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…

Weed-eating Isn’t Just Yard Work

The above is a picture of the weed-eating tools I use to edge my driveway and my walkway. My husband and I share the yard work, and since my “thing” is a manicured driveway and walkway, that is my job. This blog began to take shape in my heart recently, as I was accomplishing this task on a very hot summer day in Georgia – they don’t call it HOTlanta for nothing!

I was ridding the driveway and the walkway of the weeds and running grass that constantly invade them, when it occurred to me that these aren’t the only weeds and running grass that I should be tending. My life is full of invasive “weeds and running grass” with every unkind thought, unkind word, unkind attitude, or unkind deed that I have. I’m sure most of you can relate.

Just as our driveways and our walkways need weed-eating, so do our lives. Below is a picture of the main tool I use for weed-eating in my life:

Delving into God’s Holy Word, reading it, embracing what we learn, and living it out, rids our lives of the “weeds and running grass” that diminish our witness and the role we are to play in God’s kingdom.

The Holy Word of God is as relevant today as it was when it was inspired by God to those who penned the words centuries ago.

Here is the finished product of my yard work:

Notice that even though the edges around both the driveway and the walkway are cleaned up, there are still cracks in both of them. The same is true for us. Even though we read God’s Holy Word, and try our best to live in His will, we will still make mistakes and we won’t be perfect.

So grab a cup of coffee, a glass of ice tea, or a glass of wine, and curl up with God’s Holy Word, the Bible! It’s the best weed-eater for human consumption.

See you next time…

 

Real Wine, Rye Toast, and Jammies

I’ve been in church since I was two weeks old. Until 1997, I’d been a member of several Southern Baptist churches in the various cities I’d lived. In 1997 I jumped ship to the United Methodist Church.

Communion (or the Lord’s Supper in some circles) is one of the most sacred times in the life of a Christian.

It is a time to reflect on the ultimate gift of Jesus Christ – His life. On the night He was betrayed He broke bread with His 12 apostles. Many refer to that as the Last Supper.

Accounts of this meal can be found in three of the Gospels – Mathew, Mark, and Luke. My favorite is Luke’s account in Chapter 22:19-20 (NIV)

19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. 

Regardless of what Christian denomination you attend, you will hear words similar to Luke’s account during the Communion service.

The bread always represents the body of Christ, and the juice (usually grape juice; however, some churches use real wine) represents the blood of Christ.

At the Baptist churches I attended, the bread was usually in the form of wafers, and was passed around on a plate, up and down each pew, similar to the way offering plates are passed. Instead of putting money in, you took a wafer out. Once everyone had received a wafer, the minister would say “the body of Christ given for you”, and we would all eat our wafer. Likewise, the juice was placed in tiny glasses (smaller than shot glasses) that fit into a special tray with little openings just big enough for the glass to be secured in place. These containers were also passed up and down each pew, and again we each took our tiny glass of juice. Once everyone had received their glass, the minister would say “the blood of Christ shed for you, drink ye all of it”.

The Methodist church I attend, as well as Episcopal and Presbyterian churches I’ve visited, use a method called “intinction”. Several servers stand in groups of two, down at the front of the sanctuary at the end of each aisle. The first one holds the bread and the other holds the juice goblet. Ushers direct the flow of traffic. As you receive your piece of bread, that server says, “the body of Christ given for you”. You then dip your bread into the goblet of juice, and that server says, “the blood of Christ shed for you”.

The very first time I partook of Communion in my current church, the minister happened to be at the end of the aisle that I was in. As I received my bread, he said, “the body of Christ given for you, Debi”. Hearing my name took my breath away, and I have never forgotten that. Each and every time since, I hear that pastor’s words using MY NAME, as I partake of Communion.

COVID19 has wreaked havoc on our daily lives, including our church attendance. As I write this, my husband and I have not been in a church building for services in over six months. Our church streams services on their Facebook page and via You Tube.

Communion is different as well. Rather than what we’re used to, Matthew and I have been using real wine and rye toast for our Communion service. Many times we’re in our jammies. Some may think that is sacrilegious, but we don’t. God accepts us as we are, where we are. What matters is our hearts. Each and every time I hear the words “Christ body given for you, Debi”, and it takes my breath away.

Too many times, people get caught up in the details, and forget totally what it’s all about – God and His love for us. So much so, that He gave His only Son to die for us.

So, until the coast is clear of COVID19, and it is again safe to worship God within the church building, Matthew and I will continue to worship Him and commune with Him with real wine, rye toast, and in our jammies.

See you next time…