O Taste and See…

O Taste and See…

As I continue to dig deep into the Word of my Father, I notice a resounding theme. Food. My favorite thing on this whole earth! You see, I think Gary Chapman got it wrong. He missed number 6…my love language is food. Hands down. Speak to me over good food, and I will listen harder. Feed me French Silk Pie and I will be your best friend. Teach me to cook BAKED BACON, and I will show you true love! I was raised on the best food from the best cooks in my realm of imagination. My grandmother, my mom, my aunts…no meat or vegetable went un- fried, no bag of sugar went unscathed. From Chicken Fried Steak to homemade taffy, I was raised on the best (and probably unhealthiest) of God’s garden-gift. Translated into real life?…Joy, Celebration, Thanksgiving, Fellowship…what each and every family get-together was about. Even now, my favorite place to be is in my kitchen making something “divine” to feed my family and friends. My gift to them.

My friends, food isn’t just fuel, or physical sustenance; it is a gift. In the beginning, God gave us a garden in which to feast. He provided everything for us, and still does. He lavishly gives us everything we need to sustain life on this earth, AND in life eternal. And FOR this, Jesus gave thanks. While on this earth, at every meal, he gave thanks; because the meal was given by the Holy One, as throughout all lifetime, as a gift to His loved ones. When Jesus gave thanks and broke bread, he was thanking his Father for the gift he had just received.

So it’s no wonder Jesus came eating and drinking (Luke 7:34) while seeking and saving the lost! Although all 4 gospels tell of Jesus feeding 4- and 5000 people with a miraculously small amount of fish and bread, I have a gut feeling (pun intended) that Luke wrote the most about Jesus’ gastronomical events because he was a physician. He understood more than the others just what these meals did for Jesus and his followers, both physically and spiritually. And, although Jesus rejoiced with a wedding party in John chapter 2, he dined with a plethora of sinners in Luke. He endured some awkward meals with Pharisees in Luke 11 and Luke 14. He dined with Zacchaeus, who was deemed a crooked tax collector, in Luke 19. He celebrated the Feast of Weeks, the Feast of Tabernacles, the Passover, and countless other celebrations of joy and thanksgiving in his short lifetime.

Through the ages, God has had a way of showing up at our dinner table. He gives us a sneak- preview of the banquet in the Kingdom to come. As the old hymn alludes, a “foretaste of Glory Divine”. Food will be a part of the new Creation, the fabulous feast, the Table of Communion! The closest we can get to dining with the King here on this earth. The Celts called it “thin places”: where the veil that separates heaven and earth seems exceedingly thin. It is at this table of the King, divine dining, fabulous feast, where broken sinners find an empty seat, a place to be at home, to be made whole by good food and good fellowship. Christine Pohl, a writer and theologian, once said, “a shared meal is the activity most closely tied to the reality of God’s kingdom, just as it is the most basic expression of hospitality”.

Jesus did so much between tasty morsels of fish and bread and honey and wine. Our holy hospitable host revealed the beauty of his life (and death) while dining with those who both adored him and hated him. Our beloved Savior ate and drank with sinners. Yes; thieves, liars, murderers – sinners. That’s me and you. The meals that Jesus shared were the theme to his mission, because they embody God’s grace and put into action God’s mission. Meals were a sign of the Lord’s abounding grace toward us sinners. The table in which he shared his last supper was transformed into the Table of Communion between the Father and His lowly lovers. Sharing a meal means friendship, hospitality, grace. Our God wants us to do the same: open our homes to fellow sinners: the helpless, the needy, the poor, the HUNGRY, the unclean, the hurting. Sharing a meal wipes those “titles” away. We are one and the same when we partake together of the Lord’s bountiful blessings. In this world of little grace, let us share our table; let’s show grace, give grace, say grace. O, dear friend, taste and see that the Lord is GOOD!

-written by Ann Dugger

Joy

Joy

Some days I wonder if I am back in kindergarten, unable to get my shoes on the right feet before I head out the door. When my day starts off like that, it seems it continues, and ends, in the same manner. There are more than a few days where I get up late, or forget my coffee, or can’t decide on the perfect outfit, or all of those mishaps in the same morning; and it all but ruins my day! It all just turns out to be a series of unfortunate events.

When it seems as if Murphy’s Law is what guides us through our day (everything that can go wrong will go wrong), we should make a new plan to set our default response to prayer instead. When things bump into our “happy”, instead of the typical “not again!” response, we could first try thanking God for the joy He abundantly gives us. Proverbs 17:22 says that a joyful heart is good medicine. If we allow it, that joy “pill” can be an extended-release medication for our world-weary soul. A joyful heart means less stress. Who doesn’t want less stress? Sometimes, however, we have to intentionally swallow that joy pill, purposefully changing our heart to stay in that happy place. If your happy day is threatened by a long line at the drive-thru or a cranky driver in the Walmart parking lot, stop and pray. Thank God for every good and perfect gift. That prayer of gratitude is all you need to set your mind back on the mend.

Philippians 4:6 tells us to not fret about anything-prayer and thanksgiving are the best prescription out there. If your default response to stressful events is prayer, you, my friend, can rest in the fact that by bringing our thankfulness and our requests for peace and joy to the Good Doctor, your anxiety and stress will surely lessen. Paul also wrote in the next verse to the Philippians that the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. So the next time your “happy” gets knocked out of place, rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, and be constant in prayer (Romans 12:12).

-Written by Ann Dugger

Love Finds the Time

Love Finds the Time

Love finds the time

“Beloved, let us love one another”
– 1 John 4:7

As Christians, our greatest command is to Love God and love others (Luke 10:27). How does this play out in our day to day friendships with other Christians?

What is the purpose of friendships and connections?

Simply speaking, God intends for our brothers and sisters to be there through good and bad times. Our brothers and sisters in Christ are there during adversity.

God speaks of friendship and helping one another (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10). We were never designed to walk this Christian life alone. Even though we must personally follow Jesus, we need each other. The body of Christ is there so every part will function. We need one another.

Christian friends sharpen each other spiritually (Proverbs 27:12). Without the sharpening, we would not function spiritually very well. Because of this, God intends Christian friends to diligently serve and sharpen each other.

The purpose of friendship and connections is first and foremost love. You Love Christ, therefore your love for others will radiate. Friendships should be encouraging and uplifting while holding one another up when one of you falls.

Some Scriptures:

  • Proverbs 17:17- A friend loves at all times and a brother is born for adversity.
  • Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 – Two are better than one, for they have a good return for their labor. If one should fall, his friend can help him up.
  • Proverbs 27:12- As iron sharpens iron, so does one man sharpen another.
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:11- Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up.

Why make the time?

Love makes the time because love puts the other person first. As Christians, love is forefront in our mind.

Make the time because you love the person and want them to fully function in their highest potential. Love is not afraid to correct one another.
“Better is open rebuke Than love that is concealed.”
– Proverbs 27:5

Make the time because it is pleasant and sweet for your friend.
“Oil and perfume make the heart glad, So a man’s counsel is sweet to his friend.”
– Proverbs 27:9

Make the time to spare your friend from anxiety and worry.
“Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, But a good word makes it glad.”
– Proverbs 12:25

Make the time because it is mutually beneficial.
“For I long to see you so that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, that you may be established; that is, that I may be encouraged together with you while among you, each of us by the other’s faith, both yours and mine.”
– Romans 1:11-12

Making the time not only benefits your friend, it benefits you as well.

Notable friendships of The Bible

Friendship is nothing new! Throughout the course of The Bible times, there were several significant and important friendships.

David and Jonathan“Now it came about when he had finished speaking to Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as himself. Saul took him that day and did not let him return to his father’s house. Then Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself.”
– 1 Samuel 1-3

The friendship of David and Jonathan was not only strong, but the Bible tells us their souls were knitted together. True friendship, according to the Bible, involves loyalty, sacrifice, compromise, and yes, even emotional attachment. We see this through the clothing gift and the covenant to where Jonathan would protect David’s family while David made Jonathan second reign.

Elijah and Elisha“Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here please, for the Lord has sent me as far as Bethel.” But Elisha said, “As the Lord lives and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel.”
– 2 Kings 2:2

They didn’t leave each other. This speaks volumes to our friendships with other believers. The demonstration here of a true biblical friendship is that love finds the time. Elisha didn’t think Elijah should go alone, so he made the sacrifice and followed him.

Job’s Friends (at least in the beginning)“Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this adversity that had come upon him, they came each one from his own place, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite; and they made an appointment together to come to sympathize with him and comfort him.”
– Job 2:11

Once again, we see a terrific example of a true biblical friendship. Their friend was in need and distress, so they made the time to go visit with him. Not trying to fix it, but simply comforting him. Later on, they do try to blame Job for his problems and end up making a mess of things. They should’ve stuck with simply comforting him.

Practical Application

To make the time we should

LISTEN before responding. Our friend is telling us things which they need help with. How can you give advice or counsel if you don’t know and listen to everything they are saying. “He who gives an answer before he hears, It is folly and shame to him.”
– Proverbs 18:13.

BE DEVOTED to the other person. Put them first, give them the benefit of the doubt and make the time. “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;”
– Romans 12:10

Talk to them as soon as you possibly can. Maybe a lunch break or conference period would be a good option. If you can’t do it right then, tell them when you can. Assure them you will make the time for them.

Christians love one another, it’s what they do. They put their friends first and make the time to talk when needed.

Lightbulb Ministry

Lightbulb Ministry

On March 20th, several of our members teamed up and hit the streets of Savoy along with some of our new friends from the Focus ministry. Our goal was to shed a little light in the darkness by simply meeting our neighbors with lightbulbs in hand. Everyone has a lightbulb or two out at any given time, so it seemed to us that a great small service could be just to offer people a lightbulb or two.

Too many times, door to door ministry efforts are met with disdain as unwanted solicitation. We want to help change that. We believe that evangelism starts with relationships and not a sales pitch. Our members did not “pitch” Jesus at the door. Instead we simply wanted people to know we were here and that we care. Here’s a lightbulb and our contact info, call us with any questions. We’d love to get to know you.

Our first lightbulb outing was a huge success. We met a lot of friendly people and had some good honest conversations. Some of those were about spiritual matters, and some weren’t. The next week we actually got a few calls from people wanting to know more and have started building bridges already with those contacts. Praise God for the simple things. Sometimes we just need to get out of His way and let Him do the work. Sometimes, it’s as simple as giving somebody a lightbulb.

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