What makes God, good? This was the question I had asked my family during our time of worship yesterday morning. We paused in the sermon to discuss God’s worthiness for our worship. My son replied with a straight face, “The extra ‘o’.” We all chuckled as the laughter broke the seriousness of the moment. Eventually we got back to the original question, but the impromptu laughter break was a part of our worship. It was good!
We have come to expect such wittiness and humor from Jacob because God has given him such a fun and joyful spirit. Even though we know this is a part of his personality, it surprises us…and makes us laugh, again and again. It’s so good for us and for me, as I take myself and this world way to seriously at times.
I believe God was smiling at our silliness and joy in that brief moment and that makes me smile. What a reminder of the goodness of God, that even when times are tough and uncertain, He grants us joy and laughter! I know in these days it may be hard to laugh or even smile because of the grief and loss we are experiencing. Be reminded that God can and will give you joy and although it may not be as frequent as you like, enjoy it and thank God for the moment.
There is a Psalm that is written as a song of joy for restoration from God after exile and captivity. I think it appropriate even as we wait for complete restoration, “Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, ‘The LORD has done great things for them.’ The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.” (Psalm 126:2-3) Let this be our hope and song in these days! We can have joy, because God has sent His Son, Jesus to save us and redeem our lives for His glory! God Is Good!
Take care of yourself, take care of one another, and laugh a little along the way!
Starting May 13, we will have a Zoom gathering to connect with others in this time of separation. We will discuss a specific topic of faith each week. More information to come at the beginning of the week.
Thank you to those who have continued to give to the Food Bank (The Common Good) during the stay at home order. We are happy to have the church building open again so donations can be dropped-off in the Luke 3:11 cart.
Staff and Elders are praying and discussing plans for in person Worship Gatherings. Services will continue to be online through May 17. The church office is open Monday – Friday from 9am – 5pm.
SNAIL MAIL FUN!
WOW is pulling together a card exchange. Maybe you’ll gain a pen pal or just gain something new for your fridge!
How does it work?
Checking your mail as never been so fun – wellll, unless you’ve got those online shopping packages coming in!
This Thursday, May 7 is the annual, National Day of Prayer. Before the official, national event begins at 8:00 pm, we will be gathering on Zoom for a specific time of prayer as a church. This will be a time in smaller breakout groups for us to pray with one another.
What: ECC Prayer Gathering
When: May, 7th (7:00-8:00 pm)
I stood overlooking the village. The sun was setting and they were just finished up a pig eradication program. In a short while, we would have services here. Our Team would sing, our leader would preach and sometimes I did a children’s program during his preaching. “Do You want me here?”, I asked. From the time that I was a young child, I had been introduced to missionaries. They had stayed in our home, they had taught us songs in other languages, they had led missions programs in our churches. And from a very young age I had read story after story of real-life missionaries. At that age, I wanted to grow up to be either a missionary or a cowboy!
So here I was years later, a young woman on a short-term mission trip in the country of Haiti. I wanted to hear from God. Is this where You want me? I was willing. But…nothing. No “COME TO THIS COUNTRY AND POUR OUT YOUR LIFE HERE FOR ME”. Just…nothing.
Years later, I learned that God’s silence in this wasn’t a “no” but that God’s idea of going was completely different than mine. My idea had been a glorious call to some foreign mission field were people lived in huts and knew nothing of Christ. God’s idea had been that my life everywhere be a rich testimony of who He is and how He can work in a life. My idea was focused on being a certain place – God’s idea was in how I lived.
God’s call to us to “go” isn’t to become missionaries in far off countries but to be a witness for Him anywhere and everywhere we are. It’s that readiness to speak when God prompts us to speak, whether it be to a neighbor, a coworker, or even someone we meet out shopping. It’s the heart to meet needs in His name, wherever we find needs. It’s grasping God’s passion for saving the lost that are everywhere around us whether that means walking down your road or going to Africa.
Years later, I found myself in the inner city of Atlanta, in the worst neighborhoods of an inner city. Two business executives had walked away from their high paying jobs and began a clown ministry to the children of the inner city. Every Saturday, they walked bullet ridden roads around houses strewn with trash to share the gospel of Jesus with these broken and hurting people. And they had invited me to come along and teach the children’s lesson that day. I was scared. In fact, this was scarier than going to Haiti! I went, knowing that this was God’s heart. I don’t remember any children being saved that day. But I wonder if what was more important to God that I was willing to go, though scared. I was just starting to capture His heart.
“Feet devoted to going” is not just a mission trip to some foreign country; it is intentionally being the hands and feet of Jesus in every place to which He sends us. Where has God sent you lately? To a group of unsaved coworkers? To a mash-up of crazy relatives who work hard making you feel foolish to believe? To the stranger who shies away from any contact, but whose eyes scream loneliness?
“Whom shall I send? And who will go for us? And I said, “Here am I, send me.”
I invite you to think about the hands of others in your life and ways they have served you. Maybe similar to the following:
The possibilities are endless. Caring comes in many forms and can be demonstrated in some common, uncomplicated ways. Caring for others usually doesn’t fail to happen because of a lack of ideas. It’s not a lack of opportunity.
There’s a story involving Jesus and an expert of the law that Luke describes in chapter 10 of his book and it brings to light one of our challenges with caring. Let’s take a look.
Hands for God’s Purposes (commitment to love God)
Luke 10:25-29 – 25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” 27 He answered, “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” 28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” 29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
“And who is my neighbor?”
There it is. That’s one of the challenges of caring. We, like the expert of the law, want to know who we have to love…to care for. He does us a favor because he highlights part of the problem. We ask the wrong question when we ask who.
Hands devoted to caring is the commitment to and practice of uniquely using our spiritual gifts and natural talents to tangibly love others at the point of their need.
The landmark of faith known as they hands is not about the “who” we care for. It’s about the “why” we show care. When we ask “who”, we reveal a fundamental misunderstanding of caring. The truth about caring is that it is first a commitment to the belief that God has cared for us and given us the ability to care for others. We walk in faith to care for others and trust that God will use it for their good and for His glory.
Your hands can do great good when committed to God!
Here’s a few reminders and details for this week from our Mid-week Video Update:
Consider these words from Proverbs that speak to our next Landmark of Faith, the mouth.
“The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life…” – Proverbs 10:11
“The lips of the righteous nourish many…” – Proverbs 10:21
The tongue has the power of life and death…” – Proverbs 18:21
The mouth has great potential to give life, but it also has great potential to destroy and tear down. There’s a great song by the artist, Toby Mac entitled “Speak Life”. Look at this powerful verse and chorus,
It feels like daily that I say things I regret, things that are selfish, unloving, and sometimes just plain rude. I don’t think I’m alone. It’s a battle that faith must fight.
Words are powerful and how we control our tongue can say a lot about our dependence on God and also our belief in His ability to work in us. Taming the tongue as James (ch. 3) speaks of, requires a courageous faith because we must believe a few things about how God works through our words to bring life and hope.
A mouth devoted to encouraging is a commitment to and practice of speaking to others with the goal of building them up into their identity as a child of God.
Let’s be God’s messengers that bring encouragement and hope wherever we go. Even when things are tough, let the words of encouragement, hope, and life be heard from our mouths.
Sharing Life, Sharing Christ, Together
There were two holes in her carpet. We were visiting with an elderly lady while on a college music tour. She wasn’t on the travel schedule so why had our leader had brought us here? We didn’t stay long. I don’t even remember if we prayed together. But at some point our leader gestured to the floor. The carpet was as worn as her old body. I almost missed it but there, on the floor in front of a piece of furniture, were two holes worn deep into the carpet. Later he told us that was where this woman prayed. And we – our music team – were among those for whom she prayed.
She was so elderly, she could have just sat and enjoyed her retirement. Her body was broken, she lived alone, and her world was so small. Yet the words she spoke kneeling on her floor of her tiny home reached directly into the throne room of heaven.
Our leader later told us of another situation. He along with a small group of Christians were traveling in a small plane on a mission trip. Suddenly the plane hit a downdraft and was plummeting to earth. All on the plane expected to die. And then, inexplicably, the plane hit the bottom of the air pocket and began gaining altitude, moments before it would have crashed. Later on this same woman, not having been told what had happened, asked him “why did I feel a need to pray for you at such and such a time?”. That was the exact moment the plane had been about to crash. Her prayers saved their lives.
Years ago, a book was written that pulled back the veil to let us see what was happening in the spiritual realm as people prayed. (1) Battles were being waged. Wars were being fought. And the ammunition was not guns, knives or swords – but prayer. But for many of us, it’s as though we run into battle holding no weapons at all. No wonder we get knocked down and hit on all sides. From our earliest years as Christians we learn that prayer is important. Yet in spite of our best intentions, it often gets left by the wayside.
Why is prayer so hard for us? We often say we will do it and we truly do mean to. But somehow it slips away from us and we find ourselves full of good intentions but empty of prayer. I wonder if that is part of the battle too – just to pray – faithfully, daily, specifically. God says very clearly in His Word, “You have not because you ask not”. God isn’t inviting us to treat Him like a vending machine to get whatever we want. But He does invite us to go to our knees, to seek His face, to present our needs before Him in faith and trust that He will do what is best.
One year we were setting up to begin filming an outdoor water scene and it began to thunder and lightning. We had that location only that one evening so, if this didn’t work out, we’d never have the chance again. We circled up and began to pray. As we prayed, the rain continued to fall. But the moment we said “Amen”, the rain stopped immediately. An unsaved girl was on the set that evening; it amazed her to how God had responded in such a powerful way to our prayer.
God hasn’t always stopped the rain. And planes still crash sometimes. Heartaches happen, loved ones die, and what we pray to not happen sometimes still happens. God doesn’t always say yes to our prayers. And sometimes those “no’s” hurt so much that we often totally miss all the times that God, in His wisdom, grants the “yes”. Because God didn’t do the big things we asked for, we think He won’t care about the smaller things in our lives. But, like a loving parent, He yearns for us to climb up in His lap and ask so that He has the joy of giving to us something we don’t expect.
Maybe one reason God has brought our world to a total stop right now is to help us seek Him. Maybe He has brought our nation to its knees…to bring us to a new place of prayer.
What does your carpet look like where you pray?