Archive for October, 2015
Some of you may have seen the movie “War Room”. While I’ve only seen clips, it looks terrific! The driving force is Miss Clara, an elderly woman who makes a huge impact through the use of her prayer closet. Its a story about intense, intentional prayer and its ability to sway a situation. I’ve noticed that many women (and this should apply to men as well), have been creating a prayer specific space. I think that’s a mighty fine thing as long as it gets used.
Could there be another way to have intense, very personal prayer life? Not that theoretical or impersonal stuff we occasionally get at church or the rapid machine gun prayer before supper, but those times when you really know that He’s really listening and you’re bonding with your creator.
My grandmother wasn’t a complex woman, but she walked with God. Not like Adam and Eve, but perhaps more meaningful. She had quite a difficult life by some peoples standard. She was born into poverty during the depression. Her father was electrocuted trying to rescue a man whose machine had come in contact with a power line, part of Roosevelts big “Rural Electrification” push of the 1920’s. Her mother became a young Norwegian widow with 6 children, plus 1 adopted child. They survived by taking in small sewing jobs and whatever work they could find. During the depression folks shared what little they had. Grandma used to say that Sunday was the best day because she was allowed to sprinkle a little sugar on a piece of bread as a special treat. What they didn’t have, they made up for in prayer. Sure they prayed for the immediate needs, but mostly they thanked God. They were grateful to the core for what they had. They prayed in the morning, before meals, while they worked, and before they slept. Yes, some were the pre-Written “Our Father” and Hail Mary” and from a small pocket sized prayer book, but most were just talking with God throughout the day.
My Grandmother married well, to a hard working French-Canadian farmer, but also found herself widowed at a young age. Fortunately, the last child had gotten married before his heart attack, but now with the children gone, she was alone. Grandma was very well liked, so she had plenty of visitors, and the children would stop by and help, but she was alone none the less. My earliest memories of her were when she was in her 50’s. I spent my summers with her and even as I got older and much stronger and larger, that little gray haired woman could out work me and flat wear me out. When my grandfather died , most of the farm, cows and equipment were sold, but she kept enough land for a dozen sows and she began to raise feeder pigs.Her quarter acre garden, berry bushes, and apple trees helped a lot of folks through some hard times. She raised far more than she could use, but just what God needed.
Like her mother she was always praying. Usually she would whisper her prayers, not for anyone else to hear, only loud enough for God. Sometimes I would ask what she was praying about. It was always simple things, thanking Him for giving her strength to perform a certain task, sometimes for strength to get by, sometimes it was communicating loneliness with the only one who would understand, and sometimes she would just say that she loves her Lord so much. Her Lord…isn’t that something. She let go of herself and her pain and made Jesus “Her Lord.” My, isn’t that personal. My grandmother walked with God. It wets my eyes to think of a relationship like that.
My Grandmother died of Alzheimers many years ago. Its a cruel death in some ways, she had really wasted away. The last time I seen her was a week before she died and she was still whispering prayers. She knew no one or anything at all, but she was still talking to her Savior. When Grandma got to meet Jesus it probably wasn’t that big of a deal, they were already old friends. Maybe Jesus needed help with his canning.
Oh friends, I really miss my Grandma. I wish I had learned earlier to walk with Jesus like she did. Its not too late friends. He’s still listening for you. Yes, even if He’s busy canning green beans.
Most of us put a few precious coins in the offering plate at church when we were little kids. OK, I’ll admit it, my grandma gave me the dime, it wasn’t even mine. Still, I left church thinking that I did something good and God was happy with me. Part of the problem is that some of us grow up, still thinking that we did God a favor by throwing a few coins in the plate. Some of the more dedicated church goers may increase the amount given and are quite certain that they’re in good standing with God. Jesus is pretty lucky to have us!
In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus is talking about how He will divide us up when He returns.
Verse 35: “For when I was hungry you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, 36:naked and you clothed me, in prison and you visited me. 37: Then the righteous will answer Him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38: When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39: When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you? 40: And the King will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’
That seems a bit different than throwing a few bucks in the offering at church. In fact, to do any of the things Jesus mentioned, you have to seek out people that are in a bad way. It isn’t like someone shows up at your door needing a coat or cheeseburger. We are told to intentionally go find these people. Do we have it on our minds to watch for folks that might have a need that we can fill? None of the things Jesus mentioned are that difficult, perhaps the prison one may not be for everyone, but is it something we are sensitive to? I’ll admit that I’m not real good in this area. Not that I’m greedy or selfish, but to do what Jesus commands, I have to pay attention to other people a bit more. A lot more. That is an intentional world view. Not waiting for things to happen, but to get out there and find solutions and make things happen.
Why go through all the work of changing our world view? Matthew 25:34, Then the king will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.’ Matthew 25:41, Then He will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’ Well, there’s nothing vague about that, is there?
So begin today, watching for folks that might need a hand. It doesn’t need to start out with something big and dramatic. Start with a lot of small things and increase your sensitivity to where you can fill a need. Change your world view to that of a servant and not a master. The world will tell you that its all about you and your happiness. Don’t be so gullible. Lets roll up our sleeves and be what God meant us to be. Maybe throw in a few extra bucks at the offering too. Serve hard, friends.
It makes us wince a bit when we see just how out of control our government has become and realize that there is no way of returning it to the principles that made it great. The Colonies separated in a bloody manner from a government that they felt was oppressive, only to find ourselves caught up in a bureaucracy that no human could have envisioned 200 yrs ago. We are taxed at every move, need permits and registration to own or use anything we have, and anything that was legal in George Washingtons day is illegal now and vice versa. In the US, not only is it illegal to not have health insurance, but its illegal to not have a permanent address. So by the time the government takes/taxes everything you have, its also illegal to not have more for them to take. Each year the Federal government adds nearly 40,000 new laws, not counting IRS, state, county , local and homeowners associations. Its entirely out of control.
It sounds hopeless doesn’t it? There is no new land left to discover and nowhere to escape. Or is there?
First, let me be clear, I am not anti-government or anything like that. I do believe that the place we jumped the tracks is when we began to rely on the government to do the things that Christians were once specialists in, serving our fellow man. Consider this, we have roughly 123,000 orphans in the US and 250,000,000 Christians at 350,000 churches. Why is that? If Christians were doing what Jesus commanded, there would be no need for government(multiple) agencies to handle this. If we were training our kids right, and helping others fill the gap, we wouldn’t have 2.2 million Americans in prison and a huge bureaucracy to deal with them. If we were caring for our neighbors, we wouldn’t have 109,631,000 Americans on welfare and that monster program. We would still need a lot of folks to run the country, but not 23.8 million federal employees, and that includes 95,000 IRS persons.
Here’s my message: Our government is out of control and will likely be till its demise. I’m saying that we can liberate ourselves from it by returning to our Christian ideals. We don’t need a government program to care for one another. If someone has a need, we step in, regardless what program is available. We need to take responsibility for one another. Perhaps we don’t need a new car, we could maybe buy a couple used ones and give one to a single mom. Maybe our old furniture could last another year and we could hand out a bunch of gift cards from a local grocery to folks who need it instead. Consider not going up north to the cabin this weekend and go visit a couple old folks in a home and let them show you the world.
Americans are absolutely wasting their lives on self gratification and finding it empty. Our society makes it possible to justify every greedy little thought you have, every desire that you have, you deserve. Fools, we’ve never been more obese physically and starving morally. Francis Schaeffer called it” Suffocating in the stench of a completely affluent society” in Death of a City. Perhaps we can begin to release self gratification and trade it for joy and inner peace. The government can take/tax away all your crap, but they can’t tax joy and inner peace. There may be a cold day coming that makes that a reality. I may become oppressed, but I will not become a worldly slave. I won’t give this world that power. Jim Elliot said” He is no fool that trades what he cannot keep for what he cannot lose.”
Friends, I can’t change the world, but I can make a difference to somebody and that’s a good place to start. If you’re hungry, I’m not sure if I can fill your fridge, but I can share my lasagna and a bunch of tomatoes in the garden. If your car is broke, I can’t buy you a new one but I can give you a lift to work. I can’t fix the world, but a can spare more than I have been for my persecuted brothers and sisters in other countries.That’s where it all starts, simple things that can make a difference. I’d really like to hear from you about the differences that you will make. Share on, friends