listen for His Voice! Barbara

The Heart of Christmas 2016

In just a few days, when you wake up, it will be Christmas Day. Will your life be different? Will mine?
Will you be a completed person if you open your new IPOD, IPAD, IPHONE, I Whatever or tackle Darth Vader in your Star Wars Forever Video game? Will your life, my life, be different, …
because a little baby was born in a manger in Bethlehem… WHO IS GOD?

YES – GOD born in rough straw in a lowly manger…
YES – GOD who loves you SO much that He sent this little one, HIS OWN SON to be, Emmanuel…GOD with us!
YES – GOD who sent this precious baby boy to die on a cross for us and to give us NEW LIFE in HIM.
NOT a life whose WIFI will fail, or signal will be weak or batteries will dry up and die…
A life of joy…true, life changing joy…on a journey to be glorified with God in Heaven for evermore.

In his reflections on Advent, my favorite theologian, Henry Nowen, writes how he wants HIS life to be different because of Christmas Day:

• He wants Jesus to speak within Him…this baby to rule his Heart
• He wants his thoughts to be the thoughts of Jesus…to rule his Mind
• He wants Jesus to act from within him…to rule his very being.
• Nowen prays, “JESUS, LOVE OF MY LIFE, help me see the world as YOU see the world and act as YOU would act.”

That’s what CAN happen, folks, because God was born in that manger in our Jesus Christ… our Lord and Savior!
Picture with me now, as Nowen does, sitting in our living rooms, with our kids, wherever we are… our Christmas being blessed beyond belief by this amazing birth in Bethlehem as we:

• Feel Our hearts so full of Jesus that we will be a blessing to all our family

• That Our minds will be so full of Jesus that we will hear HIS voice and feel HIS love!

• That We will Know peace by our actions being so full of Jesus that we are humble, unselfish, loving

• That We Watch that mighty love of Jesus help us to hear folks crying, to see folks starving, to hurt for those in pain, falling on our knees in prayer.

THEN our lives will be new and different because of Christmas Day.
I hope you will join me in trying to live THAT picture THIS week and EVERY week until we see our Jesus face to face!

But Best of ALL…because of Christmas Day:
We will shout with the great company of the heavenly hosts and the angel of the Lord:

“Glory be to God in the Highest and Peace on Earth, Goodwill towards Men.”

Merry Christmas in Jesus Love!
Barbara

LET’S PRAY TOGETHER:

Our Heavenly Father, we as a family in you, want to welcome your son into this world and into our hearts this Christmas and every day after. We praise you and glorify you that YOU love us so much that you sent your son, to be born in that lowly manger so that we would know humility, servanthood and total trust in you. You sent your son to be crucified on that cross so that we would be pure and clean in your eyes, and sent the Holy Spirit to live within us to love and guide us until that glorious day when we will see you face to face and be with you forever. Hallelujah, Lord.
Let us remember all those who are ill this season…those who are hungry…all those who are grieving… those in the pain of missing a loved one…all those who are discouraged and disappointed, Lord…and those who hunger and thirst for you. Be close to them, Lord Jesus…there is room in their hearts for you!

We thank you and praise you for all that you are and all that you do,
In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Hallelujah! The Light Has Come

Hallelujah! The Light Has Come!

DARKNESS: absence of light, moral or spiritual destitution.

I chose this definition of the word darkness because on some days, our world seems to be a pretty dark place. During Advent this year, we need to lift thanks and glory to God for the birth of His Son into this shattered world. What a difference Jesus’ birth has made.
Life has often been said to be a battle of Kingdoms…The Kingdom of the Earth and The Kingdom of God. Beth Moore’s says that Jesus knew in His time of temptation that if He gave into the Earthly Kingdom, He would never experience the Heavenly Kingdom. Praise God that the Light has pierced the darkness, “the people living in darkness have seen a great light!” Because Jesus rose from the grave, we don’t have to live in the darkness of the Kingdom of the Earth! Because Jesus is the light of the world, we can cling to Him in the storms, quoting my friend Sue, “we can hold Him tight and life will be glorious through it all!” Because Jesus’ light shines, with our arms around His neck, we can see our Jesus face to face!! Have you seen the Light lately?
The Light has come! “Made like Him, like Him we rise, Alleluia!” When you sang that familiar hymn on Easter, did you breathe in this incredible truth? Our National Minister, Rev. Jim Barnes, wrote, “As I sang that verse yesterday on Resurrection Sunday, I was reminded that not only has Christ been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep, but one day, we who have died IN CHRIST will also rise – immortal, imperishable, incorruptible to live FOREVER with Him in the Kingdom over which He will rule eternally.” The joy and glory of Easter morning is really just a foretaste of the personal resurrection each one of us in Christ will enjoy! There is no darkness at all in this Heavenly Kingdom. Can you feel that amazing love?
Our EA Board Secretary, Rev. Dubbs, writes, “…and what a joy it is to be counted among those who are called the Children of Light.” Yes, folks, that’s us!! WE are the Children of Light…in OUR lives there is no darkness at all because Jesus, the light of the world, lives in us. Does your light shine SO brightly that folks can barely look at you? Beth Moore reminded us, that when we shine with the light of Jesus Christ, we shine like the stars and the angels in Heaven look down and see a great light.! Then, seven thousand women each turned on a small flashlight and in that stadium there was NO DARKNESS AT ALL. Hallelujah!
Brothers and Sisters, as we await His birth on Christmas Day, lets claim our light from Him and let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!
Pastor Barbara