The Master’s Touch

Malchus, a servant/guard of the high priest, certainly had a close encounter with Jesus Christ! If you would like to read his story filtered through my vivid imagination, just click here! 🙂 Hope you have had a wonderful, God-honoring Resurrection Sunday! More than that, I hope you too have felt “The Master’s Touch.”

Mary’s Part

Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. John 12: 3

It lingers still: the sweet, sweet scent

Upon His robe, where’re He went.

Mary’s box of treasure rare,

Was also trapped upon her hair.

To the city, Jesus rode,

A donkey held the Precious Load,

The palms were strewn upon the lane,

The fragrance followed as He came.

While questioned, “Which command is best?”

They tried to put Him to the test;

And as He spoke, His eyes aflame,

Because, in unbelief they came,

His words were strong, filled with demand:

“Tis love toward God and fellow man.”

But there it came: delightful trail,

That spoke of love, when they had failed.

And even as He washed the feet,

And served the bread and cup, the sweet

Now familiar, quite irksome balm,

Trailed every move, and sang its song.

“Do to other’s as I have done,”

His words and deeds did match the tone,

And brought the meaning to each heart,

As each remembered Mary’s part.

Did that sweet fragrance hedge Him in

When He knelt alone: without, within?

Did burly soldiers stop and question,

Why such a scent was all about Him?

His robe was taken and thrown aside,

Yet wisps of perfume still abide

Upon His head and mangled beard,

Though torn and tainted now with blood.

“It is finished,” loud His cry,

And though the life within Him died,

Upon His broken body remains,

The sweet reminder of why He came.

Early, as the morning dawns,

And angels come and death is gone.

The clothes are all that still remains,

Except for one small whiff that came

And served its every purpose well,

Its small, but weighty story to tell.

The story of a woman’s heart,

Who paid the price to do her part.

When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me. For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always. For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial. Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.

Matthew 26:10-13

Not Me!

easter5.jpg (344×221)Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended. Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples. Matthew 26: 33-35

Are you ever as astonished as Peter was? Does it shock you how quickly you can deny Jesus?

Never!  That’s what Peter was saying.  Can you see the shock on his face? “I don’t believe it. Lord, you are wrong!  I would never do that!”

Peter trusted in himself. He thought he knew himself better than Jesus knew him.

Does your sin catch you by surprise? Have you been in Peter’s place?  Maybe you didn’t deny that you knew Jesus, but you were certainly not proclaiming Him from the rooftops either. Or perhaps, you did something that you never thought you would do.

When do I deny Jesus? When I argue with His will.  When I complain about my circumstances. When I crumble like dried out dirt beneath the wheel of peer pressure. Oh yes, peer pressure isn’t just a teen thing!

But I would never… You fill in the blank, and then take a moment on this holy day—the day Jesus instituted a new covenant with his disciples–to examine yourself honestly. Nothing makes the day go better, nothing helps your walk with Jesus, nothing feels so good as a heart scrubbed clean by the Word of God!. Speak the truth in your heart, and when you do fall, know that Jesus already knew that you would and is the first to offer a hand to help you up again!

Oh, to walk worthy of our Lord!

Only to be what He wants me to be,
Every moment of every day,
Yielded completely to Jesus alone
Every step of this pilgrim way.
Just to be clay in the Potter’s hands,
Ready to do what His will demands
Only to be what He wants me to be,
Every moment of every day,

Norman J. Clayton

Perhaps you would enjoy reading Peter’s story: I Know Not the Man

 

When your heart is breaking

 

ID-100234581Rip! Tear! Snap!  What was that? Oh, it was just my heart, breaking in two! What are you facing, dear reader? For me, it was saying goodbye to my son, daughter-by-choice, and three grandchildren: ages one, three, and five. It’s breaking my heart!

For eight years, my son and his family have lived close by. For seven of those years, he and his wife served beside us in our ministry. Now, they will be 1,200 miles way: yes, close enough to drive to, yes, we’ll see them again, but that’s not the point!  No more grandkid sleep-overs—watching the cousins play together, no more family gatherings for every holiday, (especially Memorial Day and July 4th which had become a family tradition). No more singing together in church as a family, no more just stopping in, no more… It’s done.

I can look at others in our small congregation who are facing HUGE trials which make me feel like a spoiled brat—and I am, or have been, but that doesn’t make the pain go away! I can quote one of my favorite lines from Ever After, where Cinderella’s stepmother says, “Just remember, things can always get worse.” It’s true!  What comfort!  At least, it makes me laugh, albeit a little too hysterically.

I’ve been really thinking a lot about Job lately—now that will put things into the right perspective! He lost everything. Do you realize that HE LOST EVERYTHING?!!!

Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. Job 1:20,21

Now there’s a man with a proper focus!  He never shows a “poor me” attitude, he doesn’t blame God, he doesn’t blame the servants by saying something stupid like, “What were you doing over there near the Sabeans anyway!” He doesn’t bemoan his children’s actions: “I told them to build stronger houses, and what were they all doing together? Didn’t you see this coming?”  He didn’t even blame himself by saying, “I should have…”  He simply accepts it as from the Lord.  Some would call that weak.  I’d call it amazing grace, which we cannot work up. It MUST come from God.  When times are really tough, we can only anchor ourselves in the grace which we receive through our time in prayer and His Word, coming to our God with a yielded heart.

But that’s not all! When Satan smites Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown (2:6), there are no words this time.  I’m not sure if the scraping with pieces of broken clay pots and sitting in ashes were medicinal or acts of contrition—probably a little of both, but we see a man who gets no help from anyone. We often think ill of Job’s wife, but can we even imagine this woman’s overwhelming grief?  We don’t know the time lapse between Satan’s first and second attack, but we do know that the first attack was sudden, all at one time. In a matter of moments, everything is gone.  Was she there when the servants came running in with bad news, one right after another? Where they still digging through the rubble to find the bodies of her children? How long did she have to even try to digest the information before she awoke to find her husband writhing in pain?  And what would you have said?  I can’t condemn her! And once again, Job’s comment stops us short:

…shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?

In all this did not Job sin with his lips. (2:10)

Where will you go for comfort? For healing?  What will you try to use to fill up the empty, aching hole in your heart? How are you going to react? Anger feels so good and bitterness tastes sweet when we allow Satan to whisper in our ear!

I have chosen to stay on my Rock, and here is my mantra:

Lord, I will trust You –

When I don’t understand

When my heart is breaking

When I am alone

When I am poor

When my character has been maligned

When I am tired

When I am empty

When I am discouraged

When I am depressed

When I am questioning EVERYTHING

When I am full of doubts

When my dreams are shattered, I will trust YOU!

And I will NOT stop praising and serving You!

Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. John 6:68

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Death—the great preserver!

This might sound like an oxymoronic statement, but let me explain.  Think about JFK.  What do you picture? A man in his eighties or a man in his prime?  That youthful face will always be remembered because of his untimely death. Even our Savior is never pictured as an older man because His substitutionary death took place while He was in His thirties. Sort of an unusual thought, but there is a lesson to be had.

Death—the great preserver.  During this time preceding the death and resurrection of our Lord, we may do activities which help us to better understand and appreciate the gift given to us because of Jesus’ great sacrifice. Some will reenact His brutal death, walking down the Via Dolorosa, carrying a cross; but even so, can we ever truly understand the whole meaning of His death?  Can we truly understand that His death is our great preserver?

Because He died, we live.  It’s that simple, and yet so complex! One of the most profound verses in the Bible is Isaiah 53: 10:

Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin

The sin-debt needed to be paid, and all the blood of lambs or bulls could never pay it!  They simply served as a reminder to the sinner that one day, the Lamb of God would come and be that sacrifice which would satisfy the debt we owed to God for our sin.

Recently, I heard some disturbing news concerning Ronald Reagan, Jr.. He is a long-time atheist, and in a commercial,he openly states that he’s not afraid to burn in hell. How sad. I wonder how many burning buildings he has run into to prove his statement? He will not be preserved, no matter who his father is or how nice a person he is. Jesus’ blood has not been applied to his account; therefore, what he does not fear will happen, or the Bible is not true. He will burn forever, experience eternal death in the lake of fire.

And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. Revelations 20:14,15

These words were not written to scare or harass anyone, but to warn. Consider this: if a man brutally raped and then savagely murdered your child, would you want him to walk free? Suppose he didn’t believe in our courts of law. Does that exempt him from the law?  How much more then are we guilty before a holy God because our very nature is sinful.  Have you ever noticed that we do not work to teach our children to do bad things but good? We sin because we are born as sinners, and whether we want to admit it or not, sin is our biggest problem!

I’m so thankful that my soul is forever preserved because of the death of Jesus Christ on a cruel Roman cross.  I’m thankful that we serve a merciful God who saw our need and willingly sacrificed his own Son for our sakes!  I praise Him for a new heaven, a new earth, and a home in heaven!

May this Resurrection season find you resting in the fact that you saw your need for a Savior and called out to Him to save you, or may this be a precious time for you to also be “resurrected” as you trust the only One who can save you: Jesus Christ!  The Preserver of Life is waiting for you!

And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. 2Timothy 4:18

But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: John 1:12

 

 

Why Go to Church…

Well, how did you make out yesterday: Sunday? Did you make it to church, Sunday School, PM service? Life is full of choices, and those choices shape who we are and what we believe about ourselves, others, and God.

Choices:

  • I went to church vs. I did not go to church

That decision may have been made for you: the kids were sick, you were traveling, you had to work.  Or, you made a choice: a child had a music practice or ball practice, you needed to do laundry, shop, you stayed up too late Saturday night and were too tired, you just didn’t feel like going.

I am a pastor’s wife, so I probably see things from a slightly different perspective!  Church is what we do.  It is our lives; however, I can honestly say that before we were in the ministry, that was also true, AND that’s probably why God called us into the ministry. Duh!  That is a fairly recent revelation for me! I realize not everyone thinks that way.

  • Why is going to church so hard?

The world makes it hard because the god of this world knows how important it is.  The world sees Sunday as just another day to fill up with activities.  They even fail to recognize it as the first day of the week, placing it at the end of the calendar week.As Americans, especially if you’re old enough to remember the Blue Laws, we have this Christian attitude woven into the very fiber of our culture which colors our thinking; however, the rest of the world scratches their head and looks incredulous, saying, “Really? What’s the big deal?”

Our flesh makes it difficult, especially if we are prone to allow our flesh to have its way! We stay up too late on Saturday night, we grumble about having to put on more than our sweats or jeans, and we find that Sundays become a battleground for everyone in the family as sleepy teens grumble and younger siblings join the bandwagon!

Our adversary, the Devil pulls out all the stops on Sunday.  (By the way, did you know that’s an organ term: pulling out all the stops?  If you’ve ever seen a pipe organ, those white knobs are called stops, and when you pull one out, it opens another set of pipes, adding to the sound.  Pull them all out, and you’ve got a really BIG sound! 🙂 )Satan can only do what we allow, but when we make foolish choices about Sunday, he’s right there cheering us on!

Is it worth all the effort?  Quite frankly, I don’t understand how a born-again believer can live without going to church.Did you know that when you are NOT in church, you are missed? Imagine the church as a body.  We’ll call him George.  This week, George is missing an eye, next week a leg, and then one week, he has no arms and only one leg! Sounds funny, but that’s exactly what it feels like, especially to those who have prayed for you to come, and you didn’t show up.

Why come to church? There are lots of reasons.  I’ll just list a few:

  1. God commands it:  Hebrews 10:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
  2. We need to worship our God to keep life in the right perspective!
  3. We need to be fed and challenged by the Word.
  4. We need each other:  Hebrew 10:24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
  5. We are giving our children an example to follow which will either encourage them or destroy them!

SNathan's anniversary breakfast.jpgometimes, we throw the baby out with the bathwater! We don’t come to church because there are too many hypocrites, or we know we have a wrong spirit, or the preacher is too long winded, they don’t sing the songs I like, the seats aren’t comfortable, or… But if we would just take a moment and think about the Keeper of the House and His heart, all the problems and excuses seem fairly human.

God gives us 365 days every year, and 366 once and a while! Can’t we give Him 52?
One of my favorite TV shows is “Blue Blood,” and one of the most amazing parts of the series is that the family gets together every Sunday for dinner. Wow!  How many extended familes do that?  Yes, this probably means more to me because the move to South Dakota is now a reality. There were several years when all my children, their spouses, and all my grandchildren worshiped together every week!  I remember looking across the pew and telling myself that it wouldn’t always be true.  I can honestly say that I truly enjoyed every Sunday we had together; but that’s done now, and I’ve come to realize that every Sunday is special.  Each gathering is special, and I don’t want to miss even one!  Will you take the challenge?

Ask not what your church can do for you … OR … Lessons from the Church Refrigerator

I first encountered a church refrigerator while teaching Kindergarten with a wonderful group of people known as Emmanuel  Baptist Church of West Shore.  I remember one of the teachers getting frustrated about all the “stuff” which was left in the fridge.

Churches are communal property; therefore, rights and responsibilities are sometimes nebulous.  For example, who does throw out the leftovers from a fellowship?  Who does throw out old paint cans, or straighten up the craft closet, or discard old Sunday school material?  Whose job is it?

I love the folks at Steam Valley Bible Church!  They are awesome!  When we first came here, the very first Sunday that we candidated, they asked me to play the piano: a very nice Baldwin Studio piano.  However, as an organist, my ear went to the instrument across the room.  It sounded like an Allen organ!  And it was. Later, when we were given a tour of the buildings, I noticed a beautiful Yamaha Professional piano (Studio is slightly smaller than the Professional).  Why was this piano downstairs and the Baldwin upstairs? After some time and some questioning, we discovered that the upstairs piano was given in memory of someone, but the sweet woman, who was mainly responsible for its purchase, was fine with the idea of switching the pianos. Now, we’ve been in the pastorate long enough to know that such a move, in some church, would cause hard feelings and probably a church split!

So, what’s my point?  The next time you are on your church property, look around, especially if you attend a smaller church which does not have a host of paid employees.  How is the landscaping?  Are there any flowers?  Are there weeds?  Is there any mulch?  What about the signboard?  Has it been changed recently?  Does anything need a fresh coat of paint?  New windows? New chairs? New bulletin boards? Who does cut the grass or rake the leaves or clean out the gutters?  And what is your part in making a good show of presenting your representation of God’s house in your community?

John F. Kennedy coined the phrase: Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country! (Wow! Could we retread that one today!) But let’s apply it to church: Ask not what a church can do for you.  Ask what you can do for your church!

Many hands make the load light. That’s one of my favorite sayings.

Our church ladies just enjoyed a wonderful retreat.  It was such a success because of all the help. One lady VOLUNTEERED to head up the food.  Another lady VOLUNTEERED to do a devotion on prayer and then gather the materials to make a 3×5 prayer notebook.  Someone offered pedicures, and another brought chocolate and molds so we could make candy for our loved ones since it took place on Valentine’s Day weekend.  There are so many jobs that could be done “in the name of Jesus.”  How do we show that we love Jesus?  So often, folks say, “Well, I put God first in my life, but that doesn’t mean that church has to come first.” There may be some truth in that statement; however, my question is this:

How do you show God that He is first in your life?

Does working at His house show that you love Him?  Does coming to His house show that you love Him?

Just some food for thought! 🙂 Take a look around, and take the plunge. If you don’t know what needs to be done, as the pastor! Just don’t give him a heart attack!  🙂

Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your cieled houses, and this house lie waste?Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways. Haggai 1:4,5