Precious Memories

by Emma Turner 
 
I feel like I’ve been taking a ride on a roller coaster without leaving the couch. It is amazing how just sorting through old pictures and clippings can cause such emotional ups and downs. I really want to make a family scrapbook.
 
Ah-h-h, I love this picture of my dad sitting there under a big oak tree, looking so proudly at that huge pile of sweet, juicy watermelons he had grown. I can almost taste them now and feel the juice running down my arm. Here’s one of Jim at the age of 12, holding his baby sister. Jim always told me this picture was taken within days of his dad being killed in a car/train accident.
 
Rummaging again through the collection of snapshots of my life, I see the country church in which I grew up. My favorite spot was on the piano bench next to my mother as she played for services. At this church I trusted Christ as my Savior from sin at the age of eight and a number of years later walked down the aisle after church one Sunday morning to become Jim’s bride.
 
Memories cascade around me on the couch as I remember again the day each of our children was born and so quickly they grew up. How wonderfully the Lord blessed us those years in serving Him together as a family. Then, one by one, the children were gone, on with education, marriage, and serving Him elsewhere.
 
The same pictures that bring so many memories of happy years with family and friends also bring tears to my eyes. How can a full life of God’s abundant blessings bring so much sadness now? I feel like in looking at the pictures I relived my whole life, and so many people I have known and loved are no longer here. They have gone ahead of me. And then it hits me: the best is yet to come!
 
…eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. (1 Corinthians 2:9)
 
As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness. (Psalm 17:15)
 
Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:11)
 
This Lenten season I’m thankful for CABC, our pastors, staff, and church family, who model grace day after day to one another, the local community, and various ministry partners. As we celebrate God’s grace, may we be messengers and imitators of God’s grace. May we love, accept, and forgive others, just as God did for us.
 
“To accept grace is to accept the vow to give it.” Max Lucado

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I Am With You

by Lisa St. Ledger March 24
 
When life seems to be a bit bumpy, I think of a line from one of my favorite songs, “even though I love this crazy life, sometimes I wish it was a smoother ride.”
 
Life can be really hard sometimes. I struggle with the stresses of traumatic life events, everyday life problems, injustices and the unforgiving nature of today’s society. I pray for peace/love and answers for the hardships in life and sometimes I feel like I am alone or that God does not hear me.
 
While my prayer may not be answered today, I can still see God’s hand in the day-to-day life with the presence of a good friend, the beauty of the sunrise, the kindness of a stranger, or the adoration of the family pet. All of these things bring joy to my heart, reminding me that even in my difficult times He is with me and is showing himself through these beauties of life.
 
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)
 
Isn’t it wonderful to know that even when you feel disheartened, God is there to strengthen and lift you up? Look for him in all aspects of your life and you will find His presence, even in the smallest of ways.

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Grace

by Sharon Luckenbaugh 
 
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
 
In Him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. (Ephesians 1:7-8)
 
Lately in my leisurely reading there has been an underlying theme of God’s grace. Maybe it’s the Holy Spirit gently nudging me to extend that same grace to some squirrelly kids at school, the impatient driver who was riding my bumper on the way to work, and the loved ones God has blessed me with. Grace is God’s free gift of unmerited favor and love to those who accept Him. Receiving the grace of God does not mean we simply live our lives as we please, being thankful that we’re forgiven. Those who accept His free gift of salvation are instructed to extend grace to others.
 
In Max Lucado’s book, Grace, More than We Deserve, Greater than We Imagine, the author describes the horrible massacre of innocent Amish children while attending the West Nickel Mines Amish School in Lancaster County, PA. As neighbors to Lancaster, you may recall the tragic event of October 2, 2006. In the days that followed, I remember watching the news and hearing local and national commentators express amazement over the Amish community’s testimony of grace. They remained peaceful and composed, while extending kindness and forgiveness. Lucado writes, “Half of those in attendance of the shooter’s funeral were Amish. An Amish midwife, who helped deliver several of the schoolgirls who died, prepared a meal for the shooter’s family.”
 
Our world asks, “How could they do that in the midst of great loss, hurt, and grief?”
 
Lucado explains, “Grace is not blind. It sees the hurt full well. But grace chooses to see God’s forgiveness even more. It refuses to let hurts poison the heart. Where grace is lacking, bitterness abounds. Where grace abounds, forgiveness grows.”
 
Lucado references Hebrews 12:15, See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. The Amish community, despite the painful loss of loved ones, demonstrated God’s grace to the world in powerful and practical ways.
 
For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father” Or again, “I will be his Father, and he will be my Son.” (Hebrews 1:1-5)
 
Jesus is everything!
Amen

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Dearly Beloved

by Joe Becker
 
To address anyone as “Dearly Beloved” should, by grace, and due course, reveal a spray of ’playful light’ about the text. These days, however, such an address may appear as far from an inkstand as 1976, when the term ‘inkjet’ was first coined. Within our generation pens are no more quickened, neither yielded or wielded to write much at all. Cursive writing seems cursed by the cursor and any playful light gets produced by some “icon” or “emoji”. And when that is mixed with a velocity so adverse to one’s being still, I can only throw fits against such wit foreign to my own. Then the Holy Spirit, once so intercessional to the letter of conversation, seems to succumb even further to my ineptitude with and dislike of electronic devices. Would I then grieve the Holy Spirit?
 
So I retreat to the book shelf, in search of some comfort, outside the realm of cell phones and the world of pixels. There is my Lord’s heart, as revealed to Elisabeth Elliott. She has written in the context of God’s Word on being still.
 
“We can know only that Eternal Love is wiser than us, and we bow in adoration of that Loving Wisdom. Response is what matters. All events serve His Will.” (Elisabeth Elliott, Be Still My Soul, 2003)
 
Now in all this dressage, when the Pastor and others face the congregation, quite nearly pleading for contributions to our Lenten Devotional, it behooves us to Respond.
 
Dearly Beloved, take the time to perhaps pen a letter. It may become your joy to share in the ministry of our annual devotional. It bolsters our growth, unity, and fellowship here at CABC.

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What Is The Meaning of Easter

by Terry Hess
 
Easter is an annual celebration observed by much of the Christian church, commemorating Christ’s resurrection. Modern observance of Easter represents a convergence of three traditions.
 
1. The Hebrew Passover, celebrated during Nisan, the first month of the Hebrew Lunar calendar.
2. The Christian commemoration of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, which took place at the feast of Passover.
3. The Norse Ostara, or Eostra, from which the name Easter is derived. This is a pagan festival of spring which fell at the vernal equinox, March 21.
 
Prominent symbols in this celebration of the resurrection of nature after the winter were rabbits, signifying fecundity, which means the ability to produce an abundance of offspring or new growth. It can also mean the ability to produce many new ideas. Another symbol is eggs, colored like the rays of the returning sun and the northern lights or aurora borealis. The eggs also represent new life.
 
The fixing of the date of the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection was the occasion of much controversy in the early church. One group insisted that the festival fall on a Sunday, since the Lord rose on the first day of the week. The opposition insisted that it be coordinated with the Jewish Passover, which might fall on any day of the week.
 
In AD 325, the Council of Nicaea decreed that the resurrection would ordinarily be celebrated on the first Sunday after the full moon following the vernal equinox. If, however, the full moon fell on a Sunday, the celebration was to be postponed a week to avoid coincidence with the Jewish Passover. This method of reckoning the date of Easter, which is still in use, means that Easter may fall at any time within the 35 day period between March 22 and April 25.
 
Regardless of all this information, an easier way to describe Easter is this: Easter is the most important and oldest festival of the Christian church and it celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
 
In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.

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The Hope Found In The Easter Message

by Pastor Bob Coddington
 
With the birth of Jesus came a Hope for mankind. As Jesus began His teaching, this spark of hope ignited a glowing flame. Then came Calvary and the day we know as “Good Friday.” With this event, the flame was replaced with fear, the likes of which had not been seen before.
 
The darkness, which was seen by those at Calvary during the Crucifixion, could be seen in the hearts and minds of those witnessing that event.
 
When we are motivated by confusion and fear, we tend to lose our hope. The only thing that can restore hope and eliminate fear is the Easter Message.
 
Right in the very midst of the things that would bring this fear and confusion we find the Scriptures telling us, “Don’t be afraid.”
For God has not given His people the spirit of fear, but He has given to them a spirit of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7)
 
God’s message is clear, then and now.
 
Fear not, for I have redeemed thee, you are mine! (Isaiah 43:1)
 
Here are some additional scriptures that you might find helpful.
 
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:27)
 
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
 
Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4)
Dear Lord, Thanks for the Scriptures that remind us that you are in control, that our fear can be minimized if we but look to the Heavens and place our trust totally in You, the HOPE of all mankind.

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