Friday, December 30, 2016

  My wife and I took three of our Grandchildren to the Union Gospel Mission to feed the homeless. 
We all enjoyed the afternoon, and I think it is an important part of "Training up a child." Learning about the needs of he poor and the simple things we can do to help is ground-level Christianity. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

I learned there are at least two symbolic messages in the feet of the Statue of Liberty; her left foot is crushing the chains of oppression, and her right foot is lifted preparing for a step. This symbolizes the continual quest for freedom and liberty. The left foot also has an axe head by the chains. I couldn't find any information on that and if you find any, please share it. 

  I had a discussion with a friend some time ago, about the value of psychiatry. Here was my response.

  I've heard segments of the church dismiss the value of psychiatry and psychology all of my Christian life. In my opinion to dismiss the huge body of knowledge they have accumulated over the years and the obvious good they have done is short sighted and naive. It's not new, and it sounds grandiose to suggest that we don't need to understand the history and oppression that people have gone through to better meet their need, but I have learned a great deal about the effects of trauma and it has opened doors to better ministry in many ways.
 It doesn't change my faith, I believe even more that Christ is the answer and the Holy Spirit is the power that brings renewal, but to say that the women at the Corrections Center have not benefitted from the psychology and counsel they receive is to deny all of their testimonies. They have 56 hours a week of psychology and for us to discredit it from the pulpit is a line I would not ever cross.
Therapists specialize in helping very difficult conditions that overwhelm people’s faith, but until they reach a point where they can move the mountains by faith alone, I say, seek a multitude of counselors, use every resource available to banish and overcome these complicated issues.
I will never tell the women at the jail that the hope and progress they have achieved from the counsel by "worldly" therapists is of none effect. They have their victories as well, and to deny it, is to discredit the Christian message.
  I read psychological case studies, not to prescribe a secular message or remedy, but to better understand behaviors that continually and repeatedly occur among the traumatized; why? So I can find Biblical answers and wisdom.
Let me learn all I can, as fast as I can, as long as I can from nature's classroom, the thoughts of others more experienced than I, from case studies of professionals, from divines from the past and those in the present, as well as my local pulpit, but first and foremost from the guiding hand of God through His word; but I will seek all options in this noble work, and I can't think of one instance where it has been a disadvantage. I want a full quiver for this violent spiritual battle that takes nothing less than the whole armor of God, and our whole "mind" in the battle. Gold is gold whether on the back of a mule or in the pocket of a thief.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

 The poor man Lazarus sat outside the gate of the rich man who, with all his wealth,  neglected to help him: not even to give him the crumbs from his lavish table. I don't know how he justified that in his own mind but I think he may have said, what I often hear about the homeless at our gate, "He chose that life style." The poor, homeless, and addicted are Lazarus at our gate, what will we do?

Saturday, December 24, 2016

The following piece by Chrysostom, one of our early church fathers, writing about covetousness, would hardly be heard in our "Mr. Rogers" pulpits today. Forgive my sarcasm. But I'm sure after you read it you will agree. He is comparing the demoniac who lived among the tombs in Mark 5,  with man unrestrained.

  "If we take off all the chains that bind and hold back man, such as the fears of the judges, the threatening of the laws, the condemnation of the multitude, the loss of reputation even the love of family, then see if he is not far fierce than the demoniac that lived among the tombs. Then we shall see clearly his manifest madness. Let us describe him; he shall have darting fire from his eyes, black, having from either shoulder serpents hanging down instead of hands; and let him also have a mouth, with sharp swords set in it instead of teeth, and for a tongue a gushing fountain of poison and some baneful drug; and a belly more consuming than any furnace, devouring all that is cast unto it, and a sort of winged feet more vehement than any flame; and let his face be made up of a dog and of a wolf; and let him utter nothing human, but something discordant, and unpleasing, and terrible; and let him have also in his hands a firebrand. Perhaps what we have said seems to you to be terrible, but we have not even yet fashioned him worthily; for together with these things we must add others besides. I mean, that he is also to slay them that meet with him, to devour them, to fasten upon their flesh. 
 Yet the covetous man is much more fierce even than this, assailing all like hell, swallowing all up, going about as a common enemy to the race of men. Why, he would have no one exist if he may possess all things. And he stops not even at this, but when in his longing he shall have destroyed all men, he longs also to mar the substance of the earth, and to see it all become gold; nay, not the earth only, but hills also, and woods, and fountains, and in a word all things that appear.
  And to convince you that not even yet have we set forth his madness, let there be no man to accuse and frighten him, but take away the terror of the laws, and just imagine thou wilt see him snatching up a sword, laying violent hands on all, and sparing none; neither friend nor kinsman, nor brother, nor even his very parent. Nay rather, no need even to ask, because in truth all men know that they who are under the power of this disease are wearied even of their father’s old age; and that which is sweet, and universally desirable, the having of children, they esteem them grievous and unwelcome: many at least with this view have even paid money to be childless, and have maimed their nature, not only by slaying their children after birth, but by not allowing them even to be born at all."

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

I met a woman last night that just haunts me; her name is Shawn, she is 47 but looks very young, maybe 39 at the most; she is in fit condition, maybe 5'2" and has a pleasing face. There were three women in a corner after the service so I went up and said, "I know there is someone here that needs prayer; the gal I was looking at pointed to someone in the room but then Shawn walked right up and said she is the one. We stepped aside and sat down and she began to tell me that she has been addicted to meth since she was sixteen. I asked her how many times she had been clean since she was sixteen and she proudly said, "I've been clean for five months." I asked her age and when she said 47 I knew that this girl has experienced some horrid childhood trauma. She told me she became addicted at 16, so that meant she has been addicted for 31 continual years! I said, "I know you have experienced some terrible abuse." She nodded her head and I said, " It must have been brutal." She said yes it was and then began to tell me her story. She and her best friend were kidnapped by a group of eight thugs, handcuffed and taken to a basement where for the next two weeks they were brutally raped over and over, beaten and finally left for dead. As my mind raced to absorbed what she said she went on to tell me how her brother committed suicide, how her granddaughter, when just an infant, was smothered by her daughter-in-laws boyfriend because the child was continually crying. Her oldest son is a heroin addict and other details that my spinning head couldn't retain. I always think that I have heard the worst story there is and then comes someone like Shawn, with a story so dreadful that I wonder how she could endure it without taking  her life. As bad as drugs are, and I cannot think of a worse epidemic ravaging our culture, their pain taking effects may have spared her life. Does that seem bizarre? I wonder?
 Somehow in this battered and broken soul Christ has reached out and saved her and there was no denying His presence in her. By now my heart was, and still is, gushing with the love and compassion of Christ for this phoenix rising. We prayed, wept, hugged: I gave her an easy to read Bible, material on understanding trauma and anything else I could find. But most of all, my promise to pray for her and ask others as well. I have attached her prayer request that she filled out during the meeting.

  The last request at the bottom says, "I lost everything, personal items and my most prized belonging, the photo of my Grand Daughter that past away, I would love to have it back.

Monday, December 19, 2016

  "On Sunday afternoons the city pours forth its legions to breath the fresh air and enjoy the sunshine of the parks and rural enjoyments of a London citizen on Sunday, but to me there is something delightful in beholding the poor prisoner of the crowded and dusty city, enabled thus to come forth once a week and throw himself upon the green bosom of nature. He is like a child restored to the mother's breast; and they who first spread out these noble parks and magnificent pleasure-grounds which surround this huge metropolis, have done at least as much for its health and morality, as if they had expended the amount of cost, in hospitals, prisons, and penitentiaries." Washington Irving.