My sister sent me the link to this current series from her church and I have been listening and reading it everyday. This one I think is particularly good so I encourage everyone to give it a read.
Devotion by: Tyler Fukutani
God has given every one of us two things: a special gift unique to us and a mission. The mission is that we must spread God’s love and Word through our actions. As James says in James 2:14, “What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions?” God doesn’t want us just to say we have faith in Him and that we’ve been given special gifts. He wants us to use our gifts to help spread the love and light of God to those around us.
For example, God has gifted me with an extraordinary amount of compassion towards those in need. This spiritual gift would be useless to me and an affront to God if I just sat around doing nothing. It would be even worse to blatantly ignore someone who needs my help just because I didn’t feel up to it at the moment. Instead, God wants me to use my compassion to help those in need to give them a glimpse of how much God loves them.
Yes, I am going to start whining again. I do miss the old hymns and wish they would sing them once in a while. I am getting somewhat used to the new music and the guitars and things but I look around sometimes and none of the congregation is singing along with the new music; I always thought that the hymns were interactive and it was good that the congregation sang along with the music; I sing along with the words on the screen but it just isn’t the same.
I liked the old churches like the one I grew up in that had a pulpit that the minister stood at while giving the sermon. In todays church the minister just wanders around with the wireless mic they use. Yep, the wireless mic actually is good as everyone can hear better no matter how close they sit.
The minister used to wear a robe or a collar or something so everyone would know he was the minister and being neat and formal is kind of nice.
With all of that said here is a short video I just found that I think all of us old whiners should watch or listen to:
|The Coal Basket Bible
The story is told of an old man who lived on a farm in the mountains of Kentucky with his young grandson. Each morning, Grandpa was up early sitting at the kitchen table reading from his old worn-out Bible. His grandson who wanted to be just like him tried to imitate him in any way he could.
One day the grandson asked, “Papa, I try to read the Bible just like you but I don’t understand it, and what I do understand I forget as soon as I close the book. What good does reading the Bible do?”
The Grandfather quietly turned from putting coal in the stove and said, “Take this coal basket down to the river and bring back a basket of water.”
The boy did as he was told, even though all the water leaked out before he could get back to the house. The grandfather laughed and said, “You will have to move a little faster next time,” and sent him back to the river with the basket to try again.
This time the boy ran faster, but again the basket was empty before he returned home. Out of breath, he told his grandfather that it was “impossible to carry water in a basket,” and he went to get a bucket instead.
The old man said, “I don’t want a bucket of water; I want a basket of water. You can do this. You’re just not trying hard enough,” and he went out the door to watch the boy try again.
At this point, the boy knew it was impossible, but he wanted to show his grandfather that even if he ran as fast as he could, the water would leak out before he got far at all. The boy scooped the water and ran hard, but when he reached his grandfather the basket was again empty. Out of breath, he said, “See Papa, it’s useless!”
“So you think it is useless?” the old man said. “Look at the basket.”
The boy looked at the basket and for the first time he realized that the basket looked different. Instead of a dirty old coal basket, it was clean. “Son, that’s what happens when you read the Bible. You might not understand or remember everything, but when you read it, it will change you from the inside out.” That is the work of God in our lives. To change us from the inside out and to slowly transform us into the image of His son.
Take time to read a portion of God’s word each day, and remind a friend by sharing this story.
“Live Simply, Love Generously, Care Deeply, Speak Kindly, Leave the Rest to God
Easter is coming up pretty soon (couple weeks). Everyone is buying eggs to color and hide and I kind of like that also; I remember an Easter egg hunt at my Grandma Knights Methodist church in Mascotte FL. What fun, what memories. Of course as an adult I now know the real significance of Easter – a time of sadness that turns into a time of joy as Jesus sacrifices himself for us on the cross.
Waterford Weslyan Church has a huge Easter Egg hunt for children at a local park. This is a way to reach out and do something for the community much as Jesus has reached out to us in saving us. If I can get it to work I am going to try to insert here a YouTube video about Easter.
From the blog I read called “Beauty Beyond Bones”. I don’t know the writers full name but let me tell you she has the best and most interesting blog posts. A young lady who has deeper and more interesting thoughts than I have even on a good day. Without further ado I am going to copy it and past it in here because I think it is a subject that the world needs to think more about.
Is Christianity Dead?
Well folks, another Christmas is in the books!
Christmas 2K16 is officially behind us. The eggnog has been consumed. Gifts gifted. Food coma endured. And for those brave souls who took on a real tree this year, its pine needles are officially all over the floor and will be mysteriously appearing in random crevices for the next 4 months.
Ever since I was of “appropriate age,” my family has always gone to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. It is one of my favorite memories and traditions. The caroling at 11pm. The candles. The trumpets. For the past, say, 15+ years, we have been going, and every year, we’d always get there right at 11:00, throwing elbows, and staking out our pew, as it is always standing room only. And don’t even bother coming at 11:15…because there will be no parking and you’re guaranteed to be standing – two deep – in the back.
But over the past couple years, I’ve noticed that each Christmas, we don’t have to arrive quite as early. And the full-court-press/box-out/battle-to-the-death to get and save a pew has ever so gradually deescalated.
Until this year.
When the church was half empty.
For Midnight Mass. Christmas Eve.
There wasn’t a snow storm. The zombie apocalypse hasn’t happened….unless of course, I am terribly mistaken about that one..
And I couldn’t help but ask myself, as I looked around and saw several dozen teenage boys counting the ceiling tiles, looking as though they wanted to die…is our faith on life support?
Are we experiencing the decline of faith and church as we know it?
Is Christianity dead?
And that friends, is not the type of thought pattern you want to be mulling over while in church, literally celebrating the birth of Christ.
As with everything in life, looking in the mirror is a hard thing to do. Facing the truth, acknowledging and accepting it…is an exercise in extreme humility, to say the least.
But let’s call it how it is…we are experiencing a decline in Christianity. Look it up. Pew studies. People identifying as Christian. Church attendance. Prayer. Christians actively living their faith are going down. Especially in Gen X’ers and Millennials.
And that. Is scary.
Leafing through the church bulletin after mass, I was almost in a fog. Nevermind the fact that it was nearing 2am and I had just come off a 7am flight from NYC the day before…but my mind was just swirling after witnessing the stagnant, lifeless state of my once vibrant and spiritually ablaze childhood parish. So I was numbly flipping through the pages.
And there was something that caught my eye.
There was, of course, a big “welcome” section in the front. Offering Christmas greetings to parishioners, out-of-towners, guests, non-Christians joining us, etc. All nice. Great.
And then there was the line, “We are your church family and are here for you!”
And I hate to admit this, but I’ve got to be honest….that really rubbed me the wrong way. It felt painfully disingenuous.
There’s a stereotype about “church people.” And I for one, hate even giving the time of day to negative stereotypes about people. Because they’re always hurtful and typically untrue.
But desperate times…
There is a decline in our faith, and it’s time to not mince words and take a cold, hard look in the mirror. Because like it or not, we are the face of the church.
But the stereotype is that “church people” are incredibly “judgey” people. That they prance around all hoity-toity and look down on “non-church people” and scoff at their “heathen ways.”
How are we going to fix that?
Because I can attest to the fact that that stereotype is, for the most part, false.
But the commonly accepted (albeit misconceived) notion is that church is a boring, out-of-touch institution that is full of either judgy snobs, dowdy/orthopedic-shoe-wearing shut-ins, or “Jesus-freaks.”
And people don’t want anything to do with that.
So they just don’t come.
And I want to pause here for a second. I know this is only one factor. There are a lot of other issues – people having different priorities, having other interests, adopting “spirituality” while leaving behind “religion.” Not to mention the church’s often unpopular stances on hot button social issues, such as abortion and the sanctity of marriage, etc. This stereotype is only one contributing factor.
But you and I…we have a personal responsibility.
We have a job to do: and that is to change that stereotype. Turn people’s minds around. Change their hearts to be open to Christ and open to faith.
Is Christianity dead?
Only if we let it.
You can’t give away what you don’t personally have.
And if I want to share Christ’s love and have it be attractive and inviting to another person, I need to have it in my heart myself. I need to have His love be overflowing in my own life, so as to attract another person to Him. And attract them back to church.
The pathetic church attendance on Christmas Eve…I partially blame myself. Because I ask myself…how am I personally fighting to set the record straight on how a “church person” looks and acts.
Because I’m going to be honest…(and I hate to admit it)…but I don’t really wear my faith outspokenly on my sleeve, for fear of being labeled a “church person.”
And I am filled with such shame typing that out, but it’s true. I don’t want to be labeled as “weird” or “out of touch” … so I keep my faith private. Let that be a personal part of my life that is between me and God.
But I realize now, that I am part of the problem.
My faith can’t be hidden. I can’t just be a silent by-stander as my church is red lining, in desperate need of rebranding and resuscitation.
I’m going to go out on a limb. For God. Invite someone to church with me.
Because at the end of the day, if Jesus can stretch out His arms and die on a limb for me, I can go out on one, for Him.