looking for a church to be part of. They made us part of their family and became like a surrogate father and mother in the Lord to us. But as special as the Lamberts were to us, it was their daughter, Vicky, who inspired us.
Vicky struggled with cancer for 20 years. When we met her, she had already been through 10 years of treatments. If it hadn’t been for the physical changes the treatments made to her appearance, you would not have known Vicky was ill because of her demeanor. The love of Christ literally showed through her. It was like she glowed! Her thoughts were not of herself, because she felt the needs of others were more important. Her view on life was that God has given us a number of days which only He knows, so it was best not to waste them. She expressed God’s love through caring for her parents who were not in good health. She never missed calling them each night to check up on them, even when she was violently sick. When she was able to attend church, her concern was for people in need or those who just needed a listening ear. Eventually, God took Vicky home, but the work that she did continued through others who were inspired by her God-given concern for others.
God also blessed us by bringing Frank into our lives. Frank was the manager of the apartment building in which we lived. If you had the time and would let him, Frank would share scripture for hours. He was an encourager and would use scripture to both encourage and to teach. His ministry was mostly to young men, but anyone who spent time with him walked away feeling uplifted. Frank had diabetes and went into a diabetic coma one day. When he came out of the coma, he discovered that he had lost most of his sight and a lot of the feeling in his legs and feet. Later, he developed gangrene in one leg and had to have it amputated. You would think that not being able to see well and not being able to get around well could discourage him, but Frank wasn’t discouraged. We would go to the hospital to see him or to his house in order to encourage him, but instead walked away encouraged ourselves. What a gift of God! The joy of the Lord and His Word is what lifted Frank up each morning; God used Frank to spread that joy. He made people laugh and smile until the day God took him home.
I can think of other people who God brought across our paths, but talking about them would make this posting too long. The one thing that these people had in common and which inspired my husband and me was that God was the most important thing in their lives. Every moment of their lives was focused on Him, and, as a result, God used them to minister His love to others. I only pray that God will use us the same way.
Yours in Christ,
These triggering devices were large, about as big as a bus. They had a hundred detonators (exploding-bridgewire detonators if you must know), each one a small bomb capable of blowing a person to bits. Together, in a synchronized dance of destruction, those small detonators would crush a large uranium capsule that then, triggered the atomic blast.
Our engineer got a call to come disarm one of these triggering devices. It seems that the people assembling it had accidently armed it! Our engineer had to crawl inside this bus sized triggering device with its hundred detonators all around him in order to disarm it. Each detonator was designed to be set off by electrical current. Coincidentally, disarming it cause an electric arc. Luckily, the nuclear part of the bomb wasn’t installed yet so he wouldn’t have destroyed area 51 or wherever his secret base was, but if just one of those 100 detonators had gone off, he would have been instantly incinerated. His work was all top secret. So while he was disarming the device, he idly wondered what the Air Force would tell his wife was the cause of death.
And, why am I telling you this story you wonder. I am telling you because this engineer was called on to disarm those triggering devices four times! On his fourth time he decided to change his line of work. I don’t know about you but I might have made that decision a little sooner!
How many times do you and I need to be prompted by God’s Spirit before we are willing to make a change? John Wooden once said, “Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.” That was literally the case in this engineer’s situation. You and I may just miss the opportunities God is wanting to give us for our sakes and the sake of others. The next time you feel a small prompting in your Spirit, consider following through with it and see where it leads.
In His Name, Neal
Contemplative Worship service which was one of the 5 Big Moves. As lovers of liturgy, we were delighted at the invitation to help craft this service, all the while participating in the 9:00 service. After a few fits and starts due to COVID, we’ve now been able to keep the fledgling Contemplative service available going on six months. You can even find us on the church website! We are heartened to see folks from many walks of life and different ages begin to visit and participate in the service.
One beautiful outcome of having two services with a common foundation expressed in creatively different ways is that we are seeing our own church members enjoy worship in both services. Dan, Evan and I relish the energy of the first service followed by the quiet of the second service, and the chance to digest Pastor Neal’s sermon again as he presents the same ideas in two very different ways. We love being able to take communion every Sunday.
Because both services stem from the same essential ideas, there is a synergy between them. For instance, during the season of Lent, our responsive prayer in Contemplative Service is based on the idea that Pastor Neal suggested in his sermon of 2/27, wherein Gratitude produces Repentance (turning away from and turning toward, rather than Penance), and blossoms into Hope. As an example, here is a snippet of the call-and-response during Lent:
If you’ve never experienced Contemplative worship, the service contains elements of quiet music, Lectio Divina reading of scripture, Pastor Neal’s sermon, responsive prayer, and communion every week. Incorporating liturgical elements, minutes of silence, and an intimate atmosphere, the Contemplative Service is especially suited to the inward-looking exercises we are encouraged to practice leading up to Easter.
If these thoughts intrigue you and inspire you on your Lenten journey, we would love to have you join in to both services during Lent or all year long! Attending first service with a break in the middle for donuts, coffee, and fellowship, followed by the quiet covering of the second service makes for the perfect Sunday for our family. Perhaps it will for you as well!
In His Name, Susan
SUPER hard, right?! How long did you last? This last week was my first of three weeks of finals, papers, and presentations, and no matter how hard I tried, I could not be still. I was worrying about too many things and had too many different subjects in my brain. I tried desperately to be good the one day I had planned to rest, but my brain would not shut off for the life of me! I kept thinking of chores, *ding*, assignments, *ding*, and grocery lists, *ding*, and my phone would not stop with the message and email notifications. During journal time, I struggled to focus my eyes, let alone focus on God, and it left me feeling miserable. I didn’t just feel like I was failing at everything, I knew I was failing. It sent me into a desperate fit of trying everything I could think of to claw my way back up to doing well, if at least at only one thing.
The amount I spent on Lotus and Zipfizz drinks last week was embarrassing, to say the least! Caffeine did not help me wake-up and focus. Disappointment. I couldn’t rest, and barely slept. Exhaustion. I kept praying for wisdom, and for energy, thinking that was what I lacked and why I could not focus on what I needed to. But, what I actually needed was God’s gentle, “Be still.”
I needed stillness and to pray for stillness. We do not need to always power-through everything; God did not make us that way. He made Sabbath, He made rest and a specific day for stillness. He wants us to cherish it and know how important it is. He Himself rested on the seventh day, after all!
I would like to challenge everyone to be still one minute of every day this next week, and see how it makes you feel.
Have a blessed week, and give someone a hug today!
Our staff is voluntold each week and with grace they share their thoughts.