Tag Archives: Church

Going Overboard with VBS?

9 Jul

We were not looking for praise from people, not from you or anyone else, even though as apostles of Christ we could have asserted our authority. Instead, we were like young children[a] among you.”

1 Thessalonians 2: 6-7a

Vacation.  That is a word we hear frequently this time of year.  Families are planning and taking vacations.  Co-workers are on vacation, leaving envious employees behind.  Worship attendance is notoriously lower as congregants vacate the pews in favor of vacation or just a summer break from church.  It happens!

Churches also advertise their Vacation Bible School programs heavily during the summer as they gear up to welcome in large and small groups of children who are eager for games, crafts, music, and hopefully a little bit of God’s love.  VBS programs are a major undertaking in even the smallest churches.  There are materials to gather, volunteers to recruit, meals to plan, halls to decorate, lessons to organize, and so much more.  There never seems to be enough time or help.  It can be an exhausting experience for all involved in the VBS process.  It can also be an incredibly rewarding event for both volunteers and children.

Our church kicks off our VBS program tonight.  We are doing Cokesbury’s Operation Overboard, where kids can “Go Deep with God.”  Our director and co-director have done a fabulous job getting things organized this year and have worked very hard preparing.  I am confident that the children who come through our doors will experience God’s love and grace in deep ways and will have a blast doing so.

As I was helping transform our church into an underwater adventure on Saturday I had a few moments to reflect on the VBS process while nursing Kasen.  I had seen the weariness of our leader and other volunteers who were helping prepare the church and materials for the week-long event.  It caused me to think about the other times I had either led or helped with a VBS event, and how tiring the preparation process and event were.  I felt God nudging at me to reflect on something more, but I just wasn’t sure what.  I decided to pray for our current VBS and all those helping out, and especially for the children who we were trying to reach.  As I prayed, God brought to mind one particular VBS I had organized. Continue reading

April Shower

30 Apr The sweet cake for Kasen.  It was yummy

If anyone is still hanging around my little blog after my recent absence, a few notes: 1) I’m still here.  I am alive, though currently not so well.  Sinus crud and nearing the end of my pregnancy are taking its toll.  2) Thank you to those who have stuck around. 3) I am struggling to find my energy and inspiration, so hang in there with me a bit longer, please!

I promised to post about the recent baby shower our wonderful church family hosted for us on the 22nd of April.  The photos are finally edited, the gifts sorted if not put away, and I’m working on the long list of thank yous.  Aaron and I were truly humbled by the outpouring of love, support, and generosity of our church family last Sunday at the shower.  The decorations were lovely and had just the right amount of personal touches from ideas I had suggested, the food was scrumptious, and the company superb.  I can’t say thank you enough to the many ladies who put forth so much time, effort, and energy into making the shower such a wonderful success and memory.

There were many photos taken, and I tried to take a few at home of just some of the fabulous gifts we received.  I’m going to put most of the photos in gallery format to save some time.  I hope you enjoy the pictures and the sneak peeks you’ll see of the nursery in progress!

Quick Thought on Ministry Life

20 Apr

I saw this on Facebook and just had to share it with my other friends and family who are in ministry.

Can I get an AMEN?

More money always gives a bit more breathing room for creature comforts, and we’d love to be able to give, give, give, but we know that money is not in ministry.  That’s not the point.

We feel called to see broken lives restored to fullness in Christ, and that is the richest reward we could ever hope for.

So for all of you called to a life in ministry, blessings as you journey on and remember to keep your eyes on Christ, not the pay stub!

He is Risen! Day 40

8 Apr

5 “The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

Matthew 28: 5-7

Alleluia!

Christ the Lord is risen!

He is risen indeed!

We no longer wait in anticipation, but we celebrate Jesus’ victory over sin and death.

The cross is empty.

The grave could not contain him.

He is risen, and because of His grace we are restored!

His free gift of grace, bought and paid by his own blood, is for all.

Celebrate the risen Christ and accept the gift of life.

Alleluia!

I want to share the words from one of the great Christian hymns,

Continue reading

And We Wait: Day 39: Lent Journey

7 Apr

62 The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. 63 “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ 64So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.”

65 “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” 66 So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.” -Matthew 27: 62-65

After they laid Jesus in the tomb, the disciples gathered, wept, and waited.

Would he rise in three days?

As we wait, we take comfort in knowing that indeed Jesus did rise. Despite a heavy stone and guards to protect the tomb, Jesus came forth and conquered sin and death.

But for now, we wait.  We wait in hopeful anticipation for our Savior to rise.

It is Finished: Day 38: Lent Journey

6 Apr

  “Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” – John 19: 30

 

 

 

 

 

It is Good Friday; a somber day of remembrance.  We remember Jesus’ death; death on a cross.  We reflect on images of his beating, trial, journey to the cross, and crucifixion. We remember his sacrifice that paved the way for restored relationship with God; paved and paid with his blood.

I want to share three things with you today:

  1. A poem I wrote about Jesus’ death when I was 19
  2. A song that always draws me to the foot of the cross, “Grace Flows Down,” sung by Christy Nockels
  3. The grace available to all because of Jesus’ sacrificial death.   I encourage you to read all of John 19 today and reflect on Jesus’ last day.

Continue reading

As He Has Done For You: Day 37: Lent Journey

5 Apr

1It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

2 The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”

7 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

8 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

9 “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”

10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.

12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” – John 13: 1-17

 

Today is Maundy Thursday for the Christian church.  We remember Jesus as he ate his last meal at Passover with his disciples.  This is where our ritual of communion comes from, as we partake of the bread and wine (or grape juice), we remember the sacrifice Jesus made of his broken body and poured out blood.

We also remember how Jesus lived a life of service, demonstrated in a powerful way on his last night with his closest friends.  Jesus, who had already taken on human form, humbled himself even more and took on the form of a servant.  He washed his disciples’ feet.  He lovingly took the dirty and weary feet of his friends, cleaned them with his hands and water, and gently dried them with a towel he had tied to his waist.

Imagine a king stooping down to wash the feet of his court advisers, or even the pheasants he is entrusted with.  This is the act of Jesus.  A King of Kings, bowed down in service to all of humanity, from the strong and rich to the poor and weak.  He loves and serves them the same.  His sacrifice is for all.

As I reflect on these final acts of love and service that Jesus performed, I can’t help but wonder if I am really taking on the mind of Christ in my own life.  Do I have a mind and a heart to serve?  Do I put myself aside enough so I can see those who need the love of Christ poured into their lives?

I hope I do.  I strive to live a life of letting God love through me, but I know I often fail.  I guess all I can do is continually wrap the towel of loving service around my waist again and again, and help bathe others in Jesus’ grace and love.

In what ways are you being called to lovingly serve someone else?

Gracefully~~Heather

Beautiful Sacrifice: Day 36: Lent Journey~

4 Apr Extravagant Love

6 While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, 7a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.

8 When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. 9 “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.”

10 Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 11 The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. 12 When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. 13 Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” – Matthew 26: 6-13

I can imagine the disciples grumbling to one another about how foolish this woman was for wasting such an inexpensive gift.  “How can she be so wasteful?”  “Imagine all the good that we could do with the money that perfume would bring.”  “Why is Jesus just letting her do that?”

Instead of ignoring them and letting their grumblings linger, Jesus immediately silences them by defending the gracious actions of this woman.  He calls what she did beautiful.  Jesus acknowledges the disciples concern and the fact that yes, there are the poor to help, but that the poor would still be there to take care of, and he would not.  He was reminding them not only of his impending death, but of a deeper lesson; to be able to see the big picture of how they were to serve, as well as those who had an immediate need of extravagant grace and love.

Sometimes the need to demonstrate God’s extravagant love is the only way to bring healing, hope, or grace to a broken life.  Perhaps through an expensive gift offered in an extreme demonstration of loving surrender says, “You are valued and worthy of this sacrifice.”

Let me paint a picture…. Continue reading

Are We Still Greedy?: Day 35: Lent Journey

3 Apr

12 Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 13 “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.”

14 The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. 15 But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant.

16 “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him.

“Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read,

“‘From the lips of children and infants
you, Lord, have called forth your praise?”

17 And he left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night.”

-Matthew 21: 12-17

Monday of Holy Week and we find Jesus at the temple courts as the Jews gathered in Jerusalem for Passover.  Just like with major holidays and events today, prices were being raised to turn a profit on the things people needed the most for celebrating or for sacrifice at the temple.  As people came to worship and celebrate they were being taking advantage of by the greed of the money changers and sellers.

This is why we read of Jesus’ anger and of his overturning of the tables and booths.  He was witnessing his Father’s house being turned from a holy place to a place of greed and sin; exploiting those in a time of need.

We then see Jesus turn from his righteous anger and begin to draw the lame, children, and others to him.  As they gathered, he began to heal them.  He was returning the temple to a holy place, a place of love and hope, where needs are met with authentic relationship.

As I reflected on this passage today I struggled a bit with what message I could share.  Often we focus on how Jesus had a right to be angry and this scripture is often referenced when a message on anger is preached.

However, as I read a few reflections on the scripture I began to focus on why Jesus was angry.  What stirred the anger?  Was it just the business taking place in what should have been a holy place?  I think his anger was indeed directed at the greed and the sin he saw.  I also think he was angry about those who were being wronged by this sin and greed, and those who were in need and being overlooked in pursuit of profit.

I wonder what Jesus might think if he took a look at some of our churches today?  Would anger burn within him because people in need are being overlooked due to greed and sin?  Continue reading

For Everything a Season: Day 34: Lent Journey

2 Apr beauty from pain

1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:”

11 He has made everything beautiful in its time.”  -Ecclesiastes 3:1 & 11

A friend handed me a copy of a devotional on Ecclesiastes 3:11 at church Sunday.  She said she was doing her devotional and thought of me since I had recently been posting on this very idea; beauty.  I was very grateful for two reasons: 1) She cared enough to think of me and make me a copy, and 2) She cares enough to read my little blog and remember something I wrote!  Makes my heart happy.

The funny thing is that she didn’t realize she was sending me a much needed message from God.  I didn’t read the devotional until after we had returned home from the Community Easter Service (yep, a week early), and I desperately needed to read that scripture and the accompanying message by then.

The author of the devotional, Nicole Johnson, focuses on the need for us to embrace beauty as part of who God created us to be.  Instead of getting so caught up in seeing the pain or ugliness in and around us, we often need to spend time focused on the beauty God has created in and around us; not to mention the beauty He is working to create through us.  Continue reading