Monday, June 9, 2008

There is a balm in - SMYRNA, TN?!?!??!

Yes, it's true!!!!
Sunday morning (You already know Kenn's side of the story, if you've read his blog today. :D) we had decided to go to the Smyrna Assembly of God. Yes, it's the real Assembly. :D Kenn & I had attended one in Florence, Oregon, and really enjoyed our time there. Also, the Smyrna Assembly's mission is to reclaim the arts to God's glory - something that is near and dear to our hearts. We've been there to a couple of great shows, and I have to admit to being quite envious that their church actually did the shows, not tolerated having some acting going on.... :D (Go check out their theater's site - they're REALLY active!!!!!)
So, we'd decided not to go to their early service - it's about 40 minutes or so from our house. We left here just before 10 a.m., and stopped for Kenn to get a couple of shots of horses. We got there early, and said hello to Kenn's contact from work - and I got to meet someone else from the office. Then, we went and found some seats and settled in.
Some very nice people greeted us - but didn't pressure us at all. :) That's important - especially because I'm REALLY shy in person, and have a hard time for the first few times I meet someone. The senior adult coordinator introduced himself to Kenn; he was a VERY nice man!! His wife introduced herself after the service as "his better half". ;)
The worship service was really good; as Kenn wrote in his blog, it wasn't nearly as much a spectator event as it was a "participate as you wish". It was very free, and really wonderful. I don't think we knew any of those songs, but we caught on pretty quickly. It was really great.
Can I just say it's been a LONG time since anything SPOKEN has touched my heart MORE than the music?!?!?!??! Well, not only did it happen ONCE, but TWICE - and neither were in the sermon - which was good, anyway. :D
The first time was during the offering. The young man who spoke was in the praise band; he played sax and trumpet, and maybe the trumbone.... ANYWAY. You've got to understand that the church we WERE attending was very much about tithing to receive God's blessing - and the way it was done HONESTLY made it hard to be a cheerful giver. But not this. From the bottom of his heart, he explained why we tithe. It's not because it's expected of us, or you gotta give to get. It's because we're saying to God, "You have ALREADY blessed me SO MUCH, I don't NEED everything you've given me!!! You're SO GOOD!!!"
Woah. Not out of expectation, but out of THANKSGIVING???? I've NEVER heard it put that way!!!!! But BOY, did it touch my heart!!!!!
He went on to say there are four things to do with your money: tithe, sow (to further the kingdom, feed the poor, etc.), save - if you spend everything you make, you'll NEVER make enough money; you'll just spend everything - and spend. It's OK to spend, and make wise choices with your money.
I was crying by now. I told Kenn, "We can leave now; I've heard the sermon already." :) But WAIT! There's MORE!!!
It was Communion Sunday. Another gentleman came to present it, and what he said - WOW.
I'm going to paraphrase:
I've been suffering through some physical stuff lately, and you know how hard it is to concentrate when you're in pain? You tend to do things that don't demand a lot of concentration - or ANY concentration! - while you're feeling pain. The worse the pain, the harder it is to focus on anything else.
The pain that Jeus went through? We'll probably never be able to understand how excruciating it was - the movie THE PASSION OF CHRIST did a pretty good job, but even so..... Yet through it ALL, Jesus was able to keep in mind what He was doing, what His final goal was. He could have stopped it ALL at any moment. That tearing of His flesh, the beatings, the blood loss - He suffered HORRIBLY. Yet THROUGH IT ALL, He kept us in mind. He kept His purpose - paying for the redemption of man, putting death behind Him and triumphing!!!! - He kept it all in mind in the middle of that torture.
Can you see why it touched me??? It's so easy to get blase' about things we do on a regular basis. He made it FRESH to me again.
Well, this is already a book, so I'm going to stop elaborating. The sermon was great - the preacher can really belt a song!! :D - and it was WONDERFUL to be renewed and exhorted and bathed in His presence. God is SO GOOD, my dear friend. He loves us SO MUCH!!!!
Kenn and I continue to hash through what happened, and it will take us a while. But God is showing His mercy and grace to us, and I think THROUGH us. :) It's been a rough week, but it's been a DEEP week.
Oh, and MOM CAME HOME YESTERDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you all SO VERY MUCH for praying for her!!!!!! She got a steroid shot Saturday evening, and it worked wonders for her. She's been going quite hard today - and I've been a bit of a harpy, trying to get through to her to SLOW DOWN. But that's Mom. :) She's not happy unless the house is SPOTLESS and she's rearranged some furniture. :D
SO. Please leave me a comment!!!!!! :D I'd love to hear from you!! :D


J-ME said...

Lori, I haven't read all that has been going on - but get the general idea. Loved your post here. So encouraging and convicting! It sounds like a good fit for you, but I know God will show you where He wants you. I'm so sorry to hear about the pain you are going through with leaving a church....been there in other ways. No matter, it's hard, and healing takes time.
hugs, J-ME

Mam and Lizi said...

I sent yo an email, so I'll wait to hear from you. Glad your mother is home. What a week you all have had!

Kimmie said...

Hey Lori Dear,
Life is full of changes, and alot of time that means we end up getting our heart hurt. God has his reasons for everything in our lives, so trust in Him, it will get better. I loved the message you got at church. How refreshing! Sounds like you and Kenn found a great place to worship. How cool is that?!!!

Hugs to you my dear friend,