1388. Everything that is born in the great matrix of life is sustained by roots that reach into the deep mystery of God’s life. ~J. Philip Newell

With you is the source of life, O God.
You are the beginning of all that is.
From your life the fire of the rising sun streams forth.
You are the life-flow of creation’s rivers,
the sap of blood in our veins, earth’s fecundity,
the fruiting of trees, creatures birthing,
the conception of new thought, desire’s origin.
All these are of you, O God, and I am of you.
-A prayer by J. Philip Newell

There are many images of the church in the Bible, but we will mention just three: the church as the Body of Christ, the People of God and the Bride of Christ. Christ is the head of the church (Ephesians 1:10; 4:15) and Christians are the body. “People of God” is another image of the church. God says of the church, “I will be their God, and they will be my people” (2 Corinthians 6:16; Hebrews 8:10 NIV). The church is also referred to as the Bride of Christ (2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:32; Revelation 19:7; 21:9), suggestive of a special and sacred family relationship between Christ and the church.

The concept of the visible and local church also touched briefly on the challenges and tensions that sometimes result in churches. Critics point to divisions and disagreements among Christians as evidence of a lack of unity and, hence, a lack of real biblical support undergirding the Christian church as a whole. Is this true? In some cases Christians do indeed need to admit to shortcomings and, at times, un-Christ-like behavior. But in looking at the bigger picture, the Christian church has always been united on key points of belief such as the reality of a personal, loving God, salvation that is found in Christ through His death and bodily resurrection, human depravity and the need for redemption through Christ and more. This “mere” Christianity or core of unshakable truths has united Christian churches throughout the centuries and continues to do so.

When it comes to the essentials or primary matters, Christians are united, but when it comes to nonessentials or secondary matters, there is room for some disagreement. This disagreement, however, does not change the unity on the foundations of Christianity such as the person of Christ and His role in human redemption. ~3 Excerpted paragraphs from an article by Paul Velarde

“But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you. . .” -Job 12:7-8  ✝

**Images found on Pinterest

1385. The whole fabric of Creation is woven through the thread of God’s light. ~J. Philip Newell

How does one separate
the mystery of God
from the mystery of Creation?
Is the sanctuary of a church
more holy than the sanctuary
of earth, sea, and sky?

One of my fellow bloggers recently posted an article about his faith and churches, and as I read the comments of others about what he said, I was disturbed to see how many had negative feelings like I once did about churches. In my twenties I left the church, but I eventually came to realize it was not God nor a church per se that had let me down and hurt me. For God had not failed to be God nor had Jesus failed to be my Savior; it was the flaws and frailties of humanity that had caused my disillusionment. So I’m going to start a three-part series tomorrow about my take on the church and why I worship in one as often as I can. I pray you will read what I have to say even if you have a low regard for churches and then mull over the points I make. I know I am just another flawed human being who struggles like everyone else to make some kind of sense about this thing called life but now I’m also one who no longer questions God nor His truths. There are those who say that Jesus is a myth or a sort of “urban” legend, but for two thousand years no one has been able to prove that He wasn’t exactly who He said He was and is. I was just a proverbial lost sheep and He pursued me for decades until at last I became silent enough to hear His call and now know Him to be the way, the truth, and the life that will lead me home. And it is my most fervent prayer that you who read my thoughts over the next 3 days will feel a close connection to God and Jesus as well. You are on their radar; I know that for certain.

*Crepuscular rays (also known as sunbeams, sun rays, angel light, or God rays) are atmospheric optics that appear to radiate from a point in the sky…

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. ~Psalm 19:1-2  ✝

**Images via Pinterest; collage created by Natalie

1355. I just kept thinking, if I don’t do something, who will? ~Matthew West

I am only one, but I am one.
I cannot do everything,
but I can do something.
And I will not let what I cannot 
do
interfere with what I can do.
~Edward Everett Hale

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I woke up this morning
Saw a world full of trouble now
Thought, how’d we ever get so far down
How’s it ever gonna turn around
So I turned my eyes to Heaven
I thought, “God, why don’t You do something?”
Well, I just couldn’t bear the thought of
People living in poverty
Children sold into slavery
The thought disgusted me
So, I shook my fist at Heaven
Said, “God, why don’t You do something?”
He said, “I did, I created you”
~Excerpted lines from a song
by Matthew West

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While in the car today, I heard this song again and thought to myself how relevant it was and still is in these troubling times. Going to church to worship and praise God once or twice a week is not nearly enough to fulfill our purpose and obligation to the loving God we worship. We have been given that we might give, and we are called on to be His church whenever and wherever we are. In so doing we become the light and hope of a fallen and hurting world. Anybody with an eye to see and an ear to hear knows that all around each and every one of us are people who are suffering, people who are poor, people who are hungry, people who are thirsty, people who are abused, people who are broken. people who need love and encouragement and on and on the list goes. And for all of them far more has to be done than the preaching of a sermon. That’s why we, each one of us, have to let our actions be a message and/or an act of merciful grace to and for others. We must let God use the gifts and talents He gave us to bless those in need. That is the true way of a miracle worker. One random act of kindness a day can change 365 lives every year. And when the right words can’t be found, just a smile and a kind word will sometimes do for they too can be the stuff of miracles. And if you are in need or feeling down, go be a blessing to someone else and you’ll find that the blessing, like a boom-a-rang, comes right back to you. Smiles and kindness costs the giver nothing but their impact is beyond measure, and like a pebble thrown in a pond they reach out in ever-widening circles!

You(God) enlarge my steps under me, and my feet have not slipped. ~Psalm 18:36 ✝

**All images via Pinterest; collage by Natalie

1269. The object of our lives is to look at, listen to, touch, taste things.  Without them,-these sticks, stones, feathers, shells,-there is no Deity. ~R. H. Blyth

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In the afternoons,
in the almost  empty fields,
I hum the hymns
I used to sing

in church.
They could not tame me,
so they would not keep me,
alas,

and how that feels,
the weight of it,
I will not tell
any of you,

not ever.
Still, as they promised,
God, once he is in your heart,
is everywhere –

so even here
among the weeds
and the brisk trees.
How long does it take

to hum a hymn?  Strolling
one or two acres
of the sweetness
of the world,

not counting
a lapse, now and again,
of sheer emptiness.
Once a deer

stood quietly at my side.
And sometimes the wind
has touched my cheek
like a spirit.

Am I lonely?
The beautiful, striped sparrow,
serenely, on the tallest weed in his kingdom,
also sings without words.
-Mary Oliver 

Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young— a place near your altar, Lord Almighty, my King and my God. ~Psalm 84:3  ✝

**Images via Pinterest and the Internet; collage by Natalie

1100. Creativity is the desire of a man to express himself, to record the reactions of his personality to the world he lives in. ~Amy Lowell

Imagination is more important than knowledge.
For knowledge is limited to all we know and understand,
while imagination embraces the entire world, and
all there ever will be to know and understand.
Creativity is seeing what everyone else has seen,
and thinking what no one else has thought.
~Albert Einstein

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Why should you think that beauty,
which is the most precious thing in the world,
lies like a stone on the beach
for the careless passer-by to pick up idly?
Beauty is something wonderful and strange
that the artist or writer or musician
photographer or dancer fashions out of
the 
chaos of the world in the torment of his soul.
~Edited and adapted excerpt from
W. Somerset Maugham

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us,  to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. ~Ephesians 3: 20-21  ✝

566. The face is the mirror of the mind, and eyes without speaking confess the secrets of the heart. ~St. Jerome

The best and most beautiful things
in the world cannot be seen or even touched –
they must be felt with the heart.
~Helen Keller

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On the edge of dreaming when the brain lets go, when it stops its scheming, our blood runs slow… Then the heart speaks clearly of the things it knows, things it brought so dearly at the evening’s glow… And a misty sunset fills the west with yellow, gold and scarlet red. The bowl of space at dawn sheds light upon our silky bed. For you, I send refreshing rain to wash the past away. A quiet breeze drifts warmly across your tired face. It brings the scents from flowery climbs, and leaves without a trace. With vines and newborn stars in our hair…undressed, bronzed platinum we are as summer in your golden church… Like whispers lost at sea…we soar beyond the sky of fire…in harmony within the clash of elements… Together lost and free to claim our each desire. Like leaves we float to earth, once more…forbidden passion, romantic eyes, and heated lips…two burning amber hearts released and drinking slowly mysterious champagne of heaven’s sweetest rest… ~Oksana Rus

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. ~Deuteronomy 6:5   ✝

**Image via Pinterest

547. …the whole fabric of creation is woven through with the thread of God’s light. ~J. Philip Newell, THE BOOK OF CREATION

Nature is God’s first missionary.
Where there is no Bible,
there are sparkling stars.
Where there are not preachers,
there are spring times…
If a person has nothing but nature,
then nature is enough
to reveal something about God.
~Max Lucado

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My church has no wall
My church has no roof
Birds are flying through
Stars are shining above
My church has no door
My church has no window
Shy owls are welcome there
Secret lakes are stained glass
And bluebells go to the mass
It is a shelter in my heart
Hugeness in my soul
My church is nowhere
And everywhere at the same
As fragile as a snowflake
As strong as love
For it is the breath of life
For it is just made of faith
~Frédéric G. Martin
at: http://poemsandpoemes.wordpress.com/2014/04/22/my-church/

Send me Your light and Your faithful care, let them lead me; let them bring me to Your holy mountain, to the place where You dwell. ~Psalm 43:3  ✝

**Image via Pinterest