The Body of Christ – Part 3

This will be the final installment of The Body of Christ.

I was led to one passage that sums up what we, as The Body of Christ, need to embrace.

James 3:7-18 is the entire passage. I’ll share a few key verses here.

Verses 7-9 (NIV*): All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness.

James did a great job of telling it like it is. These verses describe clearly what both camps in The Body of Christ are doing to each other. I’m guilty of being less than kind in my thoughts and words. I’m sure others will also admit to that.

In writing these three blogs, God has worked in my heart to help me tame my own tongue. God has helped me take baby steps toward being a part of the solution rather than the problem.

Verse 13: Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in humility that comes from wisdom.

Verses 17-18: But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

It won’t be easy to mend the chasm our two camps have dug in The Body of Christ. Thankfully, nothing is impossible with God. Something tells me God wants this fixed. He will give us the power and strength to do so.

Who’s with me?

See you next time,

*New International Version

The Body of Christ – part 2

God alone knows our hearts. What I write in my blogs are my opinions based on what I see happening, and what I believe in my heart of hearts.

I wonder what camp Jesus would join. I wonder what words He would teach us and what parables He would share with us.

My wondering led me to the Scriptures, because both camps say they embrace the Word of God to be the Truth. Below are the verses I want to share today.

Revelation 2:4 (This is God speaking to the church of Ephesus.) Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. In verses 1-3 of this passage, the church is praised for the good works that they have done; however, in all their efforts the key to God is missing: LOVE. They have somehow bogged themselves down doing this and that, and have forgotten WHO they are serving. God is love, and all we do for Him should be based upon our love for Him, and should flow from us to others. Doing otherwise is futile, and we miss the point of what we are to do and be for God.

2 Corinthians 2:15 (St. Paul is writing to the church in Corinth.) For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are saved and those who are perishing. Apparently some things never change, and the people of the church of Corinth were hurting one another just as we are today. We all have victory in Jesus, and all we have to do to overcome our differences is to remember what our goal is. The goal is to spread the aroma of Christ to the world. How can we do that if we are fighting among ourselves? I really like the word aroma used here because the sense of smell can transport us back to another time in our lives. Perhaps if we’re sharing God’s aroma of love with all we come in contact, it will transport them back to an earlier time when their faith was new and all they wanted to do was share God’s love. Just a thought…

John 13:34-35 (Jesus is speaking.) A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, it you love one another. In these verses Jesus is giving us a command, it’s not a suggestion! This command is just as relevant today, as it was centuries ago when Jesus said it. The term “church” refers to the Body of Christ – all Christians regardless of denomination. The different beliefs regarding the social issues that appear to be at the center of the fighting within the church are not building the church up. They are tearing it down.

We as the Body of Christ are neglecting our responsibilities to share the love of God with everyone. Not just the people who look like us, act like us, think like us – EVERYONE! That what the Bible teaches. Sadly, both camps are missing the mark.

As I was preparing this blog, I ran across a quote from John Wesley: “Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike? May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion? Without all doubt, we may. Herein all the children of God my unite, notwithstanding these smaller differences.” Can I get an amen?

Based on the verses herein, God clearly teaches love, compassion, and acceptance. Regardless of all the unloving actions going on within the Body of Christ, we need to make a choice on how we will personally conduct ourselves.

I’m going to do my best to live the teachings of God. Y’all with me?

See you next time…

The Body of Christ

Today’s blog will be the first in a series of blogs on this subject. God has laid on my heart to address the great division I see within the Body of Christ.

The Body of Christ is not the physical body that He had on this earth. The Body of Christ is the Church – the followers of Christ. The people who call themselves Christians. I can write about this because I am a Christian. I am a part of the Body of Christ.

There appear to be divided camps within the Body of Christ, at least that’s true within the United States. Camps that are poles apart in their beliefs.

People outside of the Christian faith are looking in. Some are mocking us. Others are feeling sorry for us. None of them want to be a part of us!

Oh, there have always been disagreements between the various denominations, and between Protestants and Roman Catholics. The ONE thing that held us altogether under the umbrella of Christian was Jesus Himself. The minutia wasn’t really a big deal:  Dunk versus Sprinkle, Grape juice versus Wine, Predestination versus Choice

Regardless of the minor differences, we managed to still embrace our personal beliefs, while respecting opposing beliefs. Unfortunately, that respect has diminished, if not altogether disappeared.

Instead of spreading the Gospel of Christ to the everyone, which is what the Scripture tells us to do, it seems as if the Body of Christ has taken on itself the roll of social barometer to the world. I’m tired of hearing from both camps that you can’t be a Christian if you voted for the candidate that they oppose. I’ve heard this since 1992, and it’s getting really OLD. Not only that, the venom with which it is said today is at an all-time high!

I understand that being passionate about your beliefs can lead to heated discussions, but I’m learning that has NO place in the Body of Christ! When I say this to y’all, I’m also talking to myself. I definitely can’t “cast the first stone,” because I’m NOT without sin. I’m guilty of some very heated comments. We must all stop and take a step back. We must become part of the solution, and not continue to be part of the problem.

Facebook is saturated with negative comments about Biden, Harris, Pence, and Trump. Many of those posts are there because we, as the Body of Christ, have put them there! We should be ashamed! Negative breeds negative: hate breeds hate. Our Heavenly Father is not praised, glorified, or happy when we stoop to such childish and sinful ways.

I realize we all need a place to let off steam; to air our frustrations. It’s healthy; it’s how we stay sane. I’ve found a group of like-minded people with whom I can share my concerns and frustrations. As a group, we get the “venom” out of our systems. By doing this, we then make room for the growth needed to become part of the solution.

Sometimes I wonder if God isn’t using the virtual church services as a time for we Christians to cool down, sort of like a time out. I’m in no way implying God caused COVID so we could cool down. I just know from experience that God makes good things come out of bad when we allow Him to do so.

We as the Body of Christ need to learn how to discuss our beliefs and differences in a civil, loving, and caring way. We need to show those who aren’t Christians, that we know how to get along even as we disagree. It’s not what we know that makes the difference. It’s WHO we know. We ALL know Christ. Christ is our Lord. Otherwise, we aren’t the Body of Christ. He is the key. He is the reason we exist. And He is the only One that can help us mend this great divide.

Psalms 46:10 is a well-known verse. You might have heard the first part of the verse: BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD. If we read the entire chapter, we learn it has to do with fighting – yes, fighting. The Christian Standard Bible translation of that portion reads: STOP YOUR FIGHTING AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD.

One of the Hebrew meanings of “be still” is TO BE EMPTY. Don’t you think that’s beautiful? BE EMPTY AND LET ME FILL YOU, says our God.

Today, as you reflect on my thoughts, I hope you’re able to reconcile your beliefs with the teachings of the Scripture, and their meaning to you. In the  same breath and moment, I hope  you’re able to respect your brothers and sisters in Christ who believe differently than you do.

See you next time…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miracle of I-575

It was a beautiful day as I drove to a basketball game to watch our granddaughter play.

It was my first outing since recovering from COVID, and I had so many things to be thankful for.

My husband and I frequently attend games, so the parents of the other players know us. Many told me I’d been in their prayers, and how good it was to see me again.

It was a great game! We won 49-36, and our granddaughter sank a 3-pointer.

I was in a great mood as I left the gym. Passing a DD (formerly known as Dunkin’ Donuts), I decided to treat myself to a donut and caramel macchiato for lunch.

The aroma of the coffee and caramel filled my car. Having lost my sense of smell and taste during COVID, that was a glorious moment!  I couldn’t wait to eat and drink my “healthy” lunch.

As I was pulling back onto the road, I heard a weird sound that I chalked up to gravel in their driveway.

I practically inhaled my donut, as it was way past my usual lunch time. By the time I reached the interstate, I was rockin’ out to the music on my radio, and relishing my piping hot macchiato.

The speed limit increased to 70, and living up to my nickname, Lead Foot, I powered up to the full speed of 70. I was cruising along, singing to the top of my lungs, and thoroughly enjoying life.

All of a sudden I heard a loud pop, and it became very difficult to steer the car.

I was in the middle lane, and worked very hard to steer clear of the cars on both sides. The right lane finally cleared enough for me to carefully make my way to the emergency parking lane.

Once I stopped safely off the road, I sent up a breath prayer of thanksgiving that God had helped me safely maneuver the 4,000 pound missile to the emergency lane.

Cars zipped passed me at speeds that caused my disabled car to sway back and forth in the wind.

The above picture tells the story. You can see where the entire side of the tire blew apart. The culprit was a screw I’d managed to pickup somewhere. Perhaps that was the weird noise I’d heard.

Once the tire was changed, and I was again driving home, the miracles of the day flooded into my heart and soul. I wish one of those miracles had been that my coffee was still hot, but alas being alive to drink the cold coffee was a miracle! And I savored every drop.

My keeping control of the car was a miracle. Not even glancing any of the many cars also on the road was a miracle. Not being hit as I sat along the side of the road was a miracle.

Many times we equate miracles with the parting of the Red Sea or with turning water into wine. However, I submit life itself is a miracle. We experience miracles each and every day.

As we continue our journey of life, let us be aware and thankful of the miracles we experience. Especially in this season of COVID that has gripped our world. Even in COVID, even in the worst moments of our lives, there are miracles. Be open to, and aware of them.

Until next time…

Our COVID Christmas

Well, as diligent as I was, wearing mask everywhere, carrying wipes and hand sanitizer in my purse, I still managed to somehow contract the 2020 BUG, COVID19! Then, being the giving person I am, I gave it to my husband.

The above picture is the bed in our guest room, where I was isolating in the attempt to keep Matthew from getting it. As you can see, my meds, crackers, tv remote, wipes, thermometer, journal, and a hairband were all within arms reach.

I spent almost a week in this room, coming out only to use the restroom, until Matthew was also diagnosed.

Fortunately, as sick as we were, neither of us had to be hospitalized. Matthew even proved all men ARE NOT wimps when they’re ill, because he continued to wait on me hand and foot during his illness.

My oxygen levels weren’t high enough to keep the medical community happy, but I know my body, and even fully well, I am “short winded” as we used to call it in the old days. My track coach back in 1969, said if she didn’t know better she’d think I smoked because I absolutely could not breathe after running twice around the track. I was a 50-yard sprinter, and the last leg of a 220 relay (55 yards). Beyond that, I could not breathe. Period.

After a zoom doctor visit with my primary physician, she realized that I was indeed okay, except for a serious sinus infection, which she prescribe another round of steroids and an antibiotic, my oxygen levels were normal for me. The meds worked very well, and I continued to improve.

As Christmas Day approached, we realized that it would not be prudent to be with family this year. I’m not going to lie, I had an “ugly cry” in the shower Christmas morning.

The reason for the season is the picture below:

We purchased the hand carved nativity when we were on our pilgrimage to Israel in 2019. While it was sad not being with family for the first time in 68 Christmases, remembering the true meaning of the celebration made it bearable.

Technology made it easier, too, as we spoke with family on our phones,  zoomed with family, and Face-Timed with family. My younger sister actually held her phone with me Face-Timing her, as she and my older sister stood behind Mom, so I’d still be in the annual “Mom/Daughters” Christmas picture.

Yes, being with family and friends on Christmas is a blessing. But the greater blessing is knowing the Savior Who came as a baby, to give us Eternal Life.

God is good all the time; all the time God is good!

Happy New Year, keep the faith, and stay safe!!

Until next time…

2020 – In Spite of it All

I’m not great with plants, but I’ve managed to keep my Christmas cactus alive, and 2020 will be it’s third season with us.

In all of the craziness of 2020, there are still flowers to bloom, beautiful birds to amaze us as they soar, children to bring us joy and make us smile, God’s Word to soothe our troubled souls  – in spite of it all.

At the beginning of this year, I’m guessing y’all were like me and thought it would be the year of “vision”. The year we saw clearly. The year we attained our goals.

None of us ever imagined there’d be a pandemic that would wreak havoc in our lives. That would destroy our normal, and bring our active lives to a grinding halt – and yet, that’s exactly what happened.

None of us imagined a Presidential race, and other political races, that were so close that it was days before we knew who won, and even when the winner was called, many didn’t accept the tally… And as of this writing, controversy surrounds us.

The pandemic seems to have picked up steam, and the number of cases and deaths are rising.

The last two months of 2020 apparently will be as crazy as the rest of it has been.

So, we’re left with two options: 1) see only the negative and be miserable; 2) see past the negative and be happy.

My blooming cactus, the beautiful birds in my yard, my grandchildren’s love, my God’s Word – I choose option 2.

I’m grateful for the Peace within my soul and the beauty in my life that make the negative and bad things bearable.

I pray y’all see past the horrors of 2020, and embrace the beauty and the Peace – in spite of it all.

Until next time…