Saturday, May 19, 2012

Suffering pt4

Did Joseph suffer under the hands of his brothers? Some may think that he didn't. I would think that he did have some times of silent suffering. Let's remember that he was a favored son of Jacob. That in itself put a target on his back. Brothers do not like the favored son, especially in that society.  The eldest son was always the one in highest favor. He received the blessing from the patriarch of the family. The estate went to the eldest. Now, Joseph is the favored and on top of that Jacob highlights his position by giving him a garment that sets him apart even further. Now, Joseph, in his youthful ignorance did not help the situation. When he explained his dreams to his brothers, that they would bow down to him. Well, that did not go over very well and set him up for future events.

When Joseph was tossed into the pit and was close to being killed by his brothers do you suppose he had a positive attitude? How would any person feel if they knew their brothers wanted them dead? This is the point where some might disagree. It would seem that any body in that position would have a time of anguish and pain over the thought that they were hated by their own. When he was sold into slavery he had no idea that he would be going to a palace and power. He most certainly would have know of the slave trade and the treatment of a common slave in Egypt. The ideas of enslavement and abuse can be worse than the events themselves.

Joseph finds favor in the house of his master. His life becomes on of relative ease until, the wife of his master conjures up the story that Joseph tried to seduce her. Now, he ends up in prison. It is the royal prison, and he is with two servants of the Pharaoh. After Joseph tells the two men what their dreams meant, one is set free and one is hung. Now, Joseph is prison for two years before the man set free remembers Joseph interpretation of his dream. The Pharaoh sets Joseph free and is so impressed he enlists Joseph to help the people survive an upcoming famine.

It would seem that the hardship, suffering, of Joseph was coming to an end. His wisdom enables the people to survive the famine. During the time of want Joseph comes face to face with his brothers. they have come to Egypt to buy grain. They want to buy the grain that Joseph's wisdom guaranteed would be available. The brothers have no idea that Joseph is alive. Through a series of events Joseph reveals himself to his brothers. I would imagine they would think that their heads are soon to be detached. Joseph has a reunion with his father, Jacob.

The spiritual key is found in the words of Joseph himself. He told his brothers that they meant evil and suffering for him but, God meant the entire season of his-story for good and the survival of a great people. I do not believe that Joseph recognized this act of providence as the events unfolded. The light would come on as Joseph looked back and recognized the fingerprint of God.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Suffering pt.3

Eve gives birth to two sons, Cain and Abel. In the passing of time the two boys grow up and begin working with their hands. One boy works the ground and the other works with animals. They know what each other is up to. Cain brought an offering to God of the fruit of the ground. God must have known that Cain's offering was not meeting his standard. God was not pleased with Cain's offering and it is not because it was the fruit of the ground. Later, God would accept the fruit of the ground as a standard form of offering. God spoke to Cain about the offering and that He was displeased. Abel brought his offering, the firstling of the flock and God had regard and acceptance for it. Cain told Abel about his rejected offering. After this event Cain kills his brother.

What suffering is emerging from this first murder? As I read scripture, up to this point no one has died. Now Adam and Eve have a dead son. His life is over and his body will quickly begin the process of returning to its original state, dust. Adam and Eve would have grieved, their hearts would be heavy with loss. We share human responses just as the first parents responded. The emotional loss and mental anguish that we deal with at the death of a loved one, the suffering, has been since Adam and Eve.

Cain, whether we want to believe it or not, will suffer. His suffering will be similar as his parents, the loss of family. Yet, his suffering will also be in an entire different dimension. He is guilty of murder, the taking of another life. The life of his brother is over at his hand and that fact will be ever present. He may try and disguise, reject, ignore, lie, pass the blame, the truth will be ever present with him. That is a new form of suffering for mankind.

Cain also suffers the pain of rejection. He is cast from his homeland by God and reverts to wandering and toiling a land that will reject his every attempt. Rejection is a from of emotional suffering that would be excruciating and could lead to loneliness and even more rejection. Rejection can be a monster that feeds on itself. The more a person is rejected the more rejectable they might become. Cain is given a mark so no person can take his life. That mark insures rejection. He is a marked man. No one will kill him and end his suffering, he must take his own life if he is to end his punishment. Cain passes into obscurity in scripture, his ending is in rejection.

The next piece will deal with Joseph and his suffering at the hands of his brothers. Also, the suffering of Joseph will be looked at in the light of providence. An entire piece, or two will be devoted to Job. Job suffers under the permissive hand of God, but, at the direct challenge of Satan.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Suffering pt2

As I wrote in the last posting suffering is common, yet it is solitary and at times without comfort. Suffering attacks our senses.  People suffer pain, from the discomfort to the agony. And, that pain can be felt in all of our senses. Some suffering comes as a result of decisions or choices that we make. Some suffering comes to the innocent and the unexpecting. When suffering falls upon the innocent of the world we are filled with questions that are without answers.

I need to reiterate a point. What is, is not what was. I would like to explore suffering as it has to do with people of faith. People who have faith in the love and sovereignty of God as shown to us through His Son, Jesus Christ, ought to have a different view of suffering. I would like to explore suffering from a Christian view beginning with the beginning, Genesis. Perfection in relationships between man and God was the norm as Genesis shows. Adam and God shared perfect fellowship in the created world. Adam was given the responsibility of stewardship over his world. He was to tend the garden paradise and name each creature placed in his world.

Adam was given a partner in Eve. She was created by God using a sacrifice from Adam. his rib. Again, they lived in perfect happiness and harmony with their Creator. As Adam and Eve chose to exercise their free will and break the expressed command of God the consequences were immediate, far reaching, and everlasting. As a result of the fall, a commonly used term, suffering becomes part of the human experience.

As a direct result of Adam's fall two immediate pronouncements are made. Adam is destined to till the earth by the sweat of his brow and the earth will yield with a grudge as Adam will fight thorns and thistles. Adam will be tormented as he remembers what he enjoyed in the garden. He will struggle until his death, which is the second pronouncement. As had enjoyed perfect fellowship his living in paradise was intended to be everlasting. By his disobedience he will return to the dust of the earth.

Eve will share in the pronouncements upon Adam. She will struggle upon the earth and die. Another pronouncement upon Eve is the pain she will suffer with bearing children. So, physical pain enters the life of Eve. Physical and mental suffering will be Adams as he tills the stubborn earth and remembers how things were in paradise.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Suffering

I need to begin by stating very clearly that this subject is beyond the scope of any honest person who uses words to help the living. I almost told a good friend that I didn't want to attempt this article. I know he has suffered greatly, in physical pain, and I would surmise emotional and mental pain. I know very little of suffering as I think of friends and brothers and sisters who share my faith. I will not quote or use other writers to validate my points or ideas. What I will write is based on my own experience with suffering and coming alongside those who have suffered and allowed me into their world.

Suffering, What is it? Suffering is an attack on the senses of the person. I use the word, attack, to describe the ferocity of intent. Suffering comes in the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual dimensions of living. It can affect all four areas of our life, or just one or two. Many people who suffer fight in more than one dimension. My suffering seemed to encompass every area of living. One of the most severe wounds of the one who suffers is in the sense of, aloneness. Even surrounded I am alone. Alone in the pain. Even with the people that love me the most, my pain is mine. The darkness is mine. The questioning is mine. The silence of unanswered prayers is mine. Every aspect of the suffering belongs to the one who suffers.  Suffering is common to man yet it is distinctly individual. My suffering is never to be compared to the suffering of others, in the aspect that mine is worse than yours. Yes, there will always be people who suffer much worse than I. I have already stated how little I know of the subject.

Some suffering despises logic and understanding. Reasoning and logic will never answer why suffering abounds. Why do innocents suffer from hunger and disease. Who do millions starve and die? The answers of greed and corruption have been used for centuries. We know we have the resources to feed the hungry of the world. When we lived in Zambia I drove past a government depot that had thousands upon thousands of pounds of corn rotting in the sun. A person will go nuts trying to figure out why this happens. Couldn't God bring all of this madness to an end? Is there anything He cannot do? With an Old Testament wave of His arm He could strike down every corrupt leader and overturn every evil domain. Yet, He does not.

Suffering, Never Intended to be-Suffering was never intended to be part of the human experience.  It is now, not as it was. The created world was to be an icon of the Creator, perfect in every way. The first man and woman were created and set in their paradise to have communion and fellowship in perfect harmony and peace with God. With the created order came the will of mankind and the angelic world. The scriptures teach of chaos is the cosmos. The spiritual rebellion that sent self seeking spiritual beings to their downfall and Lucifer to his eventual demise. The will that was given to mankind would lead to his own downfall and suffering. God said that He would make mankind in His own image. The ability to choose right and wrong, love and hate, is the greatest gift and biggest curse. When mankind chose self-satisfaction and selfishness suffering was the unknown and unseen invader in life.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Peace, Sweet Peace

Peace, sweet peace, flood o'er my soul,
My being, breathing,thinking, out of control.

Peace, sweet peace, come fill my mind,
I look, I search, I cry, still not to find.

Peace, sweet peace, capture my spirit,
Distractions, Illusions, fleeting and empty, never fill it.

Peace, sweet peace, Yes, Yes, in Him I find,
Arms open wide, His love is forever kind.

Peace, sweet peace, abiding in love I stay,
Holding, clutching, yearning is how I pray.

Peace, sweet peace, twill be eternal bliss,
In Jesus, my Lord, my God, never to miss.


A short thought on peace. Sunday morning service during piano prelude.


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Scars on the Street

Did people notice the scars on His feet,
As He walked with them on the cold stone street?

As He raised His hands up high
Did scars on His hands catch an eye?

Did His brow show signs of thorn,
A cruel crown this King had borne?

For now, He is cloaked in Light,
He did cry, It is over, I've won the fight.

The scars on His feet and hand,
Visible for all across the land.

Transformed from signs of hate,
Scars will embrace as we pass His gate.

The hatred of men, shown one day,
In His kingdom banished, forever away.
tg 4/12/12


Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter Morning

Easter morning full of glory,
Now, unveiled mystery of His story.

Cold, cruel men lied, lifting him high,
Two days earlier watching him die.

His body broken, his blood shed,
Lance pierced side, sure he's dead.

Taken down by silent friends,
In their sorrow sure his story ends.

Laid out in a cold stone tomb,
The Father's plan tis a resurrection womb.

On the first new day of the week,
A servant comes, hears a gardener speak.

Please sir, where have you taken my Lord,
He is my life, my teacher, my Master adored.

Jesus speaks her name, her longing heart does leap,
She clutches his feet, longing her Lord to keep.

She leaves and empty tomb that day,
Ever after, telling all that He is the Way.
t/g/ 4/8/12


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Come Close

On a distant stone hill I can see,
The hatred of mankind hanging on a tree.
Won't you please come close to His cross,
The scene, His life, His touch, seem as dross.

I will cherish the old rugged cross,

The wood, the iron, the wine, blood,
Attack my soul, my sight, like a flood.
I want to run away and flee,
For in His visage, it ought to be me.

I will cling to the old rugged cross,

I know, I cry, He hangs in my place,
He is clothed in naught but disgrace.
His head, O bloodied head, bowed low,
From wounds, brokenness, life does flow.

I will cherish the old rugged cross,

His eyes, gentle, loving, upon me gaze,
My heartache, tears, cause my vision to haze.
The death post, again I come near,
For my need, now I see clear.

I will cling to the old rugged cross,

My soul by hands, do grip His feet,
Soul rejoice! For salvation so sweet.
The post, the beam, that raised Him high,
Can, will, transport all beyond the sky.

G. Benard- I will cling- I will cherish
tg cpy 4-5-2012




Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Longing for Love

Long did I clutch the bottle, the pill,
Longing, yearning, the empty hole to fill.
Such longing in my heart,
Their lie, a mask playing a part.

I cried, I tried, to abandon their lies,
their hold on me, a noose tied.
Free, free, why can't I be,
Of this hook set deep in me.

Deep darkness, despair, all I see,
Chained down, I want, can't flee.
Death, peaceful death, please cover me,
Earthen grave, my only plea.

Stretched out, damp, cold night,
Pain,  punsihment, I sense is right.
In despair, my head hangs low,
Eyes, tears, capturing a glow.

Hands reach to hold my chains,
Scars, history of cruelty, pain.
Love , compassion, shine from His face,
Shackles, links, shattering-falling, in our embrace.
copyright tg 2-21-2011

Monday, April 2, 2012

Palms and Pain

Palms waved, a King to see,
Multitudes eager to bend their knee.

Joyous, expectant, loud their cry,
Christ, meek, mild, on a foal passes by.

Cloaks and palms they lay on the ground,
In a week, not a friend to be found.

He didn't arrive, earthly king to be,
Spurned, they would hang Him on a tree.

His kingdom, not visible to their eye,
Veiled and hidden, till after He would die.

Innocent, Pure, His life He laid aside,
In dying, bringing multitudes to abide.

Lifeless body laid in a borrowed tomb,
Mankind's monument to despair and gloom.

On the third day a woman came to see,
To prepare her Lord's body, broken on that tree.

Vacant, empty tomb is what she did find,
Questions, despair on her mind.

Turning around, she finds her Lord,
Wanting to clutch Him, her Jesus adored.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

A Purposed Death

A seed falls, earth embraces death.
Time passes, earth awakens,
Seed lives, breaks free of earthly mass
Sun, rain, time, generations pass.
Branch, leaf, reach sunward,
Root goes deep, strength to keep.

The axe falls, death comes,
The knife shapes, post becomes.
Sinners hang, blood flows,
God comes, Word grows.
Tide turns, world spurns.

Sinless Word suspended,
Heavens gaze is ended.
Great I AM is blind,
His Logos unable to find.

Purity runs down,
Puddles on the ground.
Scar of axe, knife,
Bring end of strife.

Post with open pore,
Absorbs sin so sore.
Post, thought dead, now lives,
Upward, Sonward, life to give.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Lifted Up

Feet near the earth, crowned brow to the skies,
God's arms outstretched, mankind's savior dies.
On the death post, beam,
His precious life blood, does gleam.
Three iron spikes hold in place,
spotless Lamb, now dirty, sacrificial face.
Voice whispering, cracking, groaning,
outpoured life, sinners atoning.
Parched throat, dry lips, mercy please,
Cheap wine on hyssop, Creator they tease.
Deep into heaven does He gaze,
Searching, praying Father, nothing but haze.
Redemption provided, His only cry,
Wounded, bruised head, He bows, He dies.
Cold, hard men, granite like face death,
Watch, remark, Christ of God gasps last breath.
Now, their hearts hard as stone,
Strangely moved, their sin atoned.
For, they have watched countless die,
Limp, lifeless bodies, suspended high.
Men, now close to post, beam,
Ugly truth transformed to beauties gleam.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Comfort Can Kill

All of us like to be comfortable. There is nothing like sinking in to a comfortable chair after a long day. I have to keep my feet up a certain number of hours each day, not that I always do. Some days it is easy to sit with my feet on the footstool. How many of us love to snuggle under the comforter, up to our neck, with the window ushering in the cool night air? Comfort is all around us, even the chair I'm sitting in right now is comfortable. What about our cars? We can drive in perfectly controlled temperatures, in our seat that remembers our weight and position,Ouch. We can talk on the phone and keep our hands on the steering wheel, all while a little box tells us where to turn. Talk about ease and comfort.

What about being comfortable as a follower of Jesus Christ? Is there any room in the discipleship journey for comfort? I guess I would say, yes and no. Yes, there is comfort in Jesus. He gives the purest and most complete peace and comfort available. When our life is hid with Christ in God no power or evil can take that away. Oh, we may misplace it, that is our doing, not His. The peace that fills the heart of the follower of Christ is a peace that the world does not understand. Yes, there is peace and comfort in knowing Christ. Hebrews tells us there is a rest for the Children of God.

No, there is no comfort in being a follower of Jesus. No comfort in that I can sit back and tell people and myself that my work is done. There is no retirement in following Christ. The Discipleship Union does not have a thirty and out option. We are placed upon the earth to do the work of God, with the Power of God, until we meet God. Our circumstances have little to do with serving and living for God. I know a man who suffered a serious stroke who still served God in every way possible.

So, what are we, you, waiting for? I have talked about the need for Transformational Love and the spiritual blocks to that love. Blocks such as fear, prejudice, pride, money, envy, social pressures, all can keep us from loving in a powerful way, the way Jesus loved. Ask God to forgive the sins of the spirit, ask Him to fill your heart with His all consuming transforming love. Begin to live in the answer to prayer. Look at people through different eyes. look at people the way God does. Don't see people that you like and people that you do not like. Look at people as living souls who face life just like you do, except they do not have the Christ in their life like you do.

What would it take for you to really come out of your own security and comfort zone? Would you visit with a dying patient in a care home? How about becoming friends with a homeless man, the old man who walks down the street collecting bottles and cans so he can buy a pack of smokes. The unlovable are all around us. Some of them are so beaten down they will never look you in the eyes. You will need to address them, put your arm around them, shake their hand. Speak to them like a person with dignity and respect.

Go for it. Try it, you might be the person to change a life.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Count the Cost and then Forget It

There is a cost involved in being a disciple of Jesus Christ. Jesus told us that we must count the cost of following Him. He knew that once we took His namesake many things would change. Many people have dealt with tremendous stress and persecution following Christ. I have known children who have been considered as dead by parents because their child wanted to live as a Christian. Young people face persecution from peers because they are, "Jesus Freaks". Some words from Jesus seem stern in regards to following Him. He told His followers that if they began to plow a field and stopped in the middle they weren't fit for discipleship. He told them that they should let the dead bury their dead and they should turn and follow Him. Pretty tough words coming from a gentle man. He knew what it would take to follow Him, in actions, not just words.

Once you and I count the cost, and make the commitment, to follow after, and model the life of Jesus Christ, we must forget about the cost. In the life of God-centered living this is not a contradiction. In fact it is the perfectly normal response. When the life of God through Jesus Christ is being lived out through me the cost doesn't really come into question. How much am I willing spend in energy, tears, prayer, caring, time, money to impact the world around me for the Kingdom of God. If it is really God's life in me, there is no maximum cost. One of my favorite hymns, by General Albert Orsborn, states, "My life must be Christ's broken bread, my love His outpoured wine. A cup ore filled, a table spread, beneath His name and sign. That other souls, refreshed and fed may share His life through mine."

History records a few followers of Christ who were shining examples of Transformational Loving, not counting the cost. Two deserve mention simply because we recognize their names so easily, Saint Francis and Mother Theresa. It is easy to recognize that they did not count the cost of displaying Transformational Love. Their entire lives are remembered as, Out Poured Wine and Broken Bread.

Today, when followers of Christ love in a way that is transformational, they do not consider the color of skin, the length of time a person in need has been without a bath, how the single pregnant girl found herself in need. Social status and pride nauseate God, especially from people who claim to be followers of His Son. Those who follow the Master recognize themselves in every person in need. In the quietness of their heart they confess their own need and unworthiness. Charles Sheldon's book, In His Steps, is a classic in respect to those who begin to take following Christ in transformational ways. Men and women begin asking hard questions in regards to their business dealings, social standing and prejudices. The very popular, WWJD, is taken directly from Sheldon's work.

Transformational Love can change the world. But it must begin with me.

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Only Source of Love that Transforms

After we have been brave enough to admit and confront the spiritual hindrances that keep us from displaying transformational love, we must look to the source of that love. As the issues that impede us are spiritual they must be dealt with in the spiritual realm. Confession and repentance are not welcome nor are they common practices in the life of many churches today. But, they are serious matters that must be dealt with in the manner God sets forth. The writer of Chronicles states it pretty plainly, "If my people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." So then, it is plain that God wants to heal His people and His land, transform society.

Repenting and seeking forgiveness is the soul cleansing priority of each follower of Christ. As we draw close to Him, He will always draw close to us. When Moses came down from the mountain after meeting with God he was transformed and glowing. People know when a follower of Christ is spending time with his God, it is evident, it shows in their actions, words, and essence. Communion with God magnetizes the one communing, drawing people, as the Holy Spirit has been leading the one in need.

Open yourself to the transforming movement of God, draw close to Him in prayer, confession, praise and begging Him to use you as a source of transforming love. Do not fret about how God will do it, or what might happen, He will empower you to shine and He will bring people across your path that are hungry and thirsty for the real experience with God through Jesus Christ. An old chorus comes to mind, the author escapes me. "Swing wide the door of your heart to the King of Kings, bid Him enter for wonderful peace He brings. He will shelter you under His outstretched wings. Swing wide the door of your heart to the King of Kings."

Jesus told us that we would be the light of the world, a city set on a hill. It will not be our dogma, doctrine, creeds, hymns, nor our knowledge of God that will transform people. It always has been and will continue to be, followers of Christ who have a personal experience with Transforming Love.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Transforming Love

Jesus told us that the world would know we are His followers by the way we treated each other and our neighbors. His message was different than any other before him. He knew that people would have to see the difference in the lives of those who said they followed him. Talk is cheap and the religious people of his day did a lot of talking about being righteous. Their talk did not fool anybody. The common people knew the religious leaders were corrupt and made themselves rich off the backs of the common. Their hypocrisy made them impotent in any type of modeling the message of God, excepting the separation issue. In the O.T God seemed distant and judgemental. Generations could pass without a fresh voice and message from, The Great I Am. The religious leaders were distant and out of touch.

Jesus demonstrated the character of His Father. The way He interacted with society was transformational. He willingly placed his hand on the leper, becoming unclean himself. He knew the life of the leper was more important than misunderstood and misused commandments. The demonstration of divine love divided the onlookers. Jesus seemed to do that. Another occasion of note was when Jesus defended the woman caught in adultery. The question was not her guilt. The point was the self righteous attitude and actions of the men who were ready to stone her. His words cut to the heart of the men with stones in their hands. Beginning with the most aged and experienced, they dropped their weapons. I wondered at times if some of the men wanted her dead because she knew them. Alone with the woman Jesus, didn't let her get off free. In a conversation between sinner and savior, He told her to go her way and, sin no more.

Love that transforms the recipient is in desperate need today. There are millions more people in the world today who need to be touched by love than even in the days of Jesus. Now, most of us, myself and readers, really believe we love people the way Christ desired. Many of do indeed love in that degree. I want to tell you what I think we need to know and experience to really display transformational love.

Understand and admit what hinders us. There may be many barriers that hinder us from loving in a transformational way. I will name just a few and expand upon them later. Fear can be a powerful barrier to loving people in a way that transforms. Fear cripples the soul and spirit. It can be like a force that freezes the willingness to do. Prejudice is another force that hinders. Prejudice that comes from ignorance is much easier to overcome than prejudice that is taught and then practiced. Active prejudice must be dealt with strong teaching and a receptive heart. Another hindrance is social standing. Some people simply think they are better than other members of the world. Oh, they won't tell you that they are above or better, but anybody can tell. A Christian caught in this trap of selfrighteousness and pride can be the most difficult follower to empower with transformational love. Hypocrisy seldom views itself in a clear mirror.

The next post will continue to explain my view on spiritual hinderences to loving in a transforming way. I will conclude with thoughts on how we can overcome barriers and that non of us are totally innocent.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Is God Fair?

Is God Fair? That is a question that has been asked for hundreds of years. People look around and witness events that seem to cast a bad light on God. Drought and famine kill millions, mostly children and innocents.  Bad, terrible things happen everyday, some to good people. Innocent people suffer, always have, always will. At times it seems that good people suffer and evil people prosper. In this life there might not be fairness.

Why did God strike Miriam with leprosy and not Aaron as well? He was guilty of the same sin as his sister. In the wilderness trek Aaron and Miriam began to complain about Moses. They didn't like his style and complained that why should God only speak through Moses. God was apparently unhappy with the complaining and the leprosy was Miriam's consequence. Some thoughts come to mind about fairness in regards to Moses, Miriam and Aaron.

Moses escaped death; Egyptian midwives were supposed to kill Hebrew boys at birth. The mother of Moses put him into a safe position. He was found along the Nile in a reed basket, by non other than the daughter of Pharaoh. The daughter of Pharaoh requested a Hebrew to nurse the baby and the mother of Moses raised him. At Moses' birth Aaron was three and Miriam was older than both brothers.

Miriam would have first hand knowledge of the care given to Moses and she would certainly know that their God was protecting Moses. Later in the narrative Miriam is referred to as a ,"Prophetess". I believe that her experience with Moses and the Providence that surrounded him raised her accountability to a high level. The narrative also names her before Aaron in regards to the complaining episode. Now comes a twist. When god calls them to account for their sin He names Aaron first. Was that due to ppatriarchal selection, or because of Aaron's position as spokesman and high priest?

The cloud of judgement moves on and Miriam is left judged, evidenced by the physical condition of her skin. We have no idea or indication of a physical judgement upon Aaron. It might be safe to surmise that God dealt with him in the same way He did Moses, over striking the rock twice for water. Moses was not allowed to enter the promise land.

Did Aaron get away with his sin and Miriam was the only one punished? I don't think so. Was God fair in His judgement of Miriam. I don't know, I'm not God. We see in part and know in part. I'm just glad that He is and I'm not.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Shadow Show

Avery and I were in our usual spot early in the morning; I'm sitting in my chair and he is on my lap. Most mornings we are engrossed in either Mickey Mouse or Chuggington. Believe it or not, it is good brain stimulation. With the sun coming up earlier every morning the windows on the east side of the house flood the rooms with morning light. This morning, as we were engrossed with Mickey giving Pluto a bubble bath, the sun  cast a perfect shadow of the small tree just outside the window.

The first sparrow landed on a small branch level where the top sash and bottom sash come together. I could tell he was out there, I am just assuming the he was a he. He jumped down to a lower branch and his shadow was distinct and very detailed. Detailed to the point that Avery and I could tell when he was scratching his head and wings. In a moment a second sparrow joined in and they jumped back and forth for a few moments. Now, the other sparrow might have been a she, spring-like weather is confusing everything.
For a few minutes we watched a combination program of Shadow Show and Mickey Mouse. I preferred the Shadow Show, though I wouldn't tell Avery.

At one point in the sun-lite window program three or four sparrows took turns jumping from branch to branch. The closer to the window they were the more distinct the sun made their features. Their heads were easy to distinguish as those of sparrows. Their size was not distorted by distance from the windows as well.  All in all it was a thought provoking time. Distinction of form and movement, yet behind the cloak and security of shadow.

Security of shadow; knowledge of what but not who. As I watched I saw only shadow-sparrows. Real identity unknown and unknowable. I thought of the shadow that I cast. My shadow, just a dark image of my size and form. The real me is unknown by shadow. The shadow displays no motivation, no intent, no emotion, no passion, only an image of present position brought into distinction be the sun.

We look at life and the human condition as a shadow or through a glass slightly out of focus. We understand and perceive through lenses clouded and out of focus by past experiences, prejudice, ignorance, self-will, well, just a maladjusted and broken character.

If I would be able to look into the heart of a person; like God does, all of the time, not just when I'm sensitive about it, the world would be a different place. The Shadow Show was a pretty good use of my time this morning. Of course having Avery on my lap helped.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Dead Land

I thought the trip to Chavuna-Chinjawa should take about three hours. I was told the road out of Mazabuka would take us very close to the village of Ana's birth. Either I was wrong in my understanding of the word, close, or I made a wrong turn. It is kind of hard to take a wrong turn when there are no other roads to take. Well anyway, the road eneded at a large outcropping of stone with bolders the size of large balls. There would be no more driving from this point. As Donna and I sat in the truck pondering our situation we saw a young man walking towards us from across a field.

He greeted us with the usual Tonga smile and friendly spirit. He asked us if we needed any help. I wonder what he thought as he saw the two of us sitting in my truck, not going anywhere. We told him we were on our way to Chavuna-Chinjawa, where Ana was born. He told us that he knew of the village and would be happy to show us the way. It didn't take long for us to get our things together; water for formula and some for us, a clean diaper, made from a towell, and Donna's chitangi. Soon Donna had Ana on her in the chitangi and we where on our way to the village of Ana's birth.

The walk looked like it would take us over gently rolling hills and dried out grassland. Actually the rolling hills were quite larger and the walk was going to be long. After walking for about an hour I asked our friend to take a short break, under the guise of Ana needing something. While we sat for a minute I asked our friend why he was always looking in the trees and scrub bushes. His answer was short and to the point; nasty snakes liked the trees and brush. I kinda wished I didn't ask.

We started out again and our friend told us we should be to the village in about an hour. The walk from that point was a little more anxious for me. What would the village be like? What would the family be like? We knew there were other children. Dominick, Ana's birth father, told us he had several children. His remarks about wanting Ana back after she was healthy and a year old, still haunted me. We had a lot of people praying for us and Ana. Donna had asked her mom and friends to have prayer for Ana and her future. I was sure many people across Michigan were praying for her young life.

We approached the village and the children started running towards us. Their pointing at us and running around was a bit of a surprise. As we walked into the village the adults gathered arounf and we began the greetings and introductions. The extended family, from the eldest gramma to the youngest child stood in a line. I began greeting, in pretty lousy tonga, the mothers and then the children, Donna followed me, in much better tonga. It probably took more than a minute to greet everybody.

After the greetings we sat down and began to talk with the adults. Thay all remarked at how beautiful the baby was and how much care she was getting from Donna and Hilary. As I sat and listened I was shocked by the surroundings. The land around the village was barren, grassless and dry. The small bit of corn that was planted was dead, evidence of the drought that burnt the land and cast hundreds into their village graves. Two little children, I would learn they were Ana's half brother and sister, were ill. Her half brother was almost totally blind, due to meseals. Her half sister was malnoourished and had lost her hair.

How could Donna and I live with ourselves knowing the conditions these people lived in? How could we survive the pain if she had to come back to the village and face the peril?

This was the first of our visits to the land of Ana's birth.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Unwanted Visitor

Paraphrased Excerpt from my book, A Mother's Heart Moved the Hand of God.

We finally arrived at our new home and four exhausted bodies walked through the front door. Needing sleep but feeling excited about being in our new home, we looked around. The two girls looked around the living room and went down the hall to the bedrooms. Hilary made some comments about the red cement floor, and why did the windows have bars over them. Donna and I went through the dining room and into the kitchen. The rooms seemed large and the house smelled of fresh paint.

We stepped into the kitchen and I thought Donna was going to blast off into space. On the door of one of the kitchen cabinets was a spider about as big as a baseball. You know the kind I'm talking about; the big hairy kind, like on the sci-fi or National Geographic channels. Well, I went for the first thing that looked like a weapon, a fly swatter, he, I think it was a he, I don't really know, was almost as big as my weapon. Not only was he big, he was really fast. In a micro-second he was down the door front and through a small gap in the kick board. Man, I'm glad he didn't run at us. I don't know who would have gotten out of the kitchen first. I hate big hairy spiders.

Unexpected and unwanted visitors come our way all too often. Our expectations spell out to our mind how things should happen. We should have walked into our kitchen, looked around at the cabinets and big windows, peered outside from the back door and moved to the other rooms in our house. Expectations are always subject to the unknown or unexpected. You go to the doctor expecting bad news and he tells you things are fine and you will live. Or, you go to the doctor and he/she uses the dreaded C word. Your mind reels and a knot forms in your stomach so fast it takes your breath away.

How do we prepare for the unknown and the unexpected? Should we try and think of every little thing that could happen and build our life around that. Should we hide in our homes or venture out only when we have too? How about this, throw all caution to the wind and live a carefree and reckless life. Neither seems very smart. The Psalmist dealt with this when he said, "Don't lean on your own understanding, but, in every thing you do acknowledge God and He will guide your days." I kind of like that advice. I do not know what is going to happen today or tomorrow. But, I do know the One who knows.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Moving to a Different World

When we were told we would be moving to Zambia the excitement was enormous. The girls had visions of Zebras and Elephants, Palm trees and Banana's by the bunch. Donna and I had other visions, after the initial shock. How do you move a family to a land that has limited electricity and water. One of my biggest responsibilities would be the supply of water and electricity to a mission station that had about 1000 people depending on those utilities. I knew that during the rains the electricity would be very limited and the water would be nasty.

We were told to bring everything we would need for four years of life. Now if Hilary grew like Marily she would sprout, without fertilizer, about six to eight inches. How in the world could we plan for that. I left that in Donna's capable hands. For over six weeks we spent hours shopping and planning. The few appliances and electronic items had to be capable of running on a different electrical voltage. So, in order to bring anything electric from the states we had to plug them into small transformers that changed the voltage.

Donna and I are coffee drinkers, so we brought a couple of cases of our favorite coffee. Boxes of instant noodles, soups, mac&cheese, drinks, all would be going with us. By the end of six weeks our supply of items was a small hill in a garage. The shipping company sent me the specifications for shipping containers that i needed to build. Each container was a five foot cube and I needed five containers. I built the containers and we began to pack them, taking precautions to pack fragile items in between bags of clothes or sleeping bags.

I think we planned pretty well and the day came for the international shippers to gather our precious belongings and send them to us. As well prepared as we thought we were there were situations we did not imagine and beyond our control. Our meager Christmas decorations were stolen as the containers sat at the airport in London. A few minor things also came up missing. Also, once the containers arrived in Zambia and I loaded them on a big truck I had no way to off load them. So, five containers on a flatbed had to be unloaded, still on the truck.

As well as we plan the unplanned for will jump at us. It is true in all of life. We try to be healthy, eat right and take care of ourselves and the doctor uses the cancer word. We plan and save and the medical bills pile up and we are lost and swallowed up in debt. In my case, Donna and I were in the midst of buying a business that would provide a good income and security and then, emergency surgery on my spinal cord that left me disabled. Our plans must be mold-able by the hand of God. He knows tomorrow as clearly as He knows yesterday.

I'm glad my life is in His hands. If it had been up to me I wouldn't be writing this blog or about to have my book published. You see, God had to show me what He really wanted from my life. Not to be in any business but His.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Jesus Doesn't Own a Rolex

A few years ago the thought of Jesus wearing a Rolex was put into song and created quite a stir. The thought I had was, even if Jesus had a Rolex he wouldn't wear it. Why would Jesus flaunt such a symbol. Now I know that Jesus could care less about a Rolex or a Timex. Remember the old Timex commercials? The watch got run over, dropped into a lake, put on the prop of a boat motor, and always came out ticking. Some days I think that keeping time is a cruel way for humans to mark events and experiences. We watch the clock, the traffic light, the microwave, the alarm clock and every other device that dictates our lives.

I think that for the most part, God could care less about all of the ways we try to keep and dictate time. Now tell me, how big of a deal can Big Ben really be when the scripture reveals His thought about the calender? Remember these words in the bible, With the Lord, one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as a day. With a view of time like that, is all of our stressing and fussing about the clock really gonna make a difference?

For ten years Donna and I waited to fulfill our calling to the mission field. Add to that the four years prior, when we first sensed that God wanted us to serve outside of the states. After our ordination we waited and kept our administration informed our our desire. Year after year we were told to be patient and wait. At times we thought that God just wanted us to be available and possibly never go. Ten years seemed like a long time.

The day came when I was holding a letter from Zambia. A trusted friend and leader in our denomination was requesting us to come to Zambia. The Hand of God was involved in the sending of the letter, our arrival in Zambia and the birth of a baby girl.

For me it is hard to understand how God keeps time. His presence transcends every watch and clock and history book.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Light Brings Clarity

I was able to spend about twenty minutes in the woods today. Donna took Knox for a walk in the nature area on the outskirts of town. As she walked her rodent sniffing Terrier I sat in the truck and watched and listened. There were a few tracks left by the deer and rabbits. Sitting in the truck I was able to take in and appreciate all of the differences I saw in form and texture. The area is filled with old growth trees, each one unique in its own way. With dim light I would only be able to tell you that I was parked in the midst of a grove of trees, guessing at what type they might be. In the clear sunlight I could identify each tree by looking at the bark and form of the tree. I was surrounded by Oak, Ash, Beech Nut, Maple and Walnut, some reaching close to a hundred feet into the sky.

Light brings us to true identity. I can reach my true identity as I walk in fellowship with God. It is His illumination that brings clarity to my life and vision. Without that illumination I have mere existence, I live and move and make decisions without clarity of thought or vision.  As I live in the power of illumination I grow and change. I understand my place in the world and in the divine order placed upon it. As I desire to continue walking in His light I can rest assured that I will be given more light and so, more illumination in my life. Ultimately, walking on this earth in His light will lead me to my final light experience, His presence.

Since my few minutes in the woods I have come to look at community in a new light. Community is vital for the church to survive. With growing community will come growing life and the life will multiply. I need to look at members in my faith community with the clarity in which I could distinguish every tree in the grove. Because I have dealt with community life for such a long time it has become to easy for me to look at the trees and see what needs to be pruned away, or what is disfigured. Some trees I'm easily drawn to their beauty or majesty. As a woodworker my eyes are easily drawn to a vision of logs, boards, knots and the absolute beauty of oiled Oak or Beech Wood.

My desire needs to be, that I would understand the beauty in my community and how God has placed us together in relationship to each other and Him. Jesus told us that the world would recognize us as His disciples by the way in which we loved each other. So, I guess for me, I need to look at a few trees in my community a bit differently. There are a couple of trees that seemed to be stuck in the swamp, of their own muck and dirt. If I get close to those trees I'm sure I will see the beauty and their place in my community.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Sorry- I'm in a slump

Sorry- a very over used, almost abused word. But, I am. I guess I have been too consumed with the small details of publishing my book that I have taken the time to listen and ponder. The blog will continue and I will post pretty soon.