come, come to the table

When I found on YouTube this a cappella rendition of JUST AS I AM and saw that it was sung by a Mennonite choir, I knew this was today’s post.  I have journeyed with very fine Mennonite men and women on this trek through life.  They are non-judgmental, they are humbly devoted, they are peacemakers in a violent world.

Decades ago I answered the altar call at a Youth for Christ rally.  Penitently, I walked up to the railing, knelt, bowed my head, cried.  It was a transformative night.  But then the ‘humbly born again’ me tried to assume the posture and image of what people told me a Christian, especially a born again Christian, should be.  Over the following years I rebelled against and rejected anything religious.

That table of invitation, the seat reserved for me did not move.  It is I who have changed and moved.  Today, what others profess does not matter.  What others think about me does not matter.  What others assume as ‘Christian-like’ behavior does not matter.  It was my seat waiting and I claimed it.  Verse 3 of the hymn by Charlotte Elliot says it all:

“Just as I am! tho’ tossed about with many a conflict, many a doubt, with fears within, and foes without, O Lamb of God, I come!  I come!”

The truth of the Jesus story says to me that there are no conditions on taking a seat because the table is open to anyone – black or white, man or woman, gay or straight, drunk or sober, earthling or Martian – the truth has not changed.  This has always been a universal invitation which only man’s theological  interpretation has limited.

“If, therefore, the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”  JOHN 8:36

Enjoy the freedom.  The centerpiece of the table is unrelenting love for your Lord and, then, the entirety of Creation.  We can add a plethora of ‘thou shalt’ and ‘thou shalt not’, but why should we want to? NAMASTE 🙏

UNSHACKLED 2

 

ASSURANCE

Melanie Sita · The Lord is My Shepherd (Psalm 23) Keith Green cover

KJV

PSALMS 23

A Psalm of David.

1The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

2He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

3He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

4Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

5Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

6Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

magnificent

When living in Pennsylvania, I attended a small, country church, St. John’s Lutheran.  The members were an accepting, loving congregation of people who, in my humble opinion, practiced the Gospel, they walked the talk.  The pastor was ordinary, the service was ordinary, but the choir was magnificent.

These simply farm folks were renown for their ancestral singing talents back to the early 1800s when the community was founded.  A special treat on Sunday mornings was when the men of the choir sang a cappella.  It was absolutely, stunningly pure inspiration.  I never could fathom how men who spoke English with heavy Pennsylvania Dutch accents could sing together in perfect English enunciation.

I discovered, on YouTube, videos by ACAPELDRIDGE.  I want to share with you one of my favorite hymns done a cappella by an amazingly talented young man.  Soak it in and be inspired.

1 Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side;
bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
leave to thy God to order and provide;
in ev’ry change He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heav’nly Friend
thro’ thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

2 Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
to guide the future as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
all now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice, who ruled them while He dwelt below.

3 Be still, my soul: when dearest friends depart,
and all is darkened in the veil of tears,
then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
who comes to soothe thy sorrow and thy fears.
Be still, my soul: thy Jesus can repay
from His own fullness all He takes away.

4 Be still, my soul: the hour is hast’ning on
when we shall be forever with the Lord,
when disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past,
all safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

Jean Sibelius from FINLANDIA

Just another day?

Really?  Do I remember where I was last night, whom I was with, what I did?  Do I know where I parked my truck?  Am I reeking of stale cigarettes and whiskey?  Must I extend apologies (again) to my friends and family?

NO!  Today is not just another day.  Today is a spectacular day in the sobriety journey.  It is a day to rejoice and be grateful.

You and I are sober today – get up, get motivated and let’s give ourselves and our HPsober emoji a hand.

the beast vs beauty…and the winner is?

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment…..instead it should be that or your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit.”  1 Peter 3:3-4

How’s your good heart today, how’s the beauty of your inner self?  In today’s trying times we cannot give in to ugliness; if we do, then ugly has won the battle.  Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all allude to a creation (yes, that includes us)  that is made in the image of God.  We are made in God’s image.  We are created beautiful.  Our inner selves are made of nothing but beauty.  Let that beauty outshine all the ugliness that the world throws our way.

beauty and ugly

from tinybuddha.com courtesy of unitarian universalists

 

the PRODIGAL returns

We delve into the world of non-believing, into the emptiness of denial, into the realm of anti-religion looking for answers.  We look to worldly pleasures and comforts for fulfillment.

Wherever we look,
there you are, the One who never deserted,
mercy, grace and goodness cropped-candle.png
patiently awaiting our return.

We are the seekers.
We yearn, we search
in realms beyond us
for that which has always been within.

The prodigal returns. LUKE 15:11-32

Turn Your Eyes

I know your troubles, I know that your heart is heavy with concern and fear, that you are severely challenged by the violence and insecurities of this world.  Look into His eyes, see what I have seen and know that my Father, and yours, will gently guide us through the difficult times we are facing.

Picture1.pngconfession (2)Just imagine Jesus holding us in loving arms, soothing our hearts, asking us to trust him…

I have been there, I understand.  Have you ever read what they did to me?  They called me a heretic, a blasphemer, and a charlatan.  All I wanted was peace and brotherly love, to live my life as a beacon for the Father whom I worshipped.  I believed that all people were equal in my Father’s eyes, that all should equally participate in his abundance. They hunted me like a criminal, beat me, stripped me of my clothing, humiliated me, flogged me, spat upon me, and then nailed me to a wooden cross to die an ignoble death. 

But, I survived.  2000 years later people still quote me and read about me.  Now, loved ones, you tell me who died on that cross?  Those who persecuted me and drove the nails are nothing more than ashes and bones, but I am still alive and well in the eyes of millions of people.

I have been there, I know your pain.  The illness and devastation in your world today – I understand.  The possessed, the lepers, the lame, the plague ridden were part of my world.  The corruption, the crime, the deceit, the hypocrisy were also part of my world.  Just trust me for I have endured it all and I have conquered everything put upon me simply by dying to the things of this earth and turning eyes to a power greater than any on earth.  I AM ALIVE!

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest in your souls, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  MATTHEW 11: 28-30 NIV