Thursday, July 30, 2009

I'm so eager to share but my new work schedule has been so demanding initially, that I have found little time to blog. That being so I do want to share the story of one of the guys at the center. I have some misgivings about sharing because it is so personal; but he will remain anonymous, but even so it gives me a tinge of discomfort. I have been talking with as many guys as I can to get to know them so I can better serve them. I began a conversation and this young man was very open as we talked on the floor. He began to tell me of his drug use and some things that had happened in his past; he mentioned he was very close with his parents, and had a happy childhood when his father suddenly left the family and could no longer stand to be married, he went on and then told me he was driving down the road one night and a girl who apparently was trying to commit suicide, had laid down in the street and at 65 miles an hour, he ran over her and killed her; as he mentioned this his face grimaced and I immediately asked him to come to my office and talk further; the floor was nowhere to discuss this.
I asked him to go on with his story and the last significant piece was after he had reunited with his father, who he loved very much, he visited him and lived with him on and off as I recall, but his father's health began to dwindle. His father had good days and an equal amount of bad days, but on one day in particular his aunt was visiting and was alarmed how sickly his father looked, and suggested he take him to the doctor. He had seen his father look poorly many times and told her he felt there was no need to take him to the doctor, it was just another bad day for him. Later that afternoon, he went to the store for a quick purchase, but when he returned his father had died.

I wanted to talk with this young man because I noticed that he had difficulty making eye contact and I didn't know if this was because he was guilty about something or ashamed; I realized that it was shame. I talked with him about it in detail and he poured out his heart. I sensed a close presence of God as we talked and I believe Christ gave me the encouraging words that He wanted this man to hear. Needless to say my heart went out to him and I was so gratified to hear the next day, as he approached me, that the things we discussed were of great comfort to him.

I have never been around so many men who have suffered so grievously, and each one has a story, and in that story a starting place where hurt began a destructive course. This organization is a life blood for these men and Jesus is the center of the ministry, and He is there with all His tender mercies and full glory.

Picture of the beginning of a new life by Guenter Eh

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The following quote by Addison caught my attention; he is describing a dream in which he saw a golden scale and it weighed the values of different virtues, vices. This is pulled out of a whole chapter but I think this part will stand on its own --

"There is a saying among the Scotch, that an ounce of mother-wit is worth a pound of clergy; I was sensible of the truth of this saying when I saw a difference between the weight of natural talents and that of learning. The observations which I made upon these two weights opened to me a new field of discoveries; for, notwithstanding the weight of the natural talents was much heavier than that of learning, I observed that it weighed a hundred times heavier than it did before, when I put learning into the same scale with it.
I made the same observation upon faith and morality; for, notwithstanding the latter outweighed the former separately, it received a thousand times more additional weight from its conjunction with the former, than what it had by itself. This odd phenomenon showed itself in other particulars, as in wit and judgment, philosophy and religion, justice and humanity, zeal and charity, depth of sense and perspicuity (clarity of thought, explicitness), of style, with innumerable other particulars too long to be mentioned in this paper."

So, after I read this ten times to finally understand it, I was taken by the truth of it. For example, in God's scale, justice without humanity weighs little; and zeal without charity leads to who knows what? And if one has a depth of sense and is sensitive to emotions, but lacks the ability to put those thoughts into words, it has little value.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

"I have often thought if the minds of men were laid open, we should see but little difference between that of the wise man and that of the fool. There are infinite reveries, numberless extravagances, and a perpetual train of vanities which pass through both. The great difference is, that the first knows how to pick and cull his thoughts for conversation, by suppressing some, and communicating others; whereas the others let them all indifferently fly out in words.

This sort of discretion, however, has no place in private conversations between intimate friends. On such occasions the wisest men very often talk like the weakest; for indeed the talking with a friend is nothing else but thinking aloud."

I agree with this quote as a generality; I think often young people think that older people are of a completely different mind set and because of that, they are reluctant to engage them in conversation. This is not to suggest that there is no maturing, no developing tastes for higher interests; but rather to point out that all mankind is in a struggle to leave behind foolish things, and if we knew the hearts of men like an open book, we would be surprised to see how little difference there really is. It makes me smile to catch an old couple talking when they think they are alone, the guard comes down, minds are unfettered, and their youth is on display. But once you enter the room, their conversation is culled and picked for general audience :)

Addison, photo by Marco Ruggiero

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I ran across the following quote, author unknown, and I have read things similar to this many times but somehow this one captured the thought more dramatically for me. I think this is the kind of quote I will hang around the Teen Challenge Center. All of these men and women have gone from the "I won't" to at least "I will try" stage.
I won't, is a tramp.
I can't, is a quitter.
I don't know, is too lazy.
I wish I could, is a wisher.
I will try, is on his feet.
I can, is on his way.
I will, is at work.
I did, is now the boss.
Photo by Budiarto Gondowijoyo

Sunday, July 19, 2009

On May 3rd I posted an incident that happened in the nursing home, where I noticed a woman who was so lost and calling for her husband and couldn't understand where he had gone and the more I talked with her the more she cried and suffering from apparent dementia, I finally left her, not being able to comfort or aid her. Well, today that same woman came up to me before the service and asked if she could share something with the group. When everyone gathered she began by explaining that she had recently been given the news that her husband had died as well as her sister, and she was under a cloud of depression, confusion and grief; but God had come to her aid and spoke His confidence to her heart that they were with Him, and just trust Him and she will see them again. She spoke with perfect clarity and with God's peace radiating from within. I was slayed by the loving Spirit of God, how He so mercifully heard her cries, and applied His healing balm to her soul. I realized when I first saw her she had just received the news and was in emotional trauma, and what seemed to be dementia was actually shock.

These simple testimonies of how God rescues the souls of the desperate are what makes me love Him all the more.
"The heart may embrace Christ with an enthusiasm of love, though the intellectual perception is imperfect and vague. It is better that the intellectual perception should be full and clear; nevertheless, a man can embrace Christ by the heart without the help of the understanding, far better than he can embrace Christ by the understanding without the aid of the heart. Thousands and thousands there have been, I believe, who have loved Christ, and have lived on their love to him, and have died by the power of that love, and have been translated to glory, though they could not have defined the divine nature, nor reduced their faith to any intellectual expression. There have been multitudes of children, poor uneducated persons, into whose teaching never entered even the technics of philosophy, who understood nothing of mental science, but whose hearts have seen Jesus Christ, and out of whose hearts has gone an enthusiasm, an allegiance, a fidelity, that has led them gloriously through life and through death to the blessed Master. They would have been larger and happier Christians, doubtless, if they had added to the heart element the intellectual element also; but it is possible for one to take hold of Christ with the heart. It is possible for one who has but slender endowments to take hold of Christ.
And that is the peculiarity of Christianity." Henry Ward Beecher
I like this piece, and I like the "peculiarity of Christianity" that reveals the heart of God, who looks only to the heart and not the intellect for salvation.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

"Oh Mother! because you are in the household, it does not follow that you are not also in the pulpit. There are these open pulpits; there are these domestic pulpits. The candle that is lit for your table in the cottage, and gives its light there first, shines out of the window also, and throws its rays far down the road, and the weary traveler sees them, and plucks up courage, and says, "There is succor at last!" and follows the light, and finds your house, and is rescued. And while you are giving yourself to your children in sweetness, and love, and prayer and trust, a light shines down the road, to those that have lost their way, and many a soul may be brought, by your example, home to Jesus.
Do not be discouraged because you have not an ampler sphere of testimony. Live, love, trust, and wait, and ere long forever and forever triumph and rejoice!"
When I ran across this quote my heart wed to it. I know so many mothers who have a heart that burns for the Savior; longs to serve Him in the fullest way, and at times feels as though motherhood abbreviates their service. Oh but it is not so. Where will the strong Christian leaders be formed if not from devoted mothers. And as this quote states, during this season of service to Christ and family, the home is a pulpit and your mission is not limited in scope, but may reach across the world with your devotion and sacrifice to your family. It is a light, and a light so needed in these days of crumbling home life.
Henry Ward Beecher, and tender photo of motherhood by Jose A. Gallego

Sunday, July 12, 2009

"You cannot, Madam, form a right judgment of yourself except you make due allowance for those things which are not peculiar to yourself, but common to all who have spiritual perceptions, and they are indeed the inseparable appendages of this mortal state. If it were not so, why should the most spiritual and gracious people be so ready to confess themselves vile and worthless? One eminent branch of our holiness is a sense of shame and humiliation for those evils which are only known to ourselves and to Him who searches the hearts, joined with acquiescence in Jesus who is appointed of God -- wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. I will venture to assure you that though you will possess a more stable peace, in proportion as the Lord enables you to live more simply upon the blood, righteousness, and grace of the Mediator, you will never grow into a better opinion of yourself than you have at present. The nearer you are brought to Him, the quicker sense you will have of your continual need of Him, and thereby your admiration of His power, love, and compassion will increase from year to year."
I ran across this piece by John Newton the other morning and I think it contains truth that Christians need to consider. We follow a holy God and He wants us to be holy too, but in that pursuit, when we have the ideals, morals and ethics of perfection as our goal, we can become disheartened sensing our many failings.
This piece puts perspective to it, in this candid letter to a lady he is mentoring.
I chose this picture because to me it symbolizes falling into the arms of Christ in complete helplessness.
Photo from the Internet

Saturday, July 11, 2009

I spent the last week in Spokane, Washington with my son and his family. We arrived on the Fourth of July and enjoyed the huge firework display by the river. The next day, Sunday, we went to church and I got the treat of hearing my son preach what I think was one of Christendoms finest sermons. I realize I may be somewhat bias, but he is no novice behind the pulpit and the scriptures came alive, the anointing was there and I was captivated. During the sermon the true need of Christ and His church was apparent; a police car pulled up in front of the church, then another and finally there were five police cars directly in front of the church. There was a domestic disturbance in the apartment above the church and the police had to break down one door to remove a man and take him off to jail. Eric's wife, LeeElla, offered her assistance and helped the police find out what was actually going on because the woman spoke Spanish and the man spoke Russian, so the language barrier escalated a simple incident into an arrest. But two nights later, there was a far more serious situation; one block from the church, an argument escalated and one man drew a knife and killed the other. Jesus has grown this little store-front church right in the midst of great need; it is no cozy little church in the suburbs, but rather a refuge on the front lines of battle.
And the battles waged right in front of our eyes.

Later that week, one of the members of the church offered Eric the use of his cabin in the mountains, and we enthusiastically drove to the mountain paradise. I'm not sure who snapped this picture of me fishing off the dock, but it captures the moment far better than words can describe.

Here I am with my oldest son Eric preparing to catch dinner; hmmm, good thing we had hamburger along because we didn't exactly empty the lake :) But I did spend a spellbinding afternoon talking and drinking up the beauty with my son. I wish I could spend many more hours like this with all my children and grandchildren; we had such a great time.

Last, but not least, Mel and I got to meet face to face. My oldest granddaughter and I met on her lunch hour and it was so much fun to finally meet after blogging for so long. I have enjoyed Mel and her comments on my blog but I have to say after meeting her I have an even greater appreciation for her. Mel, you were so full of life, far prettier than photos can capture, and a joy to be with. It was a special part of my trip to walk and talk together, go to places you have written about and just soak up the sunshine that beamed from within you.

While we stood before this beautiful Catholic church, we couldn't help but think of Joseph; so, we had my granddaughter take this picture as we waved to you Joseph, we wished you and all our blogging friends could be with us.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

I read a poem this morning about the drudgery of the poor. This poem speaks of a woman who works making clothing and her thoughts as she continues sewing in fatigue and boredom. I won’t quote the entire poem for it is lengthy, but I think you will be moved by the stanzas I include.

The Song of the Shirt
Thomas Hood

“Work – work – work!
Till the eyes are heavy and dim!
Seam, and gusset, and band,
Band and gusset, and seam,
Till over the buttons I fall asleep,
And sew them on in a dream.

“O men, with sisters dear!
O men with mothers and wives,
It is not linen you’re wearing out!
But human creature’s lives!
Stitch – stitch – stitch!
In poverty, hunger and dirt;
Sewing at once, with a double thread,
A shroud as well as a shirt.

“But why do I talk of Death?
That phantom of grisly bone;
I hardly fear its terrible shape,
It seems so like my own.
It seems so like my own,
Because of the fasts I keep;
O God! That bread should be so dear,
And flesh and blood so cheap!

“Work – work – work!
My labor never flags;
And what are its wages? A bed of straw,
A crust of bread and rags.
That shattered roof – and this naked floor,
A table – a broken chair;
And a wall so blank, my shadow I thank
For sometimes falling there!

“Oh, but to breathe the breath
of the cowslip and primrose sweet –
With the sky above my head,
And the grass beneath my feet;
For only one short hour
To feel as I used to feel,
Before I knew the woes of want,
And the walk that costs a meal!”
Photo by Stephen Buhagiar
So, if you didn't watch America's Got Talent last night and missed Thia Megia's performance, I would strongly recommend you go to their web-site under video performances and watch her sing. Unreal, truly unreal!