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Comings and Goings

I don’t usually read or watch the news, but every once in a while, something grabs my attention. An online article by Chris Sonksen was one such article today. It was both challenging and encouraging at the same time. Like most people, I have observed people coming, going, returning to my church, depending on reasons sometimes openly and loudly announced, sometimes just quietly and gradually withdrawing. Some simply disappear, others leave in a flurry of discord and disharmony. It has puzzled me since I was drawn back to church in my forties.

I was raised in the Roman Catholic church – in the time when if you lived in the parish you stayed in that church, period – and attended willingly until I returned home after college, and began attending the parish church in which I had grown up. I know the exact reason I left – a priest who interrupted another priest’s mass in order to collect more money. To interrupt what was supposed to be a celebration of God to collect money for air-conditioning didn’t seem correct. That’s the last time I attended a Sunday service, until , as I mentioned , my mid-forties.

When I started attending church again, it began when a friend invited me to her church. Turns out it wasn’t a Catholic church, but a Bible-believing, Spirit-filled, pentacostal church. As I renewed my relationship with Jesus, I felt at home and settled. That is, until I met and married my late husband! He was not comfortable with the worship style at my church, and felt more at home in his. After a great deal of drama and tears (all mine, I’m afraid!), we ended up at his church – a Bible-believing Baptist church. Hindsight shows me that God was the one who orchestrated those circumstances and changes. He had a plan for me, both in ministry and daily living.

But this was a church in transistion. The minister who had pastored the church fo over 25 years had retired, the interim pastor would have made a good pentacostal pastor, and the newly-hired pastor was trying to fit in. People hated the change, left in droves, and left chaos in their wake. So much so that the state association sent in a regional pastor to address the congregational issues and an interim pastor whose special calling was developing healiung and reconciliation.

But again, people “didn’t like him” and left. Again. Three long years later and a new pastor is called. But “I don’t like…” raises its ugly head again. What don’t they like? The worship music, or the new service times, or the new worship team, or the youth leader, or, or,or! You get the picture. Personal preference, not Christ, is becoming their doctrine. What I like is mor important than what Jesus teaches.

I could easily have decided to leave after my husband passed. It was hard and painful to be in church every Sunday, and seeing the place where his casket had sat, to hear the songs he loved to hear and sing, to see the people who loved him as they missed his presence. BUT GOD NEVER SAID “Leave. Go somewhere else.” He never gave me permission to seek a new church home. Someday He may, but until that time, any reason I might come up with for leaving would be all about me, and not about Christ and what He wants from my life.

So I challenge you. If you are thinking about leaving the church where God has you, ask yourself, “Who am I trying to please with this decision? Myself or God?” “What is motivating my desire to leave – my preference and feelings, or the Word of God?” If the answer to either question involves the word “I'” then get into some serious prayer and seek out what God wants and not what you want.

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Wonders in Focus

Read: Job 38:1–18 |

For from him and through him and for him are all things. Romans 11:36

Some of us are inclined to look at the world and see only what’s wrong. DeWitt Jones is a National Geographic photographer who has used his profession to celebrate what’s right about the world. He waits and watches until a shaft of light or turn of perspective suddenly reveals a wonder that had been there all along. He uses his camera to find beauty in the most common faces of people and nature.

If anyone had reason to focus on the wrongs of the world, Job did. After losing all that had given him joy, even his friends became his accusers. Together their voices taunted him for not admitting that he was suffering for sins he was hiding. When Job cried out to the heavens for help, God remained silent.

Finally, from within the chaos of a whirlwind and the darkness of a storm, God asked Job to consider wonders of nature that reflect a wisdom and power far beyond our own (Job 38:2–4).

Would He now ask us? What about something as natural as the ways of a dog, cat, fluttering leaf, or blade of grass? Could a shaft of light, or a turn of perspective, reveal—even in our pain—the mind and heart of a Creator who has been with us and for us all along?

Father in heaven, we’ve spent too much time thinking only about what is wrong and broken with our world. Please help us to see evidence of Your presence in the wonder of what only You could have done.

In the faces of nature there are wonders that never cease.

By Mart DeHaan | See Other Authors

INSIGHT

Job had heard many “answers” to the problem of his pain, but he wanted to hear from the Lord. When he did, God asked Job a series of questions that revealed His infinite superiority. And His questions pointed to the wonders of creation.

All creation points to God. A key way He speaks to us is through that creation. How refreshing to commune with our Lord as we enjoy His handiwork!

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    A Month of Stitching

    I’ve spent a great deal of time this month working on crafts – counted cross stitch, knitting, etc.  Why? Because when we moved last summer to our new home, I came across a box of craft items that my mom and I had collected – it hadn’t been opened since before we moved to south Jersey in 1989.

    The box contained 2 large floss organizers full of embroirdery thread, 2 small ones of various notions, pattern books and charts, aida cloth, hoops, a clock kit that is designed to be covered with a cross stitch motif, gold bookmarks, oraments and keychains ready to embroider – you get the idea.  In addition to that I knew that I already had a large tablecloth that I started to embroider when I was in high school – back in the 1960’s – which still needs to be finished!

    Now of course add to all that all the knitting projects and yarn that I have stockpiled and you know why I started to really work on these projects, trying to finish them up. So far, I have completed 3 Christmas tea towels, a small motif to use as an insert in a greeting card, plus a set of fingerless gloves and earwarmers for a friend.  I am determined to get all these various projects done and out of the house in 2018! Can you say Christmas and birthday gifting sorted?

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