Absent Without Leave: Body Parts and the Body of Christ

My voice went AWOL on me one spring a few years ago. Blame it on seasonal allergies (which I usually don’t have) or just a nasty spring cold, but I spent the better part of a week trying to communicate with anything from a hoarse whisper to a croaking, cough-infused version of my former speaking voice. And forget the singing voice. It stayed AWOL even longer.

What a difference one little part of our bodies can make. Having next to no voice made it difficult and at times impossible to do certain tasks and carry on with life as normal. Maybe because life is not normal when a part of our bodies is missing or not functioning the way it should, huh?

The staff at the pharmacy probably thought they were dealing with a prank caller on my first voiceless morning when I called to ask advice from the pharmacist. I pretty much gave up on phone calls after that, though I did talk to my daughter Kelli when she called one day. Poor thing had to listen to me cough and hack my way through that conversation.

When my voice started to return, I had to apologize for how it sounded every time I spoke to someone new. I also couldn’t make myself heard if I was more than a few feet away. And I’m still trying to figure out why Don thought I could answer him when he yelled at me from another room. Crazy guy.

I was living proof that our lives are definitely hampered when a part of the body goes AWOL. And you know that’s true not only for our physical bodies, but for the body of Christ—the church—as well. Scripture likens the church to a physical body, and the comparison is an apt one.

Since as believers, we are each part of the body and each have a role to fulfill or a function to perform, what do you suppose happens when one or more members of the body goes AWOL? Yes, the rest of the body finds it difficult and even impossible at times to carry on its normal tasks. They may have to give up a vital service or ministry or, at the very least, apologize for a role being inadequately or half-heartedly filled.

So let’s ask ourselves today what kind of body part we are. Let’s not be the ones to make life difficult for our fellow church members. Let’s not go AWOL on the body of Christ.

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10 NIV

*What kind of body part are you? What role or roles are you playing in the body of Christ?

*I hope this slightly revised post from April 2011 blessed you today!

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early May. One lucky subscriber will receive a $15 gift card to Barnes & Noble and a signed copy of my book to use personally, give as a gift, or donate to a library. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by Michael CoryCreative Commons License

Hear the Call to Worship

Chime! Chime! Chime! On weekdays, not more than a dozen blocks from our house, children arrive and begin their school day at the local Catholic church and school. When I’m lucky, I happen to open my door or step out on my back steps and hear the church bells ringing in a new school day, signaling the time to begin.

I don’t know their schedule, but I like to think they are starting with moments of worship and prayer. As they hear the chiming of the bells, I hope they are gathering to acknowledge the Creator of the world, gathering to say prayers to their heavenly Father.

I know for me, when the rich ring of the beginning bell wafts through the air, I hear a call to worship. I hear my Father saying, “Think of me! Think of me!”

And I do. I think of him. I think of the glory of the morning and of the world around me. I think of how worthy he is to be praised. I think of how blessed I am to have such a loving and faithful heavenly Father. I think of him, I think of him.

On days when I’m caught up in something else and miss hearing the ringing of the bells, I still feel the call to worship as I look at the beauty of my Lord’s creation or as I think of blessings he has poured into my life. Each work of beauty, each sound of nature, each blessing he has granted is like a church bell chiming, “Think of me! Think of me!”

How about you? What calls you to worship? What calls you to think of him? Whatever it is, take time to answer his call. Take time to think of him.

“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? . . . LORD, our LORD, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” Psalm 8:3-4, 9 NIV

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride check out my Books/My Work page.

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out on Thursday Feb. 1st. One lucky subscriber will receive a $15 gift card to Starbucks and a signed copy of my book to use personally, give as a gift, or donate to a library. New subscribers this week won’t be included in this giveaway but will be included in all future giveaways. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*I hope you enjoyed this newly revised post from February 2011.

*Flickr photo by vxlaCreative Commons License

Winter Trees and the Church: Beautiful Support

This may sound odd to some people, but I see a unique beauty in the naked trees of winter. Many would describe them as stark, drab, or depressing. I, on the other hand, think they have a beauty all their own when winter strips them of their leafy glory.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the leafy glory of trees as much as the next person. Watching trees bud out and turn green in the spring holds a special excitement for all of us. Summer then brings lush, full trees to pleasantly fill our landscapes before autumn arrives and sets them ablaze with color. I delight in each of these seasons and the changes they bring to trees.

But I think trees are beautiful in winter as well. Some might think it’s like looking at skeletons, but I see what looks like arms and fingers reaching for and pointing to God. I love looking out and seeing the intricacies of the branches. Winter allows us a view of the support system of the leaf laden trees we enjoy the rest of the year. Without the drab looking branches, there could be no beautiful leaves.

Winter trees actually remind me of other support systems in our lives as well. Just think about our bodies and all that’s working together beneath the surface to keep us up and running. The same can be said for just about every company, group, or organization we might name.

Consider the church. Many programs and people are highly visible, but there are just as many or more serving behind the scenes. And it’s the behind-the-scenes-type activity that makes it possible for the more visible ministries to take place. Everyone needs to do their part to keep things running smoothly—and more than that, to enable growth.

What role are you filling in your church—or life in general? Are you a part of the highly visible, leafy-glory, or is your role a part of the vital support system that’s needed? Maybe a little of both? Just keep in mind that neither is better. Both are needed and valued.

So take another look at the winter trees. Beautiful, huh?

“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10 NIV

*What support systems in your church, workplace, or organizations are you most thankful for?

The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out Feb. 1st. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive a $15 gift card to Starbucks and a signed copy of my book to use personally, give as a gift, or donate to a library. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by Oakley Originals, Creative Commons License

*I hope you enjoyed this revised encore post from January 2008!

Sweet Fellowship

Oh how sweet it is to find a group of people who get you, huh? People with whom you can enjoy meaningful fellowship. On a professional level, I’ve found this with Fellowship of Christian Writers, the writers group I meet monthly with in Tulsa, and also through writers conferences. On a personal and spiritual level, I’ve found this throughout my life with other believers in Christ, whether through the local church or a ministry or mission group.

Today let’s consider and rejoice in the fellowship we share as God’s children. As we read the following Fellowship acrostic, let’s thank God for each aspect of fellowship made possible because of our bond in him. And let’s fellowship!

Finding others with common passions and goals and joining them.

Enjoying time together and encouraging one another in every way.

Listening to the burdens as well as the delights of fellow members of the body of Christ.

Learning from others’ knowledge and experiences and sharing your own.

Owning possessions with open hands and giving liberally to those in need.

Worshiping the Lord together in song, in prayer, and in words of testimony.

Serving alongside one another to minister to others and share the love of Christ.

Helping each other in time of need or to achieve a common goal.

Inviting new folks to join in your activities and groups.

Praying together for needs, common concerns, and for people to come to faith in God.

“We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.” 1 John 1:3 

*What aspect of fellowship do you most enjoy? Which aspect do you struggle with the most?

The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early November. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive $15 gift card to Barnes & Noble and a signed copy of my book to use personally, give as a gift, or donate to a library. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*Flickr photo by Pepe Pont, Creative Commons License

Church in My Backyard

DSC03385*I won’t be posting next week during Spring Break, but I’ll see you back here on March 28!

I’m not the most observant person in the world. Case in point: We helped move our daughter and son-in-law to a townhome in a new city one November several years ago, visited them on the following New Year’s weekend, and then again over the following spring break, but it wasn’t until the trip after that that I noticed they had a church in their backyard—or side yard to be exact. The point is it’s right there.

Imagine my delight when I looked out the upstairs bedroom window early one morning before anyone else was stirring and saw a church tucked behind the stand of trees lining their development. Wow, I thought. They’ve got a church right in their backyard! I could feel a blog post coming on so I grabbed my camera and started snapping away.

Even though Kristin and Shawn didn’t end up attending this particular church, I was still excited to think they had a church—such a visible reminder of God—standing tall and strong so close to their home. A picture of God, if you will, living in their midst, watching over them, inspiring worship and peace for any who would open their eyes and see (the way I finally did!)

Believe it or not, I have a church in my backyard, too. No, it’s not a building made of stone and brick. It’s simply my yard. But it’s filled with visible reminders of God. The trees, the grass, the birds, the breeze all point to him and remind me that he’s living in my midst. He’s watching over me, and yes, inspiring worship and peace when I take the time to lift my eyes and turn my thoughts toward him.

Amazing, huh? I can’t help but proclaim, “Wow—I’ve got a church in my backyard!” How about you?

“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song…” Psalm 98:4

*Where are some places, other than church, where you’re inspired to worship?

*Hope this slightly revised and updated encore post from March 2010 blessed you today!

*My photo