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

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

1383. Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. ~Excerpt from 1 Chronicles 29:11 ✝

“We know from Scripture that God can turn the hearts of kings (Proverbs 21:1 ✝). That means we should be praying for God’s will to be done and for our leaders to seek God and listen to Him. We should pray that they be surrounded by godly counsel and most important, that our leadership would personally know God and the salvation found through faith in Jesus Christ alone.” ~Billy Graham

It is very clear we are to submit to those that have rule over us, to pray for those in leadership, and to obey the laws of the land. Nowhere in the Bible do we see that we are to wish death and destruction to our leadership. ~Excerpted lines from an article found on the Internet.

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls… ~Hebrews 13:17 ✝

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls… ~Hebrews 13:17 ✝

Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor(president) supreme… ~1 Peter 2:13 ✝

1370. Our Lord has written the promise of the resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in spring-time. ~Martin Luther

And he departed from our sight
that we might return to our heart,
and there find Him.  For He departed,
and behold, He is here.
~St Augustine

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God, give us eyes to see
the beauty of the Spring,
And to behold Your majesty
in every living thing –
And may we see in lacy leaves
and every budding flower
The Hand that rules the universe
with gentleness and power –
And may this Easter grandeur
that Spring lavishly imparts
Awaken faded flowers of faith
lying dormant in our hearts,
And give us ears to hear, dear God,
the Springtime song of birds
With messages more meaningful
than a mortal’s oft empty words.
Let the songbirds speak to all
harried beings lost in dark despair –
saying “Be like us and do not worry
for the Lord has you in His care.”
~Edited poem by
Helen Steiner Rice

And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of Lord Jesus. ~Luke 24:2-3 ✝

For Christ has risen!

**Image found on Pinterest and edited by Natalie

1362. Your smile tells me more than words will ever say. ~Author Unknown

Smile with your lips, smile with your eyes,
smile with your heart and your soul and your life.
~Terri Guillemets

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Two weeks after James and I married in 1963, he became very ill and had to been hospitalized. In the beginning it looked as if he might have had something that would have been life threatening or else something that could have been at least life altering, but it turned out to be neither. There was a time when they found a tumor on my thyroid that could have been malignant, but after a partial thyroidectomy it proved to be benign. There was a time when it looked like I would never have a child of my own, however nine years after we married, we were blessed with a healthy baby girl. Three years after our daughter was born she became very ill and had to be hospitalized with something that at one time would have ended her life, but at that time it didn’t. There was a time when I had to have a hysterectomy because my uterus was full of tumors, but again they proved to be benign. There was a time when my daughter became pregnant, but miscarried her one and only biological child, but I have been blessed with three wonderful grandchildren. There was a time, when tumors were once again found in what remained of my thyroid, and they could have been malignant, but they weren’t. There was a time that those tumors grew so large and that surgically removing them endangered the finding and saving of my parathyroids, but the surgeon was able to locate 3 of the 4 and so the health issues that would have ensued from their loss didn’t materialize. There was a time when I had a stroke that could have left me crippled physically and/or mentally or worse yet it could have taken my life, but it didn’t. There was a time when my grandson suffered sexual abuse at the hands of a trusted individual and eventually the child had to be hospitalized for 5 months to save his life and shore up his wholeness. He suffers still with PTSD and other issues as a result, but today my daughter sent a photo in which he was having fun and smiling for the first time in nearly two years. So why did all that make me cry on the way home from my sister’s this afternoon? Was it because of sadness and despair over misfortunes and trials? Before I answer that let me say that not only have I committed my fair share of trespasses against the Lord and his commandments, but when I was 18, my father died suddenly, and afterwards I turned my back on the Lord for nearly two decades and railed against Him regularly for allowing my beloved father to be taken from me. So the tears flowed not out of grief but because God has blessed me so many times despite my human frailties and transgressions that I was once again humbled, reduced to tears of joy and gratitude, and made to ponder why on earth after my egregious shortcomings, He would love me enough to bless me over and over again with His amazing grace. The answer is simple: because though I once was so lost, I was and am His beloved child and I asked! So if someone were ever looking for a person who didn’t believe in miracles or in the power of prayer or in Jesus, as the Messiah, or in God’s forgiveness, faithfulness, or His loving goodness, I would NOT be the person they were seeking. But if they were wanting to know more about the Lord, I would tell them to “knock and the door would be opened.” So what do ya think? Am I smiling along with my beautiful grandson now? Oh you betcha I am, yes, yes, and yes!!!

**Image via Pinterest; special effects done by Natalie on iPiccy

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

1344. “Truly, Truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am,” (~John 8:58 ✝), a passage of Scripture which tells us that the Lord existed before His human life on earth.

The passages of Holy Writ below are seven other
“I am” statements made by our Lord.

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“I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger.” ~John 6:35  ✝

“I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life.” ~John 8:12  ✝

“I am the gate; if anyone enters through Me, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” ~John 10:9  ✝

“I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for His sheep.” ~John 10:11  ✝

“I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies.” ~John 11:25  ✝

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.” ~John 14:6  ✝

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.” ~John 15:1  ✝

The great “I am” had:
no servants, yet they called him Master.
no degree, yet they called him Teacher.
no medicines, yet they called him Healer.
no army, yet kings feared Him.
won no military battles, yet He overcame the world
and conquered death.
committed no crime, yet they crucified Him.
And though He was buried in a tomb,
yet He lives today. His name is Jesus.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. ~John 1:1-5  ✝

**Image found on the Internet; text box addd by Natalie