To Fly or Not To Fly?

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“When You Come to a Fork in the Road, Take It.” Yogi Berra. On Tuesday, I had to decide whether to say, “No,” or to accept to step into a 4-seater helicopter! Unbeknownst to me, Jody Davis had planned a surprise helicopter fly-along with the Pasadena Police Department for me. A thick blanket of fear enveloped my whole body. My knees almost gave in.  My heart thumped as if it would break through my rib cage.  I felt a cold shiver down my back. My palms were sweaty, revealing a little shake. Should I go on the ride or not? The comfort, safety and familiarity of the ground was appealing.  To fly or not to fly? Was the question. In an instant, I held the bull by the horns.  I faced my fear of heights head on.  Fear was not going to hold me back from this experience of a lifetime. I conquered my fear of heights and of flying.

Jody and I, our pilot, and a co-pilot strapped ourselves in.  My mind raced through all the unjustified “ifs” of fear. What if we do not make it back?  What if the winds are too heavy? What if there is a mechanical problem?  What if …?  I shot down each thought of fear with the weapons of faith.  I refused to listen to the whispers of the devil. I told myself, “God’s got this!” Suddenly a wave of courage swept over me. I muttered under my breath, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13)

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The helicopter took smoothly and gently. I saw the ground gracefully disappear under my feet. In the past, I would not have had the courage to look outside. But, not today.  I confidently took out my camera and began to record the video of our flight. We headed south, flying over the immaculately manicured Brookside Golf Course.  I marveled at its beauty, from this vantage point. The majestic San Gabriel Mountains loomed behind us.  We soon passed over the grandiose structure of the Rose Bowl.  This bird’s eye view of the city of Pasadena was magnificent. We flew over the cities of Pasadena, Al Hambra, Arcadia, Monrovia, and Glendora.

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This helicopter fly-along is one of the best activities I have ever undertaken.  Fear was going to rob me of this privilege.  I am glad I did not let fear keep me from this fabulous experience of a lifetime. I am glad I did not let fear cripple me.  Although the flight took me out of my comfort zone, I absolutely enjoyed it. Although the flight tested my faith, I passed.  Although my fear felt big, my God is bigger than any fear. Fear gives a false sense of security. Security can be fleeting. It can quickly dissipate like the morning dew.

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  • Of what are you afraid?
  • What keeps you from attaining your goals?
  • Are you afraid of public speaking?
  • Are you afraid of teaching, witnessing, leading, or singing?
  • Whatever your fear is, bring it to God.
  • Ask God for strength and grace to help you face your fears.
  • You can do it.
  • You can overcome your fear.
  • Do not let fear hold you back.
  • Go on, live your life in style.
  • Trust in God. He’s got this.

2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

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Favorite Easter Hymns and Their Histories

Religious Easter Crosses (03)

by DaySpring.com Contributing Author

The great theologian Charles Spurgeon once said, “… the singing of the pilgrims … is the most delightful part of worship and that which comes nearest to the adoration of heaven.” I couldn’t agree more, especially at Easter when we, as Christians, come together to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

My fondest Easter memories are centered around singing together as a congregation. I can remember the church being filled with Easter lilies and other girls like me decked out in our new, pastel-colored Easter dresses. But more than anything, I recall everyone’s voice being raised to God in worship, praising Him for sending His Son to die for our sins. Including my own.

My favorite Easter hymn is “I Know That My Redeemer Lives,” penned by Samuel Medley (1738 – 1799).

I know that my Redeemer lives; what comfort this sweet sentence gives!
He lives, He lives, who once was dead; He lives my ever-living Head.

Medley’s grandfather taught him about Christ but, as a young man, Medley was interested in other things. It wasn’t until he faced imminent death due to an injury, that he turned back to the God his grandfather taught him about, and gave his heart to his Redeemer.

These lyrics speak to me mainly because of one word – my. Like Samuel Medley finally understood, I know that Jesus is “my” Redeemer; He came to die for me, specifically. Of course, He came to die for all of us. But isn’t it wonderful to know that each of us can profess Jesus as “my” Redeemer; He loves all of us and claims each of us as His own.

“Jesus Christ is Risen Today” is another popular Easter hymn and some may be more familiar with a slightly different version, “Christ the Lord is Risen Today.”

Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia!
Our triumphant holy day, Alleluia!
Who did once upon the cross, Alleluia!
Suffer to redeem our loss. Alleluia!

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Dating back to the 14th century, this hymn is one of the oldest on record. In 1739, the composer Charles Wesley wrote a poem based on this hymn. Titled “Christ the Lord is Risen Today,” Wesley’s poem was quickly put to music and soon became a favorite. While Wesley is credited with composing as many as 6500 hymns, this particular hymn stands out and is still used in Easter services today around the world.

Alfred Ackley, a musician and preacher, wrote “He Lives” in 1933. Many know the hymn by its first line, “I serve a risen Savior.”

I serve a risen Savior, He’s in the world today;
I know that He is living whatever men may say;
I see His hand of mercy, I hear His voice of cheer,
And just the time I need Him, He’s always near.

At the time, Ackley was challenged by a young student who was confused as to why Christians worshipped someone who had died centuries earlier. In response, Ackley is quoted as saying, “He lives! I tell you, He is not dead but lives here and now! Jesus Christ is more alive today than ever before. I can prove it by my own experience, as well as the testimony of countless thousands.”

Fueled by the student’s questions, Ackley wrote these popular lyrics. His refrain is joyous, reminding us all that Jesus rose from the dead as promised and remains alive today in the heart of every believer.

Refrain:

He lives, He lives,
Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me
Along life’s narrow way.
He lives, He lives,
Salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives?
He lives within my heart.

We are fortunate to have so many beautiful Easter hymns to sing together, as one body. And it doesn’t matter if our voices are choir-worthy or a bit off-tune – we know that our God takes great pleasure in hearing our voices being raised to Him in worship.

Posted in Church

The King riding a Donkey?

 

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Matthew 21:5, “Say to Daughter Zion, ‘See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”

  • Donkeys have been domesticated since 3000, BC.
  • Donkeys are more efficient than horses when used in transport duties because a donkey eats only about one-quarter of the oats that a horse does.
  • Donkeys were used throughout the times of the Bible.
  • Abraham rode a donkey, as did Moses. Jacob’s sons rode donkeys. In the book of Judges, judges rode on donkeys as well.
  • David was a king, perhaps the greatest in Israel’s history, and he rode a donkey.
  • As they trekked to Jerusalem, Mary rode a donkey to Bethlehem while she was pregnant with Jesus.

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  • Donkeys have a reputation of being stubborn.
  • Donkeys work best when they trust the person.
  • Donkeys are hard workers.
  • Donkeys are regarded as dirty, low, humble animals.
  • Donkeys can navigate treacherous, rocky surfaces.
  • Donkeys can hold their own against predators. They have been known to kill foxes, coyotes, and even mountain lions with their sharp hooves and powerful kicks.

So Jesus, riding on a donkey, fulfills the characterization that the King would be “lowly.”

The symbolic character of the donkey as an animal used for peaceful purposes stands in marked contrast to a horse, whose imagery associates with war.

A man riding on a donkey is not looking for war, and in Jesus’ case, He came instead to save, carried on perhaps the lowliest of animals.

Jesus is the Prince of peace.

Jesus came so you can have peace with God.

He came so you can have peace with yourself.

He came so you can have peace with others.

No God, no peace.  Know God, Know peace!

Happy Easter!

Let Everything that Has Breath Praise God!

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“You take approximately 23,000 breaths every day, but when was the last time you thanked God for one of them? The process of inhaling oxygen and exhaling carbon dioxide is a complicated respiratory task that requires physiological precision. We tend to thank God for the things that take our breath away. And that’s fine. But maybe we should thank him for every other breath too!” – Mark Batterson, All In (Zondervan, 2013), page 119

The songbook of the Bible is the Book of Psalms.  Psalm 150 summarizes what God wants us to know about praise and worship.

The Christian faith is a singing and praising faith. The Salvation Army’s heritage is that of music – praise music.  No other religion has praise and singing such as we have, because we have the song of the Lord in our hearts. The psalmist answers some important questions about praise in this psalm.

WHO?“Praise the Lord” (v. 1)—

Do not praise the church.  Do not praise the preacher, but praise the Lord.

Our problem is that we often don’t see the Lord. We look at gifts or lack of gifts from God. We say, “Why didn’t the Lord do this, or why wasn’t it done differently?” We don’t see Him. He is the WHO beyond the gifts we receive.  He is the WHO behind the blessings that shower upon us. The WHO is the Lord, Almighty.

WHERE?“Praise God in His sanctuary; praise Him in His mighty firmament” (v. 1).

We are to praise Who?  We are to praise God in His sanctuary.  In His temple.  What an interesting combination. When we praise God in church, it’s just like the praise of the angels in heaven. In the sanctuary or wherever we are, let’s praise Him.Come into the house of the Lord with praise.  Don’t go to Vegas to celebrate. Come praise God with the saints.  Come sing praises with the church.

WHY? “Praise Him for His mighty acts; praise Him according to His excellent greatness!” (v. 2).

We praise Him for what He is and for what He does. Who here has seen God do something? Praise Him for it.  I do not know about you, but I have so much to praise God for.  Salvation, so free and fair. Family, food, shelter, clothes, freedom, work, friends. I praise Him for what He has done, and for what He will do.

HOW? With the sound of the trumpet, with the band, the harp, the timbrel, the dance, the stringed instruments, guitars and the loud cymbals.

The psalmist is saying, “Get the whole orchestra together. Find every instrument you can, and let’s praise the Lord.” Some people don’t like that kind of praise, but we are commanded here to praise Him and to make a loud song to His glory.

  • Wake up every morning, read a Psalm.
  • Praise God for his provisions.
  • Praise God for guidance, for the day, for everything.
  • Name God’s attributes, and praise Him for them.
  • Write a prayer journal, start keeping track of your prayers and the answers to the prayers. You will see you have so much to praise God for.
  • Put on some Christian music and worship God wherever you are. Whether it is in your bedroom or your car, or on a walk, God will bless you for glorifying his name.

WHAT? “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord (150:6).

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The most striking feature of this psalm is the fact that in six short verses we are commanded to praise God no less than 13 times!  The fact that God can command us to praise Him means that praise is not just a feeling based upon your mood or circumstances.

Praise is in part a feeling, but it is not at its heart a feeling. If you are breathing, praising God is not an option; it is your responsibility. Let’s be praise machines.  Praise God without ceasing. The message of the psalms, and especially of Psalm 150, is God’s people must habitually praise Him.