Church in the Woods

The cross hangs prominently in the sanctuary of evergreens. The filtered light illuminates the aisles between the forest growth. The words of praise fill my ears, mind, and heart.

“My God will never fail. I am going to see a victory! I am going to see a victory. The battle belongs to you, Lord.”

Walking further down the trail, the worship quiets and the sermon begins in this church in the woods. It begins with a lesson of overcoming.

The attacks come. Discomfort, sweat pouring down, hungry stomachs, scratchy clothing. Pain, aching feet, sore muscles. Fatigue, body weak. Complaints, overwhelming focus on everything wrong.

“But God,” the preacher in the woods continues. “But, God is our strength and refuge. Our ever present help.”

Next up, a prayer of thanksgiving. “Our pain is real. But we thank you, God! Blue sky. Colors abound. My family. This worship. This day. This body carrying me on this hike. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, God. Praise you!”

The preacher in the church in the woods continues on. This portion of the sermon designed to focus our hearts on God.

“See how the flowers all point upward toward the Maker. The trees stretch high up to the Maker. The river water rushes toward the Maker. Every good and perfect gift is from the Maker.”

This Spirit-led service continues on to more worship.

“Everything you have made is beautiful. Oh my God, I can’t believe my eyes. In all of this to think that you’d still think of me, makes my heart come alive.”

The preacher isn’t done yet.

“The church is not a buliding. The church, Christ’s church, is everywhere. Anywhere. Anytime you see Jesus. Anytime you hear His words. Anytime you are filled with His Spirit and walk in it. There is the church. These woods, this very moment, you are at church.”

The preachers words and this church in the woods are what my soul needed this morning. No building. No plan. No choir or band.

Just Jesus.

In this church in the woods.

Honesty Leads to Compassion

“Many people will not be honest because they fear loss of intimacy and togetherness. In reality, honesty brings people closer together.”

Dr. Henry Cloud

It’s easy to hide. It comes natural for most of us. Saying we are okay, when truly we are hurting inside.

When we bravely share our true self, we give others the opportunity to move with compassion.

Of course it is true, I may share my hurting heart with someone who is not able to respond with compassion. Maybe my hurt pricks a wound in their heart. And they become immoblized.

This is not reason for me to stop sharing honestly.

It is also true that I may honestly share my hurt with someone who learns of my pain, identifies with it, and responds with compassion.

Matthew 20:30-34, “Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, “LORD, Son of David, have mercy on us!” The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, “LORD, Son of David, have mercy on us!” Jesus stopped and called them. “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. “LORD,” they answered, “we want our sight.” Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.

The crowd wanted the needy, weaker, blind men to be quiet. But instead, the men revealed their true selves all the louder. Their true needy state. And they revealed their need to the One with the solution. Jesus responded in compassion.

When I honestly look at my pain, rather than bury it down deeper, I can bring it to my Source of Compassion. And He draws me closer to Him. He brings others to me with hearts of compassion. He reminds me the enemies lies of isolation simply are not true.

Dear One, are you hiding today behind a wall of hurt? Can you, like the blind men, bring your true self to Jesus? Can you receive His compassion and healing?

Sound Mind

www.youtube.com/watch

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
‭‭II Timothy‬ ‭1:7 
Sound mind: clearheaded, calm, making wise decisions.
What do you think of when you read the phrase sound mind in 2 Timothy 1:7? And, how can you apply that to your life today? I would love to read your thoughts below.