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Reclaiming a lost month

One germ. One lousy germ grew into a landfill of rot in my head, lungs, throat, continuing throughout and out. I’ve missed a month of Sundays. During all this time, I sacrificed church fellowship in the name of germs. You who went can thank me later.

Really, though, our church’s sound people have a good system. They don’t need my constant coughing as a percussion section. And, the constant coughing has been the source of the continued germ growth. No more details since this isn’t my  point at all.

Of course during the ordeal, I’ve had to go to work and share the joy through hand to hand contact, sneezing and yakkin’ up.  There just wasn’t enough benefit time to cover the whole thing. So, as I’ve always done, I do just what I have to while sick, whether it’s Mom guilting me to church and school, tend a crying baby, or show up for a job, I did it. Do it. Whatever.

I have teaching CDs in the car I listen to over and over. I had listened to one of them regarding un-forgiveness several times but the message clicked only during yet one more day and one more 46 mile round trip of Driving with Crud.

Unforgiveness and your reaction of anger, offense and self pity is stress. During its course until you decide to forgive, to bury the whole hatchet too deep to grab it again, your immune system is canceled. Not down. Canceled. You are susceptible to whatever is being passed around. Stress changes the blood and its ability to protect you.

Tough stuff.

We’re talking about Christians, the only group that preaches love and eats their own. “And many will be offended.” And when they are, they justify it, harbor grudges, swap congregations and start all over in another one.

One small revelation: If you are oh, so holy or think you are, you may feel superiority over another “lesser” one. You don’t hate, you’re not angry, you’re just a Pharisee.  Ignoring another based on your own self importance, your higher level — translation “I just don’t relate” — is not forgiving that person(s) for being less.  Be very careful of your motives in fellowship, worship, and communion.

This morning I stayed home from church one more time.

I watched John Hagee who spelled out Seven Types of People God Can’t Save. Conclusion: Some people insist on rejecting God. Even self-proclaimed Christians, and the ones who grow cold and turn away are among the listed. “Are you really saved?” Well, maybe once upon a time and then you told Jesus to take a hike or strayed so far away you don’t feel like coming back. I don’t think He saves you in spite of your insistence of resistance.

Then I watched Jimmy Evans who taught on the spirit of rejection and how we  overcome only with God’s healing love. Sounds simple, but how many curl up in their hurt and reject everybody so they won’t be hurt again? That’s exactly where Satan wants all Christians — not associating, not witnessing, not trying.

Third, a preacher I hadn’t heard of was in the background while I was babysitting the fireplace, begging it to please please burn. His message was Get Over It. The man gets straight to the point.

I wonder. Germs are germs. But just in case the preacher with over 40,000 hours of study knows more than my instincts, I prayed about the unforgiveness I might be harboring, who I wasn’t forgiving, and what to do with it. It was a short answer. Forgiving is not an option, it’s a command or else. I don’t want to know what “else” is.  Just do it and follow up with not talking about it, not digging it up, and showing only love.

I had let my shields down. I had nursed and fed my hurt feelings the entire month before. Now I’ve been sick a month. A connection? Could be.

Starting all over now and really enjoying the music video, picking out the next one to keep the house full of praise ‘n’ worship, stadium style.

I’ve had time to think and still have time for another nap.

But, God!

I slept to 9am, bricked in front of Facebook, listened to more of the teaching from Hixon, TN on DVD, and washed a boatload of dishes the dishwasher failed to do.

But the most interesting part of today was a science experiment I conducted to clarify in my mind something I wanted to share here.  Nothing earth shaking, nothing new.  I wanted to see just how fast the drop of soap, in this case Dawn dish liquid, dispersed a slick of vegetable oil.  One drop sent 3T of oil scooting 360 degrees at lightning speed.  I was intending to use this as an illustration of what happens when certain people walk in a room or what happens when certain conversation topics rise in a group setting.  It took a different turn.

As I played with the oil and water and watched how it reacted both on its own and with my interference, I saw other illustrations.  There are many allegorical directions to go, but the one that most impressed me was a comparison to the body of Christ at the end of this church age.  Scripturally, oil is almost always a picture of the Holy Spirit, but not here.

I slowly drizzled 3T vegetable oil 10-14 inches above the surface of the water in a medium sized mixing bowl, creating multiple glistening balls dancing and swimming in the purity of clean water.  In seconds the oil reached the surface and merged into one 3 inch diameter circle.  My fingertip could chase it, break it into many parts, and almost convince it to blend with the water, but when I removed my finger, it gradually merged its multiple orbs into a single unit within minutes.

One drop of Dawn sent it flying, stopped only by the bowl itself.  The soap sank to the bottom, gradually dissolving but remaining a blue blur.  Gradually the oil slid its way back to the center to close any opening, to take total control of the surface, the blue soap no longer an interference. But the quality of the water was compromised by the soap.  There was a gap the oil couldn’t conquer.  I gently drizzled more oil into it. Three circles floated to the edge of the mother ship, touched but couldn’t merge.  Neither would they become one with each other but remained independent, apparently a film from the tiny drop of soap keeping them apart.  This alone could illustrate how denominations are similar but separate, unable to become one. Wheat and tares? But that’s not the picture I ended with.

Oil and water moves pretty slow, it’s monochromatic and I’m not, so I set the project aside while I continued rewashing the dishes.  Hmm, what would happen if I dropped in more soap? Nothing.  You’re kidding me.  The first drop broke up the whole party single-handedly but subsequent drops, single or in rapid fire merely plunged through and bolted for the bottom leaving only a cloudy ring marking their impotence.  Weird.

I fixed some crackers and cheese, checked Facebook again, resumed the dish washing process, then checked the oil vs. water to see that the oil had clouded, consumed the former independents, and left an opening the size of a child’s thumb within which were several very tiny oil bubbles.  I wiped the counters, but when I came to the bowl to empty it out, I saw that the oil was compromised again, mottled with what looked like dirt, and had succeeded in totally covering the surface, its original goal.

I picked up the bowl to empty it when I thought I’d interfere one last time.  I did what I do best — stir things up.  Although the blue liquid soap had appeared to fade to nothing, it had instead permeated the water under the oil.  I wonder if I would let it sit overnight, the oil and water would have merged into a single substance, bad water or bad oil, neither of them useful.  So I swished the whole thing into a frenzy of suds.  The water was a cloudy blue, the suds fluffy, the oil apparently absorbed.

I swished, wiped, dumped and rinsed in scalding clear water until the sides of the bowl squeaked clean.

I saw the bowl as the bride of Christ, the clean water her pure faith, faith that remained pure through persecution.  Along came Constantine who declared Christianity legal and commanded the persecution cease.  The oil was the healing salve that appeared to be productive but soon covers her in complacency.  The soap represents compromise that clouds her thinking and threatens to ruin her image and effectiveness.

But, God.  Do you love it?  But, God steps in.  He stirs, He shakes, He turns and  transforms her weaknesses to strength, scrubs and rinses her in hot water creating a squeaky clean, pure and spotless bride who will meet her Groom in the air and rule with Him forever.

The times are frightening.  Terror, food shortages, debt, and more can and may create a perfect storm.  If it’s prophecy, in Perry Stone’s words, there’s nothing you can do to stop it.  Whether this storm is prophecy or a temporary bump, remember that phrase — But, God….!

What’s your passion–interest–hobby–ministry?

Do it! Go for it! Love it! Perform with excellence! (I sure hope it doesn’t involve sin e.g. pornography. Yes, Virginia, even looking is participating. It is sin)

Jesus told us to occupy until He comes again.  But He needs you to know He wants to use your passions, interests, etc.  If your ministry is outreach, may your heart remain on fire.  If your heart leads you to study in the Word to uplift and instruct The Body, share with me.  The Body is composed of many members none of whom can perform well in all areas but can be excellent in one or a few — the heart and the liver function differently but both are necessary.

There are many things to do for mankind requiring different levels of character components. “Feed my sheep” but are we to feed them with the same food the same way over and over? Is variety a spice in this case?  For example, in the field of medicine, a researcher whose passion is analysis through a microscope likely makes a lousy pediatrician, an area that requires specific people skills.  However, they depend on each other to paint the portrait of excellent care for the patient.  The same is true in the church. Within the Body, there are those whose function(s) — foreign mission giving, the food line at the homeless shelter, sequestered studying or one that can be the most mis-interpretive of character, The Watchman, warning of Jesus’ return and the signs of His coming — are equally vital to the spread of the gospel.  That last one can really tick people off and produce the most vicious hateful flack of ginormous proportion even from within the Body. “You have no love!!”  Be strong! You may appear to lack the sweeter fruits of the Spirit but God knows your heart and motives.  Stay the course He’s called you to in the face of critics who don’t like to hear they’re in sin who must attack you to justify their actions and those on the inside who believe their ministries are more important or relevant than any and everyone else’s.

In the church body, in the church building, God uses the music program as a carrot to lure the unsaved — emotion is not a bad thing when God is using it.  When the visitors become Be-Backers and want to learn more, God uses the teachers who may or may not be able to carry a tune in the proverbial bucket yet their hearts burn for analysis of The Word to transfer Truth to power in those whose passion is to witness.

You get the picture? God can use you where you are. But, what if what you’re interested in, the thing that is your pastime pleasure, doesn’t appear to have anything to do with faith outreach or church involvement?  God can use that too.  I think of a conversation in the movie City Slickers.  They were sitting around the camp fire.  The men were talking baseball statistics.  The lone female couldn’t understand.  Her conversations were about relationships, what’s working, what’s not.  She asked how baseball stats could be so important that that’s all they talked about.  The response was from a man who had nothing in common with his father. The relationship was pain.  But they both liked baseball.  They had something that allowed conversation, a conduit for communication, their only link to each other.

One of my passions is my genealogy hobby.  If anyone wants to talk to me about it, I have information on the ancestors that is a testimony.  Their stories and circumstances are a testimony of my tree to  me. God can use them still, through me but only if I share.  In today’s world, online networking is hot e.g. Facebook.  You’re reading another form — blogging.  God can use it if your heart  burns for outreach.  It’s a colossal waste of time if it’s purely personal fluff as in “look at me, look what I did today.”  Neither should it be purely political or preaching.  May I suggest that after a weeks’ worth of commentary, your readers have a fair glimpse into your heart.

Matthew 28: 19-20, known as The Great Commission is stated in the KJV as “Go.”  The original language is more correctly translated as “As you go..” or “going.” This was such a relief for me.  The Bible college I went to in Minneapolis was primarily a missions training school.  I honestly felt that because I didn’t hear a voice saying “Go to Africa!!” I was an abysmal failure as a Christian. But when you know not every Christian is suited for foreign missions, and Jesus knew that, you can joyfully pursue what He want you to do where you are and let Him direct your steps, not necessarily trips to faraway continents.

As you go — to work, on the highway (don’t forget God’s a mind reader), in the church lobby, at the grocery store checkout lane, on Facebook, around the family holiday dinner table — make disciples, teaching His commandments according to Matthew 28: 19 and 20 all the way to the end of the age.

You will be persecuted by those to whom the Truth is offensive.  But Jesus chose the foolishness of preaching to draw men to Him. “In this world you will have trouble.” Yeah, no kidding.  Be strong.

Anybody is somebody who is serving in the house of God, working in the body of Christ.

Making a difference

I hope this makes the rounds. I found this on Larry Who’s site on my side bar, who moved it from someone else’s on his.

Many times we think we need a pulpit, or that our talents are too small.  Maybe we struggle that we don’t have time. Or are afraid of rejection.  That’s a biggie with me.  I want to minister at a distance.  Do watch all the way to the 8:48 of this visually charming and moving video.  I hope you at least mist up.

I’ve heard of this man before, can’t remember where.  But now, he’s on my site and I will be referencing on Facebook as well.

Light of the world

The Bible has the patterns, or blueprint, of when Jesus was conceived, when He was born, and perhaps will return, and his sacrifice.  They’re laid out in the feasts given to Moses.

Because I have to get ready for work, I’ll add some detail when I get home, so stay tuned and don’t touch that dial.

In short, He was born in the fall, first day of the one week, 8 day Feast of Tabernacles or Booths, known also as Sukkot.  Being the Lamb of God, He died on Friday, the day before the high holy day of that year’s Passover, Saturday and Sabbath, giving up His spirit (voluntarily) at the precise hour lambs were being slaughtered in the temple — 3pm. That’s why they had to rush him to the tomb before sundown.

The scripture gives us the timing between Elizabeth and Mary.  Counting backward, the Light of the World came to us in Mary’s womb during Chanukah, a festival added only a few years before Jesus’ arrival and is also called The Feast of Lights.

Got it? Light of the world, Feast of Lights?

Therefore, December has great meaning associated with the coming of our savior.  But once again, through good ol’ Constantine’s hatred of the Jews, the date and the perception were manipulated to eliminate the real meaning and circumstance in order to de-Jew Christianity.

He was conceived in December.  He was born in the fall.  Consider also the feast of Trumpets is shortly before Tabernacles.  During Trumpets one of them the Trump of God.

“When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound and time shall be no more, when the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.”

We gentiles don’t have all the answers.  We are the grafted ones, the adopted.  It’s about time we paid attention to our Root.

Giving

Have you noticed that Christmas is the season for giving?  The bell ringers are ringing, the toy drives are driving. Coats for kids, angel trees, cans of food instead of tickets to Christmas plays — it’s the season to give.  It’s a teaching moment for kids to pick out something for a child they don’t know and not something for themselves.

Church choirs go caroling to shut-ins, walk through nursing homes singing Silent Night to Jingle Bells and exiting with “We WHISHSH you a merry Christmas” again teaching the children how to give of themselves to bring joy to the lonely.

I applaud.  I approve.  It is good, very, very good.  But when all your giving is done in one short time frame along with everyone else, it’s slam giving, one month fits all year.  It’s huge supplies at the food bank — hopefully it will last 11 months.  It’s carolers lining up at the entrance of the nursing home — too much of a good thing in a short time frame and nothing for another year.

A couple of decades ago Elaine Dollerschell brought up an interesting concept.  “Why don’t we skip Christmas caroling to the elderly in the nursing homes this Christmas and instead hold a party for them in January or March?  That way we don’t have to make an appointment, competing with all the other churches, and the residents don’t have to wait 11 months to have their spirits lifted.”

Hmmmm.  Elaine, you said a mouth full.  Within a span of 20 minutes today while I was watching a colorized Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwick movie, I witnessed two pleas from Feed the Children featuring 10 or more celebrities in each showing “real children with hopes and dream who are hungry.”  It’s good to have these drives to raise money for charity especially when people are in a mindset to give as in “strike while the iron is hot.” I’d like to see them offer a 12 month payment plan.

The hungry are hungry January through November.  The lonely are alone 11 months between groups of carolers.

I was witness to at least two occasions and many discussions of my dad giving his hard earned cash to panhandlers, of him helping someone off the sidewalk and giving him a couple of bucks for food.  The argument always was “You know he’s just going to buy more booze!”

My answer, as was my dad’s, is “So what?”  Then you just wasted your money!

No, I didn’t.  I gave with pure motives.  Don’t need a thank you, don’t need an I.O.U. note.

Choose your recipients carefully enough to know if the charity that claims to feed children actually feeds children if you can find out.  It’s good to know your giving is helping.  But if there’s no way of knowing for sure, don’t withhold your giving.

It’s your heart that benefits.  It’s your heart that God sees.  Do you give only when you know it’s a worthy cause in your estimation? More to the theme here, do you give only in December?

Is there a shelter or a food bank you can pick up a few extra cans of beans or soup for every time you shop for your family throughout the year?  Is there a ministry you can sign up for to have a certain dollar amount automatically deducted from your checking account every month? You can investigate them for their sincerity or you can pray God sends your $10 or $50 where it needs to go.

No extra bucks? Stand in the serving line of the homeless shelter.  Knit or buy  some hats, gloves, and scarves and pull over to the side of the street where the homeless hang out and give them out.  Where I live there are kids at bus stops in below freezing temperatures wearing shorts, maybe because they’re not too bright, trying to appear sexy or tough, or maybe because they don’t have warm clothes because it’s Tennessee and we don’t have all that much cold weather and it’s not cost effective to buy heavy clothes.

Instead of judging their intelligence, assume their need and meet it.  Keep some hats, gloves, and scarves in the back seat.  Maybe the local elementary school needs a supply of the same for those who lack or those who forgot to bring one and need something to keep them warm on the way home.

There are endless opportunities to give and to teach giving.  December is the top feel good month of the year.  Go for it! Reach out and teach by example.  But…. or should I say “And….”

How about using December to launch a new habit? A new habit that becomes so ingrained you don’t feel the giving surge at Christmas. A habit that inspires you to give regularly, using your imagination, or like I already said, an online automatic donation you don’t even have to think about — or talk about.

I’ve experienced a new facet to the bell ringers.  In the lobby of Shopko was a lady in a portable hospital bed wearing her ear muffs, mittens, and had blankets draped over her.  Hmmm.  Really?  I’ll bet she pulled in extra that day.  I’m not saying she was faking anything or planned on playing the Pity Card.  But it was a first for me, this new twist of the heart string.

Years ago Honey’s dad, Herb, gave a twenty to a scruffy man who walked into the store begging politely for a hand out.  He promised to pay it back.  He was not seen again.  Herb was teased relentlessly for years.  Was Herb an idiot for being taken in, fooled by a con man?  Don’t know.  If the man made a living that way, that’s between him and God.  Those who gave to him gave from their hearts.

Don’t worry if what you give won’t be appreciated or if your gift is tricked out of you or if it’s used unwisely.

God sees all hearts.  Just give.

On the way to the shower

That Joyce Voice (Joyce Meyer) stopped me long enough to write it down–

(not an exact quote because the morning brain has more holes in it than the late night brain)

She said, Whatever effort you make to keep the law before you become a Christian (while you’re trying to act like one) is the extent to which you will be judgmental toward others who can’t keep the law after you become a Christian.

Chew on that for a day or two.