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

1282. When I dance I forget everything else and just feel completely happy. ~Katherine Jenkins

When you dance, your purpose
is not to get to a certain
place on the floor. It’s to enjoy
each step along the way.
~Wayne Dyer

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If I Were
There are lots of ways to dance
and to spin, sometimes it just
starts my feet first then my entire body,
I am spinning no one can see it
but it is happening. I am so glad to be alive,
I am so glad to be loving and loved.
Even if I were close to the finish, even if
I were at my final breath,
I would be here to take a stand,
bereft of such astonishments,
but for them.
~Excerpt from a poem
by Mary Oliver

Again you will take up your timbrels and go out to dance with the joyful. ~Excerpt from Jeremiah 31:4  ✝

**Image via Pinterest; special effects done on iPiccy and Movavi

1107. Plain dealing is a jewel, but they that wear it are out of fashion. ~Thomas Fuller

Knowing your own darkness
is the best method for dealing
with the darknesses of other people.
~Carl Jung

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Okay, so I know I’m an old codger and that many in the world think that as a demographic we old folk are just too old-fashioned to “get it” whatever “it” is that they think they have a better handle on than we do. So let’s consider for a moment the primordial “seven deadly sins.” And afterwards, feel free to let me know when and if any of them have changed: 1.) pride/vanity, 2.) lying tongues, 3.) the shedding of innocent blood by the hands of others, 4.) hearts that devise evil acts, 5.) feet that are swift in running to mischief, 6.) false witnesses who speak lies, 7.) ones who sow discord among their fellow man. Are these not things that have existed since the beginning of time? Have we not all encountered and commited many of them in our own lives? Have we not all been deeply hurt, desperately lonely, overwhelming despondent, and/or bitterly betrayed at some point even by those who were supposed to be family and/or friends? Have we not all had our hearts broken and almost ripped out of our very flesh by grief? Have we not all braved “dark nights” of the soul at least once in our lives? Have we not all experienced suffering and pain, both physical and emotional? Have we not all been lied to and cheated on in some way? Have we ourselves not been repeatedly mischievous and sinful? If the answer to these questions is not only yes, but hell yes, then what is it that ANYONE, regardless of age or gender, doesn’t get? Except maybe contrition and forgiveness, kindness and sincerity, compassion and grace, finding the strength to get up again and again after being knocked down over and over again. Life is freakin’ hard, and trust me when I say that you guys who supposedly “have a handle on things” which we old folks don’t understand, you’re going to find that the “hard” which you perceive growing old to be is not even close to the reality of what it is. So why don’t we all, young and old alike, try to learn to trust again, to hope again, to believe again, to be kind again, to be accepting again, to be loving again, to be authentic again and to do all those things with the greatest sincerity we can muster. For if we know our own darknesses, should we not attempt to be a light in another’s darkness instead of increasing their darkness? And one last thing, if someone offers you all these things, then accept them graciously as the gift they were meant to be and embrace them as well as the giver regardless of what’s happened to you in the past!

Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. They are a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck. ~Proverbs 1 8-9  ✝

**Image found on Pinterest

1048. God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well. ~Voltaire

My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird —
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

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Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,

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which is mostly standing still and learning to be
astonished.
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all ingredients are here,

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which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes, a mouth
with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam…
~Excerpted lines from the poem, The Messenger by Mary Oliver

I am 73 years old and nearly six feet tall, and yet there are things in life that still make me dance a jig and squeal with joy like a child. And I’m not one bit sheepish about doing it either. As many of you know I absolutely adore Mary Oliver’s poetry. It’s as if she somehow managed to crawl around in my soul and heart and then spilled out what she found therein into her poetry. So I bought 4 new books of her poetry at Amazon last week and when they came today, they were greeted with none other than the same unabashed, joyful squeals. Afterwards there was a round of eeny, meeny, miny, mo before picking one of the four to open first. Then I turned to the first poem in it, read the one above, and guess what? I joyfully squealed some more. Damn, but I love that woman’s thoughts and poetry!!!

When I was in college, there were occasions when my friends and I tried to come up with the names of five people throughout history that we’d most like to meet and spend time with. I’m not sure who I would have picked or did pick back then, but at 73 I know for sure who the top 3 on my list would be now–Jesus(God), Claude Monet, and Mary Oliver. The remaining two are still up for grabs, but that’s not to say that they aren’t lots of splendid candidates to choose from. I pray that each and everyone one of you who’ve read this also have something or someone that thrills you to the point of at least wanting to squeal with animated pleasure!

And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. ~Matthew 18:3   ✝

745. I hope your dreams take you to the corners of your smiles, to the highest of your hopes, to the windows of your opportunities, and to the most special places your heart has ever known. ~Author Unknown

You cannot help but learn more
as you take the world into your hands.
Take it up reverently, for it is
an old piece of clay, with millions
of thumbprints on it.
~John Updike

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This is my lovely granddaughter. She was two years old when her father and our daughter, Nikki, got married. So I have been a part of her life almost from the get go and like to think that I’ve had a positive impact on her, if not by a blood link, then by a shared heart link. Like my daughter, Annie is beautiful and bright and has a compassionate, loving heart. She will graduate soon from high school, and then in the fall she will be headed off to college. Since her life will soon change in profound ways, I pray that she continues to follow the Lord and the holy nudgings of her own heart. Part of my desire for her is best stated in these quotes above and below and in what Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: “Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you.” And I pray that she always knows that the “all” of who and what she is more than enough since she is made in the image of Almighty God. For a better insight into her sweet heart, check out some of her posts on her blog where she expresses her love and desire to serve the Lord at:   https://alwayslivingforhim.wordpress.com/2015/04/22/little-moments-big-blessings/

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To be nobody but yourself in a world
which is doing its best, night and day,
to make you everybody else
means to fight the hardest battle
which any human being can fight;
and never stop fighting.
~e.e. cummings, 1955

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Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. ~Marianne Williamson

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths. ~Proverbs 3:5-6   ✝

729. 
Every happening, great and small, is a parable whereby God speaks to us, and the art of life is to get the message. ~Malcolm Muggeridge

Is there a green too green
Is there a wet too wet
In a land that has
suffered long, a drought.

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Is there a heaven too high
Is there a ground too low
In a world that has
suffered much, for a Savior

Is there a Father too loving
Is there a God too merciful
In a heart that has
suffered long, afflictions

Shake not your fists at the heavens
Shake not your fists at the world
Seek instead the One
who came to make a way for all
through the wilderness
through the darkness
through the confusion
through the suffering
~Natalie Scarberry

The grasslands of the wilderness overflow; the hills are clothed in gladness. ~Psalms 65:12   ✝

630. If Heaven made him — earth can find some use for him. ~Chinese Proverb

Truly, I am as a grain of sand in the desert,
Infinitesimal, so very small!
And, yet, I serve a purpose in this wondrous world,
As do the trees, so stately and so tall.
I’m just a tiny atom that God has placed down here—
I do not even know the reason why!
But I’m sure that He, with wisdom, has evolved a plan
To fit me in His pattern ere I die.
~Gertrude Tooley Buckingham

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According to Scripture, each one of us is made in God’s image, and though we are, as Buckingham declares, merely an infinitesimal “grain of sand in the desert,” we do indeed, as she also purports, serve a purpose “in this wondrous world.” We are also told in Holy Writ, that the Lord with His limitless power is ready, willing, and able to helps us discern what our purpose is. So the question is how does He do that? Well, we are given a brain that has the ability to learn, a heart that is able to love, ears that hear, and eyes that are capable of discerning a wide spectrum of things. Okay, then, how does He, from afar, orchestrate the discharge of His plan. Well, since our mouths can deliver His loving smile, our voices speak comforting words, our hands administer compassionate healing, our legs carry whatever is lacking to places totally bereft of the “wondrous” aspect of life, it would appear our lives are to be spent serving Him with the gifts we’ve been given. The better question is: how can we who bear Yahweh’s image and breathe His holy breath, do anything but make it our primary concern to spend time with Him and ask for revelation about what it is He would have us do with our “one wild and precious life.” Otherwise, what would be the point of being able to give and receive love if there were no place to spend it nor people with whom to share it?

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose. ~Romans 8:28   ✝

** Image via Pinterest