Ministry Out of Love and Out of Fear

Although I have always had a heart for those less fortunate than I, in recent times, I have come to feel my need of more personal, hands-on involvement with people who are physically needy. Several things have led me to this place: One is that I have been placed in proximity to many such persons, another is hearing and reading of others’ involvement in such ministry, and finally what has tipped me forcefully into this position has been an illumination of a familiar and crucially important range of scripture. I’m printing the entire portion of Matthew 25:31-46, and I’d like you also to ponder its message.

When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?

Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.”

I look at that scripture today with fresh eyes, and let me confess, I find its reading of a rather frightening nature. In times past when I read and referenced these scriptures, in my own mind, and to others, I emphasized the positive portions, suggesting that it is good that we minister to people, for in so doing we are ministering to God. I still believe that…believe it more strongly than before, but now I am acutely aware of the closing words of Jesus–His warning words– His frightening words.

For unless I am totally missing the mark here, Jesus is saying that if we don’t feed the hungry, clothe the naked, give water to the thirsty, visit sick people, provide homes for the homeless, visit criminals in prison–if we don’t do those things–on judgment day as we stand defenseless before Him, He will say to us, “Depart from me.” And into everlasting punishment we–we who call ourselves Christians–will be cast.

That is a dreadful, frightening thought. For you see, I happen to believe the Word of God and to embrace its edicts and truths, and I do not want to be cast into everlasting torment. So, for me, not only will I continue to teach Bible studies, not only will I share the plan of salvation with those who are searching, not only will I sing and play on Sunday morning, but when I see the hungry, or pass the unclothed, I will share my food and I will clothe my fellow. In so doing, I not only am ministering to Jesus Himself, I am sparing my own soul from hell.


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Of Infinite Trust

Earlier today as Jerry and I sat relaxed in our morning time together, he lifted his eyes from the newspaper and said, “Anderson is selling their new cars at $1.00 over invoice today.” He returned to his paper, and I stopped my reading, and began to think of trust.

“It would be interesting, Jerry, to select a new car at Anderson’s, then check with another dealer and see what the difference would be.” I paused, then asked, “How much is the markup on a car?”

“A lot.”

From this simple beginning sprang a thoughtful conversation about trust. To be honest, our words slipped into considering the lack of trust in our society, and in our world as a whole.

“People don’t much trust anymore,” Jerry said.

“And with good reason.”

True, huh? Shameful, wouldn’t you say?

While I believe our conversation was on target this morning, I can think of many people in whom I can put my trust and confidence. I could whisper of monstrous sin, of deadly addiction, of fractured relationships and detect no glimpse of disdain or repulsion. I could blurt out my ugly fears, and cry out my doubts… and would be assured of comfort and of godly direction. I could speak of need for money, or for a restoration of my soul…and within my hands or inside my being would come those things. Those whom I trust–I have no doubt–would guard my secrets until their own very being had dissolved into death.

Of One other, I am sure. That of my Savior, my Master. For not only does He hear and guard my secrets, He alone is the way to healing and to restoration.

Psa 65:5 By awesome deeds You answer us in righteousness, O God of our salvation, You who are the trust of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest sea;


By no means am I deprecating Anderson. I have heard nothing of a negative nature concerning them. In fact I hope this helps them sell a car or two. Let them know you heard it first here.


My other blog is here.

No Question, The Burial Site of Jesus Is Unique

“In Tana Toraja, everything revolves around death. The graves can be very sophisticated yet sometimes, long after the coffins are destroyed by time, people gently place bones along natural cave ‘racks’. Often, the bones are offered cigarettes or various offerings. This is supposed to prevent dead ancestors from bringing bad luck and otherwise making the lives of the living miserable.”
Image: phitar [Flickr]

Earlier this morning, I came across a fascinating article depicting ten important burial sites around the world. The post makes for interesting and informative reading, and later today I plan to go back and read it again. I was shocked by some of it–for instance this:

The Sedlec Ossuary resides in a small Roman Catholic chapel in Sedlec, Czech Republic. If you didn’t know any better, you wouldn’t have guessed that inside the unassuming building is an ossuary containing about 40,000 human skeletons artistically arranged to form decorations, chandeliers, and furnishings! Take a look.

The Schwarzenberg family’s coat of arms, done with at least one of every
bone in the body. Image: goldberg [Flickr]

Despite the intrigue of this article, the author missed speaking of the greatest burial site of all–that of Jesus Christ. Perhaps it is because we’re not exactly sure of its location, or maybe it was because the author didn’t stop to consider the tomb of the lowly Nazarene. That tomb, that burial place, my friend, is the greatest of any. For you understand, do you not, that His tomb is empty. Dead, He definitely was. Empty, His tomb definitely is.

“In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.

And behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow.

And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.

And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.

He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come , see the place where the Lord lay.” Matthew 28:1-6


My other blog is here.

Be Born in Me, Holy Spirit

“Be born in me, oh Holy Spirit

And let my will be lost in thine.

And let the world see only You, Lord

Be born in me, Oh, Christ divine. “

I “googled” these words trying to determine the author, and to see if I have the words exactly right, but I did not find the information I need.

This is a beautiful chorus that I have been singing since early-morning hours, and it is my prayer today–my sincere prayer. Be born in me, Jesus. Be formed in my soul. Be developed in me. Let me take on Your attributes, Your holiness, mark me as one of Yours, designate me, mold me.

For within myself, and utilizing only my power, I am at odds with godliness and with holiness. Sometimes I touch the rare, feel myself to be at one with Divinity, faintly brushed with supernatural, and with the angelic. Then passes the moment, and, again, I know myself to be stained and sinful.

But forever will be my reach, for I assuredly know that one day I will grasp eternal redemption and consolation, for of such am I predestinated, called and ordained.

Yes, be born in me, Oh Holy Spirit…


My other blog is here.

To Catch Joy

From the time I first met her, having married into Jerry’s family, my sister-in-law Mildred has been an inspiration to me. She is full of joy, energy and enthusiasm. She is an amazing woman whose attitude belies her life’s story and the circumstances with which she has dealt. Her husband, a heavy drinker, died of emphysema when she was in her 40s, I believe, while she still had children at home. She went to work for Wal-Mart and was with them for many years. She is 86 now and is spunky, beautiful and joyful. (Wish I had a picture to show you.) When she was 80 she painted her entire house, and recently when Jerry spoke to her on the phone, she said she had just poured cement steps at her house.

She seems to be perennially happy, she loves God, the church, and her pastor. She brags about him, and tells of baking goodies for him, and of having him and his wife to her house for dinner.

She’s never had many physical possessions–lives in a very modest home in Mansfield, La, and more than one of her children have brought her grief. She’s had sons who have spent time in prison, and girls with severe health problems. For many years, only one of her children served God. But in recent times God has rewarded her faithfulness and her astonishing joyful attitude. Now several of her children and grandchildren serve God, and during the past few years, one of her grandsons has entered the ministry.

She is the personification of the scripture in Isaiah 61: 1-3 (portions)

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me…to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.”

Today, I salute Mildred Rogers, and others of you, who despite challenging circumstances find a way to catch a fist-full of joy. The world is a better place because of you.

It is said that as Benjamin Franklin concluded a stirring speech on the guarantees of the Constitution, a heckler shouted, “Aw, them words don’t mean nothin’ at all. Where’s all the happiness you say it guarantees us?” Franklin smiled and replied, “My friend, the Constitution only guarantees the American people the right to pursue happiness; you have to catch it yourself.”


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Damaged, but Precious

This morning on the Museum Security Network, I read the following reports of severe damage that in year’s past was done to the works of the famous artist, Rembrandt.

Rembrandt is probably one of the most famous artist who ever lived, who’s name is recognized world-wide. Rembrandt was born in The Netherlands in 1606 and died in 1669. His most famous painting is The Night Watch . Rembrandt would have never imagined his soon to be world famous painting would be vandalized, not once, but twice, in later years. A 1975 vandalisim has been well publicized. But was there others?

I have searched the Internet for any information of a 1911 attack on The Night Watch painting and no where have I seen anything about this incident. Why is there no mention of this act of vandalism against this masterpiece?

And now the rest of the story…………..

On January 13, 1911 in Rotterdam, a disgruntled Navy cook, angered by his discharge from the service, went into the Rijiks Museum and badly slashed the masterpiece with a knife. The man’s name was Sigrist, and he said he vandalized the painting as an act of vengence against the state for discharging him.

On June 19, 1999 I received the following update:

May I suggest an addition:

There were three incidents, not two. The 1975 incident was the worst. Large pieces of canvas were lying on the museum floor after a psychic cut the painting. It took a long time, about half a year, to restore the painting. This was the first time all old varnish was removed. The 1975 damage can still be seen on the painting (not very clearly, but if you know where to look for it…)

April 1990 another patient threw acid on the Nightwatch. Thanks to an extremely quick and adequate reaction of the guards damage was limited to the varnish. By the way: the guy who did this cut and severely damaged a Picasso in another Amsterdam museum last month.

best regards,

Ton Cremers


When I read this and considered the efforts that were expended to restore these priceless works of art, my mind flashed to the human soul, and the bodies wherein are housed these everlasting entities. I thought of the damaged people around me, people bearing hideous scars, people whose lives and bodies reek with sin poisoning and whose minds and emotions are slashed through with the havoc of evil living . I thought of myself, born fully entrenched in the curse of sin, and who has to fight constantly to live a holy life.

But as damaged paintings are yet considered precious and worthy of enormous amounts of time, energy and sums of money to restore them, surely every human being must deserve the same attention and respect. No matter the damage, the slashing, the scarring we have endured, we are yet loved by Christ, and His redeeming blood is available to exact a full and beautiful restoration


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Elderly Indian Man, originally uploaded by Shirley Buxton.

“For I know the plans I have for you,…plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

Hope is transcendent, a starry thing for which we grasp when at our feet lie crumbled plans, thwarted ambitions, and ill-fated dreams. Hope is resurrection and lusty yelp of the newborn. Its name is painted on seed bags and gilded over newly furrowed rows. Hope stripes with glitter our sons and daughters…and theirs…and theirs…Hope is a mewling kitten, cherry blossoms in the spring, and burrowed acorns at howl of winter.

Hope is The Church, The Master, Jehovah God.


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A Master Map

Road to Durango, originally uploaded by Shirley Buxton.

“Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.” Psalm 73:24

Some years back I first heard the term, Cruise to Nowhere, and since I’m fond of cruising, the thought intrigued me. Although I haven’t been able to indulge just yet, perhaps someday I will board a ship and “cruise to nowhere.”

Typically though, when planning a trip, we get out the maps, peruse an atlas, or consult with a travel agent. Yesterday, we left Lake Havasu– our plans were to arrive in Flagstaff in the evening, and finish the distance today. The Flagstaff portion is finished, and we’ll arrive in Durango this afternoon. This certainly is not a “cruise to nowhere,” and though we have been to Durango several times, Jerry scrutinized maps, even going to Mapquest for assistance in finding the KOA here in Flagstaff. At the moment, he sits with a cup of coffee at his side, and is holding a map in his hand as he reassures himself of the correct routing to our destination.

The most important journey any of us will ever make is that of finding our way to Heaven. That’s one trip whose destination I want to assure–don’t want any mistakes, no detours, no missed markers–nothing like that. Positively, this is not a “cruise to nowhere,” and in an excellent way God has laid out a splendid road map. It’s a beautifully written document, impeccably researched, with guaranteed accuracy.

I’m on my way! Hope you are too.


My other blog is here.

To Grasp a Hand

“As the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various kinds of diseases brought them to him; and he laid his hands on each of them and cured them.” Luke 4:40

Picure of doctor holding Baby Samuel's hand

I recall the startling jolt I received when I first saw this picture and read the story associated with it. I was in the public library in Junction City, Oregon, the magazine in which the image appeared was outdated, and (confession coming) I wanted to tear out that page and keep it. I resisted that evil urge, though, and left the magazine intact. I’ve never forgotten that tiny baby hand holding onto his “saviour”, nor do I suppose I ever will.

A striking message is here: Each of us need other human beings. We need to stroke them, to be with them, to depend on them…We need to heal people by touch, by grasping their hands, by offering a finger. Jesus did, our supreme example, our Master, our Teacher. And though we cannot heal as He did, we are commanded to “heal the sick,” to touch people, to “lay hands” on the needy.

Dr. Joseph Bruner at Vanderbilt is known for his work in fetal surgery, especially on babies with spina bifida, a condition in which the spine does not close properly during development. Vanderbilt confirms that little Samuel Armus was 21 weeks-old in the womb which makes the surgery very risky because if anything goes wrong, the baby cannot survive on its own. Dr. Bruner and his colleagues, however, have done numerous successful spina bifida surgeries on fetuses that are not yet viable. In this particular surgery, the baby’s hand poked out of the incision in its mother’s womb and Dr. Bruner says he instinctively offered his finger for the baby to hold. Most versions of the story say the baby reached out and grasped Dr. Bruner’s finger, but in an article in USA Today on May 2, 2000, Dr. Bruner says both the mother and the baby were under anesthesia and could not move. Michael Clancy, the photographer who took the picture and who owns the copyright to it says, however, that out of the corner of his eye he saw the uterus shake and the baby’s hand pop out of the surgical opening on its own. Clancy says that when the doctor put his finger into the baby’s hand, the baby squeezed the finger and held on. You can read Clancy’s description of the experience and more about the picture at his website at

Update: The surgery was successful and little Samuel Armas was born on December 2, 1999, and has been developing well, according to his parents, Alex and Julie Armas.

More here at Freerepublic.


My other blog is here.

Scrutiny of the Holy


“They don’t study the counterfeit–they study the genuine.”

I’m told that in banks and other places where they deal with significant amounts of money, and where they must be able to discern legal from counterfeit bills, they make little study–if any–of counterfeit money. Instead they scrutinize the genuine, and from such acute attention and analysis of the bank notes, the dinero, or the shekel, become expert in detecting that which is false–the counterfeit.

Such is true in our Christian lives as we persue Godliness. We must gaze at that which is holy, righteous, and beautiful. We refuse to camp on the ugly in ourselves, the imperfect part, the limp, the scar, the tattered, the torn, the weak, the disappointing. Never will we fix our gaze there. Instead, we latch onto the instructions of Paul as he addressed the church at Philippi, including its bishops and deacons.

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” 4:8

Happy and profitable scrutinizing, my friend.


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