You Have Been So Good

You Have Been So Good

Sung by Sandi Patty

 

When I think of where I’ve been,
You take me back time and again.
I’m forgiven.
All the heartache that I keep,
Still You hold me when I weep.
The grace that I receive,
Because You love me.

You have been so good;
You are ever faithful to me.
Such blessings in my life,
I ask myself if I
Ever thank You like I could;
In my darkest hour,
Love’s amazing power rescues me.
O, my Lord,
Let me say it like I should;
You are ever faithful;
You have been so good.

In the worst I have to bear;
In a world that’s so unfair;
I come to You in prayer,
You’re always there,

You have been so good;
You are ever faithful to me,
Such blessings in my life,
I ask myself if I
Ever thank You like I could.
In my darkest hour,
Love’s amazing power rescues me.
O, my Lord
Let me say it like I should;
You are ever faithful;
You have been so good.

So, I will glory in the cross,
If one more blessing never came to me.
Your sacrifice would still be enough.
It is enough.

You have been so good;
You are ever faithful to me.
Such blessings in my life,
I ask myself if I
Ever thank You like I could.
In my darkest hour,
Love’s amazing power rescues me.
O, my Lord,
Let me say it like I should;
You are ever faithful;
You have been so good.

 

Songwriters: FARRELL ROBERT BURK / HAMILTON DAVID ROSS

You Have Been So Good lyrics © Rbf Songs, Gratia Music

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(Untitled)

Church Is Hard

by Arianna Freelen

I sat in a meeting. The discussion was heated. The conversation heavy. Hearts were burdened. Chests were puffed. Sorrow, pain, arrogance, curiosity, humility, fear, courage, and forgiveness sat together in a single room. As I looked around the church, I just kept thinking—Church is hard.

Church is hard for the person walking through the doors, afraid of judgment.

Church is hard for the pastor’s family, under the microscope of an entire body.

Church is hard for the prodigal soul returning home, broken and battered by the world.

Church is hard for the girl who looks like she has it all together, but doesn’t.

Church is hard for the couple who fought the entire ride to service.

Church is hard for the single mom, surrounded by couples holding hands, and seemingly perfect families.

Church is hard for the widow and widower with no invitation to lunch after service.

Church is hard for the deacon with an estranged child.

Church is hard for the choir member overwhelmed by the weight of the lyrics in that song.

Church is hard for the man insecure in his role as a leader.

Church is hard for the wife who longs to be led by a righteous man.

Church is hard for the nursery volunteer who desperately longs for a baby to love.

Church is hard for the single woman and single man, praying God brings them a mate.

Church is hard for the teenage girl, wearing a scarlet letter, ashamed of her mistakes.

Church is hard for the gays, adulterers, liars, cheats, and slanderers.

Church is hard for the sinners.

Church is hard for me.

It’s hard because on the outside it all looks shiny and perfect. Sunday best in behavior and dress. However, underneath those layers, you find a body of imperfect people, carnal souls, selfish motives.

But, here is the beauty of church—Church isn’t a building, mentality, or expectation. Church is a body.

Church is a group of sinners, saved by grace, living in fellowship as saints.

Church is a body of believers bound as brothers and sisters by an eternal love.

Church is a holy ground where sinners stand as equals before the Throne of Grace.

Church is a refuge for broken hearts and a training ground for mighty warriors.

Church is a converging of confrontation and invitation. Where sin is confronted and hearts are invited to seek restoration.

Church is a lesson in faith and trust.

Church is a bearer of burdens and a giver of hope.

Church is a family. A family coming together, setting aside differences, forgetting past mistakes, rejoicing in the smallest of victories.

Church, the body, and the circle of sinners-turned-saints, is where He resides, and if we ask, He is faithful to come.

So even on the hard days at church—The days when I am at odds with a sister. When I’ve fought with my husband because we’re late once again. When I’ve walked in bearing burdens heavier than my heart can handle, yet masking the pain with a smile on my face. When I’ve worn a scarlet letter, under the microscope. When I’ve longed for a baby to hold, or fought tears as the lyrics were sung. When I’ve walked back in, afraid and broken, after walking away.

I’ll remember, He has never failed to meet me there.

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(Untitled)

 We Shall Behold Him

Jay Plank   

 It’s been awhile since I’ve written in this (or any) blog.  Sometimes the words come; sometimes they are miles away from my keyboard.  Today, however, I got on YouTube and listened to Sandi Patty sing the song I’ve reprinted below.  I haven’t much to say in addition to the song.  Enjoy the lyrics, check out YouTube for the performance of it by Sandy, and let the song speak to you of an incredibly glorious Day to come.

 

 We Shall Behold Him (written by Dottie Rambo)

The sky shall unfold preparing His entrance
The stars shall applaud Him with thunders of praise

The sweet light in His eyes, shall enhance those awaiting
And we shall behold Him, then face to face.

 Oh we shall behold Him, we shall behold Him
Face to face in all of His glory
Oh we shall behold Him, yes we shall behold Him
Face to face, our Savior and Lord

 The angel will sound, the shout of His coming
And the sleeping shall rise, from their slumbering place
And those remaining, shall be changed in a moment
And we shall behold him, then face to face

 We shall behold Him, oh yes we shall behold Him
Face to face in all of His glory
We shall behold Him, face to face, our Savior and Lord
We shall behold Him, our Savior and Lord

Savior and Lord!

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That “Great Cloud of Witnesses”

That “Great Cloud of Witnesses”

RiverWalk Church of Christ Wichita Ks  Minister

Sometimes, in my more melancholy moments, I wonder why it is that the world seems to be running increasingly toward chaos and destruction. I then wonder why those of us who believe we have been given the charge by Jesus Christ to be salt and light seem to increasingly find ourselves in the middle of nowhere, so to speak, and no one seems to be paying attention to the feeble lights that we shine. No one seems to respond to the salt we spread. We become seemingly more isolated…more alone…as we continue down life’s path. Sometimes it seems like as Christians we’ve been left stranded in the middle of a wilderness with no way out and no one around.
Yes, I am aware of others in my church family who are laboring with me, making sure our lights are as bright as possible, depending on God for strength and wisdom while we continue together down the path of time toward eternity. But somehow, sometimes that knowledge just doesn’t quite seem to be enough.
And yes, I am aware of Jesus’ promise to be with me always…to never leave me and forsake me. But I will admit that sometimes life hands me something that just seems to overwhelm that thought and assurance as well.
You may well know the feeling too…the overwhelming inundation of evil, sorrow, injustice, poverty, and apathy…those things just seem to take over and take charge. Our thoughts and even our actions reflect our disappointment and discouragement. And once and again we rely on other people of faith, the strength and mercy of God, and the promises of Jesus to climb out of the abyss into which the worldly pains and sorrows washed us.
But let me tell you something that helps me, perhaps as much or more than anything…the knowledge that others I don’t even know are struggling and laboring along with me and with those in my church family and circle of friends. People like Scott Hamilton, former Olympic skater and television analyst. People like Amy Grant, singer and song writer with a long and successful career in Christian and popular music. People like Pat Sajak, long time host of Wheel of Fortune. People like Lester Holt, NBC news anchor and television personality.
These people and others, both living and dead, are a part of that “great cloud of witnesses” that Hebrews 12 talks about, who surround us as we join them in running the race that is set before us. And we surround them as well, knowing that they too struggle. They too become discouraged. They too feel all too alone at times. They too need encouragement from God, from His Son Jesus Christ, from their Christian friends, and from us who they don’t even know.
So, in this new year of 2019, when life hands you over to the evil, apathy, poverty, injustice and sorrow that seems to abound, take comfort in the fact that there are people you don’t know who are praying for you…lifting you up…cheering you on as you in turn do the same for them. Some of those people are part of your church family or people you know. Others are people you don’t know, and will never know until we all meet together at some time in the future.
That “great cloud of witnesses” continues to function even until today.

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The New Year

The New Year

RiverWalk Church of Christ Wichita Ks  Minister

This being the first day of a new year, it is only fitting that those of us who write regularly say something about either the year gone by or the year to come. I’ve done that before, but somehow I don’t feel up to doing that today. I have other things on my mind today. As my blogging friend Bud Norman says about today, “There are parades and sporting events to be watched, hams and black eyed peas to be eaten, and an opportunity (to) gird for the inevitable avalanche of news to come. “ Today should be a day to enjoy, and also to prepare, I think, for what may lie ahead.
Prepare. Prepare. That sounds good in theory, but if we don’t know what it is that we are to prepare for, how can we possibly prepare? We humans aren’t gifted with the ability to see the future. We can only surmise, guess, and perhaps rely on what has happened in the past to give us clues about what may happen in the future. We can’t know with certainty.
And then for we who are Christians, there is the added conundrum of just how much should we prepare, and how much should we take to heart Jesus’ words when he said, “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.” It sometimes seems like walking a fine line between not obsessing over the future, yet planning ahead sufficiently so that we can mitigate somewhat the unexpected and unplanned. To find that middle ground…that sweet spot…can be quite a chore in our modern western culture.
And then, this time of the year there is always the inevitable recognition of the march of time. And the older we get, the faster it seems to go. We tend to stop more often and think about where we are in life. We tend to wonder just a little more about what might lie ahead. And perhaps most importantly, we think about an end to this life and what we probably will not be around to see…our now-one-year-old grand daughter’s wedding, for example. To think such things might to some appear to be a rather morbid way of looking ahead. But there is a certain “back to reality” mentality that comes from such thoughts, and a desire to be sure one is prepared for the inevitable time when one will no longer be part of the earthly living.
Indeed, if there is one thing Jesus says we are to be prepared for, it is to be prepared for His return, whether through our own passing, or when it manifests when He comes again. “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come,” he says.
So, as you come into the new year with all of the rest of humanity, do so with a sense of joy and peace that comes with knowing the love, mercy, and protection of God as well as a sense of anticipation for whatever days He chooses to give you in the future. And if you are a Christian, you can also rest in the assurance of having prepared for the eternal…resting in the righteousness of our Savior and Lord…Jesus the Christ.

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A Guest Post

A Guest Post

RiverWalk Church of Christ Wichita Ks  Minister

I normally don’t do this, and you need to know that I don’t always agree with conservative columnist Cal Thomas. However, I read his columns even though I many times don’t see eye-to-eye with him. However, his column on Christmas Day was right on point. I am posting his column below. Please give it a read.

Thanks,
Jay

Not for a long time has the world seemed so removed from the angelic proclamation of 2,000 years ago: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14).
Millions have died in countless wars over the last 100 years. People continue to die today as the result of worldwide terrorism and daily shootings in too many American cities.
The prophecy delivered by the Christmas Child that there would be “wars and rumors of wars” until He comes again, seems more like current events than a far-off future.
One hears a lot of silliness from theological illiterates and institutions whose sole interest in Christmas appears to be profit. Consider the conspicuous consumption associated with “Black Friday,” a day that began for some businesses days earlier.
People speak of “the spirit of Christmas,” or when observing some special act with which they approve or seek to inspire, refer to “the true meaning of Christmas.” They are never asked what they mean by either.
The true meaning of Christmas is this: God took on the form of a human to die in our place, paying for our sins, so that humans who receive Him-might be forgiven and be with Him forever.
You are free to reject that message and the One who delivered it, but what you are not free to do is to redefine or change the message into something that fits your own beliefs and choices.
In “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” (part of his classic “The Chronicles of Narnia” series), C.S. Lewis writes of a frozen land ruled by a “White Witch,” devoid of hope. .In that world, it is always winter, but never Christmas.
It is a metaphor for a world that has rejected God and His redemptive power. It is a world where humans choose to live as they please, rather than be transformed, even renewed. It is this world in which we now live, full of mendacity, envy, greed, lust, anger, terrorism, war, political divisions and confusion. We have forgotten ,who we are, because we nave forgotten Whose we are. It is these and so many other human deficiencies that the Christ child came to reset.
Like a gift under a tree, however, the transaction is not complete until the one tor whom the gift is intended receives it. If anyone refuses a gift, the transaction is incomplete, its purpose thwarted.
Does it matter that so many reject Him? Look around and consider the result. While some point to the occasional violence mistakenly done in His name to prove God does not exist, there are far more examples of good, such as charities, hospitals and inner-city missions that help the poor and homeless.
If the bad disproves God, what does the good prove?

– – – – -Cal Thomas

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What If?

What If?

RiverWalk Church of Christ Wichita Ks  Minister

In a recent session with a couple other staff members where we were talking about RiverWalk and the future of the congregation, the following two thoughts were brought out of the conversation. They deserve to be expanded and considered.

1. What if we as a congregation were content with who we are instead of longing to be like other churches, trying to be something we are not.
2. What would it look like if we interpreted Scripture which talks about the Body of Christ, with each one being a part of the body with a certain function…arm, foot, tongue, hand, etc…and each performing his function instead of longing to be something else…what if we interpreted that scripture on a congregational level rather than on an individual level? “There are many congregational organisms, but one body…and each organism has a part to play in that body. Some congregations are hands. Some are eyes. Some are feet. Each has been given gifts of service as Christ has determined.” What if??

Looking at the two statements above, I am struck by their similarity. They may look different on the surface, but they drill down to a common theme. Let’s see if we can flesh out that theme and make some sense of these words.
By content, I don’t mean satisfied. I mean content in the sense that Paul uses the word in Philippians 4:12. “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”
Yes, we feed the hungry and clothe the naked. Yes, we proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Yes, we continue to love one-another as Christ loves us. Yes, we share in the unity of the Spirit in Jesus Christ. But we should not, as a church, strive to be something that God has not intended for us to be. That is what I mean by “content.”
We look at our growth numbers and our location in Wichita and sometimes become discouraged that we aren’t growing into a 600 member church, or that we are not in a suburban setting. We become disillusioned by the continual presence of the homeless outside our door and the needs that just they present to us. We become disheartened when we have events at the apartments and only a few people show up or answer the door.
Perhaps God is not calling us to the suburbs. Perhaps God is not calling us to be a 600 member congregation. Perhaps God is calling us to serve the people who are now surrounding us…here at 225 N Waco. Perhaps God wants us to be a “small” church…one where we know everyone else…one where love abounds…one where generosity is the word of the day, every day. Perhaps God wants us to serve the homeless, befriend the apartment dwellers, and love the Franklin children.
When we look at I Corinthians 12 where Paul talks about the body of Christ and the idea that we are members of it, we normally think of an individual congregation and each person who is a member of that congregation being part of the body. We think of that in terms of us all having different talents and abilities…thus all being different parts of the body.
What if we expanded that thought to take in the idea that there are many churches who are part of the body of Christ, and each church…each congregational organism…is a member of that body with its own unique abilities and function within the greater body.
Some churches do very well in evangelizing young people. Other churches do well in the suburbs and with families. Still others work with the unique needs of a downtown area. And yet others are very talented in serving the physical and emotional needs of both members and non-members.
Do we as a church need to begin to recognize what talents and abilities God has entrusted to us and what He expects of us as a church to do with those abilities? Do we need to be content to be a church located at 225 N Waco, with a mission to the apartments, Franklin Elementary, the homeless, and the needy? Do we need to accomplish that mission to the very best of our ability, trusting God to provide what we need to partner with Him to fulfill that mission?
I am becoming more and more convinced that, as a church, we need to concentrate on what we do well, and continue to do it to the best of our ability, asking God for strength, wisdom, and guidance in the ministries he has chosen for us. We dare not look at other members of the body with even a hint of jealousy or a desire to do what they are doing. To continually look at the Body of Christ with a “grass is greener on the other side” mentality is to spurn what God has chosen for us and covet something which does not belong to us.
In the same light, to look at the Body of Christ as consisting ONLY of our local congregation or perhaps other Churches of Christ is likewise foolish, unproductive, and vain. We are not the final arbiters of who is in and who is out. We have not, as a denomination (yes, I used that term to refer to ourselves), arrived at spiritual perfection. It’s time we saw the body of Christ for what it is, and not what we think we’d like for it to be. Jesus Christ knows what he’s doing. He doesn’t need us to help him reign over his kingdom. He’s got this. And the sooner we recognize the true breadth & depth of his kingdom, understand just what his kingdom is and who is in it, find our place in it and begin to joyously serve in the capacities he has asked us to serve in, the better.

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Who Are We?

Who Are We?

RiverWalk Church of Christ Wichita Ks  Minister

In a recent session with a couple other staff members where we were talking about RiverWalk and the future of the congregation, the following two thoughts were brought out of the conversation. They deserve to be expanded and considered.

1. What if we as a congregation were content with who we are instead of trying to be something we are not.
2. What would it look like if we interpreted Scripture which talks about the Body of Christ, with each one being a part of the body with a certain function…arm, foot, tongue, hand, etc…and each performing his function instead of longing to be something else…what if we interpreted that scripture on a congregational level rather than on an individual level?

Looking at the two statements above, I am struck by their similarity. They may look different on the surface, but they drill down to a common theme. Let’s see if we can flesh out that theme and make some sense of these words.
By content, I don’t mean satisfied. I mean content in the sense that Paul uses the word in Philippians 4:12. “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”
Yes, we feed the hungry and clothe the naked. Yes, we proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Yes, we continue to love one-another as Christ loves us. Yes, we share in the unity of the Spirit in Jesus Christ. But we don’t, as a church, strive to be something that God has not intended for us to be. That is what I mean by “content.”
We look at our growth numbers and our location in Wichita and sometimes become discouraged that we aren’t growing into a 600 member church, or that we are not in a suburban setting. We become disillusioned by the continual presence of the homeless outside our door and the needs that just they present to us. We become disheartened when we have events at the apartments and only a few people show up or answer the door.
Perhaps God is not calling us to the suburbs. Perhaps God is not calling us to be a 600 member congregation. Perhaps God is calling us to serve the people who are now surrounding us…here at 225 N Waco. Perhaps God wants us to be a “small” church…one where we know everyone else…one where love abounds…one where generosity is the word of the day, every day. Perhaps God wants us to serve the homeless, befriend the apartment dwellers, and love the Franklin children.
When we look at I Corinthians 12 where Paul talks about the body of Christ and the idea that we are members of it, we normally think of an individual congregation and each person who is a member of that congregation being part of the body. We think of that in terms of us all having different talents and abilities…thus all being different parts of the body.
What if we expanded that thought to take in the idea that there are many churches who are part of the body of Christ, and each church…each congregational organism…is a member of that body with its own unique abilities and function within the greater body.
Some churches do very well in evangelizing young people. Other churches do well in the suburbs and with families. Still others work with the unique needs of a downtown area. And yet others are very talented in serving the physical and emotional needs of both members and non-members.
Do we as a church need to begin to recognize what talents and abilities God has entrusted to us and what He expects of us as a church to do with those abilities? Do we need to be content to be a church located at 225 N Waco, with a mission to the apartments, Franklin Elementary, the homeless, and the needy? Do we need to accomplish that mission to the very best of our ability, trusting God to provide what we need to partner with Him to fulfill that mission?

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For a Reason

For a Reason

RiverWalk Church of Christ Wichita Ks  Minister

Some days at work are more interesting than other days. But each day brings its own issues and also its own praises. Let me tell you about just a couple of things we’ve done today.
The past couple of days, a couple has been sleeping outside near the building. That’s not unusual. We usually have one or more people staying at the “RiverWalk Outdoor Motel” most nights, even in the winter. And for the most part we don’t mind as long as they keep their area clean and don’t have too much “stuff” collected. These people were a man and woman, however, and were people known to us through prior contact.
Our custodian (Bob) came to my door this morning about 9:45 and asked me to call the police as this couple was fighting outside, and there was a knife involved. Bob said he had gone outside and broke up the fight. They were on the ground, wrestling with one-another and a knife was laying not far away.
The police came right away. Come to find out the woman was intent on stabbing herself and the man was trying to prevent her from doing it. After a conversation with the police, they packed up their things and left. I asked the police to tell them they were no longer welcome on our property, which he did.
This afternoon, a homeless man who often comes to the door just to come in and warm up came in. He got a cup of hot water from our coffee machine and made himself some instant coffee with some coffee he had. Shortly after he came in, another man came in needing a pair of gloves. Our custodian had some gloves in his pickup, and gave them to the man. He stayed in the office for awhile talking to the first man that came in. We also fixed him a sandwich and some chips, as he hadn’t eaten in awhile.
In between these visitors and situations, we’ve managed to answer the phone, open the door for the UPS man, read a couple of chapters in a book, study a lesson, read some of the Psalms, do some financial accounting, send a “get well” card to a member, conduct a Thursday morning Bible class, and several other miscellaneous things not worth mentioning here. Such is more or less a normal day for us here at RiverWalk…even dealing with the homeless situation by calling the police is not necessarily an abnormal thing for us. We are on a first-name basis with the Homeless Outreach Team of the Wichita Police Department.
I hesitate to think what might be should we not have anyone at the building during the week. There is too much that happens…too many people who come to our door…too much to do here in terms of ministry and service…to have a building empty and unoccupied during the week. God has placed us here, at this place, at this time, for a reason. We need to honor that as best we can.

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Thoughts About Life (and Death)

Thoughts About Life (and Death)

RiverWalk Church of Christ Wichita Ks  Minister

This week has been occupied with the celebration of the life of George H.W.Bush, our 41st President. Mr. Bush passed away last Friday, leaving a legacy of public service that is second to none. Whatever you may think of his politics, the decisions he made while in public service, or his privileged background, think beyond those things to the man…to his family…to his legacy. He indeed had a servant’s heart and acted on it as best he knew how.
And if you watch any of the ceremonies this week, you perhaps caught several scenes that will be replayed many times. Senator Dole standing and saluting his President and comrade in arms. George W. Bush giving a eulogy for his dad. Alan Simpson keeping the spirit of the ceremonies a little lighter. The military bands and honor guards. The train that carried the body of the President to his final resting place. All of these and more are now memories for those of us who have watched these things via the miracle of television and Internet.
And yet, in spite of all of the pomp and ceremony…despite all of the accolades and words of kindness…there looms large the idea of death, the afterlife, eternity, judgment, and God. Many people who profess no particular religious affiliation even think of these things and struggle at times to make sense of it all. And for those of us who call ourselves Christian, we even look at this holy time and wonder what it will be like when we ourselves meet the same fate as Mr. Bush and countless others that we have known and loved.
Death, it is said, is the great equalizer. No matter your status in life, no matter your social class, no matter your education, your family ties or your nationality, in death we all become equal. We cannot escape it. We all must eventually face the separation of our body from our spirit. The body dies and returns to the dust from which it is made. The spirit returns, we believe, to the God who gave it, awaiting the time when body and spirit will again be united…but this time for eternity never to die again.
Paul the apostle talks about this very subject in one of his letters that has been preserved for us. At the end of the discussion about the body, the spirit, death and resurrection he says, “Comfort one-another with these words.” Death and dying need not be a terrifying or scary proposition. We need not fear or obsess over what will happen. In fact, Paul says that we should take comfort in the idea of resurrection and eternal life…that it is something for which to be grateful and yes, even joyful.
None of us knows the exact time of our demise. We don’t know if we have another day, another month, or another decade of life here. But we can know what will happen when that time eventually comes, when we part this life and enter into the next. Our faith in Jesus Christ…our taking on his righteousness and giving him our unrighteousness…our acceptance of his grace and forgiveness and our pledge to serve the only true God and Father of us all are what give us that Hope that is so often talked about in the Bible, and the assurance of life everlasting beyond. That life can be yours. And yours. And yours. Why not do it today?

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