Saturday, September 24, 2016

No Small Parts

Photo by Ed Sward Photography 2016

As renowned actor and drama coach Constantin Stanislavski said, “Remember: there are no small parts; only small actors.”

This saying hit home for my husband Richard and me last week as we were blessed to perform in the Spectacular Senior Follies “Bravo Broadway,” an amazing production of more than 100 talented, veteran singers, dancers and actors. The five shows at the beautiful theatre entertained more than 4,000 people, and the “meet-and-greet” after each performance suggested that the audience was truly blessed, uplifted and inspired by what they had seen and heard.

As gifted and outstanding as the many soloists were, each performer in the ensembles could have also merited a solo performance based on their own talents. The excellence and artistry of the completed product depended not only on the brilliance of these performers, and on the superb artistic, musical, and choreographic direction of the renowned creative team, but on the coordinated efforts and faithfulness of every single person involved in every aspect of the production. And let’s not forget the prolific composers and lyric writers who created Tony award-winning musicals in the first place!

So much attention to detail was required! What if the sound team didn’t activate the right mics at the right time so every word and note would be clearly heard? What if the dressers didn’t help the Showgirls with their elaborate costumes and voluminous headdresses so they could be ready on time for their next number?

What if the stage manager and crew didn’t elevate the hanging mics out of reach of the high lifts Richard and I were doing, and I became entangled in a mic cord? What if there were no lobby staff to open the theatre, sell tickets and escort people to their seats? What if just one member of either of the two amazing bands played a wrong note, or got out of sync with the band leader?

Sometimes these details escape notice until something goes awry. During a rehearsal, one of the set pieces was misplaced just a little, changing where the lead singer had to stand by just a foot or two, and as a result, her spotlight no longer illuminated her to perfection when she first began singing. In another rehearsal, one of the cast inadvertently slightly changed the position of a streetlight on wheels, which was standing backstage in preparation for the next set. When the curtain came down, it caught the streetlight and crushed it!

But thankfully, the shows ran like well-oiled machines, everyone seamlessly functioning together to create a whole that was far, far greater than the parts. What a blessing to know that prayer warriors were also involved behind the scenes, praying for those who were ill or injured to recover completely for the shows; for all to perform to their highest potential to God’s glory; and for all who came to be blessed. Richard and I were privileged to pray for these needs as well, and even for the weather, as the forecasted storms on show days would likely reduce the walk-in crowds. Despite the predicted gloomy forecast, we had sunny skies and great audiences!

The success of the Follies depended not only on the faithful, consistent efforts of those performing or directing, but on so many more! From the financial patrons; to those who designed the costumes and sets, wrote the script, cast the players, donated bottled water and food; and even the bus drivers who transported the audience, all played a significant role. Without them, the show would not go on! We are so thankful to all those who united to make this happen!

God was so faithful in answering all these prayers, proving yet again that His grace is sufficient, His strength is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9), and that with Him, all things are possible! (Matthew 19:26). The whole experience reminded me of how the church, or called-out assembly of born-again believers (John 3:3-8), is meant to function. God made each of us to be unique, to play a special role in His church that He foreordained since before the world began (Ephesians 2:10), and there are no small parts!

Jesus Christ loved the church so much that He gave Himself for it (Ephesians 5:25), dying on the cross to pay for all our sins, and rising again on the third day so that all who trust Him would have eternal life (1 Corinthians 15:1-4; John 3:16). Through the cleansing of His Word, He purifies the church from every wrinkle and blemish, nourishing and cherishing it (Ephesians 5:25-29), and His desire is that we would love one another in the same way (John 13:34-35; 15:12).

The church is the body of Christ (Romans 12:5). As we think of the human body, we might be tempted to place more importance on the eyes or ears, for example, than on what we perceive as less significant – perhaps our little toe (1 Corinthians 12:14-24). But if we break our little toe, our eyes shut tightly in pain, and we may even wish that our ears would not work sufficiently to capture the sound of our crying out in agony!

Most of our body parts we cannot even see with the naked eye, like red blood cells, but if these were absent, our eyes and ears would be deprived of oxygen and we would cease to see and hear (Psalm 139:14). In this year’s show, the orchestra members occupied the pit and were invisible to the audience. But that made them no less crucial to the singers and dancers, for the bands were the heartbeat and clarion call of the entire show (1 Corinthians 14:7-8).

So it is with the church – each member has a special calling, but none can fulfill it in isolation (1 Corinthians 12:4-14). The pastor, song leader, teacher or soloist might be more visible than the janitor, electrician, or faithful tither (Malachi 3:10), but without these, the local church would have to shut its doors. By bearing one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2), sharing one another’s joys (Luke 15:4-9), and working together in love, we can let God use us to accomplish His perfect plan (1 Corinthians 12:25-28; Jeremiah 29:11).

May we not grow weary in well-doing, for the church will reap the rewards of our faithfulness (Galatians 6:9) if we keep on serving God! May we encourage and appreciate one another as each carries out the specific mission God intended. May we work together in one accord (Acts 1:14; 2:1,46, etc.), with unity of mind and spirit, dedicated to His glory!

© 2016 Laurie Collett

Womanhood With Purpose
Adorned From Above
No Ordinary Blog Hop

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Rapture to Heaven: Triplets of Eternity

Tinus Badenhorst 2010
A new beginning awaiting all believers is the Rapture, when instantaneously the trumpet shall sound, the dead in Christ shall be raised in glorified bodies, and living believers shall be changed into glorified bodies (1 Corinthians 15:52). The sound heralding this miraculous transformation is described as the shout of the Lord, the voice of the archangel, and the trump of God (1 Thessalonians 4:16).
The Rapture will occur at the same instant all around the world, creating pandemonium on earth for those left behind as many pilots, drivers, surgeons and other believers suddenly disappear in the midst of what they are doing. Some will vanish at night while sleeping, others at sunrise or sunset while preparing breakfast or supper, and still others in the middle of the day, while working in the fields (Luke 17:34-36). 
Yet all this occurs at the same moment in time, authenticating the Spirit-breathed nature of Scripture, as this was written nearly 1500 years before Columbus showed that the earth is a globe!  
Those believers still living at the Rapture will be caught up (Raptured) in the clouds with those believers who died before, will meet the Lord in the air, and will forever be with the Lord in their glorified state (1 Thessalonians 4:17). Once the Rapture occurs, believers will take part in three events: the Judgment Seat of Christ, the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, and the Second Coming of Christ
At the Judgment Seat of Christ, believers will be rewarded for the work God does through us in our earthly life, for we are coworkers with God: we are God's husbandry, meaning that He raises and trains us; and we are God's building (1 Corinthians 3:8-9),. But because God is a Gentleman, He does not force His will on any of us, and we must yield to His direction through the Holy Spirit before His perfect will can be done in our lives.
The perfect Foundation of each believer’s life is Christ Himself, but how we build our lives on that foundation is up to us (1 Corinthians 3:10-11). Work done for our own glory, to satisfy our own lusts, or even done for the church but with the wrong motives will burn up like wood, hay, and stubble, consumed by the fiery judgment. But good works done to God’s glory, to further His Kingdom, and motivated by love for Him will be purified in the refiner’s fire and remain as a reward, like gold, silver, and precious stones (1 Corinthians 3:12-15)
Overcome by gratitude for His love, holiness and sacrifice for us, we will cast these crowns at the feet of Jesus. He alone is worthy to be crowned and to receive glory, honor and power (Revelation 4 9-11).
Announcing the Marriage Supper of the Lamb will be a powerful pronouncement as the voice of a great multitude, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, Those present are commanded to be glad and rejoice, and give honor to Christ the Lamb, Who will marry His bride, the Church, in the presence of the blessed guests (Revelation 19 6-9). This last group includes the angels; the Old Testament saints who are in Heaven because of their faith in God; and the Tribulation saints, who were saved after the Rapture and martyred for refusing to take the mark of the beast. 
The Tribulation saints will no longer hunger, thirst, or suffer from the scorching sun, for the Lamb will feed them and lead them to living fountains of waters, and God will wipe away all their tears (Revelation 7 16-17). 
After the Marriage Supper, believers will have the awesome privilege of accompanying Christ as His armies when He returns in His Second Coming for the battle of Armageddon. We are described as riding white horses, clothed in fine linen, and white and clean (Revelation 19:14)
In Heaven we will have new bodies, a new address, and a new name (Revelation 2:17). Our glorified, eternal, perfect bodies will be like that of the resurrected Christ (Philippians 3:21), and we will never die, age, or become ill. Instead of pain, sorrow, and tears, we will experience vitality, joy, and a new song. (Isaiah 35:10; Revelation 5:9; 21:4). 
Our new home will be in our own mansion, (John 14:2), in the New Jerusalem, in the new heaven and new earth (Revelation 21:1-2). The length, breadth and height of the New Jerusalem will be equal, each 12,000 furlongs, most likely a pyramidal shape. There will be three gates each on the east, north, south and west walls of the city, or twelve gates in total, each made of a single pearl. Each wall will be guarded by three angels and will bear the names of three of the twelve tribes of Israel
Similarly, there will be twelve foundations of precious stones, inscribed with the names of the twelve apostles (Revelation 21:12-21)., and the tree of life planted by the river of water of life will bear twelve kinds of fruit (Revelation 22:1-2). 
Praise God that when we finally behold Him in glory, we will have unimaginable joy, for 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). 
It is my earnest prayer that everyone reading this post will go to Heaven, and that all of us will join in that mighty chorus of Holy, Holy, Holy (Revelation 4:8), worshipping the Trinity of God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit throughout eternity. 
May anyone who does not yet know Christ confess that they are a sinner in need of a Savior (Romans 3:23), turn from their sins, and call on His Name to be saved!  (Psalm 116:13,17; Acts 2:21) Anyone who does this, placing their faith (Acts 16:31) in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:3-4) as the only way to the Father (John 14:6), can be sure of abundant, eternal life in Heaven! (John 3:16; 10:10).
No man knows the day or the hour, but current events and the signs of the End Times (Matthew 24) suggest that the days remaining are precious few. May we look up, eagerly awaiting the new beginning of the Rapture to usher us into eternity! It could be this year, this month, or even this very day! May we be ready by knowing Christ as our Lord and Savior, keeping His commandments, and serving Him

© 2013 Laurie Collett

Womanhood With Purpose
Adorned From Above
No Ordinary Blog Hop