What Do You See Outside YOUR Open Window Today?

What Do You See Outside YOUR Open Window Today?
Remember: "When God closes a door, He always opens a window!" You never know what might be out there waiting for you!

Monday, April 29, 2019

Taking a little break -- Updated

UPDATE: 4/30/2019, My brother Russell passed away into his eternal home early this morning.  Rest in peace, Russell Tedlie Mursch,  October 6, 1943-April 30, 2019. 

Dear Friends,
 You may have noticed that I haven't posted anything in a little while. I fully intended to, but last week we had a family emergency, and that kind of changed things.  Most of you are probably aware that my brother has been battling leukemia for the past year, and Thursday afternoon we received a call that he was being sent home from the hospital (after almost 2 weeks in there with pneumonia, which I was unaware of), and would be going on Hospice care at home. Since I had not seen my brother since last summer, I knew I needed to go as soon as possible.

So my sister came and joined me and my son and we loaded up the car and headed to Georgia (from Florida) early Friday morning. Thankfully, my son was the driver by choice.  Our spouses all stayed home to take care of things at home since this was a quick trip without much time to make plans.

We were so thankful to arrive safely Friday evening after a very long arduous trip through Friday rush hour traffic through Atlanta. Anyone who has been there understands what that is like!

I was especially thankful that our other brother stayed and waited for us to arrive so that we four siblings could all be together again one more time.  Then he had to head back home to North Carolina that night.

It was a bittersweet time together, but oh, so special, and my brother was so very thankful to have us come all that way.  He said he felt kind of guilty that we made that long trip to see him because he was supposed to be so sick, and yet he said he didn't feel quite so bad after all! We assured him that we were quite happy to be there and that we were also glad that he didn't feel so bad, and he certainly shouldn't feel guilty!  In spite of a lot of discomfort and pain, he managed to stay positive and genuinely happy that we were all there.

The next day his kids and some of his grandkids also came so we could all be together again.

I know we don't always like to look at pictures of sick people, especially when we may not even know them, but what I wanted to share was the sweetness of this time together.  Some of these people above are step-children and step-grandchildren...but they are all there to show love and respect and to help in any way possible.  One of the young men above is the boyfriend of my brother's daughter, and he spent the whole day working outside in the yard, digging up poison ivy everywhere it was growing rampantly out of control. He said he wasn't allergic to it and it didn't affect him...so he stayed after it all day long! What a kind and thoughtful thing to do, as it was growing in places where people would need to walk and get in and out of cars, etc., so this was a big deal.  The Step-son and daughter in law brought food for everyone, enough to feed all of us for two days and then some...such a blessing! The others helped with lifting, moving, running errands, and even entertaining us all....it was a wonderful time with a beautiful family...some of whom I had never met yet because they are newly added to the family!

If you are on my Facebook, you have already seen most of these pictures. But for those of you who aren't, I wanted to share a few pictures of things in and around my brother's home that I enjoyed seeing:

These next few pictures are of the boat that my brother was building before he got sick. Yes, he literally built the boat from blueprints that he ordered...it is amazing (and actually it isn't the first boat he has built, but I don't have pictures of the others).  It is almost finished, but sadly he won't be able to finish it and christen it with a name and sail away in it.  We asked him what he would like to name it and he said it wasn't going to be up to him, but to whomever took over finishing it and using it.



(My other brother and my son, looking things over )

This is the Elk head of the huge elk he killed in Idaho many many years ago.  I loved to hear him tell the story of how he managed to get that elk head and all the meat down the side of a mountain to get it back home. It was quite a tale!!! And he and his family enjoyed the meat for quite some time. 

These are just a few things in his house that he mentioned to me that he either built or liked and had a story to them... This is a bench made from an interesting slab of wood that he found in our father's workshop years ago...

This antique cherry drop leaf table was in our old farm home where I was born, and my mother told my brother that he christened it with his pablum when he was a baby!!

My brother built this beautiful bed:

And he said he found this old antique desk chair somewhere, and it was a mess and ready for the trash heap, but he took it and restored and refinished it and he said he absolutely loved this old chair:


I loved seeing this painting of a duck in his office...because our father painted this for him...

And this painting my father also painted many, many years ago, and it always hung in the living room of our home where I grew up. I was so happy to see it again here in my brother's house. Made me feel close to "home" again.

These lovely bearded irises were growing all around the front of the house...they were so pretty:


And I loved this front porch, where several of us gathered and sat and visited and laughed and enjoyed being together...


When we left his home Saturday evening we knew it would be the last time we would see my brother on this earth. We said our farewells, but only until we gather together in heaven again someday. He mentioned that he could envision our mother and dad waiting for him "out there, somewhere beyond those trees..."  (this was the view from his bed in their lovely sunroom)


This beautiful sunset as we drove out of his neighborhood and back to our hotel reminded me of the song: "Beyond the Sunset"






"Beyond the sunset
Oh, blissful morning
When with our Savior
Heaven's begun
Earth's toiling ended
Oh, glorious dawning
Beyond the sunset
When day is done
(Spoken)
Beyond the sunset
No clouds will gather
No storms will threaten
No fears annoy
Oh, day of gladness
Oh, day unending
Beyond the sunset
Eternal joy
Beyond the sunset
Oh, glad reunion
With our dear loved ones
Who've gone before
In that fair homeland
We'll know no parting
Beyond the sunset
Forever more"


The next morning we headed back home. Thankfully we arrived safely after another long day, but without all of the traffic of the previous trip.  Not long after I got home, my other brother called to say that he had heard from our brother's wife that Hospice had been there to check on him, and they believe that he is in a rapid decline and probably won't last the week.  So, yes, we are very thankful that we went when we did and that our brother was still alert enough to enjoy our visit and communicate some special things with us, and vice versa. 

Because of the expectations of these next days and weeks, I will probably not be spending much time blogging. I know many of you have already been praying for our family, and I truly, truly appreciate it.  I will let you know as I can when things happen...but I just didn't want you to wonder what happened to me if you don't hear from me for awhile.

God bless you all...and hug your families close.  Take care of any "issues" that could possibly be between you while you can.  None of us know when our day will come that we are called to our heavenly home...so don't put off til tomorrow what needs to be done now!   And most importantly, be sure of your relationship with Christ! There is nothing more important than this! 


Monday, April 22, 2019

Post Easter Thoughts and Notes

Happy Easter Monday...can you imagine what a glorious day this was back in Jesus' day?  The day AFTER the Resurrection?  Can you imagine the excitement rippling through the disciples' community network...they didn't have social media back then, but they sure had ways of getting the message around...and look what we have today...God's Word The Bible and the New Testament...we would not have The New Testament if Easter had never happened!  We would not have our churches and Christian schools, ministers, missionaries...we would still be lost in our sins...Oh, my goodness! What a difference Three Days Make! 

I do not have any sermon notes from our church service yesterday, as our "sermon" was in song...our choir performed the Easter Cantata, "I Will Embrace the Cross".  I cannot find any videos of these wonderful songs, but here is a link to the publisher and there is an "audio preview" on this site where you can actually listen to the songs.  If you want to sit and listen to the songs, there it is. (You have to click on each song to hear it).  I wish someone would have recorded our program, as it was so meaningful and each song is a part of the story of Jesus' journey through Jerusalem and to the cross.  Here is a picture of our choir singing. (Actually listening to the narrator at that point, hence we are not looking at the director!) 

After our Easter services we went home to prepare dinner for our family. Our daughter in law unfortunately had to work all day, and so we waited until supper time to have our Easter dinner. Thankfully, that gave me more time to cook after church.  We had a great time together...
 (I apologize if you've already seen all these pictures on my facebook page, but not everyone is a "fan" of facebook, so here we go...)

I also had time to bake this "Happy Face Easter Cake"...it turned out pretty good for not knowing what I was doing but just kind of "winging it".  Green dyed coconut makes pretty good Easter Grass for the Jelly Beans on top of the cream cheese frosting on a delicious lemon cake!

  We are not wearing our Easter finery here...this was later in the day we were very relaxed and casual...
 We enjoyed ham, deviled eggs, scalloped potatoes, broccoli, and corn on the cob, which was still cooking when this picture was taken...oh, and of course, "Hawaiian Rolls"...

And yes, our family has a tradition of finding the hidden Easter Baskets somewhere in the house...we are running out of good hiding places...they are finding them too quickly...well at least Scott did...he found his right off and I thought it was so well hidden...

Rose and Benton had to search a little longer, but they finally found theirs too.

It was a lovely evening.  So very thankful for our family and our church family too.

Again, I think..what would our lives be like without Jesus in our lives? There would be no "church family"...no Easter music...no Christmas...no salvation from our sins...none of the wonderful sacred music that we enjoy so much every week at church and in between...no Christian charity, ministries, hospitals...wow...if Jesus had never come to earth...if Jesus had never died on Calvary...where would we be? Have you ever thought of this?  I supposed we'd all be like the rest of the heathen world...following after false religions and gods...or not knowing any kind of god at all. We'd be lost. Our lives would be dark and sad and filled with sorrows with no hope.

Thanks to Calvary...we have hope of life eternal...we have salvation from our sins...we have life and love and faith to carry us through all of life's trials.

Jesus said to Martha in John 11:25-26

"I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.
And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die...."

Hallelujah for this hope that we have in Christ Jesus, all because of Easter!

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Death is Swallowed Up in Victory! (Repost)


Click here for The Easter Song,sung by the 2nd Chapter of Acts

Easter Song
Hear the bells ringing
They're singing that you can be born again
Hear the bells ringing
They're singing Christ is risen from the dead
The angel up on the tombstone
Said He has risen, just as He said
Quickly now, go tell his disciples
That Jesus Christ is no longer dead
Joy to the world, He has risen, hallelujah
He's risen, hallelujah
He's risen, hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hear the bells ringing
They're singing that you can be healed right now
Hear the bells ringing, they're singing
Christ, He will reveal it now
The angels, they all surround us
And they are ministering Jesus' power
Quickly now, reach out and receive it
For this could be your glorious hour
Joy to the world, He has risen, hallelujah
He's risen, hallelujah
He's risen, hallelujah
Hallelujah!

Reposted from Easter Day, 2010...



I wonder how many of you sang the familiar hymn, "Christ the Lord Is Risen Today...Alleluia!" at your Easter service this morning.  I know I did, and I cherished every word and phrase of this beloved song.  It tells the whole story of Christ's resurrection... I don't think Charles Wesley will mind if I reprint the words here for you to ponder:

"Christ the Lord is risen today, Alleluia!
Sons of men and angels say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heavens, and earth reply, Alleluia!

Love's redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won; Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids Him rise, Alleluia!
Christ has opened Paradise. Alleluia!

Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
Where,O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Dying once, He all doth save, Allleluia!
Where's thy victory, O grave? Alleluia!

Soar we now where Christ has led, Alleluia!
Following our exalted Head, Alleluia!
Made like Him, like Him we rise; Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies.  Alleluia!"


I will borrow the words to another familiar hymn to further my point today:

"Death cannot keep his prey, Jesus, my Saviour! 
He tore the bars away, Jesus, my Lord!
Up from the grave He arose,
With a mighty triumph o'er His foes;
He arose a victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever with His saints to reign!
He arose! He arose!
Hallelujah! Christ arose!"
(Christ Arose, by Robert Lowry, 1826-1899)

In reciting these words for you above, I am stating my battle cry..."Christ the Lord is Risen Today"..."Where, O death, is now thy sting? Where's thy victory, O grave?"...and  "Death cannot keep his prey...Jesus, my Saviour...He tore the bars away...Jesus, my Lord!"......"He arose a VICTOR from the dark domain, and HE LIVES FOREVER WITH HIS SAINTS TO REIGN!"

We have a victorious Savior...and because Christ is a living Savior...we too shall overcome this life and be resurrected to life eternal.  But we don't have to wait until we die to have eternal life...That is something that starts right now...but, as our pastor taught us this morning...
"We have to die first to have a resurrection."...We have to die to self, die to the desires of this world, die to the things that hold us back from living the life God intended us to live...bad habits, fear, doubt, anger, jealousy, unforgiveness, bitterness... we need to let these unhappy feelings, memories, and unwholesome thoughts perish from our minds and hearts, and instead embrace a resurrection of love, forgiveness, hope, trust, and faith in God...and

"let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom..."
(Colossians 3:15-16)

 We have a choice...we can continue to live as though we have no hope of the resurrection...or we can embrace the resurrected life right now...by faith in our risen Saviour, Jesus Christ...Who LIVES...and is preparing a place for you and me right now so that we can be with Him forever in Paradise...(see John 14: 1-6)

I've already made my choice...what about you???

Saturday, April 20, 2019

What Easter Means To Me - Updated from Easter 2014

4/20/2019: I's been FIVE years since I originally wrote this post for Easter.  But the message is still the same five years later, and I expect it will always be this way...the closer I get to heaven...the more excited I get...because of what Jesus did for us on Calvary...but especially because of what He did for us on Easter morning...When He came out of the tomb...victorious over death, and ensuring for all believers LIFE EVERLASTING!!  Praise God!!!!    Please read on...

Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane
Stained Glass Window-First Presbyterian Church, Ocala, FL.

I originally wrote this post for Easter 2014.  A lot has changed in our lives since then* (For the update on this please click on this link, written 5/25/2014), but even though our son has since passed on to heaven, (May 25, 2014) nothing has really changed in how I view Easter.  It is even more significant and precious to me now, knowing that I have a son waiting for me in heaven someday.  




What Easter Means To Me
(Originally written 4/18/2014)

Because I have a precious son standing on the threshold of heaven’s gate, Easter has a lot more significance to me this year.
Fouryears ago we received some shocking news regarding our son...a diagnosis so grim that it struck fear into our hearts and caused us to ask, "Why Lord? What good could possibly come from this assault on our son's body?  We didn't know what kind of plan God had...and as a mother, to be honest, I truly did not want to see our son go through all the suffering and pain of fighting the formidable foe of cancer.  It just didn't seem fair.  But don't stop reading here...

On the day after the crucifixion, Jesus' mother and his disciples were hiding and afraid. They did not understand what was happening, even though Christ had tried over and over again to tell them what was going to take place, but their hearts were broken, their eyes were still blinded by doubt and confusion, and they just couldn't see how anything good could come out of His death.  They did not realize that God had a plan… 

On Easter morning all of God’s creation was waiting...waiting for the Easter sunrise...waiting for God to show them the next part of His plan…not realizing that they would soon hear an angel proclaim the astounding message,

"Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen!"
(Luke 24:5-6)

The angel reminded the disciples of what Christ had taught them about His death and resurrection, and then “they remembered His words…” 

Perhaps they then remembered what Jesus told them in John14:19~

“A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me.
Because I live, you will live also.”

And then His words all began to make sense…both to His disciples…and also to me. When Christ said “It is finished” as He died on the cross, death became a conquered foe. That was not the end of the story, but the beginning.   When (and if) my son loses his earthly battle against this vicious cancer, that will not be the end of his story, but the beginning. As he passes over that threshold, heaven’s gate will open wide to receive him joyfully.  Isaiah 25:8 says, “Death is swallowed up in victory!”  “O Death, where is your sting? O death, where is your victory?” (I Corinthians 15:55)

Since God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son so that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16), I can stare death in the face and not be afraid of saying goodbye to my son when the time comes. Because of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection, my son will also live. And so will I. And so will you.

And that’s what Easter means to me.
Our son Matthew, just a few months before he entered heaven's portals


I just found this video of  a very special  Easter song, "He's Alive!" by Don Francisco, which is sung from the perspective of the Apostle Peter.  I think you may appreciate it.  I remember singing this song back in the late 70's...  "He's Alive! He's Alive! He's Alive and I'm forgiven, heaven's gates are open wide! He's Alive! He's Alive! He's Alive!"    Hallelujah!  That is what Easter is all about!!!

Friday, April 19, 2019

Friday Foto Friends...It's Good Friday!

It's Good Friday...A solemn day for believers in Christ...the day that our Lord was crucified on the cross for our sins...Let us never forget...

(Internet Photo)


I am sure that we are all in the midst of our Easter preparations and traditional activities. But in the midst of the "celebration" of Easter, today we  pause and remember that when Jesus died on the cross, He was sacrificing His own life for you and for me, so that we might have eternal life and victory over sin and death. 


This morning when I woke up I remembered that I had forgotten to prepare a post for today's Friday Foto Friends, so I took an early walkabout the neighborhood to see what I could share with you:



It's a cloudy, windy morning, with the prediction of thunderstorms later in the day. 

But I thought the clouds and sunlight trying to peek through was appropriate for today.


Now for some interesting signs of spring and life in our neck of the woods:

If you are a Facebook friend, you may have already seen this picture this past week. I discovered the first APPLE on our little apple tree that we planted about 3 years ago (as a memorial tree for our son)!  Here in Florida it is unusual to be able to grow apples...but this is a Golden Dorset Apple tree, and it is zoned for this area. However, I learned after we planted two of these trees that we really needed an "ANNA" apple tree to cross-pollinate, but there were none to be found.  Then the other little tree we planted died and so that left this one tree to fend for itself.  It always produces lovely blossoms, but never a sign of an apple, until NOW!!  Even without the cross pollination!!  So you can imagine my excitement in discovering this lovely baby apple...

And then even more my delight in finding this whole cluster of apples!!!! There may actually be enough to make an apple pie if they all survive until ripe!! (However, I will probably choose to just eat them if they are sweet and good!!!)
 And just for the record, because we have deer in our yard frequently who like to nibble at anything new, I hung a little mesh bag with a bar of soap in it to deter the deer.  Hopefully it will keep them away from my little green apples!!


Speaking of memorials...I took this picture of our Memorial Garden for our son this morning.  The Confederate Jasmine vines are blooming all over the fence and it smells so pretty...


More Confederate Jasmine...

More Confederate Jasmine at the gate going into the Secret Garden:

And also at the gate coming into our courtyard from the back yard:


The one lone wisteria blossom was peeking over the fence:

Okay, this is the view we had of one of the Swallow Tailed Kites one morning this week!! I guess I should put this picture at THE END!!


And so it is.  The End... of my Friday Foto Friends photos for today...and you can visit our other friends at Deb's Place at Breathing in Grace and see what beautiful sights they are sharing.


But this is not the end of my post...just a few more thoughts before I go...

Jesus said from the cross, "It is finished!"  (John 19:30)  We know that today is Good Friday, and things may look bleak and dark and sad...but friends, keep looking up and forward...because this is NOT the End of the story.....really it is just the beginning...because Jesus did not stay in that tomb...
and because "It is Finished"...the battle is over...and Jesus is Lord!!!!"


One of my favorite songs for today:  "It Is Finished" by the Gaither Vocal Band:


Have a blessed Easter weekend my friends.  Remember: "Because He Lives...I can face tomorrow...Because He lives...all fear is gone..."  (another favorite Gaither song)


Amen.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

"Hallelujah! What a Saviour!" (Updated)



Update: I thought this hymn would be appropriate for tonight, which is "Maundy Thursday"...the night on which we remember the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior...the night that He shared the Last Supper with His Disciples and then was betrayed by one of them for 30 pieces of silver. The night before Jesus suffered and died in my place so that I might live...

Originally posted on 8/18/2011:

Hymn for today: "Hallelujah, What a Saviour!" by Philip P. Bliss, circa 1838-1876

Here is one of my favorite hymns...we usually sing this one around the Communion Table.  I hope you know the melody...sing along with me and worship this wonderful Saviour!

"Man of sorrows," what a name, for the Son of God who came,
Ruined sinners to reclaim!  Hallelujah! What a Saviour!

Bearing shame and scoffing rude, in my place condemned He stood,
Sealed my pardon with His blood; Hallelujah! What a Saviour!

Guilty, vile, and helpless we; Spotless Lamb of God was He;
"Full atonement", can it be!  Hallelujah! What a Saviour!

Lifted up was He to die; "It is finished," was His cry,
Now in heaven exalted high; Hallelujah! What a Saviour!

When He comes, our glorious King, All His ransomed home to bring,
Then anew this song we'll sing, Hallelujah! What a Saviour!"

"Hallelujah! What a Saviour!!!"



Postscript 4/18/2019:  Please pray for my friend Sharon Watson as she makes plans to travel "home" to Minnesota to be with her large extended family, and to begin Hospice care there.  She is ultimately traveling to her forever eternal home, but wants to make this last journey to be with her loved ones  while she can. Thank you for your prayers as she travels...

This picture was taken last year not long after she began chemo. It's been a difficult journey, but God has been with her all the way. She is such a remarkable woman of faith. I have been so blessed by her friendship.  Here is a link to her Caring Bridge site:  https://www.caringbridge.org/public/sharonwatson
Thank you again.  

God bless you all.  Let us rejoice in Christ our Savior, and all that He has done for us.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Sermon Notes: It's Palm Sunday!

It's Palm Sunday!

Today is Palm Sunday!!  I hope that your church recognized this eventful day in the life of Christ, which begins the Holy Week leading up to Resurrection Sunday...Easter! 

(The Palms sung by the Crystal Cathedral choir)

  Our choir sang the song shown above...We may not have sounded quite the same as "the Crystal Cathedral" choir shown above, but I can assure you we sang it with our whole hearts and souls!

The palm branches that the throngs of people waved as they cried "Hosanna! Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord!" (Mark 11:9) may not have looked exactly like these palmettos that we have here in Florida, but they were definitely similar to these...

Listen to how John's gospel  (John 12:12-13) described this scene:

"The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out, 
'Hosanna!  Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!' The King of Israel!"

Our scripture for today's sermon actually came from Mark's Gospel of this same scene, found in Mark 11:1-10.  and in these verses we see Christ entering Jerusalem on the back of a young donkey colt.  (See also Matthew 21;1-11,  Luke 19:29-38, and John 12:12-19 for more details).

The people of Jerusalem were hailing Christ as the King of Israel...their Savior, the Messiah.  But their expectation of what that would mean for them was not exactly what Jesus came to do.  At this particular time in history, Jerusalem was held captive by the Roman government.  The Romans occupied their country and ruled the Jewish nation with a very powerful and demanding government.  The people of Israel were in hopes that Jesus had come to save them from this evil government and to set them free from the tyranny of Rome.  Jesus did not come exactly the way they thought a conquering king should come...on the back of a young donkey? Where was His white stallion, where was His sword? He had no weapons, He had no saddle...only the clothing of the throng as they laid their clothes on the ground and on the back of the colt and waved the branches and shouted Hosanna...

But what we see instead of a conquering king, we see the heart of God.  Jesus does not come to us on our terms.  He comes on God's terms.  The people wanted a Messiah to rescue them from the evil and oppression of the  Roman government...But Jesus came to rescue their hearts from the evil of sin...He came to change their hearts inwardly...

Our expectations vs. God's answer...
God's answer is always the best for us.
The crowds wanted Jesus to conquer in a worldly way...But Jesus would conquer through laying down His life for their sins...
Jesus comes as our King to bring salvation...not from an oppressive government, but from self hatred, selfishness...to save us from greed, fear and death.
To restore our broken relationship with God...
Jesus gave us life--life of humble service and love...

A little side detail...The colt had never been ridden...and yet Jesus rode into Jerusalem on an unbroken colt...one that should have bucked Him off and been difficult to manage...
But Jesus was able to transform that wild unbroken colt into a peaceful animal.
Jesus rode into Jerusalem as a hero...

Is your life like that unbroken colt? Is life trying to throw you off...we may think that life seems to want to get rid of us...but God has a better plan for us.  Jesus is the only One who can ride into my heart and give me what I need to live...

Back to the crowd at Jerusalem...they were cheering and shouting Hosanna that day...they believed He was the Messiah and coming King, but then they still called for His death several days later...

We've all seen the bumper sticker that says, "Honk if you love Jesus".  Perhaps a better one would be: "Tithe if you love Jesus...any fool can honk!"  Or, how about, "Serve if you love Jesus", or "Humble Yourself if you Love Jesus", or "Love your neighbor if you love Jesus"...

On Palm Sunday Jesus came with a choice...We could join the crowd...cheering and waving palm branches, welcoming Him to our "city",  but that is as far as it goes as far as a relationship goes...On Sunday we cheer and wave our palm branches and proclaim Him King,  but what about the rest of our week...our lives...it's harder to actually serve the King of kings...

What does it truly mean to welcome Jesus into our hearts?
When we make a decision to follow Jesus, we choose to leave the old world behind...we choose to march to the tune of a most fulfilling and different kind of drum.

Jesus is the only way to peace, joy and real life...Jesus came to die for us...

John 15:13
"Greater love has no one than this, 
than to lay down one's life for his friends."

As followers of Christ we are to love each other as Jesus loved us when He went to the cross.
Palm Sunday is a great time to become a true follower of Christ.
There is no such thing as "Spectator Christianity".

Jesus conquered evil when He died on the cross.
People then did not understand He was offering them more than just to stand and cheer as He passed by...He was offering them an opportunity to make something beautiful out of their lives...

Think about the potter and the wheel...we are that blob of clay...a horrible mess...
But God can take our mess and shape us into what He wants us to be.
It is our choice...the invitation is here now...
Will you just be a spectator along the road, cheering Him on as He passes by...or
Will you follow Jesus all the way to the cross?

This banner was hanging in our church today.
(Thank you, Edna Haugen, for sharing your photo with me for this!)

Our final hymn of the day...
(this is not our church choir singing, but please sing along and enjoy the music)

This is a song of triumph!
Christ is triumphant over death and hell,
and we are victors with Christ.

"Hosanna!!!
Blessed  is He who comes in the name of the Lord!!!
Blessed is the kingdom of our father David
That comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest!"
Mark 11:9-10

Sermon Notes: FUMC, Interlachen, FL, Pastor A.C. Myers, 4/14/2019

Please Note : I want to repeat this disclaimer here...the notes, outline, and content included here are based upon my own personal understanding of the message that was being given. I am not attempting to completely quote or reproduce this message or any other message I've shared previously. Just as each person reading these notes may glean insights and thoughts that seem to directly apply to one's own situation and interpretation, my own delivery of these messages is skewed by my hearing and translation of what is being said. Some may read my notes here and wonder if they were hearing the same message as I...and I say, God speaks to each of us as He wills...there are things He is trying to get across to each individual that may be entirely different than what the person sitting next to you in the pew is needing to hear... That is how the Holy Spirit works! He knows what we need to hear and how to apply it to our hearts. So it is with that understanding that I present these sermon notes to you.

Deliverance.... (reposted from March 30, 2010) Updated

Update for Palm Sunday, 2015, 2016, 2017  2018  2019 written from the living room  of our
"Camp Of the Woods Home "

UPDATE FOR PALM SUNDAY, 2013. 2014!  2015! 2016!   2017    2018   2019!  I originally wrote this for Palm Sunday in 2010.  Not a lot has changed in  3 4  5  6  7 8  9 years...actually not a lot has changed in 2013 2014  2015 2016  2017  2018  2019 years! But, Jesus is STILL the answer...Jesus, the same yesterday, today, and forever!  Amen! (2014) And Amen again! (2015) and again! (2016)  and AGAIN! (2017)  And Again in 2018 and again in 2019!
Psalm 34:4  "I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears."

Deliverance...what does that word mean to you?  It has a very welcome sound to the captive...those who are held captive in any kind of prison, whether it be a prison with bars and high walls, or a prison of fear and isolation...the thought of deliverance brings hope and joy and peace.  For many in today's economy, there is a tremendous amount of anxiety over the future...people fear losing their jobs, others fear not being able to find a job. Retired folks are concerned about their savings running out too soon, or having health issues that will rob them of what little security they have left.  Our nation is in turmoil over  (2010) health care reform and the brittle financial and housing market. (2015 AND 2016:  Race Relations, World Terror via ISIS, Religious persecution, upcoming election ) 2017 and 2018 and 2019: ALL OF THE ABOVE AND MORE...WORLD PEACE, IMMIGRATION... People look to our national leaders and hope that they will make some wise decisions that will bring relief, and yet that so-called relief often comes with a high price tag that will endanger the future security of our children and grandchildren for many years to come. 

Where can we find this deliverance that we are seeking?  Is there any ONE who can come and set us free from our bondage to fear and doubt?

Psalm 34:15 says, "The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry." 
Verse 17 says "The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles."

The Jews back in the time of Jesus were desperate for a leader who could deliver them from the tyranny of the Roman government. As Jesus entered Jerusalem on what we now call Palm Sunday, the people cried out, "Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord! The King of Israel!" (John 12:13) They hailed Him as their King and Messiah, but they were seeking an earthly king for an earthly kingdom.

A few days later, when Jesus was betrayed by one of His own disciples, He  stood before Pilate, the Roman governor.  Pilate asked Him if He was the King of Jews.  Jesus responded to Pilate, 
"My kingdom is not of this world."...."My kingdom is not from here..."  (John 18:36)  He went on to say in verse 37, "You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth.  Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice."

Jesus came to prepare our hearts for the kingdom that is yet to come, that is a Heavenly Kingdom.  In the meantime, His Holy Spirit gives us strength and grace to endure the trials and tribulations that are common to all of mankind. He came to deliver us from all our fears and troubles.  Do we still have financial difficulties? Do we still have health problems or other major concerns? Yes. As long as we are on this earth there will be trouble and sorrow......but hear what Jesus said in John 16:33~
"These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace.  In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." 

Through Christ, we are overcomers. 

"I sought the Lord, and He heard me, 
and delivered me from all my fears."
  
Deliverance....yes, that is what Palm Sunday and Easter are all about....Think about it.  
This is just the beginning of the story...not the end.
Amen!

Have a glorious Palm Sunday today!


Friday, April 12, 2019

Ending a Chapter in Our Lives

Today was kind of a bittersweet day for our family. As many of you know, my sweet mother in law, a.k.a. "Nanny", passed away last August, and we have finally today finalized the sale of her home and "closed" the door on her earthly home forever.  That little house that served her so well for many years will now become the happy home of a new family, and new memories will be made there for a whole new generation of people.

Today my hubby and his brother met there at the house one last time, to wrap things up and make sure nothing was left that belonged to the family.
Recently my brother in law supervised the complete renovation of this little house, starting with the kitchen, and then throughout the whole interior and exterior of the house...new paint, floors, fixtures...which definitely increased the value as well as the functionality of the house.


The "brothers" were reminiscing about all of the family dinners we enjoyed right there in that very spot.

I was thrilled to see that Nanny's rosebush was blooming beautifully in the back yard.

She really loved her flowers and watching the birds...

She was so proud when she bought this "squirrel proof" bird feeder so the squirrels wouldn't hog all the bird seed.

Amazingly her poinsettia bush was in full bloom!

This building behind her house (see below) was actually the home where my husband and his little brother grew up from the time they were born.  Their family lived in an apartment upstairs, and his mother had a beauty salon in the downstairs, where she beautified many women in the community for many years!!  Later on they moved out of the apartment to another little house in the neighborhood...all a part of the family "enclave", which at the time included my husband's grandparents, two of his Aunts and Uncles, cousins, and then of course my in-laws and their two sons.  They all lived within the same block, so everyone took good care of each other.  Now all of these houses belong to strangers. It is strange that what was once a complete family neighborhood no longer has any trace of that family living there.  (For more about my husband's grandparents' home, click HERE)


My in-laws had this sweet little house built for their retirement home on property connected to the rest of the family compound.   It was the only empty lot, and had such lovely big shady oak trees. My in-laws enjoyed this little house together until "Granddaddy" passed away in 1995.  Then Nanny lived here alone until she was 90.


At one time one of the big oaks in front of the house blew over in a storm and landed on the carport of the house. My mother in law was alone in the house, in her bedroom, and didn't even know what had happened until neighbors came banging on her door to check and see if she was alright. Thankfully she was fine, but she had to get a new roof.


Here are some old pictures of family fun at this house...This was the last Easter Nanny actually lived in her house, back in 2013, and we had an Easter egg hunt with her youngest grandchildren.   Nanny was almost 90 in this picture.  Not too long after this Nanny came to live with us and my brother in law and family...back and forth between our homes for several years until she went into a nursing home in 2017, where she eventually passed away at the age of 95 last year.   

Here she is with the grandkids...they were so happy to find the golden eggs...

I think this was a special Easter basket for Nanny.  This is a good picture of how her kitchen looked before the renovation.

And this is a real oldie but goodie, Christmas in the living room of this house, back in the early 1980's.  This is my family with Nanny and Granddaddy, (and their dog Ringo in the background).

Another happy picture with Granddaddy, Ringo and our youngest son Scott. (who is 42 now).


So today, after we had the closing on the house, hubby and I headed back to our home. On the way we passed by the cemetery where his parents are buried, and paid a visit to "thank them" for the gift of their love and care for their family for so many years.


We realized today that we will not really have any reason to come back this way again, unless specifically to visit their grave.  It is about a 1& 1/2 hour drive from our present home, and when (and if) we ever move, it will be even further...so we probably won't make this trip again anytime soon. (Hopefully not anytime too soon...our own personal burial plots are also here next to my husband's parents...so now that I think about it, I guess we WILL come back SOMEDAY, but hopefully not for that reason for a LONG time!)

So, yes, it was a bittersweet day.  The closing of a chapter in our lives that has been very wonderful...one which we hate to see come to an end...but we look forward to whatever the next chapter may bring our way.  Life goes on...new generations spring up and make new memories together.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
1.  "To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven;
2. A time to be born,
and a time to die;
A time to plant,
and a time to pluck what is planted;
3.  A time to kill,
and time to heal;
A time to break down,
and a time to build up;
4.  A time to weep,
and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
and a time to dance;
5.  A time to cast away stones,
and a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace,
And a time to refrain from embracing;
6.  A time to gain,
And a time to lose;
A time to keep,
And a time to throw away;
7.  A time to tear,
and a time to sew;
A time to keep silence,
and a time to speak;
8.  A time to love,
 and a time to hate;
A time of war,
and a time of peace."

And now...on to the next chapter...whatever it may bring...we will trust the Lord!  Remember, "When God closes a door, He opens a window..."