Monday, April 29, 2013

Growing in Jesus' Love - Together! - Part 1

Part 1: Jesus shows us His greatest love

All the Gospels testify to us about the events surrounding Jesus’ last Passover supper with His closest disciples, held in the large upper room, located in Jerusalem near the 2nd Temple and David’s tomb.

Jesus had supernaturally directed His disciples to find and prepare this special place for their last Passover meal together. The large room would become the center gathering point for Jesus’ followers from that time forward, through many of their greatest experiences, especially His first appearances after His resurrection, and the outpouring of His Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost!

Sharing with His disciples in this upper room, before leaving for  Gethsemane to begin His Passion, His terrible struggle in the Garden, and His arrest, Jesus was compelled to reveal in much greater detail, many of His deepest and most important truths and teachings.

Among these many revelations about Himself and the unfolding plan of God, Jesus made absolutely clear His Father’s highest and greatest desire for all humanity: to know and surrender to His infinite, eternal divine love offered to all of us, and to each one of us in Jesus!

JOHN 14:9 I have loved you, [just] as the Father has loved Me; abide in My love [continue in His love with Me]. 10 If you keep My commandments [if you continue to obey My instructions], you will abide in My love and live on in it, just as I have obeyed My Father’s commandments and live on in His love. 11 I have told you these things that My joy and delight may be in you, your joy and gladness may be full measure, completely overflowing. 12 This is My commandment: love one another as I have loved you 13 No one has greater love [no one has shown stronger affection] than to lay down (give up) his own life for his friends.

Jesus reveals that His love for His disciples, is actually the outworking of the eternal love that He has always and will always share with His heavenly Father and the Holy Spirit, shown to His people through His real life, day to day, care and concern for each of them.

Jesus loves each of us with His Father’s love in exactly the same way, as shown to us in Hebrews 13:8, where we are told that He is always the same yesterday, today, and yes, forever!

To share in this love continuously, we are called to obey Jesus’ instructions. These are not laborious orders which we are expected to comply with, by our own strength. These are living words, communicated through the written pages of the Bible, yet filled with empowerment as we apply them, being led by the Holy Spirit daily in the process of living out our own lives in them.

Following the Holy Spirit as He enlivens the words of Jesus and other Scriptures to us, causes them to be joyous and delightful, helping us to love and to live in a level of gladness we could never sustain ourselves.

This abundant, overflowing life is like a divinely energetic sea endlessly hitting the rocky coastline of our own thinking processes, deep emotional reactions, and willfulness. There is a sometimes violent, other times subtle, interplay of our selfishness versus God’s continuous calling to us, and His ongoing creation of gracious opportunities to choose loving Him and others above ourselves.

No matter what level of resistance we put up, if we remain in active relationship with Jesus, we will eventually experience His divine power to pulverize our hard hearts, and remove the debris, the flotsam and jetsam of our self-focus, cleansing us and molding us to become a unique person who is more like Him, while learning to love others more and more, in real ways that impact them for good!

Whatever level of love Jesus has worked into any of us at this point in our lives, He will always be challenging us and leading us on to greater degrees of surrender. Once again, this process of surrender is a letting go of parts of us which are so connected to worldly and negative deceptions, that His revelations by the Spirit will eventually give us a godly desire to let go of them completely!

Letting go of these things, leads to letting go of all that is not His. This letting go is not an end in itself, but is rooted in love for Jesus and others, and results in greater love for Jesus and for others. Jesus showed us His way on the cross, giving Himself for us and for all who come to Him.

Jesus’ own example and His call will ultimately guide us to lay down our own lives in some way, whether physically, materially, relationally, positionally, or emotionally, by giving away something of ours or what we possess. Surrendering our all to Jesus by releasing our control in this way, truly causes us to become dead to self, enabled to more deeply show God’s love to others.

In that day, we will fully experience Jesus’ joy and delight within us, and our joy and gladness will be in full measure and completely overflowing! 

~Neil Uniacke
Executive Director

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Twenty Dollar Bill

A well-known speaker started off his seminar holding up a $20.00 bill. In the room of 200, he asked, "Who would like this $20.00 bill?" Hands started going up. He said, "I am going to give this $20 to one of you but first, let me do this."

He proceeded to crumple up the $20.00 bill. He then asked, "Who still wants it...?" Still the hands were up in the air. "Well," he replied, "What if I do this?" And he dropped it on the ground and started to grind it into the floor with his shoe. He picked it up, now crumpled and dirty. "Now, who still wants it?" Still the hands went into the air.

"My friends, we have all learned a very valuable lesson. No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because it did not decrease in value. It was still worth $20.00. Many times in our lives, we are dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make and the circumstances that come our way. We may feel as though we are worthless. But no matter what has happened or what will happen, you will never lose your value.

Dirty or clean, crumpled or finely creased, you are still priceless to those who DO LOVE you. The worth of our lives comes not in what we do or who we know, but by WHO WE ARE.

You are special-Don't EVER forget it."

What a great reminder of God's love.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Keep On Singing

Over the last year the song by Matt Redmond, 10,000 Reasons, has become very popular in churches and on Christian radio.  I first heard the song last September when a young girl from our congregation introduced it to us during our Worship and Praise time on a Sunday morning. I liked it immediately and the more I heard it the more I loved it.

Singing has always been a part of my life.  My parents sang a lot.  I grew up on a chicken farm and if I entered the chicken house looking for my father I just stood and listened where the singing was coming from (although sometimes it was hard to hear over the cackling of the chickens!). My mother sang or hummed as she worked around the house. Naturally my siblings and I sang too.  I didn't know that there were some families who didn't sing as they went about their daily lives until I was in my teenage years and a friend expressed astonishment that my family was always singing. 

We didn't always sing the correct words and we certainly weren't the most musically gifted family, but we still sang.  I actually don't have that great a voice but I still sing. I married a man who has a lot of trouble staying on key, but thankfully he still sings. His trademark is making up songs and singing them. The songs he sang to the children when they were little were absolutely goofy but the kids loved them and he taught them well.  All of them are quite capable of putting words to any tune.  You will not be around one of my children for very long, before you will hear them singing. If you are lucky enough for them not to know you are there, you will be treated to the most ridiculous, hilarious tunes that you can imagine. The other day my daughter, Megan, heard her brother Josh bellowing a song and substituting humorous lyrics in place of the actual ones. She said the song (with the incorrect words) has been stuck in her head ever since. My 3-year old granddaughter Alexis, rode with Uncle Josh in his truck one afternoon and to his delight and her mother's dismay she now happily and lustily sings "baby monkey, baby monkey, riding on a pig, baby monkey..." Also, if you ever happen to sneak into the shop when my sons Shawn and Josh are working on their trucks you will hear a men's duet like you have never heard before.

I am telling you all of this to explain why I love this song. I love the tune but even more I love the words, because it is exactly how I feel about singing.

"the sun comes up, it's a new day dawning, it's time to sing Your song again....let me be singing when the evening comes....for all your goodness I will keep on singing...."

The Bible has a lot of references to singing. The Psalms are filled with songs. Jesus and his disciples sang together before they went out to the Mount of Olives. Paul and Silas sang in jail.  I think the Lord loves when we sing together and I can't help but think he even enjoys the silly little songs we make up to entertain each other. I pray that I will never stop singing and when  "the end draws near and my time has come" I plan to sing God's praises "ten thousand years and then forevermore."

If you have never heard the song and even if you have, I hope you enjoy this video and that you can find in your heart some reasons to keep on singing.

~Mary Lehman

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Honor of Your Presence Is Requested...

At the Community Closet Thrift Store, we have been very busy, not only with processing the donations you give us, but also with planning our annual fashion show. The show will be on Thursday, April 18, 2013 at Wesley Church, 1104 Kirkwood Pike, Quarryville at 6:00 pm.  The doors will open at 5:30 and your $20.00 ticket will get you a seat at the fashion show along with a light dinner.

The main room at Wesley Church will be transformed by our skillful decorations committee. The tables will have beautiful tablescapes that will complement our theme of "Cinderella: From Rags to Riches."

Our models are all from the area and include some favorites from the past as well as several who are displaying their "model" skills for the first time. You will see a variety of outfits that have all been put together from clothes that have been donated to the Community Closet.  You will have fun and laugh as our models show off these outfits. You will enjoy a delicious and interesting light supper as you sit with old and new friends. Are you starting to see how our goal is to give you an enjoyable evening, one that is full of fun and makes you feel pampered?

Our ultimate desire is that the evening will be one of good food, fun fellowship, beautiful fashions, and lively entertainment.  We hope to give you some creative ideas about how to put together some of your own outfits in different ways and to show that each of you are beautiful from the inside out.

For ticket information please call either 786-2034 or 786-2802. Reservations can be made for a table of 8 to sit together.  There will also be a silent auction so come early to browse and see which items you would like to bid on. I hope to see you there!

~Deb Riddell
Thrift Store Manager

Monday, April 1, 2013

Grandmother Says....

A young woman went to her grandmother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved a new one arose.

Her grandmother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs and the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil without saying a word.

In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her granddaughter, she asked, "Tell me what do you see?"

"Carrots, eggs, and coffee," she replied.

She brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they got soft. She then asked her to take an egg and break it.

After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg.

Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee. The granddaughter smiled, as she tasted its rich aroma. The granddaughter then asked, "What's the point, grandmother?"

Her grandmother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity--boiling water--but each reacted differently.

The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. However after being subjected to the boiling water it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened.

The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water they had changed the water.

"Which are you?" she asked her granddaughter.

"When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?"

Think of this: Which am I?

Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity, do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart?

Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you.

When the hours are the darkest and trials are their greatest do you elevate to another level?

~Author unknown