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Holy Week 2020 Motivation Monday: Light and Love

Greetings of peace, love and hope! I hope you are finding you are continuing to stay on the sunny side of life as the rain and clouds continue to make life messy. In these challenges of “Shelter in Place” and covid-19, there are opportunities to love a little deeper and shine a little brighter as the reflections of God’s life we are called to be. Perhaps it helps and motivates and emboldens you as it does me to remember that Jesus, a flesh and blood man, was headed facing his own challenges this time so many years ago. Let us take up our crosses and follow our commander and champion.

Image for Matthew 22:39

Throughout this week, I will post daily as your journeying partner.

  • MONDAY – Today, Holy Monday, I aim to motivate you with pointing out how Jesus is the light and direction. Jesus has told us how to remain strong. So, we will focus on the light of Christ, and the greatest commandments of Christ Today.
  • TUESDAY – Tomorrow, on Holy Tuesday, we will explore some of the paribles Jesus told in the Temple of Jerusalem as he continued to prepare the people for his coming crucifixion and resurrection. I am calling tomorrow “TellTheTaleTuesday.
  • WEDNESDAY – On Holy Wednesday, we will observe what I am calling #WoesAndWarningWednesday. In Jerusalem, Jesus reprimands the prople–especially the religious leaders and teachers of Jewish law– for dishonoring the spirit if not the letter of the Mosaic Law. Since knowledge is power and sometimes ignorance causes us to sin, Wednesday will be spent exploring the follies we fall into and will avoid when we full-heartedly follow Jesus and by the power of the Holy Sprit.
  • THURSDAY – Thursday is called Maundy Thursday. On this day, we celebra the Last Supper in remembrance of the Supper Jesus celebrated with his disciples before his crucifiction, so I invite you to reflect on this event with me.
  • FRIDAY – Good Friday is the day we commemorate the crucifiction of Jesus Christ. It is good, because without Jesus’ willing death on our behalf, we would have no hope of eternal life. So, we will pause to remember, reflect and repent on Friday.
  • SATURDAY – Saturday is vital though it seems to be a day we often overlook. It is a day people set up their Easter Egg Hunts and make last-minute preparations for Sunday Festivities. People cook, play and engage in other activities. I mean to condemn noone. Jesus came to save the world; not com=ndemn the world. My aim is to make us findful of the fact that on Holy Sunday, Jesus is fighting the forces of death and damnation, and rescuing the souls of the prophets and other faithful persons who had already died. It is a day of silence, because the disciples did not yet understand this, and only knew their leader and beloved teacher was gone and their hopes with him. Even once the apostles and Early Church understood, we they observed the silence of Jesus’ desension. So, I will find a way to help us reflect upon this time of silence and seporation of Jesus from God. Jesus died that we might live and live abundantly.
  • SUNDAY – That rest and silence empties us for the joy of the Resurrection of Christ on Resurrection Sunday/Easter. We will rejoice on that day. Come rejoice and give thanks with me on that day, and share with me how you and yours celebrated!

Motivation Monday: Love and Light

Text image for John 12:46, from Bible.com

Before we are strong enough to not only carry our own crosses and help carry those of others, we must recieve the mental, spiritual and physical nourishment for the journey. Am I right? Scripture gives us the spiritual nourishment and armor. Jesus reveals that he is the Light and the way back in John 3:16. Here, in John 12:46, he re-affirms he is the Light, and when we commit to keeping our eyes upon him, we will get where we want to go.

“I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the dark” (John 12:46, NLT). https://www.bible.com/bible/116/jhn.12.46.nlt

Jesus is the Light. Jesus sheds light on those behaviors, attitudes and heart conditions most pleasing to God! In the Jerusalem Temple, he is asked what the greatest command is. He answers not only with the greatest, but adds a second command, which actually is a second part of the whole. Jesus sheads light upon the truth that we cannot love God with our whole being without loving our neighbor.

Image for Matthew 22:36–40 from Bible.com

“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” (Matthew 22:36-40, NLT). https://www.bible.com/bible/116/mat.22.36-40.nlt

Especially now, I am mindful that the most powerful demonstration of our love for God is our love, service, mercy and kindness to our fellow human-beings. Love is the only light, which will bring us through this epadimic stronger and more whole than ever before. Without love, we will make it through, but we will be broken and destitute. Love, my sisters and brothers! Love! Love, as Jesus practiced it, is emotional, yes, yes, it is also active and consistant. It gives to each what she or he needs. In this way, LOVE! And may that love come back to you in abundance!

Monday Prayer

Jesus Christ, thank you for being love and light. Thank you for coming to brighten and straighten the path for us on this journey to the cross. We need you, O Lord, to be with us. Heal us Lord, and empower us to be the healing force for those around us. You know our prayers, our sorrows and our fears. Lord, take our sorrows and fears and transform them into hope and faith. May your faith and love infuse us, Lord Jesus. When the sick, homeless, orphan, imprisoned and immigrant see us, may they see you. We love you! Amen!

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Give Up Scapegoating for Lent

This passage has always made me sad. It’s just a for shadowing of the sadness I felt at reading of Jesus on the cross or experiencing the lamb who is the only one who could open the seven seals. We are to repent! And mean it!

https://www.bible.com/bible/111/lev.16.20-22.niv““When Aaron has finished making atonement for the Most Holy Place, the tent of meeting and the altar, he shall bring forward the live goat. He is to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites—all their sins—and put them on the goat’s head. He shall send the goat away into the wilderness in the care of someone appointed for the task. The goat will carry on itself all their sins to a remote place; and the man shall release it in the wilderness.”

Leviticus 16:20-22 NIV

Lord Jesus, I thank you for inviting us on this journey. I thank you that those of us who have made it this far or at least this committed to the journey and we thank you for the power we know you will give us to go all the way with you to the cross and glory. Thank you for being the ultimate scapegoat, sacrifice and atonement for our sins. May we be better and may we become more like you. In Jesus precious and holy name we pray, by the power and the gift of the Holy Spirit bestowed upon us by God the father, amen!

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Making Young Disciples During Lent & Easter

Alpha and Omega - Pass It On
Alpha And Omega

Breathe deeply, ask God to provide peace, patience and endurance, and remember why we work and strive every day to build the kingdom of God. Lent Is a season of preparing our hearts and minds for Christ death and resurrection; emptying out so that God can fill up. Advent comes before Christmas, end it tends to be more festive and feels more joyful. Both seasons, however, tend to get too hectic and frantic and busy and it is hard to keep the peace and hope of the season. Like Christianity itself, I see this as backward, but in a good way! God does not value what the world values and conversely, Easter is the season that should bring us much joy, because although Jesus being born as human is a critical point in our history, Jesus dying and suffering so that we can have eternal life is why we are here. Lent, perhaps can never be joyful and festive, because the focus is on repentance and on the struggling walk to the cross. But, Easter is a season, not only a day. Easter Season (50 days beginning with Easter Sunday) deserves at least as much joy and recognition as Advent and Christmas.

So today, I am talking to myself as much as other ministers and pastors. I am speaking to parents and teachers and all those who get busy with the practicalities and duties of the holidays. May we all find those moments to be Mary seated at the feet of the Messiah listening and enjoying the word of God and resist the temptation to always be Martha, hard at work. May we be aware of this tendency to do rather than be so that we can resist. How do we balance the two? Trust me, I am no expert, but I know the ONE who is, and I am praying, come Holy Spirit, come!

I am taking a moment away from work and I hope that this post will calm me and bless you. As I prepare for youth confirmation, Easter and into the summer, may I continue to have the wisdom and ability to take these moments to write and keep this discipline. May be a blessing and not another chore to add to the list.

Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.

Passing On The Faith

Marks of Heroism Brochure, by Christy Ann Clark Speaking on passing our faith down to the next generations, Every summer, Saint Mark LA Host to summer reading program. This year, I have named it Marks of Heroism 2019. We will learn, play and pray together five days a week for six weeks during the summer. Here is the brochure I created. it is one of the fliers and announcements that will be on display after church on Sunday so that more of our church family made yet involved with all that we are doing and all the Holy Spirit is doing through us.

SJudges 2:8,10 after Joshua and his generation died, Israel reverted to their old sinful way.

Judges 2:8.10

ince I’ve been focusing on our youth confirmation so much these past days, it is not a shock that tonight my heart is set on why we as Christian leaders focus on making disciples for Christ. It took me back to the Old Testament, of course. After a faithful generation rose and served, an unfaithful generation often followed and I was thinking of Joshua here. After Moses and Joshua another generation died, but people forgot about God and failed to follow. Maybe that generation dropped the baton and got too comfortable. I cannot say. I’m sur the situation was entirely too complicated for us to assume we know anything. I do know that our example today can help brighter tomorrow for our children, and create a more hopeless world for our children. So I press on. We press it on.

We plant, water, nurture and reap, yet only God can really produce the harvest.

Let us rest well so that will have the energy, endurance, patience and wisdom to keep doing God’s good work, praying and playing with our children, and loving God above all! Amen.

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If We Are What We Read, What And Who Am I?

I wonder if I didn’t say anything, would you notice I didn’t post yesterday! Mostly, because my son was out of school, it just slipped my mind that it was even Monday. Still, I got plenty of work done including my worship plan for Sunday, and had dinner with my brother-in-law, who is in from San Franciscot, and the rest of the in-laws. Tacos is always a family favorite though noone makes them quite like Marlon, ask my son! I hope you are all having a great week thus far.

I have to get back to writing these budgets and getting ready for Sunday, but I need it to get to my outlet, which is writing for fun. So, let me talk about a couple of books I am or have read, and influence me.

Festive In Death, by J.D. Robb (Nora Roberts)

Festive In Death Book Cover Amazon

Lieutenant eve Dallas is a homicide Lieutenant! She is a victim/survivor of the foster care system around 30 years from now give or take. I don’t want to give away too much of a story in case I’ve wet your intereste, and you’re going to go read this 50 books series! Of course, this is fiction, which allows her to be a super superhero. Nevertheless, she overcomes horrific trauma to become an amazingly dedicated public servant. I can empathize, which is why I identify so much with her and love the series. I, too, grew up in foster care, and it was definitely ugly. I find this example to be both intimidating and inspiring. I can’t figure out if it helps me get to work or if it makes me feel like I’m completely not doing anything. Perhaps both. Still, I’ve read this series over and over again.

I like this book in the series particularly, because it forces Eve to have more balance then she tends to and it forces her to celebrate the holidays, which she would pretty much just let fall by the wayside if it were up to her, or so she’d have us believe. She’s a hard ass, but not brittle. Remember my post of Saturday? If we don’t take a rest, it increases The chances of our being brittle and broken… Well, good thing she has people to give her that same message, because she definitely needs it. My guess is most do; especially if, like me, you’re a Perfectionist/Type A personality.

As Eve gives thanks for Rourke, her husband, I give thanks for Marlon, mine. True LOVE definitely makes a difference and when we find it, we have to hold on tightly especially through treacherous and torturous storms. She is irreverent, belittles even the idea of faith in God and cusses entirely too much… She is imperfect. She lives every day of her life fighting for justice and she definitely knows her WHY. I want that confidence and won’t stop until I have it. Lord, I won’t let you go until and unless you bless me (Genesis 32:26j.

Wrestle with God. God can take it!
Pinterest images for Genesis 32:26

Eat That Frog, by Brian Tracy

Eat That Frog is a book, which has helped me fight my procrastination tendencies. I’m not good at procrastinating, and hate that I’ve developed that habit lately.Eat That Frog Cover

Perhaps it was the image of eating a disgusting frog that first got my attention! I love this book and have quoted from it quite a few times on Facebook and Instagram. When I suffer from anxiety, I list everything I need to do and that leads to inactivity, because then I get overwhelmed and anxious and I start to feel so small! It is a vicious and sometimes seemingly endless cycle. Can I get an Amen!

I was just talking to my husband about the fact that I don’t want to take the bus to the gym, work out, then either walk back from or take the bus back from the gym because it takes too long. I realized though that of course I spend so much time worrying about it and worrying about what I have to do that the time I think I’m saving, I’m wasting anyway! During that time, I’m beating myself up for what I’m not doing, and doing things that don’t necessarily need to be prioritized or… So, I have to remind myself daily and multiple times daily to eat that frog.

Which one? Bryan tells us the biggest one, but when everything is vital and urgent, that can’t be that easy to figure out all the time either. So, I am working on it.

If it’s your job to eat frogs, eat the biggest one. If it’s your job to eat two frogs, eat the biggest one first. – Mark TwainThis quote from Mark Twain inspired the title
  • What do you think? How do you get unstuck?

Finally, I have been titled Sunday’s sermon Indulge Yourself.

Returned to me with all your heart. With fasting. With weeping. With mourning.Bible greeting card for Joel 2:12-13

My sermon will actually be on Isaiah 55:1-9, so this is the background text for a series. Lent is a time to unclutter our lives, clean out the junk and mess and return full heartedly to following Christ. Repentance is not a happy emotion in the way we are used to thinking of it, but in repenting, we enter the abundant life. We are invited to indulge in water and bread from heaven, and unlike physical water and bread, when we partake of these, we never hunger or thirst again. I love this promise and I’m comfortable walking and sitting in the reality of the almost and not yet partial for filament of this promise. As long as I am here on earth, I will hunger and thirst again physically and spiritually. I don’t walk perfectly with Christ all the time and sometimes I feel abandoned. Even knowing that I may be doing things to block my blessings does not lessen the anguish of these moments. So , I cry come Holy Spirit, come!

Let Us Pray

God, thank you so much for sending your son to be born and live amongst us, to die and fight for us and to rise up again that we might have eternal life. Thank you Holy Spirit that you continue to walk with us and sit with us and live with us so that we may have the wisdom, courage and compassion of Christ in the world. Thank you that you continue to help us walk in the way of Christ. Jesus, we love you and we praise you. We give you all the honor and glory. Thank you for your sacrifice and for your perfect example. We are not worthy in our own power, and yet, we continue to try and to be our best, because that is what you ask of us. Amen!

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Fight With Prayer

Fight for it Friday! This one, I love, because it is important for me to keep up a fighting spirit. Sometimes, we all get tired of fighting! We get tired of having to point out which should be obvious: that everyone deserves to live without fear; to have access to food and water; be able to earn a living wage, especially if they’ve earned a Master’s Degree in their field; have access to education; to not fear being shot by the police as they’re walking down the street, because of the color of their skin and/or their gender…and the list goes on. Justice is something so many of us have to fight for: for ourselves and for others. So fight for it Friday always reminds me to keep going!

Acts Prayer
St. Vincent de Paul

But what can we do? One thing everyone can always do is pray. So many times those prayers open the door to action. Because I love acronyms and the use of this device is helpful for children as well, , I enjoy teaching my students the ACTS prayer.

Let us pray.

Adoration

Living God, Mighty Savior, Spirit who indwells, I love you!

Confession

You are my all and all, and yet, I have failed to live as I ought! I am weak. I gossip about people and used foul language. I lose my temper however I attempt to control my tongue. Fear gets in my way, which proves my faith is not as strong as I wish it were.I need your strength, wisdom and grace. I confess all this and more.

Thanksgiving

I thank you, Lord, that you know my prayers even before I do. I thank you that you are working on my heart and disposition. I thank you for my family and for my new candidacy Mentor. I thank you for the young people in ministry workshop that is going on tomorrow. Since I know what it is to be hungry, thirsty and without clothing or a home, I thank you that I have all of these (even as the lack of rent control and the reality of rent increase threatens ) and so many other blessings. Thank you! You have blessed me abundantly.

Supplication

Oh Lord, open our hearts to see the people around us as we journey with you to the cross. Help us persist and prevail. Help us see the value in the work we do for you and others every day. Please continue to provide the food and water, the shelter and spiritual care we need to survive. I pray tonight for those who live without rent control and in fear of losing their residences. I pray for those tonight fighting drug addiction and violence/impulse control and those who love them. Protect women, children and even men at the mercy of those without compassion. I ask that you give us the courage, knowledge, skills and heart to fight tonight to fight our demons and to stand along side of those who are fighting others. We need you and we need each other tonight tomorrow and forever. In Jesus precious name by the power of the Holy Spirit and giving all glory to God, I pray, AhMen.

I Think I Can Think I Can

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Love, Peace, Joy, Justice and Hope be yours! First Sunday in the Season of Lent is coming to a close! Our culture puts so much emphasis on New Year’s and New Year’s resolutions, but I honestly feel that the greater chance for purifying our hearts and cleansing our spirits happens during this season. Many of us sacrifice, but we sacrifice nothing compared to the One who sacrificed all for us. In that sacrifice, I gain clarity, hope, restoration of relationship and an ever increasing appreciation for life. I am grateful. I hope as we walk through these 40 days and Sabbath days up to Easter you feel renewed hope, joy, peace, love and commitment to serve the needs of others. Justice and mercy are needed in our World, and when we are nourished, we are better equipped to care for our world.

Be blessed and make sure you leave any comments if you need prayers.

I got you!

Onto today’s topic! As I continued reading Max Lucado’s Be Anxious for Nothing, I was compelled to contemplate and write on this concept of

Thought Management (Ch. 9). I put recurring reminders in my phone reminding me that “I am enough.” Reminding me that “Jesus loves me and so do I.” Positive affirmations and feeding ourselves positive reinforcement may sound cliche and soft, but it is necessary. So, the idea of controlling our thoughts in order to control our destinies and lives is not a new one, but it’s definitely one I haven’t mastered. Max gives wonderful insights for how to make this a practical Goal for those of us who tend to suffer from anxious thoughts and anxiety. I want to use one of his tools, which is breaking down Philippians 4:8 Dash nine. There are others in the chapter and I’m sure I will explore them throughout these days of Lent, but my heart is on these verses, especially verse 8, tonight.

True

The truth is I am blessed. I have an amazing husband. We have been together since August 11, 1998, married June 30, 2007, and we are still in love. We have a wonderful son and share deep love of God. We pray and play together. Thanks be to God. What is true about you life and blessing?

Noble

my job as Minister Of Children, Youth & Young Families is noble. Thanks be to God.

Right

I have the heart, fortitude and ability to fight for what is Right and Just. We need those who fight for what is right our children, immigrants, trafficked populations, ethnic minorities and other marginalized people. Thanks be to God we’re all on the battlefield! Myself included.

Pure

My sweet boy asleep.

Lovely

The smile on my little niece, Kaylee and Savanna’s faces. To only have a girl!! Thank you, God, for these girls. Thank you for all our children. Protect them. Keep them!

Admirable

My mom, sister’s, brother and many friends have experienced so much pain and suffering. Still, our resilient, fighting spirits are admirable. Thank you, Jesus! May we never give up our give t u!

Excelente

hard one! I think of the Hymn though “Jesus, Excellent”.

Praise-Worthy

My God! God is creator, Redeemer, savior and judge. God is just, all love, always present. The LORD is my all and all! Thank you for this faith and assurance, O God!

… And the journey continues. Let us walk on.

Blogging to Easter: My intro to Blogging

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I am, as you are, part of God’s great story. Writing is my way of putting voice to the chapters of my story. I wrote my first little story in Braille in elementary and have loved writing poetry, articles, short stories and even newsletters ever since. I have always had the feeling I should write a book, but no idea has quite solidified yet. Should I write an autobiography, creative nonfiction, the first Systematic Theology Text by a Black female Methodist? What?? Time to try my hand at blogging!

So, as you know by now, my name is Christy! I am a mother to Shaun, who is 11. I am married to my high school sweetheart and we have a Terrior Puppy! All of us are life-long Californians!

Vocationallly, I am Minister Of Children, Youth & Young Families with Saint Mar, Los Angeles. Concurrently, I am working toward ordination in the United Methodist Church as an Ordained Deacon, called to word, service, justice and compassion ministries. As our children, youth and families grow in faith and receive the vital nurture they need to thrive, they will take their stories out into the street and be the bridge to Christ for a broken world who so strongly needs hope, love and healing. My Master’s In Divinity (M.Div.) from Fuller Theological Seminary (2015) and B.A. in Collaborative Health, Human Services and Public Policy/Social Work reflect my conviction that the Child Welfare System and policies of our nation must be overhauled and our children must be protected and defended and the church has a key role in making sure this work is done.

Much of my childhood was spent in foster care, and so I am dedicated to being the light especially for at-risk youth and young adult populations, but also for all of those whom God sends my way. In 1985 at the age of three, I lost my vision and I’m to this day partially sighted, so I also have a special need to serve as a light for those with physical disabilities who the world often pities and/or shuns. We give lip service to justice for all, including children, the disabled, people o( all sexual orientations and races, but this is not the reality in many cases. So, the fight is going strong for social, political economic and all other forms of justice in the world.

For this, my first blogging attempt, I will journey through Lent with you. Starting Wednesday, which is Ash Wednesday, and leading up to Easter, which falls on April 21 this year, I will post daily on my journey to the cross with Christ and you all. I post pretty regularly on Facebook and Instagram anyway and figure it is time to try my hand at blogging. This is also a spiritual discipline and a way to hold myself accountable to daily reflection on journeying with Christ. My goal is to provide you with solidarity, resources, which will help you along your journey and have a lot of fun in the process. I hope to hear from you as to what you think, what would be more helpful for you, and any prayer requests you may have. May God bless you today and always. Shalom!