Nightly Encounters with Jesus

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As Pine Valley UMC continues the sermon series Encounters with Jesus, I am reminded and thankful for what my mom shared with me.  She told me if I wake up in the middle of the night and cannot go back to sleep, then it may be the Holy Spirit waking me.  Also, if I wake up in the night with someone on my mind, then I should pray for them because that could be the Holy Spirit nudging me to pray.  On the radio this morning, I heard the end of a conversation between a Christian songwriter and a DJ.  The songwriter was saying that the words of the song had come to him in the middle of the night.  The DJ said that was biblical.  He quoted Psalm 42:8, "By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me— a prayer to the God of my life."

As a writer I know that I do a lot of my writing in the middle of the night.  I first noticed this when my girls were young.  I decided that was the only time God could meet with me and it was quiet and my mind was clear.  In the middle of the night the subjects, the words and the stories from life come to me so clear.  The majority of the first book I wrote was done in the dark while I was quiet and still in bed.  Years ago I used to hear people say, "I want to sleep on it" when making big decisions.  I thought that meant they wanted to pray about it overnight.  There is an old proverb about the pillow being the best counselor.  I believe it all comes from God wanting to find us quiet and talk to us.  I believe these are encounters with Jesus!

Most people are frustrated and some furious when they wake up and cannot go back to sleep.  We probably think this comes from anything but God.  We feel like what could be more important than one more hour of sleep?  I am not referring to people with sleep issues.  But, let's face it, if you are going to be awake anyway.....spend that time with God.  I believe He wants to share with you, tell you something special and spend time with you.  Maybe He wants to have a heart to heart with you.  Maybe He just wants you to know how much He loves you!  I can tell you that the nights I was up with Him I was not tired the next day.  I was refreshed.

“Night time”, “before dawn” and “fourth watch of the night” are mentioned many times in Scripture.  Matthew 14:25, "Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake."

Jesus urged Peter to come out and walk on the water with Him.  He did it because He loved Peter and wanted to encourage his faith. Peter was changed by this encounter with Jesus.  He repented of his sins and followed Jesus.  Imagine if Peter and the other disciples rolled over and went back to sleep.  Imagine if Jacob had refused to wrestle the Lord in the middle of the night until the breaking of day. There would be no “Israel.”  Samuel heard his name called not once, but four times, in the middle of the night. 

1 Samuel 3:7-11, "Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.  A third time the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”  Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.  The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”  Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”  And the Lord said to Samuel: “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears about it tingle."  Can you imagine the Lord saying that to you?

Do not miss out on an encounter with Jesus.  A true encounter with Jesus sends us out to tell others about Him.  We, like Peter and Samuel, will encounter Jesus joyfully and become changed people, following Jesus and connecting hearts to Christ and one another.  Next time you lie in bed awake say, "Speak Lord, for your servant is listening."  Then listen!  You may be getting ready to have an encounter with Christ! 

Close Encounters of The Best Kind

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After a long weekend of wedding festivities my friend mentioned she was exhausted and she was not getting up the next morning for church.  Then she said, “It does not take much for me not to go.  I do not get anything out of it."  This person was shocked that I said I was going because she knew we were tired also.  I went on to explain that I get excited to go to church.  When I walk into church on Sunday morning I feel the power of the Holy Spirit and I truly worship.  When I leave I feel I have been refreshed and ready for the week.  My spirit has been filled.  

When we worship we are giving back to God - for all that He has given us.  If we keep all of the blessings He has given us for ourselves it will rot, like the manna did when it was hoarded.  Exodus 16:20, "However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell. So Moses was angry with them."  God will never allow us to keep spiritual blessings all for ourselves.  We must give back to Him and He will use it to bless others. 

Genesis 12:8, "From there he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord."  “Bethel” is the symbol of fellowship with God;  “Ai” is the symbol of the world. Abram “pitched his tent” between the two.  We need to "pitch our tents" somewhere in the middle where we can still have quiet time with God while living in this noisy world.

Worship can turn bad times into wonderful times.  In the book of Acts we read of Paul and Silas, who were beaten and thrown into a cold, dark, stinking dungeon for preaching the gospel. But at midnight Paul and Silas began singing praises to God. They worshiped the Lord. As they sang, an earthquake came, and the entire prison fell apart.  Your faith during worship can lift you above your circumstances!

When we worship we take our focus from ourselves and our problems to God.  Even if our problems do not immediately go away like Paul and Silas' did, our problems don’t seem as significant. When we worship we reevaluate things.  We are reminded of the Lord's glory, His power and His love. We worship God in spite of our circumstances, God created us to worship Him.  Psalm 40:3, "He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.  Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him."  The more we honor God and are aware of His presence, in and around us, the more we recognize His presence.

Hebrews 10:25, "...not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching."  Theodore Roosevelt once said, “You may worship God anywhere, at any time, but the chances are that you will not do so unless you have first learned to worship Him somewhere in some particular place, at some particular time.” Worship is a commitment. 

Church is part of God's plan - He came up with it.  Matthew 16:18, "And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it."  We have all heard someone say, “Well, I don’t need to go to church to be a Christian.” That may be true but it is far removed from God's plan.  We need corporate worship so we are not hardened by sin's deceitfulness.  Hebrews 3:13, "But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness."  Ephesians 4:14, "Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves,and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming."  We become better grounded, spiritually, when we serve within our church.

The result of being in God’s presence is joy!  We encounter Christ up close and personal!  The fellowship is sweet for those who walk with the Lord in obedience and faith.  It is not a fleeting fellowship.  It sustains us even during the tough times.  Nehemiah 3:10, "Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is Holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” In James 1:2, James wrote, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds”.  Trials produce faith and develop perseverance. After times of perseverance we prove to ourselves that our faith is real and our sense of God's presence increases, along with our joy!

I am refreshed from worship because I have encountered Jesus!  He is there waiting on us. Don’t miss out on a close encounter of the best kind!  Will you show up?

Preparing The Table

A friend of mine was in charge of Altar Guild at church and I would go and help her.  My daughter, Ivey, was around five and she loved to go.  She was intrigued by the white gloves we wore.  It was not long before Ivey was in the pulpit preaching!  Long after Barbara and I were finished we would sit in the pews listening to the sermon!  I never thought much about it at the time but I am thankful that she was exposed to the changing of the Altar Guild and that she paid such attention to Communion.  Even though some of it did not make sense to her at that time - those acts and words were embedded.  Deuteronomy 11:18-19, “‘Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.’”

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A small band of dedicated volunteers are responsible for preparing our gathering spaces for corporate worship.  They change the large banners on the walls, change the parament (liturgical hangings on and around the altar and the cloths hanging from the pulpit and lectern) colors according to each liturgical season, decorate and undecorate the Chrismon trees, hang the wreaths, pull the stamens out of Easter lilies so people do not sneeze (who knew?!), fill the candles with oil, purchase the bread and juice for communion and then set the table with those elements.  These are just a few of the things they do to honor and glorify God.  

I talked to one of our Altar Guild servants and told her I needed a story to bring awareness to this ministry and hopefully get more volunteers.  Here is what she shared with me:  

“Knowing we need volunteers for Altar Guild I decided to look for a story to help with this important ministry. After reading Jill’s blog highlighting other ministries I began wondering how Altar Guild shows God’s love to others outside the church.  Then God brought a story to mind along with an invitation for me to share with you. 

I thought of one of our Altar Guild members who joined PVUMC about two years ago. She is married but her husband doesn't attend church. She and I lift him in our prayers every time we go to God. He is one of the sweetest people I have ever met. Always ready and willing to help. He consistently reaches out to his neighbors when they are in need, but let me tell you what he does here at church. This man doesn’t feel worthy. He doesn’t yet understand that none of us are worthy or deserving. He comes to help change out the wall banners. He fills the candles. He helps change the paraments. He goes to the store and purchases the bread and juice. He helps set the communion table. He loads the fruit and vegetables we use to decorate the altar for Thanksgiving in his van and delivers them to the Good Shepherd House the day after Thanksgiving Sunday. He helps put the small white candles in their plastic holders for Christmas Eve services. Yes, he does these things and many others because his wife is a member of the Altar Guild and he is supportive of her. But I believe that through our prayers for him, and because he is experiencing what service to God is and how his wife performs these acts with reverence and how she considers it an honor to prepare the elements for communion, we are carrying him to the cross, one step at a time. We are laying him at the feet of Jesus and asking Him to enter his heart. A quiet ministry can be effective too. The Bible says in Matthew 6:6 ‘But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.’”  

None of us are worthy. Scripture tells us that.  Romans 3:10-12, “As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God.  All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”  But here is good news!  Ephesians 2:8-10, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.  For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  All we have to do is believe that Jesus died on the cross for us.  John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

This is another way of how the Holy Spirit is moving here at PVUMC!  Hebrews 6:10, “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.”  We were made to serve and to show others the love of God.  Mark 10:45, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  If you would like to be a part of this Altar Guild team please contact Mark through the church office.  They need your help and so does God.  You never know how God will use you! 

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“You Helped Jesus Find A Lamb That Day”

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NOTE: This is a follow up blog to the June 21 Blog “In God Nothing Is Too Extreme - A PINE VALLEY UMC Ministry Story about the 2019 IGNITE Music in Mission visit to Henrico County Regional Jail East”. IGNITE is Pine Valley UMC’s Youth Worship Arts Ministry. Each year they minister through song, skits, and dance and take the show on the road. This year’s trip was to Virginia and included a visit to the Henrico County Regional Jail East. 

For those of you who were blessed to see Pine Valley United Methodist Church IGNITE’s “Search and Rescue” program you may remember there was a skit called “Sheep On The Lam” (Sermon On A Stage) about the one lost sheep.  The gist of the skit is that a Shepherd had lost one sheep and the lost and found department did not see the need in looking for ONE lost sheep when He still had 99!  As the Shepherd was leaving the clerk asked, “if you already had 99 sheep, why’d you really waste your time looking for just one?”  The Shepherd told him that that sheep was the most important.  The clerk was confused wondering if it was because he had the fluffiest wool or worth the most at the market?  The Shepherd answered, “No. He’s the most important because he was lost.” 

Matthew 18:12-14, “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?  And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off.  In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.”  Luke 15:4, “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?”

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This week PVUMC received a letter from an inmate, John, who saw “Search and Rescue” when IGNITE visited the jail he is in.  These are his words, “...I am writing you this letter to thank you and those wonderful young adults who came and performed drama skits and Christ with us.  Your mission team had me in laughter and in tears.  You guys reached me...made me rethink my life and understand that that moment was a time I could just start over again in Christ.  You all helped Jesus find a lamb that day...I want to thank you all for helping me start the process of coming back to Christ and starting over.  I pray for your safe travels and your ability to reach others through your missions.  You guys were awesome!!  I have been locked up now since August 4th of last year and that was the best day I have ever had since I have been here.  Many of my friends say hi and thank you….at our feelings and focus meeting person after person talked about how you touched them that day….I just wanted you guys to know you are reaching people through Christ.  Thank you.  Enjoy yalls summer!  I’ll be released July 9th in 16 days so I plan on going back to church giving up the alcohol and becoming the man God needs me to be.”  “P.S. Timothy 1:15-17, ‘This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.  Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.  Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.’”  

What a praise report for PVUMC to receive. I am so touched that John took the time to send us a letter and share his testimony.  We are to share our testimonies according to 1 Chronicles 16:8, “Give praise to the Lord, proclaim His name; make known among the nations what He has done.”  What a praise report for our youth who visited this man in jail.  Matthew 25:39-40, “Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?  And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto Me.” 

We are all prisoners to something.  Some of us may not sit behind physical prison walls like this man does but we all spend time in “prison”.  We can all be set free of the shackles through Jesus Christ.  Psalm 107:14, “He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness, and broke away their chains.”  We have all been in captivity, in darkness, in misery and in chains due to our rebellion against God.  God humbled our hearts and we find ourselves in a situation where we have come to the end of ourselves.  We are finally ready to cry out for help.  Sometimes there is no one there.  But when we cry out to the Lord, He is there to save us!  I believe God knew before John was born that on June 19, 2019 he would be in jail and each one of us (he knew our names) would be there to show the love of Christ.  God had been humbling John’s heart - and many others.  John was ready to give up and call out and The Good Shepherd was there to pick Him up and celebrate his coming home!

And while John plans to give up alcohol he will probably face temptation. Romans 7:24, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?”  We all have temptations towards sin and pride.  In the middle of temptation we can pray, “Lord Jesus lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”  Each one of us are God’s chosen.  He laid down His life for us.  He has always loved us and always will.  He never changes so it will always be this way.  Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever.”  He is ready to meet us just where we are.

The greatest joy of all is that this sheep is with the Shepherd. Let’s rejoice with God on finding His lost sheep and let’s pray for John.  I believe many people encountered Jesus that day.  May we continue to go out and connect hearts to Christ and one another.  IGNITE, you helped Jesus find a lamb that day!  1 Corinthians 3:8, “The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor.”

Let Freedom Ring

July 4th means I put extra flags in my yard and on the boat - I always have an American flag flying at my house.  We usually spend the day with friends or on the boat with friends and grilling out on the island.  Our dogs, like many of yours, do not like July 4th because of the fireworks!  We have had neighborhoods who have parades and parties.  People wear red, white and blue that weekend.  Many people get an extra day off to enjoy cookouts and fireworks with friends.  This is all good, but the one word that comes to my mind is freedom.

July 4th commemorates the day in 1776 that our nation declared itself to be an independent nation and no longer a colony of England. On that date, a number of our leading citizens signed what is known as the Declaration of Independence. July 4th is Independence Day and we celebrate the tremendous freedom we enjoy!  

I try not to take freedom for granted.  We live in a country where we can voice our opinions freely and can vote for the people of our choice.  We can worship freely.  The American flag means so much to me.  I have generations of family members who have served and are serving for our country.  Because of their contributions for my freedom, I proudly display my flag!  

While July 4th is not a religious holiday, I do think it is a time to reflect on God’s goodness to us as a nation. Molded into the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia are the words from Leviticus 25:10, “And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubilee unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family.”  The ancient words of the Psalmist are still true: “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” (Psalm 33:12a).  While we look with gratitude to the past on this July 4th, may we also look in faith to the future. Psalm 33:12, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people he chose for his inheritance.”  

If we want true and eternal freedom we need to commit our lives to God and His will. 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,  that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,...”  Jesus died to pay the price for our sins.  He took my place and He took your place.  Because of His death, we are made free from the death penalty of sin. We are washed clean and can stand righteous before God.   

Jesus was buried.  Romans 6:4, “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”  Through faith we died with Jesus and we are dead to the power of sin over us.  We can choose to live Holy lives. 

“That He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:4) tells us that His death, alone, could not save us.  It was the resurrection that gave us the power of salvation.  

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The American flag represents freedom.  Jesus also represents freedom.  He is like a banner flying over us, protecting us, and shielding us.  Psalm 3:3, “But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.”

Let freedom ring this July 4th!  Let the freedom Jesus gives ring out in our hearts today!

“Lord, We Lift Our Praise To You!”

I was blessed to spend two days at Camp Singletary which had been transformed into CandyLand! Making my way into the mess hall I could smell the cotton candy!  Candy was everywhere - giant “candy” hanging from the ceilings, on the walls, jars of candy all over and desert after lunch was, of course, candy!  Every kind of candy!

I first visited the elementary girl’s cabin where it was nicely decorated!  Pretty lights hanging and their “carpet squares” (to wipe their feet off before getting in bed) were pretty and one said, “Good morning, gorgeous!”  Decorative pillows on the beds and cute pillow cases.  The cabins are judged for cleanliness and their cabin was ready.  

I heard loud music from a cabin and Chase and Conner invited me in to the boys cabin.  A little less “homey” than the girls cabin. After talking with the counselors, camp is very simple for the boys.  No need to bathe - you swim in the lake.  Life is too simple for the clean cabin award - they make a mess and don’t worry about it.  On the last day they clean up!  

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MAC stands for “met at camp” and consists of one high schooler or middle schooler and one elementary student or sometimes one more camper.  Everyday there is time to do MAC things together (Lunch, Swim, Dinner, Party). I saw the older kids helping the younger kids get their food and bonding. Instead of being intimidated by the older kids they are becoming friends with them!   After dinner each night, the MACs go to vespers, a time of worship and prayer together, on the lake pier.

Each group has “Bible” with an age appropriate lesson. Their singing is led by cool young counselors and, of course, Pastor Tim!  One special thing, to me, is how our kids interact with Pastor Tim.  They know they have a pastor, not just a pastor for their parents.  I think this makes our youth feel special. 

I worked in the kitchen part of the time and let me tell you - that is a well oiled machine!  Several of the team could run it on their own (and have) but we have all of those gifts and knowledge in one kitchen!  And it works!  In my opinion that is the hardest and hottest job!   

There are many other parts of camp like crafts, Bingo and singing with the nearby rehab center, senior night, Jesus-in-Action awards, etc.  

Some of our camp servants came here as kids.  Some were here the first year of Pine Valley’s Summer Camp in 1988.  They love getting to know different ages!  I heard “tradition” many times.  This is their tradition so they keep coming!  Some of the servants take a week of their vacation to come to camp.  They know the importance of camp.  In 1 Corinthians 12, the church is compared to a human body. Just as our bodies are made of many parts serving specific functions, the church is made up of people with different skills and abilities.  Some in college, some just married, some are parents, some are working, some are retired, some are grandparents. But there is one thing in common for them to come serve in this heat!  They are on fire for Jesus. Burning up for Jesus!

After being with IGNITE and seeing the spiritual side last week, I wondered what the big thing would be about camp.  One difference was what were tear-stained notes last week were sweat-stained notes this week!   As I sat back to pause and reflect I quickly realized - fellowship!  You do not go to Camp Singletary for the luxurious accommodations, crystal clear water, and great air conditioning. You go for the fellowship. You take home more friendships of all ages, more memories, and more Bible knowledge!  Most importantly you take home God’s love!   

Our kids were “unplugged” for this God-filled week, just enjoying God’s creation!  I believe Jesus was smiling down on Lake Singletary, watching His children have fun while learning Good News!  He listened as the whole camp sang praises to Him!  “Sweet Camp Singletary, where skies are blue.  Sweet Camp Singletary, Lord we lift our praise to you!” to the tune of “Sweet Home Alabama.”  Jesus watched all ages laugh and play in the lake - a way to cool off in the heat!  I believe He enjoyed painting gorgeous sunsets behind the cross, as our backdrop, for Vespers each night.  He saw new friendships being made - many for a lifetime - friendships that help us grow spiritually.  He witnessed encouragement!  Hebrews 10:24-25, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”  

Psalm 145:4, “One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts”  I believe God looked at these servants and said, “well done, good and faithful servant!”  Everyone comes back from camp exhausted but with a renewed spirit!  Many have moved out of their comfort zones and God has increased their faith by revealing their new potential.  New potential that benefits them and our church - all for the glory of God!  

“Sweet camp Singletary! Lord, we lift our praise to you!”

“You May Be The Only Bible Someone Reads”

Recently, I attended the new member’s luncheon as a staff member and I learned a lot.  Pastor Tim asked the new members how they found Pine Valley United Methodist Church.  The coolest part was listening to those answers.  One of the ladies said that she had recently attended a funeral for a coworker and the choir meant so much to her that she decided to visit and is now joining.  Another lady said her neighbor asked Pastor Barry to call her because her husband was dying.  Pastor Barry did and that meant so much to her that she is now joining.  And the most touching story to me was a young girl who said during hurricane Florence she was without water and power.  She heard that PVUMC was feeding people and she came.  She was so impressed with that ministry that she is now joining!  The Holy Spirit is all over this campus!  We never know what our actions mean to someone else.  We never know who is listening.  I like the saying “sometimes we are the only Bible someone will read.”  

A young Timothy received instruction on how to be a leader from his mentor, Paul.  1 Timothy 4:11-5: 2, “Command and teach these things.  Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.  Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.  Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you.  Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers…Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.”

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As church people, we need to make a difference to our families, to others, and to our community.  As Christians we are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus.  God has given every one of us a gift to use to further His Kingdom.  These gifts can be faith, mercy, leadership, giving, prophecy, service, etc.  Romans 12:6-8, “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith;  if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach;  if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”

You are the only Bible some people will read, and as I recently heard, “you are the only Jesus some people will see.”  The Lord is calling you to serve him by serving others.  Galatians 5:13, “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.  Service is a great way to put our self-centeredness aside.  We begin to start seeing the needs of others.  Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works,which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  We are not to live for ourselves but to serve others. Matthew 25:40,  “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”

I have read many times that studies have shown that volunteering is good for the mind and body.  It can ease symptoms of stress and depression. Serving can build self-confidence, energy, and strength.  God does not want to only work through you - He wants to also work in you!  Do not miss this encounter with Jesus! 

In God Nothing Is Too Extreme

When PJ Bolduc, our Pine Valley United Methodist Church Children & Youth Music Director, mentioned that IGNITE was going to a jail to do their Search and Rescue concert, I knew I wanted to go!  IGNITE is the PVUMC Worship Arts ministry for youth. Prison ministry has always had a special place in my heart. IGNITE’s concert Sunday morning at 9:45 in the Bridge was such a blessing!  

Tuesday I arrived in Newport News to see IGNITE do their concert at the Five Loaves Food bank where they put on a carnival earlier in the day.  After the concert, Brother Tim, a Franciscan Monk, had a healing service for 13 year old Riley, who is very sick and has lived years past his prognosis.  Brother Tim had not seen him in a year and he showed up Tuesday night!  Brother Tim asked anyone who needed healing to stand and whoever felt led to pray to go pray with someone near you.  The girl next to me, Holly, had been crying so hard she was shaking.  I stood with her and she could only say, “emotional healing”.  As I wrapped my arms around her to pray with her I shared her tears. God was breaking my heart for what breaks His.  IGNITE had a raffle and called so many numbers!  I was cheering for Holly’s number to be called and she said, “I already got a gift...the best gift...being here tonight!”  Miracles were seen Tuesday night.  Our youth were mingling and making friends!  Aubrey shared with me what Edna, her 94 year old friend, meant to her.  Aubrey nor I will probably ever see Edna or Holly again but we will never forget our encounters. As we ate dinner, Brother Tim (not Pastor Tim) shared his story of being in prison for three years for drugs before He changed his life.  He shared what God could do in your life and God’s amazing forgiveness.

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Wednesday morning when the 120+ inmates of the Henrico County Jail walked in, there were already tears by many of the females.  Not only do the inmates not get to see youth, but also a few if not many have children this age and do not know if, or when, they will see their children.  I am sure there were lots of feelings of regret, shame, heaviness, etc.  As soon as our youth started singing there were more tears, smiles, moving to the music and clapping.  When the words, “I needed rescue, my sin was heavy, but chains break at the weight of Your glory,” were sang, they started yelling in praise to God as I believe their chains were breaking.  As we sang, “You rescued me so I could stand and sing, ‘I am a child of God!’”  You could just hear them yelling, “thank You, Jesus” and “Amen”.  One lady, on the front row, could hardly contain herself.  Joy was radiating from her!  When she heard, “And when the tears of pain and heartache are pouring down my face, I find my peace in Jesus’ name” she grabbed her arms and told her friend, “I have chills!”  She could not stop smiling or cheering.

When the words, “From my mother’s womb...you have chosen me” was sung there seemed to be another “release” of tears. “I’m no longer a slave to fear” brought shouts of praise!  My notes are tear stained as I prayed for these children of God to know they are chosen and know they are forgiven!  “East to west their sins were gone!”  When the last song was sung and the words were, “Three days later, my Jesus is alive,” I witnessed true celebration.  We don’t praise THAT much on Easter morning!

PJ thanked them for having IGNITE and told them even though we do not know them, as a Christian community, we love you.  They all yelled back, “we love you!”  Pastor Tim reminded them how much God loves them.  He said if any of us need to accept forgiveness, transformation and power in our lives to say yes. There were no eyes shut and no heads bowed - they were all yelling, “YES!”  Pastor Tim closed with, “let us receive, believe and walk in that mercy today.”  I could just picture Jesus smiling, so proud, arms outreached to welcome back the lost sheep!  I know he was so proud of the youth!  1 Timothy 4:12, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”

As the men filed out, they were yelling, “thank you!  We love you!”  As they walked out they looked lighter from burdens being lifted. There were smiles and they looked hopeful!  As I mingled with some of the women, I asked what I should tell our church about this concert. One lady told me that her 15 year old daughter sings in an all county chorus and these youth inspired her- thinking of her daughter singing Christian songs! Several told me that for a little while they forgot where they were!  Wow!  One lady said, “y’all opened up moments of grace for me.”  For me too!  The lady who oozed joy told me that she had needed this for a while.  She and her friend had been talking the day before about needing to feel God.  Her friend said, “just yesterday I yelled, ‘God where are you’?!”  As she wiped the steady stream of tears from her face, they both laughed and she said, “and then today here y’all were!”  They felt part of a miracle!  IGNITE was an answered prayer for so many hurting sheep!

A few inmates got to answer questions and share their story.  One shared that she had a good childhood raised by strong Christian parents and grandparents.  When she went to UVA she had freedom with no one to answer to.  She could do whatever she wanted and her partying progressed.  Later, as an alcoholic, she chose to be irresponsible and drive with her baby and she found herself in jail for 36 months.  She said this was a blessing - she could have killed her son and innocent people.  She reminded us not to follow the crowd.  You know what your parents instilled in you!  Another lady told us she did not wake up one day wanting to be a bad person. She turned her back on everything she knew. Instead of seeking God she sought drugs.  She was leaving that afternoon and did not know where she would be.  She would get her sentence in court the next day.  She was grateful she saw IGNITE before she left!  Another miracle!  Even though she did not know what her future held, she said she knew God will never leave her or forsake her.  She thanked IGNITE for reminding them that God IS in the jail!

Luke 19:10, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”  And as IGNITE tells you, that is great news for anyone who’s ever drifted out to sea or wandered away from the flock.  “If you feel like a hurricane is blowing through your life, a storm of debt, depression, sickness or grief, if you feel like your life should be declared a disaster area, look to God, who is able to keep you in His eye.  He put His Son Jesus Christ on search and rescue duty, and if we trust Him, He will provide a place of peace for our soul.

IGNITE stands for “In God Nothing Is Too Extreme” and that was proved this week!  And I will close with another lady’s comment to our youth, “you are all so beautiful!”

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Labor of Love

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I was reading this article by Billy Graham and thought, this sounds like it was just written.  I went back and looked and this message was from 1955!  He describes problems that are sadly similar to those of today.  He writes, “many Christian parents are becoming fearful that they cannot properly train their children in this lawless and wicked age...We have taken God out of our educational systems and thought we could get away with it….Many of our educational leaders sneer at the old-fashioned idea of God and a moral code. Movies feature sex, sin, crime and alcohol... Newspapers have played up crime and sex until they seem glamorous to our young people...Instead of publicizing the good and constructive things that teenagers do, we have played up the sensational lawbreaker….”  

Mr. Graham went on to say, “If you are a parent, Christ can help you to rear your children in the fear and nurture and admonition of the Lord. If I were not a Christian, I would despair of my children in the moral climate in which we have to rear them….Get the Scripture and its principles ingrained into their souls—“precept upon precept; line upon line;” teach them “here a little, and there a little” from the Word of God (Isaiah 28:13). Get them into the habit of going to church every Sunday, of praying daily and of saying grace at the table….That will solve 90 percent of the problems you have with your children.”

Every problem, then and now, has the same answer - Jesus Christ.  Thankfully, at PVUMC you have lots of opportunities for your children to grow in God’s Word.  As I think about how so many churches slow down for the summer all I see is PVUMC revving up!  We are so blessed to be looking at such a full calendar of events coming up.  I am blown away as I sit in the staff meeting listening to all of the logistics.  I am amazed, but not surprised, at the ongoing commitment from our staff!  They truly have servants hearts!  They are called to do God’s work sharing the Good News! 

Three big events are coming up including Ignite’s music and mission trip, summer camp at Singletary, and vacation Bible school!  What important experiences these are!  I have wonderful memories of Bible school and church camp and so do my girls. I am grateful that our church knows the importance of these events for our children and youth!  Just to show you what a labor of love these weeks are, Ignite music mission trip is made up of 100 people!  Summer camp is made up of 140 people!  Vacation Bible school is made up of 425 people!  As you can tell it takes a lot of servant hearts giving of their time to pull this off.  All of this is done to help further the Kingdom of God! 

As I have said before, please remember that God does not call the qualified but qualifies the called. 2 Timothy 3:17, “...so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”  The kids need love and we can all do that.  When we put our arms around the kids, we will put their arms around God’s Word!  You may experience the toughest kid on day one and that same kid may be the one hugging you the hardest on the last day!  Matthew 19:14, “Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” 

We need servant hearts for Vacation Bible School July 8-13.  If you would like to laugh, be inspired with creativity, appreciate the small wonders of life and experience unconditional love, please register on the church website or contact the church office.

Leaving a Legacy

As Father's Day approaches I think of lot of my dad and how much I miss him.  I have so much to be grateful for.  My dad left me wonderful memories of quality time spent together.  He left me the love of salt water and all that it entails!  He left me a positive attitude trying to always see the glass half full.  He left me the love of the American flag and all that it stands for. I share the same tears he shed when I hear the National Anthem. He left me lots of laughs.  He left me lots of life lessons and unconditional love.  Most importantly, he handed down his faith and his love for Jesus.

While my dad did not leave me millions of dollars, he left me something better!  An inheritance is something you leave.  When an inheritance is left, it causes temporary happiness and satisfaction.  A legacy is a movement.  The spiritual inheritance I received is priceless!   Proverbs 20:21, "An inheritance claimed too soon will not be blessed at the end."  While money is a nice inheritance, parents can leave enough to their children and grandchildren to be helpful without leaving them so much it hurts them.  Matthew 19:24 explains, "Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God."

Proverbs 13:22, "A good person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children, but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous."  When we realize that stuff and money are temporary, it pales in comparison to a legacy of faith and love.  My dad's godly character, integrity and trustworthiness taught me so much.  These qualities are passed down to the next generation when the person has already gone to heaven.  2 Timothy 1:5, "I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also."

We have such a huge responsibility to our children.  We need to leave a legacy behind!  We must let our children know about God's power and the wonderful things He has done.  Psalm 78:4, "We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done."  We need to teach our children about God's faithfulness.  Isaiah 38:19, " The living, the living—they praise you, as I am doing today; parents tell their children about your faithfulness."  Our children should know that in our house we will serve the Lord.  Joshua 24:15, "... But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

As a Christian, what more should we want for others than to have the promise of eternal life?  We are told in Proverbs 22:6, "Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it."  What an awesome promise!  Whether we are the birth parents or not, this is our commandment.

When we hear inheritance we should think of God's promises of inheriting eternal life with Him!  God has graciously given us an inheritance.  Psalm 37:29, "The righteous will inherit the land and dwell in it forever."  Jesus quoted from this psalm when he said in Matthew 5:5, "Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth."  What will our children inherit from us?

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As we celebrate Father's Day let's thank God for the legacies that were left behind from those men who were influential in our spiritual lives.  Let us also ask God to help us to leave a spiritual legacy behind for many.  Happy Father's Day to those who have gone on to be with the Heavenly Father and to my family and friends here on earth!

Gifts, Getaways, and Grace

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When Mike and I got married he or I messed up our vows - not enough for anyone else to notice.  Anyway, Mike has always teased me that he could get out of the marriage because of that.  He also likes to pick on me saying that when he said, "I thee wed" he really said, "I be dead."  A real comedian, huh?  I remember I had the word, "obey" taken out of our vows. Obey sounded so harsh!  I also kept my maiden name hyphenated with his name.

As Mike and I celebrate our 31st anniversary I find myself thinking of what anniversary really means.  My first thought is of gifts and getaways.  Sometimes it means you have raised two daughters who you love and are so proud of.  Sometimes it means you have persevered through the tough times.  Sometimes it means the diamond he put on your finger last year and said he was more excited buying this one than the one 30 years ago!  Sometimes it means building a prosperous business.  Sometimes it means we were struggling financially.   Sometimes it means we made it through sickness.  Sometimes we made it through health without knowing what a blessing health is!  Sometimes it means hearts breaking.  Sometimes it means mending hearts.  Sometimes it means full hearts.  Sometimes it means burying your parents.  Sometimes it means devastating news.  Sometimes it means great vacations together.  Sometimes it is just sitting in God’s beautiful creation together.  Sometimes it is just being comfortable sitting together quietly.  Sometimes it means tough seasons.  But all the time it means we are in it together!

As I think about our upcoming sermon series on Encountering Jesus, I am reminded of how Mike and I have made it through the highs and lows of marriage.  We could not do this without encountering Jesus!  The biggest blessing in our marriage is that there are three in our marriage.  We don't always show that but we do know it.  With Jesus we can go through the tough times and come out stronger!  We have been through things that many people would have split up over.  I thank God for His grace that helps us every day.  God has blessed both of us and our marriage with His grace...over and over!

My thoughts have changed so much through the years - maybe I gained a little wisdom along the way.  I still like my maiden name.  I don’t  introduce myself with both names but I always write it.  It’s my name and I am proud of my family because I come from good stuff.  However, today I would confidently say, "submit or obey".  Before my girls, and many of you, have a fit, please finish reading.  Ephesians 5:22-23, "Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior."  Ephesians 5:25, "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her."

Wives, if your husband is trying to love you like Christ loved the church, then you have nothing to worry about!  He will be a godly man and not "boss" you around.  The verse is for the women so it is hers to obey and not his to demand.  Spiritual leadership means that the husband has the burden of responsibility.  It is not for him to do what he wants to do.  It is empowerment for him to do what he ought to do.  Paul explains that submission in marriage is a gift God designed to help us grow and become more like Him.  He is not diminishing our worth but inviting us to reflect Jesus in how we submit to that leadership.

The Bible tells women to honor and respect their husbands.  Ephesians 5:33, "However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband."  Men gravitate to the place where they receive honor and respect.  While studying this, over and over, I saw that if we treat our men with utmost respect they will want to live up to what we see in them.  Marriage thrives in an atmosphere of praise.

Long-lasting marriages don’t just happen. They need a maintenance plan because constant maintenance is required.  You need a plan in place from the beginning.  Our first plan was that divorce was not an option so we knew we had to work.  (Although I do believe there are times when divorce is needed.)  Ephesians 4:32, "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."  There are things we both just have to get over or bitterness and resentment will take over.  We need to cover each other's faults and focus on the strengths.

Anniversaries are about honoring God for what He has done.   Think about how God has brought you through.  God can help us love our spouse as Christ has loved us. We need to meditate on 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails..."   Thanks be to God! 

Drunk in the Spirit - A Pine Valley UMC Pentecost Ministry Story

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Before I start, let me tell you I am not glorifying drunkenness from alcohol.  

Years ago my parents, minister and church friends called me from the Holy Land when they were on the road to Emmaus as mentioned in Luke 24:13-34.  Due to the time zone difference, they called at 2:30 a.m., my time, and scared me!  They were all yelling and so excited, that they sounded drunk.  I knew they were not drunk!  They were excited.  An excitement on steroids!  Being high on the Holy Spirit or “drunk in the Spirit” means, to me, feeling God's power in action.  Here is where, I think, drunk in the spirit comes from.

Jesus had spent forty days after his resurrection with his disciples.  He spent time talking and praying with his closest friends. I cannot imagine how the disciples felt watching Jesus ascend to heaven.  Jesus knew He was the risen Savior!  When He ascended to the Father He received all dominion, power and authority. Acts 1:11, "'Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.'"  They must have mourned Him again.  Jesus promised them in Acts 1:5, "For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

Acts 2:1-13, "When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.  They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.  All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.  Now they were staying in Jerusalem. God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven.  When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: ‘Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans?  Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language?  Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!’ Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, ‘What does this mean?’  Some, however, made fun of them and said, ‘They have had too much wine.’”

Can you imagine being there on the day of Pentecost?  The Holy Spirit is literally poured out all over the believers!  They were all "filled with the Holy Spirit" and began speaking in tongues.  Crowds gathered around just like we would picture today!  While the crowd mocked them they were also amazed.  I cannot imagine people hearing the same language, each in their own native language.  Yeah, I would be amazed! They did not understand and asked each other what this meant.  Some were making fun and said, "They have had too much wine."

What other explanation could the non-believers come up with to explain what they were witnessing?  While we know them speaking in other native languages is supernatural, they saw a chaotic scene that made them think they were drunk.

We have so many reasons to celebrate Pentecost.  Pentecost fulfills Jesus’ promise to never forsake us.  As painful as it must have been to watch the ascension, Jesus assured the disciples that it would be to their advantage for him to leave so the helper would come.  John 16:7, “But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.”  He went on to explain in verses 13-14, “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you.”  Jesus’ work did not end with the ascension.  He continues His work through His Spirit-filled churches.

The outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost shows us that the great harvest had begun.  The 3000 souls added to the church on Pentecost came from all corners of the Roman world. They would carry the gospel to their families and communities.  The disciples would carry the gospel from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth.  Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

As we celebrate Pentecost, let us remember Jesus’ words, “Behold, I will be with you always, even to the end of the age.”  Matthew 28:20

Encountering the Holy Spirit

I was blessed to have a visit from Annette who had been visiting our church.  At 14 years old she came to know Jesus at Vacation Bible School.  She shared with me that her husband decided at 14 years old that he was not going to be a preacher but was going to join the Navy...  even though he had never seen the ocean!  He was in the Vietnam War standing on the captain’s nest when he made a promise to God.  If God would let him and his men get home to their families he would serve God the rest of his life.  The Naval officer and his men got home to their families and within three years he was a pastor!  She had a wonderful life with him and encountered Jesus many times.

After the death of her first husband, Annette remarried.  She continued learning about the Holy Spirit.  She spent a lot of time teaching about the Great Awakening in China and speaking to women about marriage.  Annette moved to Wilmington five years ago, after her husband’s death.  She is involved with the Celebration Choir and loves traveling with them. I have seen her when she sings with them and it is obvious she is using one of her gifts. And she has 24 grandchildren!

Annette was living across town and felt she wanted to find another place to live.  She attended church but did not feel she was growing like she was supposed to.  She began to ask God to find her a cheaper place to live near a doctor and a bank.  She also wanted a church within walking distance.  And above all she wanted a church where she could feel the presence of the Holy Spirit! 

Annette knew the Holy Spirit would help her discern what was best for her move.  There are numerous examples of the Holy Spirit as a guide in the Bible; from the guiding of the people of Israel through prophets, signs, visions, to Jesus and Paul.  And certainly in the forming of the early church.  Annette was specific about being near a doctor, a bank and a church….the right church for her.  While some of our decisions may not be spelled out in Scriptures, the Holy Spirit will guide us.  He will give us discernment for big and small decisions.  As we develop a greater sensitivity to His guidance, we will worry much less about those decisions.  We will build trust.  Exodus 31:3, “...and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills…”  Exodus 35:31, “...and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills.”

Before long Annette had found a cheaper place and of course it was close to a doctor and a bank.  And it was within walking distance to PVUMC!  She soon visited PVUMC and said she felt the Holy Spirit as soon as she walked in the door!  She said she thought, “God is in this room!”  Exodus 25:8, “Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them.”  She worshiped at the 8:15 service then visited the Connection Cafe before trying Sunday School.  She kept thinking, “This is what I have been looking for!”  When she walked into Sunday School she was told it was perfect timing because they were beginning a new series that day.  The new series was learning about the Holy Spirit!  Annette said she went home elated.  She knew this was all part of God’s plan.  PVUMC was blessed to welcome Annette as a new member in May!  

When I have decisions I ask God to open the door or slam it shut so I cannot mess up!  Throughout Paul’s life he interpreted open and closed doors as evidence of the Holy Spirit’s guidance.  1 Corinthians 16:8, “But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost,  because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.”  God surely “opened the doors” for Annette!

The Holy Spirit is our guide, not our controller.  He lives in you and in me.  He communicates God’s will to Christians.  God speaks through the voice of His Spirit who lives in us.  Because He lives in us, He has direct access to our minds, emotions and consciences.  Sometimes we have to seek Him for a season and other times we can sense His guidance immediately.  The Holy Spirit can change circumstances and enable ordinary people to do extraordinary things.  The Holy Spirit is our guide and He reveals the way of truth.  Let’s trust Him with our decisions, big or small!  And let’s thank God that people are encountering Him here at PVUMC!  Acts 13:52, “And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.”

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Oh, The Places You Will Go

As we approach graduation time I think of Dr. Seuss' book, "Oh, The Places You’ll Go!”  As my daughter just received her Master’s last weekend, I think of the places she will go.  I decided I needed to add some things to Dr. Seuss’ book to REALLY show graduates (and all of us) where we can go!

“Congratulations!  Today is your day.

You’re off to Great Places!  You’re off and away!” 

We know that because of Hebrews 11:13, "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

“You have brains in your head and feet in your shoes

and you can steer yourself any direction you choose!"

Revelation 3:8, "See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut."  Life is full of tough decisions.  Some people don’t like making decisions mostly because they are afraid of making the wrong one.  If we trust God to guide our decisions we will not have to stress! 

"You can get all hung up in a prickle-ly perch.

And your gang will fly on. You'll be left in a Lurch.

You'll come down from the Lurch with an unpleasant bump.

And the chances are, then, that you'll be in a Slump."  

We know that in this life we are going to have slumps and unpleasant bumps.  John 16:33, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  "Un-slumping yourself is not easily done."  We were made to lean on God.  Proverbs 3:5-6, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight."  God will give us peace.  Philippians 4:7, "And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."  

"You can get so confused that you'll start in to race

down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace

and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,

headed, I fear, toward a most useless place. The Waiting Place..." 

Psalm 143:8, "Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you.  Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life."   1 Corinthians 14:33, "For God is not a God of confusion but of peace..." (ESV)  The waiting place - we will spend much of our time waiting for God's perfect timing but this is not wasted time.  Ecclesiastes 3:1, "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens..."  While we think we are “just waiting” God has a purpose for all that we are going through....even the waiting!  The only way we can trust in God’s perfect timing is through spending more time with Him.  As our relationship with Him grows, we will have the ability to be patient, still and obedient. 

"You'll find the bright places where Boom Bands are playing.

With banner flip-flapping, once more you'll ride high!" 

Remember Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."  His plan is to prosper us and give us hope and a future.  I call it "showing off."  When we trust God with our life He will give us something so much better than we could ever imagine!  He exceeds our wildest imagination!  He will align our path with what we are meant to be doing, not what we expect we should be doing. 

"And when you're alone, there's a very good chance

you'll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.

There are some, down the road between hither and yon,

that can scare you so much you won't want to go on." 

 You will never be alone!  God has told us He will never leave us.  Hebrews 13:5, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."  When we feel too scared to go on we must remember Deuteronomy 31:6.  "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." 

"KID, YOU'LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!

So... be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray

or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O'Shea,

you're off to Great Places!  Today is your day!

Your mountain is waiting." 

Matthew 17:20, "He replied, 'Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.'”  Nothing is impossible when our faith is in God.  We can move mountains! 

"You'll get mixed up, of course, as you already know.

You'll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go.

So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact

and remember that Life's a Great Balancing Act." 

There will be many times we are mixed up and have to watch our steps.  Mark 11:22, "'Have faith in God,' Jesus answered."   A lack of faith is simply not trusting that God will keep His promises, not believing that He can do the impossible or that He wants what is best for our life.  In faith, we know that somethings are not His will and we know there are some things God will not do for us because He knows better. 

"And will you succeed?

Yes! You will, indeed!

(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)"  

God had created each of us for a purpose and many of us do not know what that purpose is, but if we allow God’s word to speak to us, allowing more of Him and less of ourselves, we will find that purposeful path!  Do not rely on yourself, rely on God!  Proverbs 16:9,  "In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps." 

With God guiding us, nothing is impossible!  “Oh, the places you will go!  So...get on your way!"

This wonderful banner greeted the recent Wee Care kindergarten graduates on May 22, 2019.

This wonderful banner greeted the recent Wee Care kindergarten graduates on May 22, 2019.

Bloom Where You Are Planted

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As soon as I came on staff at PVUMC I learned about the “flower ministry”. When I came around the corner to my office, there was a field of flowers on a cabinet. They were beautiful and all in glass vases with a ribbon and a card. Church members arrange the flowers twice a month and then have a pastor pray over the flowers and those giving and those receiving them.  Other church members with a servant’s heart take these flowers to their assigned people. My mom has always visited the homebound and I know what an important ministry this is!  The least we can do for our church members who can no longer make it to church is to visit them!

I met with my friend, Barbara, about this ministry and watched the passion pour out of her!  We quickly learned that we both have a passion for the elderly.  Her dad had passed down the love of the elderly to her.  When I was in college I worked as a weekend receptionist at a retirement home and I had lots of grandparents. I learned so much from them.  Job 12:12, “Is not wisdom found among the aged?  Does not long life bring understanding?”  Barbara started visiting the homebound about 30 years ago.  We shared so many stories, laughs and tender moments about our friends. What was most obvious was how blessed we were by them!  As Barbara said, “They have enriched her life more than she could ever imagine!”

We also both shared how full of wisdom these people are.  They have already been down the road we are going.  They have had the feelings we are having.  They can teach us.  Titus 2:3-5, “Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.  Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.”

Barbara’s first story was of Sam who only had a nephew who he never saw.  As a volunteer at the help center in her town, she heard about Sam and started visiting him and playing checkers with him.  This went on for years and Sam was one of her best friends!  When Sam died she learned that his “family” was eight United Methodist women from the local church who visited him weekly.  Together, they planned his funeral and buried him in his favorite outfit - his overalls. She learned of another family who had lost their young daughter to cancer and the father wrote a book about his daughter's life.  Sam was in that book.  Sam had been a blessing to so many!

Today Barbara has three women she visits.  Although Billie does not know Barbara’s name, her face lights up as soon as she sees her!  She loves flowers and has a spirit of graciousness for everything in her life.  She loved to entertain in her home and loves to share those stories.   Even though she now lives in a nursing facility, she remains appreciative.  Barbara leaves feeling more appreciative.  God is still using Billie and no telling how many lives she touches!

Barbara's face lights up when she talks about Martha.  Their relationship quickly blossomed into a close friendship, making her one of Barbara’s best friends.  Barbara describes her as an amazing and loving woman!  She is able to take her places, to lunch, to run errands.  She has taken Martha to visit Billie and they reminisce about times at PVUMC and the many gatherings at Billie’s home.  Martha was a Christian educator and she shares her faith with Barbara.  Barbara is beyond blessed by these visits!

Barbara’s third lady has family who visits but she confides in Barbara as if she is another daughter.  That is what makes this ministry so important - we are not family.  We are church family - someone who comes because they are a friend.  Someone who sits and listens.  They have also become friends.  Before we left each other Barbara reminded me again, “I was called to do this.  People need people to just sit with them.  I have never NOT gotten a smile or appreciation!  I have gotten so much more out of this than I have ever given - it has come back tenfold!” Hebrews 13:15, “And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”

As Barbara said, this all started because she read one morning, “let me be a blessing to someone today.”  That seed was planted and look at all of the blooms that have come over the past thirty years!  She has a bouquet of beautiful flowers called Sam, Billie, Martha and many more!  What a blessing this bouquet has been in her life!  While some of the blooms may have been brief, the memory of its beauty will last a lifetime!

If you would like to be a blessing to someone by delivering flowers please contact the church office.

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In Remembrance

Memorial Day – to some it’s the beginning of summer and to others it’s a solemn day to remember those who have passed from this life. To the veterans and the families of fallen soldiers, Memorial Day carries a very deep significance.  Memorial Day began after the Civil War and most people knew it as “Decoration Day.” It was a day to decorate the fallen soldiers graves with flowers and flags and remember those who had given their lives.

Christians, of all people, understand the crucial importance of remembering because our faith depends upon remembering.  We can look forward to the glorious future because we remember the gracious past that was freely given to us.  The freedoms we enjoy, the freedoms we take for granted were not bought with money.  These freedoms were bought by the blood, sweat and tears of those who we honor today!  Those who died so we may live!

This reminds me of 2,000 years ago when the ultimate sacrifice was made by Jesus on the cross.  He died so we may live.  This battle was not bought with money.  This battle was fought on a hill called Calvary.  It was a battle of one young man against all the forces of evil.  It seemed hopeless as there were jeers, spitting and sneering.  Then he said, “It is finished.”  This freedom was bought by blood, sweat and tears.

We celebrate many memorials.  The Sabbath was a memorial to Israel’s freedom from Egyptian slavery.  Deuteronomy 5:15, "Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day."  The church made Sundays a memorial to Christ's resurrection and our freedom from sin.  Exodus 13:3, "Then Moses said to the people, ‘Commemorate this day, the day you came out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery, because the Lord brought you out of it with a mighty hand. Eat nothing containing yeast.’"

1 Corinthians 11:24-26, "...and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, 'This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.' In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.'  For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes."  Each time a church gathers for the Lord's Supper, each baptism, each Christmas celebration, each Easter celebration and Pentecost it is a memorial.  Remembering God's grace is necessary for us to grow.

Reminders, whether bitter or sweet, remind us where we’ve come from, and who helped us get to where we are. As we commemorate Memorial Day, let us do it with profound gratitude for the extraordinary grace given to us when men and women laid their lives down for the sake of America’s survival.  These men and women served one another in love.  Galatians 5:13, "You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love."  They sacrificed their life for the sake of our freedom. 

Let us continue to thank God for all of them.  Let us share these Scriptures to honor those who serve and have served in the US military.  1 Thessalonians 1:2-3, "We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers.  We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ."   We should respect and honor them.  Romans 13:7, "Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor."  John 15:13, "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends." 

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And above all. let us “Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel,...” (2 Timothy 2:8)

I write this in honor of the service men and women, past and present, in my family and in yours.  To all of them, from my heart, “thank you for your service!”

Sunday School

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When I was around six years old I had a Sunday School teacher named, Mrs. Aiken.  I thought she was so beautiful and so nice. I cannot remember the lessons but I knew she loved me and she loved God.  She was why I loved going to Sunday school!  I still think she is beautiful and I still love her!

When my girls were in fifth grade Sunday school they had Mr. Simcoe as their Sunday school teacher.  He was also a soccer coach and that made him extra cool!  All the kids loved Mr. Simcoe!  Matthew 18:5, “...and whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.”   Mark 9:36-37, “...Taking the child in his arms, he said to them,  “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me…”  Welcoming was a great way to describe Mr. Simcoe standing in the doorway greeting each child.

When my girls were young, I started teaching senior high Sunday school and I loved it!  Those kids were so fun and kept me young!  There were times when my doorbell rang because one of them needed to talk.  What an honor for them to come to talk with me. I appreciated God letting them know they had a safe place and could trust me. I was there when their parents split, when they went through tough times, when they were in trouble, etc. Many years later I still get visits from those special kids - going to their weddings and seeing their children now!  

Why did I start working with the youth?  Because I knew I needed to give back.  God had been so good to me!  Mrs. Aiken and many others had taught me.  2 Timothy 3:14-15, “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”  I wanted to share how God had blessed me!  Matthew 25:21, “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant!  You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.  Come and share your master’s happiness.’”  I definitely received much more than I gave!

The one thing Mrs. Aiken, Mr. Simcoe, and I all had in common was the love for God, children and youth!  I certainly was not a good Sunday school teacher based on my theological background.  I would bet most Sunday school teachers would say the same about themselves.  One PVUMC teacher told me she has found that she learns as she goes.  God does not call the equipped.  He equips the called!  God can use anyone  who gives their heart to Him.

For thousands of years God has asked people to help others come to know Him and live in faith. In Exodus Moses did not feel capable to lead even after he saw a burning bush!  Moses tried to argue with God and list his shortcomings.  God assured Moses that his gifts were sufficient and help would arrive when needed.  Help did arrive when Moses needed it. And God will do the same for us. He will use what gifts we have and add to them to make us an effective teacher!  Through the years Sunday school teachers have been from many backgrounds and many levels of ability.  But each person felt called to teach and then responded. 

There are many blessings in teaching the children.  We are reminded of what is most important in our own life.  By teaching we face the same truths over and over again and it sinks into our hearts and minds.  Another blessing is being able to witness how the children use the truths they have learned.  And what a blessing knowing that we are planting seeds of truth for their life.

PVUMC is faced with a great problem.  We need Sunday school teachers for our children.  Teaching children’s Sunday school can change the course of history!  Proverbs 22:6, “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.”  You are part of the process that sees those children learn, serve, and one day, stand in glory before Jesus!  Matthew 19:14, “Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’”

Are you being called?  Chances are it will not come from a burning bush but God uses many ways to call us.  It may come through the voice of a friend, as a plea for help, through prayerful discernment, from a sermon challenge, a nudging, or a constant reminder. What is your response?  - Contact the church office if you feel the call.

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Remember Who And Whose You Are

As I reflect on the new sermon series, "Back To Basics," I am reminded of what I used to tell my girls as they left the house, “remember who and whose you are."  To me, that kind of took care of everything - that was back to the basics. I wanted them to make good decisions based on how they had been raised. I wanted their conscience to be their guide.

We are created by God.  He created each one of us.  He loves us unconditionally and wants us to be free of our burdens so that we may be holy and love with our whole heart, soul, strength, and mind!  He wants us to love our neighbor as ourselves!   So, who and whose are we?  God’s Word is full of explanations of who we are in Christ:

First and foremost, we are a child of God.  John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."  God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth, loves you and me!  He loves us so much He sent His only Son to die for us. 

We are sinners who have been washed clean by Jesus.  It does not matter what we have done - or not done - Christ died for us.  Romans 5:8, "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:  While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."  Even though we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  

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We are loved!  We are able to love because we were loved first.  We are loved more than we could ever imagine.  1 John 4:19, "We love because he first loved us."  God showed us how to love by loving us first. 

We live with the Holy Spirit.  Our body is a temple because Christ lives in us.  Galatians 2:20, "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."  We can know that Christ lives in us because of our faith.  

We are always loved!  Nothing can separate us from God’s love.  Romans 8:35-39, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?  As it is written:  “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."  Nothing can separate us from God's love!

We belong to God.  He has made us who we are.  We must always praise God and give thanks for all He has done for us.  Romans 1:21, "For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.” The Apostle Paul indicts the human race for its defection from the truth. He says that "they knew God...." All of civilization knew God.  Romans 1:19, "...since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them."  They knew God through their conscience. We know in our hearts who we belong to and what we should be doing.  1 Timothy 2:4, "...who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth."  God's ultimate goal for us is to be saved and know the truth.

Who are you?  Who do you belong to?

Welcome to Worship

As a mom, I could get our house ready without stress, five days a week, to go to school and work. But Sunday mornings were always stressful!  I quickly learned that Satan is the reason.  He doesn’t care if we go to school or work but he does not want us to go to worship!  Think about it - isn’t Sunday morning harder?  I started recognizing it for what it was and then I was even more determined to get to church stress free! 

Have you ever been kind of anxious to attend an event of some kind and everything goes wrong while you try to get ready?  Before you know it, you have run out of time.  Your outfit is not right and you have to make last minute changes.  Now you are late.  Then you get there and you cannot find anywhere to park and you are late.  What do you do?  I have been known to turn around and go home!  

Growing up,  my mom sometimes stayed in the upper room (prayer room) during the service.  She said before the prayer request came in they started by praying for those running late and for those trying to find a parking space.  They prayed for them not to get discouraged and to come on in to worship.  I think about how stressful it is for visitors and for those who have never been to church.  Going to church for the first time is a huge step.  I am sure it wouldn’t take much for some people to want to turn around!  And if they do, I doubt they will come back the next Sunday.  

The first time I came to PVUMC we had no idea where to go but we followed the traffic.  We parked in front of the gym.  As we turned into the parking lot a nice man with a bright vest smiled and waved like he knew us.  I commented to my husband how nice that was.  The second and third Sunday I was sure he must remember us by that smile!  They were glad we were here!  It was nice to feel like we belonged.  (We quickly gave those spaces up to other newcomers.)   Those servants who help direct traffic and park cars make the first impression!  I love to watch Mark Edquid in the parking lot!  He always has the biggest smile, telling people, “welcome to worship!”  Even our visiting pastor, for revival, mentioned our parking lot ministry!!  Mark told me that out of all of his “jobs” here - working the parking lot is his favorite.  It shows!  Hebrews 13:1, “Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters.”  Our parking lot servants are showing Christ’s love!

Romans 15:7, “So warmly welcome each other into the church, just as Christ has warmly welcomed you; then God will be glorified.”  TLB  Paul’s teaching shows us that we are glorifying God by welcoming one another as Christ has already welcomed us!  As Christians we have a responsibility at church to be welcoming.  Again, we are told that we are to be welcoming to visitors in Matthew 25:35, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in...”  One of the biggest reasons visitors do not return to a church is that they do not feel welcome.  We should welcome visitors into our church home like we would welcome someone into our own home.  None of us would greet someone and turn and walk away but that is what often happens.  How we treat a visitor will greatly ease their anxiety in an unfamiliar space.  Let’s not just greet them but when they leave let’s tell them, “I’m glad you came.  I hope to see you again.”  Chances are, we will. 

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Being a parking lot greeter is something of immeasurable value!   If you are interested in glorifying God by welcoming those to worship with a smile and kind word, please let one of the parking lot greeters (wearing bright vests) know, or you can contact Mark Edquid in the church office.  God needs your servant heart! 

Motherhood

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Mike and I had been married over four years and he had just gone full time with United Parcel Service so I could be a stay-at-home mom.  We were thrilled when we found out we were expecting our first child.  We told our parents and no one else for a while.  Mike was so excited he would tell strangers.

I loved being pregnant.  Every month I knew how my baby was developing by my favorite book at that time, "What To Expect When You Are Expecting."  I ate right and exercised.  On the day of the ultrasound I was thrilled and my parents came up for it.  As soon as I saw that baby moving I got sick.  Then Dad had to leave the room.  Again, I was thrilled but I guess seeing the baby actually move got to me.  For most of my pregnancy I kept a daily journal for my baby letting it know how loved it was.  Mike and I chose not to find out the sex of the baby.  We did not care, just so it was healthy.

After my girls were born I loved getting together with friends and let the kids play.  I also liked taking them to mother's morning out at church where I got a three hour break a few days a week.  My Granny lived less than an hour away and my girls and I spent lots of time with her!  And my parents always loved to help out.  And on days when things were hard, I would call and talk to my mother.  Even today I have a cousin who I confide in and she prays for my family.  As Mother's Day approaches, I think about all of the women who have made, and continue to make, motherhood easier for me.

What about Eve?  When we think of Eve we think of the first sin.   But she was also the first woman, wife, mother, grandmother!  The first mother.  She did not have the choice of whether to chase toddlers or her dreams.  She never knew another woman so she never knew about pregnancy.  She had no friends or family to tell....just Adam.  I cannot imagine her thoughts and anxiety levels.  She had no books to read.  No doctor to go to.  No friends or family to advise or help her. She had no mother!  All she had was Adam.  Now think about that! And he was the first husband so he had no role model.  When Cain was born Eve did not hear the comforting things we heard,  "Eve, women have been doing this for thousands of years.  It will be alright."  She just had Adam.  Did he leave the room?

Eve did not have diapers, bottles, babysitters, a rocking chair, a swing, a pacifier, etc.  She paced the dirt floor with a crying baby.  She had to wipe bottoms and noses with none of our conveniences like wipes or tissues. She had to figure it all out on her own and do it all on her own.  All while taking care of every household duty including cooking and getting water.

I am sure Eve enjoyed her children as they grew up.  Eve also experienced great heartache resulting from her children.  She had the first murder happen within her family - one son killing the other.  She was the first mother to bury a child.  The Bible mentions Eve's sons, Cain, Abel, and Seth.  Genesis 5:4 tells us that, "after Seth was born, Adam lived 800 years and had other sons and daughters."  We don't know how many children they had or how long Eve lived.  I just know she was worn out!  Genesis 5:5, "Altogether, Adam lived a total of 930 years, and then he died."

I will never think of Eve the same. Genesis 3:20, "Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living."  Motherhood is not being selfish, but showing unconditional love.  Motherhood is relinquishing pride and persisting in prayer.  Motherhood is letting go of greed and growing in grace.  I heard somewhere, "Mother's are God's recruiting agents for Heaven, sending forth those who will become the salt of the earth." 

Proverbs 23:25,  “May she who gave you birth rejoice.”  Some people did not have a godly mother, some people have lost their mother to death.  Some people do not know their birth mother.  All mothers are not the same.  As Patsy Clairmont says, "Normal is just a setting on your clothes dryer."  But there are many wonderful mothers and "mothers" who did not birth us but impacted our lives.  Maybe we are that person.  Psalm 34:5, "...our faithful Savior ... grow us into women radiant with His glory and fully alive in His grace."  We all know someone like that who should be celebrated today.

When I think of a mother I think of Philippians 2:1-4, "Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.  Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others."

Not only do our children need that unconditional love of a mother, we, as mothers, need to love our mothers and our "other mothers" that way!  Happy Mother's Day to you and yours!

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Did you know? The first official Mother’s Day celebration was held at Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church in Grafton, West Virginia. Learn more here.