Tuesday, January 27, 2015

   Last night at the corrections center was one of those nights you pray for; the anointing of God's presence was rich and filled the room, the words flowed, the attention was engaged and all of our hearts were touched. When my segment was finished, my fellow minister began to tie up and bring to conclusion the service with such a penetrating force of love that the Amen's were so prevalent I could scarcely hear at times. His last thoughts were of his wife whom he lost to a stroke just two months ago. He shared how he was in his car and Billy Joel's song, "Just The Way You Are," came on the radio and as he listened to the lyrics tears began to steam down his face. "I said I love you and that's forever, and this I promise from my heart, I couldn't love you any better, I love you just the way you are." So he told the inmates he wanted to sing it for them. As he began to sing we could all hear the love in his heart as the words of his song seemed directed to each one there and the moment of love and harmony was such as I have never seen before. Half way through, as many as new the words, began to sing with him and as he concluded the room roared with heartfelt applause. It was as though he sang that song to each person there and many of us were moved to tears and all to thankfulness. 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

I woke up in the early morning hours with thoughts of the Holy Spirit coming to my mind. So I got up and wrote them down and thought I would share them ---- 

 "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters." Now this very Spirit, this Holy, wonderful, loving Spirit of God comes into our life and world and brings His bountiful gifts.
Now we may be like the disciples in Ephesus who were visited by Paul when he asked them, did you receive the Holy Spirit? And they said to him, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” You too, may ask, who is this Spirit? But you know Him, you see him in the green of the trees; the abundance of the corn as one kernel is multiplied a hundredfold; the color in a blade of grass; the nurture of a mother deer as she lies with her fawn; the romantic hush of a silent walk under moonlight or the fragrance that lingers from a fresh cut bouquet that fills the room.
Yes, the Holy Spirit brings life into our worlds, it pulsates in our very blood as we experience His creative work, our minds fill with anticipation as He brings inspiration to the page, canvass, music or dance! Currents, breezes, flushes of color on the tendril or the cheek, sparkle in the eye, welling laughter, tearful sympathy, strength in our bonds of love. The gushing over a pet; sharing the joy of life with a newborn infant, the gleeful peals of a two year old, the intoxicating crush of a new found love, the sense of bond with a hug.
Oh, the Holy Spirit! Have you heard of Him? His work is in the world today, in the heart today: in your life! Resist Him not as He calls to usher you into an even closer association and a clearer image of the living God!

Prayer Distraction

The following quote by the great preacher, Bishop and pre-eminent poet John Donne, confesses his ease of distraction during prayer.

  "I throw myself down in my Chamber, and I call in, and invite God, and his Angels thither, and when they are there, I neglect God and his Angels, for the noise of a fly, for the rattling of a coach, for the whining of a door…
A memory of yesterday’s pleasures, a fear of tomorrow’s dangers, a straw under my knee, a noise in mine ear, a light in mine eye, an anything, a nothing, a fancy, a Chimera in my brain, troubles me in my prayer. So certainly is there nothing, nothing in spiritual things, perfect in this world."
John Donne (1572-1631)

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Be wise as serpents, Jesus said. The following is good advice. 

"The gullible person is ready to receive every thing for truth that has only the least shadow of evidence; every new book that he reads, and every ingenious man with whom he talks, has power enough to draw him into the sentiments of the speaker or writer. He has so much willingness to comply, or weakness of soul, that he is ready to resign his own opinion to the first objection which he hears, and to receive any sentiments of another that are asserted with a positive air and much assurance. Thus he is under a kind of necessity, through the indulgence of this gullibility, either to be often changing his opinions or to believe inconsistencies." Isaac. Watts.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

  Some months ago, one of my sons asked me to comment on a video about transgendered people and give my opinion. I just ran across what I wrote, and although I don't like getting embroiled in this issue, I feel pretty good about what I wrote. 

  I'm encouraged to see good and Godly men wrestling with this confusing issue. The answers to it are still beyond me regarding Biblical direction. The part that is clear to me, as I walk the Christian life, is that sympathy and love are not removed when it comes to homosexuals, transgendered or any group of people that find themselves outside the norm. How to bless people with love is easy, how to defend my feelings and actions toward them Biblically is not so easy. When I try and understand the issue I am harassed with what seems to be a natural revulsion to the sexual acts themselves. I recoil when I see two men kiss and the thought of another man's hairy leg rubbing against mine also causes me to recoil. Is that cultural? Is it a "natural" emotion? I don't know, the only thing I do know is I cannot allow those feelings to produce in me a dislike for those that desire it. These feelings of sympathy are stoked by the hatred I see displayed by some and that is so clear it needs no description or defense. Hate is hate and it cannot reside in the breast of a Christian in my opinion. How to completely justify that position scripturally is somewhat more difficult and I must leave it to wiser men than I. 
How others take their stand is beyond my influence, but to be sure, I will not allow them to infect me with bigoted mindsets. 
  When I watched that video of the little transgendered girl I had no confusion about how I felt towards her - delighted, charmed, affectionate and drawn to her. Now, as she migrates through adolescence and is faced with human sexuality, and desire and fulfillment; that will be a confusing stage for her in our culture as it is now. And maybe it will always be one of those extreme cases that beg for answers. But my behavior towards her or others is clear to me and not confusing at all.

  I thought his points about exclusion and offering no option for gays was his strongest point. There must always be a place for everyone where they can grow and thrive in acceptance, in security and love. Currently the places of refuge are few and far between, this would not be so with Christ in my opinion because I care and feel compassion and I know that is from God. 
So, fight the good fight and if you err on the side of compassion I think it will be eternally easier to live with. 
I wish I had better answers and his essay is certainly written in a Christ like spirit which far surpasses the best of opposing arguments I've heard, at least in spirit. 

I cannot dismiss the many times I saw men in Teen Challenge that were so overcome by nearly every form of evil, that lived lives so inconsistent with scripture, that bowed before Christ's altar one week and the altar of total depravity the next, I left with no hope only to see Christ draw them back, unfailingly, continually and some, became true men of God and are serving Him faithfully today. Will they relapse? one said to me, "life is a series of relapses." Maybe that's so, but there is no relapse in the compassion of Christ, not that I've seen in my 40 plus years as a Christian.   

Monday, January 19, 2015

"Suffering opens the resources of sympathy, and no doubt in mean and selfish natures it may simply eat into the health and corrode the spirits, and rust over the fine-tempered weapons of existence; but in faithful and noble hearts how often does it open fresh fountains of power, and pour them forth in purer self-forgetfulness!" James Martineau.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

  "The evidence of truth does not always appear immediately, nor strike the soul at first sight. It is by long attention and inspection that we arrive at evidence, and it is for lack of it that we judge falsely of many things. We make haste to judge and determine upon a slight and sudden view; we confirm our guesses which arise from a glance; we pass a judgment while we have but a confused or obscure perception, and thus plunge ourselves into mistakes. This is like a man who, walking in a mist, or being at great distance from any visible object, like a tree, a man, a horse, or a church, judges much amiss of the figure, and situation, and colors of it, and sometimes takes one for the other; whereas if he would but withhold his judgment till he comes nearer to it, or stay till clearer light comes, and then would fix his eyes longer upon it, he would secure himself from those mistakes." Isaac Watts.

  If you were curious as to what is in the picture, it is some bizarre monster from a movie. :)

Monday, January 12, 2015

  "Even our very breath teaches us moderation; when walking we catch the smell of  a fresh mown lawn, and we tarry to drink it in. We may say, I think I'll spend an hour here enjoying this smell, only to find that after a minute or two the fragrance diminishes. We may think that something's wrong with our nose, but then we catch the scent of the lilac and learn that moderation brings joy but to overindulge is to lose." Author unknown.