Sunday, March 23, 2014

Church, Making it a Relationship Instead of a Religion

"Going to church doesn't make you a christian any more 
than parking in a garage makes you a car"   ~ Woody Allen ~

Some of us attend church every single Sunday unless we are out of town or dreadfully ill, others attend when they can make it due to jobs, family ties or simply when they get time, and some attend on holidays or when the spirit moves them. No judging here, my lifetime church attendance record has been spotty to say the least as have my experiences attending different churches. I have gone to a  variety of churches in my life including Catholic and Assembly of God, Calvary Chapel plus several others of Christian origin.

I finally found my home church nearly two years ago and I am crazy about it, the church is without a doubt the capstone of my week. The pastor where I attend service and his wife are wonderful people who bend over backward to help members of our congregation. They are rock solid, they have been there for many of us more times than we can count...I have come to think of them as family. Because of this, I drive roughly forty miles every Sunday rain, sleet or snow to worship and praise Jesus with this small group of like believers. During the past two years, I have bonded with many of these people, gone to their weddings and baby showers and I have seen new born babies arrive in their mothers arms on their first outing to church and then sat back and watched them grow into toddlers, they are all so precious.
My church is a wonderful place, the hugs are plentiful, the message is always good, coffee hot and the cinnamon rolls are always fresh and yummy and made with love. I feel blessed and thankful to be a part of such an awesome church family.

Our pastor is very through, he wants to make certain everyone has a clear understanding of the message he is delivering and he makes certain that we do so. His desire is that each time we walk out of church, it will be with some new knowledge of God.

I find that people who attend church handle the message they hear in a variety of ways. Some people thrive on those words and study and think of the word of God daily. They say Good Morning to God and delve into scripture and worship music throughout the day, every day becoming stronger in their faith. Others attend church regularly, see the value of it yet are done with it for the most part by the end of the day on Sunday and still others forget what was said by the time they get to their car. Some have no intention of doing anything that might inconvenience them or deprive them of something else that they may want to do instead, yet for some reason, feel the urge to attend church anyway, this is especially true of those who don't remember to go until Easter or Christmas.

Any of the for-mentioned may not be doing what you do, but when you surrender your thoughts and heart to God, He will shower you with Grace sufficient to love all of matter what choices they are making and He will also give you the power and words to encourage those who stay away to make an effort to be fed, because faith needs food to sustain life. Going to weekly service strengthens our relationship with Him and the stronger the relationship you form with Him, the fuller your life becomes and with that comes the promises and the destiny He wants for you.

As for me, I love everything about Sunday! I enjoy an early breakfast, My usual breakfast is a smoothie made up of some fruit and vegetables, some almond milk and sometimes some nut butter (I love almond) or protein powder. However, on Sundays I like to do something really special and one of my favorites is waffles. I try all different kinds like buckwheat, apple cinnamon, bacon cheddar but one of my favorites is Pumpkin with Apple Cider Syrup.
It is divine, and if I have the time I like to go the extra mile and whip some honey into a hunk of butter to slather on the hot waffles. These waffles with some crispy bacon and scrambled eggs will make for an over the top breakfast.

I love saying Good Morning to Jesus and giving thanks for the breakfast He provided me the skills to prepare. He knows that I love spending the day with Him, not just Sunday, but everyday! He rides shot gun with me and provides me with a constant source of companionship every day of my life. I enjoy spending my days focused on his peace through quiet and prayer. He helps me focus on those who need His love and strength so through Him I strive to show by example that they too are loved by a God who loves them unconditionally. All we must do is have faith...

Hebrews 11:1-39 (ESV).11 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Fearing Fear Dedicated to my oldest daughter.

Psalm 23:4 (ESV)

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me

My oldest daughter has Epilepsy and is plagued with the anxiety attacks that seem to go along with the illness. Every three years she has to have a through check up, including a blood draw. Although she hasn't had a seizure in over three years, her last two seizures occurred while she was having her blood drawn.With this in mind, it is only natural that she be frightened of the procedure. For those who are not familiar with the illness, a seizure can mean the loss of driving privileges for 3-6 months or forever depending upon the severity and frequency of the seizures.
Each time her dreaded appointment date approaches, her anxiety level is through the roof, she doesn't get enough sleep and is unable to eat just thinking about it.

This last time when her dreaded appointment date finally arrived, she called me very early and I reminded her of her faith and that I would be praying. I even went so far as to ask her to call me prior to the procedure and I would talk her through it, if she wanted me to. After talking to me she wisely threw some clothes on and went to the gym. While she worked out, her prayer warriors did their thing...
we prayed for complete healing, peace, serenity and a successful, seize free appointment and that her anxieties would diminish and flee from her, leaving her in peace.

 Job 3:25 (NIV)
 What I feared has come upon me;
    what I dreaded has happened to me.    

When my phone finally rang, I was thrilled to hear her voice. It was small, yet very strong, ringing with happiness when she said to me "Mom, it went really well, I didn't have any problems at all." I was relieved, thrilled and thankful, all at the same time! She told me of the wonderful nurse on duty who was so kind to her and made her laugh and that it was over before she knew it. It is now behind her for another three years and I have faith it will not present a problem for her again. Prayers were answered, God is good all the time!

Deuteronomy 31:6 (ESV)
Be strong and courageous. 
Do not fear or be in dread of them, 
for it is the Lord your God who goes with you.
 He will not leave you or forsake you.”

It is only human to be afraid or fearful. We each have things that scare us to death and although our fears may seem foolish or silly to others, they are real and anything but funny to us. How easily we forget to look to God, pray and not become immobilized by our fears. The more we focus on those fears, the more power we give them. Our fears may belong to us, but we must fight to prevent them from owning us. 

I like to refer to it as The Nike Rule...  Just do it!

Jesus wants us to live a life without fear and He will help us. Once we march through our fear or that fear comes upon us and we survive it, a calm overtakes us and it is the best feeling imaginable.
We wonder what in the World took us so long to look them in the eye.

The following is a list of various fears people have. 
The Phobia List   I am fairly certain that you will find as I did, that you are thankful to be the way you are.

Stay blessed!