Good

Good

A common answer for questions these days is “I’m good.”  When my kids were growing up, a usual response was “yes, no”, or the worn out phrase for the indecisive, “maybe”. However, in the last ten or fifty years, “I’m good” has become a standard answer.  Even with a lack of skill, I get your drift.  You mean, “I have what I need.”  In some cases it implies more.  If you ask, “Do you want some more veggies, fried liver, or other delicacy…?”, it is a firm way of saying no.  Sounds gentle, but it’s clear. No more discussion will be entertained. If you hear two “I’m good’s” in a row, you best back off.

I’m just sayin’ that our communication changes with each generation.  Sometimes our words define our age or decade.  When I was a teenager I was stuck with the yes, no thing.  But we had other more colorful phrases like “cool, far out, and dude.”   There was even a word called “hippie” and it didn’t have anything to do with the size of your… you know. A hippie was a long haired, blue jean wearing, guitar singing, peace, love dude who hung out in groups that answered most questions and conversations with “far out”. 

I wonder what new responses are being coined these days.  There have to be some good ones being developed!  How are you?  I’m shut down man.  How’s the family?  Bustin’ out, can’t.  Need anything? 

That left me blank.  There is no simple word to summarize our state of mind, our personal and common experience. Not yet.  Well, there is one – I propose Jesus.  Not in an off the cuff way but as a serious, heartfelt expression.  Jesus’ name has been used with almost every meaning from disgust to a plea.  Use of Jesus’ name has become yet another way conversations get shut down, right before the door slams.  With some, the name of Jesus takes on all new meaning with inflection and tone.  And it has nothing to do with how Jesus would have us speak His name.  

God sent his only Son to save us from our sins, to bring salvation to each and every human being.  Jesus Christ took our sins to the cross, suffered for our benefit, so that we might never suffer separation from our Creator.  Jesus knows our needs.  Does it seem that the collective world has become more conscious of God in these pandemic times?  I believe so.  Wouldn’t it be cool if one and all, we coined a standard response to most circumstances by saying “Jesus”?

We have to work through some things as we refine this response.  We must accept and proclaim that Jesus is our Savior.  We would want to know the stories and teachings of Jesus so that we know the enduring, loving, life giving message He said in word and in action. We might also reflect on the holiness of His ways and give respect and adoration to Christ.  Because He earned it. The hard way.  Finally, in a deep and abiding way, we would listen to the Holy Spirit for affirmations, answers and guidance, trusting that Jesus desires good for you, me and the world. 

I never know exactly what I will write when I start.  I only know there is something God is giving me to say for Him. For you and me. Its up to you to get the message or not.  I pray that the meditations and prayers of my heart would bring you Jesus.  For your good, for your comfort, for the delight of your days and the quiet peace of the night.  My final answer this morning?  I’m good. Jesus.

I am praying for you, I love you, and God is good.

Pastor Lisa

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”

John 10:11



What to do ?

What to Do

Let’s do something different today.  A talented friend, Chuck Bell, has taken to posting a musical devotion each morning. Confession: this morning I wasn’t ready to write. Likely the sleepless night before had much to do with my readiness for the day.  So far though, today is starting a bit “off key”.  (Pandemic humor is what it is….)

Ah ha!  You didn’t belly laugh at that quip, did you?  Maybe you aren’t ready to read yet either?  Then just listen….

But before you click on the link, take a moment to pause.  Settle yourself into your seat.  Lay your hands in your lap, palms up. Take a deep breath, letting it out slow.  Another breath, slow.  Allow your body to relax.  Breathe.  Feel the tension drain out of your muscles, release the tightness in your shoulders, letting that release continue through your body as you breathe.  Listen to your body as tension is identified, and breathe. Release. Rest.

 

Now enjoy the gift of music:

 https://www.facebook.com/520618383/posts/10158393411073384/

You are back?  Wasn’t that a beautiful gift?  Chuck has a gift in music.  He is a composer, singer, multi-talented professional who loves the Lord.  He, his wife Kim and two young daughters live in Dalonegha at Camp Glisson where Kim is on staff.  It means more when you know about the people you are listening to, doesn’t it?

I have been privileged to work with Chuck on several occasions.  Each time I am inspired by his love of God, how it shines in his work and life.  Chuck is willing to pour out his gifts as we muddle through these pandemic sheltering days.  Pandemic or not, we need the encouragement and hope that our fellow believers offer.  

I believe that each of you has a gift (or two or more) that only you can offer to others.  Like Chuck, you might have already known your gift your whole life.  Maybe you aren’t sure, or are still seeking affirmation.  The Holy Spirit will help you. As we place Christ at the center of life, what ever gifts you had before are  reborn along with you.  Our gifts become part of who we are in Christ, the love that we have encountered in Jesus Christ, the mercy that we have received, and the change of heart and life we continually experience.    

Your gift could be compassion, generosity, loving acts, words of comfort, prayer, singing, writing, giving, organizing, leading, inspiring, but whatever the gift, it is yours to give.  As I think of you, I am thinking of gifts you have in Christ. When I see you, I see Jesus in your ways.  I am thinking of how I have seen you give that gift to the world, to your community, to your family and friends. You are making a difference for Christ!

You may be thinking – you don’t know me or we haven’t met yet!  Or, I haven’t seen you in a long time.  Let’s anticipate that we might yet connect or reconnect. 

When you give your gift, it is without reserve, without hesitation, for the Holy Spirit will be in the gift, so it becomes God’s gift through you.  Together in Christ you make beautiful music together, like Chuck.  In you own way, you are the sound of how to begin a day, face difficulties, challenges, hardships.  You are the deep breath for someone who needs reminding of the peace of Christ of Jesus’ presence.  You are God’s own chosen and beloved disciple.  

 

Go, make the day good, for the Lord is with you.

I love you, I am praying for you and am thankful with you for our Lord, who is always with us.

Pastor Lisa

 

“….And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28: 20b



Fear Not

Fear Not

Amidst all the adjustments we face with sheltering in, additional events appear to be piling in on top of the world pandemic.  I am talking about more than running out of toilet paper or even loosing power.  Whether minor inconveniences to major crisis, each holds its own particular power over our mindset and actions. 

Easter weekend we heard warnings of significantly severe weather for North Georgia.  Throughout Easter Day, we were shown examples of where tornados could hit.  By evening, a majority of Georgia was under watch.  Going to bed? You can but you better prepare, affix your phone to the app’s that send warnings, get your radio, shoes (and pants!) and prepare a place of shelter.

If it isn’t tornado’s, its toilet paper. Some fears are more well founded than others.  I have entertained fear enough to know:  Fear. Don’t. Care.

Fact and truth have no grounding in a certain kind of fear.  The kind of fear I’m talking about isn’t reasonable, precautionary fear.  I am talking about the runaway, stockpiling, shut downing kind of fear. Our imagination, our worst thoughts, our runaway ideas of how circumstances will play out, become a playground for fear.  I don’t have to tell you that, you know it.  Just a reminder.

We know how fear affects us. It takes away faith in ourselves, diminishes our trust in Jesus Christ, and hands fear over to its companion.  The Liar.  The Liar takes hold of all the loose, waiving, moving parts of fear jumping around seeking attention.  Fear is having a party, only its not the kind you want to join. This party, turns our minds and spirits into lockdown. Immobilized by fear, the companions called inertia, depression, hopelessness…. you may recognize some of these mindsets join in.

Good grief!  I am tired of the power of fear!  Enough time spent speaking of it, reading about it, listening to fear mongering news, speeches and predictions.  We have a choice to engage in rebellion!  Yes, I say rebellion.  Kick back on the Evil one, who would love to keep us in chaos, sheltered in not just in body but in mind.  Stand firm in the truth, not in lies!  We are Easter people.  

The resurrection is not just a spiritual event that happened for humanity.  Jesus triumph over death may have taken three days, but in those days, Christ rebuked and conquered all the sins of the world, all the tools of evil’s trade to break us, all the lies that would have held power over us.  Gone! Done!

The resurrection is a message to our daily life.  Christ revealed more than can be written on any page.  However, there is a part of me that says that the first words after His resurrection, spoken to the disciples behind locked doors, may be some of the most important.  Words that hold true in living life with it’s fears, tribulation, sorrow, death and all manner of human conditions we face. 

“… Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 20After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”  John 20:19b, 21-22

I love you, I am praying for you, and God would have you hold peace as God’s good gift to you.  Pastor Lisa

Jesus Christ is the Truth.  Do not let fear overcome, but hear Jesus’ Words “Peace be with you” each day!


Good Friday

Good Friday

Since becoming a pastor, for years, I ask this same question, “what is so good about Good Friday?”  This day we commemorate the suffering and death of Jesus Christ on the cross.  It is hard. It is graphic. It is more than we can stand. Imagination brings us close to Jesus.  The movie “The Passion” reveals the painful, heartbreaking suffering Jesus willingly took on in our behalf. 

To know that this suffering was done for all humanity magnifies our pain.  Jesus did not have to “take this cup”.  His self-emptying gift of experiencing every excruciating piece of death as fully human is soul breaking. When we allow the truth of Christ’s death to become personal, there are cracks, brokenness and pain that we feel.  Maybe we are shamed at how generous our God is.  Perhaps our compassionate heart is broken and the quiet mercy that came from Christ’s last words.  Without doubt, Jesus is full of grace even at his height of suffering.  

1. “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46  

2. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” Luke 23:34

3. “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise” Luke 23:43

4. “Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit” Luke 23:46

5. “Dear Woman, here is your son!” John 19:26-27

6. “I am thirsty” John 19:28

7. “It is finished!” John 19:30

Even this is not “good”.  Or is it? Being Christian means that we accept our limits.  Or should I say we learn how much we need God to accompany us as we face our limits.  Despite a world full of confusing messages, we can not do all things, and we have little if any control over anything. Yet, we continue to think that we will beat death.  Denial is our best defense most days. That is until we come face to face with death in our life, loosing one we love, especially now as we watch age and illness sweep through cities and homes. This pandemic makes death real.  No one is immune.  Read the stories of young and old who are ill, and dying. The 29 year old healthy DJ, father and husband with no reason to believe he was susceptible, dies. The stories are real. Heart breaking.  

Good Friday is only good because we do know the rest of the story. Jesus Christ  ushers our death into an irrevocable new truth.  Let us not pretend that this day is good, for it is not. But it is the beginning of good.  Good news that will not be revealed until three days later.  It will be good, in time. That is the good news, the promise fulfilled that comes on Easter morning.

But not yet. Wait. Today, believe in your mortality, for that is true.  Believe also that God is Good.  God has made provision for you. Death is not the final act, the single last chord of your life played, the deep lonely tolling bell of a finished life, leaving only the sound of silence from the depths of the tomb.  

Remain in this spiritual awareness in these sorrowful days and await the Good News.  It is coming!

I love you. I am praying for you. Together we can face death and claim God is with us.  All the way.  Forever holding our suffering as His, so that there are triumphant new beginnings before us.  Death – you are real – but you do not WIN!

Pastor Lisa

“The Old Rugged Cross” 

 

Tonight, on Friday, April 10th at 8:00 pm a Good Friday Worldwide one hour global broadcast featuring music by Chris Tomlin, Pat Barrett, We the Kingdom, Matt Mauer, and a message  by Max Lucado.  It will be live on TBN, on radio 93.3,The Joy Fm or The Joy Fm’s Social Media pages.  Thank you Tica Spake for sharing this.

Easter Sunday, April 12 We may be closed up, but we are not shut down!  Please join us for beautiful music, worship, and communion. We are in unusual times, so in this circumstance, we will share communion as we shelter in. Before you open the worship video, bring a candle and lighter, a glass of liquid (it does not need to be grape juice and it can be wine), and some form of bread or cracker that we can share together. I will ask a blessing over the elements and we will share communion in spirit. The video will be posted at 8:30 am. And available on our church wide email, and on our Facebook page, cokeschapel.org. I look forward to this special Easter time with you!



Fear Not

Fear Not

Amidst all the adjustments we face with sheltering in, additional events appear to be piling in on top of the world pandemic.  I am talking about more than running out of toilet paper or even loosing power.  Whether minor inconveniences to major crisis, each holds its own particular power over our mindset and actions. 

Easter weekend we heard warnings of significantly severe weather for North Georgia.  Throughout Easter Day, we were shown examples of where tornados could hit.  By evening, a majority of Georgia was under watch.  Going to bed? You can but you better prepare, affix your phone to the app’s that send warnings, get your radio, shoes (and pants!) and prepare a place of shelter.

If it isn’t tornado’s, its toilet paper. Some fears are more well founded than others.  I have entertained fear enough to know:  Fear. Don’t. Care.

Fact and truth have no grounding in a certain kind of fear.  The kind of fear I’m talking about isn’t reasonable, precautionary fear.  I am talking about the runaway, stockpiling, shut downing kind of fear. Our imagination, our worst thoughts, our runaway ideas of how circumstances will play out, become a playground for fear.  I don’t have to tell you that, you know it.  Just a reminder.

We know how fear affects us. It takes away faith in ourselves, diminishes our trust in Jesus Christ, and hands fear over to its companion.  The Liar.  The Liar takes hold of all the loose, waiving, moving parts of fear jumping around seeking attention.  Fear is having a party, only its not the kind you want to join. This party, turns our minds and spirits into lockdown. Immobilized by fear, the companions called inertia, depression, hopelessness…. you may recognize some of these mindsets join in.

Good grief!  I am tired of the power of fear!  Enough time spent speaking of it, reading about it, listening to fear mongering news, speeches and predictions.  We have a choice to engage in rebellion!  Yes, I say rebellion.  Kick back on the Evil one, who would love to keep us in chaos, sheltered in not just in body but in mind.  Stand firm in the truth, not in lies!  We are Easter people.  

The resurrection is not just a spiritual event that happened for humanity.  Jesus triumph over death may have taken three days, but in those days, Christ rebuked and conquered all the sins of the world, all the tools of evil’s trade to break us, all the lies that would have held power over us.  Gone! Done!

The resurrection is a message to our daily life.  Christ revealed more than can be written on any page.  However, there is a part of me that says that the first words after His resurrection, spoken to the disciples behind locked doors, may be some of the most important.  Words that hold true in living life with it’s fears, tribulation, sorrow, death and all manner of human conditions we face. 

“… Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 20After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”  John 20:19b, 21-22

I love you, I am praying for you, and God would have you hold peace as God’s good gift to you.  Pastor Lisa

Jesus Christ is the Truth.  Do not let fear overcome, but hear Jesus’ Words “Peace be with you” each day!


In- Between Maundy Thursday

In-between

I am feeling quite in-between things.  That would describe how my emotions, feelings and reality appear to me.  Today.  I am looking forward to Easter and all that it means to me spiritually, to my faith, and not looking forward to the isolation our community will for every good reason, experience it.  I am feeling pretty good emotionally, but there are moments when irritation and frustration surface. I am quite sure it is related to our social isolation.  Between reality and my feeble adjustments to being limited, shut in, confined, however you see it, it ain’t where I want to be. Anybody else?  

We can do things to make it better – things like listen to music, read a good book, read the Bible, dance, plant a garden, pull some weeds, watch the birds, sit outside and be blessed with the breaking of spring with its buds, flowers and smells of fresh rain. I pray you have a list of things you are discovering as you negotiate these in-between times.  Times when you are not where you want to be and unable to gain purchase in the land of where you do want to be.

Today is Maudy Thursday.  Today we remember how Jesus gathered his disciples for what would be their last meal.  He would wash their feet and teach them to remember him with simple table food of wine and bread.  Later on that night, Jesus took them to the Garden to pray and prepare for His suffering and death.  The tears that fell like blood from his brow tell me that Jesus was facing the most difficult in-between place one could imagine. 

Knowing what will happen when it is terrible is… terrible.  Feeling like you can’t change it, unable to control the outcome, being helpless in the face of death, Jesus lived those moments as a human.  Fully into the moment the Divine allowed him to be present with us in our own fears and mortality.  The Divine stood back as Human was fully present. There was no in-between that night, nor in the days to come.  It would be three days before the in-between was banished.  We can not go beyond this maundy day of horribleness without bringing our soul into remembering Jesus final witness of such love at a dinner table, such humility found in the cleansing of dusty feet, such grace in the taste of wine and the aroma of the bread as it’s broken and tasted.

It is hard to sit in the in-between.  I am with you in that.  So is Jesus.  He used his wisdom of that circumstance, of his awareness, impending suffering, pain and death to reveal God’s love.  He used what he felt, what he knew to be real and embody God’s nature one last time.  So can we.  So we will.  Most especially in this in-between time of a pandemic. All humanity is facing into this terrible crisis.  What we know about our God who understands and compassionately accompanies us, especially in the in-between, is desperately needed today.  Right now.  In the name of Jesus, may we be Christ for the world.  One gentle act at a time.

You are loved, you are prayed for, and you are not alone.

Pastor Lisa
“When the hour came, he took his place at the table, and the apostles with him.” Luke 22: 14

“Stay with Us” a plea for Jesus to remain with us in the darkness.  Powerful in words, sung a cappella with such sweet, longing beauty.



Good

Good

A common answer for questions these days is “I’m good.”  When my kids were growing up, a usual response was “yes, no”, or the worn out phrase for the indecisive, “maybe”. However, in the last ten or fifty years, “I’m good” has become a standard answer.  Even with a lack of skill, I get your drift.  You mean, “I have what I need.”  In some cases it implies more.  If you ask, “Do you want some more veggies, fried liver, or other delicacy…?”, it is a firm way of saying no.  Sounds gentle, but it’s clear. No more discussion will be entertained. If you hear two “I’m good’s” in a row, you best back off.

I’m just sayin’ that our communication changes with each generation.  Sometimes our words define our age or decade.  When I was a teenager I was stuck with the yes, no thing.  But we had other more colorful phrases like “cool, far out, and dude.”   There was even a word called “hippie” and it didn’t have anything to do with the size of your… you know. A hippie was a long haired, blue jean wearing, guitar singing, peace, love dude who hung out in groups that answered most questions and conversations with “far out”. 

I wonder what new responses are being coined these days.  There have to be some good ones being developed!  How are you?  I’m shut down man.  How’s the family?  Bustin’ out, can’t.  Need anything? 

That left me blank.  There is no simple word to summarize our state of mind, our personal and common experience. Not yet.  Well, there is one – I propose Jesus.  Not in an off the cuff way but as a serious, heartfelt expression.  Jesus’ name has been used with almost every meaning from disgust to a plea.  Use of Jesus’ name has become yet another way conversations get shut down, right before the door slams.  With some, the name of Jesus takes on all new meaning with inflection and tone.  And it has nothing to do with how Jesus would have us speak His name.  

God sent his only Son to save us from our sins, to bring salvation to each and every human being.  Jesus Christ took our sins to the cross, suffered for our benefit, so that we might never suffer separation from our Creator.  Jesus knows our needs.  Does it seem that the collective world has become more conscious of God in these pandemic times?  I believe so.  Wouldn’t it be cool if one and all, we coined a standard response to most circumstances by saying “Jesus”?

We have to work through some things as we refine this response.  We must accept and proclaim that Jesus is our Savior.  We would want to know the stories and teachings of Jesus so that we know the enduring, loving, life giving message He said in word and in action. We might also reflect on the holiness of His ways and give respect and adoration to Christ.  Because He earned it. The hard way.  Finally, in a deep and abiding way, we would listen to the Holy Spirit for affirmations, answers and guidance, trusting that Jesus desires good for you, me and the world. 

I never know exactly what I will write when I start.  I only know there is something God is giving me to say for Him. For you and me. Its up to you to get the message or not.  I pray that the meditations and prayers of my heart would bring you Jesus.  For your good, for your comfort, for the delight of your days and the quiet peace of the night.  My final answer this morning?  I’m good. Jesus.

I am praying for you, I love you, and God is good.

Pastor Lisa

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”

John 10:11



What to do ?

What to Do

Let’s do something different today.  A talented friend, Chuck Bell, has taken to posting a musical devotion each morning. Confession: this morning I wasn’t ready to write. Likely the sleepless night before had much to do with my readiness for the day.  So far though, today is starting a bit “off key”.  (Pandemic humor is what it is….)

Ah ha!  You didn’t belly laugh at that quip, did you?  Maybe you aren’t ready to read yet either?  Then just listen….

But before you click on the link, take a moment to pause.  Settle yourself into your seat.  Lay your hands in your lap, palms up. Take a deep breath, letting it out slow.  Another breath, slow.  Allow your body to relax.  Breathe.  Feel the tension drain out of your muscles, release the tightness in your shoulders, letting that release continue through your body as you breathe.  Listen to your body as tension is identified, and breathe. Release. Rest.

 

Now enjoy the gift of music:

 https://www.facebook.com/520618383/posts/10158393411073384/

You are back?  Wasn’t that a beautiful gift?  Chuck has a gift in music.  He is a composer, singer, multi-talented professional who loves the Lord.  He, his wife Kim and two young daughters live in Dalonegha at Camp Glisson where Kim is on staff.  It means more when you know about the people you are listening to, doesn’t it?

I have been privileged to work with Chuck on several occasions.  Each time I am inspired by his love of God, how it shines in his work and life.  Chuck is willing to pour out his gifts as we muddle through these pandemic sheltering days.  Pandemic or not, we need the encouragement and hope that our fellow believers offer.  

I believe that each of you has a gift (or two or more) that only you can offer to others.  Like Chuck, you might have already known your gift your whole life.  Maybe you aren’t sure, or are still seeking affirmation.  The Holy Spirit will help you. As we place Christ at the center of life, what ever gifts you had before are  reborn along with you.  Our gifts become part of who we are in Christ, the love that we have encountered in Jesus Christ, the mercy that we have received, and the change of heart and life we continually experience.    

Your gift could be compassion, generosity, loving acts, words of comfort, prayer, singing, writing, giving, organizing, leading, inspiring, but whatever the gift, it is yours to give.  As I think of you, I am thinking of gifts you have in Christ. When I see you, I see Jesus in your ways.  I am thinking of how I have seen you give that gift to the world, to your community, to your family and friends. You are making a difference for Christ!

You may be thinking – you don’t know me or we haven’t met yet!  Or, I haven’t seen you in a long time.  Let’s anticipate that we might yet connect or reconnect. 

When you give your gift, it is without reserve, without hesitation, for the Holy Spirit will be in the gift, so it becomes God’s gift through you.  Together in Christ you make beautiful music together, like Chuck.  In you own way, you are the sound of how to begin a day, face difficulties, challenges, hardships.  You are the deep breath for someone who needs reminding of the peace of Christ of Jesus’ presence.  You are God’s own chosen and beloved disciple.  

 

Go, make the day good, for the Lord is with you.

I love you, I am praying for you and am thankful with you for our Lord, who is always with us.

Pastor Lisa

 

“….And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28: 20b



Fear Not

Fear Not

Amidst all the adjustments we face with sheltering in, additional events appear to be piling in on top of the world pandemic.  I am talking about more than running out of toilet paper or even loosing power.  Whether minor inconveniences to major crisis, each holds its own particular power over our mindset and actions. 

Easter weekend we heard warnings of significantly severe weather for North Georgia.  Throughout Easter Day, we were shown examples of where tornados could hit.  By evening, a majority of Georgia was under watch.  Going to bed? You can but you better prepare, affix your phone to the app’s that send warnings, get your radio, shoes (and pants!) and prepare a place of shelter.

If it isn’t tornado’s, its toilet paper. Some fears are more well founded than others.  I have entertained fear enough to know:  Fear. Don’t. Care.

Fact and truth have no grounding in a certain kind of fear.  The kind of fear I’m talking about isn’t reasonable, precautionary fear.  I am talking about the runaway, stockpiling, shut downing kind of fear. Our imagination, our worst thoughts, our runaway ideas of how circumstances will play out, become a playground for fear.  I don’t have to tell you that, you know it.  Just a reminder.

We know how fear affects us. It takes away faith in ourselves, diminishes our trust in Jesus Christ, and hands fear over to its companion.  The Liar.  The Liar takes hold of all the loose, waiving, moving parts of fear jumping around seeking attention.  Fear is having a party, only its not the kind you want to join. This party, turns our minds and spirits into lockdown. Immobilized by fear, the companions called inertia, depression, hopelessness…. you may recognize some of these mindsets join in.

Good grief!  I am tired of the power of fear!  Enough time spent speaking of it, reading about it, listening to fear mongering news, speeches and predictions.  We have a choice to engage in rebellion!  Yes, I say rebellion.  Kick back on the Evil one, who would love to keep us in chaos, sheltered in not just in body but in mind.  Stand firm in the truth, not in lies!  We are Easter people.  

The resurrection is not just a spiritual event that happened for humanity.  Jesus triumph over death may have taken three days, but in those days, Christ rebuked and conquered all the sins of the world, all the tools of evil’s trade to break us, all the lies that would have held power over us.  Gone! Done!

The resurrection is a message to our daily life.  Christ revealed more than can be written on any page.  However, there is a part of me that says that the first words after His resurrection, spoken to the disciples behind locked doors, may be some of the most important.  Words that hold true in living life with it’s fears, tribulation, sorrow, death and all manner of human conditions we face. 

“… Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 20After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”  John 20:19b, 21-22

I love you, I am praying for you, and God would have you hold peace as God’s good gift to you.  Pastor Lisa

Jesus Christ is the Truth.  Do not let fear overcome, but hear Jesus’ Words “Peace be with you” each day!


Good Friday

Good Friday

Since becoming a pastor, for years, I ask this same question, “what is so good about Good Friday?”  This day we commemorate the suffering and death of Jesus Christ on the cross.  It is hard. It is graphic. It is more than we can stand. Imagination brings us close to Jesus.  The movie “The Passion” reveals the painful, heartbreaking suffering Jesus willingly took on in our behalf. 

To know that this suffering was done for all humanity magnifies our pain.  Jesus did not have to “take this cup”.  His self-emptying gift of experiencing every excruciating piece of death as fully human is soul breaking. When we allow the truth of Christ’s death to become personal, there are cracks, brokenness and pain that we feel.  Maybe we are shamed at how generous our God is.  Perhaps our compassionate heart is broken and the quiet mercy that came from Christ’s last words.  Without doubt, Jesus is full of grace even at his height of suffering.  

1. “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46  

2. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” Luke 23:34

3. “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise” Luke 23:43

4. “Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit” Luke 23:46

5. “Dear Woman, here is your son!” John 19:26-27

6. “I am thirsty” John 19:28

7. “It is finished!” John 19:30

Even this is not “good”.  Or is it? Being Christian means that we accept our limits.  Or should I say we learn how much we need God to accompany us as we face our limits.  Despite a world full of confusing messages, we can not do all things, and we have little if any control over anything. Yet, we continue to think that we will beat death.  Denial is our best defense most days. That is until we come face to face with death in our life, loosing one we love, especially now as we watch age and illness sweep through cities and homes. This pandemic makes death real.  No one is immune.  Read the stories of young and old who are ill, and dying. The 29 year old healthy DJ, father and husband with no reason to believe he was susceptible, dies. The stories are real. Heart breaking.  

Good Friday is only good because we do know the rest of the story. Jesus Christ  ushers our death into an irrevocable new truth.  Let us not pretend that this day is good, for it is not. But it is the beginning of good.  Good news that will not be revealed until three days later.  It will be good, in time. That is the good news, the promise fulfilled that comes on Easter morning.

But not yet. Wait. Today, believe in your mortality, for that is true.  Believe also that God is Good.  God has made provision for you. Death is not the final act, the single last chord of your life played, the deep lonely tolling bell of a finished life, leaving only the sound of silence from the depths of the tomb.  

Remain in this spiritual awareness in these sorrowful days and await the Good News.  It is coming!

I love you. I am praying for you. Together we can face death and claim God is with us.  All the way.  Forever holding our suffering as His, so that there are triumphant new beginnings before us.  Death – you are real – but you do not WIN!

Pastor Lisa

“The Old Rugged Cross” 

 

Tonight, on Friday, April 10th at 8:00 pm a Good Friday Worldwide one hour global broadcast featuring music by Chris Tomlin, Pat Barrett, We the Kingdom, Matt Mauer, and a message  by Max Lucado.  It will be live on TBN, on radio 93.3,The Joy Fm or The Joy Fm’s Social Media pages.  Thank you Tica Spake for sharing this.

Easter Sunday, April 12 We may be closed up, but we are not shut down!  Please join us for beautiful music, worship, and communion. We are in unusual times, so in this circumstance, we will share communion as we shelter in. Before you open the worship video, bring a candle and lighter, a glass of liquid (it does not need to be grape juice and it can be wine), and some form of bread or cracker that we can share together. I will ask a blessing over the elements and we will share communion in spirit. The video will be posted at 8:30 am. And available on our church wide email, and on our Facebook page, cokeschapel.org. I look forward to this special Easter time with you!



Fear Not

Fear Not

Amidst all the adjustments we face with sheltering in, additional events appear to be piling in on top of the world pandemic.  I am talking about more than running out of toilet paper or even loosing power.  Whether minor inconveniences to major crisis, each holds its own particular power over our mindset and actions. 

Easter weekend we heard warnings of significantly severe weather for North Georgia.  Throughout Easter Day, we were shown examples of where tornados could hit.  By evening, a majority of Georgia was under watch.  Going to bed? You can but you better prepare, affix your phone to the app’s that send warnings, get your radio, shoes (and pants!) and prepare a place of shelter.

If it isn’t tornado’s, its toilet paper. Some fears are more well founded than others.  I have entertained fear enough to know:  Fear. Don’t. Care.

Fact and truth have no grounding in a certain kind of fear.  The kind of fear I’m talking about isn’t reasonable, precautionary fear.  I am talking about the runaway, stockpiling, shut downing kind of fear. Our imagination, our worst thoughts, our runaway ideas of how circumstances will play out, become a playground for fear.  I don’t have to tell you that, you know it.  Just a reminder.

We know how fear affects us. It takes away faith in ourselves, diminishes our trust in Jesus Christ, and hands fear over to its companion.  The Liar.  The Liar takes hold of all the loose, waiving, moving parts of fear jumping around seeking attention.  Fear is having a party, only its not the kind you want to join. This party, turns our minds and spirits into lockdown. Immobilized by fear, the companions called inertia, depression, hopelessness…. you may recognize some of these mindsets join in.

Good grief!  I am tired of the power of fear!  Enough time spent speaking of it, reading about it, listening to fear mongering news, speeches and predictions.  We have a choice to engage in rebellion!  Yes, I say rebellion.  Kick back on the Evil one, who would love to keep us in chaos, sheltered in not just in body but in mind.  Stand firm in the truth, not in lies!  We are Easter people.  

The resurrection is not just a spiritual event that happened for humanity.  Jesus triumph over death may have taken three days, but in those days, Christ rebuked and conquered all the sins of the world, all the tools of evil’s trade to break us, all the lies that would have held power over us.  Gone! Done!

The resurrection is a message to our daily life.  Christ revealed more than can be written on any page.  However, there is a part of me that says that the first words after His resurrection, spoken to the disciples behind locked doors, may be some of the most important.  Words that hold true in living life with it’s fears, tribulation, sorrow, death and all manner of human conditions we face. 

“… Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 20After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”  John 20:19b, 21-22

I love you, I am praying for you, and God would have you hold peace as God’s good gift to you.  Pastor Lisa

Jesus Christ is the Truth.  Do not let fear overcome, but hear Jesus’ Words “Peace be with you” each day!


In- Between Maundy Thursday

In-between

I am feeling quite in-between things.  That would describe how my emotions, feelings and reality appear to me.  Today.  I am looking forward to Easter and all that it means to me spiritually, to my faith, and not looking forward to the isolation our community will for every good reason, experience it.  I am feeling pretty good emotionally, but there are moments when irritation and frustration surface. I am quite sure it is related to our social isolation.  Between reality and my feeble adjustments to being limited, shut in, confined, however you see it, it ain’t where I want to be. Anybody else?  

We can do things to make it better – things like listen to music, read a good book, read the Bible, dance, plant a garden, pull some weeds, watch the birds, sit outside and be blessed with the breaking of spring with its buds, flowers and smells of fresh rain. I pray you have a list of things you are discovering as you negotiate these in-between times.  Times when you are not where you want to be and unable to gain purchase in the land of where you do want to be.

Today is Maudy Thursday.  Today we remember how Jesus gathered his disciples for what would be their last meal.  He would wash their feet and teach them to remember him with simple table food of wine and bread.  Later on that night, Jesus took them to the Garden to pray and prepare for His suffering and death.  The tears that fell like blood from his brow tell me that Jesus was facing the most difficult in-between place one could imagine. 

Knowing what will happen when it is terrible is… terrible.  Feeling like you can’t change it, unable to control the outcome, being helpless in the face of death, Jesus lived those moments as a human.  Fully into the moment the Divine allowed him to be present with us in our own fears and mortality.  The Divine stood back as Human was fully present. There was no in-between that night, nor in the days to come.  It would be three days before the in-between was banished.  We can not go beyond this maundy day of horribleness without bringing our soul into remembering Jesus final witness of such love at a dinner table, such humility found in the cleansing of dusty feet, such grace in the taste of wine and the aroma of the bread as it’s broken and tasted.

It is hard to sit in the in-between.  I am with you in that.  So is Jesus.  He used his wisdom of that circumstance, of his awareness, impending suffering, pain and death to reveal God’s love.  He used what he felt, what he knew to be real and embody God’s nature one last time.  So can we.  So we will.  Most especially in this in-between time of a pandemic. All humanity is facing into this terrible crisis.  What we know about our God who understands and compassionately accompanies us, especially in the in-between, is desperately needed today.  Right now.  In the name of Jesus, may we be Christ for the world.  One gentle act at a time.

You are loved, you are prayed for, and you are not alone.

Pastor Lisa
“When the hour came, he took his place at the table, and the apostles with him.” Luke 22: 14

“Stay with Us” a plea for Jesus to remain with us in the darkness.  Powerful in words, sung a cappella with such sweet, longing beauty.