Big Poppa

https://twitter.com/RaeElle/status/1252771823864995841?s=20

Big Poppa

A picture that needs no words.  

Big Poppa is sad.  He spends his days looking for visitors. A low whine says, please take me down to the children I see playing with a ball.  

This picture went viral in one day for good reason.  This sweet puppy expresses our own discontent with “sheltering in”.  There are even some rolls around his waist that might have been earned in the last month due to lack of exercise.  Bless his little puppy heart, it is so hard to say no to such a forlorn, dejected picture of despair.  

We have other more descriptive words for this state of dejection:  depression, loneliness, a longing for what one can not have.  To a dog, the only thing he knows is that he can not do what he most enjoys.  Be social.  

Each of us has our own level of social needs.  When we find ourselves sitting in the sun with our head hung low, disinterested in all that is going on around us, its time to sit up and take notice.  Maybe someone near you will see you in this state, or you see someone else that hasn’t moved a muscle to engage in the normal things of life.  Like eating, showering, making a phone call… barking?  

We can all resonate with the picture, its just that we don’t want to live that picture.  It’s ok to say that I am sad.  It’s important that we do!  It’s healthy to stop and examine what is making you sad.  Some of it we can do nothing about.  Some of it is our inner workings of how we cope.  However when you start living on the porch with your back turned to life, its time to call for help. If there is someone in your life who is struggling with this “shelter in” time, tell them you are concerned. Listen and help them identify the challenges.  Encourage them to take small steps to re-enter life in positive ways.  Help someone along.

I am thinking that if I could get Big Poppa’s address, I would send him a surprise package from chewy.com.  I can just imagine his delight in ripping open a box, snuffling through the wrappings and finding a toy and a treat.  It doesn’t take much to make a dog happy!

Since we have hit our 40 day mark or more in this quarantine stuff, how about we do something for someone else today to bring delight, joy, surprise?  It doesn’t take much – any change in routine is a spirit lifter!  I bet you have already thought of someone who needs a lift.  Now, go and do what you can – it doesn’t have to be big.

That’s what it means to love.  Selflessly. Doing for others. I bet you will find that in the doing, your spirits are lifted up too.  The outcome is always more than you expect.    Big Poppa is waiting….

I love you, I am praying for you, God understands our ups and downs, and loves us still.

Pastor Lisa

 

P.S. even though its raining, the birds are singing!

“He said to him, “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” Matthew 22: 37-39

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Peace

Peace

Thank goodness I pressed through the first direction for this day – I thought you might need a good laugh, so I started with a joke. Not mine, but one I found on the internet.  It was ok, but perhaps a bit tasteless to laugh about a …. ok. Never mind.

I give the credit for today’s thoughts to Mozelle Funderburk.  You may remember that I have posted some of her husband’s photography.  David and Mozelle became friends at the first church I served, St. Timothy UMC, while I was in seminary.  Both David and Mozelle had careers at Fernbank Science Center, he as a scientist and she as an artist at Fernbank. She created most of the vignettes of frogs, animals and who knows what with her own two hands.  They are some of the many fascinating people I have been privileged to meet through ministry and still enjoy through Facebook.  All that to say, that Mozelle posted the music you will hear.  I would guess that she intentionally posted it to draw our attention to the fact that it is Earth Day.  

I listened because it was a Gaelic prayer and John Rutter.  Rutter is known for his beautiful musical arrangements and anything Gaelic, Irish, English always gets my attention.  I love the early Irish spirituality for it’s connection to the earth and the deep respect they give to earth and all creatures.  God’s presence was seen in the elements of wind, fire, earth and water. They honored the power of God in daily life as they lived, hunted, traveled the seas, grew crops, and witnessed the seasons of the earth.  

We consider this season of life difficult.  It is.  However, for perspective, life in the early days of Ireland and England were fraught with danger.  There were no lines drawn for countries, more like tribes that fought and took what was desirable if you had the power.  Not only was physical safety from other clans a concern, but the harsh environment made living difficult.  Crops suffered from drought and animals were at the mercy of the treacherous land and animals. I often have thought about how hard it was to survive in these times.  I don’t see how I would have had a long life.  There were no medicines, no hospitals, there were poor health habits and no way to predict and prepare for the storms and weather that could take lives without warning.

And still, when you read the literature and spiritual writings and songs, with the people under great duress to survive, still took time to seek God.  To live a full life included knowing and recognizing the presence of God.  Their inner drive to name, worship, and honor God is profoundly moving.  The Irish sensitivity to Creation and God’s provision for all life is found in the poems and prayers. They made room for God in each day, intentionally naming God with them in the sea, the sun, the dark, and the light.  

Make room for God.  May it be so natural that the very beat of your heart is in time with the movement of life and joy that comes from seeing God’s provision all around you.  The flash of a cardinal, the silence of a quiet night as you gaze at a clear sky and see stars that have burned and glow, the delight in unfolding seasons.  Thanks be to God for the perspective’s found when we see the world though God’s hands of creation.  This day is but a moment in the grand movement of life.  With perspective comes peace.  Peace in knowing and claiming God is known, seen, active and present.  Peace in acknowledging the beautiful arrangement of earth and provision that God has ordained as ours to respect and use for good.  Peace in knowing that we can work to be in harmony each day by the recognition of God’s good plan for the world.  Peace.

May we strive to bring such peace to ourselves so the world might know peace from our Creator.

You are loved, prayed for and a delight to God!

Pastor Lisa

“Deep Peace” A Gaelic Blessing Liberia  –  John Rutter
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Never

Never

Well that was random!  Each morning I change font and size before I write.  I have to type some letters on the page to establish these changes.  Today I thought – “why ABC? Just hit some keys and get started!”. “Never” appeared on the page.  Promise – I didn’t think the word!

So here we are looking at a word that I didn’t cultivate, it was rather dropped in my lap to address.  Sort of like this Corona Virus, the latest Governor Kemp decision to open up businesses when all indications are that this is not the right time.  Never in my life. In yours too?  

Never has it felt so…. aggravating, frustrating, downright at the crossroads of what to do, when to do it, how to do it, and finally just why do it at all?  I guess  “never” has opened up a can of worms. And what a totally weird thing we say to express an unexpected problem – who has ever bought, much less opened a can of worms?  

Don’t even answer that if you have.

We are in some strange times.  Everyone is struggling to understand.  Some are good at stats, so those folks are gathering data and revealing information that helps us see where the virus is most active, where it is leveling off, and who it is affecting most.  These stat’s help us track the real time movement of how the virus is affecting whole cities and the world.  Others are really good at helping us cope with our emotions, our physical and spiritual needs.  They write, offer webinars and help us connect to the reality of our days.  Days of fear, questions, immobility, need for community, loneliness …. you name it, there is someone who can offer support.

Just one aside here. If I had a quarter for every article on “How to Clean…” or “300 Places You Never Clean that We Will Help You Find” or the winner “You Think You have Cleaned? Check Out these Deadly Spots!”, I could hire someone to clean my house. Weekly.  

What has Jesus got to do with this?  Honestly, I have never needed Christ more.  We have all struggled with events and times in our lives.  Some of you have become champions on how to make it through what ever is dropped in your lap.  Your stories have inspired, brought tears and humility to me and others.  Without Jesus, you say, I would never have made it through.  

Jesus is that “extra something” that is always there for you.  Never is a good word to associate with our Savior, Jesus Christ.  He never leaves you, will not depart from you, has gone to the depths of hell for you and extends grace and mercy, forgiveness in measures that astound and heal us. I pray that no matter what circumstance, what ever unexpectedly comes your way, that you never forget how God loves you. 

Words like “always” and “never” can exaggerate things out of proportion.  However, in this case, Never is perfect when it comes to remembering the main thing.  You are not alone, God will never leave you. Never.  Not random at all. Essential.

You are loved, prayed for and because of God’s eternal love, you are never apart from God.

Pastor Lisa

“He alone is my rock and my salvation,

   my fortress; I shall never be shaken.” Psalm 62: 2

God’s Good Promise.  “Your Love Never Fails”
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One

One

“One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do”.  Three Dog Night, 1968.  Good thing I checked my facts – I attributed the song to the Beatles and I remembered the words at the end wrong.  Some of my music friends are shaking their heads now…

One could be lonely, but one can still stand on its own! *weak pandemic humor 

One came on the heels of nothing, believing that it was the better placeholder for numeric communication.  Then two showed up!  I will stop there and get back to the point, which I am sure is to be found one day… 

Oh wait – that was it!  One day.  After reading a few missives of the morning, remembering some of the news and its dual focus of now and soon, and signing up for a webinar to get myself in order for the next “phase” of life: Re-opening the church, I got sorta tired. We have hardly begun to get a grip on this strange experience of functioning under pandemic life when we are now addressing how to come out of pandemic strictures to live again.  Just let me do one day at a time!

And let me add – we are all saying how we might have learned a thing or two about our “former” lives that we say should not be forgotten.  And we mean it too!  With all our heart.  

Can I just say that with all good intentions, how easy it is to let the wisdom be shouted out by the patterns and habits that are deeply ingrained in us?  I know with what I am speaking!  So, knowing me, I hope to do better with this “re-launch” of life together.  In family, in friends, in church, in community. 

This weekend, we had our grandson, Luke, with us.  One of his favorite activities (and there are many!) is to find something that was once his moms. The other day he found an old jewelry chest.  Small, silver turned grey, worn red velvet inside, holding 4 beautiful rocks.  Each stone, polished and unique.  Those stones began to travel in his fist.  We spent time examining them, admiring, looking at the color, shape and size.  Each was a treasure!  And then the inevitable.  One got lost.  We spent quite a bit of time looking, consoling and finally putting the three remaining rocks in a small velvet bag for safe keeping.  

We have so many treasures.  Memories, though faulty, experiences that shape us.  This uniquely singular world experience of pandemic has the potential to profoundly shape us.  Some will come more natural than others.  But what one thing have you learned about yourself, your life, your values that you really want to hold on to?

Before tomorrow becomes today, think on that one thing that holds meaning for you about this time.

Write that one thing down, on your heart. On your mind. On your soul.  Maybe put it in a silvered greyed jewelry box to have it later discovered, this treasure you found in these pandemic days.  That one thing important to you.

That is yours. To have and to hold, for all days to come. No matter the press, no matter the suggestions, adjustments, losses or gains, you have made meaning of all these crazy days, with one significant awareness.  

One more thing – even before you knew Him, Jesus Christ claimed you as his own.  You are the precious one that our Beloved came to live, die and was resurrected for.  The grace of God is always one step ahead of our own understandings.  That makes meaning for life in profound and humbling ways.  One day at a time, yes, one day. Today.  For You.

I love you, and am thankful for this day!  God loves you even more.

Pastor Lisa

Forgive the age (1979) but the words are timeless!  “One Day at a Time”


Update

Update

I don’t know about you, but when I hear the word “Update” I tend to stop and listen. If we miss an update we might miss something of vital importance that has happened in the last 24 hours, or even the last 5 minutes.  We have become so aware of what is happening around us that when the word “Update” is said, we tend to freeze, turn up the volume, quiet the dogs and children and demand silence!

That is okay, its just that this morning I got an update from one of our missionary organizations that Cokes has supported for many years.  Their header was Update. It was clear that I must read it immediately!  The email was bringing information about how they are doing worldwide in this time of pandemic.  I eagerly read the page, seeing their assurances: first, they re-stated their purpose.  To “reach the 3 billion people across the world without access to the Gospel.”  The compelling words that followed resonate in my mind and heart, chasing my consciousness to engage, in saying,  “We feel that our organization was built for circumstances like these.”. 

Wow. Read that again. Built for circumstances like these.  I have not thought about myself in such terms. Have you? I can attest that we have been responsive, thoughtful, kind and kept updates always before us.  However, have we seen the providential hand of God, who is always preparing us for what ever is to come?  I don’t mean that we had a warehouse of toilet paper and dry goods, but that our faith, study, worship and service has been a proving ground for such a time as this.  

Our engagement of faith activities hone our sensibilities to all that God is about.  We have the words and teachings of Jesus that reveal how to face hardship, loss, fear, anxiety, and take on trust, hope and confidence in God alone. We are always under construction, but joyfully so, as we learn the grace, mercy and love of God in every turn.

Feeling like you missed a recent update?  We can all feel that way.  Something has occurred that we don’t know about.  Rather than buy in to the barrage of updates that stream into our life that create anxiety and fear about what has been and what will come… hear an update that never grows old, will not change, will be everlastingly in place for all:  The good news is the Easter story of Jesus Christ.  The promise is that we will not ever, ever be alone, for God is with us in all times from difficult to joyful.  We can depend on the faithfulness of God to sustain and prepare us in the strength of the Holy Spirit for what has been and will be.  You have been prepared for such a time as this.

Perhaps we can start to see how God has prepared us.  We have been given the means to survive emotionally, spiritually and physically as we encounter the world in its pandemic fears. Think on how Jesus established a way of seeing the world in need, attending to the spiritual and physical needs of others, and humbly walking in righteousness in ways that bring others along in that journey.  By faith, we also follow.

Here is a timely update:  You were built for circumstances such as this.  Or should I say timeless?

By the power and witness of Jesus Christ, let that seep into your soul. Built on faith and living in trust in God, You are what the world needs, as you live through each challenge to embrace others in love, bring hope and faith by your presence and confidence in the sufficiency of our Lord.

Wow. What a confidence builder!  Built for circumstances like this.  Praise God for the plans he has made for us.

I am praying for you, love you, and celebrate that God has got this and us too.

Pastor Lisa

”For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” Jeremiah 29: 11

God Has Got This!
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Perhaps

 
Perhaps

Perhaps is a good word.  It’s a word of possibilities not limitations.  We all have limitations.  It’s just that right now, we are all included in some big limitations due to the pandemic.  You may be the one who has curtailed all interactions beyond your home with friends and family.  No more trips to the grocery store.  You may be on the other side as one who is inconvenienced by others limitations that make your life complicated. 

“Perhaps” is useful in these circumstances. Perhaps sort of leads us to an examination of options. It requires a bit of determination to use it, but it is worth it.  Like: “Maybe I will go to the store, or perhaps I should… use everything in my pantry first.” Or, “Maybe I will binge watch a series or perhaps I should…”, you can fill in the blank.  Or hey – “Maybe I will run outside and chase off the woodpecker from our chimney in my p.j.’s that just scared the living stuffings out of me or perhaps I will wait and see if it moves on.” 

Just now a woodpecker has decided to look for breakfast on my chimney liner.  My 7th Grade teacher used to say, “Good Gussie!”, when she needed to express herself strongly. Good Gussie – doesn’t that bird know there are no bugs to eat in metal?  Good grief is he hard headed! Bang, bang bang, ratatatatatatatat! It sounds like he is going to try for some breakfast anyway!  Perhaps I will dress, and then go out an shoo him off. See?  Perhaps my neighbors would rather I didn’t.  Ok, that sounds reasonable too. I will wait and give Mr. Woodpecker a few minutes to figure things out. 

So anyway, perhaps we might use this word to help us.  Seems like naming options in the face of our contained circumstance is an important way to keep our souls and minds in a good place.  

I guess I am just feeling like (bang, bang, bang the sounds of a rapid fire beak on the chimney continue) it is good to discover that regardless of current circumstances that may make us think there are no choices, in fact there are always choices. (Bang, Bang, Bang!). I just want to you feel you do.  By the way – that woodpecker has a choice too! He could figure out that there will be nothing fruitful about trying to beat a hole in metal and fly off. (Bang, Bang, Bang) 

Or not…

God has such a sense of humor!  Am I like that woodpecker?  Hardheaded (bang, bang, bang!) Yes.  Do I look for the answers sometimes without considering the source I am going to? Yes! It’s natural for us all to start with self, isn’t it? BANG, BANG, BANG! He moved to a higher position and the metal sounds different…

Got it! Perhaps in my choices, big and small, I can be more mindful of allowing God’s voice to lead. I pray I do it often, frequently, so much, so often, that it becomes the pre-eminent way that all I do is out of following God.  Perhaps you find this to be an intriguing thought for you these days.  Without a woodpecker assist, that is.

God let be be lead by you, shaped and formed for Your use and pleasure.  God be in my mind and heart, so that You are in me, and I in you.

You are loved, prayed for and loved by your Creator.  

Pastor Lisa
 

Wesley Covenant Prayer

I am no longer my own, but yours.

Put me to what you will, place me with whom you will.

Put me to doing, put me to suffering.

Let me be put to work for you or set aside for you,

Praised for you or criticized for you.

Let me be full, let me be empty.

Let me have all things, let me have nothing.

I freely and fully surrender all things to your glory and service.

And now, O wonderful and holy God,

Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer, 

you are mine, and I am yours.

So be it.

And the covenant which I have made on earth,

Let it also be made in heaven.  Amen.

The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir “Use Me” 
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4096 Lower Fayetteville Road, Sharpsburg, GA

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Big Poppa

https://twitter.com/RaeElle/status/1252771823864995841?s=20

Big Poppa

A picture that needs no words.  

Big Poppa is sad.  He spends his days looking for visitors. A low whine says, please take me down to the children I see playing with a ball.  

This picture went viral in one day for good reason.  This sweet puppy expresses our own discontent with “sheltering in”.  There are even some rolls around his waist that might have been earned in the last month due to lack of exercise.  Bless his little puppy heart, it is so hard to say no to such a forlorn, dejected picture of despair.  

We have other more descriptive words for this state of dejection:  depression, loneliness, a longing for what one can not have.  To a dog, the only thing he knows is that he can not do what he most enjoys.  Be social.  

Each of us has our own level of social needs.  When we find ourselves sitting in the sun with our head hung low, disinterested in all that is going on around us, its time to sit up and take notice.  Maybe someone near you will see you in this state, or you see someone else that hasn’t moved a muscle to engage in the normal things of life.  Like eating, showering, making a phone call… barking?  

We can all resonate with the picture, its just that we don’t want to live that picture.  It’s ok to say that I am sad.  It’s important that we do!  It’s healthy to stop and examine what is making you sad.  Some of it we can do nothing about.  Some of it is our inner workings of how we cope.  However when you start living on the porch with your back turned to life, its time to call for help. If there is someone in your life who is struggling with this “shelter in” time, tell them you are concerned. Listen and help them identify the challenges.  Encourage them to take small steps to re-enter life in positive ways.  Help someone along.

I am thinking that if I could get Big Poppa’s address, I would send him a surprise package from chewy.com.  I can just imagine his delight in ripping open a box, snuffling through the wrappings and finding a toy and a treat.  It doesn’t take much to make a dog happy!

Since we have hit our 40 day mark or more in this quarantine stuff, how about we do something for someone else today to bring delight, joy, surprise?  It doesn’t take much – any change in routine is a spirit lifter!  I bet you have already thought of someone who needs a lift.  Now, go and do what you can – it doesn’t have to be big.

That’s what it means to love.  Selflessly. Doing for others. I bet you will find that in the doing, your spirits are lifted up too.  The outcome is always more than you expect.    Big Poppa is waiting….

I love you, I am praying for you, God understands our ups and downs, and loves us still.

Pastor Lisa

 

P.S. even though its raining, the birds are singing!

“He said to him, “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” Matthew 22: 37-39

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Peace

Peace

Thank goodness I pressed through the first direction for this day – I thought you might need a good laugh, so I started with a joke. Not mine, but one I found on the internet.  It was ok, but perhaps a bit tasteless to laugh about a …. ok. Never mind.

I give the credit for today’s thoughts to Mozelle Funderburk.  You may remember that I have posted some of her husband’s photography.  David and Mozelle became friends at the first church I served, St. Timothy UMC, while I was in seminary.  Both David and Mozelle had careers at Fernbank Science Center, he as a scientist and she as an artist at Fernbank. She created most of the vignettes of frogs, animals and who knows what with her own two hands.  They are some of the many fascinating people I have been privileged to meet through ministry and still enjoy through Facebook.  All that to say, that Mozelle posted the music you will hear.  I would guess that she intentionally posted it to draw our attention to the fact that it is Earth Day.  

I listened because it was a Gaelic prayer and John Rutter.  Rutter is known for his beautiful musical arrangements and anything Gaelic, Irish, English always gets my attention.  I love the early Irish spirituality for it’s connection to the earth and the deep respect they give to earth and all creatures.  God’s presence was seen in the elements of wind, fire, earth and water. They honored the power of God in daily life as they lived, hunted, traveled the seas, grew crops, and witnessed the seasons of the earth.  

We consider this season of life difficult.  It is.  However, for perspective, life in the early days of Ireland and England were fraught with danger.  There were no lines drawn for countries, more like tribes that fought and took what was desirable if you had the power.  Not only was physical safety from other clans a concern, but the harsh environment made living difficult.  Crops suffered from drought and animals were at the mercy of the treacherous land and animals. I often have thought about how hard it was to survive in these times.  I don’t see how I would have had a long life.  There were no medicines, no hospitals, there were poor health habits and no way to predict and prepare for the storms and weather that could take lives without warning.

And still, when you read the literature and spiritual writings and songs, with the people under great duress to survive, still took time to seek God.  To live a full life included knowing and recognizing the presence of God.  Their inner drive to name, worship, and honor God is profoundly moving.  The Irish sensitivity to Creation and God’s provision for all life is found in the poems and prayers. They made room for God in each day, intentionally naming God with them in the sea, the sun, the dark, and the light.  

Make room for God.  May it be so natural that the very beat of your heart is in time with the movement of life and joy that comes from seeing God’s provision all around you.  The flash of a cardinal, the silence of a quiet night as you gaze at a clear sky and see stars that have burned and glow, the delight in unfolding seasons.  Thanks be to God for the perspective’s found when we see the world though God’s hands of creation.  This day is but a moment in the grand movement of life.  With perspective comes peace.  Peace in knowing and claiming God is known, seen, active and present.  Peace in acknowledging the beautiful arrangement of earth and provision that God has ordained as ours to respect and use for good.  Peace in knowing that we can work to be in harmony each day by the recognition of God’s good plan for the world.  Peace.

May we strive to bring such peace to ourselves so the world might know peace from our Creator.

You are loved, prayed for and a delight to God!

Pastor Lisa

“Deep Peace” A Gaelic Blessing Liberia  –  John Rutter
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4096 Lower Fayetteville Road, Sharpsburg, GA

SharpsburgGA 30277

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Never

Never

Well that was random!  Each morning I change font and size before I write.  I have to type some letters on the page to establish these changes.  Today I thought – “why ABC? Just hit some keys and get started!”. “Never” appeared on the page.  Promise – I didn’t think the word!

So here we are looking at a word that I didn’t cultivate, it was rather dropped in my lap to address.  Sort of like this Corona Virus, the latest Governor Kemp decision to open up businesses when all indications are that this is not the right time.  Never in my life. In yours too?  

Never has it felt so…. aggravating, frustrating, downright at the crossroads of what to do, when to do it, how to do it, and finally just why do it at all?  I guess  “never” has opened up a can of worms. And what a totally weird thing we say to express an unexpected problem – who has ever bought, much less opened a can of worms?  

Don’t even answer that if you have.

We are in some strange times.  Everyone is struggling to understand.  Some are good at stats, so those folks are gathering data and revealing information that helps us see where the virus is most active, where it is leveling off, and who it is affecting most.  These stat’s help us track the real time movement of how the virus is affecting whole cities and the world.  Others are really good at helping us cope with our emotions, our physical and spiritual needs.  They write, offer webinars and help us connect to the reality of our days.  Days of fear, questions, immobility, need for community, loneliness …. you name it, there is someone who can offer support.

Just one aside here. If I had a quarter for every article on “How to Clean…” or “300 Places You Never Clean that We Will Help You Find” or the winner “You Think You have Cleaned? Check Out these Deadly Spots!”, I could hire someone to clean my house. Weekly.  

What has Jesus got to do with this?  Honestly, I have never needed Christ more.  We have all struggled with events and times in our lives.  Some of you have become champions on how to make it through what ever is dropped in your lap.  Your stories have inspired, brought tears and humility to me and others.  Without Jesus, you say, I would never have made it through.  

Jesus is that “extra something” that is always there for you.  Never is a good word to associate with our Savior, Jesus Christ.  He never leaves you, will not depart from you, has gone to the depths of hell for you and extends grace and mercy, forgiveness in measures that astound and heal us. I pray that no matter what circumstance, what ever unexpectedly comes your way, that you never forget how God loves you. 

Words like “always” and “never” can exaggerate things out of proportion.  However, in this case, Never is perfect when it comes to remembering the main thing.  You are not alone, God will never leave you. Never.  Not random at all. Essential.

You are loved, prayed for and because of God’s eternal love, you are never apart from God.

Pastor Lisa

“He alone is my rock and my salvation,

   my fortress; I shall never be shaken.” Psalm 62: 2

God’s Good Promise.  “Your Love Never Fails”
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One

One

“One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do”.  Three Dog Night, 1968.  Good thing I checked my facts – I attributed the song to the Beatles and I remembered the words at the end wrong.  Some of my music friends are shaking their heads now…

One could be lonely, but one can still stand on its own! *weak pandemic humor 

One came on the heels of nothing, believing that it was the better placeholder for numeric communication.  Then two showed up!  I will stop there and get back to the point, which I am sure is to be found one day… 

Oh wait – that was it!  One day.  After reading a few missives of the morning, remembering some of the news and its dual focus of now and soon, and signing up for a webinar to get myself in order for the next “phase” of life: Re-opening the church, I got sorta tired. We have hardly begun to get a grip on this strange experience of functioning under pandemic life when we are now addressing how to come out of pandemic strictures to live again.  Just let me do one day at a time!

And let me add – we are all saying how we might have learned a thing or two about our “former” lives that we say should not be forgotten.  And we mean it too!  With all our heart.  

Can I just say that with all good intentions, how easy it is to let the wisdom be shouted out by the patterns and habits that are deeply ingrained in us?  I know with what I am speaking!  So, knowing me, I hope to do better with this “re-launch” of life together.  In family, in friends, in church, in community. 

This weekend, we had our grandson, Luke, with us.  One of his favorite activities (and there are many!) is to find something that was once his moms. The other day he found an old jewelry chest.  Small, silver turned grey, worn red velvet inside, holding 4 beautiful rocks.  Each stone, polished and unique.  Those stones began to travel in his fist.  We spent time examining them, admiring, looking at the color, shape and size.  Each was a treasure!  And then the inevitable.  One got lost.  We spent quite a bit of time looking, consoling and finally putting the three remaining rocks in a small velvet bag for safe keeping.  

We have so many treasures.  Memories, though faulty, experiences that shape us.  This uniquely singular world experience of pandemic has the potential to profoundly shape us.  Some will come more natural than others.  But what one thing have you learned about yourself, your life, your values that you really want to hold on to?

Before tomorrow becomes today, think on that one thing that holds meaning for you about this time.

Write that one thing down, on your heart. On your mind. On your soul.  Maybe put it in a silvered greyed jewelry box to have it later discovered, this treasure you found in these pandemic days.  That one thing important to you.

That is yours. To have and to hold, for all days to come. No matter the press, no matter the suggestions, adjustments, losses or gains, you have made meaning of all these crazy days, with one significant awareness.  

One more thing – even before you knew Him, Jesus Christ claimed you as his own.  You are the precious one that our Beloved came to live, die and was resurrected for.  The grace of God is always one step ahead of our own understandings.  That makes meaning for life in profound and humbling ways.  One day at a time, yes, one day. Today.  For You.

I love you, and am thankful for this day!  God loves you even more.

Pastor Lisa

Forgive the age (1979) but the words are timeless!  “One Day at a Time”


Update

Update

I don’t know about you, but when I hear the word “Update” I tend to stop and listen. If we miss an update we might miss something of vital importance that has happened in the last 24 hours, or even the last 5 minutes.  We have become so aware of what is happening around us that when the word “Update” is said, we tend to freeze, turn up the volume, quiet the dogs and children and demand silence!

That is okay, its just that this morning I got an update from one of our missionary organizations that Cokes has supported for many years.  Their header was Update. It was clear that I must read it immediately!  The email was bringing information about how they are doing worldwide in this time of pandemic.  I eagerly read the page, seeing their assurances: first, they re-stated their purpose.  To “reach the 3 billion people across the world without access to the Gospel.”  The compelling words that followed resonate in my mind and heart, chasing my consciousness to engage, in saying,  “We feel that our organization was built for circumstances like these.”. 

Wow. Read that again. Built for circumstances like these.  I have not thought about myself in such terms. Have you? I can attest that we have been responsive, thoughtful, kind and kept updates always before us.  However, have we seen the providential hand of God, who is always preparing us for what ever is to come?  I don’t mean that we had a warehouse of toilet paper and dry goods, but that our faith, study, worship and service has been a proving ground for such a time as this.  

Our engagement of faith activities hone our sensibilities to all that God is about.  We have the words and teachings of Jesus that reveal how to face hardship, loss, fear, anxiety, and take on trust, hope and confidence in God alone. We are always under construction, but joyfully so, as we learn the grace, mercy and love of God in every turn.

Feeling like you missed a recent update?  We can all feel that way.  Something has occurred that we don’t know about.  Rather than buy in to the barrage of updates that stream into our life that create anxiety and fear about what has been and what will come… hear an update that never grows old, will not change, will be everlastingly in place for all:  The good news is the Easter story of Jesus Christ.  The promise is that we will not ever, ever be alone, for God is with us in all times from difficult to joyful.  We can depend on the faithfulness of God to sustain and prepare us in the strength of the Holy Spirit for what has been and will be.  You have been prepared for such a time as this.

Perhaps we can start to see how God has prepared us.  We have been given the means to survive emotionally, spiritually and physically as we encounter the world in its pandemic fears. Think on how Jesus established a way of seeing the world in need, attending to the spiritual and physical needs of others, and humbly walking in righteousness in ways that bring others along in that journey.  By faith, we also follow.

Here is a timely update:  You were built for circumstances such as this.  Or should I say timeless?

By the power and witness of Jesus Christ, let that seep into your soul. Built on faith and living in trust in God, You are what the world needs, as you live through each challenge to embrace others in love, bring hope and faith by your presence and confidence in the sufficiency of our Lord.

Wow. What a confidence builder!  Built for circumstances like this.  Praise God for the plans he has made for us.

I am praying for you, love you, and celebrate that God has got this and us too.

Pastor Lisa

”For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” Jeremiah 29: 11

God Has Got This!
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4096 Lower Fayetteville Road, Sharpsburg, GA

SharpsburgGA 30277

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Perhaps

 
Perhaps

Perhaps is a good word.  It’s a word of possibilities not limitations.  We all have limitations.  It’s just that right now, we are all included in some big limitations due to the pandemic.  You may be the one who has curtailed all interactions beyond your home with friends and family.  No more trips to the grocery store.  You may be on the other side as one who is inconvenienced by others limitations that make your life complicated. 

“Perhaps” is useful in these circumstances. Perhaps sort of leads us to an examination of options. It requires a bit of determination to use it, but it is worth it.  Like: “Maybe I will go to the store, or perhaps I should… use everything in my pantry first.” Or, “Maybe I will binge watch a series or perhaps I should…”, you can fill in the blank.  Or hey – “Maybe I will run outside and chase off the woodpecker from our chimney in my p.j.’s that just scared the living stuffings out of me or perhaps I will wait and see if it moves on.” 

Just now a woodpecker has decided to look for breakfast on my chimney liner.  My 7th Grade teacher used to say, “Good Gussie!”, when she needed to express herself strongly. Good Gussie – doesn’t that bird know there are no bugs to eat in metal?  Good grief is he hard headed! Bang, bang bang, ratatatatatatatat! It sounds like he is going to try for some breakfast anyway!  Perhaps I will dress, and then go out an shoo him off. See?  Perhaps my neighbors would rather I didn’t.  Ok, that sounds reasonable too. I will wait and give Mr. Woodpecker a few minutes to figure things out. 

So anyway, perhaps we might use this word to help us.  Seems like naming options in the face of our contained circumstance is an important way to keep our souls and minds in a good place.  

I guess I am just feeling like (bang, bang, bang the sounds of a rapid fire beak on the chimney continue) it is good to discover that regardless of current circumstances that may make us think there are no choices, in fact there are always choices. (Bang, Bang, Bang!). I just want to you feel you do.  By the way – that woodpecker has a choice too! He could figure out that there will be nothing fruitful about trying to beat a hole in metal and fly off. (Bang, Bang, Bang) 

Or not…

God has such a sense of humor!  Am I like that woodpecker?  Hardheaded (bang, bang, bang!) Yes.  Do I look for the answers sometimes without considering the source I am going to? Yes! It’s natural for us all to start with self, isn’t it? BANG, BANG, BANG! He moved to a higher position and the metal sounds different…

Got it! Perhaps in my choices, big and small, I can be more mindful of allowing God’s voice to lead. I pray I do it often, frequently, so much, so often, that it becomes the pre-eminent way that all I do is out of following God.  Perhaps you find this to be an intriguing thought for you these days.  Without a woodpecker assist, that is.

God let be be lead by you, shaped and formed for Your use and pleasure.  God be in my mind and heart, so that You are in me, and I in you.

You are loved, prayed for and loved by your Creator.  

Pastor Lisa
 

Wesley Covenant Prayer

I am no longer my own, but yours.

Put me to what you will, place me with whom you will.

Put me to doing, put me to suffering.

Let me be put to work for you or set aside for you,

Praised for you or criticized for you.

Let me be full, let me be empty.

Let me have all things, let me have nothing.

I freely and fully surrender all things to your glory and service.

And now, O wonderful and holy God,

Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer, 

you are mine, and I am yours.

So be it.

And the covenant which I have made on earth,

Let it also be made in heaven.  Amen.

The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir “Use Me” 
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Copyright © 2020 Cokes Chapel UMC, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you have given your email address to our church office and we now consider you family!

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Cokes Chapel UMC
4096 Lower Fayetteville Road, Sharpsburg, GA

SharpsburgGA 30277

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