The Beginning and the End

by Pastor Todd Witmer
 
Lori and I find ourselves in a chapter of life where beginnings and endings are intersecting. Within the past twelve months, we witnessed the beginning of life for two granddaughters. During this same time, my mother has continued in the physical and mental decline that takes her closer to the end of her days. From this unique vantage point, I have noticed a few things.
 
Waiting holds a prominent place in the experience of both beginning and end. The last few weeks and days prior to birth are often filled with an anxious anticipation. So much has been prepared—clothing,
furniture, work and home schedule changes. Now, the family waits for things to get started. When will this baby arrive? Waiting is a reality for the end of life as well. Tasks that can be performed quickly and independently become few and far between. Less mobility results in an increase of times when one must simply wait.
 
A second factor common to both beginning and end could be summed up in the phrase “hard work required.” As it is often remarked, there is a reason the birth process is called “labor.” Mothers know there are feelings of relief and joy with the beginning of this new life, coupled with the feeling of being run over by a truck (a first-hand report I heard during the past year). Hard work continues at home, as feeding, sleeping, and changing schedules may overlap and mix together in the first few weeks. Conversely, approaching the end of life demands hard work of a different form. Formerly simple tasks can take on a level of complexity that results in fatigue. It takes hard work to remain positive and keep trying when the activities that were taken for granted are now challenges nearly beyond ability.
 
He said to me, ‘It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.’ (Revelation 21:6)
 
The above verse from John’s vision in Revelation reminds me that God is Lord of both beginning and end. Just as He will bring this world to an end and establish a new heaven and earth, so, also, He is present with us throughout the span of our lives. I can trust that He will bring to completion all of the loose ends of this world, including those in my life.
 
Will you trust Him with your beginning, end, and everything in between?

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Joy In Unity

by Mark Schumacher

We consider the United States Constitution to be the foundational document of our democracy. The fact that it exists is a great example of unity, teamwork and agreement on a key belief at that time in history—willingness to sacrifice and fight for freedom. Thirteen separate states sent 39 delegates to create this historic document in September 1787 and upon completion, the voters in those different states ratified our constitution in 1789. That this was accomplished is an amazing feat.

All people found common ground as they worked together through countless debates, discussions and compromises. In the end, the result was something from which all citizens benefited—including the many generations that followed. Writing to the Philippians, the apostle Paul wanted to stress the importance of spiritual unity and working together for the cause of Christ.

Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. (Philippians 2: 1-3)

As I think of the many ways we serve together here at CABC, we too experience that chance to come together for a greater purpose—thanking God for what He has done for each of us and honoring Him by allowing His will to be done through us. He has brought our many varied gifts together and through much prayer and the direction of the Holy Spirit, He will combine those gifts in ways that will benefit His kingdom. As we combine and share together the different passions, viewpoints, talents and perspectives our Body possesses, we can allow ourselves to be used for the purposes our Lord has ordained as most vital.

The writers, participants and creators of the United States Constitution experienced a time of coming together for a cause greater than themselves. In our time on this earth and at CABC during these days, we have the opportunity to share the love of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, with those who need to know of his gift of everlasting life.

We recognize, at this Easter season, the incredible gift Jesus has given mankind through his love, sacrifice, suffering and resurrection. May we show our gratitude and honor Him by coming together, esteeming others better than ourselves, and laboring together for His kingdom work.

Dear Lord, help me to celebrate the gift of eternity with you by allowing you to direct my path. I thank you for my brothers and sisters here at CABC and I pray you will use us in ministry together—joyful ministry that will impact our local community and in the places where you will lead us. Amen.


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What’s In My Cup?

by Pat Bentzel
 

I love this analogy!

You are holding a cup of coffee when someone comes along and bumps into you or shakes your arm, making you spill your coffee everywhere.

Why did you spill the coffee?

“Because someone bumped into me!!!”

Wrong answer.

You spilled the coffee because there was coffee in your cup.

Had there been tea in the cup, you would have spilled tea.

Whatever is inside the cup is what will spill out.

Therefore, when life comes along and shakes you (which WILL happen), whatever is inside you will come out. It’s easy to fake it, until you get rattled.

So we have to ask ourselves… “what’s in my cup?”

When life gets tough, what spills over?

Joy, gratefulness, peace and humility?

Anger, bitterness, harsh words and reactions?

Life provides the cup, YOU choose how to fill it.

Today let’s work towards filling our cups with gratitude, forgiveness, joy, words of affirmation and kindness, gentleness and love for others.

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)


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I Will Sing

by Joe Becker
 
Very early in the morning, when the women in His life found the stone but not the body of the Lord, there first was heard in a vision: “He is not here, for He has risen.” And more glory came, remembering His Word.

Then Peter’s heart, burning inside him, with the ‘sifting’ coinciding, ran to see what he could not yet understand. ‘Til Jesus broke bread with thanksgiving, they could not tell he was living. There the joy of every Gospel song began.

I will sing.

‘Twas later on, that very day, nearly seven miles away, two would share within the company of the Lord. He restored to them their vision. They saw who had been risen. And more glory came, remembering His Word.

Did not their hearts burn there inside them, when the Master walked beside them, whose Holy Face they could not recognize? Until He broke bread with thanksgiving, they could not see He was living. There the joy in that He opened up their eyes.

I will sing.

So now we also have today, where by grace we have been saved, through our faith unto the glory of the Lord. “Peace, be with you!” our commission. To tell all that He is risen. And more glory comes, remembering His Word.

Do not our hearts burn here inside us, while the Master walks beside us—as we wait to see His promises fulfilled? Until we break bread with thanksgiving, in the Kingdom of His living—where the life of every trusting heart is willed?

I will sing!


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Are You Prepared To Give An Account

by Laura Courtney

I thoroughly enjoy quotes. I have a special notebook dedicated to my favorites that I have heard or read through teachers and professors, friends and family, books and movies, songs and poems, scriptures and pastors, etc. & etc. There are two that have continued to come back to my mind over the years. Both are related to the same idea and yet are from two completely separate people, places and times.

The first is from a professor I had in college, Dr. Mary Ann Meiners. She would routinely start each class with a short devotional. One day she said, “When God takes our breath back, we will be accountable as to how we have lived with it.” (And yes this is an exact quote because I loved it instantly and of course wrote it down in my notes and later transferred to my quote journal.)

The second comes from Jeffrey Dahmer. “If a person doesn’t think that there is a God to be accountable to, then what’s the point of trying to modify your behavior to keep it within acceptable ranges…I have since come to believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is truly God, and I believe that I, as well as everyone else, will be accountable to Him.” He stated this in a news interview, after having come to faith while in prison.

Both, in my mind, reflect this simple verse in scripture:

So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God. (Romans 14:12)

Genesis 2:7 states that God “breathed into [man’s] nostrils the breath of life, and [he] became a living
being.” Yet one day, when we ”all stand before God’s judgment seat” (Romans 14:10), we will have to give that breath back to him. And we will have to be prepared to give an account and accept responsibility for what we’ve done with that breath.

I won’t start a theological debate as to where Jeffrey Dahmer—having committed some of the worst crimes in history, yet finally proclaiming his faith and acceptance of Jesus as his Lord and Savior—is currently spending eternity. But I often think about this question: If a person like Jeffrey Dahmer can acknowledge and fully expect to be held accountable for the actions he committed in his life, am I ready to give an
account of what I’ve done?

Are you?

Heavenly Father, you breathed your own breath into us and gave us life.
Now please, dear Lord, help us not to waste it.


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Night to Shine

by Chris Thomas
 
For the past six years, Tim Tebow has hosted an event called Night to Shine. It is a “Prom” for special needs adults, both young and old. This prom is held in 70 countries and in over 300 churches. The genuine love and dedication Tim Tebow has for special needs people is beautiful. His mission is to help us all realize that the life of every person on this earth is valuable.
 
For the past couple of years, I’ve been following the Tim Tebow Foundation on Facebook and I was always so moved by the pure joy on the faces of the “Kings and Queens” of the prom that I pledged to one day be a part of that tremendous event.
 
Well, this year I did. My middle granddaughter, a friend of most of us, Nathan Renoll and I participated as “dates” for the prom guests. All I can say is WOW! You can see the photos and videos of these events on the TTF Facebook page, but nothing compares to seeing in person the love, compassion and care that the over 300 volunteers at our local event showed each and every one of the guests as they were heralded in on a red carpet and then participated in a variety of events throughout the evening. The entire night was covered in the showering of God’s love. Those of us who have volunteered at the CABC Down Syndrome Camp understand and appreciate the effect special needs people have on us all.
 
To see the smiles, the laughter, the dancing, the uninhibited expressions on each face is so humbling. I looked at each guest (over 100 showed up!) and felt a little sad for the lives they have to live, but realized that they are living good lives. They are happy, protected and alive! It was the simplest treats that brought them the most joy. Joy. That’s the best word to describe the evening. And that’s their mission to us—to show and remind us to seek and to hold on to the amazing joy in our lives.
 
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. (Psalm 139:14)

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