Church… it’s my family

I have gone to church my whole life.  Even in college when no one was “making” me.  It has been something that I have always done; sometimes out of obligation, other times out of need but mostly because of the joy it gives me.  There is something so sacred about joining with others in worship and prayer.  And the connections run deep.  Very deep.  There is nothing like the love of church family.

My parents church... the church that i grew up in

My parents church… the church that I grew up in.

I witnessed it during a long period of health problems in my father. As an active farmer at the time of his stroke, he had many duties and responsibilities with livestock and crops that could not go unattended.  His church family was truly a life saver in that many people stepped in and assumed responsibilities and did undesirable jobs to continue the running of the farm.  And when it was discovered that he would never be able to farm again, they were there dismantling equipment and a farrowing house (which was a really yucky job). They drained lagoons, and got things ready for auctions.   They were there with all their combines and grain wagons when it was time for harvest.   It was truly one of the  most beautiful things I have ever witnessed.  A group of men linked together by God’s love literally being Jesus’ hands.

 

I have experienced the love of church family in my own life.  When I got a phone call late at night from my mother 12 hours away and friends and family are quick to step in to take care of  my children and church responsibilities.  The love of friends sending care packages as I travel.  The love of friends at church gathering around me in prayer when I got the call from my mother with the test results and her telling me it is cancer.

My Church and my beloved church family

My Church and my beloved church family

I was gone from my church for weeks at a time due to my parents health and I found myself missing it.  I missed the fellowship, I missed the community, I missed being part of something that was bigger than myself.  And when I returned, I was inundated with questions of how my family was. Because they cared about me.

It is for that same reason that I bake bread or make a meal for someone that just had a baby, or surgery or had a death in the family.  Because there is joy in the giving; a blessing to share God’s love with others.  And I share it not just with my church family but for my neighbors and friends regardless of their beliefs.  Because it is not just about church, but also about sharing God’s love with whoever needs it.  And really, we all need it.

I encourage you, if you are not part of a church, please find one. The denomination or the sign on the front door doesn’t matter as much as the part that you are part of something that you were created to be a part of.  God designed us to gather together in worship; to be part of something that is a unified community.  To be part of something greater than ourselves.  Where one can gather together with others of like mind, like purpose and a common love for our God.  See for yourself, there is something better when we are all together.

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A New Year, a New Beginning

Each year I think of goals and resolutions. I am just like everybody else and I make a list each year of what I want to accomplish.    I keep some of my resolutions and I forget about most of them.

Beginning image

Source: quotesonimages.com

I  think about my new goals for 2015 and I think about how exciting it is to have a “do over”; a chance where we can start fresh and have a new beginning.  That made me think about what a new beginning is all about.

When I reflect on 2014, I tend to see my failures and regrets.  I remember the the things that I didn’t do, the mistakes I made and the missed opportunities.  Reflection often brings shame and overshadows the many joys of the past year.  Because really,  2014 was a good year.  It was a year of healing, growth and redemption.   It was a year to be celebrated.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.

The old has gone, the new has come.”  

2 Corinthians 5:17

Paul wrote these words.  He believed these words.  He experienced these words.  If I can think of any biblical character that experienced a new beginning, it is Paul.  Paul knew.  Paul knew the redemptive power of Christ’s love and sacrifice.  He felt the change from his past to his beginning.  Paul was able to overcome who he used to be to who God called him to be.  Paul didn’t let his past keep him from being used by God.  He didn’t let public opinion make him want to keep his story a secret.  He didn’t let shame and regret from past behavior keep him from God’s purpose.  Instead, he used his past to share the power of God’s forgiveness.

God used a man that used to kill Christians and changed his heart and gave him a new beginning that he became one of the most influential man in history.

Our past does not have to define our future.  Our shame does not have to continue to be carried; our fears do not have to hold us back.  Our regrets do not have to be larger than our intentions.  If we believe these lies (and that’s what they are); than we are not acknowledging the full redemptive power of God’s grace.  God is bigger than our past.  He IS our future; He IS our hope.    He IS our new beginning.  The consequences of our past may still be there, but so is God.  And God can use each one of us right where we are.  Even with the garbage that we have created with our choices.

What is holding you back this year?  I encourage you to keep the past from influencing your future.  Join me and let’s make 2015 a new beginning….

source: inspirably.com

source: inspirably.com