I Want to go back to Church

Without question the last few weeks have been poles apart from others in my now lengthy life, and I quite expect that until my last day on earth has come and gone, I will never experience such ones again. Additionally, I am of the strong opinion that you who read here join me in this state of affairs. From east to west and north to south our amazing planet has been affected by COVID-19. We have been turned upside down and shaken to our core as this pandemic has swept through the peoples of the world.

New words, phrases and other concerns envelop us. We practice social distancing, cover our faces with masks, spray our mail with disinfectants, renew our understanding of our constitution, learn of new internet tools, deal with emptied grocery shelves, giggle about toilet paper hoarding, grapple with human rights and with being quarantined–among a myriad other issues.

I will deal with none of these in this post–except at a slant. The quarantine has nixed group gatherings including church services. For weeks now I have not been to church, and I’m missing it dreadfully. Oh, we’ve had live-streaming of preaching and teaching and choir singing and other music. We have watched baptisms in bathtubs and in nearly deserted church sanctuaries. We have paid our tithe and given our offerings over the internet. We have been spiritually stirred, intensified our personal devotions, and have had numerous prayer meetings in our living rooms. Candid discussions have evolved that speak to the positive results of this situation. I believe all that . . .but I want to go back to church.

I want to be with you. I want to shake your hand and hug your neck. I want to see what you’re wearing today and how you’ve styled your hair. I want to open my Bible and follow my pastor as he delivers the Word of God–and as he spouts off those phrases he uses all the time. I want to feel the fidget of the youngsters, observe the flirting lowered eyes of the beautiful young ladies, admire the strength and handsomeness of the young men. I want to pray with you. I want to admire you who struggle with walkers and pain and poverty. I want to hear the choir and the soloists and the keyboard and the drums and read the words on the screen and sing with you. I want to dig in my purse for my dollars and when the pan or the bag is passed, I want to drop it in.

I want to hold your baby.

I want to pray with you. I want to stand by you and weep, and take your hand.

I want to be there–in the church of the living God–as His intense presence moves over the congregation . . .and sometimes we know angels are there . . .and we are silent, not daring to speak. I want to be there when animated joy elicits words of praise that rise from our throats . . .our hands are raised . . .hallelujahs ring. Dance. I want to see you dance in worship, as only you can.

I want to interact with young families and see them pose for pictures after the worship service. I want to go out to eat with you, and plan outings and parties, and tell you how much you mean to me.

I want to have fun and honor you and cherish you.

Yep, I’m done with it. As wonderful as this live-streaming and such has been I’m through with it. As soon as we get the permissive word, on Saturday night I will lay out my clothes and choose my shoes and my purse, and I will set out my little red Bible. On Sunday morning we will not be late, but will rush to our sanctuary, our church, our people. Once again, an exhilarated group now, we will enter into His majestic courts. Our praise will fill the temple.

Just a Shaky, Muddy Frame

Too well do I know my lack of godly qualities. If you were in my company for any length of time, you would no doubt agree with my assessment, having observed less than sterling attitudes and actions. However, since in quite limited ways are you able to examine my soul and mind—my very thoughts and intents—it is next to impossible for you to know me as I know myself. While I am fearfully in touch with my own struggles, my doubts and failures, it brings me no joy to acknowledge such shortcomings.

It’s good for me to say these things, though. And, it’s good for you to hear of my sad state, for while every man and woman struggles—indeed sins—satan would have all of us believe we are the only ones who with such regularity and skill falter and fail. He smears guilt on our psyche and gloatingly sneers, “God can’t love you. You won’t be saved. You’re bound for hell. Look at you. You’re nothing but a sinner.” Not at all is this true.

This morning I want to remind you that God knows—really knows—us. And despite His knowledge of every secret sin, He continues to love us, His mercy still flows, His grace abounds. Oh, happy thought, blessed thought; comfort divine.

David had a unique understanding of this truth—David, the “man after God’s own heart,” David, the king who committed unspeakable sin. In his 103rd Psalm, verses 13-14, moved by the Holy Ghost, David eloquently writes:

“Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.”

Oh, my God, how beautiful, how glorious! God knows us, looks on us fondly, even pities us. He understands our frame, recalls that of mere dust has been made lowly man. You?…yep! You’re just dust…and I?…the same…muddy, shaky, a pitiful frame.


Reposted from Feb. 2, 2006

A Touch of the Heavenlies

Sometimes I cry at these moments, for I understand that words alone lack the substance to tell–yes, even to tell my own heart and to tell my own psyche. Lacking in weight and heft are the syllables that come to my tongue, so they merely roll around in my mouth and in my head. In futility they try, but inevitably come up short for the telling.

Yet, I persist, for it is words that must be written if others are to share my pleasure, my observations. For I understand you cannot see my tears, nor feel their warm stream down my face, you cannot know my joy, not reckon with its  effervescence, nor can you connect with my heart and nudge into its crevasses except I tell you with words.

ImageDuring the days of Christmas my grandson Joel preached at Hilltop in San Diego. Among others, on the platform with him were my husband and my son Steve who is Joel’s father. Can anything be better than this?

ImageJoel’s brother, Chris, sat on the first pew just ahead of me, and in acclamation of the great preaching of his brother, he rose in worship.

ImageFather and grandfather stand during the dynamic preaching.

Well before I was conceived by my mom and dad, well before I was born to those humble people, God ordered my life and its excellence and its multiple blessings. How I was selected to encounter such joy, I will never understand. As though a shinning cloak of the heavenly has been thrown over me, is my life. I will enter eternity thankful.

In His Steps

The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD; and he delighteth in his way.

Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.

…………………..The 37th Psalm verses 23 and 24


How cool it is to know our steps are ordered of the LORD. Amazing to think of such personal attention from the region of the heavenly . . . from the very throne room of God. Contemplate on that. One caveat: Our spiritual ears must be critically tuned, always sharp, so that we plainly hear His directions.


“And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, say, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: . . .” Revelation 19:6-7

Another Sunday has dawned. Let us rejoice. Let us lift hallelujahs. Let us worship our King.

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The Holy

Never far from a dominant place in my mind is that of admiration for people who totally give themselves to the work of God: People who may forgo comfort and ease, who may move thousands of miles from their families, and who may assume simple and sacrificial ways of living. Sometimes these people are missionaries to foreign countries, sometimes they pastor or otherwise work in mission churches here in America. Some are called evangelists and they travel in motor homes or in trailers towed behind their cars, and that vehicle is their home, and sometimes they rear their babies in that way. They are the givers. The sacrificers. And there are others. We might never see them or know of them, for they work in the shadows, unseen, unnoticed, but they are there: They of the Holy.

Yesterday on Brother Daniel Scott’s facebook site, I saw this picture.
untitled (1 of 1) It struck me in my heart, and I typed in a comment to ask what this picture represented. This was Brother Scott’s response.

Sister Shirley: I am assuming you are speaking about the Album of the construction of the church in Quininde, Ecuador. This was the first church I constructed in Ecuador. The environment was very primitive at that time (today it is modern as anything in the United States). I created a church plan that I could present and solicit money for from my Partners In Missions, and know how much it would cost, what materials to purchase, etc. The previous church building is shown, and Paul Hosch from Dallas, Texas, sent me the money for this church. From there we duplicated the plan. To day those churches are running from many hundreds to such as the church in Quito, seating nearly 2,000, yet having to have three services each Sunday with firm request that no one attend a second time. Nice huh! Brother Battle and I worked very closely togather.

I cried when I looked at that picture for I knew it represented someone’s leaving their home to do God’s work, someone’s massive struggle, someone weeping in the night and working until their strength and their bodies were racked.That image haunts me and is etched in my heart

And then today I learned of Brother Willoughby’s death, and when I thought of the circumstances, I literally grew weak.

I have found a wonderful video, a tribute to the lives of Brother and Sister Willoughby. I post it here to honor not only them but Brother Scott, Brother Battle and their families, and you, and others of The Holy. You who give all.

The Worst Church in Town

Raging, the man looked at the few persons gathered for prayer.

“This is the worst church in town.” His flaming eyes swept across the stunned group. “Oh, not you.” He flailed his arms toward the leaders. “Not you. You’re good. . . but this church,” he continued. “It’s the worst in town. The scum, the lowdown, can’t trust anybody . . .”

As though a physical punch had knocked out her breath, the pastor’s wife trembled and caught for air. Her first impulse to shout “How could you say that about our dear church?” was repressed. She said nothing; hurt, defensive, shaking, a leaf in gathering storm.

Later, she came to understand. The man was right. It was the worst church in town– filled with lowly people, the pitiful, the addict, the undependable, the poor, the weeping, liars, and thieves. The beat up; the beat down.

She came to regard the man’s remarks as compliment. For had she not asked to be like Jesus, to take on His attributes, to enter into His mind? Had she not? Had not the leaders of the church proclaimed their wanting to be like Jesus? She remembered: Jesus once sat at a well with a prostitute; Jesus mingled with drunks; Jesus taught compassion and bandages for those who lie in bloody gutters; He held sticky messy children on His lap. He lived among the homeless. His group could not claim so much as a storefront, but a hillside must do for the church service some days. A small boat creaking in the water was the church platform more than once. Though He taught there every day, Jesus disdained lofty religiosity and once He went prowling about the elaborate temple where He ministered, and not liking what He saw, he silently plaited leather strips into a whip, then flying into the mess Jesus kicked over the tables, expelled the people and charged that His house should be called one of prayer. Jesus gathered an unlikely ragged group to work with Him and the lunatics followed along and the blind and the wretched.

Ours? The worst church in town? Could be.

An Altar at a Chair

Passion caused a break in his voice. As a blanket spreads a sleeping child, so did the tensive moment drape the group. In that we keep ourselves close–in that expressed emotions are not  ordinary–a tendril of embarrassment flickered in the air, so that eyes previously pinned on the speaker now lowered.

From my spot, slightly distanced from the small group, I saw one of the students, in a cautious lift of eye, scan the face of another…and then one more.

The question had been asked. “What do you mean by an altar?”

The answer was clear, and yes, an altar can be anywhere, and yes, it refers to communication with God, and yes, sometimes in my car it is hard to drive because of my emotional response as I talk with God.

But the moment, the tensive one, was another.

“But I have a chair–a chair in my living room, and it is there I kneel and pray. It is my place, my time.” His voice broke. “I look forward to that. That chair is my altar”


My other blog is here.

Would You Give Your Life for Your Beliefs?

Would you give your life for your beliefs?

A little over a year after becoming a Christian in Ngudungudu, Chad in December 1995, Jeje Nehamiah Baki left the town to meet up with his nomadic family in the wilderness. His wife had already returned to her parents and their nomadic lifestyle, and Baki, a former Muslim and nomadic Fulani of the Bororo dialect in Chad, was looking forward to reuniting with her and their two children. But he said his father-in-law, having learned of his conversion, seized his wife and would allow her to go back with him only if Baki renounced his Christian faith. He refused and left, returning a few years later to try again to persuade his father-in-law. The effort resulted in his father-in-law killing Baki’s first-born son, Compass Direct News reports. “Having lost my first child, and with threats to my life, I had to leave without my wife, but [returning later] only succeeded in taking away our second son.”


Would you? Would you give your life for your beliefs?


My other blog is here.

Unrecognized Treasure

Recently at an Easton, Md. Goodwill store, someone dropped off the painting depicted here. It was jumbled in with wooden spoons, cast off clothing, tattered books and dented pots and pans. But a sharp worker recognized the painting as being valuable, called attention, and it recently sold at Sotheby’s for $40,600.

The painting was the creation of Edouard Leon Cortes, a French Impressionist. His work is beautiful and this link shows more of his paintings.

Some unidentified person drove or walked to that thrift store, probably opened the trunk of their car and set off items they no longer needed or wanted. It is likely they did not recognize the value of the painting, nor did they understand that a masterpiece was in their possession. They failed to comprehend they were setting aside a treasure.

When I read this story, I immediately thought of the treasure we have in our lives when we possess the gift of the Holy Ghost, when we understand who Jesus is, and when we give Him the control of our being. It’s an amazing thing, and startling to consider.

Paul spoke about it in this way: “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” II Corinthians 4:7

Amazing, for God hath said, “Let us make man in our image,” and so we are flesh and blood as was Jesus Christ, and within our earthy, mortal, decaying bodies dwells the almighty God. It is truly a wonder.

It is astonishing that we have a desire to do right, that we have faith to believe in the supernatural and that we understand in a small way–as through a glass darkly–the treasure with which we are conferred.

My other blog is here.