ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY (2)On February 28, 1943, George Gershwin’s PORGY AND BESS opened on Broadway with Anne Brown and Todd Duncan.

Actually, Gershwin’s first version of the opera, running four hours (counting the two intermissions), was performed privately in a concert version in Carnegie Hall, in the fall of 1935.

I’ve never seen a Broadway show (although there was a time I held season tickets to the Music Theater of Wichita).  In 1943 I wasn’t born yet, so obviously I could not have seen Porgy and Bess on Broadway at that time, but I do like to listen to the songs from this show.

As I was learning to play the piano, as well as playing hymns, once in a while I played show tunes.  This is one of my favorites, but I admit I like “The King & I” and “South Pacific” too.  Oh, who am I kidding?  I like all musicals – on Broadway or off.  I even like some that are way WAY off-Broadway!  Give me a good solid storyline with good solid characters, add a little drama and some snappy music, and I’m hooked!

Porgy and Bess is about the residents of the Charleston tenement known as Catfish Row.  Nobody is rich by any stretch of the imagination, and everyone is struggling to survive.  Porgy is disabled and uses a cart to get around.  Bess has dealings with some shady characters, but eventually seeks shelter with Porgy.  She knows a good guy when she meets him.

Of course, any great show on Broadway is going to be remade on the big screen – and this one definitely made it there – a few times.  The most memorable movie starred Dorothy Dandridge, Sidney Poitier, Brock Peters and Sammy Davis, Jr.

Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong made a recording of the songs from Porgy and Bess in 1957, but it was held and released along with the 1959 movie.  It’s truly some of Gershwin’s best work, and with a duo like Fitzgerald and Armstrong, how could it have failed?  No way would the album fail.  I love that Gershwin used this subject matter and wrote it as an opera.  It’s pure genius!  I feel the same way about “West Side Story.”   I’d describe either show as oxymoronic, theatrically speaking.  I wish I had a mind like Gershwin – with enough irony and interest to capture the world long enough to watch a four-hour show.  Wow!   Sometimes I can’t get folks to read a ten-second poem I’ve written.  Sigh.

Oh, the plot thickens toward the end…  but just in case you haven’t seen it, I won’t spoil the ending for you.  You should rent the 1959 film for movie night this week.  🙂

 

 

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A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

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Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”   – Mark 2:27

God is pleased that man works Monday through Friday.  But on the Sabbath – which may be Saturday for you – or Sunday…  He’s pleased if you are in His house, giving Him your undivided attention – your praises – your thanksgiving.  God is a jealous God and will not have any other gods before Him.

Why do we need to be in church?  Why can’t we go out on the fishin’ bank, or climb a mountain, or watch Dr. Stanley on television and call it good?

Being off somewhere alone and keeping your focus on the Lord is not a bad idea – but there’s something about being with others who believe the same way you do… it’s a sense of community and support of sorts, you might say.  If you’re a lone ranger, with whom do you take communion?  Who is around to challenge your spiritual backbone?  With whom do you pray?  Who prays for you and for whom do you pray?

If I didn’t visit the gym and use the machines, I’d soon gain my weight back and be out of shape.  The church family, ideally, plays a similar role with each member.  I was reminded recently however, that we mustn’t focus on the horizontal view – as much as we focus on the vertical view – we have to keep our eyes on Christ – because people are so – well – human and will fail us at one time or the other.  And guess what?  We will fail them too.  We have to remember that Christ is our example and the one with whom we measure our own standard.  When we do that, it makes all the difference in how we relate to others.

The church family is there to encourage when needed.  It’s there to challenge when needed.  We help each other grow because growth and change are signs of maturity in faith.  There’s nothing worse than stunted growth.  It’s a bit like having cut flowers in a vase too long.  If you wait too long to toss those flowers – it can be a very smelly job.

I don’t want to be a stinky child of God.  I want to grow in my faith, in love, in joy, in peace that passes all understanding.  It’s God’s will for my life – and it’s what I want for my life.

Sometimes a church family is not found at a brick and mortar.  Sometimes it is found in the most unusual and creative way – and God is leading toward an exciting adventure in ministry.  If we don’t put Him in a box, He will make everything work for good.  We just have to place our trust completely in His plan.

What do you do on the Sabbath?  It was established for you, you know.  It’s for your own good – from a God who thinks you are pretty special.  🙂

 

 

A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

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“For David says of Him, ‘I SAW THE LORD ALWAYS IN MY PRESENCE;
FOR HE IS AT MY RIGHT HAND, SO THAT I WILL NOT BE SHAKEN.  ‘THEREFORE MY HEART WAS GLAD AND MY TONGUE EXULTED; MOREOVER MY FLESH ALSO WILL LIVE IN HOPE;  BECAUSE YOU WILL NOT ABANDON MY SOUL TO HADES, NOR ALLOW YOUR HOLY ONE TO UNDERGO DECAY.  ‘YOU HAVE MADE KNOWN TO ME THE WAYS OF LIFE; YOU WILL MAKE ME FULL OF GLADNESS WITH YOUR PRESENCE.’  – Acts 2:25-28

Our focus today is on verse 26:

“Therefore my heart was glad and my tongue exulted; moreover my flesh also will live in hope;  – Acts 2:26

Is your heart glad and your tongue exulted???  Are you living in HOPE today?  If your answer is YES, let God know why.  So many times we know we have joy and hope from the Lord, but we forget to be grateful and thankful to God for it.

Praise God today for the blessings in your life.  The book of Acts is called that because it’s about the acts of the Apostles.  Part of putting feet to your faith is being honest with God in good times, bad times and everything in-between.

Are you living in the land of HOPE?  This sermon was preached in 2014 – but the meaning is still the same.  I HOPE it will be a blessing to you as it was to me.

Have you taken your life, and the fact that you have had the opportunity to live it a good long while – for granted?  Today’s post is a reminder to let God know you appreciate His blessings and that you acknowledge that it is HIS grace and mercy that has brought you this far.  He has a wonderful plan for your life – so live your life with renewed strength and courage.  God has good things in your future and mine.  Live in the land of HOPE because that is God’s will for you.  🙂

 

A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

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 And this is the promise that He has promised us—eternal life.  – 1 John 2:25

God is not a man – so He never goes back on any promises He makes.  If you have not heard anything positive yet today…  you just did!  If nothing has given you reason to smile yet today…  this should.  God will keep every single promise He makes to His children!  You can take His Word to the bank – you can bet that His promises can be trusted.

What has He promised us in this portion of Scripture?  He’s promised us eternal life!  We have hope if we are a child of God – that even when this life is over, the best is yet to come!  I’m looking forward to it – not that I’m in a hurry to die – it’s not like that.  I’ll get to Heaven when God says it’s time, for He has stuff for me to do here.  But it’s a comfort to know that I don’t have to agonize about what lies beyond this life.  There’s a peace and an assurance that I’ll be alright because I’ll be with my Lord.  There’s no better place to be.

This promise of eternal life in Heaven is for all who have repented of their sins and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ with all their heart, soul and mind.  Those who lead a holy life will one day live with God in Paradise.  We can’t base the promise on intellect or strength or any other sort of measure – believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.

This is good news!  This is hope for anyone who is feeling as if there is no hope.  God has made provision for us and today He is telling us that we may rest in the assurance that we will live beyond this limited time on planet earth – in Heaven – with Him.

I’m reminded of an old hymn – Blessed Assurance.  I know – I’m old – but I still love the old hymns of the church.

So…  today if you are needing a reminder as you continue your Christian walk…  if you need to be uplifted, empowered and injected with some positivity…  here ya go!  Be strong and keep the faith.  The best is yet to come – God says so!  🙂

 

A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

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You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.  – James 2:24

Once again we hear from the no-nonsense half brother of Christ.  We all know that good works is the result of strong faith in Christ Jesus.  As we lean strongly on Him every day, He shows us avenues of ministry along the way that we can either choose to follow or not.  When a person comes to a saving knowledge of Christ, they are justified.

Our works have nothing to do with our salvation – for that was taken care of by our LORD – he hung on the cross and died to save us – nothing we do can save our souls – we need to accept HIS sacrifice on our behalf.

Does James contradict Paul?  NO.  The apostle Paul was talking about eternal matters while James is referring to earthly matters.  We don’t have to do good works to get to Heaven – but doing good works is something we want to do because we have faith and a desire to serve the Lord.  How do we serve Him?  We serve other people.  We are His hands, His feet.  We put feet to our faith.  God loves a cheerful giver…  it’s about more than money.

I can talk about having great faith all day long, but until I put some feet to that faith, it’s just lip service – am I right?  Doing good won’t save my soul, but I still want to do good – be kind, and act on my faith.  🙂

A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

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The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.”  – Genesis 2:23

I could just leave this one alone and it’d be fine, right?  You know better…  I won’t do that.  Before I delve into this, I want to say that I believe if a woman does a man’s work, she should be paid the same amount of money for the work she does.  I’ve never disagreed with that.

Why do some women try to be men?  I don’t understand why there are women who think they have to dress and act masculine – when they are so uniquely female.  We’re women because we can do miraculous things that men can’t – well – most women can.  I can’t have babies, but that’s just me.

We’re unique in our emotions.  I’m convinced that we have that extra “sense” – you know the one I mean…  when you say “I have a feeling” – and you were right about something.  Guys don’t do that.  They just stumble around without a clue – sorry, but they do.

A man’s woman – his wife – is his helpmate – his sounding board – the one he depends on to tuck the tag of his shirt in when it’s sticking up in the back – you know the one I mean.  I cut them out – permanent solution – it’s how I roll.

It’s not even so much about the roles in the house – in our house my husband is the cook because I don’t know how to boil water.  I can write a five-page essay on why dogs have certain habits – but I can’t do a thing in the kitchen.  So guys…  just because a person is female, it doesn’t mean she’s automatically a good cook.

One thing women LOVE to do is…  STAMP.  Yes…  we love to stamp!  I typically do everything digitally these days, but I did find this to be very interesting.

Women are just here to help.  My husband doesn’t need as much help as some men.  He was a bachelor for 15 years before we married, so he’s pretty self-sufficient.  He does his laundry and I do mine.  But I’ve had opportunities to help him through the years – and I think those times bring us closer together.

Women are uniquely qualified for many things because God made us special.  God did not want man to be alone.  He knew they needed help.  Take that any way you want…  they do need us.  They know it – we know it.  We need them too, but we don’t want that to get out, right?  🙂

 

 

A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

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And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.  – Mark 2:22

So much of what we read in Scripture is what my grandpa called common horse sense.  Aren’t we thankful for that?  What if God’s Word was completely over our heads?  Wouldn’t that be fun during devotion time?  I’m glad that I don’t have to consult with Franklin Graham about every portion of Scripture I read, aren’t you?

I’m the first to admit my knowledge of wine is limited…  that is to say, you could fill a thimble with what I know about it.  I know there are red ones and white ones, and I think I know that red is for pasta and red meat, and white is for fish.  I think I know that – don’t quote me.

Back in Bible times, wine was what they drank – I always heard it’s because the water was not fit to drink.  We’ll go with that.  I just don’t drink because – well – for one thing, those drinks at restaurants are expensive – it’s frankly not a huge religious rule with me – more of a financial one.  Water is more healthy and it’s free.  There ya go.

Why is it important for us to know about new wine and new wineskins?

The new wine represents the spiritual freedom of the gospel of Jesus Christ – with its fermenting energy and new life that has the power to truly transform a heart and life.  The old wine represents the old ways – the old ceremonies and rules of the Law.  This was a time when the old legal ceremonial ways were about to pass away.  It would prove fatal to try to weave the old with the new – or to put new wine into old wineskins.

In addition…  the new wine also represents a brand new baby Christian – filled with zeal and excitement about the new life they’ve been given by our LORD.  They are so driven with a desire to please the LORD…  and sadly, the older wine in the church is all too happy to dump every JOB that has to be done in the church – on their heads.  Are they ready for it?  Um…  NO!  Why do we do that?

New converts MUST be treated with gentleness and consideration.  We need to stop misinterpreting their eagerness and willingness to jump in and work for a sudden qualification to do so.  They’re not ready for the tasks that we “old wine peeps” have taken on for ions of time.  The fastest way to burn out a brand new baby Christian is to throw them into a bunch of jobs all at once.

I love the idea of new Christian classes.  I’ve not been to one, but I know they are very effective.  By the time folks are finished with that, they are usually ready to do one thing – not a whole list of stuff – just one thing – and do it well.  And just as it should be – they will progress to more things as God opens the door.  I’ve seen great new ministries begin that way.

I know the old saying – and it’s true…  10% of the people do 90% of the work.  I get it…  I really do.  But let’s think before we load a new Christian – or even a new member – down with a list of jobs.  May we pray that God will impress on us what ministries He wants for us to be a part of.

At twelve years old – after I was saved and baptized in the church, I was immediately given a Sunday School class to teach, asked to be church pianist, and play piano for the choir and for the youth group.  It’s not a complaint, for all of this prepared me for the work and ministries I’d be involved with later.  It’s more of a reflection about how we’re all quick to share the workload… and I suppose they shared it with me because I grew up in the church.  But seriously…  we need to be careful with the brand new baby Christians.

They drink milk…  they have to ease into red meat.  🙂