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The Quiet Center

Dream of the Abandoned Chair

Dream of the Abandoned Chair (Photo credit: garlandcannon)

We sang this beautiful song during our morning church service.  The words are reflective and personal.  With any good lyrics, I find myself searching deep within and relating so well with each line.  The title is simply, “Come and find the quiet center” and invites all to pause and reflect.  In stepping away from the noise and chaos so often associated with our busy lives – I love the times I can quietly retreat and find my ‘center’ – that place reserved for God alone.  A place where He is my focus and steadiness in a world gone mad.  In the second and third verse (which are not on the video) there is a richness of word pictures.  I especially love how ‘silence is a friend who claims us, cools the heat and slows the pace’.  And ‘there’s a place for deepest dreaming, there’s a time for heart to care, in the Spirit’s lively scheming there is always room to spare!’

 

Do you have a quiet center?  A place of reflection?  A refuge in time of  the great storms in your life?  Take a minute today and reflect on these beautiful words – you will be blessed!

 

 

 

God Bless

 

 

by Shirley Erena Murray

 

1 Come and find the quiet center
in the crowded life we lead,
find the room for hope to enter,
find the frame where we are freed:
clear the chaos and the clutter,
clear our eyes, that we can see
all the things that really matter,
be at peace, and simply be.
2 Silence is a friend who claims us,
cools the heat and slows the pace,
God it is who speaks and names us,
knows our being, touches base,
making space within our thinking,
lifting shades to show the sun,
raising courage when we’re shrinking,
finding scope for faith begun.
3 In the Spirit let us travel,
open to each other’s pain,
let our loves and fears unravel,
celebrate the space we gain:
there’s a place for deepest dreaming,
there’s a time for heart to care,
in the Spirit’s lively scheming
there is always room to spare!

 

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Forever Reign

Had a great service today with several youth vocal band numbers at the Fairwood United Methodist Church this morning. It is always fun to see young people singing and taking part in leading a service. But it was their version of this next song that really spoke to me. Had to share it with you today.

Enjoy the rest of your Sunday!

God Bless

You are good, You are good
When there’s nothing good in me
You are love, You are love
On display for all to see
You are light, You are light
When the darkness closes in
You are hope, You are hope
You have covered all my sin

You are peace, You are peace
When my fear is crippling
You are true, You are true
Even in my wandering
You are joy, You are joy
You’re the reason that I sing
You are life, You are life,
In You death has lost its sting

Oh, I’m running to Your arms,
I’m running to Your arms
The riches of Your love
Will always be enough
Nothing compares to Your embrace
Light of the world forever reign

You are more, You are more
Than my words will ever say
You are Lord, You are Lord
All creation will proclaim
You are here, You are here
In Your presence I’m made whole
You are God, You are God
Of all else I’m letting go

Oh, I’m running to Your arms
I’m running to Your arms
The riches of Your love
Will always be enough
Nothing compares to Your embrace
Light of the world forever reign

My heart will sing
no other Name
Jesus, Jesus

Oh, I’m running to Your arms
I’m running to Your arms
The riches of Your love
Will always be enough
Nothing compares to Your embrace
Light of the world forever reign

We Are More Alike Than We Think

United Methodist Church, in

United Methodist Church, in (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Greg and I have had the privilege lately of visiting churches on Sunday mornings here in the Pacific Northwest.  We have been open to trying other denominations and have listened and taken everything in with no judgement or bias (well…maybe a little bias) and have appreciated things new and unfamiliar to us.

In our search we have met some really wonderful people, seen and heard some great music and teaching ministries. The most impressive have been the people in these different denominations.  Deep down inside I’m forced to admit, that I expected people who didn’t think and believe exactly like me to be unfriendly, hostile, pushy and illiterate, lacking depth and reasoning skills.  Pretty dumb.  But the teachings of childhood are hard to shake and once we get a preconceived idea in our head – it is very hard to change it.

As Greg and I have journeyed through our denomination and seen many changes happening in the music, it has been both good and bad for us.  Good in that our kids really enjoyed the progressive trend toward all things modern and new and bad for us in that some of it is just too much the same, some too hard to follow, some too loud etc.  We are somewhere between modern and 20 years ago – and to be honest the music of 15 years ago still suits us best.  Take away choir and orchestra music of our denomination and you’re left with just a worship band with not much variety.

So we have explored music of the more traditional denominations that we thought we would NEVER be interested in.  The Presbyterian and Methodist being among our favorite choices so far – for their depth of teaching, variety of music and beauty of the service.  I was never familiar with a more liturgical service (thought it was only in the Catholic church) had been to a Lutheran service once or twice where my Dad is the organist and was convinced that it was not for me.  But there is a beauty to the order and planning of every scripture reading – hymn chosen and scripture song sung for the message.

Nothing can compare to the pipe organ and huge choir at 1st Presbyterian Church in Bellevue.  The pastor is very interesting, uses humor and deep teaching to make his points clear – and honestly, it’s the best music in “church” I’ve ever heard.

But proximity is very important if hoping to become involved – and we are a couple of miles from Fairwood Community United Methodist Church where I visited yesterday.  I’ve always been curious because this is the lovely little church that I rent twice a year to have my recitals with my students.  I’m not sure what I expected – but it was certainly different (in a good way) than what I thought it would be.  The people were so friendly – had two people engage with me (I was late) before I even got into the sanctuary while standing in the foyer while the choir and teenagers being confirmed were on the platform singing an opening number.  They treated me like I was already one of them.  Then I found my seat toward the back and a nice older man behind me helped me as I stumbled a few times, wondering what book they were singing from.  There were 6 eighth graders that had been confirmed in the earlier service and were a part of the beginning part of the service that I was in – with introductions and explanation to the younger children and adults (like me unfamiliar with confirmation) of what was being done.

The pastor of this church is a woman.  I did not know how I would feel about this.  But my concerns were quickly diminished when I heard her speak and saw her with the children.  She uses humor and relevant topics to convey her point – yesterday she spoke on “Heroes” and used “The Hunger Games” as her premise.  It was relevant and interesting.  I looked around and saw many people just like me.  The same needs, concerns and place in life.  Many have never walked the road in ministry that we have – or ever will – they will never know what we have experienced in another denomination – never see things around the country and here in our own city inside a different type of church – and yet – I realized this:  we are more alike than we think.

I’m not sure where our journey will ultimately end – but in the meantime, I am reassured that God is not just restricted to one denomination.  He is everywhere – relevant to those who seek Him.  Ever present in our songs of worship, our traditional choir anthems and in our prayers offered up in reverence.  We have good friends from the Tri-Cities area who have been pastors like us in our denomination and have found themselves feeling quite at home in the Methodist Church.

When was the last time you visited something different from what you’re used to and were forced to removed the box where your God exists for you?  When was the last time you were really open?  Will it surprise you to see some people from other denominations in heaven with you?  We are the ones who put people in denominations and categories of “spiritual” and “non-spiritual” – God does not.  He just sees the heart.

Lord help me to be open to things that are different.  Help me to see people the way you see them.  Help me to engage in a way that I am always open to your leading.  Amen.

God Bless

Restless

I came across this beautiful worship song on Spotify – and did a search and found this great interview and live performance by the song writers and performers of the song.

We all get restless – what a great message!

When was the last time you felt restless – what was God teaching you during that time?

Enjoy and God Bless!

You dwell in the songs that we are singing
Rising to the Heavens, rising to Your heart, Your heart
Our praises filling up the spaces
In between and frailty and everything You are
You are the keeper of my heart

And I’m restless, I’m restless
‘Til I rest in You, ’til I rest in You
I’m restless, I’m restless
‘Til I rest in You, ’til I rest in You
Oh God, I wanna rest in You

Oh, speak now for my soul is listening
Say that You have saved me, whisper in the dark
‘Cause I know You’re more than my salvation
Without You I am hopeless, tell me who You are
You are the keeper of my heart
You are the keeper of my heart

And I’m restless, I’m restless
‘Til I rest in You, ’til I rest in You
I’m restless, I’m restless
‘Til I rest in You, ’til I rest in You
I wanna rest in You

Still my heart hold me close
Let me hear a still small voice
Let it grow, let it rise
Into a shout, into a cry

Still my heart hold me close
Let me hear a still small voice
Let it grow, let it rise

Into a shout, into a cry

And I’m restless, I’m restless
‘Til I rest in You, let me rest in You
I’m restless, so restless
‘Til I rest in You, ’til I rest in You
Oh God, I will rest in You

One Thing Remains

We sang this song yesterday in our worship service – led by our new music minster, Ben Sorte.  The song is from “Jesus Culture” and it’s a great one. The lyrics have been with me from then until now and just had to share this song with you.  The amazing grace of Jesus that never runs out and never gives up on me.

I stood there – letting the words and music pour over me.  It is a mind-blowing concept of perpetual grace going on and on and on.  I don’t think we humans can grasp that kind of love – I don’t think I will ever be able to wrap my mind around it.  The things I’ve done – or ever will do are covered in a limitless amount of payment that I neither deserve or can repay.  It’s a childhood teaching – and something I had heard my whole life – and if I ever get to the point where hearing about His grace is just “ordinary” or “old news” then I have lost something in the true beauty and mystery of it all.  I don’t think I really understand grace.  If it were up to me – there would be a time limit – an expiration date for all the stupid people who keep doing stupid things.  But I’m not God.  Instead – His is without time – there in abundance for those who cry out to Him.  Willing and able to be that constant thing – remaining

in our lives.

Are you ever afraid that His grace will run out?  That He will give up on you?  I encourage you to listen to this song today.  No matter what you’re going through today – I trust that you will remember His amazing grace.   When all else in your life fails – His one thing will always remain.

Enjoy and God Bless

A New Kind Of Peace… (Repost)

Description unavailable

Image by Griffin Matthews via Flickr

From my blog 2 years ago – August 31, 2009

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”  John 14:27

Do you ever feel troubled?  Unsettled.  You don’t know why.  You just do.  I believe that we all feel this way from time to time.  A deep peace comes from God.  And from knowing God.  If He says – “don’t be afraid” then you can trust in His words.  And He gives peace “not as the world would give” but a lasting deep peace that comes from another place entirely than any outward circumstances.  You see “peace” from the world may mean no struggle in finances – no strife in the office or at home – seemingly peaceful situations that could “lull” you to sleep – or even keep you “off your guard”.  No trouble sometimes can be a precursor to a “wake up” call.  And a peace “from the world” may be the wrong kind of comfort – a temporary “feel good” moment not based in reality and may be just an illusion.

I believe that the peace Jesus talks about here is an eternal peace even in the midst of pain, hurt or confusion.  Or even just a topsy turvy schedule where our world seems out of whack.  The knowing that we have peace and security – despite the things going on around us.  Trusting in something you can’t see.  The invisible arms that reach for you – supporting you through some of the toughest days of your life.  Peace that has no explanation in the natural.  No reason for being there.  And yet it is.

I know that I cannot explain God’s peace in my life.  But I do know that it was there in great supply for me – in some of my darkest hours wrestling with pain and hurt.  I just knew it would be okay.  I would be okay.  The situation  – though far from healed – is in His hands and that gives me great comfort and peace.  I can let it go – and feel good about it.  That’s real peace.

What are you carrying around today that you need to have some peace?  What do you need to let go of?  Do you trust in another kind of peace to sustain you – the wrong kind of people – and the wrong kind of circumstances that seem like the real thing?  I encourage you to let go of what would hold you back in finding God’s real peace. Ask Him to fill you with another kind of peace – another kind of meaning to your life that’s real and lasting.

Do it now.  Do it today.

I am praying for you

God Bless

Where There Is Faith

I came across this song yesterday when looking through some old “4Him” songs on youtube.  Someone put together a beautiful slide show with this song and I wanted to share it with you.  This song has always moved me – the lyrics are amazing – and I find myself inspired by them.  It is amazing the love of our Lord Jesus – and the faith that it instills in me.

On an interesting side-note:  I learned yesterday that a friend and former co-worker from Renton Christian School, Melodee St. Clair – lost her 24-year-old son a few days ago.  Her daughter, Chelsea is also a former student of mine years ago when she was in junior high.  I had already chosen this song and written a few notes about it.  Even more I am convinced that this song is one of those ‘perfect timing’ moments that is more than coincidence.

There are times in our lives where having simple faith is hard.  It writes well and sounds good – but if we’re honest – faith is sometimes just – faith.  You can’t see it – or touch it – and sometimes you can’t even feel it.  It just simply – is.  The longer I live and see God’s hand on my life and in my shortcomings and circumstances – I am more convinced than ever that this simple faith – is enough.  It is our simple trust and dependence on God – that makes Him smile.  And I know that it is He who sustains me – watches over me and love me unconditionally.  “It is a peace like a child sleeping…”  and much, much more.

I pray you will enjoy the following video as much as I did – and that it will build up  your faith today.

And for Melodee St. Clair, Chelsea and the rest of your family – this is for you.

God Bless

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