What's THAT On Your....oh

Every year the day caught me by surprise. I'd be at school and one of my friends would show up at the lunch table and I'd say, "What's that on your forehead...oh. Ashes? For Ash Wednesday? Right.”

It seemed strange to me. It still does.

But I was asked to officiate an Ash Wednesday Service at Silver Maples. So I did some research. While there is no particular command to put ashes on one's head to remember Christ's death, here are several of the references that people who practice Ash Wednesday point to:

Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. (Genesis 2:7)

That verse reminds us where we have come FROM (the ground) and who we are (dust that God has breathed into). The next verse reminds us where we are GOING (back to the ground):

(Genesis 3:19) ...from it (the ground) you were taken; For you are dust and to dust you shall return.

In a third verse, Job has encountered God. Ashes seemed to help him express humility and repentance and a dependence upon God. (Job 42:6) Therefore I retract, And I repent in dust and ashes.

These 40 days that begin today lead us toward the Cross and (eventually), the empty tomb.

The Church has, since around 700 A.D., found the practice of using ashes helpful to begin a season of Praying, Fasting, and Giving to the poor.

Tonight, we'll enter into Lent. Between 6;15-6:45 we'll gather for dinner (no charge!). From 6:45-7:45 we'll watch a movie that helps set the scene for Lent and any who are interested may receive the ashes. Stop in for a few minutes or join us for the whole time.

Grace & Peace


Are You a Complainer Or Content?

"With my voice I cry out to the LORD...I pour out my complaint before Him." (Psalm 142:1,2 NASB)

"Of course, there is great gain in godliness combined with contentment." (1 Timothy 6:6 NASB)

The same Bible that contains Psalm 142 also contains 1 Timothy 6:6.

One is a complaint that is lodged with God. The other is a reminder that contentment is a good thing, a blessed thing.

Do you tend to live more time in one place than the other?

Too much complaining can lead to a bitter spirit, a crabby attitude, and can become cancerous to us and those who are around us...if anybody decides to stay around us, that is.

But there ARE times when complaints need to be heard and God DOES want to hear them.

On the other hand, there is something to be said for simply being content with whatever God brings across our path. But too much contentment can be a sedative to the needs and hurts of the world. The couch potato is content...a little TOO content.

Am I a complainer or content? Depends on the day...or the hour...or the minute...or…

"God, give us a healthy balance of complaining when the world is not right and people are hurting over it, as well as a regular dose of contentment and peace that comes from rejoicing in you and the good gifts YOU have given.”

Grace & Peace


Join suffering?

"...Join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God." (2 Timothy 1:8 NIV)

Some invitations seem more common than others.

"Come help us celebrate!" seems more likely to draw a crowd than "Come help us cry.”

But Paul is realistic and passionate about the gospel of God. So he expects a positive response when he says, "join with me in suffering for the gospel…"

Thankfully he doesn't end the verse there. We are to " suffering for the gospel BY THE POWER OF GOD.”

Have you spent time with the God of Power today?

Stick close to him.

Let him resource you.

Spend your life in such a way that when you put your head on the pillow this evening you have a sense of satisfaction and peace that you lived for the Kingdom.

Grace & peace


When I am Not in Your Life Anymore

If your children keep my covenant, and my decrees that I shall teach them, their children also, forevermore, shall sit on your throne. (Psalm 132:12)

To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just a I was victorious, and sat down with my Father on his throne. (Revelation 3:21)

Do you ever think what life will look like AFTER you are gone?

"Who will do THIS thing?" we may ask, feeling a little convinced NO one will.

"What DIFFERENCE am I making?" we may ask, being concerned about our impact.

I would suggest to you that Psalm 132:12 is a GREAT image at which to take aim.

God makes a promise to the King: "If YOUR kids obey Me, THEY will reign." I can imagine the king running out of the room and telling this to his kids...again...and again. It becomes a promise the family is to hold onto.

Only, we know the royal family in Israel changed several times because of a LACK of faithfulness. Sad. The promise was wasted.

Or was it? Because one night a baby was born, in the lineage of King David. A baby who grew up to teach, and preach, and die...and be raised back to life. And more than 2,000 years later people are STILL looking to and following him. Psalm 132:12 is being fulfilled TODAY through those who are obedient to Christ!

In the last book of the Bible, Revelation, there is another promise about ruling. This promise is made "To the one who is victorious..." Is that you? Is that me? By the power of the Spirit at work in you and me, it CAN be.

When I am not in your life anymore, the way I will judge whether or not my relationship with you was a success is whether or not I helped you to become "victorious"; to overcome the struggles of life and faith, sin and death. If I played some role in connecting you to the One who is able to help you overcome, to be victorious, and sit on the throne that is prepared for you, nothing else will really have lasting impact.

Grace & peace


The Cries in Your World

Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD... (Psalm 130:1 NIV)

The crying is everywhere if we will hear it.

Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD…

A mother is addicted and can't take care of her baby.

Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD…

A teenager is looking for love and acceptance.

Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD…

A family loses a mother and a daughter, a sister & a wife, all in one life.

Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD…

Sickness and disease make a healthy person aware of their dependence.

Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD…

Financial troubles become a constant concern.

Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD…

A marriage has become loveless and cold.

Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD…

Maybe it is you. Or maybe it is someone you run into today.

Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD…

Maybe they know it is God they are seeking, or maybe they are unaware Who they really need.

Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD…

A problem too big to be handled on our own.

Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD. LORD, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplication. (Psalm 130:1 NASB).

Grace & peace

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