Springtime in Kentucky

Keenland“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to God's elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance.”  1 Peter 1:1-2 NIV

“What a wondrous time is spring, when all the trees are budding;
The birds begin to sing, the flowers start their blooming.
That's how it is with God's love;
Once you've experienced it, you want to sing, “It's fresh like spring";
You want to pass it on.”  Kurt Kaiser, 1969

Don’t you love the beauty of the Kentucky springtime?  It’s almost as if God has taken the drab canvas of winter and splattered it with a million colors.  First the crocus, forsythia, and pear trees; then the redbuds, jonquils, and dogwoods; and now the azaleas, tulips, irises, roses, and hundreds of other flowers.

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40 Days and 20 Questions

4020buttonWe have records in all the synoptic Gospels of Jesus hanging out with his disciples after his resurrection and before his ascension.  Matthew 28 tells of the disciples meeting Jesus in Galilee where they were given the Great Commission.  Later manuscripts of Mark’s Gospel tell of Jesus walking with two followers on the road to Emmaus and later appearing to the eleven as they were eating.  Luke 24 also tells of Jesus walking with Cleopas and a friend on the road to Emmaus, but they did not recognize him until he broke bread with them.  They then found the eleven in Jerusalem and were reporting about their encounter with Jesus when he appeared to all of them.  He allowed them to touch him and they gave him a piece of fish to eat.  Jesus told them to stay in Jerusalem until they had “been clothed with power from on high.”  He then led them out to the Mount of Olives where he was “taken up into heaven.”

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"When I Survey the Wondrous Cross," Isaac Watts

cross“See, from his head, his hands, his feet, sorrow and love flow mingled down.  Did e’er such love and sorrow meet, or thorns compose so rich a crown?"  As we ponder the Easter chronicle, how can we not tremble?

We do not, however, need to tarry three days to realize the significance of Golgotha.  The consequences of the cross were simultaneously being embodied in the Temple.  “And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.  At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.”  Matthew 27:50-51.

So, what do we make of this?  What significance does the torn veil have for us today?  Above all, the tearing of the veil at the moment of Jesus’ death dramatically symbolized that His sacrifice, the shedding of His own blood, was a sufficient atonement for sins.  It signified that now the way into the Holy of Holies was open to all people.  When Jesus died, God would never again dwell in a temple made with human hands.  If the concurrent earthquake had ripped the thick veil, it would have been from bottom to top.  The great “I Am” ripped the veil from top to bottom.  Hallelujah!

“Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.”

"What, Me Worry?"

alfred e neumanYes, me worry.  The reflection posed by Alfred E. Neuman, the fictitious mascot of the humor magazine Mad, is indeed universal; yes, you worry too.  “And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?”  (Matthew 6:27).

Does not the admonition, “Cast all of your anxiety on the Lord because He cares for you," (I Peter 5:7) create a sigh of relief?  Then, why is it that so many of us retrieve that worry from the altar before we ever return to our pew?

We are never free from the recurring cares of the world that rob of us of our joy.  We need take pause, “when anxious thoughts multiply within me, thy consolations delight my soul.” (Psalm 94:19)  The solution to our paralyzing fears begins and ends with the promise; “My grace is sufficient…” (I Corinthians 12:9).

Matthew chapter 6 beckons us to consider God’s care for the lilies of the field and the birds of the air. “Therefore, take no thought for your life," never wavering belief in the “much more.”  Our Heavenly Father knows our needs, concerns, and circumstances far better than we know ourselves.  “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself” (vs. 34) - and may “the peace of God which surpasses all understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 4:7)

Faith Becomes Owned Through Adversity

romans 8 28Many of you, perhaps, struggle now and again discerning God’s permission versus His determination in life’s defining circumstances.  There are simply some things on earth we will not understand.  Issac Watts texts in his vintage hymn “When I Can Read My Title Clear”, “Let cares, like a wild deluge come, and storms of sorrow fall!  May I but safely reach my home.”

We need not wait for heaven, however, to realize God’s resolve.  He loves us unconditionally and is in control.  “We know all things work together for good to those who are called according to His purpose” Romans 8:28.  Jesus said, “I came that they might have life, and that they may have life more abundantly” John 10:10.  That promised abundant life is now.

So you may ask, how do we account for the calamity of covid and the devastating disaster of a few weeks ago.  There are those among us who have encountered unspeakable loss and sorrow.  All things work together for good?  Abundant life?

No one desires or welcomes suffering, but if we are to become like Christ, can we expect to escape affliction?  Faith becomes owned through adversity.  “Weeping may tarry for the night but joy comes with the morning." Psalms 30:5

Voice of the Martyrs

VOM logoVoice of the Martyrs (VOM), an international Christian organization committed to supporting persecuted Christians around the world, is attempting to provide an alternate Bible source for Christians whose heart’s desire is to have a Bible.  In many of the VOM watch list countries Bibles, or parts of Bibles, or Bible related books are illegal to possess.  The discovery of a Christian’s Bible or similar materials results in the person’s immediate imprisonment and severe punishment.  So, VOM is launching an effort to place parts or all of the Bible on a phone SIM card so that Christians may surreptitiously listen to the Word of God with less possibility of discovery and danger.  If you would like to support this effort, purchase 1 or more SIM cards.  I located cards starting @ $6.00 at Wal-Mart.  Bring your card to church.  I will have a small collection basket at church next to our peanut butter basket and will send our cards as a donation from our church at the end of May.  This is such an easy way to be a blessing to our persecuted brothers and sisters by providing them with a priceless treasure - the Word of God.  If you have any questions or concerns, call the church office at 270-821-6426.  Thank you,

Peggy Phelan 

The Persecuted Church

persecuted churchThe 2021 World Watch List is an annual report on the global persecution of Christians ranking the top 50 countries where Christians are persecuted for their faith.  Over the last year, Open Doors has seen record increases in modern-day persecution - from oppressive surveillance and arrests in China and Iran to brutal violence in Nigeria and sub-Saharan Africa.  Throughout the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the ugliness of persecution in a new way, as thousands of families have been refused government relief due to their faith.

I encourage you to watch the video in the link below and charge your heart to pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ who endure persecution for their faith.  They need our prayer undergirding for God’s strength to endure.

Extreme Persecution Countries:  1. North Korea, 2. Afghanistan, 3. Somalia, 4. Libya, 5. Pakistan, 6. Eritrea, 7. Yemen, 8. Iran, 9. Nigeria, 10. India, 11. Iraq, 12. Syria.  For the complete list of persecuted countries and the criteria for ranking the countries see https://www.opendoorsusa.org/christian-persecution/world-watch-list/

Where there is persecution, you can be sure that God is moving in the hearts of people, strengthening them to share His love and stand resilient (Isaiah 43:19).

Peggy Phelan