Posts Tagged ‘church’

Christ Be In My Waking

I’m thankful for beautiful new music that reaches into my life and draws me closer to God… Lately at church we’ve been singing “Christ Be In My Waking” by Stuart Townend. Although this is a song of contrast and all of the lyrics speak about wanting Christ in my life at every circumstance, the “Christ be in my gladness” verse in particular jumps out for me. There is a contrast of joy and goodness to sorrow and darkness, yet so true how each of these is unpredictably and often simultaneously present in my life . The gladness isn’t diminished because of the darkness, and the sorrow doesn’t disappear just because of the goodness that is there … but in each situation, there is Christ. There is Christ.

Christ be in my waking, as the sun is rising,
In my day of working, with me every hour.
Christ be in my resting, as the day is ending,
Calming and refreshing, watching through the night.

Christ be in my thinking and my understanding,
Guarding me from evil, walking in the light.
Christ be in my speaking, every word a blessing,
Pure and not deceiving, grace to all who hear.

Jesus, this is my devotion,
All my life to know You,
Every day to walk with You.
Saviour, You’re my deepest longing,
You’re the One I live for,
Teach me, Lord, to walk with You.

Christ be in my gladness for the joy of living,
Thankful for the goodness of the Father’s hand.
Christ be in my sorrow, in my day of darkness,
Knowing that I follow in the steps He trod.

Christ when hope has faded, nothing left to cling to,
Every pleasure jaded, every well is dry.
Christ the loving Shepherd draws me with His kindness,
Leads me from the desert to the streams of life.

“The starting point for the song,” explains Stuart, “was the famous 16th century ‘God be in my head’ prayer, but I wanted to apply it in such a way that it helped us to recognise the closeness of God at every hour of the day, and every season of life – in the joys and the sorrows, in the process and the crisis – and I hope that both the song and the brilliant video help to bring this home.”

Everyday scenes play out as Stuart’s vocals call for a wider view of God, one that sees devotion in the simple act of walking with God, every day. The effect is compelling and beautifully articulates the message at the heart of the song: that whatever we find ourselves doing can become a conduit for our own devotion and service to God. There is no sacred/secular divide, and there are no invisible barriers that keep our faith and work separate. Christ can be in our working and walking just as much as he can in our worshipping and witnessing … and even, it seems, in our videos.


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Potluck at el Rancho

The church we’re part of has a dozen campuses scattered throughout the county, and a few months ago, Gerry and I decided to start attending the campus closest to home. Church is held at a lovely, sprawling Spanish-style retreat center on a large spread of property. There’s a lake, picturesque hills, mission-style chapel, hacienda and courtyard, organic farm and more… It’s a very popular venue for weddings!

The somewhat smaller size of the congregation is much more what I’m used to, and being able to gaze on nature through the chapel’s wall of windows while worshipping really helps me to focus. And although it’s the same demographic as up at the main campus, being a smaller group at least allows greater opportunities for getting to know others.

Personally, I think that you get to know people best when you serve on a team with them regularly. So joining one of the volunteer teams at Rancho Capistrano would be just the perfect thing to do … except for the fact that we’re planning to move away in a few months. It doesn’t seem right to show up and say, “Train me. Put me on your schedule. Depend on me. Okay now, I’m leaving.” And it’s not exactly motivating to make new friends when you know you’re going to have to leave them soon.

So I jumped at the chance to volunteer for a special event at church today! We were going to have a potluck (first ever for this campus!) and then light up three giant crosses on the hill for the Easter season … I signed up for the setup team. The plans were grand, for an open-air picnic down on the lawn by the lake. But then it decided to rain all day. Sideways rain. All day. So we put up some pop-up canopies along the side wall of the chapel and did our best to fit tables under the canopies in places where they wouldn’t get drenched every time the water collecting on top decided to empty itself down the cracks between tents. Nope, we made sure that food stayed dry. Just the people got sporadically dumped on … self included. (Free showers! Yay!)

Oh, it was a comedy of errors! The two people in charge got sick and didn’t show up, so we the motley crew pretty much winged it. Some bossypants ladies showed up and tried to stir up drama, but I just kept walking away from them and finding a new job to do until they followed me there.

But all’s well that ends well, and as I reassured one of the guys who was fretting about all of stuff going wrong, “No matter what happens, nobody is going to go home tonight saying, ‘That potluck sucked!’ What they are going to remember is, ‘That free food was awesome! I had fun talking to people! Wasn’t it neat when those crosses went up?!'”

We didn’t actually watch the crosses go up. Instead we hung out in the nearly empty chapel with a few friends and played with their kids.

Today is the first time I’ve felt like I “belonged” there. Pretty cool!

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Recognizing God’s voice

Recognizing God’s Voice: Seven Ways to Test an Impression

Rick Warren – March 13, 2011

What you think is the right road may lead to death. (Proverbs 14:12)

Don’t believe everything you hear just because someone says it is a message from God; test it first to see if it really is. (1 John 4:1)

An example of this is when Jesus commended Peter’s faith and spoke the famous line, “Upon this rock I will build my church.” But only moments later, he was saying to Peter, “Get away from me, Satan!” It is important to test the message itself, and not simply to trust the messenger.

Anyone who wants to do God’s will can test this teaching and know whether its from God or whether I am making it up. (John 7:17)

1. Does it agree with the Bible?

God’s will does not contradict his Word.

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. (Luke 21:33)

Truth stands the test of time. (Proverbs 12:19)

Let God’s curse fall on anyone including myself who preaches any other message. Even if an angel comes from heaven and preaches any other message, let him be forever cursed. (Galatians 1:8)

2. Does this make me more like Christ?

In your lives you must think and act like Christ Jesus. (Philippians 2:5)

God is much more interested in my character than in my comfort, and Jesus is the perfect model for my character.

We take every thought captive so that it is obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5)

Anybody can criticize; it takes maturity in order to find the beautiful in things and situations.

If you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition … such wisdom is of the devil. The wisdom that comes from God is pure, peace loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy, impartial, and sincere. (James 3:14-17)

This is an incredible description of Godly wisdom! I was particularly struck by the word “submissive,” and its meaning of being open to reason and willing to be tested.

Five more points…

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For the past month, my husband and I have been participating in a 30-week counseling training program at our church. There are three hours of classroom teaching each week, as well as homework. I love that it gives us a “together” spiritual activity and that it gives me something to be a student of, as Gerry is now a full-time learner at a local college.

The purpose of the program is to train new counselors to work as volunteers in the church’s counseling ministry. Although this ministry is overseen by paid staff/pastors, all of the one-on-one work is done by lay volunteers who are like you and me. I like this … it is a practical application of one of the church’s slogans: “Every Member a Minister.”

I don’t have any special interest in being a church counselor, but I signed up for the classes anyway because I figured that the training would be good preparation for my future. And now that I’m in the classes, I’m seeing how the training is also beneficial right here and right now as we study topics like honesty, identity, and capability through the lens of Scripture. It’s a personal growth experience.

The program started out with several hundred students, and it’s been obvious that the teachers are trying to weed out the slackers by making us all uncomfortable and then seeing who sticks with the classes. For example, we have to sign-in and sign-out of each class on time … the sign-in computers are not available for those who arrive late or for those who leave early. Three missed sign-ins/sign-outs and a student is disqualified from the program. Another is that our church attendance is monitored … we have to drop a card in the offering plate passed at the tail end of the service (or email our sermon notes to the teacher) each and every week to prove that we were present and engaged. And then there’s also required homework that can be difficult and extremely personal at times.

These things are uncomfortable for the typical southern Californian, but do I think they’re important.

According to the conversations I’ve overheard, so many of the students are bristling at program’s requirements. One of my coworkers who was in the class dropped out already because she hates the church attendance requirement … although she does attend weekly. I have to admit that I bristle slightly over that requirement too … but that’s because it’s human nature to want to be in control of our own lives. The minute someone else tells us what to do, even if it’s a good thing, our hearts are offended! Accountability to church attendance?“Sounds great, but let me decide whether I want to be accountable or not” … that’s how we think!

I’m coming to realize that the greater issue here is the issue of submission. Submission to authorities, submission to each other, and and submission to Christ.

  • And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5:21)
  • Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5)
  • Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves, for they watch for your souls, that they may give account, that they may do it with joy and not with grief. (Hebrews 13:17)

The ability to swallow pride and submit to each other is important both in faith and in life! This isn’t about blind, cult-like obedience; this is about mortifying pride, loving others, and demonstrating maturity.

This program is training us to represent the church … and to accurately represent Scripture … in a professional and trustworthy way. Each one of my counselees should leave our sessions feeling like she’s just met with Rick Warren and Jesus. Quality and consistency are essential. (And think of it this way … if your family member had to go in for counseling, would you want him to get the counselor who skipped class, or the one who showed up every week with completed homework?)

Anyway, all of this has gotten me thinking about the quality of my own heart… How’s your submission?

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Sermon title: God’s Prescription for Health (video is 62 minutes long)

What God says about my body:

Everything is permissible for me — but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible for me — but I will not be mastered by anything. Food for the stomach, and the stomach for food — but God will destroy both.

The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.

By his power, God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also.

Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself?

…Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have received from God?

You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

– 1 Corinthians 6:12-20

1. God expects me to manage my body
– don’t permit addictions

2. My body is God’s property
– my body and my spirit are joined, this is counter-cultural
– a theology of the body, where God is the boss

3. My body will be resurrected after I die
– the body has value

4. My body is connected to the Body of Christ

5. The Holy Spirit lives in my body
– don’t vandalize God’s temple

6. Jesus bought my body on the cross
– Jesus did not die for junk

Keeping my body in shape is a spiritual discipline, just as much as praying, fasting, reading the Bible, and memorizing Scripture might be.

Further notes…

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West coast Westboro

The Westboro Baptist Church crazies have followed me to the west coast…

They picketed at our church this morning, and they plan to be back on Monday morning. According to their website,, here is their stated purpose for protesting us:

WBC will picket this whore house again, you know we picketed here back on 8/16/2008 during the “debate” between dumb and antichrist. We told you then that Obama would be the next President of Doomed america – because God Hates america. Sure enough, there he sits little-by-little destroying this nation. Sweet. Now, back to this lying false prophet: Mark 13:22 For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect. Luke 6:26 Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets. 2Peter 2:1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. 1John 4:1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Every enemy of God must have a mouth piece, and this jack ass would happily sale his soul to be Obama’s. Sorry, sucker, not black enough (the black heart doesn’t count). Praise God! AMEN!

So… Rick Warren isn’t “black enough” to work for the President. But supposedly he wants to be the mouthpiece of President Obama. Who is the Antichrist. (I guess this means John McCain is “Dumb.”) Therefore, Westboro is picketing.

*scratches head* Good grief! I so don’t “get” these people.

Gerry is debating going out there with a picket sign that says “My Cat Needs A Bath,” or something else ridiculous, and standing across the street. The only regret I’d have about that is that I couldn’t join him because of having to be at work.

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aunt thelma’s colon

The past few weeks have been pretty rough for my TMJ. In fact, the pain has been similar to my very first TMJ experiences on the road driving home to Florida from my friend Laura’s wedding … the difference is that then I didn’t know what was happening, so there was some fear in addition to the pain.

I’ve never been very receptive to others’ requests for prayer for medical reasons. Not because I think God won’t answer them, or because I think they’re unimportant, but because it grosses me out to hear people going into detail about things like Aunt Thelma’s colon disorder. “Please pray for my Aunt Thelma, she has a colon disorder that is worrying her,” would be enough. But nooooo, they have to overshare and go into details about what the doctor said at each appointment, the family’s medical history, when her bowel movements are happening, several possible medical prognosises, etc. (Hahaha, am I oversharing too?)

Because I tend to shun others medical prayer requests, I don’t really ask for prayer for my own problems too often. Yeah, that’s not the right solution for this particular bit of hypocrisy, I know. What I should be doing is becoming more compassionate for others and asking for prayer for myself as well.

The Bible says something about this in James 5:14-16:

“Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven. Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”

Oh. Well… Over the weekend, I saw it as a matter of obedience and filled out a prayer request card at church, despite my discomfort in doing so. And… It should be no surprise that my jaw started to feel better yesterday, and today it’s almost back to new. But I am still pleasantly surprised that obedience “worked” for me. Duh!

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