While we feel trapped in our homes, help us to see that we are trapped by sins and free in Christ.
While we look at our screens and feel helpless, help us to look out the window and see your power in nature.
While we may have lost our day-jobs, show us the work of the Gospel and remind us that night is coming when no man can work.
While we distance ourselves and stand apart, fuse your Church tightly together and make it one as you are One.
While we wash our hands, remind us that our hearts were washed in the blood of Jesus.
While we listen to our governments and empty our streets of a virus, help us listen to you and empty them of violence and fill them with your loving kindness.
As our world is changing, Heaven remains the same.
As our worries increase, your love for us cannot.
As we face pressures, you press into us.
As we find solutions, you nailed yours to a cross.
Grant your workers knowledge and strength,
your people faith and hope,
your Church power, love and unity.
We will give you all the glory and honor.
In the name of your Son, Jesus
(pictures and prayer, Heidi Viars, 2020)
“Hi. My name is Heidi and I am a people junky!”
I love people (for most part mostly most of them). I love them like the books I read. I try to understand them and get their point. I love them them at the dining room table and in my living room. They intrigue me, make me wonder about their stories and what is hidden on the pages of their lives.
That’s why I greet new people at church. I don’t mind (even when they do). I leave conversations with friends because a new person just skipped by the corner of my eye. “Hang on! I’ll be right back!” (I try not to lie, but this one slips out every time!).
When I went to our Facebook church on Sunday and saw that our small congregation exploded with 2.6k views, I called my pastor and asked him, “How do you assimilate THAT?”
Here are few things I thought of as practical:
~Go to online church if you can. Hey, you can eat your breakfast and don’t even need to brush your teeth (ok, maybe for those sitting next to you on the couch).
~Now is the time to invite people. People from all over the world can make it to your church. Invite your missionary friends you only see once a year. We had our friends from Africa join. Their internet even held up for the time we were meeting.
~Hang out in groups after church and during the week for Bible studies. We have changed platforms a couple of times. That was annoying. But with patience you will figure out an app that works for you. Try to avoid those apps that have time limits. We didn’t realize how wonderful it was to meet and we were so sad when our feed cut after the time ran out. It made me realize how desperate we are for talking with one another.
~PRAY FOR YOUR PASTOR. This is not the time to let him know that he is clueless. Guess what … He is. Nobody knows how to deal with this. As the Body of our Lord, we can work this out. Jesus is still the head.
~Go through your church directory and get to know the elderly in your church. While we are so busy downloading our apps, they might benefit from a good ole call.
How are you doing church these days? What has worked for you?
“Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
Hebrews 10:19-25 (ESV)
While I washed my hands today, I asked the Lord to bless the work of our hands.
I thought of an encounter at the store.
I wondered if each deed she’d done
Had left their mark in lines,
And if the names of those she touched
In gnarling I could find
I clearly saw her open palms,
Saw years of work and care,
Imagined hands which children calmed
Then folded tight in prayer.
I thought of Jesus and His hands –
His nail-pierced hands of love –
How He surrendered all His plans
Into the Hands above.
Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,
and establish the work of our hands upon us;
yes, establish the work of our hands!
Psalm 90:17 (ESV)
(Poem and picture, Heidi Viars, 2020)
I just scratched off the last appointment on my calendar.
How about we get together here and pray?
IN THE COMMENT SECTION
My oldest son is a producer of a morning show for a news station a few hours away from here. I am thinking a lot about him these days. I know that he has to sort and prioritize through a barrage of news every night, cutting them into bitesize tidbits, so that we can easily digest them for breakfast. Many news don’t make it as far as the TV-screen or the phone app. There is not enough time in the world to cover it all. A few times, when I shared my concerns about what I’d seen on the news, he has said, “And that’s just the news you see, mom!”
This afternoon, an onslaught of news hit all within a few hours.
“Mom, I am sick. Can you pick me up?”
“Mom, school is cancelled for Monday,”
“Mom, college classes have been cancelled for next week.”
“Mom, school is out for all of next week.”
“Mom, I am coming home tomorrow. I will be home until April.”
“Honey, all the kids will be home for the next three weeks. Oh, and there is no toilet paper!”
A twenty-four-hour news cycle doesn’t sound that bad to me. At least it gives moms time to adjust and a break from the breaking news.
Long ago, at a time when wars were fought with swords, in a warring country, lived a young, valiant man who yearned to fight at the front lines of the raging battle. He was courageous and often asked his father for a sword so he could fight in the war. The father, a wise and noble man, denied him the privilege each time the young man asked. The want-to-be warrior became increasingly impatient. One day, in despair and frustration, he took his moneybag and set out for the blacksmith to buy his own sword.
When he arrived at the blacksmith, he saw two men hitting a red-hot rod alternately with precise blows, filling the air with loud clanking. The men looked tired and dirty, but kept diligent eyes on their work. Tools of every kind hung from hooks, lay in corners, and filled dirty shelves. A tall, burly man stood in the back by a stone fire pit next to a pile of wood and a giant bellow. He was tending a hot fire.
The tall man saw the young one, wiped his sweaty brow and walked toward him. “What can I do for you?”
“I need a sword for the war,” said the young man with a fire in his voice, matching the heat of the embers in the pit. “I will kill our enemies until they are completely destroyed!” he said and gave the man his moneybag.
The fire stoker, who was the head blacksmith, sensed the determination in the young man’s voice.
“Come on in!”
The young man was excited. It wouldn’t be long and he would be able to join the war.
The blacksmith looked at the coins in the bag and replied,
“I am sorry, but this is not nearly enough,” and seeing the determination in the young man’s face, he continued,
“Would you like to work for me? We are short-handed in here. Soldiers need new swords for their warfare. Many need their weapons sharpened. Men are dying for lack of good swords.”
The young man felt disappointment rise up in his fearless heart. But, since he was also a charitable man, and in need of a sword, he asked,
“What I can do for you?”
The blacksmith’s face grew a warm smile behind his long, gray beard.
“I will show you. Come!”
The young man followed the blacksmith to the fire pit.
“Tend this fire! Do not let it go out, young friend,” the blacksmith said, grateful for the help.
All day the young man kept the fire burning. When he ran out of wood, he carried in more. When all the cut logs were gone, he chopped more wood. At the end of the day he was exhausted.
“Come back tomorrow,” the blacksmith said. The young man agreed, for he was eager and loyal. He returned to the shop day after day.
As time went on, the young man grew fond of the men in the shop and became devoted to the hardworking blacksmith. He hauled iron and wood, kept the fire going, and tended to the various jobs. Day after day he grew stronger and more vigorous in his work. Soon, he knew how hot the fire had to be in order for the metal to be rightly heated. He knew what tools to use, when to strike the glowing iron, how to forge new swords and most of all, how to make swords sharper than any other swords around. Even though in the depth of his heart he longed to be on the battlefront, over time, he became a devoted and capable blacksmith.
One day, while airing the fire with the bellow, he noticed a soldier by the door. He looked tired and worn. His uniform was bloody and his hands dirty. The soldier walked in, drew his sword from his sheath and laid it on the anvil.
“Did you forge this sword?” he asked the young man.
The young man knew the sword well for he had held it in his hands for many days while forging its metal when it was hot. He remembered how he had worked for hours to craft it into the sharpest sword anyone had ever seen. He nodded his head.
The soldier looked into the eyes of the young man and said with kindness,
“My valiant fellow soldier, the war was won last night. The country is free. Though many are injured and slain, the enemy could not withstand the power of this weapon. This very sword killed the king of our enemy. I wanted to thank you and return it to you as a sign of my gratitude.”
The young man picked up the sword from the anvil on which he had forged and sharpened it and looked at it with pride.
That night he walked home with a grateful heart, knowing that his sword had slain the enemy in the battle he was not allowed to see.
The Word is forged and proven true
In hearts of those who follow Christ,
Becomes a weapon piercing through
The darkest evil – slaying lies.
There on the anvil of the soul,
The Truth is driven deep below.
The Father, in the blacksmith’s role,
Crafts swords with every painful blow.
He asks His warring child to wield
His Word, the doubled-edged Sword –
Not fear the prayer-battlefields –
For every battle is the LORD’s.
“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” 2 Corinthians 10:3-5
“Lord, let me stand strong in the battle of prayer. Draw me to your Word of Truth, the only weapon that will defeat the enemy of our souls.” (Story, poem and bottom picuture, Heidi Viars, Scriptures taken from the ESV)