“The Christian life does not begin by grace and then proceed in our own strength. We begin by grace, we grow by grace, and we finally reach home by grace.” – John Piper
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
When I was a senior in high school, my English class had to spend our last semester writing a
term paper on a classic author. I ignorantly chose Edgar Allen Poe. If you know anything
about Poe, you’ll understand why it was an ignorant decision. He is dark and scary and…well,
dark. For weeks, I researched and wrote, erased and started over. It got to the point that I had
a recurring dream about the macabre writings. Every night, my dream would begin with me
running through a field toward a circle of car headlights. In the middle of those headlights, was
a deep, dark, dreadful pit. I ran toward the light with the hope that someone there could catch
and save me from running head-over-heels into the pit. I needed to be saved from the most
dreadful and ancient-looking man that my psyche could conjure up. I knew with all my being
that I needed to get to that light before the darkness swallowed me up. And that old, decrepit
man; he chased me as if he were a young gazelle leaping across an African prairie. He ran like
the devil himself.
I will never forget that dream. Running toward light while surrounded by utter darkness.
Tripping, then getting up to run as fast as I can again. Trying my hardest to be a good English
student and get that paper done, and done well. A race between me and the devil. If I lost, I
failed; and he won. Similar to my analogous dream, we are surrounded by darkness, just as
John 3:19 attests the harsh truth: “This is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and
people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone
who does wicked things hates the light.” We choose darkness because we think it covers our
sins, but as time goes by, we begin living in paranoid fear of that darkness, of our sins being
“found out”. Our world collapses under the weight of this fear. We begin doubting who our
friends are, losing some altogether, because of that paranoia. Then our life turns to despair
and the cycle goes on. Living in a pit of darkness brings fear, doubt, despair. In John 12:35,
we are told that “the one who walks in darkness does not know where he is going”. We see no
assurance of salvation in darkness, because we can’t SEE at ALL! But there IS hope in the
LIGHT! Acts 26:18 assures us that we can “turn from darkness to light and from the power of
Satan to God, that we may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are
sanctified by faith in me.”
We are not doomed to live in darkness! We are meant to bask in the glorious light of the
Heavenly Father! I feel like that old man was chasing me to a pit of failure, as I was running out
of time to finish that paper. But the outcome of the dream was just unbelievable, God-gifted.
Nothing I could have ever imagined up from my own mind. On the night before I finally had to
turn my paper in, that same dream was different. In the dream, I walked out of my house to go
to school, and that old man was lying prostrate on top of my car. You see: my paper was
finished. I had won the race and worn that old man out! But most importantly, I no longer was
being pursued by Satan to an eternal pit of darkness.
This life is a race. 2 Timothy 4:7 declares Paul to have fought the good fight, finished the race,
and kept the faith. Don’t you want to be able to proclaim that? I know I do! Hebrews 12:1
says we should lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely, and run with endurance
the race that is set before us. We can choose to race to the light, or to be chased through the
darkness. We will win the prize of all prizes if we choose to come up out of the pit of sin that
holds us in that horrible darkness and fear and despair. Let go of those sins that have you
weighted down. You can’t run a race with extra baggage slowing you down! Give it to the
Father of Light, for He has already stowed our baggage away on the cross. There is hope in
the Light, friends. Run the race with endurance toward the bright and glorious Prize!
Written by Ann Dugger
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
This month will see the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation culminating in Martin Luther’s nailing of his 95 Theses onto the door of the Wittenberg Church on October 31st. Continue reading “Celebrating 500 Years of the Reformation”
On Saturday, September 16, 2017, the independent Christian band Seeker & Servant will be presenting a concert in Savoy, Texas to benefit our November Haiti Mission Team. Continue reading “Seeker & Servant Concert”
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.
- 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.
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.
Today we baptized John Fitzgerald. Welcome to the family of Christ! Continue reading “Baptism – January”