Thursday, March 23, 2006

10 to the 7 to the 5. 10 Defining Moments. 5 Pivitol People. 7 Critical Choices part TWO

I "got saved" when I was seven years old. That means that I recognized Jesus as God in the flesh and that he died and rose from the dead to deliver me from sin and the penalty of sin.
Did I know exactly what that meant? I think I had a big, big clue. In church I usually sat on the front row with my eyes on the preacher. Dad was a deacon.
I was pretty much a good kid and when I was acting out I rarely got caught.
However, later in the year that I accepted Christ as my Savior I was staying after school for a detention. I was in detention with my head on my desk when I put my head up and there was Jesus in the air. He was just kind of there and he was telling me to go home.
The first thing I would ask me if I were hearing this is what did He look like. I don't really remember. I think though He was of the blue eyed, straight brown hair variety since that is the image I had been fed. It still feels like He was there and not there and I could feel and know He was there more than I could see.
Well I got up and left lollygagging and meandering my way home with not a care in the world.
I grew up a latchkey kid which was the norm in the 60's when kids weren't seemingly getting abducted every 7 minutes. All I had to worry about was bullies, gangs and winos. Having said that to me it was a fairly safe neighborhood. I wore my key around my neck and I was lowering my fat face and "husky" body down to insert the key when out of the corner of my eye I saw pink. The pink turned in to a pink hood with tires and then a pink Cadillac. It was Mrs. Mercy, my second grade teacher! In a flash of enlightenment it hit me that I shouldn't have just left detention. When is the last time you know of that a teacher came to a student's house for screwing up? I jumped off of the back stoop and tore around to the back, to the opposite side of the house but it was too late. My chubby self couldn't get over the four foot fence in time, so I just pasted myself to the side of the house with arms outstretched at shoulder level againgst the side of the house.
I don't remember what happened in between the time Mrs. Mercer caught me and when my dad finally got home. I do remember that my school teacher mom got home first. I probably went through a few anguished choruses of the "wait 'till your father gets home" blues. Sometimes mom would tear me up first. Sometimes even a close neighbor would get me. Back then we got "whoopin's." Mom was "off the hook" and would flail in anger. "Didn't... (Smack)... I... (Smack!) tell...(smack!) you?!" Dad was calm and would talk to you. I think he wanted to save his breath so as not to get winded for maximum effect while "whoopin."
He would usually take me in the bathroom. It was so tiny. There was barely enough room for two people to stand in there let alone dance to the syncopated rhythm of belt smacks. Later on I learned that I could feel little pain on my legs. I would scream, "Daddy please don't hit me on my legs!" and of course that is right where he would aim.
As the clock ticked down to contact time with my Father, time seemed to stop, but then suddenly there he was coming into my room. Mom told him what happened again and then left . He asked me why I left.... "Now what do I say?" I thought. "I saw a vision!?" Before I could stop myself that is exactly what came out of my mouth. "I saw a vision and Jesus was telling me to go home so I did." My father looked at me. I don't remember what he said. I don't remember the look he gave me. All I can remember is that there was no punishment! I thought about that for a long time, especially when I got in trouble. I thought it could be my ace in the hole.... Break a window?... Jesus made me do it. Get another detention? "See what had happened was Jesus and this other guy...
I never did that and was never really tempted to. In fact beyond the time of the vision the thought to do that never crossed my mind. It is an incident that I will probably always remember. Since then I have had the voice of God talk to me in a literal voice on one occasion in the '80's. I said, "God if that was you say it again." I heard nothing.
Now a days I am learning to develop listening skills by which I hear the still small voice of the Holy Spirit within. I am learning to combine that with God "speaking" through circumstance. I have learned that in addition God can have a special word just for me by illuminating scriptures and incidents. I know that I need to take a good look and give a good listen and then pray and compare what I hear to the word of God. I have learned to look for a confirmation in my spirit that it is God. I have learned that even if an angel appears and gives me a word that it has to agree with the Bible and that if I don't have a witness (confirmation) in my soul, in my spirit then I shouldn't follow that voice or angel or preacher... abaout which way my life should go.
Jesus said, "My sheep hear My voice," and I can become one with Christ by loving Him. The cool metaphysical aspect of this is that this is literal and that to love Christ is to watch over his commandments to perform them, believe them and become one with them. What are His commandments you ask? To love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and to love your neighbor as yourself.
I have wondered about this in times past. I know so many self-destructive people whom I believe don't love themselves. I have been there and so I think, "how did I get from there to here?" God brought me the entire way. He has put in all of us a seed of faith with which to recognize the truth when we hear it... when we see it. No matter how noisy our society is. No matter how "off the hook" our lives are. No matter the turmoil we can all hear that still small voice that leaps from our bosom when we hear the Word of God calling us. In the beginning was the Word; and the Word was with God and the Word was God so listen up everybody. Listen up. Paul said Christ is the Author and Finisher of or faith. He will finish what he starts and he will refine what he starts.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Be Encoraged Oh My Soul

One day recently I was feeling very overwhelmed. I had an end of the year report due which I had barely started; a five year budget proposal and an upset boss, six or seven phone calls to make before five, emails had flooded in demanding answers and my cell phone rang so much with messages it sounded like a doorbell.. Ding-dong, ding-dong! Ding-dong ding dong!
I told my soul in so many words that I should bless the Lord. I should just stop and focus on God and what he had done for me just recently. I started to share this with friends and ended up prophesying. It went something like this:

I'm at the library mixing work with finding quarters to live and such. I'm trying to fill my commitments and obligations. I just got caught up in being overwhelmed, trapped, and scared. I'm behind in many things and may miss the mark on some important assignments and obligations this week. Sometimes I get it in gear and sometimes not. Sometimes I have my wits and will and sometimes not.

I stopped a minute and remembered that all things work to the good for those who love God and are called according to his purpose.
I thought about how I miss the mark on really important things... not that family, work and friends are not important but they are not eternal. God has more than proved himself strong and faithful in my life especially over the last 2 or 3 years. Through all of the pain much of which came about by being confronted with who I am, God has never let me go. I have more that survived. I have overcome. What was meant for harm God has meant for good. God has made me to prosper in the valley of the shadow of death and is raising me up. Even though I am more Jonah that Elijah, More Samson than David, more Peter than Solomon God tells me.
Oy! God is telling us,
"Satan has desire to sift you as wheat, but don't worry you have a High Priest in my Son and he is ever before my throne making intercession for you all. There is no need for anymore sacrifice but the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. Praise me like Paul when I ordained that he be imprisoned and I will tear your prisons asunder and bring you closer to me. Do what you know to do and repent when you do not, always knowing from whence comes your salvation. When the enemy comes in know that like a tsunami I have already raised a standard against him.
You are mine dear children and the depth of my love for you is. The depth of my love for you is. I Am is causing a new thing to happen. Be thankful. I need you to.... I desire for my thoughts to be your thoughts and my ways to be your ways. Those things that come against you are not as heavy as they appear unless you take them. But take me. Take my burden and see what I am doing.
Look to me. Look at me. Look to me. Look for me. Hunt, seek, excavate, dig for me. It's not that I don't want you to find me. It is that you need a single eye to enter in and find me in ALL of my glory. Look for me like a lost child in a crowded mall looking for its mother or father and know that I will be revealed arms out stretched and running toward you. Dig for me like a diamond miner or a gold miner with a lamp at night seeking fortune and despising what is not worthy of being found. See me in all things and I am there. See me in all outcomes. I reign supreme. I am sovereign. Nothing nothing nothing happens that I do no see, that I do not work to my good pleasure for my children."

I can through Christ who gives me strength do all things. I can be cast down and without as well as I can be lifted up and prosper. I can hit all of my earthly marks or miss them and be allowed to suffer the consequences. He is there.
I r rebuke the spirit of fear and despair because I have not been given a spirit of fear but of love and power and of a sound mind. My God reigns and will not allow me to be torn asunder!
He knows the work he has begun in me and in us and he is faithful who promised. Thank God it depends on Jehovah Jireh, Jehovah Rofi, and Jehova Sidkinu El Shaddai the Author and the Finisher of my faith. I come against that feeling of being overwhelmed and lost and tear down anything that would raise itself up against the Word of God.
With purpose, thought and in the power of the Holy Spirit I put on the whole armor of God. I will through grace and mercy, faith do all and STAND. If God is for me who can be against? I realize to those called to life everything is spiritual. If some of these things that have come against me come against you realize it is a spiritual battle against principalities and powers of darkness but that the gates of hell will not prevail against the onslaught of the Kingdom of God, the Army of God, and to the Family of God to which many of us belong.
I'm better now! So now to answer those phone calls!
Praise the name of Jesus!
If you are receiving this email I just took time out to pray for you. I love all of you in Christ.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Marriage, Family, Nucleus.. out for the Count

The Final Judgement Entry concerning our divorce is OFFICIAL as of Wednesday, January 25, 2006.

The road to this announcement has been over 3 years in coming. Puddles became, potholes became sinkholes became nonnegotiable, empty, deep, black craters.
Now it is on to the next stage of the relationship.
So I pray for all of you that are married, that God grant you the Spirit of Love, grant you grace mercy and wisdom in keeping your marriages, loving, healthy, primary and together. I pray for those of you unequally yoked.
I hope you all SHOW love, deference, cherish your bonds, respect each other and honor the vows you made before God. I hope you talk and endeavor to think kindly of your mates to others, speak life and not death (the power of life and death is in the tongue, nameen?), give, forgive, love, compromise and take ownership of your own issues.

Sometimes you need to choose between being right and death dealing or being happy and life-giving. They aren't the same thing. There is usually more than one way to do something. Allow each other to be wrong, make mistakes and help them get back up and learn from the experience. You’ve heard it before but “of course he or she doesn’t do it your way. If you two are the same then one of you isn’t necessary.”
Divorce should be a last, last, last resort. God hates divorce and divorces tear nuclear AND extended families apart. They also can and do spill over into the community with folks talking sides, though the bible says, "don't take on another's offense." I am a witness. Please don’t do that.
Whether husbands and wives have God in their lives or not divorce damages each. I pray that God replaces the years that the locust have taken.
There are no winners except lawyers, the grass is not necessarily greener on the other side and if you have young kids especially, you will have the same issues you had during marriage (control, disrespect, anger issues, irresponsibility issues, critical spirit, parenting issues or whatever) and are still in relationship.
Autumn seems to be doing well but it hurts her to the bone and the effects of this may not been seen for years. By the grace of God she is strong, introspective and God-minded and is loved by both parents.
Many of you know the dynamics of this relationship were somewhat extraordinary and (hopefully) not common place, though many of the symptoms are commonplace.
I wish I had had the wherewithal to have the pastor that married us and my present pastor and certain family in court to mourn with us. We got married with many witnesses but no one was there to witness the death of our marriage. I am so relieved to be out of the relationship. Most likely Donna too. I am just as sad as I am relieved if not more. Death is death, is death, is death. This is death with no bodies to bury and for some, closure, I think, may be a long time coming.
Having said that know that I have peace as I recover. God has taken this opportunity to work with me and reveal my true decrepit self in comparison to a perfect loving God. He has held me up, led me and guided me as much as I would allow through grace, mercy, prayer and obedience. I don’t know that he hasn’t worked with Donna, I just choose to speak for myself. God is soooo good! :-) He is not willing that anyone be lost but that all come to a saving knowledge of a risen Savior who is well able to save us from ourselves.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Spent last week in

This Christmas season I drove from Cleveland, Ohio to Huntsville, Alabama with my six year old daughter. She had to "go potty" after 30 minutes on the road and she was homesick and crying for her mom after an hour. She called her just about every hour until mid-afternoon.
If you don't have kids, you should know that they really do say, "are we there yet?" every 15 minutes. She was fine from mid-afternoon until our return sixdays later.
While there I attend the funeral of my deceased father's brother-in-law.
"Proper Etiqutte for Greiving People" is one of my blog entries. You can get a feel for my family's approach to death or maybe it's mostly my tongue in cheek view.
I did get to see one of my favorite cousins and his family. Funerals are usually bittersweet in that way. I hadn't seen Keith in such a long time. We and his deceased brother grew up together.
I hadn't seen his daughter, now 19 since she was a child and I don't think I had every seen his son. He is a computer guy for a major coporation. I vicariously visited a jazz club in France through one of his stories and likewise went to England with his wife and daughter. A family with great character. I talked to Keith about my pending divorce of my ten year marriage while sauntering down my mother's quarter mile long driveway and back. Boy what a contrast... his family to my no family. It makes the sense of failure more pronounced.

Of course mom ran me ragged visiting her siblings. I didn't see anyone else on her side of the family like my two favorite cousins from that side. However, because of the funeral I saw plenty of relatives on my dad's side of the family.

My sister's ten year old son introduced me to his snakes, a python and a King snake, to his dog "Sabbath" and to lots of "Star Wars"sword play with faux light sabers. My knuckles still hurt.

I did get to spend a half hour in one of my favorite haunts... "Books-A-Million" with in-house coffeehouse. I also got to read in the middle of the day! What a luxury. I just finished Octavia Butler's, "Fledgling". I really like her stuff but I don't know if I'd recommend this one. Washington Post's Ron Charles loved it. Read his review .

I went to a church service with my si! ster and her husband on Saturday. It's an "apostalic/prophecy" m inistry. The pastor and another fellow had a word for me which I wrote down. The next step is to judge it against the word of God and see if things bear witness to it. Among other things I's supposed to have a healing ministry and healed finances. Hmmm. Sometimes I miss the days when God's prophet road into town at almost high noon and said, "straighten up your act or else!" Kidding. Praise God for his grace and mercy and the pastor did say I was balking at God in one area of my life and that I was to "eat the whole Lamb." so it wasn't totally soothing itching ears. We will see!

The ride back to Cleveland went without incident except for Marathon gas stations along the freeway that all closed at 8:00pm... just when I was almost empty and ready to fill up. go figger!

On the way back my daughter's song changed from, "are we there yet?" to "do you miss Nana?" (my mother)every forty miles. Finally I said, "not as much as I miss you not askin' me that question," ! to which she replied, "Oh, I'll stop asking you daddy... are we there yet?"

I have lots of CD's but no CD player in my car. I managed to collect a few cassettes so we sang lullubys and folktales in spanish and listened to Tracy Chapman and made up stories. this was interspersed with "Dad! Hellooo! I'm Huuungryyy!" everytime she thought there was a Mikky D's in range. It took my a while to catch on to the fact tha near the end of the trip she wanted the "Happy Meal" more than the food . I have big problems with our consumer culture but I acquiesced a bit since McDonald's is now promoting C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia. I know, I know, I'm a sellout. Leave me be and go read C.S. Lewis' , "the Problem of Pain."

So all in all it was a wonderful time, bitter-sweet funeral included, and mom only overfed me twice!