Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Those that venerate the Bible as the Word of God, find great comfort, wisdom and advice within its pages. The Bible tells us how to live if we want to be happy. It warns us about other things, giving us guard rails to show us where danger lurks. It contains all that is needed to live. I love my Bible in its entirety, but there are a few verses that I count as my favorites. These are often the verses that helped me through various times in my life, inspired me and reminded me of the joy awaiting when life is over. . .

Read more here

What verses inspire you? I'd love to hear about it in the comments :)

My friend's funeral was amazing, as expected. I knew it would be a glorious uplifting, not only of Melissa, but of the God she so faithfully served. During the open mike period, I stood to give a shortened version of a poem I wrote for my mother and then adapted for my friend. Later, her pastor read a testimony she had given in service, and in it she talked about what I had said. Truly a kiss from God.

I thought I might retell that story here. I won't tell it as well as Melissa would have, but here goes. My mother had been diagnosed with a rare and aggressive uterine cancer. After a surgery and several chemo treatments (short version)she was given six months to live and placed on hospice. I spent as much of that time as I could with Mom, helping her physically and emotionally to prepare for the end. During part of that time, Mom kept worrying about her relationship with God and if she had done enough and if she really mattered.

Several times, she received some of those address labels in the mail where they ask you to donate to a cause. Receiving them wasn't a problem, that had happened for some time. The thing was, instead of saying Marilyn Masters, they read Marilyn Matters! What a sign and a hug from God to her, reminding her that she did matter, very much, to her God! Through all this, I had written the poem for my mother called "Marilyn Matters".

Later, I shared this story with Melissa as she was going through another round in her fight with cancer and feeling much of the same angst, so wanting to know that she mattered. I adapted the poem, inserting her name, and gave it, along with a letter to my dear friend. Little did I really know the true impact of that until much later. Last Sunday, May 23, 2010, my precious friend met her Lord face to face,

Marilyn Matters!

My friend, I trust you to our Lord,
For I know: Marilyn Matters!
He made you special in His plan
For He knows: Marilyn Matters!
Each day, each pain, He chose for you
For to Him: Marilyn Matters!
So as you rest beneath His wings
Remember: Marilyn Matters!
As each loving detail falls into place,
Remember: Marilyn Matters!

Copyright 2005 Angela Masters Young

Melissa Matters!
My friend I trust you to our Lord,
For I know: Melissa Matters!
He made you special in His plan,
For He knows: Melissa Matters!
Each day, each pain, He chose for you,
For to Him: Melissa Matters!
So as you rest beneath His wings,
Remember: Melissa Matters!
As each loving detail falls into place,
Remember: Melissa Matters!

Church: The Crippled Body

In the process of studying this concept for Sunday School lessons and writing about it, I decided I need to share this on my blog, and invite comment. If I may use your comment in an article or book, please say so, leave name, location, and a link of you want that included.

The church is a body;the members are its body parts. Romans 12:5 tells us that, "so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and every one members of one another." In other words,God is letting us know that there are no Lone Rangers in the church. We are all connected as a body to one another. God is also letting us know that, because we are connected, we cannot function fully without every member, every part, in the place God has called it to function and doing the job God has called it to do.

For those of you who don't believe you have any effect (or affect) on the body of Christ by what you do or don't do, try this little experiment: Take a hammer and whack your thumb with it. OK, thumb is growing in size and turning colors. What is the rest of the body doing? Going,"oh, that kinda hurt."? Absolutely not! The rest of the body is reacting to the pain felt by the thumb! The feet and legs are probably in a dancing frenzy. The arms and hands, similarly seeming to be having a seizure, probably hold on to the thumb. The mouth may be alternating between a deathly scream and trying to sooth the offended member by sucking on it. In simple terms - one part was hurt but EVERY part hurts.

Understanding this connectedness and its effect on the rest of the body is crucial for the church member in understanding his or her place in the body of Christ and why he or she is so important. If the heart decides it doesn't need to show up one day, what happens? Uh, yeah, I think you get the picture. We, the body,need to help those that are in pain and bring them to healing. That, however, is not the point of this post.

As a diabetic, I understand fully that my pancreas has decided it doesn't really need to function at its best. What happens to my body? My blood sugar doesn't regulate itself (kind of important), my body essentially "pickles" itself over time. Other methods have to come into play so that the body doesn't die. My life is held back in some ways because of it.

Now apply this to the church. When one member is missing or not in the place God planned for them, the entire body is effected! It's not about "me" in the church body, it's about "us"! Just like I can use medications and diet to keep my sugar in check (sometimes), the church has to learn to function without this member. Does it function as well? No, it does not! Those medications I take may help, but they don't take the place of a functioning pancreas. They also come with side effects, creating other issues.

Some of the side effects of "mediating" the broken body part includes other parts that are overwhelmed because they step in for a part they were never meant to play/be. When a member of the body decides, for whatever reason, that he or she doesn't need to be doing what God has called him or her to do, others have to step in and do jobs they were not called to do. This person or persons, in doing too many jobs, may neglect their own job or suffer burnout, causing more pain to the rest of the body.

Can the church go on with broken, missing or indifferent body parts? Yes it can, but just like the person with a broken leg has to hobble on crutches, curtailing his or her ability to do many things, the Church has to hobble along as well.

Can you imagine what would happen to our lives, our church, our world, if every member found God's place for them and showed up? I pray that each of you reading this will evaluate your own place in the body, and work with your fellow members to create a growing, functioning, thriving church that is out doing the work God has called it to do in a godless nation. Just as our body has symptoms when something goes wrong, the church does as well. Our godless nation isn't about the lost. The lost are doing what the lost do. Our godless nation is a symptom of a broken, hurting church. It is only as the church functions in God's perfect will, with each member functioning in God's perfect will, that the lives of those around it will change, because they will finally see what God can do when the Church gets it right.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Sittin' on the sidelines,
watching you all connect;
Wanting to be a part
but not knowing how.
These walls I've built
keep you at a distance,
But they do so much more;
they lock me within.