Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Our Piano Glory Story


I'm speechless today. One family's sorrow has become another family's joy and answered prayers. We've been needing a piano upgrade but provision for it seemed impossible. Then an acquaintance posted on Facebook last week that her dad, very recently widowed, wanted to find a new home for this piano. Long story short, that GORGEOUS instrument now sits in our music room and our older one will be enjoyed by good friends with four little ones. I'm shaking my head in awe, so humbled by what God has done here.
"For in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints…" 2 Corinthians 8:1-4 
"Thanks be to God for his inexpressive gift!" 2 Corinthians 9:15

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Little Red Chair


'Tis is the season of transition to summer routines. School and church activities like Bible studies, small groups and children's programs are wrapping up.  It's a perfect time of year to reflect on those who have had influence on our faith.  There are official "volunteer recognition" parties and fellowship lunches, gift cards given and Hallmark cards signed.   Whether our expressions of gratitude are official or spontaneous, they are important and powerful encouragement to volunteers who lead Bible studies, teach Sunday School, hold babies in the nursery, serve on worship teams, facilitate small groups, preach and inspire, make coffee, maintain our church buildings, be a buddy to a child with special needs, make meals for families when someone is hospitalized, speak or write words or encouragement, mentor youth, lead our congregations, administrate our offices and pray faithfully on our prayer chains.  The list of those who could be thanked and how we might do that goes on and on.  

Rhonda Roe and her Bible study friends recently found a creative way to thank their Bible study leader, Jan Christofferson. They have so valued the way Jan teaches and inspires them. I want to thank Rhonda for sharing today's story and poem reminding us to give thanks and inspiring us share our Glory Stories of how we are personally encountering the Living God in His precious presence, power and goodness.
My Bible study leader, Jan Christofferson, often refers to what she learned in Sunday school as a small child.  She tells us about sitting in little red chairs and learning simple truths about Jesus and stories of faith. 
I have often thought how neat it would be to give Jan a little red wooden chair as a reminder of those special days in Sunday school.  This year I was able to make that dream a reality.  I found a small wooden chair at an antique store and purchased it.  My friend, Karen, painted it red and wrote a poem to give to Jan.  We recently gave it to Jan at our end-of-the-year brunch. 
I hope this story and the poem inspire you to share your faith with the children in your lives.  You never know if one of them will grow up to have a servant heart and a desire to lead a Bible study.
The Little Red Chair
by Karen Johnson
A little red chair, so tiny and sweet, 
with paint a bit chipped and wear from small feet. 
All week in the dark and lined up on the wall, 
but oh! Sunday mornings, that changes it all!

All proud in a circle, we sit in a state, 
for very small people to be quiet and to wait, 
for stories and singing, and maybe a treat, 
for words about Jesus, and God’s love so sweet.

A little red chair, a Sunday in church,
a small little girl using it for a perch. 
A love for our Lord, a kindness of heart, 
like most great achievements, had a small start.

A little red chair, now beat up and worn, 
abandoned, forgotten—but what of it born? 
A wee little child to hear and in turn, 
a life full of teaching so others might learn.

A little red chair, so cheerful and dear, 
with our thankful hearts we look at it here. 
A symbol for us, they make such a pair, 
our wonderful Jan and her little red chair!

Who might you thank today or this week? 
How could you do that in a way that is personally meaningful?

LORD GOD, thank you for putting people in my life who have pointed me toward You and helped me grasp my opportunity for relationship with you.  Thank you for using the stories I hear about how others are encountering You. Those stories re-assure me of your presence. They encourage me when I need to know someone else has walked in my shoes and found You to be faithful.  They spur me on when it's hard to persevere.  They remind me that I have great value in your Kingdom.  Help me to hear what You have to say to me through friends, mentors, my spouse, my children and my parents.  Please help me to have a teachable spirit as well as a heart to serve and share how I see You at work in and around me.  I offer myself to you today (or recommit) to be used for Your unimaginable purposes.  Please bless the people I am thinking of now and minister to their needs as only You can.  I ask these things and give You my thanks in Jesus' name. AMEN

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

A Personal Glory Story from Lisa


Today was the last meeting of the Bible study I've been participating in weekly since September 2013.  I loved loved discovering more about how scripture hangs together from Genesis to Revelation while connecting on a heart level with new friends.  At a pace of about one chapter each week, we tarried and dug deep through the Gospel of Matthew exploring the character and ways of Jesus.  There are so many special and important things I could share about things I learned during this time but I'm not going to linger in those details here today.  I'm simply going to share three areas where I have personally been drawn closer to the heart of God in the last several months.

Three promptings I have sensed God impressing upon me this year: 
  •  Engage more intentionally and frequently with Me in prayer.
  • Let Me embrace you in your weaknesses.
  • Bring more people with you to our party.
I continue to learn that prayer is the place I need to dwell (not in activity).  Jesus needed prayer more than He needed rest.  Jesus asks, “What do you want me to do for you?”  I want to access the freedom I have in Christ to tell Him the desires of my heart while asking Him to align my heart with His.  I want to be still with Jesus more often. I want to be more prayerfully discerning.  I want to be a house of prayer.

Second, God is not surprised by my sin. In fact, He will point out my weakness but then meet me in it and walk me through it. I’ve found it so encouraging to see how Jesus did this with Peter.  Jesus walked with Peter on the water after calling out his weak faith (Matthew 14:28-31) then He walked with Peter in a place of strength (Matthew 14:31-33).  Jesus predicted Peter’s denial (Matthew 26:34) then reinstated him with significant affirmation (John 21:15-19).  What comfort it is to know that God wants us with Him even when we're weak and no one is too far from the Lord’s reach!

Finally, I’ve been inspired (through various things, not just my Bible study) to take God’s Word where the soil is soft — to people of peace.  In my study of Matthew, I realized that I like getting ready (dressed up) for the party (heaven’s banquet) but I tend to avoid making the invitations.  So participating in Revive Twin Cities has been my way of jumping into the water by faith and learning how to make more invitations and do that more effectively.

How about you? 
What is God teaching you lately about His presence, power and goodness in your life?

I would love to hear about it!

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