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So far Worship has created 32 blog entries.

Mercy Me

“God’s mercy and grace gives me hope for myself and for our world.” – Billy Graham

This week as the Nation remembers the infamous terrorist attacks from 18 years ago, I came across this “prayer” written by Max Lucado on September 13, 2001    I find it profound, inspirational and still very much relative still today!

“We’re still hoping we’ll wake up. We’re still hoping we’ll open a sleepy eye and think, What a horrible dream.  But we won’t, will we, Father? What we saw was not a dream. Planes did gouge towers. Flames did consume our fortress. People did perish. It was no dream, and, dear Father, we are sad.

There is a ballet dancer who will no longer dance and a doctor who will no longer heal. A church has lost her priest; a classroom is minus a teacher. Cora ran a food pantry. Paige was a counselor, and Dana, dearest Father, Dana was only three years old. (Who held her in those final moments?)

We are sad, Father. For as the innocent are buried, our innocence is buried as well. We thought we were safe. Perhaps we should have known better. But we didn’t.  And so we come to you. We don’t ask you for help; we beg you for it. We don’t request; we implore. We know what you can do. We’ve read the accounts. We’ve pondered the stories, and now we plead, “Do it again, Lord. Do it again.”

Remember Joseph? You rescued him from the pit. You can do the same for us. Do it again, Lord.  Remember the Hebrews in Egypt? You protected their children from the angel of death. We have children too, Lord. Do it again.

And Sarah? Remember her prayers? You heard them. Joshua? Remember his fears? You inspired him. The women at the tomb? You resurrected their hope. The doubts of Thomas? You took them away. Do it again, Lord. Do it again.  You changed Daniel from a captive into a king’s counselor. You took Peter the fisherman and made him Peter an apostle. Because of you, David went from leading sheep to leading armies. Do it again, Lord, for we need counselors today. We need apostles. We need leaders. Do it again, dear Lord.

Most of all, do again what you did at Calvary. What we saw here on that Tuesday, you saw there on that Friday. Innocence slaughtered. Goodness murdered. Mothers weeping. Evil dancing. Just as the ash fell on our children, the darkness fell on your Son. Just as our towers were shattered, the very Tower of Eternity was pierced.  And by dusk, heaven’s sweetest song was silent, buried behind a rock.  But you did not waver, O Lord. You did not waver. After your Son lay three days in a dark hole, you rolled the rock and rumbled the earth and turned the darkest Friday into the brightest Sunday. Do it again, Lord.

We thank you, dear Father, for those hours of unity. Disaster did what discussions could not. Doctrinal fences fell. Republicans stood with Democrats. Skin colors were covered by the ash of burning buildings. We thank you for those hours of unity.  And we thank you for these hours of prayer. The Enemy sought to bring us to our knees and succeeded. He had no idea, however, that we would kneel before you. And he has no idea what you can do.

Let your mercy be upon our president, vice president, and their families. Grant to those who lead us wisdom beyond their years and experience. Have mercy upon the souls who have departed and the wounded who remain. Give us grace that we might forgive and faith that we might believe.

Do it again, Lord. Do it again!”

Mercy Me2019-09-30T06:20:04-04:00

Spiritual Fruit

“Let us always meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.” – Mother Teresa

There’s a funny thing that happens when we get married. We start to see how the spoken and unspoken expectations we had of our spouse begin to stack up. These expectations can be messy and take a lot of patience, kindness and the rest of the fruit of the Spirit for couples to navigate.

My wife and I have been married for thirty-three years, and thru this period, we’ve seen the true benefit of dwelling on the good things. We’ve made our fair share of mistakes, dealt with unmet expectations and we’ve experienced disappointing one another. Our marriage has been laced with pleasantries and hurts, but it’s been our willingness to see the best in each other that has and continues to help us, in loving one another well!

One of the definitions of dwell means to live or continue in a given condition or state. When we dwell on certain thoughts, whether good or bad, we’re making those thoughts a home in our mind! Paul told the church to dwell on what was true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, morally excellent, and praiseworthy. He told them to do this so that their thoughts concerning each other would be healthy.

If the thoughts we dwell on aren’t good, we run the risk of treating people in ways that degrade and denigrate them. Our negative thoughts can lead to us seeing other folks in an antagonistic way, which can eventually cause us to treat them in a manner less than one that pleases God. Thinking good thoughts, however, puts us on the path to being compassionate, gentle, encouraging, long-suffering and forgiving toward them!

We can decide to see the good and honorable things in people. You’ll be surprised at just how far good thoughts can take you regarding how you see, engage with and enjoy your family, friends or complete strangers.   Just something to think about…

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable – if there is any moral excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy – dwell on these things.” – Philippians 4:8

Spiritual Fruit2019-09-29T19:00:47-04:00

Superheros

“I think that we all do heroic things, but hero is not a noun is a verb.” – Robert Downey, Jr.

Who is your favorite superhero? Is your favorite Aquaman? if so, then know that most people might find this surprising since, let’s face it; he has never been that popular of a superhero. He doesn’t strike fear into the heart of evil, like Batman, or block bullets like Wonder Woman. Heck, even most sidekicks can fly, but Aquaman needs to hail a seahorse to get anywhere.

 

Thinking about it further, whenever Aquaman fights, he’s always at a disadvantage. His ocean powers never help him on the land; but despite that he still tackled the bad guys and won. It’s easy to be brave or strong when you have the home field advantage, but what happens when the tables are turned, and you find yourself in enemy territory?

 

By now perhaps you guys are saying – this all sounds “pretty corny”…I know; but things like this remind me of what Jesus faced when he became a man. We Christians are quick to quote Jesus’ death on the cross, the sacrifice he made so that we could be forgiven, but sometimes I think we forget about his life. We forget the miracle that occurred when a Holy God chose to step into a world overrun by sin.

 

Can we even begin to imagine what it must have been like for the all-knowing, all-powerful God of the universe to become a human? To understand the indignity of stubbing a toe or skinning a knee, the frustration of being confined to a small desert when the whole universe could not contain him, or the humility required to endure hunger and thirst?  Meanwhile, the devil stood in the background promising release, offering to make everything the way it was if Jesus would only pay a small, insignificant price.

Thankfully the Son of man chose to tackle the bad guy and won…that’s what make Him my Superhero!

“The Lord will march out like a champion, like a warrior He will stir up His zeal; with a shout He will raise the battle cry and will triumph over His enemies.” – Isaiah 42:13

…just something to think about!

Superheros2019-09-29T18:59:23-04:00

The tight fist

If you have been grasping onto something, try to let it go, so your empty hands will be ready to receive a new gift.” – Juan Nakamori

Do you ever wonder what living a life like money is like?!? I’m not talking about having a significant amount of wealth or about having a great big bank account either that affords you to do whatever you want. Instead, what I’m saying is that life is like money because, barring destroying it, money always has the value designated when created; so no matter how crumpled, how old, torn or even if it is stained with coffee, dirt or ink – money still has value. Likewise, your life, like money, still has great value no matter how many times you have been downtrodden, or how often you think you’ve failed in your attempts to excel at a certain sport, particular business and/or any personal relationships.

Ultimately, the bright spot here is that your value is not determined by other people’s opinions. It does not come from what you own or what you do; for your value was set by your Creator… So remember when you feel worthless, He has big plans for you. After all, it was also He who gave up His life to redeem both you and me – so that makes us priceless!

“For I know the plans I have for you – declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

“Today upon a bus, I saw a lovely maid with golden hair; I envied her

as she seemed so gay -and oh, I wished I were so fair.
When suddenly she rose to leave, I saw her hobble down the aisle,
She had one foot and wore a crutch, but as she passed, a smile.
Oh, God, forgive me when I whine; I have two feet – the world is mine.

And when I stopped to buy some sweets, the lad who served me had such charm;
He seemed to radiate good cheer, his manner was so kind and warm.
I said, ‘It’s nice to deal with you, Such courtesy I seldom find.’
He turned and said, ‘Oh, thank you, sir!’ and I saw that he was blind.
Oh, God, forgive me when I whine; I have two eyes – the world is mine.

Then, when walking down the street, I saw a child with eyes of blue.
He stood and watched the others play; It seemed he knew not what to do,
I stopped a moment, then I said: ‘Why don’t you join the others, dear?’
He looked ahead without a word, and then I knew; He could not hear.
Oh, God, forgive me when I whine; I have two ears – the world is mine.

With feet to take me where I’d go, with eyes to see the sunset’s glow,
With ears to hear what I should know: I’m blessed indeed, The world is mine;
Oh, God, forgive me when I whine!”

– By Red Foley

Just something to think about…

Hope you’ll enjoy a GREAT weekend!

José Ponton, Jr.
From Sunny Florida

“Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid …, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you!” – Deuteronomy 31:6

The tight fist2019-07-14T17:48:32-04:00

True Independence

“The United States was born in revolution and nurtured by struggle. Throughout our history, the American people have befriended and supported all those who seek independence and a better way of life.” – Robert Kennedy

 

On a holiday when this country celebrates its independence, I’m not riding on the current trendy bandwagon of American self-loathing, for I love the USA and dig my personal and religious freedom. Without free speech I’d be locked up somewhere…but not here – thank goodness!  So why the long face on so many Americans about red-white-and-blue, take-a-day-off and fire-up-the-grill day?
Is it because we get sad when we consider the evolution ‘Freedom’ has undertaken just in our lifetime – from “allowed to act responsibly” to “if it feels good do it” to “absolutely anything goes and don’t even try to suggest otherwise, or we might just take away your freedom?”
Is it because “Independence Day” is a disconnect for us from things we know to be true? For independence has seldom served us well where family or friends or work colleagues or the church or the Lord are concerned.  So, left without the trite and tried-but-true 4th of July metaphors for today’s message, I settled on the short, bittersweet and eternal lessons like these for inspiration;

  • Neither politics nor religion nor any mixing of the two will save us at the end.
  • Two things are really required for true freedom – repentance for our wrongs and the granting of forgiveness to those that wrong us.
  • It’s never wrong or out-of-style to be thankful…to daily express gratitude.
  • You can pledge your allegiance to the flag every day and admit your own and your country’s independence; yet know that “when you bow down before the Lord and admit your dependence on him, he will lift you up and give you honor” – James 4:10

…just something to think about!

“…freedom which only asks what’s in it for me, a freedom without a commitment to others, a freedom without love or charity or duty or patriotism, is unworthy of our founding ideals and those who died in their defense.” – Barack Obama

Hope you’ll enjoy a GREAT holiday weekend!
José Ponton, Jr.
From Sunny Florida
True Independence2019-07-03T16:41:14-04:00

A time…

“…a time to be silent and a time to speak” – Ecclesiastes 3:7

Silent Movies. The symphony. A child during the dinner prayer. Sitting in a crowded theater. At church during the sermon. In class when the professor is lecturing. In a conversation when you are the listener.

All these scenarios are times to be silent.

Silence is more than just an absence of noise.  Silence is a doorway beyond all that is demanded of you and happening all around you.  To be silent is to realize more of the unnoticed in life; like he robin bird stepping softly across the grass, as if walking on air, or the leaf brushing lightly against the rain gutter.

God whispers quietly when we are silent enough to hear Him. The Holy Spirit is a gentleman…speaking ever so delicately and yet with great purpose.  Are you sometimes silent enough to hear?

Indeed, silence has a balance; for then there is also a time to speak.  As a parent when your daughter is about to cut herself with a sharp knife, you must speak immediately, with authority in your voice!  When your friend is wrongly accused, it is a time to speak in their defense. When your son is honored for scoring the winning touchdown for his team, your words of pride ring loud and clear.

When you realize how much Jesus gave for you, His very life, you speak words of surrender. You humbly speak words of gratitude. You speak words of joy and praise to all who can hear!

“In almost everything that touches our everyday life on earth, God is pleased when we’re pleased. He wills that we be as free as birds to soar and sing our Maker’s praise without anxiety.” – Aiden Wilson Tozer

Just something to think about…Have a GREAT weekend!

José Ponton, Jr.   

From Sunny Florida

A time…2019-07-03T16:41:41-04:00

Growing with a Purpose

We learn from scriptures that Christ, as a child, grew and developed just as we do.  Because he grew and developed as we have, we have a savior that can sympathize with us in our weaknesses (Hebrews 4:15).   Jesus developed that inspires our own development.

And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.  Luke 2:52

Here we see Jesus setting the perfect model of development: wisdom (cognitive), stature (physical), favor with God (spiritual) and man (social).  These areas make up the development of the complete person – and Jesus, living the perfect life, set the model of perfection of whole-person development.

The fact that Jesus developed in perfection is interesting and inspiring.  Often times we focus on “the fact” of the matter and miss the “why’.  Why was he so driven to develop cognitively, physically, spiritually and socially?  To be smarter than anyone else?  Look better than anyone else?  Be more successful than anyone else?

We certainly know how he was able to develop – he relied upon His connection with the father for the strength to will and to act (John 5:19).  But why?  What motivated him to have the connection with the Father to grow and develop?

The answer is just a few verses previous.  While observing the annual Passover in Jerusalem, Mary and Joseph accidentally left Jesus!  When they returned, they certainly witnessed an awe-inspiring scene:

Luke 2:46 Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions.

Mary and Joseph explained to Jesus that him staying behind in Jerusalem alone caused them to worry and fret.  After a lite scolding, Jesus responded.  In this response, we find the reason behind his pursuit of perfect development in the Father.

Luke 2:49 And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me?  Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?”  

Why did Jesus pursue perfect development in the Father?  Purpose!  He knew the cross called to Him.  He tapped into the perfect power of the Father so that his mind and body would be ready to carry out his purpose.  He knew that he was about his Father’s business.

I am reminded of a story of three bricklayers.  Each was asked what they were doing.  The first man replied, “I’m laying bricks.”  The second man replied, “I’m building a wall.”  The third man replied, “I’m making a place of worship for the Lord.”  The first man had a job.  The second man had a career.  The third man had a purpose.

Whether you are going to work or school, leading a team or contributing to a team.  Ask yourself:  what is my purpose?  This truth we learn from the perfect development of our Savior:  it is important to develop in God’s strength – it is equally important to know why.  When times get tough.  When things don’t go as planned.  When work gets hard and school becomes overwhelming – take a step back, look your challenges in the eye and say “I must be about my Father’s business.”  Move forward, confidently in Christ.

Growing with a Purpose2018-08-06T15:25:56-04:00

Key Questions of Life Answered by The Lord’s Prayer

The Lord’s Prayer Answers the Key Questions of Life – by Pastor Des Cummings

Where did we come from? We came from our Father in Heaven – We are his children that is why He taught us to pray Our Father in Heaven

What is our father like? Pure love and that is the meaning of His name. One of His closest friends wrote, “We have come to know and believe the love God has for us – God is Love”. That is why we pray – Holy is your name

What is our meaning and purpose in life? We are commissioned to be ambassadors of His Kingdom and so we pray – Your kingdom come.

How will His Kingdom come? It will come as we follow His plan to bring heaven to earth and therefore we pray – Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

How will we know his will? By feeding our hearts and minds on His word He will – Give us this day our daily bread.

Sin has separated us from Him – how will He heal us? He will heal us through the blood of His forgiveness and that is why He told us to pray – Forgive us our sins.

Sin has separated us from each other how will He make us family? He will give us the heart to forgive others who have sinned against us and together we will model a new community called the Church As we forgive those who sin against us.

How will He keep us safe from Satan’s tempting power? He told us to pray – Lead us not into temptation.

How will He keep us safe from this wicked world? He has overcome the world and He will bring us victory as we pray – Deliver us from evil.

How will this world end? He will come back to this earth with all of His angels to reestablish the Kingdom. It will come in the Power and Glory of His Presence, Every tear will be wiped away and there will be no more death. Joy will fill the earth and we will live in the glow of His Glory. That is why we pray – For yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory!

How long will it last? Forever and ever. Amen!

Key Questions of Life Answered by The Lord’s Prayer2018-07-03T11:00:25-04:00

Free Indeed

“How can you say that we shall be set free?” the Jews asked with a combination of disgust and bewilderment.  “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone!” When Jesus told them that they would be set free by the truth, the Jews clearly took offense.  However, their disapproving statement clearly contradicted their history with a total disregard of their Egyptian, Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian and Syrian overlords – including their Roman overlords of the time.  They had a false sense of freedom in both past and present.

We are lucky to live in a free nation.  We can choose what we want to do for a living.  We can have opinions. You can make all the memes you want about the President where people in other countries could face charges of treason.  In every sense of the word, we are free.

We are free to make our own choices, but the funny thing is, we can be imprisoned by those very choices.   Jesus explains in John 8: 34 34 “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.”  

We are all free to make any choice we could ever want to make, but even with that freedom, all too often we revert to the same habits and turn to the same vices.   I like the way Casting Crowns puts it in their song “All You’ve Ever Wanted” – “I’m living free inside a prison cell.” We are free to make our own choices, but sinful nature makes us slaves to those very choices.  So ironic to be enslaved by the very thing that makes us free.

But Jesus gives us hope!  We do not have to be a slave to our impulses.  35 “Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

Free indeed!  I want to be free!  I want my next sunrise to be a new day, not just a deja vu of past mistakes.  That is the very promise Jesus makes to us. To experience true freedom, we must become slaves to God.  Turning ourselves and our choices over to God and experiencing his life-changing power will free us from the chains of self.  1 Peter 2:16 16 Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves.

As we celebrate our freedom as a nation on July 4th next week, let us ponder how we can draw near to Christ so that we can abandon the appearance of freedom and be free indeed!

 

Free Indeed2018-06-25T13:44:24-04:00

Broken Things

It’s an age-old story.  You get into an argument with your mate.  You yell at your kids. You get angry at someone in traffic, and while you are on your way to church, you think, “What’s the point?  How can I come before God like this? How can I serve Him like this?

If you have ever felt like that, you are not alone.  Isaiah felt the same way when he had a vision of the Lord, Almighty.  …I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple.  Isaiah 6:1.

How did Isaiah respond to this vision?  “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined. For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”  

Isaiah felt the weight of his brokenness pressing down on him.  When the angel purified his lips by touching the coal to his lips, he learned that being in God’s presence should not make you aware of your mistakes, it should make you aware of His grace.  

Then, in the midst of Isaiah’s brokenness, God said in the vision, “…Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then Isaiah responded, “Here am I; send me.”  Isaiah 6:8

We do not come before God to show off our “Christianness” to God or each other.  We do come before God to experience his grace. And once we experience it – share it.  

 

I like the song from Matthew West called “Broken Things.”  The chorus reads

Now I’m just a beggar in the presence of a King

I wish I could bring You so much more

But if it’s true You use broken things

Then here I am Lord, I am all Yours

God wants to use us – all of us – all of our talents and our junk.  Because the funny thing about your brokenness is that God can use you to reach others that can relate to what you have gone through.  As the saying goes, “One Man’s junk is another man’s treasure.” Well, God can make treasure out of anything once he adds His love to it.  He can turn your failures into platforms of grace and mercy to reach others. Despite all the junk, come before God, experience his grace, and when he asks who will go and share, reply “Here am I, Lord.  Send me.”

Broken Things2018-06-27T15:57:08-04:00