ANGELS CAME IN A SONG

It was the perfect message in a time of sadness.

The gymnasium was filled to capacity when we arrived. Two large blocks of chairs, with an aisle between, faced the lonely casket.

Chairs were filled with friends and family. It seemed best, for us, to sit in the bleachers.

Row upon row of floral arrangements had been placed on tiered shelving, occupying an area the length of the gym. Local florists had been asked to stop delivering orders since there was no more space for display.

Moments before the appointed hour of the service, a group of young men began to arrive. Neatly groomed in white shirts and jeans, carrying their hats, the young rodeo men quietly took their seats near the back of the congregation.

His name and date of birth were printed on the program. Nineteen short years on earth and today we were mourning his passing.

Riding chaps lay draped over the casket. A large painting of the deceased was placed at the side.

Travis was a rodeo man.

On his way to Alabama to compete in his specialties of Team Roping and Saddle Bronc riding, he was tragically killed while driving through the state of Kentucky.

Tired and excited about the next event, he asked his friend to drive while he rested his head against the back of the seat. As he slept they came upon an 18-wheeler parked on the side of the road. Too late to react, their truck veered off the road and lodged underneath the semi.

The friend survived the crash. Travis did not.

I am usually in control of my emotions at funerals. My husband and grandson were attending this sad occasion with me. Our grandson was, at that time, a bull rider in the rodeo circuit. Knowing the potential for injury and death, our love and concern for him and for these young men was strong.

For them, the excitement and the challenge outweigh the potential danger.

I was determined to control my emotions.

Near the end of the service, the Dad and Mom of the young man quietly approached the casket. A song I’d never heard before, was played through the sound system.

It was the perfect message in a time of sadness. There are angels among us. I hope you take the time to listen to this song.

Angels Among Us by Alabama

[email protected]

Mary Anne Whitchurch Tuck

THE WRONG CHOICE HAS A PRICE

HE WENT TO THE SYNAGOGUE, AS WAS HIS CUSTOM….

As a young girl, I was asked to baby sit for my infant nephew while my sister and her husband went out for the evening.

The child had a slight cold. My sister’s instructions were to give him a spoon full of cough medicine from a bottle she had placed on the kitchen counter.

When it was time to give him the medicine, I picked up the bottle, poured the liquid into a spoon and offered it to the baby; not bothering to turn on the light. The baby coughed and cried. He choked and spit out most of the medicine on his pajamas. I didn’t feel it was an unusual response to bad tasting medicine. Turning on the kitchen light to assess the situation, I saw another bottle sitting on the counter.

Reading the label on the bottle I had used, it was suddenly clear the liquid I had given the baby was Tincture of Benzine Compound, a substance used in vaporizers for the easing of breathing problems. The cough medicine, which I had been instructed to give, was in a second bottle on the counter, which was not noticeable to me in the darkened kitchen.

I was devastated that this baby I loved so much could have been poisoned by my irresponsible action. (He was fine and suffered no ill effects from my carelessness.) (see note at bottom of article)

Because of that experience, I’ve adopted a discipline that has served me (and others) throughout my life. Never administer, nor take, medication without first checking the bottle’s ingredients and directions, in the light.

This custom has served me well.

I’ve been thinking. When the habit of attending church becomes customary to us, we are ready to live, worship and praise. We are able to love and be loved, to listen and share His word within the congregation of Christ on Sunday morning. We are not burdened with a weekly decision.

This custom serves us well.

When we make a decision to be in a study group with other Christians, on Sunday morning or another time during the week, we place ourselves in a position to grow. We are in a position to incorporate the meaning of His Word into our lives.

It becomes our custom.

Jesus gave us the example by His own life. “He went to the synagogue, as was His custom”….Are your customs serving you well?

Are your customs serving Him well?

The answer may save your life.

Lord, teach us your ways. Shine your light on us. Help us to develop customs that will allow us to be used by you in your ministries..Amen

(Note: My “infant” nephew is now 67 years of age..enjoying retirement and a happy life.)

ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE..

“What this adds up to, then, is this.  No more lies, no more pretense.  Tell your neighbor the truth.  In Christ’s body we are all connected to each other, after all.  When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself.”

All Things Are Possible

“What this adds up to, then, is this.  No more lies, no more pretense.  Tell your neighbor the truth.  In Christ’s body we are all connected to each other, after all.  When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself.”

“Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents.”(The Message)

The question is, am I a part of the body of Christ?

 I attend church (somewhat regularly). I pray, (sometimes), but maybe not as often as I could or should.  I joined the church, sing songs in the church, give some of my money to the church.  I’ve been baptized.  Do these things I have done make me a part of the body of Christ?

 Are my sins forgiven?  How do I know if I have the Holy Spirit?

 These were the questions the gathered brothers asked Peter in the book of Acts.2:37.  So now what do we do?  

Peter said, “Change your life.  Turn to God and be baptized.  Do this each of you in the name of Jesus Christ, so your sins are forgiven.  Receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  The promise is targeted to you and your children. (The Message)

I admit there are times when I’m tired of being me.  I’m tired of experiencing defeat.  I’m tired of feeling guilty and alone.  I wonder if I’ll ever reach the point of trusting Jesus Christ so much that I want Him to take control of me?  Am I ready to live that kind of life?  

If I am ready, what happens then?

My Utmost For His Highest says this “I must know Jesus Christ as my lord and Savior before His teaching has any meaning for me.  Other than that (it’s just) a lofty ideal which only leads to despair.  But when I am born again by the Holy Spirit of God, I know that Jesus Christ did not come only to teach.  He came to make me what he teaches me to be. Jesus says…”Then you’re in a wonderful place, let me show you how it’s done”.  

 It is good to work against racism even if one should fail.  It’s good to work against poverty even though the poor will always be with us.  This is so because a moral choice and moral actions reflecting God’s nature are good in themselves, whether or not they are successful.

 Chambers tells us this; “No one can make himself pure by obeying laws.  Jesus Christ does not give us rules and regulations.  He gives us His teachings, which are truths that can only be interpreted by His nature, which He places within us.  This comes from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.” Chambers continues; “The great wonder of Jesus Christ’s salvation is that He changes our heredity.  he does not change our human nature.  He changes its source.  He doesn’t change our natural instincts.  He replaces them. Our new instincts come from Him.  And with these new instincts He changes our motives as well.” (My Utmost For His Highest)

 When we’ve accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, the source becomes the Holy Spirit within us.

 Chambers continues;Beware of thinking of our Lord as only a teacher.  If Jesus Christ is only a teacher, then all He can do is frustrate me by setting a standard before me I cannot attain.  What is the point of presenting me with such a lofty ideal if I cannot possible come close to reaching it? (My Utmost For His Highest)

 The answer is, I must commit my life to Him and receive His Spirit.

Chambers reminds us;

There is only one master of the human heart.

 God.  Not religion.”

 Have we ever considered the business of being religious might get in our way of having a relationship with God?  In a way, religion can become our God.  Who or perhaps what, is the master of my heart?”

 In Matthew 6:24, Jesus reminded us of this;

“You cannot serve two gods at once.  Loving one god, you’ll end up hating the other”. (The Message)

 This isn’t the end of my quest.  It doesn’t end with asking Jesus Christ to become my own personal Lord and Savior.  It doesn’t end with the repenting of my sins and the committing of my life to Christ.  

It doesn’t end at all.  It begins.

 Who, or perhaps what, is the master of my heart?  So what’s the point?

 We have not arrived at this place solely to develop a spiritual life of our own. We are here to take part and to be a part in the building of Christ’s body, the church.  We are joined to one another in Him.  As the scripture reminds us, we are all connected to each other.

 One step at a time and one day at a time, God reveals to us His purpose for each of us in His Body.  Absolute obedience to His spirit is required.  We are to be used to complete His plan, His purpose, and not our own.  In the process, the fruits of our obedience will be revealed within his perfect plan.

 God has given us free will.  We can choose to be obedient or we can choose to follow our own inclinations and desires.

In effect, we can choose to be our own God.

 In Mark 8, Jesus says; ” Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead.  You’re not in the driver’s seat, I am.  What good would it do to get everything you want and lose (yourself), the real you?  What could you ever trade your soul for?” (The Message)

We are quite familiar with the concept of obedience.  We’ve known since childhood the results of both obedience and disobedience.  We are familiar with the rules and regulations of the highway, the state, and the country.  We know the price to be paid for disobedience to those rules and regulations.  In America, we are free to challenge our government’s laws.

 We can appeal the decisions of the courts when we disagree with their judgements.  Sometimes we can get a law changed. We can question the meaning of our laws and hire an attorney to argue our position for us if necessary.

 It is the duty of the Court to interpret the meaning of the laws which the founders had in mind when they penned the Constitution of the United States.

 Currently there are many questions revolving around our government’s constitution and its original intent.

 Was the United States of America founded on Christian principles? Were the writers of the constitution Christians?  Was the United States of America founded as a Christian state?  If it was, does that mean all other religions were to  be excluded?

I suggest to you the Holy Spirit, which abides in us, will lead us through the discourses of today as well as the discourses of the scriptures.

 The Bible is a living book with revelations of life on every page waiting for us to discover its meanings to us and to our world.  The Spirit is our guide.

 The sermon on the mount dealt with all aspects of living the Christian life.  Among them were being and doing.

Matthew 7: (The Message)  “Don’t look for shortcuts to God.  The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time.” “Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do…..The way of life to God is vigorous and requires total attention.” “Be wary of false preachers who smile a lot, dripping with practiced sincerity.  Chances are they are out to rip you off some way or other.  Don’t be impressed with charisma, look for character.  Who preachers are is the main thing, not what they say.  A genuine leader will never exploit your emotions or your pocketbook.”

 “These diseased trees with their bad apples are going to be chopped down and burned.  Knowing the correct password and saying Master Master, for instance, isn’t going to get you anywhere with God.  What is required is serious obedience, doing what my Father wills.”

 “I can see it now at the final judgment.  Thousands will be strutting up to me and saying, Master we preached the message, we bashed the demons, our God sponsored projects had everyone talking.  And do you know what I am going to say?  You missed the boat.  All you did was use me to make yourselves important.  You don’t impress me one bit.”

 “These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life.  They are not homeowner improvements to your standard of living.  You’re out of here.  These are foundational words to build a life on.”

  “If you work these words into your life, you’re like a smart carpenter who built his house on a solid Rock.  Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit.  But nothing moved that house.  It was fixed to the rock.  But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach.  When a storm rolled in and the waves came up it collapsed like a house of cards.”

 Continuing Matthew 5:33-37 (The Message)..

“And don’t say anything you don’t mean.  This counsel is embedded deep in our traditions.  You only make things worse when you lay down a smoke screen of pious talk, saying “I’ll pray for you,” and never doing it.  Or saying, “God be with you” and not meaning it.”

  You don’t make your words true by embellishing them with religious lace.  In making your speech sound more religious it becomes less true.  When you manipulate words to get your own way, you go wrong.”

 And again in Matthew: (The Message)
 “Be especially careful when you’re trying to be good so that you don’t make a performance out of it.  It might be good theater, but the God who made you won’t be applauding.  And when you come before God, don’t turn that into a theatrical production either.  All these people making a regular show out of their prayers, are hoping for stardom.” (The Message)
 “Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth.  If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness?  You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.  Here’s another way to put it.  You’re here to be light, bringing out the God colors in the world.  God is not a secret to be kept.”  (The Message)

You and I are here to BE the body of Christ.

 John Wesley put it quite simply, “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.”

  Watching what God does and trying to do the same is a full time endeavor.  Through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, through the church the body of Christ,

ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE.

Photography By Mary Anne Whitchurch Tuck

memoriesaremadefromthis.com

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Scripture taken from THE MESSAGE, by Eugene H. Peterson-The Bible in contemporary language.

Copyright 1993, 1994,1995,1996,2000,2001,2002 – “Used by permission of NavPress Publishing group”

Eugene Peterson is a longtime pastor and teacher, and the guy who paraphrased this Bible from Greek and Hebrew (The languages in which the Bible was originally written) into contemporary language that sounds a lot like the language that we use on a daily basis.
MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST by Oswald Chambers (1874-1917)-First published in 1935. Copyright renewed 1963

This can happen when you’re in the driver’s seat…

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