A Boy and His Pastor

20140919-untitled (66 of 72)-3God gave us families and friends, then knowing in addition to them we needed

. . .someone to preach God’s Word to us, so                           He gave us pastors.

. . .someone to pray in the night over us, so                           He gave us pastors.

. . .someone to discipline us when we stray, so                      He gave us pastors.

. . .someone to marry us to our chosen one, so                      He gave us pastors.

. . .someone to dedicate our babies, so                                    He gave us pastors.

. . .someone to lift our heads when we’re discouraged, so   He gave us pastors.

. . .someone to rejoice with us when we succeed, so            He gave us pastors.

. . .someone to baptize us, so                                                    He gave us pastors.

. . .someone to explain when we’re confused, so                  He gave us pastors.

. . .someone to hold us when we weep, so                              He gave us pastors.

. . .someone to cheer us on when we fail, so                          He gave us pastors.

. . .someone to listen to our dreams, so                                  He gave us pastors.

. . .someone to help sort out our callings, so                         He gave us pastors.

. . .someone to lay hands on us when we’re sick, so             He gave us pastors.

. . .someone to anoint our heads with oil, so                         He gave us pastors.

. . .someone to walk with us through  the final valley, so    He gave us pastors.

And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding . Jeremiah 3:13

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.

20140329-untitled (669 of 751)Brave

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.

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.

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.      

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.

 

Of Light

The words and the concept burned within me as I went about my routine activities this morning. Not being sure of the exact reference, I opened my Bible to its beginning pages, and found the verse in mind to be the 4th one of Genesis chapter 1.

And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

Confusion lurks inside darkness, indistinct barriers and thorny walls, unknown ways, perhaps of chasm or of buried embers. Danger nudges against me, and I peer through the black, then with my hands tear aside the inky grit and film. Stock still now, for I find my unlit efforts to be in vain, I turn my head to search the light. A glint flares tiny in the distance, and to that point I make my way.

God knew the perils of the dark. And did He create the earth “without form, and void” with “darkness (being) upon the face of the deep,” or as some think was there a cataclysm between verses 1 and 2 . . .so that He must now separate dark from light? I don’t know. I know little except that my verse today is that God said the light was good.

I need light today. I need light in my spirit, and in my emotions; I need light in my everyday walk about the earth, in my decisions, in my ambitions, and in my dreams. And as darkness lay on the face of the deep, no line drawn between earth and sky, no hinge to connect the two, and as God spoke: “Let there be light,” and there sprang light, a separation, a divine intervention, let such be so in every facet of my being. Today and forever.

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My Swath of Earth

Since my claim is that God lives within me, should not my walk through the world leave a swath of peace and hope, of beauty and promise. Perhaps, too, will I create an aura of hunger, perhaps even of conviction. Let it be so, God, let it be so. Humbly, I breathe this prayer today.

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On page 128 in my copy of his classic book of criticism, The Art of Writing, Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, a distinguished Englishman of letters, writes: “In studying literature, and still more in studying to write it, distrust all classification! (Exclamation point his.) All classifying of literature intrudes “science” upon an art, and is artificially “scientific” . . .”

Surely, somewhere, someone has written similar words of caution to those who may be attracted to attempts at the classification of the working of the Spirit of God, and thereby to intrude science upon the Divine. Though my observations are at best anecdotal, I am convinced of the truth of this matter: The Divine, the Soulish things, the operation of God the creator of all that exists (and beyond) are beyond our full comprehension, and of a certainty cannot be accurately analyzed by any human scientific method.

With such thoughts already on my mind, I listened yesterday to Pastor Robert Traylor, a missionary, as he related supernatural events in his life that is leading to the establishment of an Apostolic church in St. Petersburg, Russia. According to his own words, this gentleman, a mere 13 years ago, was a drug addict with his face turned completely away from God. Now he is a minister of the Gospel, and during the 2 1/2 years he has been working in Russia has accomplished what seems impossible, including the procuring of resident papers and the owning of property, debt-free, on which he will build a home and a church. Should you have occasion to hear this man, you will be blessed and your faith will be increased.

So, whether you are a believer or yet remain a skeptic, I submit that God’s ways are far above ours, eons beyond scientific lenses, fashioned of the ethereal, extending beyond our grasp, and quite beyond our comprehension. Yet we see enough, we feel enough, we read enough to know we have tapped into Truth, unfathomable, though it may be.

A Touch of the Heavenlies

Sometimes I cry at these moments, for I understand that words alone lack the substance to tell–yes, even to tell my own heart and to tell my own psyche. Lacking in weight and heft are the syllables that come to my tongue, so they merely roll around in my mouth and in my head. In futility they try, but inevitably come up short for the telling.

Yet, I persist, for it is words that must be written if others are to share my pleasure, my observations. For I understand you cannot see my tears, nor feel their warm stream down my face, you cannot know my joy, not reckon with its  effervescence, nor can you connect with my heart and nudge into its crevasses except I tell you with words.

ImageDuring the days of Christmas my grandson Joel preached at Hilltop in San Diego. Among others, on the platform with him were my husband and my son Steve who is Joel’s father. Can anything be better than this?

ImageJoel’s brother, Chris, sat on the first pew just ahead of me, and in acclamation of the great preaching of his brother, he rose in worship.

ImageFather and grandfather stand during the dynamic preaching.

Well before I was conceived by my mom and dad, well before I was born to those humble people, God ordered my life and its excellence and its multiple blessings. How I was selected to encounter such joy, I will never understand. As though a shinning cloak of the heavenly has been thrown over me, is my life. I will enter eternity thankful.

No Hiding

“How sad,” I had noted in the margin, and when I read there again recently, I agreed with myself, for the words noted in the third chapter of Genesis are in reference to Adam and Eve as they hid themselves from God. Pitiful is the thought that I should have the urge to hide from God.

Admittedly, there are times I am ashamed of myself, and it would be with raw embarrassment and with much trembling should I find myself in the visible presence of God, and there be pressed to lift my downcast eyes into the gaze of He who is indeed holy and perfect; holy and perfect to such degree that I strongly suspect I cannot hope to comprehend. Yet,  my pragmatic side fusses and insists on my recalling that I cannot hide from God. Ever. He sits high, looks low, nothing is hidden from Him. Besides that, I really don’t want to hide from God. I can’t imagine–even in my darkest, lowest state of being–that I would want to be away from the presence of God. For it is only in Him that I have hope, and where even a scent of grace and mercy wafts about me.

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Hide from God? No, instead I rush to Him, He who “knows my frame,” and thus understands my underpinnings, my weaknesses, my holy desires, my ambitions, my longing for Him.