The Beautiful and Faithful

may2019428 (2)
The Walk of Faith being constructed at the WMU Headquarters, Birmingham, AL

In the Fall of 2000, my husband and I, along with a mission team arrived in Odessa, Ukraine. Our assignment: to prayer walk in a village in the Crimean peninsula. Although we’d been trained in the months preceding, the journey was new. Preparing to go was an extraordinary undertaking and prayer walking, a new concept in our lives. Our team leader trained us using a book entitled, “Prayer Walking : praying on site with insight” by Graham Kendrick.

The day arrived for the 12 hour flight. Once landed, the Odessa airport customs experience was uncomfortable and primitive. The environment was punctuated with a quiet mystery looming as armed guards watched suspiciously from a distance. More adjustments awaited as we went on mission in this new land. Limited and unpredictable electricity, potties in the ground, undrinkable water and dirt roads all normal to Ukrainians, unusual and humorous at times to us. We saw God at work and were rewarded immediately for our obedience, yet still, the lay of the land was unfamiliar and kept us on our toes.Ukraine sept oct 2000

This is why Thomas and June Nolen were key to our navigation from the familiar to unfamiliar. Their easy demeanor and genuine joy gave us strength to face the week. Their humor was medicine to our weary souls. We will never forget their attentiveness, and reliability. The week was inspiring and faith building, but it was the Nolen’s who God used to orchestrate it.

The Nolens are a retired couple from Mantee, MS. They served in Ukraine from January 1999 – Fall 2002 being Coordinators for the Mississippi/Ukraine partnership. Many Mississippians went to Ukraine those years. As far as our week in Ukraine, the Nolens presence felt like protection; their cheer and humor like familiarity; their appreciation like confidence.

Last fall I saw the ad in the Mission Mosaic magazine for a Walk of Faith garden being constructed at the WMU headquarters in Birmingham, AL.  June Nolen came to mind and I decided to purchase a brick in her honor.

If you decide to do this, the WMU Foundation will send a letter to the person you are honoring with your gift or to the family of the person you are memorializing. The letter they receive lets them know you gave. This is a picture of the letter I received showing a replica of the brick going in this garden to be seen by generations.IMG_9661

It’s my joy to honor June Nolen. A kind, organized, thorough, sometimes funny, real, and beautiful missionary. She and Thomas have loved me and Clark through the years and enriched our lives with palpable memories and spiritual commitment.

If you would like  more information so you can honor or memorialize a person who’s impacted your life through missions, visit the website here.

See a video telling about the Walk of Faith garden here.

The Nolen’s walk of faith certainly impacted our walk of faith. And now you can impact those who’ve impacted you with a Walk of Faith brick too.

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:1-2

When One Chooses

12037941_428656370678839_1604878299138529356_nGod has a way of plucking people from the worst circumstances and setting their feet on a rock to serve and praise Him. Ethel Waters is one of millions to have this redemptive experience.

Some of you may remember the Billy Graham Crusades which were televised years ago. I wrote a blog here sharing my thoughts about those crusades as I remembered Billy Graham.

Ethel Waters was often a guest singer. Many had no idea of her story. Born in Pennsylvania in 1896, she was a product of a disparaging childhood. She made her way past the bar rooms to Broadway and achieved worldly success as a singer and later in the movies.

An Emmy nomination would make her the first black women to have this honor. But greater things than this were in store for her. Worldly success would pale as she would find God and live the last 20 years of her life devoted to His service. The Billy Graham Crusades put her God given talent in front of millions and finally it would be used for eternal purposes until her death in 1977.

photo-1545314329-10ce691845ba

A sparrow is not the most beautiful bird God created. Its size is usually about 5 inches and it’s coloring is brown, and other neutrals. Not impressive at all and yet, God created sparrows for a purpose. There are lessons to apply and I think Ethel Waters did.

“His Eye is on the Sparrow” is one of her most popular songs. It was written by Charles Gabriel and Civila Martin, but Ethel Waters brought it to life. You can watch her sing it here.

Thank God for her life. Once redeemed, it was well lived for God’s glory. If you search her on YouTube, you will see demonstration of her legacy. The views to her songs is evidence of God spreading His story through her story.

Ethel Waters, proof a horrible beginning doesn’t necessarily mean a bad ending. She used the time in her later years to serve the only One who can bring light from darkness, hope from despair, and glory to the only One who can save us from ourselves. God gives us the dignity to make the choice.

 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

Romans 10:9-10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Truth in a List

Truth Sentences

 

Jesus is God. John 1:1

All the Bible is true. John 17:17

Jesus never sinned. Hebrews 4:15

The Bible is God’s Word. Psalm 119:11

All Scripture is God-breathed. 2 Timothy 3:16 & 17

Jesus is God’s Son. John 3:16

Jesus never changes. Hebrews 13:8

The Word of God is alive and active. Hebrews 4:12

 

Truth Sentences Printable

 

 

 

Silent Saturday

westerly 469Our Lord is in the tomb. What were all His followers thinking? All those he’d healed, and taught. Those closest to Him and all the women who’d aided His earthy ministry.

What were they thinking?

What are you thinking?

This Saturday.

Pray the hard prayers today. Pray the incorrect prayers today. Pray the utterances from your soul today. Know every prayer is going straight to the Father. He will make all things right in His time.

Never lose hope. Followers of Jesus have eternal and living Hope.

Keep praying, keep building your faith muscles. Quit trying to impress God with your words. Pray the gut prayers. He longs for that honest relationship with you and I. We are His children. He wants us to climb in His lap and tell Him everything. If we only climb up, look at Him quizzically, squirm back down and run away, we will have missed Him. Climb up and lay your head on His shoulder, cry, and let Him hear your heart. This is silent Saturday. The answers are coming…

Tomorrow.

If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. Romans 8:11

 

 

 

 

0f6c02bc-bd6b-4112-b22a-820c631798f9.jpg

I look up to the mountains—  does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth! Psalm 121:1&2

He Died for Me

This poem is based chronologically on portions of Matthew’s Gospel.  I wrote this as Easter approached a number of years ago.

photo-1434077471918-4ea96e6e45d5He died for me?
How can that be, that Jesus chose to die for me?
Nailed to a tree, unjustified.
His blood applied. What news! That Jesus died for me!

He knew His purpose, He knew the Plan.
God would come in the form of man.
To live with us and dwell with us.
For me, for ME? He died for me.

The joy before Him, He endured the cross.
He suffered and scorned its shame.
Left without a friend, obedient to the end.
This Jesus, my Jesus, He died for me.

Foretold in Isaiah,
Spoken for by John.
Baptized in the Jordon, the sky would open,
The Father had spoken and the mission had begun.
This Jesus, my Jesus, He died for me.

Tempted by Satan, proved faithful by Scripture,
He preached repentance and called His disciples.
He healed the sick so I could see.
This Jesus, yes Jesus, He died for me.

untitled.pngSpoke from a mountain and told of the fountain,
The life we could have in Him.
Love the lowly, avoid adultery.
Be salt and light, and love, peace and mercy.
Stay free, live free. His mind always on me.
This Jesus, merciful Jesus. He died for me.

Give it all away, pray and forgive,
Store up treasures where one day you’ll live,
Don’t worry or judge. Ask, seek and knock.
Enter the narrow gate and stay close to the flock.
He’s prepared a way.
This Jesus, my Jesus, He died for me.

No houses on sand, build a solid foundation.
Have faith, be healed and let His glory be revealed.
Be devoted and follow, let Him calm your storms.
No sacrifices needed, only a heart turned towards.
This Jesus, my Jesus, He died for me.

The workers are few, the LOST are many.
Pray to the Lord for more help.
He wants to save, let’s pray today,
for our families, friends and enemies.
He loves them all, we don’t understand.
This Jesus, unfathomable Jesus, He died for me.

He calls us out every single day,
Go, tell, and be sure to pray.
Love in my Name, and do all for Me.
I promise to provide and give rest when you’re weary.
Keep my Sabbath, stay faithful in meeting.
Your strength comes in numbers, love one another deeply.
His plan is good, better than your own.
This Jesus, Son of Man, He died for me.

Love as a child; stay on the straight and narrow.
I’ll provide your food, your rest and a bright tomorrow.
No worry for clothes or a place to lay your head.
All that is my joy to give, trust me, you’ll be fed.
Such love, such care we don’t deserve.
This Jesus, my Redeemer, He died for me.

dan-kiefer-467645-unsplash (1)He came as a babe, so lowly and small
no place for Him, but a dirty stall.
The King of Kings and the Lord of Lords
He came so I can live.
He humbled himself, our example, the Servant.
He taught us and so now, we can be fervent.
Our devotion is true and our lives shine,
All for His glory and none for mine.
Because He lives, I can live too.
This Jesus, my Jesus, He died for YOU.

Defeated and mocked or so it appeared.
They stripped Him, but couldn’t take His glory.
Even to the end, redemption told the story
For one who was on His side – paradise was his reward.
The curtain torn, they laid Him in a tomb, guarded by soldiers,
Oh, such doom.
But victory was coming, the women were running,
to tell that they had seen Him!
To many He appeared, even to those He loved dear,
And now He reigns on His throne above.
This Jesus, My Jesus, all for love, He died for YOU.

The day and hour is not known, but one day He will come.
For now, He reigns in our hearts and on His heavenly throne.
This Jesus whose blood was shed for me
has made my life worth living.
This Jesus, my Jesus, He died for me.untitled3.png

It happened long ago we know, and yet the truth remains.
His resurrection ever told, through the truth of His claims.
They cannot prove otherwise, His followers know it’s true,
for we are forever grateful and try to show it in all we do.
He is the Way, the Truth, the Life. He is the only One.
He’s the God of all gods and the only true Son.
It is our joy today to honor Him and bless His Name,
For we know He lives because our lives are changed.
This Jesus, the Powerful Savior, it’s Him we celebrate.

The cross was the bridge for our sin sick souls
Our hellish lives could now be redeemed.
If we know Him in our hearts, we cannot help but sing.
The One who’s closer than a brother,
The One who calls us His friends.
It doesn’t seem possible, this personal Savior.
He’ll see us to the end.

Heaven is our future, death has lost its sting.
Through generations till He comes, His truth forever rings.
The best thing that has happened is we know deep down inside,
He makes His home in our hearts and there He now abides.
No more could He have done,
His love has set me free.
This Jesus, yes Jesus, He died for me.

by Valerie Rumfelt

Mary of Bethany

Just a few days before Jesus would die on the cross for the sins of the world, there is an account of a woman who took an opportunity to worship Him. Her display was lavish and loving, and remembered throughout all time.

photo-1520408222757-6f9f95d87d5d

John 12:1-8 is the passage. We find Lazarus hosting a dinner for Jesus. Martha is serving. Mary is near Jesus.

It was six days before the Passover Feast. Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived. Lazarus was the one Jesus had raised from the dead.

2 A dinner was given at Bethany to honor Jesus. Martha served the food. Lazarus was among the people at the table with Jesus. 3 Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard. It was an expensive perfume. She poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the sweet smell of the perfume.
4 But Judas Iscariot didn’t like what Mary did. He was one of Jesus’ disciples. Later he was going to hand Jesus over to his enemies. Judas said, 5 “Why wasn’t this perfume sold? Why wasn’t the money given to poor people? It was worth a year’s pay.” 6 He didn’t say this because he cared about the poor. He said it because he was a thief. Judas was in charge of the money bag. He used to help himself to what was in it.
7 “Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “The perfume was meant for the day I am buried. 8 You will always have the poor among you. But you won’t always have me.”

What splendid love Mary displays.

Mary is esteemed because of her outward display of devotion toward Jesus. She gave all she had to worship Jesus and show her love to Him.

To her, Jesus was the only one in the room. She was compelled to worship Jesus in this precious and costly way.

Judas, the one who would later betray Jesus was in the room and opposed this act of love. Judas’ weakness was he cared only for himself. When he tried to deceitfully make a point about Mary’s love toward Jesus being misguided, this selfishness and darkness in his character was exposed.photo-1526139255915-ace9e78d8fb6

The difference between Judas and Mary is stark. Judas tried to garner favor for his position by pulling in the poor as his cover. He not only revealed his true colors, but tried to deceive those around him into thinking he was concerned for the poor.

Jesus, of course, was the one present concerned for the poor most of all. The fact Judas tried this tactic with Jesus present exposes even more about Judas…unfavorable and repulsive, to say the least.

Mary on the other hand is generous in her expression of love. To be clear, it was a display. Unabashed, Mary seems oblivious to the dark character sitting near her in Judas and still displays a lavish love for Jesus using a lavish product. She is one to admire and esteem.

Jesus knew both hearts of course, and welcomed Mary’s love and worship while penetrating the darkness of Judas with a direct command to leave Mary alone.

This story thrills me. Jesus, a man willing to fellowship with friends and foes alike, ready to defend the pure in heart, able to receive an extravagant love, and appreciate the sacrifice. Yet, in a few words, He exposes the motives and forces of evil sitting near Him in Judas.

The people in Jesus’ day didn’t understand they would soon lose Him to a brutal and sacrificial death on their behalf. Even in this passage, Jesus tells those present that He will not always be with them. They couldn’t grasp that He’d soon be gone. No matter how many times Jesus spoke of His coming death, they could not understand.

As we enter the next few days, each day leading to the Resurrection holds different meaning. Let’s ponder Mary. This brave lady used her opportunity to worship Jesus in the face of evil.  In a few days she would  be at the foot of the cross with other women who loved Him. Let’s be like Mary, unashamed to worship the One who saved us, and faithful enough to live for Him until the end of our days.

Perhaps the most striking lesson to be learned from Mary of Bethany is her unwavering devotion to Jesus. She not only followed Him, she worshipped Him. She hung on His every word. No matter what was happening around her she never lost sight of Him. Her pure love was defended by Jesus and He made sure she was remembered through the ages.

She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he said. Luke 10:39

 

Lamb of God

It’s Holy Week. A contemplative, yet joyous week for all who believe in Jesus, trust Him with their lives, and show Him their love through obedience. This poem is one I wrote a few years ago.

photo-1472718888560-1a1292f1cccb

Lamb of God

 

O Lamb of God, so pure and sinless
Thank you for your love so endless.
No other could have died that day.

O Lamb of God, who paid my way
To heavens glory I’ll go one day;
To worship you in peace and love
Sweet Lamb of God, to you I fall.

Oh Lamb of God, perfect offering
Your blood flowed on that day.
But death couldn’t keep you, no.
You rose from the grave.

O Lamb of God, what can I do,
To let you know my love for you?
Live life in fellowship with me,
Do this daily and you’ll be free.

O Lamb of God who took my place
By grace, now I can see your face.
You washed me clean that day, it’s true
And now I choose to live for you.

By Valerie Rumfelt