The Distance

If one must go further to the meet, let it be me.

And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Matthew 5:41

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The human mind cannot fully discern the ways of God, indeed one who would claim to grasp even a small understanding of His existence would likely be viewed with a quizzical eye. It would be as the foolishness of one lifting a grain of sand from an ocean floor, analyzing that speck and claiming then to have full understanding of the seas of the world.  Profoundly did Isaiah note in 55:9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

From my WIP Dream Shards

Nobility of Repentance

How rich the words on the tongue, “I was wrong.”

Apologize to the one or many you may have hurt.

Regret.

Despair.

The absolute end. The bottom.

It may be we had to sink into an inky cave of sorrow and distress before we could do it. Our tongue thickened when we thought of it, our mouth dried into an autumn thorny residue when we set to scrabble out the words: “It is I. I deserve the blame. I am responsible. I am sorry.” Our lives never exist alone; we cannot say, “leave my children out of this, hold your hand over their eyes, stop up their ears–or my parents, or my siblings. Not my husband. Not my wife.” No matter how close or how distant, our blood couples us . . .and our vows. How bitter the conscience of one who knows he fueled the turmoil. How rich the words on his tongue, “I was wrong.”

What a righteous role model is David of the Old Testament. When the prophet Nathan famously told him of the rich man and of the one ewe lamb David thought he was only hearing the account of an arrogant, ill-mannered individual. He was angered, and spoke of punishment for the man. No doubt Nathan’s eyes reflected the pity in his heart for this righteous man who incredibly had fallen into sexual sin, and whose hands were dirtied with murderous blood. Nevertheless, he looked directly at David and spoke the harrowing words, “Thou art the man.”  

Nathan then listed David’s sins, and immediately, offering no excuses, nor blame on others, with nothing but a repentant attitude, David affirmed, “I have sinned against God.”  Indeed, he was the man.

And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man. II Samuel 12:7

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When that blessed moment comes–the minute God helps us to recognize our wrongdoing–let us not hesitate to say Yes to His call, Yes to His love, Yes to repentance–noble, majestic repentance.

My other blog is here.

Just a Shaky, Muddy Frame

Too well do I know my lack of godly qualities. If you were in my company for any length of time, you would no doubt agree with my assessment, having observed less than sterling attitudes and actions. However, since in quite limited ways are you able to examine my soul and mind—my very thoughts and intents—it is next to impossible for you to know me as I know myself. While I am fearfully in touch with my own struggles, my doubts and failures, it brings me no joy to acknowledge such shortcomings.

It’s good for me to say these things, though. And, it’s good for you to hear of my sad state, for while every man and woman struggles—indeed sins—satan would have all of us believe we are the only ones who with such regularity and skill falter and fail. He smears guilt on our psyche and gloatingly sneers, “God can’t love you. You won’t be saved. You’re bound for hell. Look at you. You’re nothing but a sinner.” Not at all is this true.

This morning I want to remind you that God knows—really knows—us. And despite His knowledge of every secret sin, He continues to love us, His mercy still flows, His grace abounds. Oh, happy thought, blessed thought; comfort divine.

David had a unique understanding of this truth—David, the “man after God’s own heart,” David, the king who committed unspeakable sin. In his 103rd Psalm, verses 13-14, moved by the Holy Ghost, David eloquently writes:

“Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.”

Oh, my God, how beautiful, how glorious! God knows us, looks on us fondly, even pities us. He understands our frame, recalls that of mere dust has been made lowly man. You?…yep! You’re just dust…and I?…the same…muddy, shaky, a pitiful frame.

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Reposted from Feb. 2, 2006

Last Year’s Seed

(Anyone may read this piece, and I hope you are blessed by it, but I wrote these words with one person in mind. You will know who you are.)

It was a few weeks ago that I noted it. I wish I had gone straight to the house, picked up my camera and returned to photograph the fledgling. But I did not, so I’ll just have to tell you how it looked. Growing within the tiny cracks formed by slabs of rugged wood and aged bricks was what appeared to be viable, healthy greenery, and not at all resembling  any weed with which I was familiar. I bent low, thinking, That surely resembles a plant that flowers–a Marigold, to be exact. It was so tiny, though, so insignificant that I walked on, at the moment paying little lasting attention. The plant, though, was not hindered by my ignorance of its being, nor did it shutter itself for lack of companionship, nor for the understanding that its spot was not a carefully prepared flower garden with plentiful fertilizer and abundant water. Rather the plant struggled about in the paltry dirt source and continued to push up stems and leaves, and though I could not see the activity, somewhere deep within its system, bright, fragrant flowers were forming. I began watering the little fella, for I finally understood that indeed growing within our back yard was a healthy, progressive, insistent Marigold plant. There are no other such plants in our gardens. Last year, however, I had a pot full of the beautiful little yellow and gold flowers.

DSC_4145One day not long ago, I photographed this beauty. I then sat down on the step where it grows and cried, as I do now. I cry for you who as this moment know you are a scattered, neglected seed. You know you should be tended, but you are not. You should be watered, and fed, but often you are not. You should be cultivated.

But God made you to produce, to blossom, to bring forth new life. And so you will.

No doubt my little seed came from last summer’s healthy flower pot. At summer’s end, the once beautiful group faded, the golden leaves brittled into brownness, and then fell to the earth. Beat about with rain, and sleet, and covered with snow, the seed settled into a sandy crevice between stone and wood. He survived cold. He endured neglect. He coped with booted heel that walked over his tenuous spot. Perhaps he shivered. Perhaps he gasped in thirst. And had there been thinking abilities, he might have wondered if he could actually make it by himself.

But that scattered, unrecognized seed was far from extinction. It made no difference to him that for most of the spring no human being even knew of his existence. It was of no consequence that I tended other flowers, that I groomed their beds, fed them, talked to them, and showed them off. No, for that seed in my back yard bulged with life, and NOTHING would keep him from doing what God destined him to do.

And you, a human being called of God to live for Him, to blossom and to share your talents and abilities will find a way to do so. For you bulge with life, with passion, and with purpose. Such traits are given of God, and can be destroyed by no man.

DSC_4148Buds which have not yet opened depend on you, on your growth, on your development.

So, I challenge you, my friend. Be as strong, as brave, as beautiful as the Marigold plant that blooms at this moment in my back yard. He let nothing deter him. Neither neglect, disdain, nor ignorance kept him buried in a grave. He shot forth, his every talent and ability used to its maximum capacity. And so will you, somehow, some way. It’s in your blood. It is your DNA. It is your salvation.

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Casting Bread

While my husband was in a commercial store yesterday, a young lady approached him, asking, “Aren’t you Brother Buxton?”

Seems many years ago my husband funded her so that she could attend the school he founded while he was pastoring New Life Center (now The Lighthouse) in Rialto, CA. She was so grateful, and before she left the store she came to him and asked if she could hug him. Jerry doesn’t even remember helping with her education.

When he told me about the encounter I thought of the scripture in Ecc. 11:1-2:

Cast thy bread upon the waters; for thou shalt find it after many days. Give a portion to seven, and also to eight, for thou knowest not what evil shall be upon the earth.

It was a sacrifice of money and of time during those days of building the church school.  He was already very busy for we were rearing our four children, and he was the lead pastor of the church with all the myriad, and sometimes complicated issues involved in such a job.  But what glorious returns these small sacrifices have returned.

untitled (14 of 19)Today you may be feeling a bit drained, emptied out, and fatigued. You may be a giver who feels used, unappreciated, perhaps even overwhelmed. I’m here today to remind you that when you cast bread upon the water, it will return to you, and you will be blessed. Whether  you’re ministering to your family, your church, a civic organization, or an art museum, the principle is consistent. Be encouraged, friend.

Still

“Be still, and know that I am God . . .” Psalm 46:10

How difficult it is. How we strive. Squirm. Restlessness. Toss on our beds, wakeful through the night. Agitation. The earth rocks. Our heads reel, as do our hearts.

How difficult. How we strive. Questions. Fewer answers.

“Be still,” God says. Shh. Listen. Calm. “Be still, and know that I am God.” In the stillness, know. Without words, understand. In the hush of silence, grasp the thought. God is God. Not to worry, He says.

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Moments, years, decades pass . . .as dew falls from morning leaves, and then we are old. Still, hushed. Understand now, grasp the meaning, “. . .know that I am God.”

Three Lions I Know

20150518-untitled (8 of 9)“Where is the dwelling of the lions, and the feeding place of the young lions, where the lion, even the old lion, walked, and the lion’s whelp, and none made them afraid? The lion did tear in pieces enough for his whelps, and strangled for his lionesses, and filled his hole with prey, and his den with ravin.”

These verses from the second chapter of Nahum struck a chord in me as I read them early this morning. The house was quiet. I was the only one awake. I began to think of three men; two young beings, and one who at 59 would be categorized as late-middle age. The two younger ones are my grandsons. The one pictured in this piece is Nathaniel, 18 years old, who in three weeks will graduate from high school. The other young one is Gentry, 17, who will graduate next year. The third is the late Samuel Gutierrez, who last Sunday morning in that mysterious way slipped off  his exasperating human cloak, tucked his arms through the sleeves, and settled into his eternal righteous garment.Sam Guiterrez was the associate pastor of The Anchor Church in San Diego, CA.

Lions. All lions.

20150518-untitled (6 of 9) Whelps. 20150518-untitled (1 of 9) I know my grandsons well. They are fine young men who love God and who have committed their lives to Him. I fear, though, they have little comprehension of the challenges and sorrows that life is about to heave at them. Despite their eagerness and their excellence, if one looks quickly and closely enough, a blink of tender baby may be glimpsed. A grey shadow of vulnerability flutters about the air where they stand.

They need old lions. Yes, they do. These boys of mine–and yours–are in need of mature, heavy, fierce old lions. Our daughters need them. Lions who will pace, and who will tear apart the charging, treacherous enemy, who will feed his whelps, and who will provide for his lioness.

I didn’t know Sam Gutierrez well, but I recognize that he was an old lion. Daily I have come to understand that my life would have been enriched had I been given the opportunity to call him friend. I know him from afar, from watching him preach over the internet, from reading the numerous accolades that have been published since his death, from hearing the words his pastor Jim Larson spoke as he tried to express to their church his barrenness, his sense of loss, his shock at the loss of this man, this exceptional man, this great man.

I know him from hearing the sermon he preached exactly two weeks before his death. Entitled The Compromise of Jehosophat, with stunning boldness he preached the necessity of upholding Apostolic, biblical principles. A masterpiece.

I know him from words my son Andrew tells me. “It’s interesting that he was a youth leader at his age,” I said to Andrew on the phone. “He was timeless, Mom. Timeless. Everyone loved him.”

Gentry was with Andrew and his wife as they visited in the hospital just hours before Brother Gutierrez died. The condition was grave as he struggled with death; blood pressure plunging, in and out of consciousness. However, when the three walked into the room, he opened wide his eyes, looked at my 17-year-old grandson, and said, “Hi, Gentry.”

An old lion. Standing before him was a whelp over which he must guard. Painfully. within the steel grip of death itself, he paced, and tore, and fed. Surely burned into the brain and soul of Gentry is the image of this remarkable man who fought for him, who made him safe. Who is now gone.

Lions. Old lions. We need you. Fathers, pastors, youth leaders, friends, mentors. We desperately need you. In homes around the world, in churches, in community centers, in schools, in congress . . .

“Where is the dwelling of the lions, and the feeding place of the young lions, where the lion, even the old lion, walked, and the lion’s whelp, and none made them afraid? The lion did tear in pieces enough for his whelps, and strangled for his lionesses, and filled his hole with prey, and his den with ravin.”

20150518-untitled (9 of 9) We don’t know enough. We’re not strong enough. We’re too frail, too little, too inexperienced. We need old lions. The roads ahead are treacherous. We’re in danger. We need old lions . . .to fend for us . . .to show us the way.

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Some of you who will read here will be friends of Sam Gutierrez. I would so appreciate it if you can take the time in the comment section to tell something of him. Additional old lions may come to the minds of others. Please tell us of them.

In Consideration of Eternity

“Jerry is dead,” he told me, then a few minutes into the conversation my son Michael began crying. Jerry was his beloved neighbor, and during the night, just hours after Michael had visited with him, he unexpectedly died. Mike was devastated. As far as we know, Jerry had not made preparation to meet his God.

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“I’m so upset.” Michael could hardly speak for crying. “Maybe I should run through the streets of Lake Havasu reminding people to get ready to meet God.” But no, we agreed, that would be unlikely to effect anyone’s salvation.

Over the last few hours I’ve considered the conversation at length: It has caught anew my regard of eternity. It has caused me again to think of Scripture, God’s holy word; its infallibility, its verity, its absolute judgment, its happy message, and its grim reminder.

20150210-untitled (11 of 12)Eternity is sure. Where will I be? Where will Bill, our next door neighbor, spend eternity? Your friends, family, neighbors? . . .mine? where?

…it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.

Hebrews 9:27