Tag Archives: Parkview Baptist Church

Love…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂

Inspiration this week comes from a variety of scriptures that draw on each other as we ponder how love is a mark of a Disciple of Jesus!


Deuteronomy 6: 5 “And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.”

Leviticus 19:18 “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against a fellow Israelite, but love your neighbor as yourself…”

Matthew 22:36-40 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses? Jesus replied, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself. The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.'”

John 13:34-35 Jesus says, “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

1 Corinthians 13: 4-8 “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”


We have a new head pastor at our church! Pastor Keith Strasburger and his wife Kristine joined our church family a little over a week ago. Keith and Kristine are known for their hearts for Jesus and a deep devotion to building relationships as they work to mentor disciples. They hale from Real Life Ministries in Idaho and, in a time span of less than two weeks, Nebraska has welcomed them with zero degrees, 70 and sunny, and most recently snow and ice. Perhaps it’s March on the prairie??!!

On his first Sunday preaching, Keith shared with us that we are not called to go to church, we are called to be the church. God created each one of us with a desire to be loved, valued, listened to, and to live with meaningful purpose. In order for this to happen, we must be the church as we live in love as described in the above scripture verses. I think it is very powerful to see how the Old Testament provides the foundation for what we are able to live out through Jesus’ teaching, discipleship, and sacrifice for us. The two commandments that create the basis for how we are asked to live as Christians can be traced back to the five books of Moses. God asked us to love Him, and to love each other.

God asked us to do it, and then Jesus came to show us how to get it done.


It’s hard to love genuinely. Genuine love requires a risk, a vulnerability, and an openness to others that takes courage. When we love as Jesus loves, we give others the power to hurt us. But, we also give them the power of Jesus. Spend a few minutes looking at how God defines love in 1 Corinthians 13. Then ask yourself some questions:

  • Am I truly kind?
  • Do I have an unending supply of patience with those that God brings into my life?
  • Do I think of others more than I think of myself?
  • Do I hold grudges?
  • Do I celebrate others?
  • Do I love the values that God loves?
  • Do I love regardless of circumstance?
  • Do I love with a hope that inspires belief?

I’d like to think that I do these things well, but the truth is that sometimes they are simply a goal that I fall short of. The better I walk with Jesus, the more that I find the courage and freedom to live this way. But, it challenges me daily. Proverbs 4:23 tells me to “Guard my heart above all else, for it determines the course of my life.” I don’t think that this means to guard my heart against others, rather, I think that God is asking me to do something very different.

God is asking me to anchor my heart to Him and to allow it to be broken, so that His love — the love that is described in 1 Corinthians — can determine the course of my life.

A few years ago, I started to pray asking God to allow me to see the world through the eyes of Jesus. I’m not sure that when I started praying this prayer that I really understood what I was asking. But, God kept putting it on my heart so I kept praying it. As God answered this prayer, he has allowed me to see parts and pieces of this world through a very different lens. Seeing these things breaks my heart, and it changes my life. It makes me cry, but more importantly it gives me the freedom to find a deep and meaningful purpose as I try to love as Christ loves.

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Coming home…

Wednesday Wisdom 😊

Inspiration this week comes from the book of Revelation 2: 2-5 (Message to the Church in Ephesus)

“I know all the things you do. I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance. I know you don’t tolerate evil people. You have examined the claims of those who say they are apostles but are not. You have discovered they are liars. You have patiently suffered for me without quitting. But I have this claim against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first. If you don’t repent, I will come and remove your lampstand from its place among the churches.”


Throughout my almost 47 years, I have been in many different churches. I was raised in the Episcopal faith, and educated in the Catholic school system. Today, I am a member of the Parkview Baptist church family. In addition to being a part of several church families, I also went for a couple of extended periods of time where I did not have a church family to call home. During my teenage years, God put a yearning on my heart to move deeper in faith with Him but I really struggled to find a church where I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit. As a result, I consistently floundered or “wandered” in my faith instead of moving forward. It took Jesus moving in the heart of my oldest daughter for me to shift back into an intentional pursuit of heartfelt faith.

As I started my 4th decade on this earth, God chose to move through Ashley Grace to answer my long-term prayer for deeper fellowship. She led our family to a new church and it changed my life. I felt the promise of deeper fellowship when I walked in that first week, and it continues to deeply affect my faith journey years later. If I were to choose my own words to describe it, I would say that it felt like coming home – walking into the place where God meant for me to be. A place where the lampstand of the Holy Spirit shone brightly for me and other believers who gathered together in love, faith and encouragement. I learned last weekend that the term for this is a Greek word, Koinonia. Koinonia describes the deep fellowship that exists when a group of believers are devoted to God, His Word, and a genuine caring for each other.

I believe that when God designs each of us as His children, we are uniquely “hardwired” to find the light of the Holy Spirit at particular places that He creates for us. We are called to love everyone and to share the Good News with all. But, God brings distinct people alongside us in our faith journey to create teams (churches) of Christians who seek strength in faith together. He then blesses these churches with the lampstand of the Holy Spirit as they obey His commandments given to us by Jesus in Matthew 22: 37-39.

“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Each day, God uses the Parkview family to shape me, to teach me, to encourage me, to challenge me, to hold me accountable, and to love me in ways that I had not ever experienced before. The lampstand of the Holy Spirit shines brightly for me there, and I am able to experience God at an intimate and personaI level as I come together with the other people that He has intentionally brought there. Individually, we are all God’s children. Together, we are inspired to lead with love as we enthusiastically work for the Lord. At times during my life, I thought that I could deepen in loving fellowship with Jesus without being a part of a church family. I was wrong. What God has shown me over the last six and a half years is that my faith exists at an entirely different level when I pursue Christ in fellowship with others under the light of the Holy Spirit.


Koinonia is a gift from the Lord that is waiting for each of us as we bravely open our hearts to embrace the team that God asks us to be a part of. Being a Christian is hard, and finding refuge and strength in the midst of the chaos of this world is a challenge. Having a church family that loves the Lord deeply and cares for one another as God commands in the above verses from Revelation and Matthew helps to provide this. If you haven’t found it yet, keep praying – keep looking – keep seeking – and open your heart to the fact that God’s chosen “church” for you may be different than the churches that you are used to. We are all God’s unique masterpieces, and he creates special places for each of us. You will know when you find the place meant for you! It’s worth reaching outside of your comfort zone as you might just find your sweet spot, and it will feel like coming home 😊

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Together we can do hard things…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from Exodus 17: 11-13 as Israel defeated the Amalekites.

“As long as Moses held up the staff in his hand, the Israelites had the advantage. But whenever he dropped his hand, the Amalekites gained the advantage. Moses’ arms soon became so tired he could no longer hold them up. So Aaron and Hur found a stone for him to sit on. Then they stood on each side of Moses, holding up his hands. So his hands held steady until sunset. As a result, Joshua overwhelmed the army of Amalek in battle.”


I got baptized last Sunday afternoon at Johnson Lake with our small group from church watching from the shoreline. Matt’s asked me a couple of times why a previously baptized and confirmed Episcopalian felt the need to be baptized by emersion at the age of 46 and 1/2? I figured the answer might make a decent blog post 😊

The short response is that I have recently felt God asking me to take this step of obedience. Each January for the past few years, God placed a word on my heart for me to pray about and focus on. I’ve never been much into setting New Year’s Resolutions, but He seems to be creating a tradition at the start of each year! It began with “love”, moved into “trust”, and evolved to “patience” and “perseverance”.

I think there is great significance in each word listed above. And, as each year evolved, I was able to see why God chose that one. Love and trust covered the time that Joseph lived with us. Patience and perseverance carried me through the physical struggle that began when I broke my leg, and then on through the pandemic. The word for 2021 was “glorify”.

The word glorify has several different secular definitions ranging from honor, praise or admiration to lighting up brilliantly. In terms of my faith, I believe that God is asking me to praise Him by openly and obediently trusting while also generously sharing His love in community. Being baptized by emersion does not offer me salvation, only Jesus does that as He lives in my heart. But, a baptism within my church family demonstrates my open acceptance that walking with Jesus involves living and serving in a spiritual family.


The Old Testament verses referenced above describe a time when Moses was asked to obediently follow God’s instructions. The “ask” from God was hard, and Moses was unable to complete it on his own. As I read the words, I can picture Moses sweating, straining, and butting up against failure as he earnestly tries to follow the Lord’s command. His heart was in the call, and he was giving it his all. But, “his all” wasn’t enough. The message is clear to me: Sometimes we have to come together to do hard things. 

Moses had a spiritual family. He had a team 😊 Perhaps God asked him to do something really, really hard to help Moses understand that he was not meant to work alone. This is such an important reminder for me. I am a work horse, and I love to serve with all my heart. But, sometimes life is hard and God’s asks seem exhaustive. During those times, it is easier to be brave when you have a team to come alongside and support you. Aaron and Hur stepped in to help carry Moses’ burden. They gave him a place to sit and rest, and held up his arms when his strength began to wane. They circled around him in support and together they found victory.

I used to think that I could walk with Jesus on my own. With each day that passes, I am realizing that I cannot fully glorify my Maker without a team – a community – a spiritual family. Sunday night I committed to that family.  As I did that, my heart truly accepted that Team Jesus was, in fact, a team. The hard things of this earthly life will continue to be hard, but I can draw strength and courage in the knowledge that I do not face those things alone. God will provide however many “Aarons” and “Hurs” are needed to find victory as we choose to answer the call together.

 

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Knowledge and Discipleship…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from 2 Peter 1: 5-7

In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.”


For the past few weeks at the Refuge, our Youth Pastor has been preaching in 2 Peter. I love spending Wednesday nights hanging out, learning and praying with the middle school students that God brings us. The *added bonus* is a mid-week sermon that always seems to leave me thinking. One of the themes that we’ve been studying throughout 2 Peter is knowledge. Through this series of sermons, I’ve been personally challenged to both rethink my definition of the word and also my ability to attain it in my faith journey.

Peter makes it pretty clear in his epistles that we are called to be both a people of hope and a people of faithful action. Our hope stems from God’s promises, and our faithful action from Jesus’ presence in our hearts. Peter’s letters read a bit like an elderly coach trying to make sure that his mentees are reminded of and truly understand what it means to be on “Team Jesus”. He discusses not just how to get on the team, but also about what being a teammate entails.

I don’t know why, but I had never fully understood what Peter describes as knowledge. In particular, I had not thought of knowledge as something that naturally builds and flows from a deep, personal relationship with my Creator and Redeemer. It is so beautifully simple, and yet my “humanness” wanted to make the word so complicated that I’d previously dismissed it as “unattainable”. God offers us many things, knowledge is one of them. It, like all of God’s promises, requires our choice to move forward to accept it.

Proverbs 2: 6-11 reminds us, “For the Lord grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest. He is a shield to those who walk with integrity. He guards the paths of the just and protects those who are faithful to him. Then you will understand what is right, just, and fair, and you will find the right way to go. For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will fill you with joy. Wise choices will watch over you, Understanding will keep you safe.

What if attaining knowledge is intrinsically tied to our willingness to honor God by giving him our hearts and our time?


When I look back on my life, I can see moments when God asked me to do something and I turned him down because I did not feel qualified – I did not think I had enough knowledge to succeed, so I said “no”. I realize now that in those times I missed both a learning opportunity and a loving opportunity. Through the years, God has brought many people into my life to help me move closer to Him. As they were “Peter” to me, I learned that prayer, time reading the Bible, and intentionally searching for that intimate relationship with Jesus could lead me to knowledge and fill me with confidence.

I’m not the same person that I used to be. Every day, Jesus grows and shapes me. That’s a good thing. Along the way, I’ve learned to trust more and to say “yes” to that soft, quietly persistent voice that asks me to be “Peter” to someone else. When I choose to lean into my faith to disciple, then my heart is open for God to fill it with the knowledge and understanding that I need to be His hands and feet to someone that He enables me to love.

How are you pursuing knowledge as you answer God’s call to disciple?

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Forgiveness is our Super-Power…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians: 4: 1-3

“Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.”


It’s been many years since the first time that I walked into Parkview Baptist Church. Ashley Grace attended Youth Group and Bible study there with a friend, and had recently begun to attend Sunday morning worship there as well. I was in the midst of a “rut” in terms of my own faith, and feeling a bit lost. My fourth decade on the earth was teaching me all of the things that I didn’t know, thereby eroding the confidence with which I was used to facing life. Amidst all of the unanswered questions, I knew in my heart that God was calling me to share faith with my girls. So, I followed the request of my oldest child and drove 15 miles down the road to Lexington, NE to see what she was inviting me into.

That first Sunday, I walked in the door with quite a lot of trepidation and absolutely no idea what to expect. My background in the Episcopal and Catholic churches did not offer me much of a window into the community of a Baptist church. Two very friendly and earnest gentlemen named George and Randy welcomed Matt and I at the door, and we found seats in the back of the church. I held Matt’s hand as we stood to worship and I spent some time wrapping my brain around a different type of church service. And then, a soft-spoken preacher named John Shields opened his Bible and started to read and share.

I had not spent significant time in my adulthood reading my Bible. It would be accurate to say that I’d done more wandering than journeying in terms of faith. I had gotten *stuck* dedicatedly working to try to earn my way instead of seeking to be in relationship with the Savior that humbly and steadfastly loved me. But, that day Jesus used Pastor John to begin to inspire me to dig into God’s Word to get to personally know the Trinity that was the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And, praying over and thinking about the message shared each week on Sunday morning began to bring me back regularly until Parkview was not just Ashley Grace’s “home church” but it became mine and our entire family’s as well. For the first time in my life, I intentionally joined Jesus’ church and it changed my heart and my perspective.

I was blessed to be a part of more than five years of Pastor John’s ministry. I have many favorite sermons and hundreds of pages of notes. But, I think perhaps what I hold the most value in are the times spent watching John lead with a heart full of Jesus and a resulting agape love that marks him as Christ’s own. He is what Paul describes above in the passage from Ephesians: humble, gentle, patient, and compassionate. His actions initiate an inspired call for us to unite in the Spirit. One of my favorite “Pastor John” sayings is that forgiveness is our super-power. 


On Sunday, John preached his last sermon as head pastor of Parkview Baptist Church. He reminded us that Jesus is the cornerstone, and called us to steadfastly radiate His love as we share the Gospel. Our church family has shed many tears over the past month as we’ve prepared for John and his wife Julie’s 25-year ministry to draw to a close. Honestly, that kind of loving leadership is hard to let go. John now answers a new call to serve and mentor pastors all across Nebraska and Kansas. He and Julie leave a legacy of love, passion, and faithful obedience to Jesus for all of us in the Parkview family to tend and grow on into the future.

I will always carry with me John’s reminder to harness my super-power of forgiveness in order to honor the invitation that I accepted when I joined Team Jesus 🙂 Thank you, John and Julie, for loving, guiding, and supporting our family as we journey in faith.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Refuge…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from the book of Revelation 22: 17

“The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come’. Let anyone who hears this say, ‘Come’. Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life.”


During the school year, I volunteer at “The Refuge” on Wednesday nights as a small group leader for middle school girls. This is my third year discipling and loving the kids that God brings us. It is difficult to describe the experience of this weekly ministry. If I were to create a “word mosiac” to describe our time together, it would be a unique blend of words.

I don’t know what I thought it was going to be like when I volunteered to join the team, but after three years of serving I can say that it is MORE than I ever could have comprehended. The first year that I helped was the year that Joseph joined our family. I think that year was the first time in my life that I deeply understood that Jesus loves through me. My eyes were opened, as this kind of blind love knows no boundaries and it brings with it a different kind of raw vulnerability. When Jesus moves in your heart to allow you to see through His eyes, it is impossible to ignore the needs of others. As you look in their eyes, you feel what they feel. Sharing someone else’s emotions while you help them to find light is a different kind of hard.

Psalm 62:8 says, “O my people, trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge.” Before I said “yes” to this call to serve, when I was on the outside peering in, I felt fear and doubt. My mind was full of questions: Can I handle this? Will I empathize and see the world through their eyes? Do I trust that Jesus will be there so that they can see him through me? As I worried over all of these things, I realized that this was God asking me to live in faith — to not immediately have the answer, yet to trust in his leading. I discovered that finding refuge is not necessarily about finding answers. It’s about developing trust. I have a mantra. It is something that I often tell myself as well as the kids that God brings into my life. It is simply, “Pack your faith”.

God doesn’t necessarily call the qualified.

Rather, he qualifies those whom he calls. 


The book of Revelation ends the Bible with a look at heaven, and the urgent message that all are invited to “come”. God has a variety of ways of delivering this message, and one of them is through us. Do we value the invitation enough to respond? Do we trust that Jesus will lead us through the journey? The work that we do on earth has eternal consequences. Heaven is intended to be a very crowded place. Crowded in the sense that it is designed to welcome anyone, with enough room for everyone 🙂

We don’t need to worry if we are qualified. Christ is bigger than any crisis. When He calls us, He will lead us. And, it will change our hearts. It’s hard to describe, but it is the beginning of a beautiful life.

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A Heart To Serve…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from Matthew 20: 25-28 (also found in Mark 10),

Jesus called his disciples together and said to them, “You know that the rulers of this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

And also, 1John 3:11,

“This is the message that you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another.”


2020 provided a strange year. A time when community, service, and safety all came together in a way that caused tremendous confusion for me. Amidst the Covid pandemic, I felt the conflict between “stay home/stay safe” and Jesus’ persistent call to serve others in love. What did God want me to do in this strange, new environment? It was clear to me that I was called to continue to serve, but what did that really mean?

My brain batted this question around repeatedly during the spring months as schools canceled and the overriding cultural message was stay home to flatten the curve. I prayed for wisdom, and I prayed for patience. I postponed swim team practice, and I worshiped via the internet on Sunday mornings. And, my heart cried as I watched our country disconnect from each other and our kids flounder as their daily support structure crumbled away. Our community felt the wrath of the disease in a multitude of different ways as those we loved were sickened or lost, and possibly all of us in some way struggled to gain insight as to how to love as a servant loves.

Summer came and God made it possible to have local swim team practice. We also were able to meet again as a church family to worship each week and this brought a sense of community back that became a lifeline for me. In the fall, school reopened and Youth Group began again, and I learned to wear a mask. It felt strange, but God told me that above all else I needed to be a servant and to be a good neighbor. Leading in love meant sacrificing for others. When the kids that I coached asked me to mask up to protect them and to protect their season, I found clarity in God’s Word (Romans Chapters 12-15:6) and learned to make it work. As I wrote last week, in Our Covid Story, I still have more questions than answers. But, winter has brought some important revelations that have shaped my heart, my thoughts and my actions as we finished up 2020 and moved into 2021.


The first revelation is it is okay to have a servant heart. This is a core part of who I am, and it is directly aligned with my heart for Jesus. I love our church dearly because being surrounded by a church family who is dedicated to serving provided a light to me as I stumbled around in the darkness of 2020. Our pastors reminded me weekly of Jesus’ call to disciple, and inspired me to find ways to intentionally respond to that call. I learned that although details were important, when your core is in Christ that it is okay to lessen your grip and just trust and follow.

The second revelation is that a pandemic does not lesson the need for service, it amplifies it. I’ve seen a loneliness, a sense of “being lost” in the eyes of many (myself included) over the last ten months. Some looked lost because they stopped looking for ways to serve, and some because their need to be served was so great. There is a tremendous physical, mental, and spiritual need as we move into 2021 and I pray that we will all respond when God asks us to move.

The third revelation is something that I’ve learned to cling to. Love is what “moves mountains”. It saves and it binds us together as a family. Goodness is rooted in love, and God is love. We can come up with impressive and detailed theories, but it really is simple. When we serve in love, then Jesus is able to move in and bring change because He is the ultimate display of God’s love. He is Grace, a Grace that is meant to be shared.

I don’t know what all 2021 will bring, but I pray that each of us will reconnect with community and obey Jesus’ command to love one another in service.

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