Isaiah 6:8

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Communion and Kids

Scripture: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me. "In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me." 1 Corinthians 11:23-25

Do you ever have trouble remembering things.  Children haven't changed much since I was your age. I can remember when I was a little girl and my mother would ask me, "Did you clean up your room?" I would usually answer, "I forgot." Or she might ask me, "Did you bring your laundry to the laundry room  like I told you to?" "I forgot" was my usual reply. I still have trouble remembering now that I am grown. I am always forgetting something that I was supposed to do.People have a lot of ways to help them to remember things. One of the oldest memory tricks is a simple piece of string. Sometimes I tie a string around my finger and every time I look at the string, I remember that I was supposed to...hmm, I forgot what it was I was supposed to remember. That's why someone invented post-it notes. With post-it notes, you can write down what it is you need to remember. The only trouble with post-it notes is that I sometimes forget to look at the notes! Being forgetful isn't new. It has been around since just about the beginning of time. The night Jesus was betrayed, he was eating with his disciples. He knew that he would soon return to his Father in heaven. He wanted to make sure that his disciples would remember him after he was gone, so he did something that would help them to remember. As they were eating, he took a piece of bread and he broke it and said, "This is my body which is broken for you. When you eat the bread, remember me." Then he took a glass of wine and held it up and said, this is my blood which is shed for you. When you drink it, remember me." It has been almost 2000 years since that night and we still use that same way to remember Jesus. When we take communion, we eat the bread and drink the cup to remind us that Jesus suffered and died on the cross so that we might have life. As we eat the bread and drink from the cup today, we remember him.  Dear Jesus, we will remember you today. We remember that your body was broken and your blood was shed so that we might have life everlasting. Thank you.

 

Communion And Its Commitment

My text today is from First Corinthians 10:16-17

 "According to medieval legend, before King Arthur sent his knights on errantry to right wrongs and befriend the helpless, he would call them together at his round table, where each knight could see the face of the king and the faces of his fellows. Shall the followers of the King of Kings do less?"  This legendary story reminds us of our commitment when we come to the Lord’s Table for Communion.  "This do in remembrance of me." With these words ringing in our ears, we regularly celebrate communion. As we drink the cup and eat the bread, we reflect on Christ's sacrifice and look forward to his return. Yet communion is more than a memorial. Our continued participation in this powerfully symbolic ceremony molds our thinking and brings to life deeply spiritual truths in very concrete ways. It shapes our identity as a people of God and provides the truly blessed assurance that we have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. The "message" of communion is important and deserves our full attention.

WE ARE BLOOD RELATIVES:  We usually think of blood relatives as those who are born into the same family. There is a saying that "blood is thicker than water" which means that family loyalties are stronger than all others. But, blood is not always thicker than water. There are times when there are members of the same family who are at odds with one another. Think about Cain and Abel, Jacob and Esau, Joseph and his other brothers, the prodigal son and the elder brother. All of these were brothers---blood relatives. Yet, in all of the stories in the Bible about these brothers, there is a sibling rivalry. In all of these stories there is a hint of a rebel or rebels and also the other or others who conformed. Just as almost all parents want their children to get along with each other, God our heavenly Father wants us to get along with our brothers and sisters. We are blood relatives because of the blood of Jesus that cleanses us from all our sins. Within the Body of Christ we are all brothers and sisters in Christ because of Jesus’ blood that was shed for the forgiveness of our sins. There are sometimes elements of sibling rivalries that exist in the brothers and sisters in Christ. When the rivalry appears to be stronger than bond that we are supposed to have as brothers and sisters, we have a tendency to forget that we are redeemed by Jesus’ blood. There is the story of a minister who "… responded to an appeal, for blood donations. When he didn’t come home by the time his young son expected him, the boy asked his mother, "Is Dad going around visiting all of the sick people?" His mother replied, "He’s giving blood." "But we know its really grape juice don’t we, Mom?" We sometimes need to remind ourselves that the grape juice that we drink at Holy Communion is symbolic that we are redeemed by Jesus’ blood, because He bought us with a price (First Corinthians 7:23). Jesus who reconciles us to God and to each other has made us blood brothers and sisters because He has redeemed us all through His blood.

WE ARE THE BODY OF CHRIST:  In the Body of Christ, we are a diverse and a united group of people. We have unity in the Body of Christ in spite of our diversity because in Jesus Christ there is no east or west, no slave or free, no Jew or Greek, because we are all one in the Body of Christ (Galatians 3:28). "If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it" (First Corinthians 12:26-27).  "According to Bill Jauss and Steve Rosenbloom in the Chicago Tribune, on July 19, 1996, Chad Kreuter, a reserve catcher for the Chicago White Sox, severely dislocated and fractured his left shoulder on a play at home. He underwent surgery, and the Sox placed him on the sixty-day disabled list. That’s the kind of thing that makes a backup player feel even less like a part of the team.  But quite the opposite happened. Apparently Chad’s teammates had a strong liking for him; each player put Chad’s number 12 on his ball cap to show support. Chad was a member of the team whether he played or not.  As you can imagine, that meant a lot to Chad. Later in the season when he was able to suit up again, he showed his appreciation by, you guessed it, putting the numbers of each of his teammates on his ball cap.  All devoted to one. One devoted to all. That is what makes a team, and that is what makes the community of Christ". This story reflects the way that God wants us to live as members of the Body of Christ. In the Body of Christ, we are called to do more than just "coexist". When we are truly united in spite of our diversity, then we possess the quality of fellowship that can only authentically be found in the Body of Christ. "It has been said that the real test of our nearness to God is the way that we feel about one another". Charles Colson writes, "A community is a gathering of people around shared values, a commitment to one another and to common ideals and aspirations that cannot be created by government". He also mentions that without the "community that the individual responsibility erodes" In the Body of Christ, we are bound together through Christ who unites us. There is no other community and fellowship like that that is experienced only within the Body of Christ. "Baptism incorporates us into the unity of the Body of Christ, and the Lord’s supper fosters and sustains our fellowship and communion … in that Body". From what has been said, it follows that believers should share communion at every reasonable opportunity. Yet, often believers abstain from sharing in this rich experience. They allow the bread and the cup to pass them by as they sit in guilt and shame, wishing they were more worthy. There was a time when I myself would abstain if I were struggling with some sin.  What is it that drives believers from their Lord's table in these spiritually intimate moments? This practice stems from Paul's warning in 1 Corinthians 11:27-32. There Paul tells us to examine ourselves before communing, for "whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord"  Participating "in an unworthy manner" brings judgment and none of us wishes to transgress this command. Therefore, we examine ourselves before participating, seeing how well we "measure up." If we feel spiritual enough, we may proceed; if we don't, better "safe than sorry."  But is this really Paul's meaning? Was this Jesus' meaning? Consider Jesus' words in John 6:53-56  Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him".  Consider further the fact that Jesus' blood cleanses us from sin. When we are guilty, that is when we need Jesus the most. When we are struggling, that is when we need the help and support of the body. We need to be reminded that we are in a fellowship of brothers and sisters who represent Jesus to us, and we need the strength and assurance provided by the communion celebration. To shrink away from it is to retreat within ourselves and suffer silently.  When we struggle with sin and find ourselves in need of forgiveness, let us seek that forgiveness and eagerly reach for the cleansing blood of Christ. "Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ?" (1 Cor. 10:16a, NIV). Let us share the communion experience and the reassurance that we are part of God's people. "Is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ?" (1 Cor. 10:16b, NIV).  Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German pastor and theologian who was an enemy of the Nazis because he refused to go along with their state idea of a church that practiced the anti-semitism of the Nazis. In fact, he was a hunted man who upheld authentic Christian principles. As a part of the German underground he was not safe to worship openly. "Bonhoeffer’s painful discovery is instructive for us. Cut off from the nurturing fellowship of other Christians, he felt a deeper hunger for the fellowship that was no longer available to him. Like a hungry man who knows the taste of bread though he can no longer reach and break from the loaf, he knew the power of fellowship when it was painfully absent".  As people who are a part of the Body of Christ we understand the commitment that goes along with Holy Communion: "All devoted to one. One devoted to all. That is what makes a team, and that is what makes the community of Christ".  As the Body of Christ, by the Holy Spirit, we are one with Christ, and one with each other, as we remember that our ministry is to all the world, so that we might help those who are lost to find the fellowship and community that can only be found in the Body of Christ.


Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy 4th of July

Today we had the opportunity to spend time with several very special people.  We first went to my cousin, Amanda's and visited Ramona, Dustin, Drew, Will, David, Susanna, and their four children, my cousin Linda and her grandbaby, Victor, Lt. Dan (he isn't really a Lt....but that is his nickname), the Buchanan family, the Cheeney family, the Colley family, Melanie and her mom.  I had a wonderful time reading Ramona's journal of their trip to Germany and seeing all the amazing places I would love to someday visit myself.  I love my family.  We left just before lunch and went to Beth and Ron's.  This has not been a great week for them and we needed to be pastors and friends for them.  If you don't mind...keep Ron in your prayers.  He has more tests to come and it is weighing heavy on both he and his precious wife, Beth.  We came home after our visit there...and just chilled at the house for the rest of the afternoon.  Right now there is a terrifying thunderstorm occurring and it is raining like rip.  I wish I could have spent time today with everyone I love....but there is just so much time in the day.  Happy 4th to all my children...my friends.....and my blogging buddies.  God Bless You All and the USA today....and everyday. 

Friday, July 3, 2015

Thinking About My Momma

In July I always have my momma on my mind.  July 9th was her birthday and she always claimed the entire month as her birthday.  This week my pianist/friend Debbie Pate gave me a devotional/book her brother had written about his MIL and as I was reading it I began to think of some of the many now funny stories about my mom.....and Alzheimer's.  No, Alzheimer's is not funny....but when you are in the middle of the battle....there are times you just have to laugh....so you don't cry yourself sick.  Eating out with my mom was one of those times. While mom and dad were living with us we ate out entirely too much.  The reason we did was because I could never seem to cook anything that pleased my mom's palette.  In the small town where we lived there were not that many eating establishments but for some reason...they all served something she loved....Chicken Fingers!  She would order them....eat one...a couple of fries and declare herself to be full.  At that point she would ask for to-go plates, pack up her remaining dinner.....and my dad's!  He would complain about not being through....but if she was through....so was he.  On down the road she gave up eating chicken fingers....and went to corn nuggets.  She adored them....especially the ones from Big B Bar-B-Que.  Eating with my mom was so very frustrating.  If we ever ate somewhere that did not serve chicken fingers she would always come out with her infamous saying, "I have never had THIS before."  We would spend some time trying to convince her that she had...but usually to no avail.  For my birthday in 2009 my dad and husband cooked me one of my favorite dinners...bbq spare ribs.  I have had some form of bbq ribs every year on my birthday since I can remember....my dad was dying and this was a tender moment as I watched him and my husband cooking together on the grill.  When the ribs were done we moved the party into the dining room where we became carnivorous cavemen.  Dad, Frank, and I all picked up our savory ribs and began to gnaw on them like cavemen.  My mother, on the other hand, picked up a knife and fork and began struggling to cut meat from the ribs.  My dad stopped, looked over at her and said, "Wilma, what are you doing?"  She responded with, "I am eating.  I have never had these before and am not sure how to eat them."  My dad was so frustrated at that point.  From the time I was old enough to gnaw on a rib bone ribs were cooked for my birthday.  I was in my late 50's on this day....we had been eating these things for at least 50 years!  My father was so sick he did not realize what was happening to my mom....so he just snapped at her.  I ended up leaving the table and crying in my bathroom.  That was the day I realized just how far gone my mom was.  It broke my heart.  Today,  6 years later I can laugh about that dinner.  It was not funny then.   My funniest chicken finger story involves Zaxby's.  I still cannot eat there without laughing.  My mom came into the living room one evening and said she was going to cook supper for the next night.  I was unnerved to hear her use the word "cook!"  I had visions of my house going up in flames when she forgot she had something on the stove....but she quickly put me at ease when she told us she was getting dinner from the towns new Zaxby's.  I had gotten a coupon for  three free chicken fingers and gave it to her to add to the dinner.  Little did I know that she had gotten a coupon as well....so when dinnertime came the next night....we all sat down to the table.  I noticed we had full sized plates in front of us....but did not see anything that looked as if it might go ON said plate.    My mom was so pleased with herself as she opened up her two little (and I mean tiny) boxes and put a chicken finger on my plate, one on hers, and two each on Frank's and daddy's.  We all looked at what was there....and looked at her standing there so proud of herself....and back at the plate.  THAT WAS DINNER!  We all ate it in silence and after mom and I had cleaned up the kitchen Frank said we needed to run to Walmart.  What he meant was I need food!  So we ran the errand, ate more dinner, and returned home without a Walmart bag.  My mom asked why we did not have a bag....and I told her because they were out of whatever we went for.  My dad had filled himself up with some peanut butter crackers and a couple of moon pies.  (At that time he was in the throes of taking chemo and pretty much only eating what he could keep down.)  One more funny food story and then I am through....this one was a riot.  Frank and I were going to see daughter, Amy for the weekend in Ft. Walton.  My parents came home from a gallivant up Hwy 22 and had....of course...two to-go plates.  We had not eaten lunch so they passed them off to us.  As we started our trip we decided to wait a bit before eating what was in the container.  As we turned down Fishpond Rd I opened one and to my great surprise there was a whole order of French fries, slaw, and...............chitterlings.  Oh that is not happening!  Number one I don't eat them....and Number two....I DO NOT EAT THEM!  Especially not traveling.  We saw some dogs on the side of the road and left them a meal fit for kings.  In Wetumpka we went through a drive thru and grabbed something to kill the hunger and memory of Chitterlings.  Yep. eating with someone with Alzheimer's can be an experience.  When my dad died we found all kinds of snack foods hidden in their bedroom.  It wasn't that they were poor....it wasn't that we didn't feed them, it was because she would hoard the food because she may need it for later.....she ended up hoarding stuff too at her house....and it made me think...what am I hoarding.  It also made me aware that I do not want our children to have to deal with this when I die.  God Bless You All Today!  Stay safe on the 4th.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Hodge Podging in the U.S.A.

If this is Wednesday, then this must be Hodge Podge.  I am so glad you stopped by.  If you are interested in playing, then in a post all your own....answer the following questions, then hop over by clicking here to Joyce's blog and linking up there.  It is as simple as that.  Oh!  And stop by and visit someone else while you are there.


1. On Saturday July 4th America celebrates her Independence. (If you're not American,  feel free to answer in terms of a national holiday in your own country) What is your favorite thing about the day? Your favorite food on the 4th? Do you fly a flag at your house? Fireworks-yay or nay? Any special plans this year?  I love watching the fireworks from Washington, New York on TV.  Favorite food would be hot dogs and hamburgers with family.  We do fly an American flag at the house.  I am not big on fireworks live.  We have them pretty close, there is a Sheriff's rodeo and fireworks in Wedowee, we have Thunder on the Chattahoochee in Franklin, and Calloway Gardens has a fabulous show.  When we lived in Alex City there was always a concert and fireworks at the Amphitheater at Kowliga.  I loved going to that.  We are going to my cousin, Amanda's, house for the day to be with family.  There will be good, music, fun.  I am excited.
2. What's something you recently got for free?  I got a senior citizens drink for free at a restaurant when we were in Knoxville.  That was a pretty good deal and it shaved 2.50 off my bill.3.  The Statue of Liberty, The Liberty Bell, The Washington Monument, or Mount Rushmore...how many on the list have you seen? What is your favorite historical American monument, and why?  I have seen them all, I loved seeing them all, I cried as we crossed to see Miss Liberty.    My favorite...hum.... would be all of them....and every other American monument.  On our honeymoon Frank and I got a National Park Passport.  Yeah, I know...we are a couple of old nerds.4. When it comes to the news are you more ostrich (stick my head in the sand) or hog (they have room to take a whole lot in)? How much attention have you given the recent news reports regarding ISIS and the acts of terror they've perpetrated against those who do not share their beliefs or support their cause?  I wish I could always stick my head in the sand and not pull it out until it is over....but I alas, I am a hog. 
5. We're talking plain ice cream...vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry? Choose one.  Since we are talking about plain ice cream I will have to go with plain Vanilla.
6. Share a song you love containing the word 'stars' in the lyrics or title?  That is an easy one for me, "Stars Fell On Alabama."  I love crooning along with this song...especially the version by Jimmy Buffett 
7. Describe and/or say goodbye to June with an acrostic.
Just spending time
Under the
Night skies
Enjoying myself
8.  Insert your own random thought here. Since Saturday is the 4th of July I thought I would leave you with some of my favorite patriot songs to peruse.  I hope you will take a moment or two and listen.
The National Anthem
God Bless The USA
Patriotic Medley - Josh Groban, et. al
Battle Hymn of the Republic
US Military Songs Medley
Happy and Safe 4th to you all! 

Thoughts For July From The Pulpit


I was listening to a speaker on NPR the other day and he was talking about the freedoms we have as a nation….It made me start thinking.  When you think about July 4th what comes to mind?  Perhaps you think about a day off from work with picnics, fireworks, and those red, white, and blue flags displayed in front yards along your neighborhood streets.  This is all good, but the one word that comes to my mind is freedom.  It is a fact that  we live in the United States of America where we can voice our opinions freely, and can vote for the people of our choice. These are very good reasons why we should never take our freedom for granted.  Each year I notice that some people really go all out decorating for every holiday, but  on the 4th of July I just display my flag in the yard for the entire month. The flag means a lot to me because of those in my family who have been in wars. I have also had friends who have served our country, and I have known some who did not come home in the past and present war.  My father served in World War II, my mother sang for USO shows around Alabama during that war, Frank was in the Navy, I have had friends and family who also served in Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Afghanistan, and stateside.  Because of their contributions in keeping us all free, I proudly display the flag.  Have you thought about the American flag and all that it stands for? It represents an emblem of the greatest nation on the earth. It has been carried through centuries in battle. It is placed on the graves of our honored dead who fought for the right for us to remain a free nation, and it flies high during peace times, as well as war.  “Old Glory” is its name.  There is another real freedom we can have. We can display it every day of the year, and that is our freedom “In Christ” to live a life to glorify Him, so that His banner of love, truth, and peace can be seen by all.  We can be free in our spirit to serve the Creator of the whole universe and that my friends, is True Freedom.  Romans 8:2 says,"For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and of death."  (ASV)  Just like the flag that represents freedom, Jesus is a banner over us, protecting and shielding us. He is the “Glory and the Lifter of our heads” at all times. Let freedom ring out in your heart today.   Psalm 3:3 reads, "But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head." (KJV)  Can God change your life?  God has made it possible for you to know Him and experience an amazing change in your own life.  That is true freedom!

God Bless The USA,

Karen

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A Heart's Betrayal


About The Book:  A Heart's Betrayal (Thomas Nelson, June 2015)  Emmie finds shelter in the arms of a soldier, but her secret could drive them apart.  When Emmie Croftner answered the door to her late husband's home, she discovered an awful truth: her deceased husband was a bigamist. And what's more, the home she thought she inherited never belonged to her at all.  Suddenly displaced, powerless, and ashamed, Emmie can't stay in Wabash, Indiana. She makes a hopeful start for Fort Laramie, Wyoming, to find her friend Sarah Montgomery and a new beginning. But when she arrives, she discovers she's pregnant---and without a husband. The new start she'd hoped for slips from her fingers.
But then she meets Isaac Liddle, a handsome soldier with a kind heart. When he begins to court her, Emmie wonders whether she could ever really be his---and whether she dares to tell him she is carrying another man's baby. 
Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/1B65ZsM
About The Author: Colleen Coble has sold over 2 million novels worldwide. Seagrass Pier, the third installment in her acclaimed Hope Beach series, marks a new highpoint for emotion and complexity in Coble's addictive brand of romantic suspense.  Find Colleen online: website, Facebook, Twitter
My Thoughts On The Book:  I am a huge fan of Colleen Coble.  I have read every book so far in this series and loved them.  This one was one of my favorites.  My heart bled for Emmie and life smacked her right in the face.  I felt as if I knew her personally.  Coble is great at character development and she does not disappoint in this continuing story.  The only problem I have encountered in this Journey of the Heart series is that the books are too short.  I would love to see most pages.  It reads more like a novella and can be easily read from start to finish in a short period of time.   
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this e-book free from Litfuse and  NetGalley as part of their Book Review Blogger Programs. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!