The Old Country Church

“And Simon Peter answered and said,Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Matt. 16:16-18.

My toothless grin, gangly arms and legs, and blonde pigtails with strands of hair sticking out this way and that identified me as the tomboy who feared nothing, almost nothing.Churchthumbnail_IMG_0080

The country church, with its high steeple, filled each churchthumbnail_IMG_0079Sunday with friends, family and giggling, whispering children. Sitting high on a hill, cradled by woods it looked like a painting by Norman Rockwell(Okay these two pictures maybe not but remember cameras don’t show it all). Two things tainted my joy attending this picturesque church.

The basement, unfinished and haunting to a seven-year-old often, at least in my memory,  contained secret hiding places for these humongous black snakes. More than once, a squeal would carry up the stairs and some brave man would come rescue us. And people wonder why I don’t like basements or snakes.

Then there were the outhouses, one for men and one for women.  Now, mind you, the women’s sported a four seater, two tall seats for grownups and two small seats for children. But the outhouses sat on the edge of a hill near the woods. I cautiously opened the door, peered in every corner and even down the hole. I had no plans of a snake sneaking up on me while I took care of business. I would have waited until I got home, but that’s what we had at home, too.

Of course, now, I look back on these memories and laugh. Faces, pass through my mind, who have long been gone. I treasure the memories of those who cared enough to give us a place to worship together, loving one another, singing off-key, pastors preaching holiness, heaven and hell, praying at the altar. It wasn’t until I was much older I realized these were the things that make a church, not the building.churchthumbnail_IMG_0083

The common thread among us was, and is, knowing Jesus Christ the Son of the living God as our Lord and Savior as we joined one another on the journey homeward. It’s good to know the church of the living God goes beyond any one building into the far reaches of the world. I’m thankful to know you as my brother/sister in Christ. May we join hearts and hands as we continue on this journey.

Did you have the privilege of growing up in church? What special memories do you hold dear?

Heavenly Father, thank you for making us one in you.

 

The Missing Ingredient

“And Jacob begat Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called his Christ…Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.” Matt. 1:16,18.

Wouldn’t you find it hard to believe if your were in Joseph’s sandals? All Israel waited for Messiah. I imagine every Jewish girl hoped for the honor of God upon their lives. And now a young girl waiting to consummate the vows of betrothal declares she is with child of the Holy Ghost. What kind of man had God chosen to bring up His Son in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord”?

Joseph was a carpenter from Nazareth, a respected profession but an obscure village in the northern region of Israel. He was chosen out of, “the wisdom of God…the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory.” 1Cor. 2:7. God proved His wisdom in choosing him, and showed us what He desires in a man to be head of a family, “…even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body.” Eph. 5:23b.

“Then Joseph, her husband, being a just man…” According to the Hebrew Greek Key Study Bible, Joseph was in good company, being one that consistently chose observance of right and equated with those who walked with God. “And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.”(Gen. 5:24). “…Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.”(Gen. 6:9). “…there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel…” (Luke 2:25).

“…Joseph her husband…not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.”  This could be done privately or publicly, but required a bill of divorcement. Joseph’s kind heart would not allow him to disgrace Mary publicly.  “Be kindly affectioned one to another, with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another;”(Rom. 12:10). “Charity suffereth long, and is kind…”(1Cor. 13:4).

”Joseph…while he thought on these things…” He thought before he acted. “O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh logneth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;” (Ps. 63:1)

“…the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost…Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:” Joseph’s was a man of faith. “… without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”(Heb. 11:6).  His faith was proven in obedience. “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” (James 2:17).

We don’t hear anything of Joseph after Jesus’ twelfth year. But he leaves us with a godly example for men to follow. If we desire our country to return to God, it will begin in our families with godly husbands raising their children with the aid of godly mothers after the teaching of Deuteronomy 6: 4-7,9:DSCF0306

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up…And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.”  

My children, grandchildren and great-grandson are blessed to have godly fathers, as was I. Many are missing this ingredient today. Pray for the restoration of the godly family for the sake of our children, their future and ours. May we speak and live the love of Christ before them.