Growing up, my family attended a small Methodist church. We went to church just about any time the doors were open.
On Wednesday nights, we attended Bible study/prayer meeting. During those meetings, Mr. Luke Diggs (my grandma’s first cousin) was one of the faithful folks who prayed… and prayed… and prayed. I remember thinking he must have been praying for half an hour, when really it was probably only a few minutes. I thought he was never going to stop. A few times, I even asked God to please let him finish praying so I didn’t fall asleep and get in trouble.
But back then, I didn’t realize the depth and importance of what he was doing.
Mr. Luke wasn’t talking to hear himself talk — he was petitioning God on behalf of our church family and our community. His prayers were fervent and from the depths of his soul. They were not for show. They were not offered for man’s praise. They were offered up to the God of the universe, praising God and asking for His blessing and help. There was something powerful about His prayers – and it had nothing to do with the ebb and flow of his words. It had nothing to do with the fact that he could have given any pastor a run for his money. Rather, the power in his prayers had everything to do with his faith and relationship with the Lord. God’s Holy Spirit flowed through Mr. Luke’s words and his actions.
Then there were Sundays that we sat with our grandma (May Belle Diggs Lassiter). She always had some chewing gum in her purse and taught me and my sister (and cousins!) how to make the little flowers out of the foil wrappers. She sang in her sweet, beautiful voice and pointed to the words so we could sing along and learn to read in time. She was a peacekeeper and a peacemaker. And when we went to her house to eat, she cooked for an army – even if there were only a few more mouths to feed.
There was something soothing about being in her presence. Yes, she was an awesome cook, had the gift of hospitality, and had a precious, infectious laugh. But her soothing, peaceful spirit wasn’t rooted in those things. Nope. It was a direct result of her faith and relationship with the Lord. God’s Spirit flowed through my grandma’s words and actions. God’s love and peace flowed through who she was and what she did.
Even though both of these wonderful folks were members of the Methodist church for most (if not all) of their lives, I can declare with confidence that Methodism didn’t define who my Grandma was and it didn’t define Mr. Luke.
the love of Jesus defined them!
And in turn, they shared that same love with those around them, acting as arrows by pointing others to Him.
There are many other folks that I could name who helped me grow in my faith (including my own parents!). I want my children to have memories like that and be able to point to certain folks in their lives and have similar faith building stories. I want them to know who they are in CHRIST. I want them to know that they are not defined by the denomination they happen to be attached to, but rather are defined by the Love of their Creator – for they are created in His image and filled with His Spirit.
I want them to know that the power in their lives has nothing to do with their job position, money, ability to lead, sing, follow, or any other earthly ability. Rather, it has everything to do with GOD’s LOVE FOR THEM. His power, flowing through them, gives them the ability to do things they could never imagine possible.
As I look back on my upbringing, I am glad that I was given a firm foundation. I was taught to keep the focus on the One Who was, Who is, And Who forever will be — Jesus. I hope that one day, I can be a light to others in the same way my grandma and Mr. Luke were for me.
As for the Methodist church? I don’t know where it is heading or what will happen in the coming years. I don’t know if I will remain a Methodist or join another denomination — but I don’t have to know. Why? Because, like the folks I was blessed with growing up, my denomination does not define me… Jesus does. The One who made me — the One who keeps me rooted in His peace — The One Who loves me. Always.
And I say with confidence —
God is good. All the time.
And all the time – God is good.
Can I get an Amen?
Ephesians 6: 7-14
Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.
It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.
It’s in Christ that you, once you heard the truth and believed it (this Message of your salvation), found yourselves home free—signed, sealed, and delivered by the Holy Spirit. This signet from God is the first installment on what’s coming, a reminder that we’ll get everything God has planned for us, a praising and glorious life.