Posts Tagged "Mary"

This Present Waiting – Cassi Piper

Posted by on Jan 28, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

This Present Waiting – Cassi Piper

“Are we there yet?” What parent hasn’t dreaded hearing their child ask that question! With as many road trips as my parents took with my brother and me growing up, I’m sure we said it a time or two (or twenty). When we are young we simply do not have a firm grasp on the concept of time and much to our parents’ chagrin just ten minutes on the highway can seem like an eternity.

I must confess however that as an adult, even though I may know how long an hour or a day is, I have no firmer grasp on God’s timing than I did on how long a trip to Cincinnati took when I was a little girl. How often have I found myself in a place of wait, asking God, “Are we there yet?”

As many of you know my husband and I are expecting our fourth child and I am in the home stretch of my pregnancy with less than two weeks to go until my due date. Recently I found myself in a labor and delivery room at our local hospital anticipating the arrival of our little boy. After 24 hours of increasingly frequent contractions however it was determined I was experiencing false labor and was consequently sent home. Disappointed, I couldn’t help but ask God “Are we there yet?”

At times in our life all of us have found ourselves waiting. Perhaps we are waiting for our soul mate or for the right job. Maybe we are waiting for healing or for a loved one to come back to the faith. Maybe we are waiting for a relationship to be restored or for our hard work to pay off so we can finally breathe financial freedom. Whatever we are waiting for, it can be easy for us to focus on what has yet to come rather than on what God would have us do now to further His kingdom in the meantime.

There are many instances in scripture where men and women of faith found themselves waiting. Sarah waited for a child, the Israelites waited to enter the Promised Land, Mary and Martha waited for their brother to be healed, and as Christians today we await the majestic return of our Lord.

The question then becomes, what shall we do while we are waiting? Does our life come to a halt until our preferred destination is reached? Does our faith stop until we feel God comes through? Do we grumble and complain until our plans come to fruition?

When I realized that our son was not to be born just yet I found myself walking around the house the next few days disappointed and frustrated. After all, those contractions hurt! But my husband gently reminded me that I should make the most of this time, to prepare for our son’s arrival and also to spend as much unhindered time as I could with our three precious children whose lives will forever be changed by the arrival of their little brother. He was right, and the wait has been a lot easier since I switched my focus to the life God has in front of me right now rather than what will come.

My prayer and challenge for us this week is to focus on how God would use us right now as we simultaneously anticipate the answers we seek from Him. May we be a church that lives fully for Christ in the present, knowing that God’s timing is perfect and His plans for us our greater than we could ever imagine. Though we may not ever receive the answers we are hoping for this side of heaven, scripture assures us that if our lives are fully devoted to following Christ in this present day, great will be our reward!

 But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.”

2 Chronicles 15:7

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Waiting for Easter – Cassi Piper

Posted by on Mar 26, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

Waiting for Easter – Cassi Piper

As Christians we know the Easter story well: On Friday Jesus was betrayed, found guilty though innocent and hung on a cross. On Sunday the tomb was found empty and the resurrected Jesus appeared to His disciples, thus securing salvation for everyone who believes. But has anyone ever wondered about Saturday?

I was recently made aware of a Facebook post where people were challenged to think about that Saturday and what it must have been like for the disciples. Not knowing of the coming resurrection, all they knew was that their leader, mentor and friend had been raced through a botched trial, brutally tortured, publicly ridiculed and then left to die in the most horrific fashion that the Roman Empire could dream up at the time.

That Saturday must have found them in a dark place indeed. Perhaps they were together, trying to lean on each other and process what had happened. Perhaps they isolated themselves, feeling disbanded and not sure where to turn. Maybe they rallied around Mary, Jesus’ mother, trying to offer comfort as she grieved.

And how did they feel? Scared? Angry? Betrayed? Did they doubt who Jesus said He was? Did they wonder if all they had sacrificed to follow him was for naught? Were they each planning their escape knowing that they by association would be next to suffer trial?

But maybe, just maybe, they felt hope. Peace. Strength. Resolve. Though they didn’t fully understand all that Jesus had taught them they could have chosen to trust. Trust that though things looked bleak, the events of Friday were not the end of the story.

We too often find ourselves in a time of waiting. Waiting for test results, waiting for a relationship to be healed, waiting to catch up or even get ahead. And we too have a choice. Do we wait with fear in our hearts or do we trust God’s sovereignty and His purposes for us? Are we angry or do we strengthen our resolve, determined to sit it out until the very end, knowing that God’s ways are mysterious, but always good?

It is my prayer for us that as we prepare for this week’s celebrations we remember that like the disciples on that Saturday we too are in a time of wait. All of us who have chosen to follow Jesus await His glorious return, when every tear will be wiped dry and we will be rewarded for our persevering faith.  Let us be encouraged that we too will one day see how our story ends and that the ending will be sweet indeed.

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Homeless at Christmas – Pastor Mark

Posted by on Dec 17, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

Homeless at Christmas – Pastor Mark

This year we have a chance to experience one of the original elements of Christmas – Homelessness.  Mary and Joseph were basically homeless when Jesus was born.  Yes, they had a place back in Nazareth, but on that holy night… they had nothing.  And on top of that there were no hospitals with delivery rooms; and this was Mary’s first child.  Very few of us have ever experienced those feelings of helplessness, loneliness and vulnerability that are part of not having a place to sleep and no protected place to spend the night, nor do we know people who have.

But this Sunday we have an opportunity to change that.  We will be ministering to people who deal with homelessness on a regular basis.  First Covenant Church of Minneapolis daily provides shelter and a hot meal for up to 50 adults during the colder months of the year.  Through one of Janelle’s connections, Immanuel is signed up to provide the meal this Sunday, December 16th.  We will be preparing and serving the meal, engaging the homeless in conversation and members of the worship team are providing some Christmas music.  This has the potential to be a significant experience – both for us and for the ones we serve.

You are invited to join us!  If you are interested simply contact Tami, Janelle, Pastor Matt, or myself.  We will give you more details.

 

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Getting Stuck – Cassi Piper

Posted by on Nov 27, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

Getting Stuck – Cassi Piper

A friend and I were recently swapping our best “trailer” stories. Whether they were our own mishaps, or those of a family member or friend, we shared some good laughs as we remembered times when trailers broke, came loose or suffered flat tires.

My absolute favorite trailer story involves my beloved grandpa. Grandpa used to own an old fishing boat that was transported on an even older trailer. For reasons unknown to us the previous owner had glued green Astroturf to the slides that guided the boat on and off the trailer. This made launching the boat difficult as the Astroturf created enough friction that much kicking, pulling, pushing and grunting was required to get the boat to slide into the water.

After many such battles with his trailer my grandpa was fed up and determined to find a solution. One day he found what he was looking for while watching television. The commercial he saw was for a silicone spray which claimed it made things slippery. Convinced that this was exactly what he needed my grandpa eagerly went to the nearest hardware store and purchased what he thought he saw on television and liberally applied it to his boat trailer.

The next time grandpa went to launch the boat my mom happened to be with him as they had been planning a father-daughter fishing outing for some time. As always, grandpa backed up his wood paneled station wagon until the boat was deep enough in the water where it should begin to slip down off the trailer. Excitedly, grandpa began to drive the trailer forward, fully anticipating that his boat would glide into the water with ease.  Much to his dismay however the boat didn’t budge. Even after many kicks, pushes and grunts that boat still hadn’t moved an inch!

Disappointed, my grandpa explained to my mom how he had tried a new product that was supposed to make the trailer more slippery. Upon closer examination however my mom discovered that rather than applying silicon spray as the TV commercial had advertised my grandpa had instead used silicone caulk, essentially gluing his boat to its trailer! Determined to still go fishing my grandfather scoured his wagon and found a pair of scissors which he used to cut the boat loose from the caulk. Though he finally did get his boat in the water that day, the long strips of green carpet permanently glued to his hull were reminders of the mistake he had made.

No matter how many times I hear that story it never loses its humor. However just like my grandpa accidentally purchased the wrong product, we as Christians can buy into a false Gospel, and that is no laughing matter. Many of us fall into the trap of legalism and judge unbelievers for falling short, leaving them to believe they have to clean up their life before they can come to the cross. Others cheapen God’s grace by accepting sinful behavior under the guise of unconditional love, leaving them to believe that following Christ does not require a transformation of character. Unfortunately, old habits can be difficult to unglue as feeling justified when we judge or taking pride in being tolerant can sometimes seem like second nature. And, like green carpet to a hull, we can permanently affix judgmental labels to those in our life whom we are called to love as Christ first loved us.

So, my prayer for us this week is that before we judge or write off the behavior of someone else we would rather look inward and ask God to show us where we need convicting and to give us the ability to compassionately relay His truth. Only by keeping our focus stuck on Jesus will we then be able to reflect Christ’s love and grace with the proper humility and understanding, thus projecting the true Gospel of Christ’s sacrifice while we were yet sinners and the resulting character transformation it brings to those who cross our path.

 

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners,

Christ died for us.   -Romans 5:8

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing

of your mind.   -Romans 12:2

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Mission from God – Pastor Matt

Posted by on Oct 9, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

Mission from God – Pastor Matt

“Hello, my name is Matt.  I am a man sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead.”

Would you find it a little odd if I introduced myself this way?  Doesn’t it sound a little presumptuous for me to believe that I have been sent by God?  Granted, I probably wouldn’t have very many friends if this is how I referred to myself.  Yet it still makes me wonder.  Paul—the writer of many New Testament books—introduced himself this way.  Yes, he literally started some of his letters by saying that he has been sent by God and not by man.  In other words, Paul is saying that he is on a mission from God (reminds me of Dan Aykroyd from The Blues Brothers).

“Well, Matt,” you say, “Paul was kind of important.  He can say those kinds of things.”

What strikes me about Paul is that he understands, perhaps better than anyone, what it means to follow Christ.  It means that you are acting on behalf of God; you are on a mission.

Let me ask you a question, have you ever done something God directed you to do?  If your answer is yes, then you can in all honesty, say that you have been sent by God.

Now I probably will never tell a stranger that I am on a mission from God.  But that does not change the fact that I really am on a mission from God.  That’s not boastful; it’s God’s desire for my life.  The same goes for you.  If you are a follower of Christ, you are on a mission from God.

Then there is one question: how is your mission going?

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