The Burden of Another

Would that within the church each of us had someone to whom we could go and to whom we could express our doubts, our fears, our questions, our disappointments, our hurts–all of it, a real “gut-spilling”–and be assured that person would not unfairly judge us, nor tattle on us, but also would guide us and instruct us, and if we were wrong, who would tell us so. Surely there are a few such ones, although I suspect there to be a wide and dangerous dearth of such people.

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Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

Tricky

I know these situations call for extreme carefulness and wisdom of the highest sort, for it must be acknowledged that sometimes when a person approaches another because of trouble in his life, he/she may adamantly reject the advice that is offered, or even take offense at the suggestions. Yet, I believe we must take the risk . . . if we are to fulfill the law of Christ. For we must remember what burdened is, how it looks, how it may act, how ugly it may have become. A truly burdened person may virtually in some ways have lost touch with reality and may be unable to recognize viable solutions. In a funk. Disconnected.

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Courage and a mantle of bravery are required of a pastor who sees one under his care who is floundering and who instead of ignoring the situation or of excusing himself by saying I will pray approaches the person and offers help. (Certainly there are times when prayer is the sole answer, and we must have the wisdom to discern the difference.)

Pain

Very recently I was approached by a person who pointed out a flaw in me that had hurt that person. I was stunned for I had no idea my actions/words had resulted in that effect, and certainly it was not deliberate. Yet I suffered and felt deep pain. But I respect that person, and I am thankful he/she felt comfortable with telling me of their hurt and that they felt comfortable enough to reveal their questions. I will help them bear their burden (wishing I could do more.) I will be more careful with my own actions and with my own words. Thereby we fulfill the law of Christ.

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So what can we do? A couple of things come to mind. One is that I look around at my own life. Is there order? Am I progressing? Am I growing in Christ? Are relationships within my family and within my circle of friends healthy? Do I even have friends? Real ones? If I see a serious deep issue here, may I find someone to whom I can “spill my guts” and from whom I anticipate direction. May I determine to take no offense at what is offered me.

Second is that I look within myself to discern whether another human being who is in pain, who is floundering, can feel comfortable with coming to me for help, for direction, for healing.

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The pictures? Taken from a high seat in a double-decker bus last Spring as we toured Rome.

Posted in Christian Boldness, Christianity, Devotionals, Galatians, Humility, Mercy, Offenses, photography | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Grace Dance

I stand desolate, undone, undeserving.                                  Enter grace.  A  dance.                                                                                                                              A whisper of hope.                                                                                                          A wisp of the eternal.

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Enveloped in love, I can breathe again,                                                                                              the pain bearable, the disappointment endurable.

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To Be a Christian

To be, not merely to seem.

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Today, I want to be a Christian. Not only do I want to appear so to you, but from the deepest fountain of my mind and from the widest river of my soul may I embody the mind of Christ. May I radiate His love as I move about my home and as I walk the streets of my village. May a wisp of the Holy and a fragrance of the Divine entangle me today. 20140718-untitled (234 of 284)                                                        To be, not merely to seem.      

Posted in Christianity, Devotionals, God, Holy Ghost, photography | 1 Comment

The Hot Flame of Calling and of Gifts

Most of us have heard accounts of inventors, politicians, and book writers, among others, who despite repeated failures and agonizing vexation continued with their dabblings, their strivings, their speeches, their art . . .until finally the edgy, splintery pieces came together, and a starry thing of glorious success exploded into being. Sterling examples are President Lincoln who is perhaps the epitome of the person who scratches and claws through repeated adversity, but who rises to the top, along with Thomas Edison who, despite his startling inventions, has multiple failures to his credit. Take a look here at an astounding list of 100 famous book rejections. These accounts make for inspirational reading, and are unsurpassed fodder for motivational speeches and for casting vision by the leader who would urge forward his camp.

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Think, though, of the actual living through these trying processes when most working days of such men were struck through with failure, and with dark and dank frustration. Likely, cracks were snickered behind hands held to mouths, jests were whispered against turned backs, eyes were rolled, and muted conversations questioned the sense of the projects; and sometime along the way came an alteration to the old saw, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again,” and now the words bandied about were, “If at first you don’t succeed, stop; don’t make a fool of yourself.”

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Know, however, that within such men of success a creative spark burns that refuses to extinguish itself, and when the flame flickers and through the inky night threatens to die, its keeper bends low, coaxes and feeds fuel, and the heat remains.

Such is true with men and women who are called by God to do His work. I understand that when we take on Christ we are each to be a witness of this great salvation and to spread the Word of the Gospel and of this abundant life. Beyond that, though, there are others who have additional deep callings, and upon whom God has placed gifts, and within whom God has implanted vision. I speak to you today.

No matter how many times you have failed, the call remains. Despite your confusion, your frustration, your wondering, the call remains. Despite taunting, whispering campaigns, discouragement, your own wrong choices, your laziness, your misjudgment, despite those who look sideways at you and mutter, “A man’s gift will make room for him,” and you know you have the gift, but where is the room? . . .despite these, you are called and God says He will not take back that calling; it is without repentance.

“You can’t sing,” she is told. “You can’t write,” the critics say. “Your mind is too simple, your gifts too small, you cannot sculpt, the light bulb will not burn, your speeches are too shallow, your connections non-existent, you’ve made too many blunders, you have not enough money . . . Perhaps you were never called.”

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But we sing on, we write, we preach, we sketch on toothy paper, for beating hard within the breast of “the called” is the flame of God, hot and irresistible.

 For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. Verse 29 of Romans 11

Posted in Christian Service, Christian writing, Devotionals, Failure, God, Passion, Persistence, photography, Romans | Tagged , | 13 Comments

Preachers and Doctors Agree on the Evil of Tobacco

It interests me that many years ago, well before scientific studies led to the conclusion that tobacco smoking was harmful to human beings, my church taught me not to smoke, that it was not pleasing to God, and that scripture upheld such teaching.

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

1 Corinthians 6:19 and 20

Those long-ago men of God spoke from the premise that since our bodies house the Holy Ghost, what we ingest must be considered with caution and with great concern. Although I have not researched the subject, I strongly suspect this position was held by most, if not all, denominations.

In relatively recent years, doctors have begun to speak to the perils of tobacco smoke, even to the extent that conversations concerning “second-hand” smoke are not uncommon. Today I came across this stunning video which graphically shows the dreadful damage smoking does to the human lung.

http://digg.com/video/watching-a-pair-of-smokers-lungs-vs-a-pair-of-healthy-lungs-is-pretty-crazy?utm_source=digg&utm_medium=email

God and His ways are far beyond our total comprehension. How it is that God’s Spirit can actually abide in a physical body is incomprehensible to me . . . yet I believe that to be so. How God’s actual presence can be felt by human beings I do not understand . . .yet I believe that to be so. How mortal men can be called by God to be His messengers I cannot grasp. . .yet I believe that to be so.

So those long ago days when I was but a child, men of God spoke as God’s messengers and taught me against ingesting cigarette smoke into my lungs. How grateful I am. How glad I listened. How happy I am to say–in all humility–that I have never smoked a cigarette.

 

Posted in Christianity, Holiness, Holy Ghost, I Corinthians, video | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Danger of Comparison

Feedback from my August 24th Facebook post resonated with so many people that I sensed the subject had hit a raw nerve, and is of great importance. The response I received prompted me to also post the piece here on this blog site.

It is such a mistake to look at others to judge how well we and our families are doing, for all of us wear cloaks–as well we often should–and our private lives may little resemble the persona we exhibit. Many years ago at a Western District conference when my children were teenagers, and when things could have been much better with their relationships with God and with us, their parents, I recall observing another ministerial family and thinking how perfect they were. They were tall, handsome, beautiful people, associated with a large, successful church. I knew nothing of the bitter turmoil that was ravaging their home, and which ultimately led to divorce of the parents and the revealing of ghastly details. 

 

Paul addresses this very subject in II Corinthians chapter 10, verse 12: “For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.”

 

20140805-untitled (63 of 187)With a slight twist to this post, I add that a few days ago Ella and I walked Winston down to the woods and back. I watched her run with him in the fading day and considered what a happy life she has . . . but I thought also of other children who look happy just as she does, but behind closed doors, chaos reigns, and such children tremble in fear. I pray for them today.

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New post on my primary blog: http://writenow.wordpress.com/2014/08/26/a-moment-of-thanks/

 

Posted in parenting, photography | 6 Comments

Stalwart

In the evening of yesterday, I spoke with a young man who told these sentiments: “I hate it when people speak in a hard-set way of themselves and others of their group as being so right, and of dissenters of their views as being so wrong.” In my judgment the  statement was a pure one, with no moral and biblical absolutes being in the mix, so don’t think the atmosphere was of liberality with a paucity of high-set bars and a lack of virtuous expectations. Not at all, for at the core of the conversation was the thought that we as people who are striving for godliness need to be precisely aligned with God’s Word.

My heart–not that beating one–the other one, the seat of my emotions, lurched in my breast and brimmed with pleasure and a certain pride.

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Stalwart are such young men. Their shadows lie long as they pass.Image

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