A Good Swift Kick

I remember well the times when my parents disciple me for my disobedience.  It was never easy or enjoyable, even when they told me it was for my own good. I also remember how often God has administered His correcting rod.  His”good swift kick” have left a lasting impression. As painful and uncomfortable as those my parents gave me, I endured His with a higher degree of discomfort and unease. And although I complained in both instances, the truth is those “kicks” were necessary for my “own good.”

As today’s meditation from Spurgeon points out, God uses chastening with love to help his us regain their balance in righteousness, so we can shine and operate brightly as one of His own. The warning, though is not to succumb to murmuring or complaining. Take the instruction, learn from it and then share those valuable lessons, we all need with someone else.

“And all the children of Israel murmured.”—Numbers 14:2.

HERE are murmurers amongst Christians now, as there were in the camp of Israel of old. There are those who, when the rod falls, cry out against the afflictive dispensation. They ask, “Why am I thus afflicted? What have I done to be chastened in this manner?” A word with thee, O murmurer! Why shouldst thou murmur against the dispensations of thy heavenly Father? Can He treat thee more hardly than thou deservest? Consider what a rebel thou wast once, but He has pardoned thee! Surely, if He in His wisdom sees fit now to chasten thee, thou shouldst not complain. After all, art thou smitten as hardly as thy sins deserve? Consider the corruption which is in thy breast, and then wilt thou wonder that there needs so much of the rod to fetch it out? Weigh thyself, and discern how much dross is mingled with thy gold; and dost thou think the fire too hot to purge away so much dross as thou hast? Does not that proud rebellious spirit of thine prove that thy heart is not thoroughly sanctified? Are not those murmuring words contrary to the holy submissive nature of God’s children? Is not the correction needed? But if thou wilt murmur against the chastening, take heed, for it will go hard with murmurers. God always chastises His children twice, if they do not bear the first stroke patiently. But know one thing—”He doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men.” All His corrections are sent in love, to purify thee, and to draw thee nearer to Himself. Surely it must help thee to bear the chastening with resignation if thou art able to recognize thy Father’s hand. For “whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons.” “Murmur not as some of them also murmured and were destroyed of the destroyer.”

God discipline

 

 

Teach Us

Oh! Teach us to live well! Teach us to live wisely and well! Come back, God—how long do we have to wait?— and treat your servants with kindness for a change. Surprise us with love at daybreak; then we’ll skip and dance all the day long. Make up for the bad times with some good times; we’ve seen enough evil to last a lifetime. Let your servants see what you’re best at— the ways you rule and bless your children. And let the loveliness of our Lord, our God, rest on us, confirming the work that we do. Oh, yes. Affirm the work that we do!

Psalm 90:12 MSG

My Friend is Gone

My day began with sadness, as a community recalled the life and legacy of Jean Fonville.  A woman of tremendous faith who devoted all she had to her husband, family, church and to her God. Her best friend of 45 years, and Godmother to her daughter said sadly, “My friend is gone.” Her gentle conversation mingled with tears, sorrow and disbelief spoke volumes of a relationship that span not only years, but every connected moment. Moments built on joys, challenges, and the inevitable cycles of life cemented in their love for one another. The statement, which briefly sounded so final, open the door to a moment of realization, as she said one day we will see each other again. Losing a loved one is never easy. Thoughts of past experiences enjoyed gives way to the knowledge that those moments, or others like them, are forever lost. But as her friend said to me with complete confidence, I know I will see her and the next time will be different for both of us.

As I ponder her comments, and those of my dear friend of many years, I wrote in my journal, ” The legacy of lives brought together by a single act or [encounter] forged a bond that is broken [momentarily] by death. The next time Jean and her friend see each other it will be like the ending of the story of the prodigal son, what was lost is now found.  Her dear friend is gone, but oh what a glorious reunion awaits them.  Rest in peace Jean.
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Love Divine

A dear friend of mine will share a message later this month on the boldness of love. When one thinks of boldness, and of love, the two don’t seem to complement one another. Boldness is often depicted as acts, or feats of physical strength and endurance, and possibly sacrifice.  Love comes in flowers, long tender looks, songs, poems, gentle words and touch.  And yet Christ came packed with both and much more.  For it took courage, daring, bravery, and if I can be so bold, guts to come shaped in human flesh to seek and save lost humanity.   It took great love to rearrange, for a period of years divinity into a recognizable gift that some would accept and cherish.  It was boldness and love to confront sin in all its forms and defeat it with power, majesty, dominion, and authority. It was love wrapped in power that enables our Lord to conquer sickness, raise the dead, and demonstrate to humanity how to truly live as God’s greatest creation.
Love Divine, with omnipotent boldness moved us from the wilderness of sin that bleak, desolate place to the region of healing and restoration to love’s throne.  No greater love than this, as scripture says, that a man lays down his life (love) for a friend.  Even in our wildest imagination, it is impossible to fathom how and why this was done, when there is daily evidence of our unworthiness. And yet, love divine came, love divine conquered, and love divine challenges us to love as He loves us.
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The Hand of God

Hand of God Nebula 2014

“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.” 1 Peter 5:5-7 KJV

The hand of God is mighty and full of mercy and compassion. It is the hand that delivered the children of Israel from 400 years of oppression, and demonstrated patience and mercy despite their disobedience and rebellious nature.  God’s hand offers deliverance (2 King 17:38) and justice.  It set us free from the enemy, and makes a place for his children at the banquet table.

The hand of God is filled with love and healing.  God wrapped Jesus in love and sent him to lost humanity, so life could be restored.   Talk with the Jairus’ parents, the Centurion, the blind man, the leper, the cripple, or demon possessed man about his hand.  Mary Magdalene, Lazarus or the widow whose son was raised from the dead know about his hand.

His hand is amazing grace, favor, and provision. Those hands fed thousands, and sustains the universe with precision, purpose and power.

In his hand is strength, joy and a peace that passes all understanding.  It lifts you up out of the miry clay and sets your feet on solid ground.  Just a simple touch can wipe away tears, and give comfort to the weary soul.  The Hand of God removes the stain of sin, restores the broken-hearted and lights the way to everlasting joy.

The Hand of God fights our battles, and shelters us in the midst of the storm.  His hand destroys enemies and raises the banner of righteousness over us.

The Hand of God is love that never, ever fails.

2014

2014 has arrived with all the usual fanfare, a party in New York Times Square, fireworks, parties, parades, and of course football games.  These elaborate demonstrations are over.  Here is the question of the day.  Have you already broken a new year resolution?  Researchers report the first Monday after new year’s is the most depressing day of the year. People are back to work and depressed they had to go back to the job.  Many have already given up on keeping the new year’s resolution to stay fit.  Others are despondent because they didn’t get what they wanted for Christmas, or are sad due to the lost of a loved one.  Whatever the reason the party is over, and now things back to “normal.”    For many normal is not good.

However, we are called to shine a bright light for those who are experiencing dark days and moments.  God sent a million, million lights of love in the world – that would be us.  “God doesn’t call the qualified He qualifies the called.”  We are “the called.”  Share your bright light and the love of God today.  Someone out there needs it.

The Gold and Ivory Tablecloth

The brand new pastor and his wife, newly assigned to their first ministry, to reopen a church in suburban Brooklyn , arrived in early October excited about their opportunities. When they saw their church, it was very run down and needed much work. They set a goal to have everything done in time to have their first service on Christmas Eve.
They worked hard, repairing pews, plastering walls, painting, etc, and on December 18 were ahead of schedule and just about finished. On December 19 a terrible tempest a driving rainstorm – hit the area and lasted for two days. On the 21st, the pastor went over to the church. His heart sank when he saw that the roof had leaked, causing a large area of plaster about 20 feet by 8 feet to fall off the front wall of the sanctuary just behind the pulpit, beginning about head high.  The pastor cleaned up the mess on the floor, and not knowing what else to do but postpone the Christmas Eve service, headed home. On the way he noticed that a local business was having a flea market type sale for charity, so he stopped in. One of the items was a beautiful, handmade, ivory colored, crocheted tablecloth with exquisite work, fine colors and a Cross embroidered right in the center. It was just the right size to cover the hole in the front wall. He bought it and headed back to the church.
By this time it had started to snow. An older woman running from the opposite direction was trying to catch the bus. She missed it. The pastor invited her to wait in the warm church for the next bus 45 minutes later. She sat in a pew and paid no attention to the pastor while he got a ladder, hangers, etc., to put up the tablecloth as a wall tapestry. The pastor could hardly believe how beautiful it looked and it covered up the entire problem area. Then he noticed the woman walking down the center aisle. Her face was like a sheet. “Pastor,”she asked, “where did you get that tablecloth?”  The pastor explained. The woman asked him to check the lower right corner to see if the initials ‘EBG’ were crocheted into it there. They were. These were the initials of the woman, and she had made this tablecloth 35 years before, in Austria . The woman could hardly believe it as the pastor told how he had just gotten “The Tablecloth”. The woman explained that before the war she and her husband were well-to-do people in Austria.  When the Nazis came, she was forced to leave. Her husband was going to follow her the next week. He was captured, sent to prison and she never saw her
husband or her home again. The pastor wanted to give her the tablecloth; but she made the pastor keep it for the church. The pastor insisted on driving her home. That
was the least he could do. She lived on the other side of Staten Island and was only in Brooklyn for the day for a housecleaning job.
What a wonderful service they had on Christmas Eve. The church was almost full. The music and the spirit were great. At the end of the service, the pastor and his wife greeted everyone at the door and many said that they would return. One older man, whom the pastor recognized from the neighborhood, continued to sit in one of the pews and stare, and the pastor wondered why he wasn’t leaving. The man asked him where he got the tablecloth on the front wall because it was identical to one that his wife had made years ago when they lived in Austria before the war and how could there be two tablecloths so much alike? He told the pastor how the Nazis came, how he forced his wife to flee for her safety and he was supposed to follow her, but he was arrested and put in a prison. He never saw his wife or his home again in all the 35 years between. The pastor asked him if he would allow him to take him for a little ride. They drove to Staten Island and to the same house where the pastor had taken the woman three days earlier. He helped the man climb the three flights of stairs to the woman’s apartment, knocked on the door and he saw the greatest Christmas reunion he could ever imagine.
Who says God does work in mysterious ways. His love is always with you. His promises are true, and when we give Him all our cares we know He will see us through.
So when the road you’re traveling seems difficult at best, just remember to say a prayer and God will do the rest.

The Gold and Ivory Tablecloth“; it was written by the Rev. Howard C. Schade, pastor of the First Reformed Church in Nyack, New York; it was published in the December 1954 issue of Reader’s Digest; and it was anthologized in Alice Gray’s Christmas Stories for the Heart in 1998.
Read more at http://www.snopes.com/glurge/tablecloth.asp#zBy8L0sUV3mFcRtI.99.

Morning Meditation

1 John 4: 7-21 NIV

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

 

May your life this day represent the most powerful thing in the universe-love.

Blessings.

Not Again

Not again. Not again. Another mass shooting. Another community in pain, in shock and horror. Families grieving the loss of loved ones. Amid the trauma, stories of those who sounded the alarm, came to the rescue, schools and organizations locked down, and those who ran for cover. Again this nation faces another tragedy due to gun violence.  Dr. Janis Orlowski, Chief Medical Officer stated, “I would like to be out of a job. I would like my team use their skills repairing injuries, but not those caused by bullets [paraphrased].”

Here we are again, as if Sandy Hook did not happen. There was evil present in Sandy Hook, Columbine, and in the Naval Yard, and as I watched the reports in sorrow, there were other reports of the evil;  a young girl killed herself because she was being bullied, an officer killed an unarmed young man, and a young man shot and killed a baby.  Whether it is a mass shooting, or a report of death or destruction, it is clear the evil that so easily beset us is around us.  And yet in the midst of this pain and suffering, this is the day that the Lord has made, and we must show that good does triumph over the darkness.

Recently, I met a woman who started a conversation with me because I smiled at her.  She chatted about different states she had lived where some people weren’t so nice.  With a twinkle in her eye, we exchanged tidbits about families, travels, jobs and race relations.  In a moment, I became a marker for her.   Markers are important because they defined us, and although invisible they tell the world who we are, and what we hold dear.  Markers are the spiritual imprints of love, joy, peace, diligence, patience, and understanding.  They are the byproducts of our relationship with God, and time spent in His presence.  As we spend time seeking God and His will for our lives, we become a powerful marker for a world riddled with the pain of evil.  Our markers must be brighter and stronger than the slings and the fiery darts of the enemy.  Our markers must be places of refuge and love covering and conquering the darkness. These markers proclaim the amazing truth that Jesus loves us, and He won the war.  So, let us turn the Not again, into Yet we win.

O’ Lord, help me to be a marker for some poor soul who is lost, afraid, and alone in the darkness.  Guide me towards and not away from those needing the touch of the Master. Because I know in the end we win.  Amen.