Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Nitty Gritty of the Church



Have you heard the old adage, “Church is a hospital for sinners not a hotel for saints,”? A discussion at a recent Bible study I attended got me thinking about it once again. What IS the baseline, nitty-gritty purpose of the Church?

Acts 2 talks about the formation of what has since become known as the church. “All the believers continued together in close fellowship and shared their belongings with one another. They would sell their property and possessions, and distribute the money among all, according to what each one needed. 46 Day after day they met as a group in the Temple, and they had their meals together in their homes, eating with glad and humble hearts, praising God, and enjoying the good will of all the people. And every day the Lord added to their group those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:44-47)

It seems to me that the early church formed to minister to those who had come to believe in Jesus as the Messiah, the Savior. These believers then went out and witnessed to those who did not yet know Christ as Savior. Those people then became believers, joined in the church fellowship, and, in turn, witnessed to other unbelievers. “And every day the Lord added to their group those who were being saved.”

In our Bible study, one of my fellow attendees, Paul, summed it up: “The church ‘within the building’ is here to equip believers to live for Jesus so that we can be the church ‘outside the building’, enabling us to reach out to others and bring them to Christ.”

Jill, another Bible study member, shared, “I see the church like a fire where I bring my poker to get it red hot so I can go out and light other fires. I need to regularly be coming back to the church—to the fire—to renew my fervor—to get my poker hot again.”

What is the mission statement of your church? What are YOUR ideas on the purpose of the Church?

Be encouraged!
Pam

©2017 Pamela D. Williams

P.S. My blogging friend, Floyd, reminded me how easy it is to get diverted from God’s purpose for the Church. Sometimes even our good intentions can get us sidetracked--feeding the hungry without sharing our spiritual Bread of Life, providing shelter for the homeless without showing them the way to our eternal Home, visiting the sick without offering hope from the Healer, etc. All of these ways of ministering are good and needful, but unless we are also clearly and consistently sharing the Good News of Salvation with the people we serve, we are failing to fulfill our purpose as the Church.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Blizzard of '17

Photo by Pam Williams

Over 20 inches of snow in less than 24 hours! Life in our area ground to a halt overnight. That much snow in so short a time is overwhelming, and yet—beautiful beyond measure.

For me, the weather event offers a rare opportunity to slow down, breath deep, and enjoy the quiet. Sipping a cup of steaming tea while gazing out the sliding glass doors at the pristine landscape developing before our eyes; watching the birds flock to our porch for sunflower seeds, imprinting the surface of the snow with their tiny little tracks; and working together with my husband on a jigsaw puzzle that creates a lovely picture from a handful of misshapen pieces—all gifts from God that would go unappreciated except for the down-time brought on by the blizzard of ‘17.

For others, the thick blanket of white transforms an ordinary hill or a common backyard into a chance for amusement that rivals Disney with all its wonder. I love what my sister wrote on Facebook, “Had a great day today. It's the simple things in life that mean the most. Our [family] enjoyed sledding and riding Pappy's four-wheeler. We had alot of fun and the kids giggled and played together. So very thankful for our family. Joe and I both agreed tonight that it's not the expensive things in life that matter. It's who you spend even the simple, down-to-earth times with that means the most. We are so glad our families are close and so glad we have each other! Thank you, Jesus, for each one of them!”

Not everyone appreciated Winter Storm Stella. My friend loves all things sunshiny and said of Stella, “Stupid snow.”

I shared with him my philosophy on things that happen that I wish hadn’t—This too, shall pass. “Don't be discouraged. Just think, next week the snow will all be gone. And next month you will be able to get your jeep out!”

For some, like my friend, the godsends of a snowstorm don’t start till it ends.

We’ve all lived through weather events that impacted our lives in out-of-the-ordinary ways. How did you spend your time? What blessings did God blanket you with because of it?

Be encouraged!
Pam

©2017 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Paradiddles


“Watch me, Drummers! Look up!”

I can still hear Mr. Spayd, our band director, drilling the percussionists in our band, while the rest of us waited. At the time, I didn’t realize how important drummers were. I just found them exasperating. After all, how hard could it be to feel the beat and tap the drumhead with a stick? (At times, I think Mr. Spayd was tempted to take the stick and “tap” a few “heads” himself.) 😊

I later realized that the entire tempo of a piece in marching band is set by the drummers. Drummers give the instrumentalists our cues and provide the steady beat that keeps us all together. If the drum section gets lost, rushes, lags, or otherwise flubs up, the entire band follows suit.

From Mr. Spayd’s little aside lessons to the drummers, I learned a few drum terms—tap, rolls produce a sustained, continuous sound, paradiddle. I loved that word! To me, it sounded a lot like what it meant—two single strokes followed by a double stroke, i.e., Right-Left-Right.-Right—paradiddle! Many of our songs in marching band were introduced by “Tap, Tap, Tap. Tap, Tap, Tap. Paradiddle, Paradiddle. Tap, Tap, Tap”.

Along with all the other rudimentary drum skills, paradiddles help build muscle memory. Paradiddles enable drummers to emphasize or articulate different words and syllables and accents.

In developing as a Christian, just as in becoming a better percussionist, there are some fundamentals for me to learn that set the “rhythm” for my walk with Jesus. There is the basic Tap, Tap, Tap, of praying consistently. There is the continuous Roll of new insights He will unveil as I study His Word. And there are the blessed Paradiddles of faith-sharing, when God, through fellowship and witnessing, emphasizes the importance and blessings of walking with Him.

Above all is following our Director—keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus. He is the One who knows the pace He wants us to take and who can help us get back on track when we get lost.

Are you practicing your Christian rudimentary skills?

“What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—
practice these things,
and the God of peace will be with you.”
Philippians 4:9

Be encouraged!
Pam

©2017 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

U-Turn


Do you observe Ash Wednesday? While many of us may attend worship services on that day and receive ashes on our foreheads or hands, how many of us realize that Ash Wednesday is really all about repentance—not about giving up chocolate, abstaining from electronics, or promising to pray more?

At its root, Ash Wednesday signals the beginning of a season of intentional awareness of our need for repentance. Repentance is absolutely necessary when meeting God. To repent means to change our minds. Repentance involves a turning from sin, with contrition—mourning and regret for those wrongs, to God.

At Patheos.com, Jack Wellman explains repentance as “kind of like heading out for a drive down the freeway but realizing we went down the wrong way and traffic is coming straight at us. We need to turn around and go the other way. That is what it basically means to repent. We are headed down the wrong way—the way to hell—and we need to change our minds and turn around and go the other way.”

Most of us have tried living our life without God. In a recent devotion from Quiet Walk, (a free resource of walkthru.org), the author wrote, “to repent, we must change our minds about [God]. We must stop thinking of Him as something less than the Sovereign Lord of the universe. We must acknowledge God’s right to define what is right and wrong for us.”

We must trust God to reconcile us to Himself, to make peace with our Heavenly Father, through His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus’ death on the cross paid the penalty for all the wrongs we have committed. But it is up to us whether or not we will turn from our sins and accept what Jesus did in our place.

As we journey over these next 40 days leading up to Easter, may this be the year we truly make a U-turn. May we realize, with great sorrow and remorse, that we have been living a sin-filled, self-serving life and may we make a turnaround and speed toward God and His merciful forgiveness through Jesus.


 “Turn your old life in for a kingdom life. The real action comes next: [Jesus], the main character in this drama, will ignite the kingdom life within you, a fire within you, the Holy Spirit within you, changing you from the inside out. He’s going to clean house—make a clean sweep of your lives. He’ll place everything true in its proper place before God.”
Matthew 3:11-12 (MSG)


Be encouraged!
Pam

©2017 Pamela D. Williams