When March rolls around I begin to really think Spring. I love Spring because it is the season of blossoms, blooms, new life and the resurrection of Jesus. It's a season of hope.
I'm especially encouraged this Spring. We are making good headway on refining our mission and focus. We are beginning Leadership 101 to train growth group leaders. Growth groups are a key to our congregation's health and vitality. Leadership 101 will be on Saturday morning March 5, 12, 19 and 26 from 9:00 AM - 10:30 AM.
We are planning for a great Creation Festival at the end of June and Summer's VBS. The future is bright for Chapel Hill.
Beginning in March, I will be preaching on "Emotionally Healthy Spirituality." I have noted over the years, that growth in biblical and theological knowledge does not necessarily translate into enhanced emotional and relational health. We can know our bibles, attend church, love God and still be afflicted by compulsions, addictions, moodiness and dysfunctional relationships. We will explore together how we can become healthier.
I am grateful to be your pastor. You make the promise of Spring so much brighter!
by Max Lucado
The cross. Can you turn any direction without seeing one? Perched atop a chapel. Carved into a grave yard headstone. Engraved in a ring or suspended on a chain. The cross is the universal symbol of Christianity. An odd choice, don't you think? Strange that a tool of torture would come to embody a movement of hope. The symbols of other faiths are more upbeat: the six-pointed star of David, the crescent moon of Islam, a lotus blossom for Buddhism. Yet a cross for Christianity? An instrument of execution?
Would you wear a tiny electric chair around your neck? Suspend a gold-plated hangman's noose on the wall? Would you print a picture of a firing squad on a business card? Yet we do so with the cross. Many even make the sign of the cross as they pray. Would we make the sign of, say a guillotine? Instead of the triangular touch on the forehead and shoulders how about a karate chop on the palm? Doesn't quite have the same feel does it?
Why is the cross the symbol of our faith? To find the answer look no further than the cross itself. Its design couldn't be simpler. One beam horizontal - the other vertical. One reaches out - like God's love. The other reaches up - as does God's holiness. One represents the width of his love; the other reflects the height of his holiness. The cross is the intersection. The cross is where God forgave his children without lowering his standards.
*How could he do this? In a sentence: God put our sin on his Son and punished it there.
THE WONDER OF IT ALL
What many Christians need today is a rebirth of wonder and awe. We know the gospel intellectually, but it seldom reaches our emotions and will. We take the incarnation, resurrection, ascension, the indwelling Holy Spirit, and the eternal reign of Christ merely as theological concepts without letting them grip our inmost being. And the wonder that this great God knows, loves and cares for us doesn't often thrill us as it should. We even become very blase when we witness a life that has been dramatically transformed by the love of God. Our spiritual condition can be likened to those Christians at the church in Laodicea mentioned in Revelation 3:14:22 "neither cold nor hot" - just lukewarm. We need to recapture the wonder of it all.
George Beverly Shea, one of the all-time favorite gospel singers, gives this account of the writing of this hymn:
*England figures in the story behind this hymn written in 1955. I was on my way to Scotland for meetings there aboard the S.S. United States bound for Southampton when inspiritation came from conversation with another passenger. He wanted to know what went on at our meetings and after detailing the sequence of things at a typical Billy Graham Crusade meeting, I found myself at a loss for words when I tried to describe the response that usually accompanied Mr. Graham's invitation to become a Christian. "What happens then never becomes commonplace . . . watching people by the hundreds come forward . . . oh, if you could just see the wonder of it all."
"I think I should," he answered. Then he wrote these words on a card and handed it back to me: THE WONDER OF IT ALL.
"That sounds like a song to me." Later that night, I wrote on that theme and roughed out a melody to go with them."
FYI: NEVER THIS EARLY AGAIN
This dating of Easter is based on the lunar calendar that Hebrew people used to identify Passover, which is why it moves around on our Roman calendar.
Found out a couple of things you might be interested in.
Based on the above, Easter can actually be one day earlier (March 22) but that is pretty rare.
The year of 2008 was the earliest Easter any of us will ever see the rest of our lives! And only the most elderly of our population have ever seen it this early (95 years old or above!). And none of us have ever, or will ever, see it a day earlier!
Here are the facts:
The next time Easter will be this early (March 23) will be the year 2228 (The last time it was this early was 1913 (so if you are older, you are the only ones who were around for that, right?)
The next time it will be a day earlier, March 22, will be in the year 2285. The last time it was on March 22 was 1818. So no one alive today has, or ever will see Easter any earlier.
-MountainWings March 2008
"Will the road you are one get you to my place?" -God.
MARCH - Fear (positive)
In our lives today, we need not fear tomorrow when we know God Who will be with us tomorrow!
In our past life, we dealt with life's challenges with a negative fear attitude. But as we are faced with flashbacks of our past, today we must take a stronghold in combating our thoughts with a positive fear attitude!*
I have yet to hear of or witness a successful relapse story in one's life! These stories are always worse off where they began and before accepting liberation from this life's burden. Why? Because freedom from sins tyranny is the greatest of all freedoms! Think more of the power of Christ in you than the power of sin over you. True winners are those who have learned to lose, let go, surrender and admit that they are powerless over any life's more sinful attraction. "Abstain from all appearances of evil." (1 Thess. 5:22) Living your life with positive fear will help give you the desire to serve, the courage to act and the ability to perform!
Let's look at the story of David and Goliath. The army saw Goliath in relation to their selves and trembled. (1 Samuel 17 17:32-37). In David's perspective courage is not the absence of fear but the conquest of fear! Courage is fear that has said its prayers! Any challenge or task ahead of us is never as great as the power behind us! Our God is always stronger than your strongest foe!
Hopefully this will help you to better understand that when one comes to Christ with a need that they only need to trust. When trouble grows your character shows! Applying positive fear when trials and burdens arise cannot imprison us if we let the Lord work through us. Don't live in harm's way, but surrender! To lose is to learn! Don't take tomorrow to bed with you but face everything and recover serving in God's army!*
In His love,
Bro. Jeff <><
HOW DO COURT RECORDERS KEEP STRAIGHT FACES?
These are from a book called Disorder in the American Courts and are things people actually said in court, word for word, taken published by court reporters that had the torment of staying calm while the exchanges were taking place.
ATTORNEY: How old is your son, the one living with you?
WITNESS: Thirty-eight or thirty-five, I can't remember which.
ATTORNEY: How long has he lived with you?
WITNESS: Forty-five years.
ATTORNEY: How was your first marriage terminated?
WITNESS: By death.
ATTORNEY: And by which death was it terminated?
WITNESS: Take a guess.
ATTORNEY: Doctor, how many autopsies have you performed on dead people?
WITNESS: All of them. The live ones put up too much of a fight.
ATTORNEY: Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse?
ATTORNEY: did you check for blood pressure?
ATTORNEY: Did you check for breathing?
ATTORNEY: so, then it is possible that the patient was alive when you began the autopsy?
ATTORNEY: How can you be so sure, Doctor?
WITNESS: Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar.
ATTORNEY: I see, but could the patient have still been alive, nevertheless?
WITNESS: Yes, it is possible that he could have been alive and practicing law.
SAVVY LIVING by Donna Marion
This is a recipe that I use frequently that is easy, inexpensive & very good.
* GARDEN STUFFED BAKED POTATOES
4 russet potatoes
2 T. butter
1 small onion, chopped
1 (10) oz) pkg frozen chopped broccoli, thawed & drained
1/2 c. ranch salad dressing
1 T. oil
2 tsps dried parsley (optional)
salt & pepper
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Microwave pierced potatoes on High for 12 minutes; bake for 15 minutes. Slice off potato tops. Scoop out pulp, keeping skins intact. Mash pulp in a medium bowl.
2. Heat a small skillet over medium heat; add butter. Add onion and saute about 5 minutes. Add onion, broccoli and salad dressing to potato pulp and mix well.
3. Brush outside of potato skin shells with oil.
4. Spoon potato mix into shells, dividing evenly. Place on a baking sheet. Bake until heated through, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley, salt and pepper to taste.
Another easy and tasty recipe is BACON MUSHROOM CHICKEN
4 bacon strips, halved** 2 T. mayonnaise
4 boneless chicken breast halves 1 tsp. dried onion
1/2 tsp. seasoned salt** 2 cans sliced mushrooms, drained
1/2 c. honey *** 2/3 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
4 T. Dijon mustard
In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove to paper towels; set aside. Flatten chicken to 1/2" thickness; sprinkle both sides with seasoned salt. Brown in bacon drippings. Transfer to a baking dish coated with cooking spray.
In a small bowl, combine honey, mustard, mayonnaise and onion; spread over each chicken piece. Top with bacon and mushroom slices. Sprinkle with cheese.
Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Serve 4
I GAVE MY LIFE FOR THEE
* Frances R. Havergal, 1836-1879
And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live
for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again. (2 Corinthians 5:15)
A vivid painting of Christ, wearing His crown of thorns as He stands before Pilate and the mob, is displayed in the art museum of Dusseldorf, Germany. Under the painting by Sternberg are the words, "This have I done for thee, what hast thou done for Me?" When Frances Havergal viewed the painting during a visit to Germany, she was deeply moved. As she gazed at it in tears, she scribbled down the lines of this hymn text on a scrap of paper. After returning to her home in England, she felt the poetry was so poor that she tossed the lines into a stove. The scorched scrap of paper amazingly floated out of the flames and landed on the floor, where it was found by Frances' father, Rev. William Havergal, an Anglican minister, a noted poet, and a church musician. He encouraged her to preserve the poem by composing the first melody for it. The present tune was composed for this text by the noted American gospel songwriter, Philip P. Bliss, and was first published in 1873.
When Christ cried out on the cross, "It is finished," victory over sin was won. All that is required of each of us is to personally appropriate that finished work. To show our gratefulness, however, our response should be, "Thank you, Lord, for giving your life for me. Now I want to live for You and serve You till the end of my days." This was the reaction of Miss Havergal, known as the "consecration poet," whose entire life was characterized by simple faith and spiritual saintliness.
In spite of frail health, she lived an active life until her death at the age of 43. She wrote many beautifully phrased hymn texts, including "Take My Life and Let It Be" and "Like a River Glorious."
I gave My life for thee; My precious blood I shed that thou might'st ransomed be and quickened from the dead; I gave, I gave My life for thee -- what hast thou giv'n for Me?
*I suffered much for thee, more than thy tongue can tell, of bitt'rest agony to rescue thee from hell; I've borne, I've borne it all for thee -- what hast thou borne for Me?
*And I have brought to thee, down from My home above, salvation full and free, my pardon and My love; I bring, I bring rich gifts to thee -- what hast thou brought to Me?
Allow your soul to respond in a new and fresh dedication to God as you reflect on all that Christ has done for you. Allow these musical questions to motivate your thinking
Amazing Grace, 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
- Kenneth W. Osbeck
Chapel Hill Church of God
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