I Can’t

When I Can’t

There are days.  You have them.  I have them.  I know my concerns are minimal.  Still. Days when the illnesses and death in the congregation, in our circle of friends, in the news, just hurt.  The seemingly never ending sorrows of injustice and hate pour out like poison from every corner.  When evil puts on work boots and tromps into towns already broken from poverty, injustice, fear, isolation… seems like there is such cosmic unrest that nothing will assuage it.  I can’t.

This “I can’t” litany goes beyond mind and body.  It hits the soul. Hard.  I am tired.  Very tired.  I suspect that you are too.  Tired of constrictions on how to go to the store, tired of the sense of helplessness that comes from such destruction of life borne from racial divides.  Tired is where evil would like to keep us.  In a state of hopelessness.  Anger.  Disappointment. Fear. Weary of the ways that reveal the horrible, sinful worst in us. Selfishness, greed, hoarding, denial, soulless killing.  

Maybe like me, you acknowledge our failures as society, and do your best to keep on keeping on.  Because we do what we have to do.  Maybe you smooth over this knowledge with determination and fiercely fight forward.  But even then.  There are days.

I confess, this morning is one of those days.  I need, we need rest. Rest from the whole “ball of wax”. And who has one of those? What a strange expression!

I can tell you, that when I can’t, there is one solace that I can reach out for, sit into and find what I need.  God.  God’s word. The Psalms has become a go to for me to get in touch with the soul work I need to express.  When words are not enough.  When we are bent over with any and all the complicated human feelings that make us unique, individual and real.  I pick up the Bible and read until I find myself.  Flipping through the pages, starting to read …  nope, that’s not it, no, no, and YES!  There it is.  The ancient words come at me like a rush of roaring water.  Demanding I stand into the truth.  I can bring all, I mean all. every single part of me before God.  Psalms is a gateway to move spiritually towards God.  When I can’t, God can.

God can understand the darkest parts of us, the parts we can’t even articulate.  God shines light on the true pain that grinds us down, shifting the language of our mind to the language of truth.  The Holy Spirit brings insights, understandings to our questions and fears.  The awareness of words written well before our time, can erase boundaries of expectations for myself, for our society.  Revelations of how I have done, like society, and stopped letting the words of God inhabit my actions, allowed confessions go unspoken, reconciliation become what we deem “unnecessary” until our soul is full to the brim with unrest. Peace is a place where I can’t, we can’t, find our way to that sacred ground. 

Without God.  Without addressing every little part of that which is me, and lifting it up to be examined by God. These examinations are easily dismissed because they require our full attention.  Excuses and reasonings allow us to skip this important spiritual work. I don’t have time…. oh the hours that I occupy with so many “important” things.  The hours wasted listening to news, repeating over and over the failings of humanity.  The time of mindless entertainment that is our way of resting, that leave our minds on a spinning wheel.  You know, like the ones we bought for our pet gerbils? We put the wheel in their cage. For exercise. To distract them from their circumstance of confinement, their dependence on our beneficence for food, water and safety.  Are we on a wheel that provides only distraction, not resolution to our state of soul?  

I don’t know about you, but when I feel like the landscape of life is circling around and around, when I can’t see where I am going, when I can’t believe in others good will, when I can’t lift one foot before the other, I have one “can do”.

Stop. Get off the wheel.

Wait upon the Lord.  Read words of the Psalms that bring me to my knees with truth, and begin to lift up the scattered pieces of my soul for God to touch.  To hold, to bind together what is broken in me.  To let me say and feel and pray and wait until God is done with me.  Done so that the litany of my heart changes.  The soul which said, “I can’t” begins to say a welcome phrase that allows me to begin again.  With hope. With faith. With confidence in the Lord, not in my own abilities.  With the banner of love that patches up the tears and jagged edges of the soul with balm that heals and makes right.

Right with the Lord, by God’s grace and mercy. Then I say, “With God, I can.  With God I will.”

It might take some time, maybe as much as we have spent on other things in a day. Assuredly, I say that that the time spent with the Lord is the way to find truth, to reseat priorities on what God is about. before we absorb what the world is about. 

Do not be discouraged, for God is with us.  God understands our days, nights and words that speak of our state and pours new mercies, new graces into our life.  God can. On that I can live.  I pray you will let God take you by the hand, by the heart and give you all you need for this day, every day.  We can change the world, when we let God lead.  

I am praying for you, I love you and God can when we can’t.  Always.

Pastor Lisa 

“Waymaker” 
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Morning Prayer

I wrote this 15 days ago, and posted on my personal Facebook page.  I have received requests for sharing and responses that the words expressed what others are feeling.  Today I offer this again, for I believe any change begins within us, by the grace of God. Use this as you will, pray with me for our love of God to lead us to change, within and without.  I love you, I am praying for you.  God desires good for humankind.  Pastor Lisa

A Prayer for the Morning

 

On a morning when we should wake with heavy hearts for injustice,

   the heart has found new weight

Those who speak for justice are weary of the fight.

Today the words and righteous anger of an honorable protest 

   turned into ash,

Some giving over to rage, letting leash the work of evil,

  Destructing, creating chaos, taking what was not offered.

As the few took over a gathering

  meant to set our souls aright.

 

Lord let us pray that we will remain strong in our commitment

 To love, show grace, to rise above the evil and remain ever for the good.

 

Souls need hope, souls need strength, 

Minds need shaping, minds need purpose.

Bodies need action, bodies need safety.

Our souls, minds, and bodies need Your holding and healing, Lord.

 

Speak to our spirit, bringing courage to believe.

Trusting Your way is greater, worth the struggle, and fight within.

Win our souls with hope and faith, knowing You have all we need.

You can be triumphant over the power that worked in the night.

When we live less of us, more of You. 

 

Show us the way through our sorrows and pain to bring hope and peace within.

 

You who created, who gives good and wisdom, 

Corrects and gives measure to our failings,

Allow us to see our own ways of sin, and bring us back to Your light.

In our healing, may we experience such grace 

  that Your own mercy shall become our deepest work in the world.

 

We all stand in the need of Your grace.

We desire to bring peace by showing peace.

As Christ suffered, so we suffer.  Not in anger. Not in destruction, 

But praying for our enemies, doing no harm.

Giving grace in the face of anger, seeking God’s compassion for the broken.
 

For surely, God who loves and forgives our failures, calls us to do the same. Forgive us Lord we pray.  More of Christ, less of us.  Show us the way and may we follow.

In Your mercy, hear our prayer.

Amen.

Rev. Lisa Dempsey, 5-30-20

“More of You, Less of Me” by Brandon Holt
Light a candle, listen to the words, and may we embrace more of God together.
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Thinking

Thinking

We all are blessed to have the capacity to think.  Sometimes our mind is full up with plans, ideas, thoughts of the day before us.  Sometimes our mind is preoccupied with the past, of what was, how it happened, where things went right or wrong.  There are days when we are able to be fully present in the moment, taking rest in the beauty of a blue sky day, the birds singing, the quiet of dusk.  

Today as you read this, I will be traveling to be part of a small group of people who are grieving the loss of husband, father, brother, and that is about it.  Size wise, I mean. The group will necessarily be kept small, due to the pandemic.  It is humbling to speak into these sacred moments of home-going. I always struggle for the right words, the right scripture, the best offering for comfort and love that can be given.  I know there is nothing said that will really soothe the hurt.  I trust the Lord will inhabit what is said and speak through the Holy Spirit the grace needed for that time.

I have been privileged to take part in a number of funerals.  One that remains strong in my memory is the funeral of Carson Smith, a member of Harmony Grove.  Carson was part of the team that flew into France to prepare the way for the invasion of Normandy.  He was a slight man, kind in speech, and humble in his way of being.  You would never know that he strapped on deadly loads of explosives and parachuted behind enemy lines, destroying bridges to stop the advance of the enemy as troupes landed on the beaches of Normandy.  They made a movie about he and his team called “Band of Brothers”.  What I still see, clear as day, was the Sunday that he processed the American flag into worship.  His arms shook, his face was as stone, as he moved to the front.  The emotion the faith community felt allowed for the depth of memories Carson carried with our flag to the altar.  His graveside had a real gun salute, and a flag draped his coffin.  Taps closed us.  An honorable life laid to rest.

There have been others that have been less… stately you might say.  One funeral had a family gathered in the chapel for last words.  The time came for the funeral usher to play the chosen song.  It started, and stopped.  Wrong song.  An awkward moment passed, and the song began again.  Wrong.  Rustling in the family pews, a man stalked to the back.  Words, no music.  I apologized and moved on.  I thought it was done.  I rode to the graveside in the hearse, and after the committal, returned to the car and waited.  I heard voices, and saw the same man angrily letting the funeral home representative “have it”.  For a moment it looked like there may be some fisticuffs… but the gentleman in charge walked away.  He got in the drivers seat and said, “he was the one that gave me the CD.  He marked it wrong, and still felt we were at fault.”.  Grief causes us to make mistakes. Our mind is all over the place.  I always wonder if the family moved on from that moment, or if the music incident remains the strongest memory of that day.  I pray not. Moments like these stick with you.

Other funerals in the rain, funerals that mark the passing of lives well lived, lives that were cut short, lives that should have been longer.  We have all likely either attended or been part of home-going rites.  Where am I going with this?  Not to be morbid, but to say, death is part of life.  We live most of our lives focused on living, not dying.  That is alright with me. I believe God wants us to live fully.  However, let us not forget that we have an end.  We will one day be absent in body, and others will struggle with our death.  Just as we seek to give comfort now to others, one day your friends and family will be seeking for solace, in words, in others’ presence, in a community of faith, and most of all, with God present through the Holy Spirit.

Maybe here is where I should tell you to have your “affairs” in order.  Talk through what you want, write it down, preplan your funeral, maybe even pay for it.  I am not saying that, though it is good and kind advice for the family you leave behind.  What I will say, is hard, true and the most pastoral thing I can offer.

Scripture says it best. Remember the bridesmaids charged with greeting the bridegroom to the celebration?  There were those who made their oil lamps ready to light his way and there were those who didn’t prepare their lamps.  The ones unprepared were left out of the celebration. Jesus said to the ones asking to be let into the celebration, “Truly I tell you, I do not know you. Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”.  Matthew 25: 12-13.

In my call to serve Christ, I have always felt the press to speak love, share Christ with words of mercy and grace.  My deep desire is for others to come to Christ, not in fear but in thankful praise, for our salvation given freely by Jesus Christ.  Yet Christ, the bridegroom, also spoke of being prepared to meet our Savior.  We all will die.  The question is, are we ready?  

Ready means accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord.  Confessing by faith that you believe in Him, that you believe in God, and the Holy Spirit.  Resting in His grace for your shortcomings and failures, being prepared means you examine your life and ask for forgiveness and live daily more like Christ, in love with God and one another.  

When our time comes, may we be confident in the Lord to greet us.  May our last breath here be but the first breath of eternal life with God.  May the meditations and thoughts of my heart be a witness for Jesus Christ and for His glory.

I love you enough to say, be prepared, and I pray you have assurance of your salvation by faith.  God loves you.

Pastor Lisa

 

 
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Searching

Searching

Listening, reading, waiting.  What would God have us think upon, open up for reflection, examination, and formation?

I don’t know, but I know God has something.  Something that is given for us this day to engage in to deepen our faith, work out our salvation, respond in faith to move closer to God.  

Paul often fills spots that no one else can, so turning to Hebrews 2:1, he writes his beloved community, “Therefore we must pay greater attention to what we have heard so that we do not drift away from it.” Paul goes on to describe what Jesus did for us, how he suffered and died to bring us into a relationship of trust.  That we will trust in Him for he came to be like us, suffering with us, coming to know what we suffer, and able to help us in those times.  

Later he says, “Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession.  For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin.  Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4: 14-16

I find great confidence in the words of scripture.  These words provide what is true for us, now and anytime.  I am troubled, grieving, at a loss for these long hard days of humanity in crisis.  Pandemics, politics, natural disasters in countries, social disasters in our country.  It can be overwhelming.  These on top of the broad look, we each are impacted in various ways.  We may be questioning the decisions of leaders or questioning our own decisions.  Nothing seems sure, pat for us.  

I like the word that Paul used in the first scripture, “drift away”.  It describes how we may find ourselves further from God than we were.  This drift is not intentional.  From small incidents to life-altering circumstances, our center can shift.  Not purposely, but realistically, we can easily get physically, emotionally invested towards attending to a circumstance.  Our spiritual care seems to lose place as we respond.

Paul reminds us that our spiritual home, our soul, is a vital piece of our make up.  Our soul must be tended to.  By that care, we are given the ability to face all things that come our way.  We are reminded that our soul care, whatever the circumstance, is provided by Jesus Christ, who understands our struggles, who has been “tested” and can meet us where we are.  We will find all we need to come through any event of life, finding “mercy and grace to help in time of need”.

What God does for us, we can not do for ourselves.  Searching, seeking, troubled, questioning, Christ has been there before we have.  There is no shame, no fear in coming as we are to receive what Jesus Christ offers.  Reconciliation, consolation, mercy, grace.  The list is endless.  Just as the love of God is.

Today, may we rest in the sure promises of God, for God is sufficient for all our needs.  Nowhere else will that be true.  Rest. Receive.  Anchor your soul in the knowledge of Jesus and hold fast.  The wind and waves will shake the soul but hold fast to what you have heard.  

Every day, you are loved and treasured by your Creator.  You are His own child, precious and sacred.  In receiving such love, may we take it into the world, showing such holy love to all we meet.  

This is such good news to hear!  In God’s strength, we can do all things. I love you, am praying for you, and trust in God alone.

Pastor Lisa

“In Christ Alone”.  Celtic Worship.  Courage dear brothers and sisters, for God is with us!
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Wordless

Wordless

 

The events of the last few weeks with unwarranted death, protests that evolve into riots, compiled with the coronavirus, mixed in with the general issues of economic impacts on large and small companies, families leave me wordless. I don’t know where to start.  

I am trying to say, wish I could say. something that would stop the pain, the anger, the fear, the selfishness.  All the unsettled feelings we are having for whatever reason.  I am not able to hold all these feelings.  I tend to pull away when things get so heavy, like these days. It takes time to come into the peace that has been disrupted.

We don’t heal easily.  Some scars remain.  Some look like they are gone, but underneath the shame, sorrow, feelings of all sorts remain.  Like an infection, by remaining, it begins to fester, cause pain, and eventually, it must be tended to.  I could be talking about me or about you.  Or about the stranger we don’t understand.

Into the wordless place is where I find Christ.  Silence is God’s best place of revelation.  In the quiet, words that are not my own show-up.  Questions that I would not ask come racing into the confusion.  Promises of God shout over the chaos.  One word remains.  Love.

We think we love.  God re-writes the love we cultivate around the people we love, the things we love to do, the places that make us feel comfortable, the rhythms of life that can be swept away without a moment’s notice.

Love in these times, all the time, but especially right now, is not meant to be sequestered, held close, guarded with fear, protected by assaults of any kind.  Love is created to build upon itself.  Feed on the hope that resides with love.  Multiply with the watering of mercy and grace, bring new fields of respect, compassion, and forgiveness.  If done on our own volition love will wither and die.  Love in the hands and heart of God will prevail.  

It begins by loving ourselves because God loved us first.  No quantifiers, no righteousness proved.  God loved us in spite of our sin, sending Jesus Christ to assure us of a relationship built on faith alone.  Such great love.

Most of us spend a lifetime working on loving ourselves.  If you listen to the words of the “world” you will never love self.  If we don’t love ourselves, how can we love others?  Spiritual growth is at hand, my friends.  We can’t be love for others if we don’t love God and self.  That holy work involves faith, confession, repentance, and acceptance that God is gracious and will forgive our sins. Sounds like it hurts, and maybe being real with God about ourselves does hurt.  But the pain is lifted by God. No longer bound by our shame or spending time covering up past failures and shortcomings, we are freed from the very things that prevent us from loving well.

Somehow wordless has evolved to many words.  Just as the page has become filled, God opens us up to a new vision, a fresh sense of hope, a strength to move forward, fed by the love and mercy of God.  God’s unending energy supplies us for the wordless day.  Not so much physical, but spiritual assurance that carries and holds us in ready to act in love. Speak in love. 

Remember the song, “What the World needs Now”? It’s not a hymn, but the words fit.  

Spend some time listening to God, being open to the love God is waiting to give you in overflowing measure.  Listen to the song, pray, and let us be the love the world needs.  

I love you, I am praying for you and for our world.  God loves you.

Pastor Lisa

“‘Which commandment is the first of all?’ Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”Mark 12: 28b-31

 

Dionne Warwick sang “What the World Needs Now” in 1966.  This latest version was done one year ago.  The words still ring true. What we need is love.  May we contribute to the love out of God’s overflowing love for us.
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Routines

Routines

Everyone has one, even babies!  Things that are set into place to help us feel grounded, in order.  Without routines, we wander, lose awareness of what is important for our mental, physical, and emotional life.  Loss of routine affects all of these parts of us – and as we are finding, it affects us spiritually.

We develop routines that surround us with comfort, assurance of place, and for some, a particular routine can become “base”.  The place that we can go to for a reset of all the other parts of life.  By now, I hope are you beginning to identify the particular base you routinely take part in that brings comfort, peace.  Our base routine provides a sense of being filled to a measure of wholeness, preparing us for the days to come.

Right now, we all are looking to replace empty spaces of routines that have had to change due to our “sheltering in”.  It may be that you are not in the category of at-risk, so your routines have not had to change.  However, the ripple in the pond, the changes made for some affect a wide circle of others.  Worship and gatherings are my biggest change.  The regularity of worship and being together as a community is a routine that Jack and I have chosen as base.  

We have a choice these days to reset our base or remain baseless, empty, wandering, and looking for that safe place to re-fuel our soul. Once we have tasted of the connection to God in a certain way, we begin to believe that it is the best, only way to do so.  It’s human to think that we know the way and hold on to that routine.  

However, being set in our ways is not the way of God.  First, the obvious thing is the use of “our”.  Finding true worship is not about us, but about unseating all of us to be fully turned to God to worship.  In fully worshipping God with heart, mind, and soul we are moved out of ourselves to be joined in never-ending worship that continues all times and all places.  It seems to me, that as we empty our self to worship in praise and joy, that is how God comes to fill us up.  

Our routines for worship have given us space and place to know God and be filled.  However, like the Israelites in Exodus or later with the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, followers had to learn how to worship away from the temple, without many of the structures that surrounded worship. They learned as we are learning, that we have become dependent on structures more that we should.  There, I have said it.  Perhaps, just maybe we have let our routines become our god, our regular ways, our tools, and structures sublimate our full engagement of worship.  This is dangerous territory. It might step on our toes, get our hackles up, and if so, perhaps that is the revelation for us.

If worship is in the beginnings of change for the good and safety of our community could not God be in the midst?  Facing into stripped-down worship with routines out the window puts us firmly in the position to examine what IS pleasing to God.  What does God desire from us?  From Old Testament to New Testament, words clarify that God desires our worship to be centered on the Holy God who was and is unchanging, faithful, and full of mercy.  The destruction of the temple made real for the people of God that God does not need a place, nor should we become enamored of a place of worship, or song or dance to bring us to worship.  

God is pleased when we come open, seeking, and worshipping the fullness of God.  Creator, Redeemer, Savior.  All in all.  No matter the place, circumstances, or expectations for what we want, we release all our routines to be freely ready to embrace God in praise, wonder, humility, and joy.  More of Him, less of us.

Routines bring comfort, security.  More than any routine, may we discover that God is our center.  We can find comfort, assurance, and direction for our days when we pray, worship, give over to God all our holdings.  God meets us where we are no matter whether it is in the humble chair we sit in at home and pray, or as we dig in the dirt or walk outside, the presence of God does come.  

Be open. Trust in the Lord to join us alone and as we gather, to provide and fill us to be God’s people. In strength and hope, we go forward to embrace whatever ways open to us, for God desires our hearts and gives to the seeker.  Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

I love you, am praying for you, and worship our Lord in spirit with you.

Pastor Lisa

“Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come before him. Worship the Lord in holy splendor; tremble before him, all the earth. The world is firmly established; it shall never be moved. Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice, and let them say among the nations, “The Lord is king!” Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it. Then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth. O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever.”  1 Chronicles 16: 28-34

“Here I am to Worship” by Chris Tomlin. Take a moment to listen and worship our amazing God!
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I Can’t

When I Can’t

There are days.  You have them.  I have them.  I know my concerns are minimal.  Still. Days when the illnesses and death in the congregation, in our circle of friends, in the news, just hurt.  The seemingly never ending sorrows of injustice and hate pour out like poison from every corner.  When evil puts on work boots and tromps into towns already broken from poverty, injustice, fear, isolation… seems like there is such cosmic unrest that nothing will assuage it.  I can’t.

This “I can’t” litany goes beyond mind and body.  It hits the soul. Hard.  I am tired.  Very tired.  I suspect that you are too.  Tired of constrictions on how to go to the store, tired of the sense of helplessness that comes from such destruction of life borne from racial divides.  Tired is where evil would like to keep us.  In a state of hopelessness.  Anger.  Disappointment. Fear. Weary of the ways that reveal the horrible, sinful worst in us. Selfishness, greed, hoarding, denial, soulless killing.  

Maybe like me, you acknowledge our failures as society, and do your best to keep on keeping on.  Because we do what we have to do.  Maybe you smooth over this knowledge with determination and fiercely fight forward.  But even then.  There are days.

I confess, this morning is one of those days.  I need, we need rest. Rest from the whole “ball of wax”. And who has one of those? What a strange expression!

I can tell you, that when I can’t, there is one solace that I can reach out for, sit into and find what I need.  God.  God’s word. The Psalms has become a go to for me to get in touch with the soul work I need to express.  When words are not enough.  When we are bent over with any and all the complicated human feelings that make us unique, individual and real.  I pick up the Bible and read until I find myself.  Flipping through the pages, starting to read …  nope, that’s not it, no, no, and YES!  There it is.  The ancient words come at me like a rush of roaring water.  Demanding I stand into the truth.  I can bring all, I mean all. every single part of me before God.  Psalms is a gateway to move spiritually towards God.  When I can’t, God can.

God can understand the darkest parts of us, the parts we can’t even articulate.  God shines light on the true pain that grinds us down, shifting the language of our mind to the language of truth.  The Holy Spirit brings insights, understandings to our questions and fears.  The awareness of words written well before our time, can erase boundaries of expectations for myself, for our society.  Revelations of how I have done, like society, and stopped letting the words of God inhabit my actions, allowed confessions go unspoken, reconciliation become what we deem “unnecessary” until our soul is full to the brim with unrest. Peace is a place where I can’t, we can’t, find our way to that sacred ground. 

Without God.  Without addressing every little part of that which is me, and lifting it up to be examined by God. These examinations are easily dismissed because they require our full attention.  Excuses and reasonings allow us to skip this important spiritual work. I don’t have time…. oh the hours that I occupy with so many “important” things.  The hours wasted listening to news, repeating over and over the failings of humanity.  The time of mindless entertainment that is our way of resting, that leave our minds on a spinning wheel.  You know, like the ones we bought for our pet gerbils? We put the wheel in their cage. For exercise. To distract them from their circumstance of confinement, their dependence on our beneficence for food, water and safety.  Are we on a wheel that provides only distraction, not resolution to our state of soul?  

I don’t know about you, but when I feel like the landscape of life is circling around and around, when I can’t see where I am going, when I can’t believe in others good will, when I can’t lift one foot before the other, I have one “can do”.

Stop. Get off the wheel.

Wait upon the Lord.  Read words of the Psalms that bring me to my knees with truth, and begin to lift up the scattered pieces of my soul for God to touch.  To hold, to bind together what is broken in me.  To let me say and feel and pray and wait until God is done with me.  Done so that the litany of my heart changes.  The soul which said, “I can’t” begins to say a welcome phrase that allows me to begin again.  With hope. With faith. With confidence in the Lord, not in my own abilities.  With the banner of love that patches up the tears and jagged edges of the soul with balm that heals and makes right.

Right with the Lord, by God’s grace and mercy. Then I say, “With God, I can.  With God I will.”

It might take some time, maybe as much as we have spent on other things in a day. Assuredly, I say that that the time spent with the Lord is the way to find truth, to reseat priorities on what God is about. before we absorb what the world is about. 

Do not be discouraged, for God is with us.  God understands our days, nights and words that speak of our state and pours new mercies, new graces into our life.  God can. On that I can live.  I pray you will let God take you by the hand, by the heart and give you all you need for this day, every day.  We can change the world, when we let God lead.  

I am praying for you, I love you and God can when we can’t.  Always.

Pastor Lisa 

“Waymaker” 
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Morning Prayer

I wrote this 15 days ago, and posted on my personal Facebook page.  I have received requests for sharing and responses that the words expressed what others are feeling.  Today I offer this again, for I believe any change begins within us, by the grace of God. Use this as you will, pray with me for our love of God to lead us to change, within and without.  I love you, I am praying for you.  God desires good for humankind.  Pastor Lisa

A Prayer for the Morning

 

On a morning when we should wake with heavy hearts for injustice,

   the heart has found new weight

Those who speak for justice are weary of the fight.

Today the words and righteous anger of an honorable protest 

   turned into ash,

Some giving over to rage, letting leash the work of evil,

  Destructing, creating chaos, taking what was not offered.

As the few took over a gathering

  meant to set our souls aright.

 

Lord let us pray that we will remain strong in our commitment

 To love, show grace, to rise above the evil and remain ever for the good.

 

Souls need hope, souls need strength, 

Minds need shaping, minds need purpose.

Bodies need action, bodies need safety.

Our souls, minds, and bodies need Your holding and healing, Lord.

 

Speak to our spirit, bringing courage to believe.

Trusting Your way is greater, worth the struggle, and fight within.

Win our souls with hope and faith, knowing You have all we need.

You can be triumphant over the power that worked in the night.

When we live less of us, more of You. 

 

Show us the way through our sorrows and pain to bring hope and peace within.

 

You who created, who gives good and wisdom, 

Corrects and gives measure to our failings,

Allow us to see our own ways of sin, and bring us back to Your light.

In our healing, may we experience such grace 

  that Your own mercy shall become our deepest work in the world.

 

We all stand in the need of Your grace.

We desire to bring peace by showing peace.

As Christ suffered, so we suffer.  Not in anger. Not in destruction, 

But praying for our enemies, doing no harm.

Giving grace in the face of anger, seeking God’s compassion for the broken.
 

For surely, God who loves and forgives our failures, calls us to do the same. Forgive us Lord we pray.  More of Christ, less of us.  Show us the way and may we follow.

In Your mercy, hear our prayer.

Amen.

Rev. Lisa Dempsey, 5-30-20

“More of You, Less of Me” by Brandon Holt
Light a candle, listen to the words, and may we embrace more of God together.
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Thinking

Thinking

We all are blessed to have the capacity to think.  Sometimes our mind is full up with plans, ideas, thoughts of the day before us.  Sometimes our mind is preoccupied with the past, of what was, how it happened, where things went right or wrong.  There are days when we are able to be fully present in the moment, taking rest in the beauty of a blue sky day, the birds singing, the quiet of dusk.  

Today as you read this, I will be traveling to be part of a small group of people who are grieving the loss of husband, father, brother, and that is about it.  Size wise, I mean. The group will necessarily be kept small, due to the pandemic.  It is humbling to speak into these sacred moments of home-going. I always struggle for the right words, the right scripture, the best offering for comfort and love that can be given.  I know there is nothing said that will really soothe the hurt.  I trust the Lord will inhabit what is said and speak through the Holy Spirit the grace needed for that time.

I have been privileged to take part in a number of funerals.  One that remains strong in my memory is the funeral of Carson Smith, a member of Harmony Grove.  Carson was part of the team that flew into France to prepare the way for the invasion of Normandy.  He was a slight man, kind in speech, and humble in his way of being.  You would never know that he strapped on deadly loads of explosives and parachuted behind enemy lines, destroying bridges to stop the advance of the enemy as troupes landed on the beaches of Normandy.  They made a movie about he and his team called “Band of Brothers”.  What I still see, clear as day, was the Sunday that he processed the American flag into worship.  His arms shook, his face was as stone, as he moved to the front.  The emotion the faith community felt allowed for the depth of memories Carson carried with our flag to the altar.  His graveside had a real gun salute, and a flag draped his coffin.  Taps closed us.  An honorable life laid to rest.

There have been others that have been less… stately you might say.  One funeral had a family gathered in the chapel for last words.  The time came for the funeral usher to play the chosen song.  It started, and stopped.  Wrong song.  An awkward moment passed, and the song began again.  Wrong.  Rustling in the family pews, a man stalked to the back.  Words, no music.  I apologized and moved on.  I thought it was done.  I rode to the graveside in the hearse, and after the committal, returned to the car and waited.  I heard voices, and saw the same man angrily letting the funeral home representative “have it”.  For a moment it looked like there may be some fisticuffs… but the gentleman in charge walked away.  He got in the drivers seat and said, “he was the one that gave me the CD.  He marked it wrong, and still felt we were at fault.”.  Grief causes us to make mistakes. Our mind is all over the place.  I always wonder if the family moved on from that moment, or if the music incident remains the strongest memory of that day.  I pray not. Moments like these stick with you.

Other funerals in the rain, funerals that mark the passing of lives well lived, lives that were cut short, lives that should have been longer.  We have all likely either attended or been part of home-going rites.  Where am I going with this?  Not to be morbid, but to say, death is part of life.  We live most of our lives focused on living, not dying.  That is alright with me. I believe God wants us to live fully.  However, let us not forget that we have an end.  We will one day be absent in body, and others will struggle with our death.  Just as we seek to give comfort now to others, one day your friends and family will be seeking for solace, in words, in others’ presence, in a community of faith, and most of all, with God present through the Holy Spirit.

Maybe here is where I should tell you to have your “affairs” in order.  Talk through what you want, write it down, preplan your funeral, maybe even pay for it.  I am not saying that, though it is good and kind advice for the family you leave behind.  What I will say, is hard, true and the most pastoral thing I can offer.

Scripture says it best. Remember the bridesmaids charged with greeting the bridegroom to the celebration?  There were those who made their oil lamps ready to light his way and there were those who didn’t prepare their lamps.  The ones unprepared were left out of the celebration. Jesus said to the ones asking to be let into the celebration, “Truly I tell you, I do not know you. Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”.  Matthew 25: 12-13.

In my call to serve Christ, I have always felt the press to speak love, share Christ with words of mercy and grace.  My deep desire is for others to come to Christ, not in fear but in thankful praise, for our salvation given freely by Jesus Christ.  Yet Christ, the bridegroom, also spoke of being prepared to meet our Savior.  We all will die.  The question is, are we ready?  

Ready means accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord.  Confessing by faith that you believe in Him, that you believe in God, and the Holy Spirit.  Resting in His grace for your shortcomings and failures, being prepared means you examine your life and ask for forgiveness and live daily more like Christ, in love with God and one another.  

When our time comes, may we be confident in the Lord to greet us.  May our last breath here be but the first breath of eternal life with God.  May the meditations and thoughts of my heart be a witness for Jesus Christ and for His glory.

I love you enough to say, be prepared, and I pray you have assurance of your salvation by faith.  God loves you.

Pastor Lisa

 

 
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Searching

Searching

Listening, reading, waiting.  What would God have us think upon, open up for reflection, examination, and formation?

I don’t know, but I know God has something.  Something that is given for us this day to engage in to deepen our faith, work out our salvation, respond in faith to move closer to God.  

Paul often fills spots that no one else can, so turning to Hebrews 2:1, he writes his beloved community, “Therefore we must pay greater attention to what we have heard so that we do not drift away from it.” Paul goes on to describe what Jesus did for us, how he suffered and died to bring us into a relationship of trust.  That we will trust in Him for he came to be like us, suffering with us, coming to know what we suffer, and able to help us in those times.  

Later he says, “Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession.  For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin.  Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4: 14-16

I find great confidence in the words of scripture.  These words provide what is true for us, now and anytime.  I am troubled, grieving, at a loss for these long hard days of humanity in crisis.  Pandemics, politics, natural disasters in countries, social disasters in our country.  It can be overwhelming.  These on top of the broad look, we each are impacted in various ways.  We may be questioning the decisions of leaders or questioning our own decisions.  Nothing seems sure, pat for us.  

I like the word that Paul used in the first scripture, “drift away”.  It describes how we may find ourselves further from God than we were.  This drift is not intentional.  From small incidents to life-altering circumstances, our center can shift.  Not purposely, but realistically, we can easily get physically, emotionally invested towards attending to a circumstance.  Our spiritual care seems to lose place as we respond.

Paul reminds us that our spiritual home, our soul, is a vital piece of our make up.  Our soul must be tended to.  By that care, we are given the ability to face all things that come our way.  We are reminded that our soul care, whatever the circumstance, is provided by Jesus Christ, who understands our struggles, who has been “tested” and can meet us where we are.  We will find all we need to come through any event of life, finding “mercy and grace to help in time of need”.

What God does for us, we can not do for ourselves.  Searching, seeking, troubled, questioning, Christ has been there before we have.  There is no shame, no fear in coming as we are to receive what Jesus Christ offers.  Reconciliation, consolation, mercy, grace.  The list is endless.  Just as the love of God is.

Today, may we rest in the sure promises of God, for God is sufficient for all our needs.  Nowhere else will that be true.  Rest. Receive.  Anchor your soul in the knowledge of Jesus and hold fast.  The wind and waves will shake the soul but hold fast to what you have heard.  

Every day, you are loved and treasured by your Creator.  You are His own child, precious and sacred.  In receiving such love, may we take it into the world, showing such holy love to all we meet.  

This is such good news to hear!  In God’s strength, we can do all things. I love you, am praying for you, and trust in God alone.

Pastor Lisa

“In Christ Alone”.  Celtic Worship.  Courage dear brothers and sisters, for God is with us!
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Wordless

Wordless

 

The events of the last few weeks with unwarranted death, protests that evolve into riots, compiled with the coronavirus, mixed in with the general issues of economic impacts on large and small companies, families leave me wordless. I don’t know where to start.  

I am trying to say, wish I could say. something that would stop the pain, the anger, the fear, the selfishness.  All the unsettled feelings we are having for whatever reason.  I am not able to hold all these feelings.  I tend to pull away when things get so heavy, like these days. It takes time to come into the peace that has been disrupted.

We don’t heal easily.  Some scars remain.  Some look like they are gone, but underneath the shame, sorrow, feelings of all sorts remain.  Like an infection, by remaining, it begins to fester, cause pain, and eventually, it must be tended to.  I could be talking about me or about you.  Or about the stranger we don’t understand.

Into the wordless place is where I find Christ.  Silence is God’s best place of revelation.  In the quiet, words that are not my own show-up.  Questions that I would not ask come racing into the confusion.  Promises of God shout over the chaos.  One word remains.  Love.

We think we love.  God re-writes the love we cultivate around the people we love, the things we love to do, the places that make us feel comfortable, the rhythms of life that can be swept away without a moment’s notice.

Love in these times, all the time, but especially right now, is not meant to be sequestered, held close, guarded with fear, protected by assaults of any kind.  Love is created to build upon itself.  Feed on the hope that resides with love.  Multiply with the watering of mercy and grace, bring new fields of respect, compassion, and forgiveness.  If done on our own volition love will wither and die.  Love in the hands and heart of God will prevail.  

It begins by loving ourselves because God loved us first.  No quantifiers, no righteousness proved.  God loved us in spite of our sin, sending Jesus Christ to assure us of a relationship built on faith alone.  Such great love.

Most of us spend a lifetime working on loving ourselves.  If you listen to the words of the “world” you will never love self.  If we don’t love ourselves, how can we love others?  Spiritual growth is at hand, my friends.  We can’t be love for others if we don’t love God and self.  That holy work involves faith, confession, repentance, and acceptance that God is gracious and will forgive our sins. Sounds like it hurts, and maybe being real with God about ourselves does hurt.  But the pain is lifted by God. No longer bound by our shame or spending time covering up past failures and shortcomings, we are freed from the very things that prevent us from loving well.

Somehow wordless has evolved to many words.  Just as the page has become filled, God opens us up to a new vision, a fresh sense of hope, a strength to move forward, fed by the love and mercy of God.  God’s unending energy supplies us for the wordless day.  Not so much physical, but spiritual assurance that carries and holds us in ready to act in love. Speak in love. 

Remember the song, “What the World needs Now”? It’s not a hymn, but the words fit.  

Spend some time listening to God, being open to the love God is waiting to give you in overflowing measure.  Listen to the song, pray, and let us be the love the world needs.  

I love you, I am praying for you and for our world.  God loves you.

Pastor Lisa

“‘Which commandment is the first of all?’ Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”Mark 12: 28b-31

 

Dionne Warwick sang “What the World Needs Now” in 1966.  This latest version was done one year ago.  The words still ring true. What we need is love.  May we contribute to the love out of God’s overflowing love for us.
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Routines

Routines

Everyone has one, even babies!  Things that are set into place to help us feel grounded, in order.  Without routines, we wander, lose awareness of what is important for our mental, physical, and emotional life.  Loss of routine affects all of these parts of us – and as we are finding, it affects us spiritually.

We develop routines that surround us with comfort, assurance of place, and for some, a particular routine can become “base”.  The place that we can go to for a reset of all the other parts of life.  By now, I hope are you beginning to identify the particular base you routinely take part in that brings comfort, peace.  Our base routine provides a sense of being filled to a measure of wholeness, preparing us for the days to come.

Right now, we all are looking to replace empty spaces of routines that have had to change due to our “sheltering in”.  It may be that you are not in the category of at-risk, so your routines have not had to change.  However, the ripple in the pond, the changes made for some affect a wide circle of others.  Worship and gatherings are my biggest change.  The regularity of worship and being together as a community is a routine that Jack and I have chosen as base.  

We have a choice these days to reset our base or remain baseless, empty, wandering, and looking for that safe place to re-fuel our soul. Once we have tasted of the connection to God in a certain way, we begin to believe that it is the best, only way to do so.  It’s human to think that we know the way and hold on to that routine.  

However, being set in our ways is not the way of God.  First, the obvious thing is the use of “our”.  Finding true worship is not about us, but about unseating all of us to be fully turned to God to worship.  In fully worshipping God with heart, mind, and soul we are moved out of ourselves to be joined in never-ending worship that continues all times and all places.  It seems to me, that as we empty our self to worship in praise and joy, that is how God comes to fill us up.  

Our routines for worship have given us space and place to know God and be filled.  However, like the Israelites in Exodus or later with the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, followers had to learn how to worship away from the temple, without many of the structures that surrounded worship. They learned as we are learning, that we have become dependent on structures more that we should.  There, I have said it.  Perhaps, just maybe we have let our routines become our god, our regular ways, our tools, and structures sublimate our full engagement of worship.  This is dangerous territory. It might step on our toes, get our hackles up, and if so, perhaps that is the revelation for us.

If worship is in the beginnings of change for the good and safety of our community could not God be in the midst?  Facing into stripped-down worship with routines out the window puts us firmly in the position to examine what IS pleasing to God.  What does God desire from us?  From Old Testament to New Testament, words clarify that God desires our worship to be centered on the Holy God who was and is unchanging, faithful, and full of mercy.  The destruction of the temple made real for the people of God that God does not need a place, nor should we become enamored of a place of worship, or song or dance to bring us to worship.  

God is pleased when we come open, seeking, and worshipping the fullness of God.  Creator, Redeemer, Savior.  All in all.  No matter the place, circumstances, or expectations for what we want, we release all our routines to be freely ready to embrace God in praise, wonder, humility, and joy.  More of Him, less of us.

Routines bring comfort, security.  More than any routine, may we discover that God is our center.  We can find comfort, assurance, and direction for our days when we pray, worship, give over to God all our holdings.  God meets us where we are no matter whether it is in the humble chair we sit in at home and pray, or as we dig in the dirt or walk outside, the presence of God does come.  

Be open. Trust in the Lord to join us alone and as we gather, to provide and fill us to be God’s people. In strength and hope, we go forward to embrace whatever ways open to us, for God desires our hearts and gives to the seeker.  Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

I love you, am praying for you, and worship our Lord in spirit with you.

Pastor Lisa

“Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come before him. Worship the Lord in holy splendor; tremble before him, all the earth. The world is firmly established; it shall never be moved. Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice, and let them say among the nations, “The Lord is king!” Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it. Then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth. O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever.”  1 Chronicles 16: 28-34

“Here I am to Worship” by Chris Tomlin. Take a moment to listen and worship our amazing God!
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