Fridays with Beulah

 So we can better seek, share, and serve with God.

06/23/17

UNTIL WE MEET AGAIN

 

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When you work for a church as long as I have, it is inevitable that we face the time when we must say,

Goodbye. Changes in pastoral staff are a regular part of ministry, and this year, Beulah UMC has two:

next Wednesday, our Senior Pastor for the past seven years, Keith Mottley, is retiring; and our

Director of Christian Education for the past four years, Tracey Lyons, is moving on to full-time

pastoral ministry in NOVA.

 

It is wonderful when the staff you work with are not only fellow-professionals and colleagues, but also

friends as well. To Keith, and to Tracey, we send you on to this next page of your life story with tears,

with joy, and with a great deal of love.

 

Friends

Packing up the dreams God planted in the fertile soil of you,

Can’t believe the hopes He’s granted means a chapter in your life is through.

But we’ll keep you close as always; it won’t even seem you’ve gone.

`Cause our hearts in big and small ways, will keep the love that keeps us strong.

With the faith and love God’s given, springing from the hope we know,

We will pray the joy you’ll live in gives the strength that now you show.

And we’ll keep you close as always; it won’t even seem you’ve gone.

`Cause our hearts in big and small ways, will keep the love that keeps us strong.

And friends are friends forever, when the Lord’s the Lord of them.

And a friend will not say “never,” `cause the welcome will not end.

Though it’s hard to let you go, in the Father’s hands we know

That a lifetime’s not too long to live as friends.

6/9/17

Kind

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…dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you:

compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline.

Colossians 3:12

I am a huge fan of Starbucks, and often stop in for an unsweetened green tea lemonade.  I love to look at their pastries and other goodies, but being gluten intolerant, it is always look but don’t touch!  Then a few years ago, I noticed they were carrying a new gluten-free snack bar – the KIND bar.  I tried a Cranberry Almond, and then a Blueberry Vanilla Cashew, and was hooked!

 

Imagine my surprise when the wrapper on one of my bars suggested that I do a KIND act for someone else.  Curious, I went on the company’s website, and discovered their Mission Statement:

 

We believe kindness has the power to change the world. That’s why we are on a mission to make the world a little kinder, one act at a time. We call this the KIND Movement! Small act or big, we encourage it. We all have the potential to make a difference each and every day. Join us!

 

How wonderful to know that there is a commercial venture that is interested in helping other people just as much as helping their bottom line. They have even developed their own KIND vocabulary:

kindaholic – someone with an uncontrollable love for spreading kindness

kinding – an unexpected act of kindness done for someone else

kindtastic – being extraordinarily kind

There are many ways to spread kindness to those around you:  writing an encouraging note, holding a door, stopping to listen, giving a smile, sharing a hug, calling the homebound, visiting the sick, letting someone else go first, giving of your time for a charity.  What act of kindness can you give the world today?

6/2/17

I Will Never Leave

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Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or terrified…

for the Lord your God goes with you,

He will never leave you nor forsake you.

Deuteronomy 31:6

 

 

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier has been guarded continuously since April 6, 1948.  Although a shelter was built for the guards to use in times of extreme weather, most decline to use it.  The Tomb’s honor guard comes from the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard).  You can read more about them at www.army.mil/oldguard.

 

There is something that strongly pulls at the heart when we see these young men continuing to guard in the pouring rain.  They are ordinary human beings like you and I, but their strength, courage and dedication go above and beyond the normal call of duty as they refuse to abandon, even for a moment, this poignant symbol of the greatness of this country and the longevity of its memory and love for its fallen heroes.

 

Ordinary men and women like you and me also have someone who stands guard:  One who never slumbers nor sleeps, and who will not leave us or forsake us, no matter what is happening in our lives.  How blessed we are to have the Creator God as our strength and shield.

 

5/12/17

Reputation

 

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

 

I was raised in the household of a loving but silent father, and an overbearing mother with extremely conservative religious views.  By the time I reached high school age, I was ready for a little wholesale rebellion.  I was a day student at a religious boarding school across town – far removed from my mother’s presence.  I quickly joined a group of like-minded spirits with mischief on our minds.

 

My behavioral mutinies were extremely mild by today’s standards, but for my ultra-conservative educational institution, it was no less than heresy: hiding on the floorboards or in the tiny “trunk” of my friend’s 1964 T-bird convertible to escape campus for a little decent nourishment;  kissing my current flame out behind the gym or the front oleander hedge; crossing the invisible gender segregation line in the middle of campus at inappropriate times; being discovered at night on the road behind the boy’s dorm, talking through the window to the “inmates” locked inside; running out into the desert to avoid being caught; placing clear plastic film underneath the toilet seat in the teacher’s bathroom; hiking my skirt up above my knees for class, then rolling it back down before reaching the principal’s office; setting off tiny firecrackers in geometry class; leading the humming chorus during English class.  I was so bloomin’ tired of being forced to be “good,” that I loved being creatively, mildly, “bad.”

 

Many years later on the eve of my thirtieth birthday, I called back to the registrar’s office to make arrangements for a transcript to be sent for graduate school.  When the older woman who answered the phone asked for my name, her blurted response was classic:  “Oh, I’ve heard about you!”  I knew that it was useless to counter her store of gossip with tales of my now placid, non-rebellious character, so I ignored the comment and finished making arrangements.

 

The experience, however, was a rather pointed example of just how long a bad reputation can hang around.  Human nature finds tales of missteps much more interesting than toeing the line, and gossip expands silly pranks into mountainous transgressions.  Thankfully, God used all of my peccadilloes to transform me into who I am today.  He forgave me a long time ago, and that is all that really matters.

 

May 5, 2017

Prayer Before Panic

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Fear not, for I am with you…

Isaiah 41:10

 

One afternoon, I was trying to figure out how to make a side dish out of half a bag of frozen shredded potatoes when I thought of the (not so) bright idea of utilizing some of the potato soup I had in the pantry.   I opened the can (tear-off lid), tasted the contents, and immediately realized that it would not work with the shreds.  I dumped the contents into another container, grabbed my Dobie pad, filled the can with water and soap, and jammed my hand down in the can to clean it out for recycling.  I immediately felt a stab of pain in my little finger, and knew that I had cut myself on the sharp edge of the can.  Sure enough, blood was running everywhere as I surveyed a short but relatively deep cut.

 

I immediately wrapped it in a paper towel with some pressure to stop the bleeding, and reached for the hydrogen peroxide.  After thoroughly dousing my finger, I put on a bandage and sat down for a minute to catch my breath.  That’s when the thought hit me – “You need to go get a Tetanus shot!”  I had just been outside with the dog and the dirt, and I hadn’t had a Tetanus shot in at least 20 years.  I sat in that chair for quite a few minutes, arguing with myself about why I did NOT need to go get a shot.  In the end, however, my rational side prevailed, and I grabbed my keys to drive over to Patient First.

 

I wish that I could tell you that I talked with God on the trip to the clinic – verbalizing my fears and remembering His promises.  Unfortunately, I spent the 15 minute trip ramping myself up for the horrible experience of a needle – an experience that has terrified me since childhood. By the time I reached Patient First, I was rapidly becoming a basket case.  Forty minutes later when the nurse arrived to administer the shot with the tiniest needle I have ever seen on a syringe, the experience was over in the blink of an eye.  I didn’t even feel the needle, and I felt like an utter fool as the nurse said, “See?  All that anxiety over nothing!”

 

On the way home, I apologized to the Lord for my lack of faith, and for my lack of communication with Him prior to receiving the injection.  Even after all these years, I am still struggling to remember that it always works better when prayer comes before panic.

April 28, 2017

PEACE

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Peace is a very elusive commodity in our stress-filled lives and fractured world. As human beings, we long for a time of peace – in our world, our nation, our community, our family, and our individual selves. The key element in true, lasting peace is the presence of Christ, and the knowledge that God is in control.

 

The Apostle John quotes Jesus as saying, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27 When the pressures of life threaten to overwhelm you, look to Jesus for:
 
PEACE in Prayer Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7

 

PEACE in Effort Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy… Hebrews 12:14

 

PEACE in Acceptance God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 5:1

 

PEACE in Contentment But godliness with contentment is great gain. [1 Timothy 6:6] I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. [Philippians 4:11b] Be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you. [Hebrews 13:5]

 

PEACE in Expectation Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in Me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. [John 14:1-3]

04/14/16

Handbells

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But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when he appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire…He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver.  And He will purify the sons of Levi…that they may present to the Lord offerings in righteousness.

Malachi 3:2-3 [NASB]

 

I love handbells!  I love playing them, teaching them, and listening to them.  One of the boys in my children’s bell choir asked me how handbells were made.  I explained to him that handbells are cast of pure bronze—a mixture of 80% copper and 20% tin.  After being heated to approximately 2,150° F, the molten metal is poured into sand molds. After the bronze has hardened, the sand is broken away. The raw bell casing is roto-blasted to remove burnt-in molding sand and scale, then sent to the lathe department, where the rotating bell is cut, drilled and endlessly sanded until it is shining spotlessly and perfectly tuned.

 

The Bible tells us that we humans are in need of a similar refining process.  Sin has transformed us into instruments that are rough, stained, and out of tune. Isaiah says that God refines us in the furnace of affliction [Isaiah 48:10].  Zechariah states that God’s people will be tried as gold is tried [Zech.13:9].  Job triumphantly proclaims, “He knows the way I take; when He has tried me, I will come forth as gold.” [Job 23:10 NAS]  I don’t like to be spiritually cut or drilled, and the constant sanding of my character can be irritating, to say the least!  However, God promises me that it will be worth it, and I’m going to hold Him to it!

 

Pure and holy I would be,

Worthy of Your love for me.

Teach me while Your light is clear;

Change me while my heart is near.

April 6, 2017

The Branch

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And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jessie, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots. 

And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding,

the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.  Isaiah 11:1-2 [KJV]

 

I really like to garden, especially container gardening.  I love flowers of all kinds, and try to keep pots of something growing year around.  I was browsing my favorite nursery one November morning, taking advantage of the end of season sales, when I spotted a big begonia plant bursting with coral blooms.  Shiny dark green foliage fanned out two feet high by four feet across.  We are talking about a HUGE begonia plant, and the sign said: Final Sale/$10.

 

Ten dollars??  Needless to say, the plant went home with me and found a premiere place in my living room to spread its wings.

 

The next morning, however, I was saddened to see that a small portion of my new beauty was wilted – dead, actually.  Either the trip home in the car or the presence of two curious cats separated a begonia branch from the main stem.  The result was immediate death.

 

The Bible uses the concepts of stem, branch and root as a picture lesson in connectivity.  In the Old Testament, the coming Messiah is called the BRANCH, as well as the stem and root of Jesse.  When Jesus walked this earth, He portrayed Himself as the Vine, with we, His children, as the branches.  Each section is connected together into a complete plant.  Each segment imparts elements necessary to the life of the whole.

 

The same is true for the Christian.  The depth of our faith experience depends on our connection with Jesus Christ.  God alone provides the spiritual nourishment, strength and support that enable us to be a thriving bloom in the garden of the Lord.

March 23, 2017

The Lord Our Righteousness

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Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch,

and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. 

In His days, Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely:

and this is His name whereby He shall be called,

THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.  Jeremiah 23:6-7 [KJV]

 

Have you ever tried to do something perfectly – without an error, mistake, gaffe, blunder, inaccuracy, blooper, faux pas, or fault?  Was your task faultless?  Unspoiled, flawless, perfect?    Hm…don’t think I have ever accomplished a perfect anything, even though I really try, being the perfectionist type and all.  When someone says, “Hey – you did your best, and that’s all anyone can do!” it really rubs me the wrong way.  I should be able to do it perfectly… shouldn’t I?

 

One of my mother’s favorite scriptures was Matthew 5:48:  Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.  She got a lot of mileage out of that verse with her kids, and we in turn experienced endless failure.  Be perfect?  Me?  My mother had a million suggestions about how this could be accomplished.  I fell short on every single one of them. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to be perfect: it was, in fact, impossible for me to be so.

 

Today’s verses from Jeremiah proclaims that the Messiah would be called The LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS!  In capital letters, no less!  He is the Holy One, the sinless sacrifice, the perfect Son of God.   That is why Matthew urges us to, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.”   His sinless life covers our tattered rags with a beautiful robe of white.  He is perfect.  He is holy. He is our Savior.

 

Covered with His life, whiter than snow;

Fullness of His life then shall I know;

My life of scarlet, my sin and woe,

Covered with His life, whither than snow.