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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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!




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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Cokes Chapel UMC
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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Cokes Chapel UMC
4096 Lower Fayetteville Road, Sharpsburg, GA

SharpsburgGA 30277

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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!