Friday, April 25, 2014

His Eye is On the Sparrow

For the past couple of days I have been worried. I know, I know - it's wrong to worry, but I have been nonetheless. Worried about grown-up things - like paying the bills and stuff like that :) I've been praying about it and seeking the Lord's will. But, I'm still worrying!!!

On a side note - I get songs stuck in my head ALL THE TIME. If you don't believe me, ask my co-workers :) They'll tell you that all they need to do is say one or two words of a song and I've got that song stuck in my head for the rest of the day. Same goes for commercial ditties and anything put to music - haha! It's almost annoying :)

Back to why I'm writing this post. So, I've been worried about bills and having "enough". Well yesterday, I was at work and out of the blue I got a song stuck in my head. I had no clue how I got it in my head in the first place since I hadn't listened to it or heard it playing. It just popped in. After thinking about it for awhile though, now - I know exactly how it got stuck in my head: God put it there!! The song is "His Eye is On the Sparrow"

Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come,
Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heav’n and home,
When Jesus is my portion? My constant Friend is He:
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free,
For His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

“Let not your heart be troubled,” His tender word I hear,
And resting on His goodness, I lose my doubts and fears;
Though by the path He leadeth, but one step I may see;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.
Whenever I am tempted, whenever clouds arise,
When songs give place to sighing, when hope within me dies,
I draw the closer to Him, from care He sets me free;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

I've had the song rolling in my head non-stop since yesterday afternoon. I was speaking with a co-worker this morning and she told me that having the song stuck in my head was God speaking to me. He knows my needs and will provide. I need not worry. He says it again and again in His Word. My absolute favorite Bible verse re-instates this as well: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." Philippians 4:6

I need not worry because God's got me in the palm of His hand.

"29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.[a] 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." Matthew 19:29-30

I shall not worry because the Lord has declared that I am worth more than many sparrows!!! And he cares for the sparrows, so I know He watches me!!!

An amazing promise from the Lord! I shall not worry. I will rest "on his goodness and lose my doubts and fears." I hope this post brings you hope if you too may be worrying. "His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me". Amen and Amen!!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter Weekend Joy: "I'm so happy"

It's taken me two days to write this blog post. I didn't want to leave anything out and yet I know as soon as I post this, I'll think of something else I want to say. Oh well, such is life :) So without further ado, here's a little recap of my Easter weekend.

Maundy Thursday was awesome. My work friend, Debbie came to the service which made it even more special to me. We got to partake in the Lord's Supper - Jesus' body and blood. There's nothing more precious. Here's a picture of the bulletin:

Do you see anything different in this picture as opposed to other Lord's Supper paintings/pictures? Your answer should be yes :) My dad pointed out to the congregation that you'll notice Judas is pictured, but he's the only one that does not have a halo. I thought it was neat.

Good Friday was an overcast day here in Knoxville- how very appropriate! Our Good Friday service is very solemn and somber as we remember the suffering and death of our Lord Jesus Christ, but at the same time it's magical. It's one of the most precious, meaningful services we have and has a very, very profound effect on me each and every year. Here's the sanctuary decorated for the occasion:
Speaking of magical, one of the most awesome things occurred this year after the service. As the congregation was leaving, the sky outside transformed into a stunning scene in which God and only God could have planned and painted for the ending of Good Friday:
The picture doesn't even do it justice. It was in one word: spectacular!

Saturday was the annual Easter Passion Play and egg hunt for the kids at church. It was a blast as usual and huge kuddos again go out to Jeff and Amy S. - the "brains" behind the whole shabang. 

I know there are others too numerous to count that all made Saturday happen and if you are one them and reading this, a HUGE thank you goes out to you as well. I had the honor of helping with the crafts. Here's the craft we did:

In my humble opinion the absolute best part of the Easter Fest at church is the Passion Play:
Hosanna, in the highest! (And, yes, that is a real donkey!)

The Lord's Supper

The walk to Golgatha

The crucifixion 

Jesus appears to Mary

Our resurrected Lord!!

Easter Sunday was a glorious day filled with celebration!!! We celebrate that the grave is EMPTY and JESUS LIVES!!
My God reigns! Sin, death and the devil have been defeated and my God reigns. Hallelujah!

My Aunt Sue, Uncle Vince, Katie, Stuart and Steven before Easter Sunday Services

Mom and I before Easter Sunday Services (the senior pastor offered to take this picture of us - wasn't that nice of him?! It's almost like he is family or something! -Haha)

Dad preached a great sermon, but I have to admit, I think all his sermons are great :)

Steven, myself, Mom and Dad after Easter Sunday Service

I must say we all left church feeling happy. We got to hear the Word of God, were forgiven of our sins, got to sing some absolutely wonderful songs (thanks, John, Carrie and the entire worship team) and even dance. Yes- dance - thanks to a little song called "Happy" by Pharrell Williams. You may of heard of it :) Dad referenced the song in his sermon and let's just say we couldn't let him be the only one that got to dance!! Who said Lutherans can't have fun in their worship services?! We sure did and I couldn't have thought of a better Sunday to dance around and praise the One who gave us life, then on the day we celebrate our resurrected Lord. It's definitely a Sunday I won't soon forget.

After church, Easter Sunday was spent with family. There's no better way.

The Family minus Stanton and Aubrey

Dad, Mom, Aunt Sue and Uncle Vince

He has risen indeed!

I read this verse on Monday night and I think it sums up this Easter weekend perfectly:
"Happy are those who hear the joyful call to worship, for they will walk in the light of your presence, Lord." Psalm 89:15

May you have been as richly and abundantly blessed this Easter as I was and may you dance, as I did, in the presence of our resurrected Lord!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The most important week of the year

Holy Week - I have always, always loved this week. Since I can remember, it's been my most favorite week - even when I didn't really know why. It was a time I got to go to church 4 times Sunday to Sunday for worship services and sometimes (OK - most times!) more than that. But not only is this my most favorite week, it is THE most important week of the entire year. Starting on Palm Sunday we remember and celebrate why Jesus came to earth. For those that don't know what happens this week or why we celebrate you are missing out on the biggest celebration of all time. Nothing in this life - nothing - compares to what Jesus did for you and me this week. It's miraculous, selfless, mysterious and all around the greatest thing to ever happen to you and me - Jesus was betrayed, suffered, bled and died for our sins and on the third day rose from the dead defeating death and the devil and giving those who believe in Him eternal life. Hallelujah! Blessed be the Name of The Lord!

It all starts with Palm Sunday when Jesus was triumphantly ushered into Jersusalem. How very ironic that just a few days later those who were shouting "Hosanna, Hosanna, blessed be the name of The Lord" would be shouting "Crucify Him". Kind of reminds me of my own life. One day I'm praising the name of Jesus and the next, well, I'm very far from praising Him. 

Maundy Thursday is when we celebrate the Last Supper. What strikes me about this day is that Jesus broke bread with his betrayer. Wow. That just blows my mind. He loved Judas, but Judas rejected Him and that's when God rejected Judas. Jesus loved all the other disciples as well and all would abandon him within just a few hours of dining with Him. Oh how this is also like me! I see myself in the disciples. It's scary and glorious all in the same breath. Scary that I can be so callous, so deceiving, so mean and hateful and yet so glorious because the King of Kings died for ME - scars and all!! We also remember on Maundy Thursday, Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Here's what I love about this: Jesus prayed to have this task taken from Him. He was totally human. He did not want to suffer and die. But He did it for me and He did it for you. Amazing and mind blowing - the most selfless act anyone will ever do for us - ever!!

Good Friday we celebrate the death of Jesus. That sentence just seems SO WRONG to type. Death is nothing to celebrate. We mourn death. We cry. We are sad. Why then is this day called Good Friday?! Because of what was to come. So on this day we remember the suffering and the pain Jesus went through. Nothing compares to the love Jesus poured out for me and for you on Good Friday. We remember why He bled and died and we look forward to Sunday.

Easter Sunday is what life is all about. Jesus did not stay dead. Where there is weeping and mourning on Friday, the dawn of Easter Sunday brings rejoicing that can't be described in words. Jesus defeated death, the devil and sin and He ROSE from the dead!!!! There is nothing more miraculous than that - absolutely nothing! Jesus is alive and because he bled and died and rose again, if we believe in Him, we also have eternal life!

May you celebrate this week, with the reminder that Jesus was betrayed, bled and died and then ROSE again for you and for me. There is no greater love!!