Sunday, April 03, 2011

a century of sleep

I was touched by a simple quote the other day,

“Better a day of strife

Than a century of sleep.”

I’m afraid when I assess the entirety of my life there are far two many seasons of sleep. I decided to share this quote at the center when we all meet in the morning to pray. I kept it as short as what I have just written but as I surveyed the men’s faces and listened to the “amen’s”, I knew they got it.

It burns in me to speak words of encouragement and Godly ambition to the men. Whenever I see a quote or read a scripture that calls for action, I write it down and wait for a timely moment to share it. I have been re-reading a book of mine called “Golden Gleams of Thought”, a compilation of great thoughts from Orators, Divines, Philosophers, Statesmen and Poets. It’s a treasure and in the current chapter I’m in there have been so many thoughts that call to action.

The first along this line is ---

“If you would imitate Christ, take sin by the throat and the sinner by the hand.” W.H.H. Murray.

That immediately brought to mind the verse in Job 29:17, where Job declares he crushed the jaws of the wicked, and snatched the prey from his teeth.

Surely that defines the ministry at Teen Challenge where men are clutched in the gaping maw of drug addiction and we call Christ to them where He can snatch them away.

God always provides a core of devoted students and my hope is to rally them together as much as I can to clearly see the battlefield we all stand in. This quote captures some of that thought, ---

“ I will go forth ‘mong men, not mailed in scorn,

But in the armor of a pure intent;

Great duties are before me, and great songs,

And whether crowned or crownless when I fall,

It matters not, so as God’s work is done.” Alexander Smith

Top photo by Monika Brand, bottom photo by Carol Miller

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Distressing disquise

I was preparing for work the other day and my thoughts went to a fella at the center that decided to quit the program. He has been there about a month and I heard him tell the Staff member in charge that he wanted to go back home to Arkansas. The staff member said, “Ok”, and without trying to talk him out of it, began the procedure.

The man that was leaving was a difficult student; he is early forties, has such a strong southern accent he is nearly impossible to understand, he weighs 500 pounds, and has multiple health problems the least of which is the medicine he is currently taking masks his bodies alarms when he needs to go to the bathroom which has resulted in soiling himself and wetting himself a number of times.

If that were not enough, he has a name that in our neck of the woods, would be reserved for a female. Sadly, he has been teased by some about his weight, name and general demeanor.

I made some effort to show myself friendly to him and I have made allowances for his physical limitations and found him work to keep him somewhat busy; but past that I have kept myself busy when he was around. This, of course, is what the Lord began speaking to me about, and impressed upon me how important it is to do better, and anticipate that He will appear in these “distressing disguises”, so apply a greater measure of love and acceptance if I would truly wear the name ‘Christian’.

When our Morning Prayer time arrived, where we all huddle up and ‘pray in the day’, I told the guys how the Lord spoke to me. I began by saying that Christ visits us at the center in many sweet and wonderful ways; sometimes he descends around the altar and brings the hardest heart to tears, sometimes the pulpit shoots a shaft that hits us directly in the heart and greatly moves us. But more often than not, Christ will visit in other ways. This last month He has been with us in a distressing disguise and some of us have recognized Him and served Him with friendship and love; while others of us have never so much as been aware he was present. Those who saw Him standing in our prayer huddle with His dirty yellow shirt that exposed the bottom of his belly, talking in a way that is nearly impossible to understand and bearing the silliest name, have truly served the living God. As for me, Christ told me in the clearest terms, “You must do better.”

Photo by Teresa Zafon