To Know

If there was a book by whose reading we would come upon beauty and candor, and know of brave deeds of nerve and audacity, and of covenants–covenants bearing on us–would we not with eager hand press to the next page, and then to another, and finally to the end?

If there was a plan to engage us in virtue and in blessing, and cause us to perceive the source of all that is good, and to know His name is Jesus, would that be something to neglect? If we would come to know of the holy and of the righteous, would those be themes to brush aside? ………..and in place take up tatters and ruin?

Footwashing Rebellion

Then cometh He (Jesus) to Simon Peter . . .. Peter saith unto Him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with Me.

St. John 18 7-8 (portions)

Not sure I’ve ever told anyone before, but frankly, I’ve never cared too much for foot washing services in our church. (She says, shielding her head as she runs!) Do you? Or do you even have such ordinances in your church? We do in ours, as we follow the example Jesus left for us. And, of course, when the opportunity is offered I dunk my feet (that I’ve scrubbed at home to be sure they were clean–imagine that!) as do my sisters who are lined up on chairs, feet bared, with basins spread before us.

I’ve considered the matter, and have concluded an issue of pride to be involved. A kind of reverse pride than what you may be thinking, for it does not trouble me to wash the feet of the others. Rather, the edgy part is when my feet are dipped into the water, and a person is kneeling before me, and lovingly bathing my feet. Makes me uncomfortable. You see, I know myself rather well. I’m aware of my shortcomings, my sins; my far less than perfect ways. I feel unworthy, so lacking, so undeserving.

Can you imagine Peter, that roughshod, loose-mouthed fisherman as Jesus approaches from across the room and says, “Peter I want to wash your feet.”

Can you imagine it?

Jesus wanting to kneel before Peter who would in a short time say he didn’t even know Jesus. Wash his feet! Jesus kneeling at your place, saying, I want to wash your feet. “Oh, Jesus, no! You cannot wash my feet.”

So in reckoning with this issue, I’ve decided I lack in humility. People do so much for Jerry and me, and I try to be gracious and grateful and appreciative. But I see that I want to push back a bit. I’m not totally comfortable with appearing–actually being–needy. I find it challenging to be more on the receiving side of things than on the giving. I’m understanding that I prefer to feel capable and effective.

Like yesterday when Winston started barking loudly–as he is much too prone to do–and I peered out the front deck window and there was Brother Patrick Garrett going about the business of shoveling off snow and ice remnants. He had removed the covers from our two wood racks that were nearly empty of wood. “What are you doing here?”

Then at the end of the deck popped up the grinning head of Brother Andrew Chavez.

“What’s going on?” And then I saw that a pickup truck was parked at the end of the deck, and those two men, and two little Chavez boys were pitching up and stacking firewood.

Also, Andrew, my youngest son, a couple of days before had called to check on us when he learned of our furnace problem. A few weeks ago he had taken my camera that needed repairs to a shop in San Diego, and when we talked he told me it was ready to be picked up. I wanted to know the charge, and we got into a little wrangle about it, for he wanted to pay, and I didn’t want him to.

“Mom, you’re being rude.”

“Rude?”

“Yes, you’re rude to God when someone wants to do something for you, and you resist.” I said no more.

Look at these people, these dear people. I feel hypocritical, for I know that surely I am not worthy of such sacrifice, such love.

And so I said thanks and cried and offered up. Two cups of hot chocolate. Two cups of coffee–one black, one with cream and sugar. That’s it.

My feet were washed. Lovingly. Undeserved. Unmerited. Cleansed.

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

Bible KJV

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.

______________________

Reposted from Feb. 2, 2006

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.

___________________

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.

As The Oil of Aaron

20150118-untitled (17 of 28)Yesterday I sat in a Sunday morning service, a special service, as it was the 5th anniversary of the pastorate of Rev. Patrick Garrett and his wonderful wife Holly in the city of Yucaipa, CA. I looked especially close at these three men; my husband, Gerald Buxton, the special speaker for the day, Chris Hodge, of Lake Isabella, CA. and Patrick Garrett. A sweetness infused the atmosphere. A certain holy presence moved as do fine draperies caught in a spring breeze, gentle and warm. and I was comforted. This morning as I recalled yesterday’s service, I was reminded of David’s writing in Psalm 133.

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments; As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.

Unity. David was quite taken with the subject and compared its pleasantness to the all-pervading fragrance of the oil with which Aaron was anointed: It was poured generously on his head and thus ran down through his beard and, finally, completely to their hem, infused his garments. The oil was precious, had been prepared in a particular way, and any use except for holy sacraments was strictly forbidden.

Such a demonstration tells the beauty of brotherly love, and of unity. How blessed we are today when we sit in the presence of such attitudes. Stay the bicker, the nit-picking, the questioning of motive, the press of organizational structure. While holding firm to Jesus Christ and to the essentiality of His shed blood, and to the precepts of God’s holy Word, let us set aside our petty differences, cast our vision ever upward, and embrace our brothers and sisters in Jesus.

It seems fitting that my piece is posted on the day set aside to celebrate the birthday of Martin Luther King.

My Children and Heaven

untitled (4 of 9)I will consider myself a successful mother if all my children make it to Heaven.

Edit: On my facebook account to which this article is linked, someone made the following comment:

  • To all moms out there whose children are unsaved I say, ‘you have laid your children on the alter of prayer…you pray for them daily…you have raised them right and yet they remain unmoved…I consider you a successful, deserving of honor mother. You have the horns of the alter in your hands. Your children will rise up and call you blessed.’
    I responded as follows:


    Shirley Buxton Christie Banda is certainly right to acknowledge there can be godly mothers whose children are unsaved. Without question this can be so, and her advise to continue to pray for our wayward children is sterling. Even a mother cannot assure the salvation of her children, for each of us must make that decision for ourselves. The thrust of my words was to point up that a mother doesn’t have to be successful as far as the world judges success–high-powered jobs, fashionable clothing, social graces, physical beauty, or towering homes with magazine interiors. NO! With none of those to my credit, I will consider myself a success if my children make it to heaven.

The Call to Noble Work

1 Timothy 5:8 Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. NIV

20141019-untitled (3 of 21)I awoke this morning with this scripture on my mind, although the King James version is the one most familiar to me, and its strong words impacted me anew: “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.”

My daughter and I spent several delightful hours together recently, and during the course of our conversation we discussed the sacrifices many people of God make for His work, and although I agree to the nobility of such a stance, I’m a strong advocate that the care of one’s family should be placed ahead of our work in the church. Balance. Always, in every area of our lives, balance is the key. Many years ago, I heard a pastor tell of a lady in their church who spent many hours praying at the church, but whose housekeeping was a disgrace, and who often did not prepare meals for her family as she should have. Not enough time, for she was at the church praying. Because I’m closely associated with ministers and their wives, I’ve sometimes heard them (usually as they have grown older) regret that they didn’t spend more time with their children as they were growing up.

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I want to take a little turn here, and while I certainly don’t want to offend anyone, I consider these thoughts important. Not only do I believe mothers and fathers need to provide for their households, including time and attention, but I believe children, especially as they near adulthood, need to kick in and pull their own weight in their homes. It troubles me when able-bodied teenagers seem to expect to be attended to, expect possessions to be placed in their hands–cars, phones, debit cards, computers, Ipads, fine clothes, yet offer little in return. A hard-working dad with a healthy, godly son in residence struggles to find an extra few dollars to have the lawn mowed or the weeds pulled or the garage cleaned? An unwell mom struggles with a mop while the beautiful teenager lounges about and preens and plans for the next youth event?

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Paul looked askance at such, and although I suspect he was addressing his remarks to mothers and fathers, I believe it well within the mark to believe that young people should contribute to the success of their homes, including being involved in hard work that will ease somewhat the enormous obligations that are heaped on their parents. Having said that I want to acknowledge what a beautiful sight are teenagers–and there are many–who have developed a strong work ethic, and who make their parents and other relatives proud. Be assured I am not advocating that the joys and freedoms of teenagers be denied by their being required to take on entirely too many tasks or adult roles, for all-too-soon, it seems, the full weight of adulthood will descend soundly on their young heads. Rather, it is my thinking that by observing Paul’s wise words to Timothy, our godly young people will more easily move into the ranks of mature, adult Christians who become loyal and faithful wives and husbands, and caring successful parents.

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Underneath . . .the Everlasting Arms

In my early morning musings today, this scripture rang in my ears. Despite the shifting of the earth beneath us, the fierce winds of false doctrine that rage about us, disease and pestilence that rain on our lands, and almost unimaginable government directives, we people of God rest securely in ultimate safety.

“The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them.” Deut. 33:27

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