Thursday, April 28, 2016

 I joined Union Gospel Mission's volunteer program and spent three hours this afternoon handing out 275 simple meals of soup, roll, candy and drink to the downtown homeless. I've done a lot of things but this was new for me. The people are the same as those in the jail and Teen Challenge, but this is the stage before they get arrested or decide to go into a program.

We spent an hour preparing and then one of the volunteers, Harry, with a booming voice and rough appearance; God always has his "Son's of Thunder”, controlled and directed, three people at a time to come to our table where we handed out the meal. As each person came in, most with heads down, I worked the dinner without any overpowering emotion.
I noticed a lot of bare-feet blackened by the streets; for a moment it took me back to my carefree childhood where we played in summer sun bare-footed and free; but these feet were blackened neither by play nor sun, but rather by need.
I now understand why Jesus chose to wash his disciples feet, there was a moment when I found myself wanting to do that very thing.

One woman in her late fifties, with heavy make-up and glimmers of beauty from the days when young men's heads turned and flirtatious appeals interchanged, spoke to us with an outgoing but embarrassed demeanor as she disguised her story of heart-ache.
  We had one large cooler of juice that I feared would never quench the long line of thirsts; but I filled every cup and the supply continued. When the last man came in, and we were out of food but for a cup of candy, I tilted the cooler and drained out one last cup; I felt like the widow woman with her pot of oil that never failed to supply.
 As the meal supply dwindled as well as the people, one young gal, early twenties, arrived wrapped in a grey blanket, bare-footed with a sweet face and comely features. She didn't make eye contact, I suppose because her face was covered with scabs, no doubt from heavy Meth use. She asked if she could have a cup of juice and my heart began to fill to overflowing with compassion for her; I would have given anything she asked for if it were in my power. I was overcome with emotion and had to fight back the tears. She was one of the last few stragglers that we served.
I helped mop and clean up and left. I left feeling the presence of God so strongly it was as if I were handing out the body and blood of Christ at communion.
I think I was. I'm sure I was.

Friday, April 22, 2016

  "However true it is that there is no private heart to which God is a complete stranger, yet it is not in all alike that the sanctities of his agency visibly appear. We see and own him in proportion to the nobleness and beauty of the lives which he inspires; and it is only now and then, at the great crises of society, that the common level of the human self and the finite understanding is transcended, and sages, prophets, saints rise above their nature and become the organs of a Spirit not their own. I presume not to say how it is God takes up his abode with us; where, across the melting colors the precise line should be drawn that divides the human from the divine. But wherever he so dwells with the soul as to import his own character, and lift before our eye the beauty of holiness, it is His supreme expression, as it is his rarest." Martineau.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The following quote is kind of random, but I like his thoughts on the creative side of our minds. He puts into words thoughts we all have about those times of inspiration we all have.

 "Now, the mind is more fitful than the strength of the body, and less under the steady control of the will, faster and further in its ebb, in proportion as it is fuller and grander in its flood. The day-laborer with his limbs can bear longer hours than the man of letters with his pen; and can produce more even work. And precisely as the faculties which he tasks are above the level of intellectual routine, is the thinker dependent on moods which he cannot command or prolong: -- to learn, to criticize, to judge, to arrange, being usually in his power; but to combine, to discover, to create, being the free gift of happy moments not his own.
Is he a compiler and fabricator of mental products? His process, like any other manufacture, may go on, wherever the machinery of industry is set in motion. Is he a poet or inventor? Then he seems to be the organ of another will, and to be now lifted into clear achievement, now sunk into deep humiliation. At times, a murky atmosphere appears to close in upon his soul and damp down its very flame to smoke, and all his faithfulness and patience are unavailing to perforate the gloom, and end only in the dripping of the sad rain. At another time he seems to be planted high in a pure and lustrous air; to look on nothing that does not shine with a self-light: the quick streaming thoughts flow upon him like a morning wind; every darkening cloud swims off to the far horizon and his heart with God.  James Martineau. 

Monday, April 18, 2016

One of the women who attends our service at the jail was confined to her dorm because of an infraction of a rule and she was discouraged to the point of tears. She is a young forty something woman who we have become connected with and so I wrote this note of encouragement that may find some encouragement to you as well; I know it does to me. 

Numerous times this week I have wanted to write you a word of encouragement because last week, when you had a tough day, I felt the love of Christ for you so strongly and I wanted to comfort you, but somehow I failed to find the words. So I sought them throughout the week, but not until this morning did I, and I trust the Holy Spirit, find some thoughts that may encourage you. So here goes ---

The Kingdom of God is a contradiction to so many rules of our earthly kingdom and culture. "Results" are the measuring stick on earth, but "intentions" are the measure in Christ's society. We want to present to God a seamless flow of victories over our prominent failings, and when we fall short, we are flooded with discouragement. "Oh, it is all in vain," we cry, "I have failed once again and will never move past these hindrances to success and wholeness." But in these very sobs of remorse rises a higher prayer of intent than any pride of accomplishment. Christ will never be brought down to measure us by our accomplishments, but He will ever look deep into our intentions as the measure of success.

Each time we fall and feel remorse, we are, by "kingdom life's standard," exercising great faith and intent. He measures our devotion, not by achievement, but in our calls for mercy.
Each time we rise from failure and continue on in hope of mercy, we are met with His approval and acceptance. We stand, not by our abilities, but by our hope in His mercy, which endures forever.
His promise is ever to the bruised reed, those who stumble, stagger or fall, but look to Him for remedy, are accepted as beloved.
“They are blessed who realize their spiritual poverty, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them."
This is the most contrary law of heaven: that our weakness is our strength. Giving up our hope that we will achieve our goals, but rather, that we will never achieve them; but He will take our desire for completion: our sobs of remorse, for prayers of victory; and out of our weakness He will make materials for success.
It is always Christ's duty to achieve; our duty is to believe He can and will.
How will you ever encourage another if it depends on their will?
How can all come to victory if it depends on our ability? Oh no, we fly to His arms for strength; the cleft of His rock for comfort; under His wings for aid and safety: always trusting that, "God calls into being that which does not exist."
Ro. 4:17

The true appreciation of our moral powers are learned woefully late in life. "The true appreciation of action and character, the faithful and impartial love of whatever things are pure, good and holy, the correct and profound estimate of life, the serenest spirit of duty and faith, are scarcely found till most of the lessons of our life are over."

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

"Children of God, we are not without something of God's creative spirit in our hearts. The power is there to separate the light from the darkness within us, and to set in the fires of the soul, lights to guide and gladden us for every season of life, power to make the very leaves and grass green beneath our feet, and to bring happiness into existence around our path, and power to mold the clay of our earthly nature into the likeness of God. But sometimes we are forced into quietude, in pauses of exhaustion or of grief: stretched upon the bed of pain, before we are able to hear the Spirit within."  Author unknown