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Tuesday, April 29, 2014



"The work of righteousness will be peace,
And the service of righteousness,
quietness and confidence (security) forever.
Then my people will live in a peaceful habitation,
And in secure dwellings and in undisturbed resting places..."
Isaiah 32:17-18
 


Do you ever wonder about the future?
This is under the label, "The Glorious Future" in my Bible.
Who wouldn't want this future:
"Behold, a king will reign righteously
And princes will rule justly.
Each will be like a refuge from the wind
And a shelter from the storm,
Like streams of water in a dry country,
Like the shade of a huge rock in a parched land...
Until the Spirit is poured out upon us from on high..."
Isaiah 32:1-2, 15


 
We are to hunger and thirst for this righteousness.
The One who created the Garden for us for our enjoyment and fellowship
Still longs to pour out upon us who are hot and dry seeking
living water, shade, and quietness and confidence, security.
 
 
Ask, seek, knock to enter into this shelter of His fellowship in the Spirit.

"I will abide in Thy tabernacle for ever;
I will trust in the covert of Thy wings."
Psalms 61:4


"Would it be possible that one could be thus with God,
listening to Him, speaking to Him, reposing upon His love,
and not come out with a shining face, a gladdened heart,
an intent more constant and more strong
to give to the waiting world which so sadly
needs it what has been taken from the heart of God."
Alexander McKenzie

That's the kind of future I'm talking about!

When we visited the nation's capital last June, something I'd never dreamed I'd be able to do, there was an unexpected delight that wasn't in the D.C. guide books or on the tour sights: fireflies.  Surrounded by some of our nations most important government buildings, magnificent artifices, bugs took my breath away.  Lightning bugs were a fond childhood memory from my Midwest upbringing.
Their unanticipated appearance made me gasp as if given a special gift.  It was as if falling stars had surrounded me with their glitter.  Their minute radiance put sparkles in my eyes.



""...so the veil which sin laid upon our sight being taken away, 'we all, with open face, beholding, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord,' studying His countenance, watching His looks, seeking to have His gracious and compassionate look cast upon us in the midst of our frailties and infirmities, may catch some faint reflections of its brightness, and be changed into the image whereon we gaze, which we love, which on our weakness, we would long to copy and transfuse into ourselves; we too may be 'changed into the same image, from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord."  Edward Pusey


Perhaps it's like the child's face lit with delight, radiant while beholding a jar of fireflies on a summer evening, the tiny glowing jewels put on something as common as a flying insect which dances in the night sky.

"But we as in a glass espy
The glory of His countenance,
Not in a whirlwind hurrying by
The too presumptuous glance,
But with mild radiance every hour benign
Bent on us with transforming power
Till we, too, faintly shine."
John Keble

Monday, April 28, 2014

We watched them put on their heavy helmets and their breastplates and take up their shields.  They went to battle with their weapons in hand.  Sometimes it was to protect their kingdom and sometimes it was to go forth to gain new ground.  The clashing and smashing was real.  Men fell.  Some fought on their knees.  I was told one once won it all while on his knees: not the last one standing, but the last one kneeling.  Hmm.  The midevil re-enactors take it seriously, though chivalry is practiced.  They bowed their helmets in prayer before the battle began.


 
  No one is allowed on the field unless he has proper armor and training.  Even in the cool of the overcast day, men lay exhausted on the ground and dripped sweat when their helmets were removed off the battlefield. 

In a nearby field, the children also battled with inflatable battle axes.  No one cried.  There was only laughter and chasing and bopping in fun.  As we were leaving, I looked down in the grass where their battle was held in jest and found a fragile blue sky Robin's egg shell half that had fallen from the tall trees.  Somehow it had not been trampled under all the little feet.  Though the mock battle had raged, it lay undisturbed, a sign of new life.  I brought it home as a reminder.

"Through God we shall do valiantly, for He it is that shall tread down our enemies."
Psalm 60:12
 
"If any man compares his own soul with the picture drawn in the New Testament of what a Christian ought to be; if any man fixes his eye on the pattern of self-sacrifice, of purity, of truth, of tenderness, and measures his own distance from that standard, he might be ready to despair.  But fear not, because you are far from being like the pattern set before you; fear not because your faults are painful to think of: continue the battle and fear not.  If, indeed, you are content with yourself, and are making no endeavor to rise above the poor level at which you now stand, then there is reason to fear.  But if you are fighting with all your might, fear not, however often you may have fallen, however deeply, however ungratefully, however inexcusably.  This one thing we can give, and this is what He asks, hearts that shall never cease from this day forward, till we reach the grave, to strive to be more like Him; to come nearer to Him; to root our from within us the sin that keeps us from Him.  To such a battle, brethren, I call you in His name."  Frederick Temple 
 
*I am betwixt and between computers.  My new laptop is now online yet, my old one is dying, and thus, I am on my boys'.  These are from their picture file.
  

 

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Keeping up appearances.  The first is in the garden.  Mary is weeping in the garden and a couple of angels ask her why.  Then a guy who she thinks is the gardener through her tear-blurred vision asks her the very same thing.  Then he says, "Who are you seeking?"  Then she says almost a bizarre statement, "Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away."  Do you get the strange picture that I do of this poor woman dragging the dead body of Jesus around?  I'd never noticed that before.  She was very possessive of Him.  Jesus' next words after she finally recognizes Him are "Stop clinging to Me..."  Hmm.


 

Then he walks through the door to where his disciples are huddled afraid of who might come after them.  He does it again because Thomas missed it.  Then He demands that Thomas touch Him, put his hand into His wounded hand, into the deep wound in His side.


The next time He is found cooking a breakfast of fish over a campfire and doing fish miracles for the guys who He had told to become fishers of men, not the flopping, wet fish He made their nets bulge with.  In fact, Peter got dressed and plunged in to get to the shore leaving the others to do the heavy lifting of the nets.  Did he think he could walk on water this time?  No he swam a hundred yards in his clothes to go eat fish with Jesus.


What does that mean for us?  We can't be possessive of Jesus, clingy Christians.  We can't be fearful of man when we have a walk-through-doors-and-appear-at-any-time-on-the-scene Savior.  We have to really believe in His wounds.  And finally, understand that Jesus is there for us in the every day of our lives, eating meals, catching us doing crazy things like swimming in our clothes to get to Him, doing anything to be with Him.  If we do, He will feed us.  He will multiply what we do beyond what we can believe.  It's a God-thing and He doesn't want us to forget it.
 
He's left the fire for us.  Will you join Him?

Saturday, April 26, 2014


 
How the West was won...

Hank took a sheet of plywood and some of our good paint and his dad's expensive paint brush without asking (I married a house painter who's touchier about his brushes than a cowboy about his hat), and made a huge shield.  He walked down a couple of blocks with it to where his friends' dad, a carpenter, took pity on him and made a nice sturdy handle.  It is so big Hank can barely hold it.

 
Civil War soldier
 

Then I read in our Beth Moore Bible study that when Paul talked about the shield of faith, he was talking about one about 4'X 2 1/2' approximately the size of Hank's shield.  I don't know if he is expecting faming arrows--I hope not--but that is why it was supposed to be so large to hide under when under attack.  (It's our little secret; don't give him any ideas about fiery darts.)


 
Revolutionary War soldier
 

Satan gives us fear and doubts to make us vulnerable without the shield of faith.  Even "casual familiarity" is an enemy for those who have known Christ the longest, those who have become luke-warm instead of mature.  No wonder God sends a little test once in awhile to make sure we are battle ready with our armor.  If under attack, I might have to crawl under Hank's four feet's worth of plywood, to find the safety of the faith of a little child.

Friday, April 25, 2014

 
 
 
 
 
 
I love melting grandchildren, the ones who warm you with their touch, their look, and leave you all messy inside worse than a chocolate bunny.  Today I took turns watching different groups of grands like a dance with a tapping on the shoulder and a sudden changing of partners.  Some are leaner-into-ers needing to touch you before going out to brave their own world, others are brief hand graspers and wanting you to be present beside them at the dentist, some want to know that you are listening, some are like baby birds with a mouth open expecting always to be fed at Grandma's, still others are the climb-on-the-lappers and melt against your chest not wanting to leave you-ers, while still another demands your full attention by growling like the big, bad wolf you just read to him wanting you to pretend to be afraid.  Afraid of a grandchild?   No, afraid not to cherish these brief blinks in time.  Then I melted on my pillow and had a three hour nap!
 

 

 

 


 
 
 
 
"For the Lord is good;
His lovingkindness is everlasting
And His faithfulness to all generations."
Psalm 100:5

Thursday, April 24, 2014

 
Thinking again over last week,
 
 
and watching this movie after reading the book...
 
remembering

 Easter week is a holy celebration of victory over death,
yet thinking of the sobbing young woman with a shaved head in the hall
afterwards deeply moved by what the movie's message was,
we can never let go of that hope.
But at the same time,
we have treated the whole affair
in peculiar ways at times.
 
 
 

Isn't it strange how we deal with death.  Do we splurge on caskets that are big ticket items or settle for an urn and ashes?  Did you know that our grandparents were probably buried facing the east so they wouldn't have to turn around "in that great getting up morning"?  Heaven help us if we miss it because we were facing in the wrong direction.


Have you held a funeral yourself to bury a goldfish in a toilet or a turtle in a box, or even a memorial cross over another beloved pet?  Have you joined with God knowing when a sparrow falls and given it significance by a decent burial?  These are the trial run-throughs for children to learn to face loss.

 

Death drives some of the most innocent to commit crimes in the name of the dearly beloved by choosing to bury them in unauthorized places or scattering them without permission to the wind.  I've asked my family to plot just such a law-breaking event for my demise, scattering-not back yard burying.

 
In our  first pastorate, the church and parsonage were right next to the town's cemetery.  It didn't bother us except for those times when we would come out laughing with friends over for a bbq and find that there was a funeral going on four feet from our chain-link fence.  Awkward.


Visiting family graves in the church yard of Christ Church in Alexandria, Virginia, the grass and grounds were swallowing up some headstones, and most had been weathered beyond recognition, while many were covered over by new buildings.  They weren't considered sacred enough as native American burial grounds are to leave unmolested.  That's really all right by me as they aren't there, and have different priorities in heaven than to be disturbed when a church fellowship hall is covering their graves.  I have to take their pamphlets word for it that my relatives, dead men's bones, are where X marks the spot.


Still, I want to be facing the right direction in life without worrying about death.  "This train is bound for glory..."  and "I got my ticket to ride."  When I'm dead and gone, "it don't matter to me..." what you do with my shell.  The goober is gone!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

 

 

 
Meditating on the Lord's prayer is consuming my devotional life.  As I was praying it this morning, I realized Jesus taught us to pray, "Our Father," not "My Father," not even "Father."  We are part of a body of believers.  Jesus could have been a little possessive of His Father, but He wasn't.  He included us by teaching His disciples how to pray knowing the price tag: His hour was coming to make "Our" possible. 
 


The "Our" of the body of Christ through the centuries has also paid a price.  They were dragged from their homes by Saul before he became Paul, imprisoned, tortured, torn apart by lions for entertainment, used as human torches for Nero's pleasure, burned at the stake, beheaded, shackled, dispersed without home or livelihood, rejected, hated, rounded up like cattle with an attempt to annihilate them, driven underground to have church in other countries, threatened with nuclear bombs until all the Jews-even the children-have gas masks all the while we have our comfortable churches with a freedom bought by shed blood of our soldiers.


My "Our" consists of godly people into whose church family I was born: Dundee Hills Church of the Nazarene, my father's church plant during seminary; his chuch in Lawrence, Kansas; Bresee Avenue Church of the Nazarene in Pasadena, California; a church plant that became El Morro Church of the Nazarene in Morro Bay, California; our church in college, Linda Vista Church of the Nazarene; Overland Park Church of the Nazarene in seminary; Weaverville, California, our first church; Yreka, California; Roseburg, Oregon, our large church experience; Hallwood Church here in our area; then planting New Beginnings Wesleyan here. 


I will skip the ungodly wolves in sheep's clothing who are more plentiful than choir robes hanging in the music closet,  but the "Our" in our lives has been filled with the sweet souls of those who have answered the call of holiness unto the Lord, who have crucified their carnality and lived a life of harmony in the Spirit.  This is the beatific life of those who live the life of the Beatitudes, who go through the fire and are not burned. There are no finer creatures upon the face of the earth, fellowship even beyond the bonds of membership or denomination, even of time or country, nation or race.  The "Our Father" is a gift Jesus left us with as His disciples from the 120 in the upper room who have multiplied to the millions.

 

So what keeps us from the "Our" hour of the Sabbath?  We must have a lot of oxen to get out of the ditch. 
 
Sometimes the only fight we put up to have church
is the fight to stay awake.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

 


Some days are born to leave the doors and windows open to let the fresh air in to do its purging, even if you have to wear a sweater.  It was a throw-back day to my high school years living across the bay from Morro Bay, except there was no salt spray in the damp air this far inland (I was tempted to sniff sea salt for the special effect.)  Nevertheless, it was exquisite to breathe.



My house, my dwelling, my abode, my comfortable sweet place is my home I love.  As I get older, I want to stay home more and more, want to fly quickly back to my nest.  I count my days by the free ones on the calendar when I don't have to go out.  I put off my trips to get groceries because home is nicer than walking the aisles bent over pushing a metal cart like a walker through a flash mob of others bent over metal walkers doing a what's-for-dinner dash.
 

 

The windows are the secret to happiness.  I have walls of windows that are my bliss.  I have discovered I can't live without light.  Though not afraid of darkness, I can't go through a day with blinds closed, curtains drawn.  I even get nervous while visiting where walls are dark and canopies shade the light.   Must. Have. Light...otherwise I suffocate in the dusk of day. 
 

 

I am comfortable knowing what I know of myself that I am strange in a land of other's normalcy of busyness, buslings, and coming to their homes in the dimmer of day.  That's okay.  I don't have to live other's lives, and they don't have to live mine.


Some day, we will be called home to light, to a forever place of rest, where we will all share in the comfort of our dwelling place prepared for us, to new delights we've never imagined, to a true breath of heaven.  Until then, I stir the feathers in my nest, plump them up and let the open windows and spring breeze blow in to refresh my soul.


"'The time of the singing of birds has come,'  the time when nature calls aloud to us and bids us awaken out of the deadness of personal grief, and rejoice in the new manifestation of His beauty that God is making to the world. 'Behold, I am alive for evermore, and the dead live to Me.'  Was not this the secret saying which the new verdure was writing all over the hills, and which the young pattering leaves and singing birds were repeating in music?  It must be well to have ears to hear and a heart that could respond with a little flutter of returning joy and thankfulness."  Annie Keary


"I part the out thrusting branches and come in beneath the blessed and the blessing trees.  Though I am silent there is singing around me.  Though I am dark there is vision around me.  Though I am heavy there is flight around me."  Wendell Berry


"Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations.  I cannot reach them: but I can look up and see their beauty; believe in them, and try to follow where they lead..." Louisa May Alcott


"While you have the light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light."
John 12:36
 

Monday, April 21, 2014

 
I have been stuck.  Not quite as jaw dropping as the women at the tomb when the angel said, "He is not here.  He is risen."  Yet, sometimes I think as Christians we get stuck on, "He is not here."  We stand in front of the fact of an empty tomb disbelieving.  Did somebody steal God?  Is it illegal for angels to be grave robbers?  Sometimes we want to control Him and put him back where we left Him, so we can come visit Him when we want to.  Yet, "He is not here."  Where did He go?  How did God get out?  Is God out there walking around in the world without us knowing it, controlling it?  Is God up to something bigger than our mummy wrapping, spice holding, bringing flowers to the grave?  What is God doing in the world?  Will I see Him?  I guess I'd better go through my day wondering if God will show up.  I'd better look out for Him, maybe expect Him to interrupt my day, my plans and just maybe life will be different because He got out of the tomb.