During yesterday’s Bible study, I shared with the other ladies the same testimony I had shared at Missionary Training School this year. I became a Christian in 1999, and that spring when it was time for my church to host the 3rd annual MTS, I was working full time, so I would finish my day’s work then go to the former school building behind the church where the school was held and wash the dishes after supper. The next year I was still working full time, so I did the same thing – worked all day, then came in the evening and washed the supper dishes. The following year I was laid off from work, and I got to spend the entire week at the school helping out and sitting in on a lot of the classes. Right from the opening Sunday night service of that first year, I saw God everywhere I looked and bumped into what He was doing in the lives of the people he had gathered together for the week every time I moved. For someone like me who had not even believed there was a God for so many years, these were priceless experiences. I’ve written about some of them on the blog before.
What struck me about the conversation yesterday was what our leader said to the other lady present – “Did you see her face when she was talking about coming after work and doing the dishes? It just glowed.”
I said, “It did?” I knew from past experience that my face has a tendency to betray me and display for all the world to see what’s really going on in my brain, so it was interesting to find out that that can be a positive thing as well as an embarrassment.
I was reminded that when Moses returned from Mt. Sinai after receiving the Law from God that his face shone so brightly that he had to put a veil over it. Paul refers to this in 2 Corinthians 3 where he says that if the Law, which was to be done away with, made it impossible for the people to view Moses face without a veil, how much more glorious is the ministry of the Spirit of God? And then he says . . .
But we all, with open (unveiled) face beholding as in a glass (mirror) the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
I’ve been working on gathering all the bits and pieces of my story of coming to faith into one place in order to answer the following question that was posed to me a few months ago – “Why did you immediately jump to the conclusion that your experience (when God changed my radio station) was God and not some random static discharge?” My answer has a lot to do with Paul’s explanation of this incident from the life of Moses. When the Spirit of God begins to work in a life, things change and faces glow. Whatever else you want to say about whether there is any rational evidence for God, this I know – I am changed, and my face still glows.by admin
I’ve lost faith in traditional mass media outlets to deliver reliable, unbiased information about what is happening at nearly any level you care to examine. My slow, inexorable drift away from the view that the Nightly News (and its kin) was a reliable means of gathering information about the wider world probably began in college. Between a biological anthropology course in which the professor used a class exercise to allow us the opportunity to discover for ourselves how our own personal biases not just influenced but were the DETERMINING factor in the conclusions we reached regarding the data he put before us, to the introductory mass media class where the professor took great pains to demonstrate that all media comes with an agenda, and the most important question to ask when reading a news story is “What am I not being told?” it’s been a long time since I relied on any single outlet for information. Between those two classes, I learned and have continued the twin practices of looking for unstated biases and asking what I am not being told with every story I read, every sermon I listen to, every piece of information I examine. To complete the scene, continuing to examine my own biases and how they affect my ability to process the information I examine is an essential part of the mix.
When I first began such explorations, the mass media still had a pretty good grip on being the only widespread source of information beyond the local level. If you wanted to know what was going on, you pretty much had to consult one of the larger newspapers or national magazines or be content with your local sources and the library. The books I read for pleasure often included harrowing tales of some intrepid explorer undertaking a long, nearly impossible journey to some far off, little-known, remote library where access to the information contained within those library walls was closely guarded and also nearly impossible to gain.
All of that has changed. Information of any kind you want to obtain is so readily available that the question “What am I not being told?” can actually be answered by anyone who cares to broaden their definition of “news” even a little. Blogs, alternative news outlets, and now Twitter are so ubiquitous today that someone who only gets their information from traditional mass media outlets is now called a “low-information consumer” or a “low-information” voter. To the question “What am I not being told? the addition of “Who is telling me this and why?” becomes equally important.
The situation can be clearly demonstrated by comparing the information available on two current news stories and the sources from which that information can be obtained. In one (the Sandy Hook shooting), there has been extensive coverage from every conceivable public information outlet, along with intense public policy debates about how to prevent such horrors from happening in the future. In the other (the Kurt Gosnell trial) what information is available (and there is plenty if one care’s to look) is being almost entirely bypassed by the mainstream media and only someone who is paying attention to other information sources would even know anything of significance is happening in Philadelphia. Should what is happening there be sparking public policy debates? Most certainly. Should those debates be as intense as those surrounding Sandy Hook? I say yes, but because “choice” is involved, the issue gets clouded.
For example, leaving aside the “moral” and “choice” issues for the moment, can we have even a little discussion about the fact that this guy was performing medical procedures in conditions no better, and possibly worse, than the “back alley” situation that Roe v. Wade was supposed to eliminate? Can we have a discussion about whether health inspections should take place and workers should be licensed for the medical procedures they are performing? If I can’t even prick someone else’s fingertip to do a blood glucose test (even though I’ve performed that test on my own fingers thousands of times) without training and certification, in what rational universe can untrained workers be involved in carrying out a surgical procedure that if mishandled can lead to severe injury and death as has happened in this “doctor’s” “clinic”? And where is the voice of the news media on these questions? It’s not like Gosnell’s case is a singular example of a “rogue” abortionist gone amok. There are small inklings of this kind of thing happening elsewhere (if one is paying attention). Again, they go largely unreported, and, therefore, remain out of the policy debate.
If the news media is silent on this story, why? Has our culture of self-worship made it impossible to talk about putting boundaries around the practice of abortion without being accused of denying a woman her rights? What about her right to walk into a supposed medical environment and expect a certain standard of care – like trained and licensed providers? like a sterile environment? like admitting privileges at a local hospital if something goes wrong? Shouldn’t these things be talked about? And if the news media isn’t having that discussion, why not?
If a picture is worth a thousand words (as a photographer, of course, I think that’s true), then the picture currently circulating that shows the empty benches reserved for the media at the Gosnell trial shouts something that we should all pay attention to.by admin
After finding out over the last few weeks that apparently I have a significant blood sugar response to one of my favorite foods – cheese – I’ve actually been enjoying completely normal blood sugars (70s to 90s) for about 2 weeks now. So looking around the kitchen this morning for some breakfast that didn’t involve cheese, I threw together the following variation on the microwave bread in a cup recipe. It was quite delicious.
1/3 cup shredded zucchini – excess water squeezed out.
16 drops liquid sucralose
1 plus Tablespoons pumkin pie spice
1 plus Tablespoon baking powder
2 plus Tablespoons flax meal
1/2 cup almond meal
Use a large soup style cup for this one. Beat eggs until well blended, then stir in remaining ingredients. Microwave on high until done – after the first 45 seconds or minute, check every 15 seconds or so to make sure the bread isn’t overflowing the cup and for doneness. Bread is done when the top is dry and springs back when gently pushed on top.by beakennedy
I really enjoy it when the Sunday morning sermon kind of hangs with me all day and various things come to mind to be chewed on again and again throughout the day. Sunday was one of those days.
The question of the day was “What are you doing on a daily basis to address the inner health of your soul?” On it’s face, it would be really easy to mistake that question (or today’s sermon) as a push to add one more thing to my spiritual to do list and make sure I’m checking it off every day. But that’s exactly the prescription for hypocrisy that was warned against and entirely misses the point of today’s message.
Reinforcing that idea is the very next thing that appears in my notes – the theme of my musings today – a quote from C. S. Lewis:
Praise is when your inner health is made verbal.
A slightly modified version of the actual sentence, which comes from C. S. Lewis’ Reflections on the Psalms:
But the most obvious fact about praise — whether of God or anything — strangely escaped me. I thought of it in terms of compliment, approval, or the giving of honour. I had never noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise unless . . . shyness or the fear of boring others is deliberately brought in to check it. The world rings with praise — lovers praising their mistresses, readers their favourite poet, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favourite game — praise of weather, wines, dishes, actors, motors, horses, colleges, countries, historical personages, children, flowers, mountains, rare stamps, rare beetles, even sometimes politicians or scholars. . . . Except where intolerably adverse circumstances interfere, praise almost seems to be inner health made audible. .
Lewis goes on to suggest that we praise what we enjoy and that praise actually completes the enjoyment – it is its appointed consummation. He suggests that if it were possible to fully love and delight in the worthiest object of all – God – and to give perfect expression to this delight, the soul would be supremely happy.
This is the tangent from the morning sermon that has been capturing my attention today. Rather than one more thing to do on the spiritual checklist that has little to do with the state of my praise (and hence the health and strength and vigor of my soul), what is needed is more and deeper love, delight, enjoyment of, and engagement with God.
I remember a particular walk last fall when Terry and I visited Maine. One afternoon, I took a solo hike out to Barred Island. The minute I spotted the trail head from the car, I knew I was in for a real treat. On the hour-long hike out to the island, all of my senses were engaged. The clean, fresh smell of the spruce forest filled my nose. The colors were supersaturated that day with greens and blues and browns and yellows all blending together in such beauty that I knew it would be a hopeless exercise to try to capture what I was seeing with my camera (but I tried anyway).
And the SILENCE. Not a sound except the occasional bird warning his companions of my presence. Even the sound of my footsteps was quickly absorbed by the moss covered forest floor. I think I felt a bit like Moses in the presence of God at the burning bush – take off your shoes, you’re standing on holy ground. I was convinced that my heart was going to explode with praise, and the only one around to share it with was the one who made it all. At nearly every step, all I could say was, “Oh, Wow! Oh, Wow!, Oh, my!”
As I neared the shore, I could see the reflection of the sun off the water filtering through the forest, and the smell of spruce forest began to mingle with the fresh salt water smell of the ocean. No fish smell from the harbor here. Just the sweetest air I had ever smelled.
Soon the sound of the waves began to reach my ears, and then a short section of trail along the shore, and there was the island in front of me, and too soon it was time to reluctantly turn around and head back.
Cool place to visit, but what does that have to do with the question? What am I doing on a daily basis to address the inner health of my soul? One thing I’ve come to realize is that I’m entirely dependent on God for even the desire to draw near to him. No, it’s not the stuff I do or don’t do as spiritual check marks on my to-do list that makes the difference to the health of my soul. It’s my engagement with God and availability to receive from Him whatever grace he wants to shower into my life that day. I might find that grace in the Scriptures, or a sermon, or a conversation, or a time of prayer or worship, or a walk in the woods. It doesn’t seem to matter. What matters is whether or not God has my attention.
I haven’t even begun to grasp the breadth, and depth, and height of his love, and I’m sadly not often filled with all his fullness, and I am far too easily distracted by other things of far less substance, but Christ has come to dwell in my heart by faith, and when I allow him to capture my attention for even a minute, my soul is refreshed and strengthened.
Is it really that simple? I think, yes, it’s that simple, but that simplicity itself is so very hard because we humans seem to have an enormous drive to work our way into God’s good graces, and that makes what God intended to be simple into something complex and burdensome – something that Jesus offers freedom from. Hear his words:
Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)
I remember the first time I made the connection between what Jesus said there and the people to whom he was speaking – people much like me, who were burdened by the religious idea that God has a list of do’s and don’ts that we have to follow in order to be loved by him. Obviously, those who do a really good job of checking off the list are much more loved by God, and the rest of us poor fools who continually fail to check off our boxes may as well just hang it up and settle for third class. How utterly exhausting is it to be stuck in that trap!
That’s not what Jesus has in mind for us, and it’s not how we gain strength for our souls. A couple of verses earlier Jesus told the multitudes that these things were hidden from the wise and the prudent and revealed to those who, like babes, would come to him and receive what he wants to give – rest. That’s still just as true 15 years after meeting Christ as it was the first day. When I do, my heart stands a chance of enjoying his presence to the point that the spontaneous overflow of my praise becomes audible.by beakennedy
It’s a sad situation when we have to ignore our doctors’ advice in order to stay healthy. (Tom Naughton)
Two years ago, I decided to chuck the advice of my then doctor, and go back on the low-carb diet I had been on for most of my 10 years as a diabetic, except for those 2 years between 2007 and 2009 when I apparently forgot I had diabetes. (Not really – I just started eating like I had been before the diagnosis.) At that time, my hemoglobin A1c was 11.5 (it had been 9.1 when I was diagnosed in 2002), triglycerides 590, blood pressure 160/100, and weight nearly 200 pounds.
In late 2010, the A1c had dropped to 7.2 (still above ADA goals, but better than 11.5), triglycerides to 118, blood pressure to 130/80, weight to 175. Three months later, with a hemoglobin A1c of 5.2, my doctor’s assessment was, “It’s like you don’t even have the disease.”
Now, as of March 2012, my last 3 A1c tests have been 5.2, 5.5, and 5.8 (well below ADA guidelines), triglycerides still in the low 100s, blood pressure still 130/80, and weight down to 160. Doctor’s words this time: “You’re the picture of health!” I’m glad she thinks so, but my guess is she would frown disapprovingly if she knew too many of the specifics of my diet, especially my liberal use of eggs and saturated fats, and my complete lack of “healthy whole grains.”
Got a call from the doctor’s office with my latest lab results yesterday, and the nurse said, “All of your lab values are stable (kidney function normal, electrolytes normal, lipid panel with HDL 62 and other values that look good, A1c 5.8, vitamin D level at 66.6, microalbumin normal). Watch the cholesterol in your diet.” Hello! Thanks for the tips, doc, but I’ll stick to your previous advice to keep doing what I’ve been doing.
Doctors whose advice I AM following:
Dr. John Briffa – http://www.drbriffa.com/blog/
Dr. Michael Eades – http://www.proteinpower.com/drmike/
Dr. William Davis – http://www.trackyourplaque.com/blog/ and http://www.wheatbellyblog.com/
Dr. Jay Wortman – http://www.drjaywortman.com/blog/wordpress/
Some regular guys and gals who are controlling their diabetes and other metabolic issues with a low-carb and/or paleo diet:
Props to Steve Cooksey who first planted the idea in my head that NORMAL blood sugars were possible and achievable – http://www.diabetes-warrior.net/
Jimmy Moore – http://livinlavidalowcarb.com/blog/
Dana Carpender – http://holdthetoast.com/blog
Grace2882 – http://grace2882.wordpress.com/
Tom Naughton (not sure if he has diabetes or not, but same diet) – http://www.fathead-movie.com/ (Do yourself a favor and watch the movie on Netflix or iTunes, whichever you have access to.)
Favorite Low-Carb Recipe Sites:
Maria’s Nutritious and Delicious Journal – http://mariahealth.blogspot.com/
Jennifer Eloff – http://low-carb-news.blogspot.com/
Lisa Mac – http://www.sugarfreelowcarbrecipes.com/
Lisa Motyok – http://247lowcarbdiner.blogspot.com/
Carolyn – http://www.alldayidreamaboutfood.com
Peggy – http://buttoni.wordpress.com/
Very happy with the diet – even more happy with the results. The biggest help so far in reaching normal or near-normal blood sugars (and cholesterol/triglycerides, and blood pressure, and dropping weight among others) is following Dr. William Davis’ suggestion to test one-hour post-meal blood sugars and eliminate those foods that raise it very much. I’m not yet to the point where I can avoid any elevation at one hour, but after 10 years with diabetes, I’m pretty stoked that it continues to get better rather than the dire prediction of my 2009 doctor that blood sugar control only gets harder, and next step is insulin. Thanks, but no thanks. But definitely thanks to all of the above people who have helped me along in my journey by sharing their own.by beakennedy
Ten days ago, I wrote about Hero Worship. In the process of writing that post, I linked to Michael Card’s web site. When I arrived there to get the correct url to link to, I found that he was coming to Ohio with a conference called Biblical Imagination Series. A little whisper in my mind said, “go there.” So I went.
Beginning Friday night, the next 26 hours were quite a journey through Luke – the Gospel of Amazement - as we all learned a little bit about how to engage with the Scriptures in a way that is both biblical and that bridges the gap between heart and mind. One thing I discovered in the process is how that bridge has been made in my life – it is the visual picture that is formed in response to either the words of scripture, or more often when the right question is asked about the scriptures. If I don’t have a picture, I don’t really understand in my heart. I also realized how powerful these pictures are – not just for me, but for those I share them with. This is something I’ve been hearing for years – every time I hear Mark Gostlin teach on Word Pictures. (I’m starting to think I’m the slowest student on the planet since I have to keep retaking the class!) In fact, a lot of the scriptural pictures I have that bridge the gap between my head and my heart came out of his sermons. But I once again actually saw the power of one of these pictures in someone else’s face.
Met some incredible people. The first night I sat with 3 lovely ladies and just thoroughly enjoyed their company.
Saturday, I sat next to a lady home for a few weeks from Thailand named Linda Horn. Talked to her quite a bit about the sex trafficking situation in Thailand. She was quite an encouragement.
Craig Dunham – great facilitator. The post-it notes were a little more significant, I think, than I was initially ready to give them credit for. I think he was surprised when I asked for his picture.
Eric. Just listening to him talk for a few minutes, I could tell God’s got places for this guy to go.
Michael Card. Still not worshiping any heroes except Jesus, but I’ve sure got a lot of bridges/pictures in my heart that come out of his lyrics, and I came away from the weekend with a few more. One in particular had to do with the categories we tend to plug people into and the question, “Do you see this woman?” (Luke 7:36-50 – Thanks for that rabbit trail, Michael.) One thing I noticed this weekend (again, nothing new, just a fresh reminder) – especially in meeting both Linda and Michael – was that God likes to use broken people – earthen vessels with all the cracks and holes that let the glory of God shine through.
I did actually meet one hero worshiper who was worshiping the wrong hero, and I think I needed to see that too. Which leads to a funny observation. I’ve never asked for an autograph from anyone before, but I did this time. I doubt that I ever will again. Afterwards I was wondering, “Now what’s the point of that?” It’s not like I’ve got a first edition signed copy of the book that’s going to be worth thousands of dollars someday. But there are certain experiences that it seems I’ve had to do at least once before I croak – first F ever in my senior year of college, first speeding ticket in 2009, first autograph in 2011. Sorry Michael. Love your music – hate the groupie feeling I got with the autograph experience.
The weekend was capped off – truly the icing on the cake – by a concert. And the concert was concluded with the most wonderful benediction in song I’ve ever been part of.
Grace be with you all
And may the Great Shepherd of the sheep
Equip you with good things for doing his will
And grace be with you all.
When I first started going to church again in 1998, I ended up at Parkside Church in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, for about 6 months or so. I had been listening to Alistair Begg on the radio, and I was pretty sure there wasn’t going to be anything weird going on there. He’s also a benediction man, and I used to love his benedictions. Still do when I hear them on the radio. I had forgotten how blessed a good benediction can make me feel. I drove home last night feeling very blessed.
Some unfinished business. The last exercise of the weekend was to write the parable of our lives. Made a couple of false starts, then realized what I needed to do, but by that time I wouldn’t have been able to listen to the other stories if I took time to rewrite then. So here is my parable. There are others that could be written, but this was what came out of this weekend.
Jesus said to them, Hesed is like this. There was a young girl who asked me for something that would not have been good for her, so I said no. But she didn’t understand that I had something better to give her, and she hated me.
Some time later, she asked me to go away, and I said yes. She thought it would be forever, but I knew it wasn’t.
When she finally neared the end of the road she was on, she reached her hand up to my stars one night and asked me, “If you’re really there, would you let me know somehow?”
At just the right time, I let her know I was there and that I loved her, and she stopped hating me. Now I can teach her to ask for what I’ve been longing to give her all along.
First up – a little baseball
Last stop – a trip to the flying club with a couple of planes.
Haven’t seen George for a long time.
Then some flying between the raindrops
This is what happens when you fly upside down a little too low
Not to worry – preflight check for the little biplane
No more dodging raindrops
Raindrops on one of our trees
Hope you all had a wonderful Father’s Day.by beakennedy
One of the questions from this week’s Bible study asks:
Who do you respect and admire as someone who “finished well”? What is it about their life that you respect the most?
Without question, the first person who comes to mind is my Aunt Mimi. On a long drive from Atlanta, Georgia, to Independence, Missouri, when I was 14, she and I had a lot of time to just talk. Right at that critical time when I was already rebelling against God and was starting to bring some very destructive things into my life, she told me that God had a plan for my life. I had forgotten about that until I saw her last January take the face of one of the next generation and hold it in her hands right in front of her own and tell him the same thing – “God has a plan for your life.” How many other kids that she adopted as her own did she encourage that way? Lots, I’m sure.
Last January when she was still recovering from a broken pelvis, my sister and I had the opportunity to spend some time with her. While she was still in quite a bit of pain, the thing that bothered her the most was not being about to participate in her Bible Study Fellowship group. She was determined to get back on her feet and serving the Lord as quickly as she could (and she did). She didn’t like being sidelined one little bit, but she believed that the Lord was teaching her something through it.
A few months later, my husband and I got to “drop in” and surprise her for lunch – the first and only time I’ve ever been able to just drop in on Aunt Mimi. She was full of stories and encouragement, and I’m so glad we were able to spend that time with her because just a short time later she was gone.
In the days surrounding her funeral last summer, I had a few quite moments to sit down in the chair where she spent the majority of her time with the Lord and look through her Bible and page through some of the Bible studies she was working on. I pulled out a couple of quotes that I think say something about her walk with the Lord and that I hope will someday say something about mine.
From a note inside the front cover of her Bible:
There’s enough time to do everything God wants me to do.
From a Bible Study Fellowship worksheet that she was currently working on:
I made these plans, but God had other plans, and I’ve never been sorry I went his way.
And something my dad said about her that made the newspaper on the Sunday before her funeral:
“Her heart was so open and golden,” James Birney said. “It didn’t matter whether you were family, you always felt as if she was someone you could trust.”
She didn’t make favorite aunt status for no reason. Was she perfect? Of course not. Did she finish well? Absolutely. May I finish as well.
In the ladies’ Bible study tonight, the question was asked, “How do you define success?” There were a lot of answers – no right or wrong on that one. I said that my definition of success is to be like Christ, and I’m a miserable failure. To my mind, if I were actually like Christ, I would have arrived. There’s nothing more I could hope to achieve. Not going to happen in this life, but it’s actually not an entirely hopeless ambition as John states in his first letter:
Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:2)
There is coming a day when I will have my desire, and maybe along the way, I can have it in small measure.
I’ve been thinking all evening about what it actually means to be like Christ, and a number of things are coming to mind:
I’ve never been a hero worshiper because there’s no mere human who could ever measure up to what I thought a hero should be. Jesus, on the other hand, is definitely hero material, and the more clearly I can see him, the more I want to worship him and be like him. Hero worship indeed!
So picture a run of the mill laundromat on a steamy Saturday afternoon. My dryer had broken, and we had not yet replaced it, so I had washed all of my laundry at home and took it to the laundromat to dry. (I should actually do this more often – everything was done in no time!!) This day, no one else was there, and, in spite of the sign that said “NO RADIOS”, I saw someone else’s radio sitting on top of a shelf. So I got it down, plugged in, and tuned in. That afternoon the station was airing a program with Michael Card, in which there were interviews and discussion interspersed with some of his songs. I was folding clothes when a series of songs came on that took me right to heaven (seriously – my body might have been in a laundromat folding clothes, but I was in heaven).
First up was El Shaddai – God Almighty, God Almighty, God Most High, Lord. From the age of Abraham and Isaac, and Moses and the Exodus, to the coming of the Messiah, the song packs into 3 minutes all of the Ages. Right there in the laundromat, I could see the whole scope of God’s redemptive story.
Next was Song of the Lamb – Lyrics very nearly straight out of the book of Revelation. The scenes played out at the end of time with the victorious army, the temple in heaven, the angels with bowls (of God’s wrath) in their hands, smoke, and glory . . . Now I’m no longer folding clothes – just listening and seeing and awestruck.
Finally, the song was Come Worship the Lord – and by this time I could do nothing less. At least on the inside, I was flat on the floor, face down. I’m glad no one came in right then because the tears were freely flowing down my cheeks.
I’ve thought about that experience many times since then, especially when considering how to approach what Jesus says about worship in John 4 for our study in the Gospel of John. Jesus disconnected true worship from a particular place, but he didn’t disconnect it from himself – The Truth. And right now my next step would normally be to analyze and explain, but I’m really just speechless again.by beakennedy
When my husband and I came back from Marion to live in our own house again, I was pretty sure that rather than slip back into the comfort of my old church, I was now supposed to get to know some of the people and churches closer to home. During our previous years in this house it had occurred to me more than once that if I was ever talking to one of my neighbors about Christ, I had absolutely no idea if there were any churches nearby that I could recommend to them if they didn’t want to travel 15 miles to go to church with me. Suffice it to say that I now know there are at least 2 Gospel preaching churches in my own little one-stop-light town.
But on a similar note to my post in 2009 about looking for a church in Marion, I think I’ve found the place where God is going to park me for a while, and for a lot of the same reasons that I was attracted to my church in Marion. The overwhelming impression after barely a couple of months there is that this is a house of prayer. That’s because every time I turn around these people are praying for each other. Both my first pastor and my pastor in Marion would also gather the church around individuals to pray for specific ministries or needs. In fact, the church in Marion sent me out with just such a prayer when it was time for us to leave there. It’s truly a blessing to be on the receiving end of the prayers of your entire church body.
During my 2nd visit to the church here, the pastor gathered everyone around a young Middle-Eastern family who were enduring some persecution for sharing the truth about Islam. Later it was a man being deployed to Afghanistan and his wife. Today, a man who is launching a new ministry and his family. And all I can think of every time I’m witness to these things is what Jesus said when he cleared the thieves out of the temple:
“It is written, my house shall be called the house of prayer.”
The passage Jesus is quoting from in Isaiah actually calls God’s temple “a house of prayer for all people.” No matter who I am or where I come from, because I love the name of the Lord and have taken hold of his covenant, I can come into this house of prayer and know that my burnt offerings and my sacrifices – whatever I bring to the altar – are accepted.
Lot’s more that could be said here, but it’s late, and there’s a long day coming as soon as I wake up.by beakennedy