During Sunday church services I have the opportunity to work in the media booth which is located in the back of the sanctuary. Because of my location, I am in a position to see a lot of things happening among the congregants. It is all fascinating and I learn from watching people interact with each other.
This Sunday was no different than any other Sunday, except that the government had just issued a mandate that people were not allowed to sing or chant during services. This is no big deal to me because I understand the reasons behind the mandates. It seems that singing and chanting causes us to propel the virus into the air beyond the 6-foot area of protection which, according to health officials, protects us from catching the Coronavirus. It seems this challenge of wearing mandatory masks and not being able to sing or chant brought up some scenes that I never thought I would see in a church environment. Here’s what happened Sunday…
A family (not regular members) came in without masks, and by now (in my mind) everyone on the planet knows to wear masks when entering a public place. Well, apparently, not these folks, because when they entered the church, they did not have on masks. They were asked politely, by the pastor, to put on masks. However, one of them claimed to have a medical excuse for not being able to wear a mask. No one faulted this person for that. But, we all were scratching our heads about the rest of the family. And, when the pastor asked them to put on the complimentary masks that were being handed out, they refused. They were hemming and hawing about why they would not or could not wear a mask. And, when the pastor rightfully insisted that they wear masks for the protection of themselves and others, they got up and left. As they exited, all sorts of things were running through my mind. One thought was that they would rather have excuses for not wearing a mask than to stay and listen to the word. It made me quietly ponder why they even showed up in the first place, because certainly, wearing a mask should not hinder their ability to enjoy hearing the word of God. Their dramatic exit created a memorable scene. That incident taught me that when it comes to God and hearing His word, no excuse is big enough to forgo this wonderful opportunity.
During the same service, another incident caused me to ponder. Again, I cannot imagine that anyone missed the mandate that the government issued, stating that we shall not sing or chant in church. Well, this Sunday everyone in attendance (except one person) abided by that mandate. And, when that one person began chanting (speaking in tongue) that person was politely reminded that we are not allowed to do that. Well, the person became irate, loudly blurted out a comment to show dissatisfaction of the mandate, and then excited the building in a huff.
The incidents described above are not normal activities in our church. To be perfectly honest, our church is filled with the most honorable, enjoyable, God-fearing individuals. The Holy Spirit permeates throughout and the love that pours out of that little church is undeniable.
Sunday’s incidents taught me that we can have all the excuses in the world, but none of these excuses will matter when we are standing in the ultimate presence of God. The next time you have an excuse for not being in church because you have to wear a mask, or not worshipping God because you cannot worship out loud, ask yourself this one question, “Is this excuse good enough to pass the test of God?”
In 1 John 2:28 (King James Bible) we read...
And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.
I would never claim to be perfect. I make mistakes on a regular basis. I repent every day for something I have thought, said, or done and I do try to learn from my iniquities. So, I would not judge other people for the decisions they make. Everyone has their own reasons for deciding this or that.
When I was sick with a fever, I had a good reason for not going to church. And, there are many other reasons for not going to church. Nevertheless, at the end of the day, when I'm making excuses for this or that, I've got to ask myself, "Is this excuse good enough to pass the test of God?"
Today's Video: Here in Your Presence
Copyright: 2014 Integrity Worship Music
I don’t know about you, but whenever I sip on a cup of tea, it brings feelings of relaxation to me. It rejuvenates me and helps me to carry on with the rest of my day in a more serene state of mind.
Tea is made from the leaves of a small shrub or tree. The leaves are delicate, so even today tea leaves are harvested by hand, then laid upon a tray to dry in the sun.
There might be some legitimacy as to why I feel better after consuming tea. I read a verse in the bible that indirectly mentions the leaves of trees being used for healing.
And on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither, nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing.
For the past few months the lives of people everywhere have been unleveled by the numerous changes caused by COVID-19 and you are not alone if your mind is filled with fears and uncertainties about the future of the world.
Almost everything we do must take into consideration the mandates in place regarding staying safe during this COVID-19 pandemic. It can be overwhelming and it can cause us to become emotionally fatigued to deal with this and surrounding issues day in and day out. No human can endure this kind of stress on a long-term basis and so it is important to do what you can to de-stress yourself.
Take care of yourself
We all need to take care of ourselves both physically and mentally. For example, to stimulate your physical well-being a light walk may serve to rejuvenate your body. Stretching exercises may help circulate the blood through your body, giving you a more refreshed feeling. Eating healthy foods, for example incorporating fresh fruit and vegetables into your diet may bring wellness. And, just about every nutritionist will advise you to stay hydrated by drinking more water.
Your mental well-being may come from knowing that God has everything under control. Knowing that God will take care of you can be the start of bringing peace into your soul.
Whenever I need to remember that God is my shepherd, that He loves me and He takes care of my needs, I sit quietly, sometimes with a cup of tea. I enjoy listening to worship music such as the one embedded in this post. The song, “All Who Are Thirsty,” brings me to a place where I can allow the Holy Spirit to come into my heart and give me peace of mind.
As I mention drinking a cup of tea (made with water), I am reminded of the following verses.
John 4:14 (NIV)
But whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a fount of water springing up to eternal life.
Isaiah 55:1 (NIV)
Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.
I encourage you to take a break from all of the turmoil going on in the world around you. Prepare your favorite cup of tea. Sit, relax, and enjoy. Know and believe with all of your heart that God is in control. He knows how to protect you. He will see you through this and all things.
Rest in the goodness of God.
Today's Video: All Who Are Thirsty
Performance by: Charlie Hines
It is springtime and flowers are blooming everywhere in the mountainous area where I live. Everywhere I look, there are multitudes of indigenous flowers blooming prolifically and they are all gorgeous and vibrant, adding color to a landscape that through wintertime, was bleak and barren.
Now, there is one flower that does not grow indigenous in this area and that is the tulip flower. It is a beautiful flower and while I see tulips blooming in the neighbor’s yard, tulips, while hearty flowers, must be planted first before we begin to see them growing in our own yard.
Recently, someone gave me a bouquet of tulips. The bouquet was beautiful. The tropical-colored buds were gorgeous in their own right, but then two days later the buds opened up and I had the unexpected pleasure of seeing the inside of a tulip. I was amazed. It was extraordinarily beautiful. Each petal had the exact design of intricate shapes and colors. I was fascinated to no end.
Now that I have seen the inside of a tulip, I enjoy them more than I ever have in the past.
Friends, have you ever seen the inside of a tulip? If not, please treat yourself to one of God’s great visual miracles on this planet.
Like tulips, friendships are beautiful on the outside. You spend time with your friends. You enjoy each other’s company. I call this surface friendship. It’s all wonderful. We all need each other to survive. But, have you ever taken time to see the inside of your friend? Beyond the initial, outward attraction, which some call chemical attraction, have you ever thought about what it is about your friend that makes you like them so much? I would bet that if you ever opened up to your friend and if your friend ever opened up to you, you would discover something about them and they would discover something about you that is so wonderful that you would be drawn closer to each other in ways you could never imagine.
There is nothing wrong with surface friendship. After all, we live in a world where sometimes survival means being with others merely for comfort and camaraderie. A community coming together to help each other in times of need is a basic survival technique that we desperately need to keep planted in society. In times of trouble, the people in the community ban together as friends.
But, have you ever thought about going deeper with the person you call your friend? Have you ever thought about discovering and uncovering that which makes your friend who they are? What makes them tick? What are their likes and dislikes? What do you have in common? Oh, what about discovering what makes the two of you different? I believe that when friends open up to each other, they are in for a world of marvelous discoveries about each other and this discovery will tie the friendship together in ways that are extraordinarily wonderful.
Our #1 Friend
We have a friend in Jesus. He is our #1 friend and I believe that if we open up our hearts and let Jesus see us for who we are (sharing the good and the bad), and if we look into the heart of Jesus, we will discover a friend with unlimited, unconditional love.
Jesus is the best friend a person can have on earth and into eternity. He is the perfect model of what friendship is all about because He loves us without limits. He gave everything, including His life for us so that we could have freedom from sin and a life of eternity with the Almighty God, the King of all Nations.
How much of you does your earthly friend ask of you? In contrast, Jesus (our Heavenly friend) doesn’t ask much of you. In fact, all He asks is that you believe in Him. And, truly, that’s not much.
Believe in Jesus and you will discover a world of beauty.
The bible says:
“No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends.”
John 15:13 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)
Include your friend Jesus among those you call your best friends and you will be surrounded by good, caring friends who will carry you, with joy, through the life you deserve.
The bible says:
“Oil and incense bring joy to the heart, and the sweetness of a friend is better than self-counsel.”
Proverbs 27:9 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)
I think Cicero, the famous Roman statesman, also said it well:
Nature loves nothing solitary, and always reaches out to something as a support, which ever in the sweetest friend is most delightful.
Take delight in the beauty of friendships and cherish your friends forever.
Today's Worship Video: What a Friend I've Found
Words and Music: by Martin Smith
Copyright: 1996 Curious? Music UK
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