Monday, October 18, 2010

Happy in spite of....

Yesterday, I went to my old church, or perhaps I should say that we went. Kim went in her car, but I had to follow later, due to a problem associated with old age and the meds that the doctors prescribe. I got there toward the end of song service. They were singing my favorite current song complete with my favorite set of lyrics. This song, I have been told, has over 30 different versions of one line. I have only heard three versions. But today was the youth service. Why does this old guy love the youth services more than the stodgy, opps that should say standard, services. Anyway, I'll leave you to answer that one for me. The line that singing was about my dream or faith, as it were about heaven meeting earth. I have never been drawn to "pie in the sky, by and by," theology. The line goes if my memory serves me well this mooring, "When heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss." I had missed the part I love the most. That is the worship.
The message was delivered by the youth leader. It was good and made me think, and cry. But, that is a different story.
After the service, one of my friends, Mark, asked me why I was so happy, given my circumstances. for those of you that haven't heard, let me fill you in. About two months ago, Kimberly, my wife said that if I stayed in the house that she would leave. As the various possibilities were considered, we put off the separation for awhile. (I don't remember why.) One day as I was driving around, the devil said to me, "You are going to hell." Now I thought about this for some days, and kept praying. The whole purpose of Jesus going to the cross was so that I, and you too, can and will always have access to Father God. Now I am persuaded that nothing can separate me from the love of God. Except, perhaps, my own sovereign choice. Which for me is no longer a choice. Then one day I responded to the devil. "I am a child of God."
Later the thought came to go to the Slabs. The Slabs are just north of the USA and Mexican Border in the desert. During the Second Wold War the US military built a base there. It was mostly Quonset huts. When the military shut the base down they tore down the huts but left the concrete slabs. Hence, the name that exists today. Now my dad when he retired, the third time went to live there during the winter. He had a thirty foot RV. One of the beauties of the Slabs for dad, and for me was the prospect, of free rent. One of the draw backs at least for me was the summer, and early fall heat. When I was there in September it was up to 104 to 106. Some of the year round guys, most people stay only in the winter, told me that, the summer had been up to 120. Well, that is like hell to me. Although The Slabs have free rent, there is no water, sewer, or trash pick up. So today it is different than twenty or thirty years ago. Back then, there were still no services, but at least there was not trash litter in many places. Also back in the day there were thirty thousand people there in the winter. Today about one tenth of that many. To me the slabs are hell on earth.
On the way down there, I remember thinking, Well, maybe when I go down there, I bring some back with me. After all Jesus descended into Hell and brought captivity captive.
All though this is some background of recent events, it still does not explain why I should have joy while being separated from my wife and family. I think that the most sucient way to put it is that I am doing what I am called to do. See my blog that was posted on 5-5-09, coming revival. Things weren't getting done at the house like they were supposed. I was trying to be a house dad, but failing miserably. The family fired me as cook. Kim did not like me to shop. I was not good at dealing with my kids, whom I dearly love. But some time, some years ago, it had been my heart to write. Kim and I wrote the first part, and then spoke at a meeting we called at a local library. Although we had success at the meeting. We had three people come up and make appointments to talk with us later. One accepted the Lord and went home to his wife and reset his marriage. (Before he was talking about divorce.) Eeven with this success, although I did not know about it until over a year later, we got into a rut of daily living. Brother Tucker used to say that a rut was just a grave with both ends kicked out.
Some how, I quit writing and We quit talking about what the Lord has done. It also seemed as if I was always getting caught up in the cares of living and I had only rare times of joy. Notably when I would touch someones life for Jesus. I only rarely did this. After we decided to separate, it seems as though God was using a 2 by 4 to get my attention. When I headed to California, I decided to take the slow route, stopping at almost every rest stop along the way, I found many interesting people to talk to about their lives and Jesus. Even at The Slabs the interaction was outstanding. Since I've come back to the NW, I've stayed in a weekly hotel for a short time, but soon I have been privileged to stay at a cabin on the lake front of Lake Bosworth. The picture at the top of this page if from the back porch of the cabin at a little before seven am on Wednesday, October 20, 2010. While here I continue to have great encounters for the Lord, and with the Lord!
I have been writing again. What is really interesting is, for the first time, I have enjoyed writing.

28 Then Peter began to say to him, “See, we have left everything and followed you.”
29 Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left his home, brothers, sisters, mother, father, children, or fields because of me and the gospel30 who will not receive a hundred times as much here in this world—homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and fields, along with persecutions—as well as eternal life in the age to come.31 But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.”

Friday, September 3, 2010

Charlie the Carnival Man

Charlie the Carnival Man

I met Charlie the Carnival Man yesterday at an Oregon roadside rest area along Interstate 5. I was stopping at almost all of the rest areas. Charlie was sitting directly below a NO SOLICITING! sign painted conspiculously on the side of the building that houses the restrooms. Charlie was holding a sign of his own. “Help! Gas Money or Anything. His flimsy cardboard sign was etched in black marking pen that said, "Help! Gas, money, or anything."

I stopped and sat next to Charlie. He was a tall, extremely gaunt looking individual. I swore that I could see every vein on his forearm, some appeared to protrude a quarter of an inch above the skin. He had no body fat. He must have used it all in his work.

In the course of conversation, I came to know a little of Charlie and his predicament. Charlie is over 50 years of age. His first comment was that this was strike against him as far as getting a job. He had about as bad a set of teeth as could be imagined. No tooth in his mouth was parallel to any other tooth. They all stood out quite well when he smiled. I seem to remembering him smile a lot. His hair was straggly and his beard did not help his appearance. Charlies overall appearance surely would not help him get a job either.

His most recent job was for a carnival outfit. He still wore their hat, but the season was over for Charlie. He was let go. He said that they paid him $40.00 a day, and it did not matter if it was 4 hours or 14 hours. He was not sure that he would be given unemployment, although he had applied. He previously had worked at food processing plant in eastern Oregon. But the second year he went back, they asked for a urine test. But he was not able to produce the required amount in a timely manner so they quickly dispensed with him as a rehire employee. After all, he was just another resource, that happened to be human. But in the corporate view that is easy to overlook! How often do we look at the beggar or bum or homeless guy and not see his human side nor the residing spirit of God within. How often Do we just judge them as someone, “Who are just working the system.”

42 Give to the person who asks you for something, and do not turn away from the person who wants to borrow something from you.”Matthew 5:40-42 ISV

On that recent trip I ran into several people in rest areas that were trying to raise money from the travelers that stopped to take a break from driving. Of those, with whom I stopped to talk, when I got to know them, seemed to be in a honest predicament. One fellow had a bucket and squeegee to clean windshields. Technically he was not asking for a handout. About one out of three did not tell a consistent story of their plight. Does that mean that two out of three were worthy of a gift of money? Often when I have seen someone asking for money I have questioned whether or not I should give it to them.

If I listen to the Holiest man in recorded history, he has some very poignant things to say on the subject.

Notice in verse 40 he says that if anyone wants to sue you give him more than he wants. He does not ask you to judge the situation. He does not say to give it to him if you owe it to him. He does not say to give it to him if he deserves it. He just simply says to give him more than he wants. Jesus never says that we should first calculate if we can afford it. He does not say that you should only give him what you can afford to give. Only give him your shirt if you have ten others.

40 If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat as well.
41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go two with him.When we look at verse 41 there is further revelation on giving. This verse was in reference to Roman law. Roman law required any none Roman to carry the baggage of a soldier for the distance of one mile. In so doing the jews would usually walk two miles, one up and one back. But Jesus said to carry the load for two miles, that for most Jews would have required a walk of four miles. Now the Romans were the foriegn rulers of Isreal. They were the oppressors. If a jew carried a bag one mile that would make sense, since there were penalties for refusing. But why would Jesus suggest to go what we call the extra mile. If I were ordered to carry the baggage of a soldier one mile, the old Tim would have had an instant attitude change. I would not be a happy camper. How possibly could me going twice as far a ordered bring about the Kingdom of God? Going two miles could only help the oppressor. In me it could only have brought out the worst in me, not the kingdom of God that Jesus wanted to foster in me. 32 He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, And he who rules his spirit than he who takes a Prov 16:32 (NKJV)
Would the Roman soldier change his heart? The Jew would not know, but probably not since the conquered mostly despised by the conquerors, the extra mile could have been seen as further submission, not likely bring about the kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God was meant to start in the heart of the believer, not in the unbelieving. It is true that God often worked miracles in unbelievers, and changed their hearts. But I am convinced that He loves me. He would not give me something to do that would bring me harm. So me going an extra mile, regardless of the motives of those demanding it, or requesting it, speak to me loud and clear. Following Christs teaching would bring about the Kingdom of God. If only in me then sad for the others. He never suggested that we question the motives of the requester. Whether that person was person of power, as the soldier, or the man suing, which is really like a crap shoot, But what about the beggar? Why should we despise him? He has no power over him, as both the soldier and the one who is suing have over us. Does this give us the right to question the beggars motives? I have friend that lives in Seattle. In this city there are often poorly dressed, disheveled men on the street corner holding a sign asking for money. My friend Jeannie was once a millionaire. Today, she is not. She does pull her weight though. Sometimes she, now in her late sixties, works at a department store in the Christmas Season wrapping packages to make ends meet. She is a person, IMO, better than most. She has dared to shoot for the moon, and came close for a season. She satisfied herself with helping these homeless ones by usually carrying one dollar bills to give each that would ask of her. Never judging those who asked. Never stopping to ask were they really poor, did they deserve this place in life, were they going to go buy a drink. She just gave. Now when I see someone on a corner or on the freeway off ramp with a cardboard sign, I think of Charlie the Carnival man.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Like a drug high

Below is an email to a friend that was once addicted to various drugs, including heroin. He also has been convicted on three counts of armed robbery. As a three time convicted felon he should be in prison for life. But God saw otherwise. He now leads a group omen and women who are growing spiritually while gaining freedom from addiction and struggles.This letter was in response to a comment that likened vicodin with feeling normal.

Last night I heard you say that the feeling on Heroin, I think it was. No, it was Vicodin, is like what we are supposed to feel like. I can not refute what you say. There were similar statements made by myself and others when we did other drugs. After coming to know God, I began to realize that these sensations on the the drugs were counterfeits of what life in the Lord could and indeed did provide.

If there is a grain of truth in what I say, I pray that it will nourish you. If not, then spit it out as if it were chaff. Let me tell of two personal experiences that illustrate my point. (At the University we were not allowed to share personal testimony. It was not considered to be factual or relevant or some other excuse.)
One day when I was working the big splitter at Idaho Cedar Sales I became extremely tired. This work was the most physically demanding work that I had ever done. When I hired on many months prior to the event that is being described I was assigned to the night shift, a six hour shift. Although it was only a six hour shift I was unable to perform at an adequate level, so God sent a helper to assist me until my strength came up to the task. But that is another story. It was described in my book. But this day after many months on the job, I became extremely tired. I went to the rest room. In the rest room was a coffee cup that was used to drink water from the sink faucet. When I looked at the cup I thought that I sure could use a cup of coffee, but none was available. I drank a few ounces of water. And then, I got a burst of energy, not unlike two match heads of crystal meth, but without the rush. Now at times when I get really tired and just keep going there is often an instant when I become totally revitalized.
As you may know my drug of choice was LSD, the purer the better, I thought. Most of the street LSD in the late sixties was cut with other drugs to make a high cheaper. Blue flats were cut with ritalin, while orange sunshine was cut with meth. We one time took three orange sunshine tabs, ground them up and dissolved them in a combination of water and chloroform. The acid is highly soluble in chloroform while the meth is highly soluble in water. Since water and chloroform won't stay mixed it is possible to separate most of the two. I loved the clean acid. Later, after I was saved, when I started going to church at Faith Tabernacle, I noticed that a powerful worship service had the same feeling as a 100 mike dose of pure acid. Having said that, I must say that I have not felt a service like those in over twenty years.
You may already know this, but I felt that I should write this to you. You know that God wants only the best for you, your wife and your family. This is why the drugs are only a counterfit, with God there is no let down, no withdrawal.

I love you, my brother,

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Blessed Women

The Metro bus can be a microcosm of God's Love at work. Last Friday on the 372 a women with two small children got on the bus. She had one of the children in one of those carriers that straps unto her shoulders and puts the child in front of her. The child looks toward the front, as does the mother. The other child held onto one hand of the mother. The other hand of the mom held onto a light weight stroller. She sat down, with one child in front of her and the other beside her. The mother's eyes looked tired.
I said, "You sure have your hands full."
She replied, "Not really."
The bus went along and soon the younger child tried to put her hat on. She succeeded, but backwards. The mother said, "Good job, backwards, but good job. High five." The mom stuck her hand out. The little one slapped it. Then the older one wanted to high five mom too. But the little one knew she was the one who earned it and wanted more high fives. soon the little one gave up and the mom stuck her hand on the side so the little one wouldn't see the older sister give a high five.
Next the older daughter showed the wet toe part of her shoes to her mother. Mom pointed out that it was from the rainy wet sidewalks outside. I pointed to mine and showed the girl that mine were wet, too. As did the mom. soon they got off as we reached their stop.
As they went past me, I said, "You are blessed."
The mom said, "Yes, I am."
Later that evening, my wife and I were sharing the events of our day. After I finished telling her about the blessed women, she asked me what the Biblical Significance of the encounter was. Off the top of my head I couldn't form the thought, except that the kids are blessing and that the interaction between the mom and her kids was precious.
Children are blessing to parents. In today's society, we ofter get the message that they are a burden not a blessing. We are told that they get in our way. That they will use up our money, after all on average it costs a quarter million dollars to raise a child, and even more if they get a top notch education. That children will keep us from doing the fun things! But proverbs says that they are like arrows in a man's quiver. That they are a blessing.
What are the roots that have changed the view of children being a burden instead of a blessing? One could say that it is a different world view. One that no longer sees the need to have children. But one that lets us take care of ourselves, or counts on social security for the needs of our later years. Also the advent of sophisticated Birth control, that put the me in the me generation.
But what is hugh is the doublethink that has been foisted upon us. Doublethink is a term that George Orwell coined in his book 1984, published in 1949. It is "To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which canceled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it."
One of our daughters is about to give birth. It might even be today. What is interesting is how early on she referred to the child as a baby not as a fetus. My daughter wants this baby. Often when a baby is not wanted it is referred to as a fetus, or just a lump of tissue, thinking not that there is a beating heart inside that baby. Months ago, early in the pregnancy, my daughter and her husband played music for and talked to the baby, well before the babies third trimester. She understood that the baby was in his early developmental stage.
Even in days of old, the baby was understood to be unique while in the mothers womb. Luke, a physician, in the days of Jesus recorded how John leaped in his mothers womb. What is interesting is not so much that John was active in his womb, but that the word that John used for the baby in Elizabeth was the same word that he used when he described the baby Jesus when He was wrapped in swaddling clothes. So it is obvious that the physician John saw the unborn baby and the born baby in the same light, both as living humans.
What makes the lady on the bus really blessed is that she survived the pressure to murder her own babies, not after they were born but before they were out of the womb. Much of the pressure today comes in the form of an economic reason. I need more money for the things that I want to do. Or an entertainment argument, I need more time to go sking or fishing or to go dancing. The best blessing is that of loving life. How much richer when that life comes from oneself? although it is sometimes difficult, tiring and resource consuming giving of oneself is always a blessing that fills us up and doesn't let us down.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Mark and the Goblet of Fire

Today I went to the Seattle Center to check it out. Not much was happening there. So I tried to find where I could catch the 372 Metro Bus. The map I had was not very detailed so I walked many extra blocks. Finally I went back to Seattle Center and asked directions. I got on the bus and began the first stage of my return home.
Soon a young man got on the bus and sat to my right in the seats that faced forward. I was seating in the seats that face across the bus. As he sat there I notices that he was reading a Harry Potter book, something about a goblet of fire. When I strike up a conversation, I like to start with something that is of interest to the other party.
so I said to him, "You know that magic doesn't happen like that." Pointing to the book. "It doesn't come in flames and whooseing sounds, like in the book."
I established that miracles still happen, but not like magic in Harry Potter.
Anyway, we talked about the Lord for the duration of the bus ride. He told me about how his deceased parents had been Christians. And that he had spent some time looking at various religions, but had not made up his mind.
At one point I felt that I was being baited into saying that Jesus is the only way. I really felt that if I had said this a wall would have been thrown up that would have been insurmountable at this time. What I said was that I only know one God. A little later was able to point out that the work that Jesus had done on the cross is unique in all the religions that I had studied. And that His work freed me from sin, and allowed me to go forward in my walk with the Lord. Much more was said in the twenty minutes of sharing. When I had to get of the bus Mark thanked me, and said that it had been a long time since he had talked about God.
Although Mark, not his real name, has not made up his mind on following the Lord, he is still hungry for spiritual things. There are two things that need to be remembered from this conversation. The first is be ready to listen to the other person. If we are just announcing, then we are only doing another commercial, and the DVR of the listeners mind will skip right through the message. Then no information will be shared. The second is that is important to focus on the essential points. whether or not the Gospel is the only way is not as important as establishing the points of the atoning death of Jesus on the cross. Long before understanding the uniqueness of the work on the cross, it is possible accept and believe in the salvation that Jesus did for us. So it was good to focus on the work that Jesus did. There definitely are times when it is necessary to focus on the uniqueness of the work of cross, and there on times when it is best to just focus on the work itself.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

SE Spokane County Fair

Sept 25, 26, and 27 were a Friday, Saturday and Sunday this year. They were warm and Sunny. Perfect weather for a small county fair. Actually Spokane County is not a small county, but this fair is a small affair. Most of the participants were from Rockford and Fairfield, two very small towns. Spokane is only about 25 miles away and has an overly large fair. It is as though the local people wanted to keep a small town feel and a small town fair. The small town atmosphere that may be almost lost in our world of fast cars, instant messaging and on demand cell phones. My cell phone and most other carriers phones quit working about a mile and a half out of town as we dropped down into the valley that houses Rockford.

About four weeks prior to the fair, my heart was burdened to tell people about walking with God. As I looked for venues where I could get peoples attention, many required much money or had a long lead time to reserve a spot. Then I came across the SE Spokane County Fair. I went for it. The booth organizer, Charlie Salt alloted us a 10' by 10' space in the show. But we did not have a canopy that we needed. Kimberly mentioned our need on a Facebook post. Sangeeta, a friend of ours, and of a different religion, offered her brand new canopy. Thank you Lord for people with generous hearts. Thank you, Sangeeta for allowing your heart to be generous.

Thursday evening was the set-up time. After setting up the canopy, I set up a tent for sleeping in near the barns. I am afraid that I am not a country boy. It seems that one of the show cows mooed all night long. It was a tough time sleeping. But the first day of the show was worth a poor nights sleep. The presentation was titled, "From Tragedy to Triumph." I told about our RV burning and how that was a tragedy, but it was turned into a triumph. I then told a little about our book, "Stories of a Salvation." Many people bought copies of the book. Some saw the title, scoffed and walked away. Others, said that they did not want to read the book, but thanked me for the stories that I told on the spot. That night I went to Spokane and rented a motel room. The next day was much the same as Friday, except I was able to pray with some people, too.

One interesting encounter, that has kept me praying and meditating on God's Word, occurred on the way to the restroom on Saturday. I stopped at a table where the people were trying to get others to sign a petition. It turns out that the two men were Gay. One of them told me that he is a Christian and that he has been rejected from churches. But that he believes that God loves him as he loves God. He pointed out that Jesus never condemned homosexuality. Later, a couple came by my booth and told me how they hated homosexuals. Their words were not kind words. I have been pondering how God loves all and sent His Son to the cross that ALL might be saved. He loves both the hater and the hated.

Maybe I am sensitive to those who are rejected because I remember a time when I went to a church and no one sat in the same pew that I did, even though every other pew was full, and no one even said, "Hi" to me. Jesus loved me even then, even though I had very long hair and was wearing an old army jacket that a friend had given me on a cold night in Southern California.

Sunday morning there was a worship service on the grounds. They sang the old hymns, and a lot of them. It was an anointed time of worship. Gods presence was there. Two Gay guys were singing on stage in the choir, and yet I could feel the blessing of God on the song service.

I feel that I must post his part and work on a post about my meditations on the Fair in Light of the Word.

Spread the Love!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Governmental efficiencies

For most of my life i have complained about the government. It didn't matter if the topic were the Federal government or the State Government, or the City government. The complaints would even go down tho the level of community home owners association. But last night I had an epiphany. Good government comes from a healthy spiritual environment.
Whoa! You say, not so fast. OK so lets look at what government is. When we leave out names of parties and ideologies we are left with people making decisions. Now when people make decisions they will make some good and some bad decisions. After all, they are human. As humans we make decisions all the time. Some will be good and some will be bad.

1 Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.2 So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished.3 For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong. Would you like to live without fear of the authorities? Do what is right, and they will honor you.4 The authorities are God’s servants, sent for your good. But if you are doing wrong, of course you should be afraid, for they have the power to punish you. They are God’s servants, sent for the very purpose of punishing those who do what is wrong.5 So you must submit to them, not only to avoid punishment, but also to keep a clear conscience.
6 Pay your taxes, too, for these same reasons. For government workers need to be paid. They are serving God in what they do.7 Give to everyone what you owe them: Pay your taxes and government fees to those who collect them, and give respect and honor to those who are in authority.
Romans 13:1-7 (NLT)