walks of life to develop life-long friendships, discuss and enjoy Bible study, and to support one another. I encourage the women in our congregation who have not joined a Circle to reach out and attend a meeting to find the right Circle for you. I believe that you will find the Women’s Circles fun and informative, uplifting and invigorating!
Each year our Circles provide Christmas donations, either presents or monetary gifts for local needs. As a whole group, the Women’s Circles have provided annual Senior scholarships and camp scholarships for our children.
The Presbyterian Women are vital for the ongoing health of the Church. The 1st Pres women organized for the purpose of uniting and strengthening the work of the Church and together striving to fulfill the common purpose of loving others.
Help us to continue the work by attending our General Meeting and by joining a Circle. We appreciate your love and support.
wasteland of heat and dust containing the bones of the people of Israel -- a sobering picture of a people who have disobeyed God and are on the edge of destruction. Bringing Ezekiel to this valley, the Lord asks him, “Mortal, can these bones live?” On the surface, the situation appears hopeless. Amongst the heat, desolation, death, and solitude, no one could blame Ezekiel for responding with a simple, “No, they cannot.”
When we look at own lives, we may be tempted to answer the same. There are so many situations in our lives that feel hopeless. We lose a dear friend or family member. Our child’s marriage falls apart, and they are struggling to find their footing. We receive difficult news from the doctor. Each of us has a long list of painful circumstances in our lives that could lead us to believe that our world is one great Valley of Dry Bones. We could easily answer the Lord, “No, these bones cannot live.”
However, this is not Ezekiel’s answer. Ezekiel looks out upon the desolation and death before him, and he is able to see God doing the work of restoration. He answers the Lord’s question with a demonstration of hopeful faith, “O Lord, you know.” O Lord, you know because you are the One that gives life to dead things. You know because you are the One who conquers death and raises us to new life. You know because you are the One who takes our sin and brokenness upon yourself, and stands with us as our Redeemer.
God’s response to Ezekiel is one of grace and hope:
The Lord’s response to Ezekiel is a reminder that there is no valley too deep, no pain too great, no drought too long, to keep us under the shadow of death. God is present to each of us. He knows our thoughts, prayers, and pains. He knows the deepest desires of our hearts. He knows us better than we know ourselves. For this reason, he also knows what it is we truly need: life. We need the Lord to breathe upon us so that we shall truly live!
In John 7, Jesus says that if we come to him and drink, we will receive living waters that flow from his heart. In other words, our lives will be so filled with the Spirit that our hearts will overflow with the joy and hope of knowing our Savior. These waters are a testament to God’s promise to Ezekiel: dry bones will not stay dry for long. God has promised that he will make them live again. Regardless of the difficulties of this life, and there are many, God is restoring each of us. He is raising dry bones.
So, no matter how difficult life becomes, we know that we serve a good and faithful God who constantly breathes new life into each of us, raises our dry bones, and fills our hearts with living waters.
Let us find shelter in his grace.
And it concluded with, “Interesting…Share to everyone!”
Well, my friend Sandy followed those instructions and re-posted this not-true-and-so-not-interesting post on her Facebook page. I smiled and giggled when I read it and was heading to the next (oh-so-very-important-I’m-sure) post when I saw that she’d had four comments. Intrigued, I checked out what possible comments they could be making. The comments had me fuming and embarrassed for my friend! One person decided she was the Facebook Police and wrote (peppered with retracted obscenities):
My head buzzed with possible, similarly inflammatory responses to her cruel comments until I realized I’d just be adding fuel to the fire. What is going on? Have we gone astray of treating others with basic respect?
Martin Luther King, Jr’s comments came to mind, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
So, then I began considering kind responses to help curb those acidic tongues. What about, “This guy was just teasing you!” or “Ha! Ha! Good one, Sandy!” I ended up writing nothing, but this person’s nasty, disrespectful comments continued to gnaw on me. Usually when I don’t like someone else’s behavior, etc., I find it’s actually the Lord tapping ME on the shoulder and whispering, “Psst! Emily…you might want to look in the mirror….” So, I did, and of course He was right.
Do I always treat others with kindness? I came up with a few ready examples from this past week when I didn’t. Do I always resist zipping out those little zingers disguised as jokes? Again, my memory found a few recent examples. Do I always remember to “Love First?” No. After my self-chastising (is that really a word?), I couldn’t help but reflect on the bigger picture of what has become seemingly acceptable in the way we interact with others. As a society, I think we have become more disrespectful and less tolerant of others, especially if their opinions are different from our own.
What an amazing man we lost in Martin Luther King, Jr., but he continues to inspire: “We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.”
I found several ready examples of things which rankle me of late. Although the NFL players who kneel at our flag are trying to bring positive changes for how we treat one another, I think the players’ methods are misguided and incorrect. They are at least trying to do the right thing. Our political leaders were elected and deserve our respect, even if we don’t agree with their positions. Our political system allows avenues to express our opinions, so we don’t need to be hateful in the way we share our differing opinions. And, we don’t need to scream at the driver who cuts us off in traffic. He may have just had a lapse in judgment or been preoccupied with something happening in his life. I can take a deep breath and pray we all make it home safely. And, I don’t always agree with my husband, but I always love him! And, I don’t always make the right decisions on how to interact with others! I need to continue to work on being more understanding and treating others with “Love First” in mind.
Yes, I need reminders. Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. had such an amazing command of language and the Bible. Reading his words help me look more closely in the mirror.
In one speech, after King addressed the different meanings of “Love” in the Greek language, he said,
When I see others through the lens of loving them first, how I respond to their actions becomes more clear. Perhaps we can all lessen the seeming increase of disrespect and intolerance in the world if we simply remember to “Love First.” Facebook might be a good first-start.
Your friend in Christ,
us here on earth. I often wonder why God chooses some of the descriptive words in the Bible. I would not normally turn to the word 'cloud' to describe a group of people.
Clouds are one of the many wonders of creation. They fill the skies without really taking up any room. They are light and fluffy, dark and heavy, or sometimes downright scary. Clouds can mean shade, rain, snow, hail, lightning, tornados, and hurricanes. However, clouds do not act on their own. They need water to form. According to NASA, water vapor is always in the sky in some amount but is invisible. Clouds form and gather around this invisible water in the air and then other factors like wind and temperature will shape and determine what kind of cloud it will be. Clouds basically come when they are called and do as they are told. They allow themselves to be shaped and directed for a purpose.
Perhaps this is why God refers to these witnesses as a great cloud. There they are surrounding the Lord who is invisible to us here on earth. They have allowed themselves to be moved and shaped by God for His purposes. They form around the Invisible and go where He directs them. What a great thought that where God directs these witnesses to go is to us still here on earth. They, along with God, are cheering us on as we fix our eyes on Jesus and run the race marked out for us here on earth.
This great cloud is made up of so many faithful believers down through the ages. Believers like Peter and Paul, Moses and Daniel. Mary, Martha, Ruth, and Rahab. It’s easy to pick out the names in the Bible and picture these people seated by Christ cheering us on. Yet there are so many countless names that could be added to the list. Consider this short list of witnesses, Saint Francis of Assisi, Sojourner Truth, Corrie Ten Boom, David Livingston, Elizabeth Elliot, William & Catherine Booth, William Tyndale, John Wycliffe, and Esther Ann Kim. I could write for days just listing names of faithful believers who allowed God to lead them to unlikely places of service.
Hebrews 12 is a chapter full of some dark and heavy concepts dealing with the struggles we face in this world. So often the struggles of life can leave us feeling lonely or like we are being singled out for punishment and misery. Maybe that’s why Paul starts this chapter with the encouragement of being surrounded by so many who have gone before us. We know as believers that Jesus promised to never leave us or forsake us; but like the loving shepherd He is, He also surrounds us with faithful servants who cheer us on daily.
I encourage you today to think over the faithful believers you know of. Read their stories, recount the memories you have of faithful friends and family who lived for Christ. Then picture them in that great cloud sitting in heaven with Jesus cheering for you.
In His Name, Bonnie
Our staff is voluntold each week and with grace they share their thoughts.