Your story of God's faithfulness
No Article for June 2019
When you don't know what to do, keep doing what you know to do until you know what to do. My husband likes to share that saying in uncertain times. What is it that we know what to do? Pray. And I read recently that prayers asking God to be with us implies that He isn't already. When I read that, it really put a whole new perspective on that prayer. And it reminded me of the poem Footprints in the Sand. What else do we know to do? Dig deep in God's Word. Let the scriptures be the guide to our decisions because we know His Word is infallible. If we pray for guidance as we read the scriptures and look for His will instead of ours, the Truth in the scriptures will be as clear as day. Dig deeper in our relationship with Christ to bring out the Truth contained within the Living Word as relevant today as it ever was. We also know to praise Him, worship Him. Don't let circumstances of the day, temporary no matter how persistent they may feel, steal the joy that is the promise of eternal life that comes with salvation. Praise Him in the storms of life. Praise Him in our broken hearts. Praise Him in the celebrations. Praise Him always. Pray without ceasing—going through our days in an attitude of prayer. Live in the Word. And PRAISE the LORD! Doing what we know to do until we know what to do. Peace be with you. ~ Mendi ~
Thank you for the support and fellowship. Wow. This was just amazing! I wish I could have made prints of the artwork to make a gallery. Thank you so much. Love, Mendi
I sit here to write this and think about the decision facing the United Methodist Church. Last week in D.C., I overhead three people on the grounds of the Capitol talk about God having been "run out of this town a long time ago." At church council this evening, Pastor read us the scripture passage about love. He asked us to consider how we represent this scripture passage in our lives. I wonder if those folks in D.C. turned their backs on God because of how Christians they knew may not have been very good representatives of this passage. In the conversations on "The Way Forward," emotions have run very strong in different directions. I have witnessed people getting upset with each other even when they hold the same point of view. This issue is that divisive! When we don't agree, it's easy to see where a non-Christian would not want to have anything to do with "the Church." My thought about the way forward is to "hold no record of wrongs." Those who will vote are our brothers and sisters seeking to do the right thing. Even when we don't agree, we are commanded to love one another. While it may mean a parting of ways, please consider this passage in how we treat each other. If I disagree with you, I want to be able to hold no record of wrongs and just love you, trusting that we all have the same intention of seeking God's will. I want to treat you with kindness and respect, not holding a grudge. I want to encourage all of us to prayerfully consider how we respond to the decision and to each other. May God be with us as we all move forward, whether we go the same direction or not. I love you. ~ Mendi ~
On Wednesday night, I was asked why God would make us to worship Him. Another youth rephrased worship Him to lifting Him up. Which helped us look at why we would lift Him up as an expression of love toward Him. Because of His love for us. The follow up question was why God would have us put Him above everyone else including our families. We talked about how perfect His love is and how when we lift Him up first, we can love our family and others even better. The youth truly understand that family comes first in this world. That is a testament to our Southview family that has helped to teach the priority of this worldly existence is in the relation-ships with others and nothing material. These questions are definitely ones that challenge adults in understanding God. It was a true discovery process of becoming aware that human love is imperfect but made better by lifting up, loving and worshiping God because His example of how He loves us perfectly. What a great lead in to February's news-letter and Valentine's Day which prompts us to express the fullness of our love for each other as best we can. What would your Valentine for God look like? "Because He first loved me." ~ Mendi ~
As I sit tonight trying to recover from the emotions of the day, I think about the duets this morning. Singing an arrangement of a traditional Christmas hymn with a beautiful contemporary praise song. "O come Emmanuel and ransom captive Israel" with the anticipation of the Messiah all those thousands of years ago and then to our current recognition of "You've come to take sin and bear shame, God with us." And the duet from Nora and Grace, mother and daughter. Reminds me of when I sing with Fayth. And Grace… it was her first time singing in front of Southview. She was amazing this morning! I was so proud. And there was another duet, most everyone was unaware. Diane and I singing in harmony on "Jesus Loves Me." Then there is the duet of the Holy Spirit in me as I worship. The Spirit provides words, emotion, and passion in the praise and I lend Him my voice, my attention, and my praise. I felt very much in harmony with Him this morning, as I often do. When you follow His lead, you don't have to worry about the destination or the how. And when you walk with God in the Spirit, you are never a solo. Thanks be to God! ~ Mendi
Transformation! I hope you experienced a transformation during this sermon series. I know I did. I recognized letting my ego get the best of me at times. When I went to a training for my future work, I realized that I get defensive when clients question my ability to provide counseling because I don't know what it's like for them. I get defensive because they assume to know my background and experiences. I find myself wanting to tell them the various experiences I have in order to be credible in their eyes. I know that I am no supposed to worry about that and certainly not supposed to share. I know that the defensiveness comes from my own feeling of not being good enough and the fear of not being good enough. But it also comes from my ego where I believe I am good at what I do and can be the right counselor for everyone. Both the fear and the ego hold me back from being teachable. I ask God to take that away and help me to be more humble. I'm starting to see a difference in the transformation. I pray that each of you experiences evidence of transformation in your life as we cocooned your need in prayer for transformation. I hope you will share your transformational testimony with someone else and show God's power to make change happen. ~ Mendi
Many of the challenges to faith that we face come from a scientific perspective. I loved science in school. I loved geology in college. But I LOVE when science offers evidence of God and our faith! Recently in youth, we watched a movie on Netflix called "A Matter of Faith." Don't expect a blockbuster huge budget type of movie, but it was really good. It is similar to the original "God's Not Dead" movie but instead f debating the existence of God, the debate is Creationism versus evolution. There are some interesting answers in the movie. I encourage you to watch it. Also, we have watched the Discovery Channel documentary about the archaeological finds of chariots at the bottom of the Red Sea that align with the Biblical passage regarding the Exodus from Egypt. I like to find the ways to counter the arguments and defend my faith in Jesus Christ the Son of God. I am excited to have scheduled a presentation about faith and science at Southview. Randolph Macon hosts a youth program that explores the relationship between faith and science and two staff members will present and also provide information on this summer program. This will be open to all, especially youth from the Roanoke District. Please feel free to join us! You might find a few answers you can share with people you meet that question our faith based on scientific theories. I look forward to seeing you there! ~Mendi
Pastor told us this morning that there is a significant percentage of college-age young adults that leave the church and their faith. It makes sense: they get out on their own for the first time and don't have their parents' expectations and house rules for attending church with them as they wake up on Sunday mornings (or afternoons after sleeping in). During these years, young adults are also challenged by their peers and instructors in their beliefs more than they ever have been. One thing I read, also pointed to the weakness in what is called "hand-me-down faith." This is believing because their parents and other adult influences tell them to believe. The reason this can lead to the falling away as they get older is their faith is not based in their own experiences with God. Let's face it, they are younger and haven't had as much life experience to encounter God and know it is Him. That's why I focus on God Moments and trying to help the youth identify times they themselves have experienced God moving in their lives. Service and mission opportunities, camp and retreat experiences, and Bible study with discussion about their lives are designed for this purpose. Fayth text me from work a couple weeks ago and said "God moment." She shared that a little girl came up to her and hugged her and said "It'll be OK." Fayth said she understood it as "His way of saying Papa is all good." These are the God moments that will give the teens their own experiences that strengthen their faith and help them stay faithful into their adult lives. These are the moments that youth groups live for. When we look for Him, we will definitely find Him. He's always there and moving.
So many blessings to share from the mission trip. I don't have enough room to share everything. On the last night there, we had a storm, The wind was fierce and the roof and windows rattled. I watched the sky and there was constant lightning but no bolts and no thunder. Flashes that it up the skyline and the clouds. I was listening for the sound of a tornado but seeing trains pass across the street. Even in the thought of potential danger, the beauty of the hand of God was breathtaking and I would have enjoyed sitting on the porch and watching all night. Alone time with God. I'm not good with alone time. I don't like to be alone. Writing this, I am alone. My family is on vacation and I did not have the time to allow me to join them. I made some plans with friends but pastor mentioned spending alone time with God this week as well. I looked up at the stars last night and marveled at how many I could see. They just kept appearing! The words of the song “Indescribable” came to mind. "You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name." How many millions and billions of stars are in the skies. He knows every one of them intimately. And He loves each one of us even more. His love and power are truly Indescribable. Mendi
I found myself in a difficult position this week. I was trying to explain that changing with the times is OK in some respects and not in others to the youth. If I was having difficulty, I was certain it was confusing for them! When we were growing up, women wore skirts and dresses and men wore ties to church. Our generation consider wearing our "Sunday best" as a way to show respect for the Lord our God and for being in His house. We have come to see that it is not necessary to be in this formal dress code to be respectful. It's OK to wear jeans! However, once we are saved and have a relationship with Christ, that respect and love in the relationship should lead use to change certain behaviors and God and His determination of right and wrong does not change. And, just because we change, does not mean that we turn others away who do not yet have the ability to make those changes. The kids understood this hypothetical situation: "You shouldn't wear a crop top and booty shorts to church. But if someone comes in wearing that, we still treat them nice and don't make them leave because of their clothes." They did also understand that repentance means you don't keep doing whatever you are asking God to forgive for having done – you have to stop doing that behavior. They understood there is a transition time from what you did while not in relationship with Him and what you now do while in relationship with Him. As difficult as it may be to understand some of these concepts, the kids get it when we talk about it. I hope I under-stand and can behave in a way that helps them keep that truth rather than question and turn elsewhere to find an answer on how to live authentically, not hypocritically. They teach me these things every day! God bless their faith! Mendi
"Are you hurting and broken within? Overwhelmed by the weight of your sin? Jesus is calling." I am struggling to write this article, but these song lyrics keep coming to mind. This song is “Oh Come to the Altar.” Have you ever felt that tug or urge? You are standing in the pew at the end of the service and you want to move but feel stuck. It takes a lot of strength and courage to take those steps. But there is something that is very freeing when you take the first step, then the next, and the next. With each step, weight falls away and you can feel yourself drawing closer to Him and feel the light from His presence just lifting you toward Him. The burdens feel like the weight of the world, holding you back from Him. Believe it or not, the enemy wants use frozen. The enemy doesn't want us to go to the altar. The enemy doesn't want us near to God. When that weight holds us in place, the enemy wins. Take the first step and overcome. Take another step to claim His promise. Take another step to come to the altar. Take the step to lay the burden down. Take the step to allow Him to work in you and give you the freedom that lives inside of peace. Mendi
Have you heard about Love Languages? There are 5 love languages—Words of Affirmation, Physical Touch, Quality Time, Acts of Service and Receiving Gifts. Each of us has a primary love language. When the people in our lives do these thing, we feel loved by them. It's not always easy to know what your love language is. But, if you don't know, there are free tests online, Knowing yours and the one that is primary can help make the relationship stronger. It might be harder to speak someone else's love language at first if it is not the same as yours because it is unnatural to you. However, the effort you put in right away to use their love language will help them feel loved quicker and easier than trying so hard in your own love language and the message is not received. Mine is receiving gifts. Stephen's is words of affirmation. Although it was difficult to start with, our relationship is stronger for knowing them and trying to speak each others when we want to let them know we care. If you have any questions, come see me. And bring a gift (just kidding on that last part!). Happy loving on each other! Mendi
The pastor from Fieldstone Baptist Church gave the sermon on Sunday morning at the head of the Wesley Retreat weekend at Virginia Tech. He spoke on how showing mercy is being willing to be used by God, showing up, being real, and sharing the gospel message with whomever God has put in our path. He spoke about Philip's ministry to the Ethiopian Eunuch, going when God sent him, offering to help him understand God's word, and shared the gospel with him to the point of the Eunuch asking for baptism. What was so amazing was that description of mercy had occurred at the retreat the night before. I took a break from the evening worship service on Saturday. Another youth chaperone did also. As we sat and talked and realized we had some similarities in our past experiences. She spoke about her anger and how she "can't forgive." I shared more of my story and how I came to understand that forgiving was the only thing I could do to be released from that anger and hurt and move forward in life, and how God commands it. I encouraged her to search her heart and make sure that she gets to that point before she no longer has to the time to do so. The experienced this new idea of mercy in the exact way it would be described the next day. God is so good! Mendi
I am often inspired by the sermons and feel like I have learned more about being Christ-like. But I have to admit, Stephen's message this past month was really convicting. "Whatever you do to the least of these…" It is easy to have compassion for the less fortunate. It's easy to understand that Christians are called to serve those in need. But what about everyone else? Who is my neighbor? Who are the least fo these? Every single person we encounter is a Jesus encounter. We are used to thinking we may be the only Jesus others meet, but we need to also look at everyone else as though they are Jesus in how we treat them. The gas station attendant, the clerk at the grocery store, the ticket attendant at the movie theater, the driver next to us at the stoplight or passing us on the interstate, the bully that just hurt our child, the child of ours that just spilled nail polish all over the furniture, the boss that just got onto us, the politician that we don't like… do we treat everyone as we would treat Jesus? What kind of difference would that make in our community? In our country? In the world? Could this be the start of a revolution? Could this be the start of a revival? Mendi
Two of my long-time friends lost their young adult child this year just before Christmas. And the two families couldn't have a more different response. Kali Hurd, 26, had a long hard fight for a little more than 18 months after an unexpected diagnosis of stage 4 colon cancer. All through her battle she wore a smile and engaged in life as fully as she could knowing she didn't know how much time she would have. (In all truth, none of us know this.) When I attended the visitation, every member of her family was comforting the family and friends that came to pay their respects. While I could barely speak the words "I love you" to her mom, Kim, she was smiling and laughing about the memories. This family knows Kali was no longer in pain and was celebrating God's glory in His presence having received the ultimate healing. Less than two weeks later, Presten Bailey, 24 years old, died after a brief time on life support. Attending his funeral, again I could barely utter the words "I love you" to his mom, Angela. In her grief, I am not sure she spoke at all or could see clearly through the tears. Even in the depth of such great sorrow, she was able to write of her pride in her son that he had chosen to be an organ donor without her knowledge. The family spoke of his faith and their knowledge they will be with Presten again in the presence of God. I know that God has no less love for the mother overwhelmed by grief than the one who is able to celebrate the life of her child and share her joy outwardly. I know God is no less present with one than the other. Our experiences may be different, but that doesn't mean God loves us any less no matter what our emotional response is. Joseph doubted (as Pastor Warren shared with us during Advent) and Job got angry. Take comfort knowing it's OK to feel all of our emotions when we take them to God and allow Him to comfort us. Mendi
It's that blessed joyous time of year! We are preparing for the celebration of Jesus' birth. Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace - Everything the Savior brought to us as Emmanuel - God with us. We bring the same message of Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace that is salvation to the lost and dying world around us. While we have Advent, there are people around us who are facing holidays alone, hurting, forgotten, and scared. They spend these days in sorrow, in despair, in hate, and in unforgiveness. Holidays can be the loneliest time of year and the celebrations are reminders of just how dark their world is. Most who are caught in the darkness of this time of year would rather sleep through the whole season than to face the parties and songs and presents. How do I know? One Christmas, 20 years ago, that's what I did was sleep through the day to avoid the loneliness and hurt. It was the first Christmas I was alone. And I don't do alone very well. I didn't live anywhere near family, Lain's dad and I had split and Lain was with his dad for the day. I don't know that I have ever felt so alone and in the dark in all my life before or since. But the tiniest little bit of light shines even brighter in the darkest part of the darkness. Luckily, Lain was with me again later and my darkness had a quick end. Not everyone's darkness has that relief. While an abundance of Christmas Spirit may be rejected, a kind thought of remembrance can be that little bit of light that can shatter the darkness. "Light of the world, You stepped down into darkness." Let us bring the Light into someone else's darkness. The Hope, Love, Joy and Peace of Advent that is the Light of Christmas. Mendi
Revival was amazing, wasn't it! One thing that really stuck out to me was Jesus' righteous anger in the temple and the anger over the caging of the Spirit. I had never paid attention to the part ofthestory about the doves and what that really means! I can see where we may inadvertently squash the Spirit in some of the things we may say or do. I think I need to be especially careful when it comes to youth leadership. When someone is excited to do something for God, let's be encouraging rather than being skeptical or doubting. I hope that I never have been and I hope to never be the one to cage the Spirit in anyone. Even further, do we cage the Spirit in our own lives? Do we feel that calling to respond and decide not to move? When Pastor opens the altar for prayer, do we stand in the pews, feeling the urge and thinking of what we would pray about and wait for the sign or the for our feet to just spontaneously move us on their own? Do we feel that tug-of-war inside our chest and think “If only the song was one more verse, I would have moved.” Is this a moment that Jesus would be angered by us for caging His Spirit inside us? Let's not be those in the temple that incurred the wrath that caused Jesus to flip the tables! Don't fight the Spirit; let Him move you! I am going to. "Oh come to the altar. The Father's arms are open wide." Mendi
I have talked before about forgiveness, but today I want to tell you about the conviction of the Holy Spirit. This is different from being haunted by your conscience. Humans have a conscience to know right from wrong. But Christians have something different. Christians have the Holy Spirit to guide them beyond right and wrong to be in God's will. The conviction of the Holy Spirit helps us right our paths so we can stay in relationship with God. I recently felt a very strong conviction when became upset with a Christian brother, feeling disrespected, and then later did myself what the brother had done that upset me. The Holy Spirit got a hold of me quickly that day. And He did not let me rest until I had gone to each of my brothers and sisters and asked their forgiveness. He does that. He weighs heavy on your heart until you return to God's will. If you feel this conviction, don't ignore it. He won't lead you wrong. He will lead you the direction God has for you. No matter the pain that may come in the offering to follow His will, you will find a blessing. He will forgive you as He said He would. Mendi
Earlier this year I shared one of my stories about God's work in my life (there really are so many stories of God working in my life). I would like to help you share yours! There are lots of ways to do that, but one is "Cardboard testimonies" - short phrases that tell your story from sin, pain, brokenness, and lost written on one side, to saved by the grace of God, born again, and made new when the cardboard is flipped over. We are called to share our testimonies because that is how others get to learn about God's mighty works. I know it can be scary to get up in front of the church and speak. Cardboard testimonies allow several people to share and no speaking is required! If you would like to participate, please see me. Mendi
Welcome to worship! What is worship? Is it the music? Is it the sermon? There is a contemporary song, that I happen to love singing, called "Made to Worship" (by Chris Tomlin). This song reminds us of why we were created to begin with—to be in relationship with God and worship Him. Worship is defined as "the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity;" and as a verb "to show reverence or adoration for a deity." While the definition allows us the ability to define what we do as acts of worship, God has purposed us to worship. So what happens when we go to worship? Unfortunately, we are often looking for how we are made to feel or what we can get out of it. Often we are looking for something to be given to us. But that is the complete opposite of what worship is. And there is something amazing that comes from shifting our focus. If in every thing we do, every word, every song, every thought, every prayer, every greeting of another person, when we do so in a manner of worship—reverence and adoration to God—we will be blessed. And somehow, those blessings can fill our hearts and souls! It's a glimpse of what Heaven will be like when we will "forever worship You" ("I Can Only Imagine" by Mercy Me). In preparation for worship services, whichever one you may be attending, let's set aside all thoughts of what we will get from it and offer our every thought and breath as worship to our Father God Almighty. As we are "breathing in Your grace and breathing out Your praise" ("You're Grace Finds Me" by Matt Redmon), we are experiencing a little bit of the eternal here on earth. I challenge all of us, me included, to prepare for worship each week this month and see what changes in our experiences in worship this month. Let me know what happens! (I really would love to hear your stories. In sharing your story, you are witnessing and testifying to what God has done in you and your life.) Praise be to God! ~Mendi
Have you heard the song "We Fall Down"? I've been thinking about it the past few days. "We fall down, we lay our crowns, at the feet of Jesus. The greatness of mercy and love at the feet of Jesus." Our crowns? What do we carry as crowns? In our faithful service to God our King, we often receive the praises of men. We view the strength of faith as an inspiration for our own. We give God the glory but as men, we still find the faithfulness of others as something to look up to and admire. When we honor God with our faithfulness, we store up treasures in Heaven. Are these treasures the crowns? In the face of our Lord, the King of kings, we humbly bow and remove our crowns that are not our glories to hold. We will lay those crowns at the feet of the One to whom the glory and honor belongs. Can we say "thank you" when others share their admiration and still give God all the glory? I believe it is OK. What is it the others admire? The strength and light they see within us that is God. He dwells in us and we let Him shine through us. That's what they see and what they long to have themselves. We can assure them that the only strength within comes from God and what Jesus has done in our lives. We can be grateful that we have that light to show and thank them for seeing it. We can take their praise as encouragement to keep going, keep sharing, and keep being faithful to God. Encouragement for us is glory to God.
On our trip, I asked the team to consider what sacrifice they made to be in Bullhead. On the bus ride home, those who rode with us discussed that devotion time and the idea of sacrifice. Two of the ladies remarked they did not consider their efforts a "sacrifice." They did not feel like they gave up anything and they certainly did not feel like they suffered in any way to make this trip. I have been thinking a lot about that. I don't believe that a sacrifice necessitates suffering. We do normally think of giving up something and that implies that doing so would be hard. So I did some exploring on the word "sacrifice." Wikipedia has an interesting definition to consider. My shortened version of it is "offering of something or a life to a higher purpose as an act of worship." Looking at it this way, simply obeying God's call and serving His purpose out of love and worship to Him is making ourselves an offering, or a sacrifice, in worship to Him. We did give up time and money. We laid our daily lives aside to answer His call. Even though the giving was done in joy, I believe it still fits the idea of a sacrifice or an offering. You all supported this trip with money, time in prayer, and you gave up and supported the trip with your time and talents serving in our absence. All of this is a sacrifice and I think we probably all suffered very little in these sacrifices as I do believe everyone was happy to do this. I also think, the more we step out on faith and sacrifice our lives in service to God, the more willing we are to do so and the less we feel like we "give up" or suffer in some way to do so. I also think we, as faithful servants, make little sacrifices daily if we truly stop to think about it. What has been your sacrifice recently in service to God? What has been your offering? Mendi
I often offer prayer for others. But I have had a hard time asking for myself. It is not that I don't think it will work. I don't want to draw attention to myself. I don't want to need anything. When I think about it, whoa! There's a lot of pride those statements. "Not draw attention to myself" … I am denying God the opportunity to use my for His glory. Not good. "I don't want to need anything" … Umm, how did I put myself above all others to not have needs? Why is needing help a bad thing? It's not. The need for help is how we often get drawn closer to God. It was very uncomfortable to allow the request for personal prayers come to a laying on of hands at Wednesday night Bible study. But the experience … WOW! I have not felt a love like that before. The words shared were so touching. It wasn't as uncomfortable as I thought. It was just a relief to not carry the burden alone. I know in mind, I never do. It's a different experience to feel it happen. I actually pulled an all-nighter and got a lot of work done! There were a few times I was going to give up to sleep. I took a break and felt better and started working again. Thank you all for helping me and reminding me that asking God for help is not shameful. If you are reluctant to ask because it may draw attention to you, or it may feel weak, or any other reason, please don't cheat yourself from having a very personal God Moment. He may surprise you!
Our missional calling is to share God's love with all people. Several weeks ago, we talked about Random Acts of Kindness and "business cards" were placed for your use to show that the acts you do are in the Name of God as His church here at Southview. I am not going to tell you this story as a matter of bragging or boasting in our deeds, but as a testimony of how God puts people in our path and calls us to bless them in His name. Yesterday, we were at Family Christian Bookstore for it's store closing sales. We ran into two women who were obviously just off work in their black pants and white button down shirts. They were looking at the Bibles and considering the study Bible that Stephen recently got for me. He was giving his recommendations and the ladies told us where they went to church. A short conversation as we parted ways to continue shopping. Today, we planned to go to Waffle House for lunch after services. It was quite busy, so we changed our minds and went to IHOP but drove across town to the one closer to our home. I've told you how I feel about coincidences, they are God's design. Both of those ladies were serving at IHOP and they remembered us! The one said she had decided against the Bible yesterday because it would have taken all of her tips from yesterday. She also said she had decided to return and get the Bible later because she really felt drawn to do so. God puts people in our paths for His purposes and blessings. We added to both ladies tips for the day to encourage their relationships with God through their Bible purchases. Random Acts of Kindness to show God's love.
St. Patrick used the shamrock native to Ireland to explain the Holy Trinity to the druid people who called Ireland home. God is one like the shamrock, but He has 3 parts like the three leaves that make the plant whole. God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit. We share this with our community through the entry in the St. Patrick's Day parade each year, evangelizing as we walk the parade route with our float display. The Trinity is one of the hardest concepts for our human minds to fully comprehend. Some have used water molecules as a similar Gospel tool. The water molecule of H2O is the same regardless of the state it is in —solid, liquid, or gas. God is the same whether He is Father, Son, or Spirit, yesterday, today, and tomorrow. At Christmas, we have the candy cane—red for the blood of Christ, white for the purity of Christ. The shape represents a shepherd's staff and the letter J for Jesus. The dogwood blossom at Easter has four petals in a cross shape, with the scars of the crucifixion on each petal, tinged with the blood He shed. The caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly represents dying to a life of sin, made clean in baptism, and emerging born again as a Christian. The beauty of these symbols is in their simplicity to be relatable and tell the Greatest Story Ever Told. While the legends of these symbols may be contested as to the truth of their origin as an evangelical tool, the fact that they are used as symbols relates to the teachings of Christ. He used readily recognizable symbolism in His parables to explain the nature of God and His love for us. What can you use to help share the Gospel with friends and neighbors?
Happy St. Patrick's Day ~Mendi
With it being February and the season of love with Valentine's Day coming up, I thought I would talk about something that has really made a difference in my marriage. All the cards and gifts in the stores want to help you with the language of love. But, have you ever learned your love language and your spouse's? Have you heard of The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman? My husband and I learned our individual love languages several years ago. As the title states, there are five of them—acts of service, words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, and touch. Our love languages are the things we do for each other to tell each other "I love you." Our preferences identify which language is our natural love language and so speaks the loudest to us. Learning each others love language can make a difference in your marriage. It may be a little tough at first learning to speak in your spouse's language if it is different from your own. But in the long run, it will make communication better and help each other feel very secure in the relationship. I challenge you this Valentine's Day to discover your love languages, so I will have the quizzes at the Valentine's Banquet. I hope you enjoy learning a little more about each other that can help strengthen your relationship.
Happy Valentine's Day! ~Mendi
I have a friend that asked for advice on how to not be as bothered by the thought of seeking someone to share his life with. I have in the past felt such a deep loneliness and longing for someone to share this life with. But, I read a meme (one of the images with statements printed on them that often fill our Facebook feeds) a long time ago, that has stuck with me and has often been the advice I have offered others. "A woman's heart should be so lost in God that a man needs to seek Him to find her." I believe we can reverse the gendered words and the point of that message is for all of us. I believe we need to seek the things of God and getting to know who we are in relationship with God and in doing so, our worldly lives will sort themselves out when we make this switch of focus to outside of the world. I have experienced my marriage improving drastically when we started focusing on God, studying and serving Him. The other things of life just pale as priority in comparison. I am going to look to strengthen my relationship with my God and further understanding of His will in the lives of me and my family this year. Will you join me in dedicating time to this for 2017 beyond just our the Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings? Maybe in doing this, we can find the passion for Him that will lead our church and our community in a revival. Maybe others will come to seek Him and find us as a church family too.
It's the most -busy- time of the year! All the shopping, creating, and parties can really fill the schedule. Add these things to normal work and school and extra-curricular activities and the calendar is really booked! I try very hard to make sure there is time to relax and focus on family and the relationships that are most important. Don't forget to take time out and relax this Christmas season. The busyness reminds me of Mary and Martha. When Jesus visited, Martha was set about to chores and making the meal and did not take the time to just sit and fellowship with her Lord. Mary, on the other hand, knew the value of such time taken to just relax and be in the presence of the Lord. Let's be Mary this Christmas. Take the moments to just rest and connect.
God Bless you and Merry Christmas!
As most of you know, I suffer with chronic migraines. I have a headache at some point every single day. It has been very difficult to identify what causes them because all efforts to isolate a common trigger have been unsuccessful. It's almost never the same. It seems like everything triggers them. It's frustrating, to say the least. I have had little trust in modern medicine's ability to be able to help. I give up on neurologists and try something new every year it seems. I have trusted my path to God and followed Him each step in the ministries He has called me to and I trust Him as the God of my family. But, a prayer I heard recently said just prior to this last procedure for my headaches truly convicted me. The one praying on this occasion asked God to bring the healing that I have "already claimed." Truthfully, looking in my heart, I have not claimed this. I have trusted God with so much, but not with this. And I only realized it in that moment because I have not claimed His healing for myself. I have lost hope at times as I have grown weary from this daily fight. I want to believe. I want to be healed. But when those words were said, I knew in my heart, I have lost faith in this trial. How can I trust God so much with my life's path and my family and not have faith in Him as my Healer? I honestly don't know why this is. I still don't know as I have tried to search my heart for a week now. I want to claim His healing. I want to be that faithful. Will you please pray this for me? Will you pray that I can find the faith that I am lacking in this area?
With great humility, your servant,
This month may be sounding like a Paul Harvey monologue because I want to share with you "the rest of the story." I know that God called me to be a counselor and that was the plan He had for my life. However, I am not certain I know His whole plan. There have been times when I have questioned if I am still within His will for my life or if I started on a path of my own creation and missed a turn He had for me. The times when that happens, I am bothered by the thoughts of being out of His will. I hear from others in my path that I'm not cut out for this or I'm doing it all wrong or other comments that plant a seed of doubt. I pray for guidance and seek to know His plan more clearly. That happened again recently. Several things happened that caused doubt that maybe this was no longer His plan for me. Within a week of the doubt and fear that I missed the turn He had on my path, was the unexpected blessing of financial support for my textbooks. I did not apply for a scholarship or a grant. I had no notification of a gift from a particular source or having earned it by virtue of being an alumni with my previous degree. But I opened my school mail and was notified of a voucher in the bookstore. Sure enough, that voucher was truly there! $800 toward my textbooks. This is no minor gift to me. 5 of my next 6 classes worth of textbooks without any out of pocket for me. But more importantly, this was God telling me "Yes ma'am. Keep going." That is the true blessing. To know that I am still following the path He has laid out and I am in His will. That’s the peace and joy in my heart that keeps me going. And that is the rest of the story from my praise report this morning. The doubting Thomas in me found peace in the Hand stretched out for proof. I pray you find His path for you and can be as certain.
Vacation Bible School was amazing! For the first time we had a Youth VBS where middle and high school students participated in crafts, Bible Study, pigs presenting the Bible story, science, and praise and worship! I had a blast and I think some of them did too. There were 12 students that came through the VBS! We also got to hang out with some of the girls from teen Challenge.
The Youth Sunday School roundtable has started. Thank you Ginger, Mike, Karen, and Pastor Warren for joining us on the different days you did to share your stories and your thoughts with the youth. I look for-ward to more discussions about scripture and how it applies in the lives of the youth. Please feel free to join us when you can. You don’t have to join us permanently.
These and others are some significant changes that are coming to the youth program, in an effort to further the reach and the relationships. Please pray for us and with us and we try something new. May God bless the efforts and be in the midst of the lives of our youth.
Thank you for all of your support!
James 2:13 is my favorite verse. "Judgement is without mercy for the one who shows no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgement." Mercy, grace, forgiveness… it triumphs! Triumphs is such a magnificent phrasing. If we do not show mercy, on our day of judgement, there will be no mercy for us. Mercy is to show forgiveness even when it is not earned. It is a hard thing to forgive someone that has hurt you. But what does forgiveness me for the one who shows it. It has reward in this world even before the day of judgement. Forgiveness given means freedom and peace from resentment. It means that pain is no longer going to control your life. It means moving on from the past. It can be a whole new relationship between you and God when you forgive another. God helps us understand His true nature when we behave more like Him. "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." When we follow His example, He rewards that faithfulness. When I face Him at judgement, what will be my reward? Will I hear the words, "Well done, my good and faithful servant?" Oh, that I would! That is the reward my heart longs for! Lord, help me to forgive and recognize where I still need to forgive. Thank you for showing me the value in forgiving. For by this I have been set free from suffering.
Easter is a time to reflect on the sacrifice Jesus made to redeem us from our sins and allow us the opportunity for eternal life. I remember watching The Passion of the Christ in theaters and being overjoyed leaving cheering about how He walked away from that grave!
He walked away, From an empty grave
He walked away, When the price was paid
Victory was won, By God’s only Son
On that first Easter Day
When Christ walked away!
There is something about that image that just gives me so much joy! How can He not be everything I need when He did everything I cannot do? Oh if I were Mary who went to the tomb that morning and found it empty! I can imagine the overwhelming joy to realize He is alive! I can imagine it, because I know it today. He is alive! Each month I share a God Moment that is a small revelation of His work as a living God in my life. How have you come to know Him as the Risen Savior?
The youth performed Random Acts of Kindness. Armed with $5 and a note card reporting the gift was from Southview Youth, the teens showed a few people in Roanoke that God and Southview loved them. It was a cold rain but we decided to buy several bunches of mixed flowers and separate the stems to hand out. Fayth gave one to a girl who appeared to be middle school aged and told her she was beautiful. Her smile was so big and her mother remarked at how sweet the gesture was. As they walked away looking at the card, mom was overheard saying, “That's where you used to go to preschool.” The boys still had several flowers to give away and we decided to go into a small hair salon. They gave a flower to every woman in the room—employees and customers. The gifts were a sweet surprise and put smiles on each face. The teens said how much fun they had and it was an awesome afternoon. I can't wait to see what idea they have next time on how to share God's love with random people in our community. Those were some of the sweetest smiles I have ever seen—on the teens and the people they gave flowers to.
Have you ever had someone do something kind for you that you had no idea why? It gives you a sense that there are still good people in the world. Have you ever offered the same to others? Some random act of kindness - Pay a toll for the one behind you; pay at the drive through for someone behind you; offer a meal to a homeless person on the corner; offer the change to the person in front of you a little short for their groceries… Countless ways little acts can show the world God is as present as ever. Take a look around you for those little acts that are opportunities to show God's love to His children. You never know who may not know God until they meet Him in your act of kindness. How will you share God's love this month?
New Year, new commitments. Father God, this is my prayer for 2016. I will seek each day to be in Your will and follow You as You would have me to go. Help me to see the needs of my neighbors. Help me to use my hands for Your purpose. Help me to move my feet where You lead me. Help me to keep my mind free from the world's persuasions. Help me to keep my heart open and longing for You. I will love You, Lord with all my heart and seek to please You in all my days. As I put my mind in Your Word, help me to keep the evil one away. Get thee behind me Satan! Forgive me Lord, for the sins I've committed. Not a New Year's resolution as the world would have it to be. But a resolve to be more like my God in each day He gives me to breathe. Thank You Lord for Your mercy and grace, for giving me this new year, to worship and praise. Amen
Have you read John Wesley's directions for singing in the hymnal? I always wondered why United Methodists do not skip verses in the hymns like other denominations do. John Wesley directed that they be sung "exactly as they are printed here," without alteration or amendment. He even says to unlearn it quickly if you learned the song a different way!
He also directed for everyone to sing. "See that you join the congregation as frequently as you can. Let not a slight degree of weakness or weariness hinder you. If it is a cross to you, take it up and you will find a blessing." To join in and sing, no matter your skill level is to follow the direction of John Wesley and to find blessing in the unity of the Spirit. Sing all of you brothers and sisters!
And finally, "Have an eye to God in every word you sing. Aim to pleasing Him more than yourself, or any other creature." He is our true audience and the only one whose approval truly matters.
So as the hymns and songs are played each week, lift up your hearts, and lift up your voices. Sing unto the Lord and find blessing in doing so.
We as a country celebrate Thanksgiving in November. Thanks given to whom? To God. Giving thanks - we express things for which we are grateful. I often have to help clients develop an “attitude of gratitude,” as the saying goes. It is so very important that we are taught to be grateful in our prayers. It is so hard to be cynical and unloving when you are focused on thankfulness. In order to develop such an attitude, people make gratitude lists. There is even a social media challenge that occurs every November to state something for which you are grateful each day of November leading to Thanksgiving Day. I would like to challenge the congregation to do this. Make a gratitude list throughout the month. Each day, read the whole list so far and add a new item. I wonder how that might affect us this Thanksgiving...
It's hard sometimes to keep inviting someone new to come to church with you when you are turned down so many times. Keep doing it. Even if that person never comes, another may overhear the invitation and be curious. It's hard to know God's plan. But we do know He never gave up on us. Even to a final breath, He will keep inviting His children to come to Him. Following His example, we too should keep extending our invitations.
Be inviting! Be loving! Be persistent! He is.
I don’t know why I am still amazed by it, but more Sundays than not the music is so closely related to the message or a prayer within the service. I know I have minimal information regarding these when I select the songs and Jayne and Rodney work on music further in advance than I do. When we all hear the messages from song and and prayers and scripture and message in the services, that is the Holy Spirit moving in the life of this church bringing us the full message He would have for each of us to hear each week. God has some-thing to say to us all and He wants to show Himself to us. Even in seemingly small ways, He gives us miracles to help us know Him more. God is with us here at Southview!
I mentioned it in the report on the youth trip, but I am just in awe of how open and welcoming our kids are! On the youth trip, the first meal in the cafeteria, our small group sat by ourselves on one side of the room. By the end of the weekend, we were surrounded by youth from all the other churches and filled a table with people who had joined our kids for the meal. They asked others to join them to make a volleyball team. They hung out with others for the recreational activities and the fireworks and others intermixed with our group in seating for the worship sessions. Especially at the worship sessions, there were no other groups that mixed like ours did. It was truly amazing seeing these young teens showing the Spirit of Love by being so welcoming of others they had never met before. I see God’s Spirit shine through the youth more and more each time we go to events like these!
What amazing things God has done! The Youth leading the service for Youth Sunday showed the work God is doing in their lives, and I may be biased, but I was impressed! Several overcame great fears in order to lead and share their talents! The willingness to step beyond their comfort zones in the service of the Lord is exactly what God calls us to do, especially when He calls us to mission work. Can you recall a time when you stepped out on faith and followed His path? It gets easier each time because we see how He is with us and shows how He will always be there when we follow Him. Pray for our youth as they step out on these new ventures. Pray they can be bold and courageous as the minister in God’s name. And we will pray for you in the same way!
What is coincidence? Is it when someone at work is not sure where they need to go to find an office and your boss asks you to give directions? But when I tried to give the directions, it just got so confused, that I offered to drive my coworker to that office. I also asked to stay and observe the proceedings for training purposes. When we arrived, the coworker said he would have known exactly where to go if it had been called by the name of the building in which it is housed. Was this a waste of my time? While there, I found someone I knew a long time ago who was in a desperate situation and needed some advice and lots of prayers. What seemed to be waste of time and effort turned out to be what put me in the path of someone who could use some prayer and encouragement. Even still, I had to an-swer the call once it all came together and I was there. I struggled for several minutes. I thought it might be awkward or embarrassing for my friend. I followed God's tugging on my heart and went to her and prayed for the situation and my friend. What is coincidence? People unknowingly falling into God's plan at His appointed time and His appointed place and figuring out once they get there that it was His design all along. Have you had an experi-ence where your path coincided with God's will? That is the true nature of coincidence.
Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6
We have all heard the statistics about youth that have grown up in the church and the staggering numbers who do not continue in church once they have left home. We have several youth in our church family who do not fit this mold. And we are so proud of them! It can be hard when we see youth who do stop attending church wherever they are. Have faith! If we have done God's work as parents, we have planted the seeds. I was recently told about one youth's struggle in his relationship with God since he left home. He did stop attending church and was angry. But his heart had not strayed too far. He recognized God tugging on his heart again and has felt his relationship with God restored. It was an amazing conversation to hear a young man recognize this and testify to it. We have some amazing parents and young people in our church family. They are bringing God great glory in their life testimonies!