Armor of God: Gearing Up for Team Jesus

Source: Armor of God: Gearing Up for Team Jesus

Gear up! Dress out! Put on the armor of God, and get in uniform for Team Jesus  (as prayer-a-phrased from Ephesians 6.)

 

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10 tips for sermons that keep everyone awake

Source: 10 tips for sermons that keep everyone awake

Sermons aren’t meant to be lullabies or long songs that drone on and on, lulling people to sleep! The idea of a weekly message is not to offer advice or tell people what to do but to show the relevance of God’s Word as you work and pray for a Christian faith community of Christ-like love.

These tips will help you get to the point, be concise, and, most important, encourage Christlike lives and actions.

Getting real with God

Lent brings a 40-day reminder to get real with God – a practice among Christians that encourages us to give serious thought to our words and actions, which better prepares us to receive the joy and power of Easter.

Instead of glossing over flaws, failures, or areas of unforgiveness, we can face our realistic struggles with doubt, fear, or worry and arrive at a new understanding of how powerful faith is — even when it’s no bigger than a mustard seed.

Jesus’ apostle Thomas understood this. Although he’d been willing to die for Christ, he didn’t want to take the word of other followers when Jesus returned from death. He needed to see for himself.

Thomas

Why did you doubt
the real live blood that sprouted
from Christ’s side and bloomed
in the room where you gathered –

   a bouquet of wine
   poured behind
   closed doors?

Could you not see the pores
opened, aching for you, always
to be, not beside yourself,
but Him?

His side lay bare to let you in,
so enter now. Come round His side
and worship Him again.

by Mary Harwell Sayler, (c) 2014, from poetry book Outside Eden

 

Thomas did “come round,” immediately declaring “My Lord and My God!” and that declaration carries even more impact because the Bible did not previously cover up his doubt.

The Bible does not pretend we’ll have a perfectly lived life. Expecting that can become a hindrance to our relationship with God, especially if we think we’ll have nothing but prosperous, carefree days. If, however, we expect no special exemptions from trouble — and if we believe our Perfect Father God never, ever leaves us — we’re poised to relax and take an Olympic-sized leap of faith.

Lost in Faith

Abandoned
by You, Lord?
Never!

Abandonment
by me….
Yes!

I throw myself
on Your mercy.

by Mary Harwell Sayler, (c) 2017, from poetry book Lost in Faith

Shaping memory into poetry

486
Mary in middle school

National Poetry Month (NaPoMo) reminds us to buy poetry books and journals, study poetry forms and techniques, and, perhaps, let our poems address memories or issues we need to work through and/or commemorate.

Both occurred for me, for example, when a childhood memory stayed with me vividly for decades, but I wasn’t sure why until I revisited the event in this poem:

Down Kinney Town
by Mary Harwell Sayler

Feet bare, the girls came up today,
and Mama gave them ouch-grown shoes
that once belonged to me or Kay,
but, oh, I longed to give them too.

Two girls they were: soiled blonde, unkempt –
not like Mama’s girls who shone
in new-sewn clothes and often dreamt
of finer galaxies than home.

With clean hands bare, could I, a child,
share much with girls from a small shack, wild?
But one said, “Come,” so I went down –
down the tangled path to Kinney Town.

Theirs was adventure I could play.
A cold potato rationed me –
eyeless, grown in soil, unbent. They
gave that last leftover. Free.

I took.
Then home I went with backward look.

As I worked on that poem, I realized what bothered me was the amazing generosity of those two girls, who had almost nothing to give but needed to give something. In my naivety, I most likely ate their dinner, but the poem, which I included in my book Living in the Nature Poem published by Hiraeth Press in 2012, also reminded me why I still love cold baked potatoes.

May Christ arise in you!

Resurrection

It was finished.
There was nothing left to do
but take down Jesus’ body
and hide it quickly
from mind, from view.
The terror of the tomb
closed the matter,
once for all,
wrapping sin
for its descent
into down-falling darkness
where never light had been.
Even from the Upper Room
no one had known our own
souls would be exhumed.
But Christ arose.
And with Him angels rolled
away the tombstone,
shroud, and doubt –
releasing all
who wanted out.

© 2014, 2016, Mary Harwell Sayler – poem included in book of Bible-based poems, Outside Eden

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