1387. In the early Celtic churches, earth, sea, and sky were, rather than enclosed sanctuaries, the temple of God. The high-standing crosses were gathering places. ~J. Philip Newell

The world is holy.
We are holy. All life is holy.
Daily prayers are delivered on the lips
of breaking waves, the whisperings
of grasses, the shimmering of leaves.
-Terry Tempest Williams

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The church is not a building, but a body of believers with a specific nature and purpose. These biblical roles or ministries of the church are foundational to it. Worship is God-centered and Christ-centered. It is not about entertaining Christians with flashy displays or presentations, but about expressing our love by worshiping our Creator. We are to praise and glorify God in worship. As such, every Christian needs to be part of regular fellowship and worship. Edification is also a role of the church. It involves edifying believers, but also nurturing, building up or helping believers to mature in Christ.

Evangelism is also a key role of the church. This means reaching out to a lost world with the Good News about Jesus. Since people often have questions or doubts about Christ and Christianity, knowing the truth and being able to defend it is also part of the role of the church. But beyond evangelism in the sense of reaching out with the gospel, the church must also express compassion and mercy tangibly by helping others. In following Christ’s example to love others, the church, too, must seek to make a real difference in the world while not neglecting to share the message of Christ. If a church fails to fulfill any of these key roles – worship, edification, evangelism – then the church is not functioning as God intends. Granted, there are times when churches face challenges and struggles to one degree or another, but a healthy church seeks to overcome such challenges in a way that honors God and His intentions for His church. (This paragraph and the one above it are excerpted from an article by Paul Velarde_)

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” ~Matthew 28:19-20  ✝

**Images via Pinterest; collage by Natalie

1353. Timeless thoughts of a winter’s stare; eyes gazing over a landscape bare. ~Michael A. Barron

Gray, endless shades of
Gray, winter’s somber suit of
Gray, the season’s shroud

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Beige, broad blankets of
Beige, chilling frosts turn green to
Beige, on what we trod

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Color, drear shades of
Color, muted, faint hues of
Color, in stark realm

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Winter, the woe of
Winter, shall soon be gone for
Winter, bows to spring

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As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I(God) desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. ~Isaiah 55:10-11  ✝

**All 4 haikus written by Natalie; most images from Pinterest; collages by Natalie; a few of the images in the last collage are ones I’ve taken in past winters

1345. There are hundreds of languages in this world and one transcends all, the language of love. ~Julie Parker

Beneath the chaos, YOU ARE STILLNESS.
Beneath the pain, YOU ARE JOY.
Beneath the fear, YOU ARE LOVE.
~Julie Parker

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I believe Love is everywhere. I believe Hearts speak to hearts. I believe Souls know each other long before they meet. I believe we are in this world to create Heaven on Earth. I believe everything we encounter is a call to remember a language our Soul has known for eternity. I believe we are Love… ~Julie Parker

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May the Love you are
blossom into Being.
With each unfurling petal
May you know the beauty of your Soul.
May you sow seeds of Love
through every season.
~Julie Parker

“‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.’” ~Leviticus 19:18  ✝

**Images found on Pinterest; borders and special effects done by me on iPiccy.

1308. So she poured out the liquid music of her voice to quench the thirst of her spirit. ~Edited quote by Nathaniel Hawthorne

God respects me when I work;
but God loves me when I sing.
~Rabindranath Tagore

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Anything worth thinking about
is worth singing about.

Which is why we have songs of
praise, songs of love, songs of sorrow.

Songs the shepherds sing, on the lonely mountains,
while the sheep are honoring the grass, by eating it.

The dance-songs of the bees, to tell where the flowers,
suddenly, in the morning light, have opened.

A chorus of many, shouting to
heaven, or at it, or pleading.

Or that greatest of love affairs,
a violin and a human body.

And a composer,
maybe hundreds of years dead.

I think of Schubert, scribbling on
a café napkin. Thank you, thank you.

~Excerpted verses from a poem
by Mary Oliver

I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise You(God). ~Psalm 63:5 ✝

**Image via the Internet; special effects  done by me on iPiccy

1264. Pleasure is spread through the earth in stray gifts to be claimed by whoever shall find. ~William Wordsworth

Your legs will get heavy and tired.
Then comes a moment of feeling
the wings you’ve grown, lifting.
~Rumi

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Be still, my soul, and steadfast.
Earth and heaven both are still watching
though time is draining from the clock
and your walk, that was confident and quick,
has become slow.

So, be slow if you must, but let
the heart still play its true part.
Love still as once you loved, deeply
and without patience. Let God and the world
know you are grateful.
That the gift has been given.
~ Mary Oliver

I’ve definitely become slow and not as steady as I once was like this poet declares, but my heart still thrills to what I find in the garden. My love for flowers like these morning glories is yet deep and strong and steadfast. As the years move on, I may know that my days grow closer and closer to their end, but though I’m not as quick and fleet of foot as I once was, I remain ever grateful for gifts from God and the garden where I feel wings lifting my soul on high.

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. ~1 Corinthians 12:4 ✝

**Photo of these two morning glories taken in my yard this afternoon at dusk.

1205. Do not say, ‘It is morning,’ and dismiss it with a name of yesterday. See it for the first time as a newborn child that has no name. ~Rabindranath Tagore

This time of the year is so terribly hot that I find myself grumbling morning, noon, and evening about the relentless, scorching rays of the sun, the same sun that in winter is quite a welcome presence! So here’s to the beautiful sun, bearer of light and life, and the sunflower that mimics its golden glory.

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Beautiful Sun! with thy golden rays,
To God, the wise Creator, be all praise;
For thou nourisheth all the creation,
Wherever there is found to be animation.

Without thy heat we could not live,
Then praise to God we ought to give;
For thou makest the fruits and provisions to grow,
To nourish all creatures on earth below.

Thou makest the birds to sing on the tree,
Also by meadow, mountain, and lea;
And the lark high poised up in air,
Caroling its little song with its heart free from care.

While the bee from flower to flower does roam
To gather honey, and carry it home;
While it hums its little song in the beautiful sunshine,
And seemingly to thank the Creator divine —

For the honey it hath gathered during the day,
In the merry growing months of the year
When the flowers are in full bloom,
Also the sweet honeysuckle and the broom.

How beautiful thy appearance while setting in the west,
Whilst encircled with red and azure, ’tis then thou look’st best!
Then let us all thank God for thy golden light
In our prayers every morning and night!
~Edited poem by Max Plowman

…“May the Lord bless his land with the precious dew from heaven above and with the deep waters that lie below; with the best the sun brings forth and the finest the moon can yield…” ~Excerpted lines from Deuteronomy 33:13-14  ✝

**Photo taken by me in my yard