Posted in Christian Living

Is Summer a Time for Spiritual Slacking?

Sure, there are church camps and Vacation Bible Schools and even tent meetings, but summer is the season for slackening one spiritual strengthening exercise: regular church attendance.

Or maybe that’s only at St. Helens Baptist Church. Maybe families don’t go on vacation for weeks at a time where you live and worship. Maybe there are summer baseball and softball tournaments over the weekends. If that’s the case, members at your church don’t have the usual distractions.

So does church attendance drop where you worship?

And is this truly a sign of a slack in the spiritual lives of these people?

I wish I had the answers, but I don’t. As you can see, there are more questions here than facts.

Spiritual strength comes from three things:

  1. Time reading, studying and meditating on the Word of God
  2. Prayer, supplication and quiet reflection at the feet of Jesus
  3. Facing the hard times without giving up on God

So, none of these have anything to do with church attendance. Or do they?

Church is the place where Jesus put His name. He built it for humans so they could meet together and study scripture, pray, fellowship and be encouraged to fight the fight. Because while Jesus went to Heaven, his enemy stayed right here on Earth.

Yes, the Old Serpent is the prince and power of the air in the physical realm. Eventually, King Jesus will take that title back. But for now, Satan prowls around looking for spiritually weak people to devour (1 Peter 5:8).

If Jesus paid for the church with His precious blood (Acts 20:28), then it must be an important part of his Kingdom plan.

Church strengthens in the spirit of a believer (if they attend with a receptive heart). Here are five things that you might need strengthened that church will help with:

  1. Humility (if worshiping the Almighty doesn’t humble you, nothing will)
  2. Knowledge (plenty of scripture presented and expounded)
  3. Love (Hebrews 10:24)
  4. Resolve to work for Christ (Hebrews 10:24)
  5. Family ties (with our brothers and sisters in Christ at church)

What are your thoughts? Do you think spirituality slips in the summer? Or is the fall of church attendance an indicator of something else?

Up next week:  The Freedom of Summer

Posted in Christian Living

Summer of Psalms

Summer brings longer days and  warmer temperatures that inspire us to laze and lounge. Why not invest some of that “down” time to reading the Bible?

This summer, St. Helens Baptist Church encourages everyone to commit to reading through the Psalms during the summer months.

Sure, it’s the longest book in the Bible. But it contains the shortest chapter. (And the longest, but that won’t sell the program.)

During our Summer of Psalms, we’ve divided the book into day-sized readings. Some days it means reading a single song. Other days you might read two or three.

150 psalms in 92 days. (Well, 86 now because I didn’t post this on the first day of June.)

This is a manageable feat. Continue reading “Summer of Psalms”

Posted in Christian Living

Will You Miss the Risen Lord this Easter?

Standing in celebration next Sunday morning, we will sing of Jesus and His real – and our ultimate – resurrection from this life to the next.

But what about after Sunday? In the days and weeks that follow, will we see our risen Lord as he continues walking among us?

Or will we, like so many in the New Testament account, miss the risen Jesus?

  • In the garden: Grief, disorientation and fear closed the eyes of Mary Magdalene who took the risen Jesus to be a gardener. (John 20:1)
  • On the road: Grief and incomplete theology closed the eyes of two followers who concluded he was but a fellow traveler taking up conversation to pass the journey. (Luke 24:15)
  • In the Upper Room: Doubt, fear and nonsensical thinking closed the eyes of the disciples who concluded Jesus was a ghost. (Luke 24:37)
  • On the beach: Distance and dismay blinded the disciples to the presence of their Lord. (John 21: 4)

In each situation, followers of Jesus were blinded by unexpectedness. They saw him dying and decided he was dead and would stay dead. When he appeared, in a garden, on the road, in the Upper Room, on the beach, they didn’t expect him to be where he was. So they missed him.

In each post-resurrection circumstance – in God’s sovereign timing – eyes were opened and Jesus was revealed (Luke 24:31). And while admittedly, we can only “see” God when he enlightens the eyes of our souls to see him, when God makes a surprise appearance in our everyday, don’t we often miss him too?

As we undertake our Easter journey, both this week and next and in the seasons that follow, can we cooperate with God in his eye-opening work? Can we watch for him to reveal what he wants to reveal to us when he wants to reveal it?

Let’s not miss Jesus …

Watch. Jesus is risen! Here he comes!

**This post is from Elisa Morgan and was copied from her website. View the entire post here.

In some circles, this is Passion Week. It’s easy to see Jesus in the vivid details on the final road to His ultimate obedience.

But are we expecting him to show up at work with us on Wednesday? Do we invite him into the midst of our gatherings of friends on Friday night?

Every Sunday should remind us of the power and promise of the resurrection. And every day we should be looking for the one who loved us so much to walk beside us in the mundane.

Where have you seen Jesus this week?

Posted in Christian Living, Daily Living

Light Reveals So Much

An epiphany occurred in the shower this morning. Light really helps a person see.

It doesn’t sound like much of a revelation, but let me explain.

I’m of an age where I need glasses to read and see details up-close. If you’re smirking, that’s fine. According to my optometrist, your day in glasses will come. Everyone’s eye muscles wear out.

I lathered up my legs to shave. Sunlight beamed through the window in our bathroom, spotlighting those long hairs on my ankle bones. (Men, scroll on past. This means nothing to you.)

I thought, “Wow! This is great. With all this light, I can do a better job shaving.”

That’s when it hit me. 

Jesus is the Light. With him, we can see everything more clearly.

Unfortunately, most people would rather stumble along blindly. Most of them probably don’t even realize that they’re in need of the Son’s light.

Worse than that are the ones who scurry into the darkness like cockroaches. (Sorry for that unflattering visual. And it probably means nothing to you if you’ve never lived in the South and flipped a light switch on in the middle of the night. Ugh. Disgusting.)

And, now, back to scripture. “Light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light” (John 3:19).

I didn’t make up the observation about people scurrying into darkness. Jesus pointed this out two millennia ago.

Life is so much easier in the light. We can see to perform basic tasks better. Nuances we miss in half-light become obvious in full light.

Step into the Light, my friend. It will make navigating your life less difficult.

For the whole story, read John 3: 1-21.

If you enjoyed this post, maybe you’d like to read more from this author. She had a Bible study on Psalm 119 and one to help women find focus in their lives.

Maybe fiction is more your thing. Read about the life of Christ from the perspective of his mother in the Biblical fictionalization by Sharon Hughson.

Posted in Daily Living

Hit and Run on Social Media

Today’s post is shared from one of my favorite Christian authors. Her words touch my heart and stir my soul. And after the barrage of negative social media thrashing and the unexpected in-person conflicts, I need a dose of her wisdom.

The Bible’s wisdom. That’s the only kind that will make a difference in the long run.

For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Hebrews 12:3

Jesus knows all about being blindsided by people who called themselves a friend. He understands the agony when the people closest run away when you need them most.

And through it all, He still loved them. He still loves us.

But how do we react?

Here’s Holley’s take on it:

It’s in times like these that retreat seems safest and sanest. Let’s go home and shut the doors, bar the windows and disconnect the doorbell. Gather round with our stockpiled faith and ration out just enough to survive.

Most of all it seems tempting to safeguard our hearts. Just take them right out and stick them in the solid metal safe at the back of the closet. Then forget the combination. Forget what once beat in our chest.

Because I am tired just now. Not so much in my body but in a deeper, invisible place. The one that sees the best in people, that reaches out in love, that keeps believing folks can change.  And as I lay in bed the other night I talked to God about it. Into the darkness it seemed He whispered something like, “I get it.”

And I realized, suddenly, He does. More than I can know, more than any of us comprehend. He knows what it is to love and love. To extend yourself so far that you are, oh, stretched out on a cross. And then to be rejected or dismissed or misunderstood.

Read the rest of the post here.

Whatever you need to get through today (and tomorrow), Jesus has an ample supply. He’s waiting for you to see that he “gets it” and will provide what you ask for in faith.

No need to be weary or faint in your minds. Jesus has the remedy.

What ways have people been trying to discourage you lately?