Thursday, 31 December 2009

Can You really use "institutional/ organized" churches???

December 31, 2009

I was really excited and delighted about the “church Board Meeting” I was asked to take minutes at recently. “Business” was stuck to as business (stewardship rather than politics!) and the rest of the time really was a demonstration of the church in loving action – of “they’ll know we are Christians by our love” … foreign mission outreaches, interest in taking part in local street ministry, reports on individuals in the church who have various needs and how the church can reach out to them and help and support them, emphasis on praying before making decisions (decisions led by Your Spirit!), desire to work together with “other local churches” in local outreaches, and so on. I know that the speaker they’ve had over the past 3 months or so (as they are “without a pastor” at the moment) has really been emphasizing Your love and what Your church is meant to be… and has been kind of wondering if it has been “sinking in” ….

Well! I think You are giving Your word through him, and Your Spirit is softening their hearts and speaking to their spirits! What a change from the first meeting I took minutes at some time ago. Praise the Lord! Thank You, Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit! Amen! I Praise You, Lord God! Yes! 

Papa, I’ve been kind of haunted by that vision or dream or whatever it was, that that man had of Your vine growing along, and then coming to that church building and climbing over it and down the other side and onward, without entering. He had asked You for direction about continuing to attend there, and took it to mean that they should move on. When I heard him describe the dream, I felt cut to the core. I wondered what it might mean, even if it might mean that they are to close down and move on to other gatherings of your family.

But now I wonder if You just needed them to get down to “bare bones” (only about 10 people or so regularly attending – down from a one-time high in the 3 to 4 hundreds), with almost no income so that they’ve been forced to use funds from capital savings just to keep the building open and pay the overhead costs) so that they would have to turn from their own ideas, and from memories of the past, and so on, and actually turn to You. And pray. And seek Your face, Your purposes, Your plans.

I do see such a difference beginning to happen. And whether or not You were leading others to leave, I know a couple of folks were led by You to stay, even though they were discouraged and wanted to move on. They gave the decision over to You and You led them to stay, to do what they wouldn’t have done in their “own wisdom.” And I know of another person who had almost totally “moved on” already, but has been led back by You, to use his gifts of practical “hands-on” involvement and friendship.

I still don’t know about that big empty building… but even there the landlord has dropped the monthly rental significantly, and agreed to month-to-month rental versus long term lease requirements.

There was a time awhile back when I myself would have thought that all the “organized/ institutional churches” should just shut down and go back to “organic” formats like the early, NT, house/community church situation. Now I’m not so sure. I’m thinking now that You can use and work through all kinds of set-ups, organizational structures, situations… and cultural adaptations and so on…

That all You really want is that Your people love You, love each other, and love the world around them, desiring “that none should perish but that all should come to repentance.” If everyone walked in true “Your love relationship” with You – and by extension, with others – the whole “church structure/ institution” question would become pretty irrelevant, I’m thinking, because the focus would be YOUR focus, and those extraneous details would either shift to become simply tools in Your work, or if they are truly wrong/ interfering with Your purposes and will, they would simply disintegrate and fall away as Your people truly walk with You.

It itself, changing “structures” and “institutions” cannot make any lasting, significant difference (and may not, in many cases, even be “possible,” even on a superficial level), unless YOU are truly the new foundation and focus. So it seems to me that that is where we must go – to YOU ALONE! And if we are truly there, the You will change what needs to be changed – starting internally, individually (and then spreading into Your family, Your church… and from there into the “world”), in our own hearts, minds, attitudes, ideas, traditions, and so on… and that internal change will just naturally move outward to make needed changes externally.

As we see the world around us through Your eyes and heart, through Your Spirit joined to our spirits, our hearts will change to Your ways… and our hands will follow through, as we hear Your voice, and see Your works, and just naturally being to “work the works of God” – as Jesus did, setting us the example, teaching us THE WAY! Your way, Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit – Lord God!

Eh! Thank You! (What a relief!) Praise the Lord!

The true Shepherd

December 29, 2009

I love Ezekiel 44 – the description of the true Shepherd (so many “leaders” claim to be shepherds… what a description to live up to!): 11. For thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out. 12…. so I will care for My sheep and will deliver them from all the places to which they were scattered 13…. And I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the streams, and in all the inhabited places of the land. 14… in a good pasture… on good grazing ground… 15…. And I will lead them to rest… 16. I will seek the lost, bring back the scattered, bind up the broken and strengthen the sick… 23. Then I will set over them one shepherd… and he will feed them…. 24. And I, the LORD, will be their God, and My servant… will be a prince among them… 25. I will make a covenant of peace with them… that they may live securely… 26. I will make them and the places around My hill a blessing. And I will cause… showers of blessing… 30. The they will know that I, the LORD their God, am with them and that they… [are] … 31. the sheep of My pasture.”

Impulsive words; die-hard dreams...

December 29, 2009

Eccl 5:1 Guard your steps as you go to the house of God and draw near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools; for they do not know they are doing evil. 2. Do not be hasty in word or impulsive in thought to bring up a matter in the presence of God. For God is in heaven and you are on the earth; therefore, let your words be few… 7. For in many dreams and in many words there is emptiness. Rather, fear God.

(Do I use too many words? Impulsively? Hastily? Papa??)

Yesterday morning, hubby totally surprised me by dropping in to the street ministry morning coffee time. People there has been talking again about setting up a mission center – and someone joking told my hubby that when the center is built/bought, he and I could move into the upstairs apartment, and be there all the time to take care of the place. I don’t know if hubby even heard that comment… but I did, and I thought… “Oh, wouldn’t that be cool!?!” (I guess “dreams” do kind of die hard…???) (Papa??)

Saturday, 26 December 2009

a conversation about fellowship, about gatherings of Your church

December 24, 2009

A Christmas eve email conversation between a friend and me…

My friend wrote: “Our group grew out of our need to share our battered hearts with one another. As we met - little more than a 'spiritual visit' week after week - we were free to share the deeper work that God was doing in our lives, free to share our pain, our joys, our prayers, our 'half-baked' understandings of the Bible. We wondered if we were doing enough to change the world - perhaps not, we thought - but we knew that God was changing us. We experienced our wounded souls - and those of a few others - being turned to new sweetness; in some, we saw great sadness turned to abiding joy and a victorious life. It worked. God worked among us despite our simplicity. Maybe because of it.”

I answered: I have a question. I think we’ve all had periods of that kind of fellowship. But do you notice that sometimes there seems to be long dry periods? What causes that? Is it “our fault?” It seems to me like we can’t “make” those times happen. I mean, I think that’s what “churches” try to do with their worship teams and programs and all… try to “make” fellowship happen. Okay, so if WE ourselves can’t make it happen … but it definitely does happen sometimes – and in those times we do know it is from God! … does that mean that it’s “okay” if we aren’t in that state of fellowship all the time? Or not? What about “abiding joy and victorious life?” It seems to me that while I personally am aware of God’s presence pretty continually, and have joy in that, personally; at the same time it seems like that “continuous, abiding” joy doesn’t always stretch to include fellowship with others. When I write that, even think that, I feel guilty, like it must be “my fault” or whatever…

Maybe I’m just looking for fellowship “in my image” (in the way I imagine it should be)… and in doing that am missing out on the fellowship that is right there in front of me, but I am blind to because I’m looking for what I want…. I do love the coffee times and such with all my new brothers and sisters I’ve met through the street ministry… and chatting with the “church” people when they drop into the “church office” … and stopping by to have coffee with my friends at their places… and stuff like that… But too often it seems pretty “shallow” to me… like we spend a lot of time “talking about the weather” and “having fun” together… but we aren’t “sharing our battered hearts with one another” very often… and we’re not “into the word” very much… and we pray for/with each other so very little.. and of course I long for real fellowship with my husband… and my children…

My friend wrote: " ‘In those days, Mary arose with haste and went into the hill country to a city of Judah and she came into the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth’ We should meet like this. We could learn from this visit. To the best of my knowledge, this visit is the first 'church meeting' in history: two women filled with the Holy Spirit, one carrying the very life of God physically within her, both overflowing with praise as they began to understand the reality of what was happening to them: the life of God had come supernaturally to dwell inside Mary and that the angel had declared that John would be His herald. These two unusual women who stand as paradigms for all of us who today, now that the fullness of times has come, are indwelt by the same Presence, rejoicing when we realize that we too have the life of God inside. We too are His heralds. Their meeting stands as the simplest and sweetest in all the examples we find in the gospels. In every case, it was the Christ, not the creed and not the cause Who occupied the center. The meeting focused on Him. Such meetings can never go wrong!)”

And I responded: Yes, that is the thing. I feel like way, way too often we end up talking ABOUT Him but not focusing on Him. I find it easier to focus on Him when I am alone; it is easier to hear His voice… it seems like we distract each other… maybe it’s just our old “human” urge to “be at the center” ourselves, especially when we have an audience of other humans eh… But it seems oh so clear that He intends us to be TOGETHER with Him…. So why is it so hard?

My friend wrote: “To return to the house in the hills of Judea, please notice what they brought with them to the visit with all the 'right ingredients for a true church meeting: - They brought the Life of God inside them, supernaturally planted there by God Himself - They brought an understanding of what God was doing with them. - They offered their expressions of thankfulness for this inner work. - They came with hearts full of praise which overflowed into prophecy. - They uttered no religious 'lingo'; just simple words of praise and insight. - They brought a knowledge of Scripture. Mary quoted from 17 passages in her wonderful song of praise. She was 'praying in the language of Scripture’, an ancient practice which enhances any meeting. - They came with a willingness to express all of the above because the 'air was free' of religion, the environment safe and the environment full of the deepest love there is in humankind: mother-love.

And I replied: Maybe I am just being ridiculous, or self-centered, or something… but it seems to me, over and over, that we are NOT free “to express” … maybe “religion/ tradition/ whatever” is really engrained… I do find there is more freedom, myself, in a group that is just women… when there are men, it does feel like, mostly, women should be “seen and not heard” … and it seems like most people really DO WANT a “leader” (and I mean a human leader: somehow it seems like – dare I even say it – it seems like maybe they feel Jesus can’t quite be trusted… or that He only works through “holy men” … or that, I don’t know, maybe the way things were done in the New Testament “worked then, but things are different now” … or that, of course, we need to depend on people who are “qualified” with a piece of official paper to prove it… or maybe we really don’t feel safe (because we’ve been hurt / have hurt each other / so many times before)… or maybe we really still don’t trust, don’t know, don’t understand, don’t have real assurance, that JESUS LOVES US… and so we don’t… can’t… love each other….

My friend wrote: “I believe that if we could learn from these two humble women, meet as we should with Jesus truly at the center, if we could be as free as they were to share the fullness of the Divine Life within, we would do more for the kingdom than by all the formalized and sanitized meetings we have ever attended. Once more, we should learn to meet like this.”

And I asked: Yes we should. How? Why is it so hard? Why is it so easy to get side tracked? What do we do about people (a lot of them…) in our midst who (very sincerely and piously and sure they are right) attack our freedom? Oh! Paul talked about that in Galatians, didn’t he! “You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you?” …. “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery… For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love. You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth? …. A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough…” … For you were called to freedom, brethren… through love serve one another… walk by the Spirit… not under the Law…” … Paul ordered the churches to put out those who would teach “another gospel” … It seems so harsh… so “unloving” … but I wonder…. What do you think?

My friend also wrote: “Our little group was so simple but it was profound in one way: we concluded that the center of all our fellowship must be Jesus Himself. All our activities declared this to us. We have never since been satisfied with any gatherings - be they visits or larger gatherings - which settle for anything less that Jesus in the center, teaching the assembled few, never happy with one man sharing his theology. We were spoiled for anything less than Jesus ministering to us all through us all. His Spirit has replaced his physical presence, times have changed but the reality is still the same.”

And I replied: I have to say this… that is how I feel… “spoiled for anything less than Jesus ministering to us all through us all!” But it seems so hard to find others who feel the same….

My friend also wrote: “Recently, a fellowship much like the one I described at the top, met in our home for a weekend retreat. I was graciously invited. Within minutes, I experienced the same 'spark' I described above, the 'spark of recognition' between John and Jesus. It happened to us; I found myself sharing with near strangers at a level that surprised me. These brothers have also met for some time in an attempt to allow Jesus to be the center of each gathering. It seems to work for them as well.”

And I wondered: You said, “these brothers” … do you think it is easier for men to meet like this together, and for women to meet like this together (separately from the other gender)? Is it supposed to be that way? (Some people think so, don’t they…). What about the “family”??? Why do we seem to “function” better divided by gender and age and such? Isn’t that the way of the world? Oh dear…


commending ourselves? or adequacy from You!

Dec 23, 2009

2 Corinthians 3:9 Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some, letters of commendation to you or from you? 2. You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; 3. being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. 4. Such confidence we have through Christ toward God. 5. Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, 6 who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

I read this to Pastor P the other day, as he has been kind of perturbed that organizations and some churches want a written “resume” and “references” before they will contribute to the street ministry – a “paper proof” – I suppose like a graduation certificate to “prove” that a student has covered a certain amount of schooling (I won’t say it proves they have covered a certain amount of education or learning, however! LOL!); or like a “pastor” with a Bible School and/or seminary certificate to prove they’ve covered a certain level of curriculum (again not to say how much real knowledge of You – and even more important, real knowing You – they actually have… sad to say…) (Pastor P has also found it necessary to take courses and get “credentials”…)

Anyway, it does seem to be the way of this world… it seems that it isn’t good enough to prove by actually doing and being… one must have that official piece of paper. Even Paul had to defend himself in this area… although the results of his efforts were easily and clearly alive and recognizable!

Well, I guess that for one thing, it is probably easier (and in some senses, for some people, also “safer”) to read a written resume and reference letter than to “go out there” and actually spend time observing (which could lead down the slippery slope to participating, oh dear!) the work You are doing through Your servants (in the case I’m discussing, the street ministry Pastor P is involved in)… And that’s another thing: people want to see about the person’s OWN “qualifications and experience” – while those who are truly Your servants, taking part in Your work, themselves know clearly that they are personally NOT adequate, but that all their “adequacy” comes from YOU! But of course that too is not acceptable (or sensible) in the eyes of the world…

Love being part of the street family!

December 21, 2009

I’ve been impatient lately – wanting to “figure things out, understand them… but knowing at the same time that YOU ARE IN CHARGE – O dear God, please help me to just REST AND TRUST IN YOU!!!

December 23, 2009

On Tuesday I took my scissors to the street ministry coffee time to cut one guy’s hair – and ended up doing 3! They were all delighted! What a great Christmas gift to me – YOU helped me do a great job! Thank You! By the time I finished, all the other guys had left the tables at the kitchen end, and had moved down to the end by the door (where I was doing the hair cutting because the light was better), to watch us and cheer us on! Pastor P was taking pics!

I love being part of that family. All the street guys and gals apparently have places to stay now that the weather is so cold… but they still keep coming for morning coffee (and Sunday breakfast) in good numbers… for the camaraderie – and the Lord, I believe! Though they also like the baked goodies and stuff I bring, lol! Pastor P did barbequed hamburgers for Sunday breakfast, and so I brought along lots of sliced dill pickles, in addition to the ketchup, mustard and relish they usually have. Most people wouldn’t think that was a big deal, but to these guys it was a treat. And for Monday coffee time I made fresh peach cobbler, which they also really appreciated. Oh, and on Sunday I also brought those little cocktail wieners, which I wrapped in home made dough and baked… they really love those! And they never tire of boiled eggs… Always a great reception – and it’s so great for me: really helps to alleviate my empty nest syndrome 

being... doing... loneliness for You and Your family

December 18, 2009

Papa, You know how bad I’ve been feeling – and being/doing! I have spoken against this church’s plans to continue on even though they only have about 10 people left. I complain that they don’t “reach out” – well, that most churches don’t reach out but just are inward-looking and want to be the biggest and the best. I should NOT complain or criticize or judge! And I’m sorry!

Yet at the same time I find myself reading that denominational magazine about their goal to fulfill the Great Commission in North America by 2020 (and wherever else they can in the rest of the world with all the missionaries they support) by prayer-walking their church neighborhoods, and having a day of prayer on March 20 all day, praying for each person they met, and putting out invitations to every home in their church neighborhoods for their Easter services… and that’s just their 2010 plans. And Papa, it sounds exciting, and makes me want to be a part of it…

And then I remember all the prayer-walking (and praying otherwise) that I used to do for my communities… and I wonder if anything came of it? Because I haven’t “seen” the results myself (or perhaps I just haven’t recognized them)… though I sure have seen Your answers in my own family… and am trusting You for more…

But Papa, it does seem – again – that lately I just haven’t been paying, and haven’t been in Your word, like I used to be. And I find I am really missing You. And I am missing Your people, Your family. I like the street ministry, but I really miss studying Your word in more depth, and I really feel like my “hospitality” there isn’t enough… Papa??? … And I’d like to go to G’s gatherings to discuss You and Your word… but it doesn’t seem to work out… And I’d love to have people into my home – often – to feed them, to be friends, to show (LIVE!) Your love, to study Your word together, to jam a bit, to worship You together… but it seems mostly impossible.

Proverbs 18:2 “A fool does not delight in understanding, But only in revealing his own mind.”
(Is that me, Papa??) (I do want to understand… I do want to know You… and be like You… with You… united in spirit with Your Spirit… as Your child… You my Father, Saviour, Spirit, Guide!

Okay, Papa, I have to tell You… I am lonely. I know You are “enough.” … In fact, You are ALL… and yet, it seems You have chosen to make us with the need to live in community… and I feel that I’m not. Okay, I am, maybe at least somewhat, hospitality-wise (but not at my home hardly at all – which really does break my heart… but intellectually and spiritually – I feel alone – lonely, okay! …

I feel like my mind is “losing it” because I’m not being intellectually stimulated! At least when I was teaching I got to go to those conferences, and some really interesting ProD’s… and it was a challenge to design lesson plans and outlines… and learn a new language…

But now I feel like my brain is turning to mush. I know some (maybe a lot) of it is my fault: too much watching TV etc: but You know how that got started – and why at least some of it continues (and I don’t know what to do about that… but once it is going, I have a hard time to stop, even when “the reason” ends… You know…)

But it seems like I really need interaction studying Your word (which I really want to do!). I have wonderful times of interaction with You – but I want it with others, too.

(Or at least some deadlines – like taking a course or whatever) (or even some feedback to what I write) (I loved the feedback last night at writer’s group… and even that comment on my “family story” site today! Wow! Makes me want to get writing again!) (But I’m having a hard time settling down to it, focusing on it. Help!!!! Please???! Thank You!)

Proverbs 18:4 “The words of a man’s mouth are deep water; the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook.” (That’s how I want to be – a bubbling source of wisdom – rather than a babbling fool of many empty words…)

Proverbs 18:10 “The name of the LORD is a strong tower; The righteous runs into it and is safe.” (That’s why I want to write about You.) (And have all my writing led by You)!
Proverbs 18:21 “Death and life are in the power of the tongue…” (and/or of the pen…)
Proverbs 18:24 “…there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Yes! That’s YOU!)

predictability... losing sight of You... judging...

December 10, 2009

We were watching some people singing “gospel” on the TV news, and we started talking about Elvis and Jimmy S… and about how they started their singing in church as children… and how they and a lot of other people have gotten distracted by the recognition of the world… and then L mentioned how Billy Graham didn’t seem to get distracted by that… and that’s right, he seemed to have had a real gift of humility… but at the same time, I wondered aloud if he ever struggled with the way his evangelism organization was so set up with a pattern… I mean, I know it was a reflection of the times, and of how the “church” “worked,” but every crusade was so predictable, it was so planned and organized, they sent out instructions ahead of time of exactly how to make it happen before they went to any city for a crusade, and every service was totally predictable, right from the songs that were sung, and the length of the sermons, and the “formula” for the invitation, and the booklets handed out to the seekers, and everything… seems like so little was “left to chance” (or to Your Spirit??? And yet… they seem to have had great results…). … Interesting, I know that Billy has passed his “mantle” on to his son, but it seems to me like we never hear about “Billy Graham Crusades” anymore… (But maybe You used that pattern at that time because it “worked” in that time and place???... and maybe things have changed now, and You are working in a different way (that some people don’t like! Change isn’t easy for a lot of folks to take) (but that is reaching a whole lot of other people – including quite a lot of people, even leader-type people, who used to be totally “wound up” into the old formulaic, patterned way)…

Anyway, we were wondering about how that happens, how people (like Jimmy S… and even Elvis) wander away from what they believe in, from where their hearts were, from really walking close with You, Papa… and how easily that seems to happen… from the world’s acclaim, and from busyness, and from just getting caught up in the formula because it seems to work so well, and losing sight of You and the fact that maybe You’ve moved on from that place… and so on… and they don’t even realize it at first, maybe not even for a long time, and then when they “get caught” or “everything falls apart,” sometimes they do repent and return to You… but it seems to be hard to do, and some just don’t… or else they get defensive and refuse to admit their problem for a long time… and, funny thing, maybe they have been at the same time “judging” others for doing the same kinds of things they are doing themselves (like Jimmy judging the other televangelists, back then)…

And that reminded me of those words from scripture: “I thank Thee, Lord, that I a not like this publican…,” and Your sad response to that, dear Jesus,” Remove the log from your own eye, before you try to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye…” … and I realized, it’s so easy to judge… but truly, only You know the heart of another… oh Father, please, please help me not to judge….

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Who is our leader/ pastor/ shepherd... king?!?

December 10, 2009

I was just sitting down to do some more Microsoft Office 2007 (Power Point) on-line training, when I sensed You very strongly speaking to me to turn to Your word instead. So I got my Bible and started reading my “chapters for today” and right away I realized there was a “theme” running through…

1 Samuel 7: 2 … and all the house of Israel lamented after the LORD. 3. Then Samuel spoke to all the house of Israel, saying, “If you return to the LORD with all your heart, remove the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth from among you and direct your hearts to the LORD and serve Him alone; and He will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines.” 4. So the sons of Israel removed the Baals and the Ashtaroth and served the LORD alone. 5. Then Samuel said, “Gather all Israel to Mizpah and I will pray to the LORD for you.” 6. They gathered…. and fasted on that day and said there, “We have sinned against the LORD.” And Samuel judged the sons of Israel at Mizpah…. 9…. And Samuel cried to the LORD for Israel and the LORD answered him…. 12. Then Samuel took a stone and set it between Mizpah and Shen, and named it Ebenezer (The stone of help), saying, “Thus far the LORD has helped us.” … 14… So there was peace between Israel and the Amorites….

I Samuel 8:6 But the thing was displeasing in the sight of Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” And Samuel prayed to the LORD. 7. The LORD said to Samuel, “Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them, 8. Like all the deeds which they have done since the day that I brought them up from Egypt even to this day – in that they have forsake Me and served other gods – so they are doing to you also.” …. 19. Nevertheless, the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel, and they said, “No, but there shall be a king over us, 20. that we may be like all the nations, that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.”

(Father, Papa, I just can’t get away from the feeling that probably a lot of “churches” … the vast majority, eh! … are in this similar position… first we turned from just following You, from walking together with Jesus through Your Spirit… as members of one body walking and working together, in Your love, with You, our head, our God… to next wanting a “pastor” as a kind of intercessor – like Israel wanted Moses, and then the judges, to be … and then when those human intercessor/pastor people turn out to be, well, human… well, then we want “leaders” and “organizations” (kingdoms!) like the world around us (and/or the “churches” around us)… and in the process, we of course have to accept “the procedure of the king who will reign over them…” (1 Sam 8:9-18) (ignoring Your warnings to us)… funny thing, though… every time the “leader” doesn’t suit us, we go looking for another human to take on the “king” job… and we so rarely seem to think of really repenting and going back to You…) (Papa???)(oh dear, oh dear… oh dear.) (my stomach feels sick!)

Psalm 146: 2. I will praise the LORD while I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being. 3. Do not trust in princes, In mortal man, in whom there is no salvation… 5. How blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, Whose hope is in the LORD his God… 10. The LORD will reign forever, Your God, O Zion, to all generations. Praise the LORD!

Proverbs 14: 12. There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death… 26. In the fear (reverence) of the LORD there is strong confidence, and his children will have refuge…. 30. A tranquil heart is life to the body… 34. Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a disgrace to any people.
(A tranquil heart is ONLY found in YOU, Father God, Jesus, Holy Spirit!)(You’re the only hope for tranquil hearts in Your children, Your body, Your church!)

Ezekiel 23: 45 But they, righteous men, will judge them (referring to Israel, pictured as the “bride” of God – but remember, we too are the “bride of Christ”…) with the judgment of adulteresses and with the judgment of women who shed blood, because they are adulteresses and blood is on their hands…. 49. Your lewdness (running after the world and its “gods”) will be requited upon you, and you will bear the penalty of worshiping your idols; thus you will know that I am the Lord GOD.

I Corinthians 12: 4. Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. 6. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. 7. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good…. 11. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills. 12. For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit…. 18. But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired… 20. But now there are many members, but one body. … 22. On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; 23. And those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable, 24. Whereas our more presentable members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, 25. So that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another….

Revelation 10: 5. Then the angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land lifted up his right hand to heaven, 6. And swore by Him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and the things in it, and the earth and the things in it, and the sea and the things in it, that there will be delay no longer, 7. But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, then the mystery of God is finished, as He preached to His servants the prophets…. 11: 15. The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ (Messiah); and He will reign forever and ever.

"the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good"

December 10, 2009

I’ve had rattling around in my mind lately this idea to set up some kind of buy/ sell/ trade/ barter/ share group (for services/ skills/ talents/ even giftings etc, as well as things/ goods) among believers in our community and/or local region. Sort of an “Acts 4:32-35 in Action” group – with a 21st century twist… (This idea has risen out of a “data base” I have been gathering of all the churches and related organizations and outreaches in our area… it’s nice to have that data base… but what do we DO with it? How do we BE THE CHURCH together, once we’ve found each other?!?!?)

Remember those verses? “And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul: and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them. And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all. For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales, and lay them at the apostles’ feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need.”

This could include “buying and selling” among our brothers and sisters according to ability to pay, as well as trading, bartering, sharing, giving freely. And people sharing their homes with other believers, not just as meeting places for gatherings of the church, but also daily hospitality, sharing meals, even taking in people in need (or giving them full use of that cottage, etc, until they are “back on their feet”)… (and whatever happened to “billeting”?!?!? Why do visiting evangelists, missions teams, etc now have to raise money to stay in hotels? Scary!)

And it would also include posting up our talents and skills and giftings…. Giving the “Dorcas/ Tabitha’s” connections with those who need their skills (and opportunity to teach those skills to others who lack them)… and creating connections within the “local churches” within the “church in our community” (sharing our programs, buildings, even sharing those in “our” group who have various spiritual gifts which may be lacking in “their” group; getting together to reach out into our communities in a way that is more effective than each little group trying desperately to do a little bit alone)…

1 Corinthians 12:7 “But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”

Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the “spiritual” spiritual gifts, that we tend to ignore or downplay the significance and need for the “practical” spiritual gifts (helps, administrations, hospitality, etc)… (and sometimes we do the opposite, too)… And sometimes we spend a lot of time talking about them, but not acting on them… But ALL the gifts are needed, and all are foundationally given and led by Your Spirit… and ONLY IN ACTION are they MANIFEST… only in the ACTION of the church, led by the Spirit, is the love of God manifested to the world. “They’ll know we are Christians by our love” … and that love is LOVE IN ACTION… so that the world will “take note that we’ve been with Jesus” – with God, who IS LOVE! It’s interesting that in the time of the early church, the world outside the church noticed the church and admired it because of the “love they had for one another.” Love that showed itself in the amazing actions recorded in Acts 4:32-35… 24-7 daily love, lived out TOGETHER in homes and marketplace and community, not hidden away behind “sacred walls” so to speak.

I love that expression: “the manifestation of the Spirit!”

Miriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary Tenth Edition, defines as follows:

Manifest (adj): from L manifestus: caught in the act, flagrant, obvious [can we say that our love for one another is flagrant?!?!?]… 1. readily perceived by the senses and esp. by the sight. 2. easily understood or recognized by the mind.

Manifest (vt): to make evident or certain by showing or displaying.

Manifestation: 1. the act, process, or an instance of manifesting. 2. a public demonstration of power and purpose [and where does the church’s power come from? “the manifestation of the Spirit!”]

Manifesto: a written statement declaring publically the intentions, motives, and view of its issuer [well, we’ve been given the manifesto: but we are also called to manifest! … which goes beyond just teaching/ preaching: “readily perceived by the senses” … “caught in the act, flagrant, obvious” ! … what an accurate description of Jesus! … can it become an accurate description of us too, as we allow His Spirit to manifest Him through us – together?!?!?!]

Friday, 4 December 2009

Wonderful time at church in the park

November 15, 2009

Took rice krispee squares, puffed wheat squares, boiled eggs, green and black tea bags, and some Hallowe’en twizzlers to church-in-the-park (basement!) today. There was a very brisk, chilly wind, and despite the fact that French toast was being made outside, most of the guys and gals stayed inside. There was also instant oatmeal, white toast, raisin-bread toast, apples, toasted eggo waffles… Put out some of the cheeze-whiz that R had brought, in addition to the usual peanut butter, syrup and jam… boy was the cheeze-whiz popular!!!! Went through 10 pots of coffee and 5 jugs of juice this morning.

Don’t know how any people came altogether, but a pretty good crowd for such a cold, windy day… maybe around 50 or so? At least 20, I think, stayed for “service.” It was the last “service” we will have there. A lady just up the street has offered the waiting room of her medical office. It has lots of couches, easy chairs, etc, so we can serve breakfast at the regular place till 9:30, then clean up, and head over to her place. “Service” will start at 10 am, and go until whenever Father wants! Cool! This is a wonderful, God-thing! Now we won’t be encroaching on the programs of the church group whose basement and yard they have so generously shared with us. We can be cleaned up, and be out, when they arrive for their choir practice, etc. Awesome! Cool, cool, cool!!! 

The atmosphere this morning was so incredibly “family.” It is amazing how more and more people are just pitching in and sharing in the set-up, serving, clean-up, etc. And the participation in the “service” - okay, I’m just going to call it the “gathering!” – is so wonderful, too! Yay!  This is “church” – God’s family meeting together with Him, caring for each other, sharing together in His word, learning from Him through His Spirit in each one. Thank You, Lord!

Friday, 13 November 2009

bringing together the "church in our community/ area"... and learning to wait for Your timing (again, still!)

November 11, 2009

At work (church office) I put a shelf set out on the front porch with “free, help yourself” magazines, Bibles, Daily Breads, etc, as well as some candy, kids books, and other miscellaneous items. And I am getting more and more “company” these days, as folks drop by to chat. Today one of the men who go to this church brought in a French Vanilla Coffee and an apple fritter from Timmy’s… and we had a nice chat!

Today at work I started putting together a list of churches and para-church organizations, etc in Penticton/South Okanagan, with names of pastors/ principals/ directors, phone numbers, email and website addresses. Maybe I should add fax numbers as well. I am going to finish it tomorrow, and send it by email to ask them to make any updates, etc.

I have also been posting on the outside bulletin board, announcements we get from other churches in the community. I keep looking for ways to “bring together” the “church at Penticton/ South Okanagan.”

November 12, 2009

I actually worked (lol) at work today. I got that chart of the area churches etc done and emailed. And immediately I received back a bunch of enthusiastic responses. I also did the church bulletin. And made posters for front and back doors saying where to go for the Another Chance Ministries (Pastor P’s) coffee times and Sunday breakfast and service.

A neat thing happened at work today. The lady who is in charge of the “prayer ministry” came in because someone had called and asked her to pray with him. She brought her hubby along because she didn’t really know this guy who wanted prayer. Anyway, the guy didn’t turn up. But another young man came by, looking for Pastor P, not realizing the coffee time had been moved to another location. So he was telling them how he needed to get back to his home in Ontario to help with a family situation. They checked into his story… and when it came up true, they bought him a plane ticket. His mom in Ontario, who they were talking to on the phone, was so happy and relieved. They thought they were coming in for one reason, but really You brought them in for another!

November 13, 2009

I was talking to hubby this morning again about restarting some kind of “Sunday soup” thing… but again he said, “Not yet…” I get so eager to “get going” with my ideas… but it seems like, mostly, Your plans take longer… and that’s good, because 1. Your timing is perfect, and 2. Things that are rushed into generally aren’t well thought out, (not to mention that they are just “my” ideas…), and 3. Most things that are truly important (perhaps all!?!) involve relationships… and relationships can’t be rushed! (and a lot of other reasons, too, now that I begin thinking about it!).

Monday, 9 November 2009

church in the park... awesome day!

November 8, 2009

I got up this morning at 4:45 and boiled 2 dozen eggs. Then I went to church-in-the-park/ basement and it was so neat! And I learned some amazing things! Thank You, Papa!

So when I got to church-in-the-park (aka church-in-the-churchyard-and-basement, lol!), I started setting things up. Pastor P came in and told me we can start using the stoves in the kitchen! Yay! So I can make up cheese biscuits, bread dough, etc, at home, and bring it in and put it in the oven to bake! I can also make porridge there! Even boil eggs there! Yay! Looking forward to that, instead of always having to make it at home, and bring it with me (since I usually walk, and it’s a half hour trek, and the weather is cold now, everything ends up cold, which is not so great! It will be awesome to be able to provide hot-from-the-oven/stove stuff!)

So I was digging around to see what was available for today. Coffee, black and green tea (quite a few people happily taking a couple tea bags home as well), hot chocolate, juice (well, made from powder…). B was outside cooking hot dogs on the campstove grill. Inside, I put out brown and white bread, and Eggo waffles by the toaster (with a variety of toppings, of course). Also instant oatmeal packets. There was no milk, so one of the guys donated a couple townies, and another guy hopped on his bike and went to the 24-7 Store to get some. Also dug around in the fridge and found mandarin oranges, apples, homemade cookies, some Hallowe’en candy. And also put out the boiled eggs. It was a feast! Everybody (almost 120 folks turned up! It seems to grow every week!) sure enjoyed it!

It was such a beautiful morning. Very little breeze and almost clear sky – nice when the sun came up . Most of the folks were hanging around outside, but would come in periodically for coffee and food, and to warm up. It seems to me like a lot of people are hanging around longer, instead of just “eating and running.” About 7:30 or 8:00, a teacher and 4 students from a local middle school arrived with bags and bags of clothes they had collected, after hearing about homeless people, and wanting to help out. They spread them out on at least 6 or more long tables, and all the folks came in and joyfully dug through the piles of clothes. There were a lot of winter items (jackets, hats and gloves, warm pants, sweaters, sweat shirts, etc) and they were so happy to get them. A lot of people are still sleeping outside, even though it is November and the weather has been pretty cold (below freezing some nights) and wet. There seem to be more people still sleeping outside in November this year, than in previous years.

One lady, who is in a wheelchair following a stroke, was delighted with all the pretty, feminine clothes she found. She filled up the big bag on the back of her wheelchair, smiling from ear to ear. She said it was like Christmas! She couldn’t wait to go home and try on her new wardrobe – dresses, skirts, pants, blouses, sweaters, even pyjamas and underwear. She was SO happy! I was helping her pick out items, but pretty soon all the students joined in to help, and then even some of the guys helped.

People were happily choosing clothes for themselves – but then someone else would need something they’d already picked out, but couldn’t find any more – and those who already had picked out those things for themselves, would dig into their own piles and share what they’d found with the others! They also were picking out clothes for people they knew who couldn’t make it this morning.

As often happens, one of the men came in, concerned because no one had seen one of the street guys for several days. He talked about it to Pastor P , who promised to check the hospital and make some calls. The family on the street really do look after each other!

Of course there are some people who don’t get along very well with some other people – but everyone understands that at church-in-the-park you leave your disagreements behind. Because it is known to be a safe, family kind of place, a number of these “dislike relationships” have over time turned into good friendships!

About 8:30, a pastor who is also a ventriloquist arrived, and everyone sat down for a show! It was really entertaining, lots of good jokes and laughter… but also a clear message of the peace and happiness God brings into lives, and encouragement to get into God’s Word, and come to know Him.

About 9:15, after cleaning up the hot-dog set-up, as well as the table of free Bibles and some other Christian literature, some folks came inside and helped clean up there as well. More and more people are pitching in to help set up and clean up. It used to be really on Pastor P’s shoulders a lot of the time, with some help from 3 or 4 volunteers, but more and more the street community themselves are really pitching in and sharing in the work.

(Oh yes! Someone had donated a bunch of reading glasses – and people were happily trying them on. Little things like that make a big difference in peoples’ lives).

Then those who wished to do so, sat down around some pulled-together-tables (Pastor P would love to get some couches!) with their coffee. After prayer (which also happens together at the beginning of the morning, individually or in small groups throughout the morning as people need it, and again together before everyone leaves), Pastor P brought some teaching. He had some new business cards, and he handed one out to each person. On the cards were listed, besides his contact information, some verses that are key to Another Chance Ministries. He read each verse by turn, and explained why he had chosen it for the card. At all times, people were free to ask questions or make comments.

Some of the new believers really have no “background” in the Bible or Christianity at all. They ask some really basic questions, and it is neat to hear Pastor P and others explain things in simple terms that they can grasp, using examples related to their own lives…. Questions like “ Why are some words in this Bible red?” … and “Well, if that is who Jesus is, then who is Christ?” (which led on to an attempt to simply explain the basics of the concept of the Trinity!), and, after Pastor P was reading the passage about the “woman caught in adultery,” the question, “Why did they only go after the woman? Men are worse adulterers!” (which led to a discussion of 1st century society… and then to present day differences in religious beliefs and in different societies… and how Jesus’ teaching on equality before God really upset(s) a lot of people!). Finally, the young woman who was asking these particular questions begged, “Stop! Stop! That’s all I can absorb at one time!,” and everyone laughed and agreed! This is typical of “church services” at church-in-the-park: while Pastor P more often than not has a “teaching” “planned,” the Spirit of God often takes it in some interesting directions or a different “plan” altogether, and Pastor P is very sensitive and open to that (but also very wise in recognizing things that are “rabbit warrens” and keeping the conversation and teaching from going those directions). Also, of course, not only Pastor P answers and teaches and shares; others are also free to contribute, and do. No question or testimony or other sharing is looked down upon, from any person (although purposely silly comments and questions are quickly dispensed with). Also, everyone is always encouraged to take a free Bible with them when they go, and to dig into it, learning from God’s Word themselves, and getting to know God on an on-going personal basis, rather than just depending on the teaching at the gatherings.

By the way, the verses on the Another Chance Ministries card are:
Matthew 22:39 “… You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Luke 8:21 “… My mother and My brothers are those who hear the Word of God and do it.”
John 8:7 “…He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone…”
1 Corinthians 13:13 “But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
Matthew 7:1 “Do not judge so that you will not be judged.

And these verses do reflect the emphasis of the part of God’s family that is “Another Chance Ministries” (aka church-in-the-park!)… a gathering of believers and seekers – and anyone who wants to come and experience the family life that is found in Jesus. By the way, people who come to know Jesus from experiencing this street ministry, often go on to also become part of other “churches” in the community (all part of “the church at Penticton, of course!), while still taking part in church-in-the-park, and continuing to reach out to, and be part of the street-level family).

(You can check out the website at – the site is a bit in need of updating, but it will give you a picture of this family).

So… we had to pack up about 10 am, because the generous folks of St. Andrew’s Church, who so generously offered free use of their grounds and their fellowship area (dining room, washrooms, kitchen, even an office space for Pastor P!) – were gathering together to do some choir practice before their own church service, and to set up for their own coffee time.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

really letting the past go!

November 6, 2009 (again!)

… later… Hocus pick! That was just the most amazing roll of thunder (no weather sounds before that) and now there is a downpour of little white hailstorms (and more thunder). I looked outside and the sky was pitch dark. At first I assumed it was just “night” darkness… but then, over on the edge of the horizon, I spotted a very small patch of clear sky with almost-full-dawn brightness! And I realized the sky is just covered with a big puffy quilt of really thick black clouds! So cool! (Will You clear it up enough, Papa, for the street folks to come out for coffee/ breakfast?)  Please? Your will be done!

When You told me to get up early, I thought You wanted me to type some more of my journal catch-up! I did a lot yesterday, and am just so thrilled to read again what You have been teaching me, and the amazing things You’ve been doing for us and in us – and Your amazing provisions that just seem to go on and on and on!!??!! (Why? I keep wondering… but I love it! Even if I don’t “deserve it” … etc…)

Last night hubby and I went to G’s and listened to a program talking about the prodigal son – or rather, about the loving Father!

Afterwards, we were talking about the things we’d been taught, our experiences (often NOT loving) of “church” in the past, the false perceptions we’d developed of You and Your “expectations of us,” and of “the church” and all….

But as we kept talking, I sensed You (speaking so quietly.. I didn’t even “hear” You at first… maybe – no, for sure – didn’t even want to hear You! Oh dear! I’m sorry… now… wasn’t then, though… sorry…) telling me that it is time to not only put behind us (me, too! Most!) the “bad events” of the past, and just walk forward, eyes (heart! spirit!) trained on You … but also time to put behind us (me, too! Most!) this rehashing, this re-telling of all those things we were talking about… for one thing, it’s tiring and useless to keep rehashing it, and listening to it being rehashed; and for another thing, it becomes excuse-making for our own wrong choices and attitudes – our sin! – and it also becomes a kind of boasting (“my past church/ God/ whatever experiences and training were lots worse than yours!”) (and of course that leads to exaggeration and fictionalizing – like, who can tell the better story?!?!??! – lies!)… and it wastes the time that we should be redeeming, using to move forward and to know and love You more, and allow You to use us to spread Your love – live it out! – and build Your kingdom!

Yes, the past is done! Let it go!

(I remember when Pastor A was teaching us to put together our “2 minute testimonies” … and he kept saying that “the past” shouldn’t use up more than 20%! That meant keeping it to 20% of 120 seconds… so 24 seconds, maximum! Ha! They say these days that we should wash our hands for 30 seconds (to avoid the H1N1 flu), and that that is about how long it takes to sing the “ABC” song… which is NOT very long! But longer than 24 seconds! Just the “ABC’s” without the self-congratulatory little ending… Hmmm… I think that our rehashing (mine, especially) of our past (mine especially) IS awfully self-congratulatory! (wanting to be admired, paid attention to, etc…)

Sorry, Papa…

(Should I remove my old written stories… or at least edit them to focus more on YOU??) (Papa??)

(At least I really need to watch my tongue at church-in-the-park/ morning coffee times.. leave the “old man” behind!!! Totally!!! Walk – and talk!!! – in “newness of life!!!!).


listening: to You, and to Your family... and gongs and cymbals and keeping our eyes on You, the composer and conductor and teacher!

November 6, 2009

You put that on my heart last night – “Just listen.” Papa, we DO need someone to listen to us. Of course we do have YOU – and yes, that “should” be enough! BUT I wonder… I know You recognize (having walked in our shoes, taken on our bodies and lives Yourself), that we seem sometimes (often, especially in the toughest, confusing, “alone” times) to need You “with skin on” … to be able to see and touch and know for sure that You are listening, that You are here, and that You care (that is, after all, a large part of why You came, Jesus, to make the Father KNOWN!)…. I am sure that is part of the reason You have given us Your family and told us to gather and encourage and edify and pray for each other (all of which requires conversation to some degree… which of course requires LISTENING to each other speak! And it is NOT ours to judge. You are the ONE who judges, the only ONE who truly knows each heart, and therefore the only one who can judge rightly!. And while we can teach and encourage and set an example, ultimately it is You who reaches the heart – as Paul wrote, one plants, another waters, but it is YOU who brings the growth.

I think we also need listeners because it is difficult for us to sort things out “in our heads.” That is why I write things down on paper… it “dumps” it all out, allows me to “look at it” (with YOU!!!!), to sort it out, to organize, to junk that which needs to be junked… and in the process, I find You, always, joining me in the process, pointing things out, making suggestions… joining in the conversation! Loving me! Yes!

And I’m thinking that is also how You want to work through us to reach into the lives of others. Your Word talks about how fellow believers, especially those You have given us to teach, guide, nourish, encourage, love!... as “2… our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; 3. … a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts” (2 Corinthians 3:2-3). Paul was speaking specifically of “letters of reference” but I think it goes well beyond that, too! You have given me a particular means of communicating with You (journaling, story writing, letter and email writing) – and with Your family! But ALL of us are called to communication, all of us are called to be “living letters!” - encouraging, listening, exhorting, LISTENING! In LOVE, without judging (for none of us can judge totally rightly – only You know the hearts and motives and circumstances etc of each person! Only Your love is perfect! But as Your Spirit lives within us, our spirits grow in Your love and we too can – must! – share it with others!).

1 Corinthians 13:1 “If I… do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2. If I… do not have love, I am nothing.”

Papa, that is right. That is exactly what happens in a church when Your love is not truly there. (We SAY we love You and love each other… but our actions speak louder than our words! Love isn’t a warm, mushy feeling we get when we hug each other, have a potluck together, take part in some “awesome worship time” …)

NO! Love is when the gong and the cymbals take their rightful place in the orchestra – hold silence till exactly the right moment, when suddenly they ring out – or are played very quietly, just as the score requires – and become a beautiful part of the music. But if they ring out at any other point, they bring discord, disharmony, ear pain! I think “gongs and cymbals” are like warnings, wake-up-calls, correcting, pointing our problems… even, perhaps, disciplining… when done in love (true love, YOUR LOVE) they are beautiful and harmonious and healing… but used otherwise, they are grating, annoying, painful, hurtful, discordant, dis-unifying, destructive!

And how do we know when the “gong and cymbal” are appropriate? When YOUR SPIRIT prompts their use – YOU, the compose, the conductor, the orchestra teacher who chooses the instruments and gives them to the musicians who You choose and train, prepare, gift! (So often, we go rushing in and grab the wrong instrument and start squawking, squeaking, clashing… I have pain in my ears and head thinking of it… remembering in my high school band days those painful moments of learning new instruments – and of the band beginning to “tune up” … as long as everyone was trying to tune up their own instrument, on their own, there was this terrible, horrible, painful discord – like a bunch of barnyard animals in terrible pain! But then the band teacher, the conductor, would pick up his baton and wave it for everyone to be quiet… and then he’d call for a “C” perhaps… and everyone would play that one note together… which would be much better, but still not quite right. And then the conductor would stop us, and point over to the clarinets, perhaps, or to the trumpets, or which ever group of instruments, and have that group play the note… and then perhaps to just one or two players who needed special help…and those players would be helped to get their instruments in tune… and before long, the band would be ready to practice and then perform, to play together, to present the concert… the music swelling, lifting, then descending quietly, then one or two players perhaps performing a beautiful solo part, and then the rest joining in joyfully, beautifully – as long as all the players kept their eyes on the conductor, even as they also watched the music score.

I remember so often, our band teacher would have to stop us and remind us that without keeping our eyes on him, we would quickly get off-track, no matter how well we could play our instruments, and no matter how well we could read the music, and even no matter how well we listened to each other – usually a good thing, but a disaster if we started following someone who was already out of tune or off the beat! (And sometimes, our conductor would choose to adjust the score, to perhaps add a solo part, or emphasize a certain group of instruments… the composer’s score didn’t change, but there was room for the conductor to “interpret” it.. and that is especially true of You, Who are the perfect composer and conductor and teacher and guide!  Oh Papa! Help us to listen to You!!! Help us to keep our eyes on You!! Help us to keep our spirits totally in tune, in obedience, with Your Spirit!!!

(The score, Your Word, is of course very important; the other band members – Your children, Your family – are important; the instruments – the gifts, talents, even the “programs” sometimes, are important… but only when all eyes are on the conductor, and all players are obedient to the conductor, above all!)

truth... vs. theological positions, liturgical practices, distinctives... hearing what the Spirit says to the churches

Nov 4, 2009 (yet again…)

… yesterday, T was talking about how the church he attends is a “Baptist” church, and how it is important for a church group, once they have decided to affiliate with a particular denomination/ theological stance, to stick with it, and to teach those theological positions (and live them out/ express them appropriately, in the services, etc). He kept referring to “charismatic” as something to (apparently) avoid… I’m thinking it is perhaps because a former pastor of that “Baptist Church” had at one time been a Pentecostal pastor… and still had a tendency to stress the work and leading of the Holy Spirit, in a stronger way perhaps than more “strictly Baptist” pastors might do.

I know that Truth is essential… but I fear that “truth” has become “that which we believe, theologically,” and also “our” liturgical practices, and “our distinctives” (for example, in the case of Baptists, adherence to Calvinistic theological viewpoints, and “services” that are generally “conservative” in style, and of course insistence on baptism by immersion after personally being born again, etc…)

My reading this morning included Revelation chapters 2 and 3, messages to the seven churches. The one thing that was repeated in every case was, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (2:7,11,17,29; 3:6,13,22).

Jesus promised to send the Spirit, who would explain all Jesus had taught – Jesus being the Way, the Truth, the Life!

I love the Bible/ scriptures/ Word of God – and we as Christians consider ourselves to be “people of the Book” and claim “sola scriptura” which was a foundational principle of the Protestant Reformation (in reaction to adding tradition, papal pronouncements, etc, to scriptural truth). But Scripture without the Holy Spirit is a “dead word,” in that relationship with God (because of Jesus, through His Holy Spirit) is the true and final basis and foundation – that for which we were created, and which Jesus died and rose again to RESTORE!

The messages to the seven churches are SO relevant to the church in this day and age. Way too often, as 1 Corinthians 3:3 points out, we are “walking as mere men” instead of “hearing what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 2 and 3). We are, like the “church” that the Reformers protested against, caught up, ourselves, in creeds and catechisms (even if we don’t use those particular terms… we like “statements of faith” and “mission statements” and so forth!), and theological positions, and interpretations of scripture which lead us to pride, contempt of other brethren, in-fighting, disunity… “walking as mere men!” We seem to feel that God spoke through His Word (and possibly through his Spirit, though that does not seem to be as universally accepted or considered as important by some… oh dear…) to some man/ men/ groups in the far distant past, once and for all, and as long as we memorize and repeat those “sacred” interpretations and perspectives (the ones we personally have chosen as “right”), we’ll be just dandy!

But YOU want to guide each of us YOURSELF (while at the same time [incredibly, it sometimes seems to me… oh dear…] using us to encourage and edify one another – because we all have the same Spirit within us, who never changes, and therefore we will be in unity!). You want each of us to be in relationship with You. We are each of us members of the “holy priesthood” … we are called to follow ONE high priest, Jesus Christ, as He leads us by HIS Holy Spirit – the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ! We are NOT called to accept unquestioningly the viewpoints of “holy men/ leaders? But to bring those words to You, and ask You to lead us into all truth. And since we are “human,” we are to seek Your truth together, so we do not err by falling into pride and the foolishness of men.

We are to remain in, grow in, our “first love” (Revelation 4:2)!!!

I want to hear what YOU, Holy Spirit, have to say to the churches!!!

having to turn to You?... no permanent facility could actually be a gift from You... opening our homes?

Nov 4, 2009 (again!)

When I see “churches” and “Christian organizations” with tons of careful “rules and regulations” regarding their finances, building and program safety, etc etc etc… big emphasis on keeping thorough paper trails… oh Papa, it makes me wonder if You are setting up a situation where they simply can’t afford the whole building/ paid pastor/ paid office staff (lol… like me…) etc etc etc thing – so that they just have to totally turn to YOU!!!

Where did that just come from? Yes, from Your Word right now: 1 Corinthians 3:1 And I, brethren, could not speak to you as spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. 2. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, 3. for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men … 6. I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. 7. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth… 9. For we are God’s fellow workers, you are God’s field, God’s building… 11. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Christ Jesus… 16. Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? … 18. If any man among you thinks that he is wise in this age, he must become foolish, so that he may become wise… 23…. You belong to Christ; and Christ belongs to God.

…. Maybe it is also a gift from You that Pastor P does NOT have a “permanent facility” but has to trust You to provide from day to day, moment to moment! Maybe these “street Christians” will be (are! to me, at least!) an example of Your church that we all need to see…. They have so little, they are content (happy! Joyful! Grateful!) with/for so little… what little they have, they joyfully share and care with each other, they are friends, they appreciate Your love and the love of Your people… Maybe right now a building would be a PROBLEM!!!

I keep wondering… should we be opening the doors of our homes?? At least to the believers?!?! I WANT TO! But do YOU want me to? (Most people seem to think it’s a bad idea…. Like “we need our private space” and “they can’t really be trusted…” But we have shown we don’t even trust each other in our “churches” ….

Oh dear God… what do YOU want? Please pour out Your Spirit. Please soften our hearts, and open our ears… and hands!!!! … any may our mouths be only conduits for Your Word from Your Spirit… please, please, please!!!

Thank You!! amen!!! … back to Your Word…

French-language Bibles... and new friendliness and happiness... and drop-in gatherings with You... people wanting YOU!

Nov 4, 2009

After work, I stopped at the Christian Book Store and bought their last French-language Bible and a couple copies of a French-language pamphlet by Gimbel (the Alpha guy). There is a need for French-language materials at church-in-the-park. The guy at the store said he’ll have more in, in a couple weeks, so I’ll pick some up then.

Yesterday at Tuesday coffee (after breakfast at home with my honey… loved that bit of morning time together!) there were quite a few people in and out for coffee. There WAS talk about YOU, Papa!

Then off to work… and quite a few people dropped in… everyone visited and chatted and there was such friendliness, happiness, as I haven’t seen there for a long while. PTL!

J told me last night that G is having a “drop-in” time every Thursday night…. I thought it was just a one-time thing, but no, it’s every Thursday… listening to a conversation on computer, then just talking together about/with Papa! Jesus! Holy Spirit! So I am looking forward to “dropping in” to that! (though one Thursday a month is Writer’s Group, of course).

So this morning I checked my email and fb before getting to this journal. G had posted on fb last night about being free from the system (he didn’t use those words, but that was the idea) and there followed a flurry of comments after that from others. Everywhere, Papa, it seems people just WANT YOU! But they want You big time!!! (It’s hard for people to accept, who are really “into” the system…)

what about this "non-programmed" approach to sharing the gospel?

Nov 2, 2009

Woke up feeling much better… and more positive!

At Monday coffee there were about 15 people. Quite a lot of the conversation centered around the Lord – which was cheering and reassuring, after the questions asked yesterday by that (former) pastor who I assume feels that there needs to be a more “conscious” and “planned/ programmed” approach to “ensuring” the street people receive the gospel. It did make me kind of wonder for a bit…

(It reminds me of when we started home-schooling. The first few days were school-at-home… and the kids just said, “We might as well go back to school,” so I threw caution to the wind, and we pretty much de-schooled, and un-schooled… the kids were allowed, except for a little bit of formal math and language arts for an hour or so – hard for me to let go total control! – to do any kind of learning they wanted: reading library books, playing games, watching semi-educational TV, going for hikes, helping people, etc etc etc. Being a long-time school teacher, and a bit nervous about this experiment, I did, behind the scenes, list everything they were doing… and it turned out that they were in the end doing a lot more learning, and were a lot more excited about it, than what they had done in “schooling” … But it sure looked like chaos to my “educator’s eye” at first! The local community librarian was happy, though… our kids alone accounted for half of the library’s circulation at the time… which, as it turned out, kept the library open full time; the directors had considered cutting the hours significantly! Later, one of my kids decided she wanted the “report card” record schools offer… and arranged to challenge final exams on some courses that were actually above her theoretical “grade level” … and totally aced them, even though she’d had no “formal schooling” in those areas (secondary level sciences and technology courses)!) …. (So I’m personally quite willing to give this “non-programmed” approach to sharing the gospel a chance )!

lack of "real discussion" about You? (What's real discussion, I wonder?)

November 1, 2009

Last night I set the alarm for 3:30 am (remembering that would be 2:30 am fall-back time, so I figured that would be plenty of time to get up and make fried bread. But as I was falling asleep I asked Papa to please wake me up in HIS timing! Then, at 2:00 am (1 am fall-back time) I woke up because my son had the washing machine going and the phone rang (no one on the other end)… I was just going to go back to sleep, but remembered what I had prayed, so I got up and got things ready to fry the bread. I went back to bed at 2:40 (1:40!) and got up at 3:30 (2:30) after all (though I didn’t really sleep, just dozed… then I fried the bread till 5:30 (4:30) and then made cow patty cookies and got dressed… and realized it was only 6:00 (5:00) and I don’t need to leave till 6:30 (5:30) and I remembered I need to take my prayer manual (so I can write down requests and pray as time permits. So I thought I’d just journal now for a bit… but it’s still only 5:07! And I am TIRED!! Well, I do have to pack up the fried bread; that won’t take long… maybe I should nap… or pray!! Pray!!!

…. Later….

Boy was I TIRED at church-in-the-park today (or rater, church-in-the-Presbyterian-church-basement, for those who prefer to come inside in this cold weather!)… I miss the outdoors, although I know it helps Pastor P that I keep up the coffee and snack end of things…

I didn’t write down any prayer requests (I took along my manual)… didn’t even think of it, really… just so so SO TIRED… can’t do this again (stay up most of the night to make fried read – even if it is really popular!)

J’s husband came and did a little ventriloquist act and gave his testimony… but it wasn’t “church” as we usually have… missed the interaction and the reference to scripture and all… but maybe I was just over-tired… hmmm… There is a retired (or maybe on-leave or just resigned) pastor there… He mentioned to me that he doesn’t notice much “real discussion” about/ including the Lord on Sunday morning gatherings (at church-in-the-park) and asked how it is on coffee days. Well you know, sometimes there is a LOT, sometimes not so much… today I think was maybe not so much… there was a kind of well, “hung-over” sort of feeling… well, some people were… Hallowe’en last night…

The sun is shining again today… beautiful! But even though I slept a couple hours when I got home, I am still really tired.

I guess I should start my NaNoWriMo… and PRAY!!!

I miss being with Your people (well, I’m with Your people a lot, most of the time, but You know, the ones that I knew so well and so long at that church, and it’s funny but it seems like as soon as we don’t have “going to that particular church” in common anymore, we just don’t manage to even see each other or even call each other etc…)… I miss praying with Your people, too, so much…

Papa, do I get too focused on myself? If my writing is any indication, I suppose I do, eh… I’m tired….

"town-hall meeting" with Your children... and a good time at church in the park (or in the basement, as the case may be!)

October 25, 2009

Yesterday evening I went to the “town hall meeting” at C’s place. I think he was hoping for a crowd… but only him, his dad, R&K, R, and me turned up. It started at 5 pm … and he had to chase us out at 9 pm! No one could believe that much time had passed!

We really did share our hearts. Just before I left to go over there, I was reading the local paper, and there was this amazing article about how loving Jesus and being in relationship with Him is the most important thing! I clipped in and put it in my bag… and Papa really impressed upon me to read it to them – and it was a blessing and a confirmation to everyone. One of the guys talked about what God has been showing him from Revelation. Another really knows Your Word, and liked how he gently asked questions and stuff that brought out Your truth. Thank You! And R&K told some interesting dreams they’ve had, and W gave an interesting possible interpretation of one of them.

Then R talked about how God has been leading them in working with teens (mostly unchurched ones) in an informal youth group … at first they were just doing it themselves, meeting in parks to play ball and stuff, but then they “thought” they should be under a “church’s umbrella”, and they went to a church and joined … And then the pastor, who was helping them, resigned. He was saying that then he was asking God what to do, and God showed him a vision of a long vine growing out from God Himself, and then sprouts were growing from the vine, and leaves, and all… and he saw that God (not some “church”) is the source and that they are to follow GOD’S direction – even if it seems that no one else is there to “help.” (And now they are having the youth over to their home, since it’s getting too cold to meet outside… R didn’t know how that would work because their place is small – but God gave him a dream/picture of their living room and dining room area changed around – just as his wife had been telling him a couple months back, but he had disagreed with her idea back then! So they went ahead and did it – and it works!). Anyway, then, in the vine vision, he asked God, “Well, what about that church?” … and he saw the vine grow right OVER the church building, but it did not grow inside of it! (When I heard that, I sucked in my breath! Oh dear God, please, please, please… open that building… open those hearts! [And yes – yikes, oh dear! – if it involves me, help me to be open to be involved in Your work there… but oh, please, not in anything that is not of You! Give me wisdom and discernment, please!!!... Oh dear God… HELP! Please!!!).

Then W read a couple things he’d written that were from You – pretty amazing stuff! He also gave some wise explanation of how the OT are related – but are separate covenants – and how old win cannot be put in new wineskins. I was pretty amazed listening to his really clear explanations… and then today, I was typing away from my July journal (started yesterday… I’m up to the beginning of August now) and I read where You had explained that very thing to me in early July! Wow! Thank You! Amazing! You knew I needed that reminder – and confirmation! 

I was so happy to be able to go to that gathering (and happy hubby gave me the go-ahead…)and I came home just dancing!

Oh! Did I mention that I reached the “400 friend” level on fb? I love having friends! It is awesome! Thank You, Papa!

This morning I made a couple dozen boiled eggs and some oatmeal porridge for church-in-the-park. I have volunteered to be the coffee lady, so now I stay inside the basement, making coffee, and people come inside to get it. Some stay in, eat their breakfast inside, and chat… others just grab coffee and head back outside to hang out there. One of the guys volunteered to go out to get me French Toast (they still make breakfast outside) and when he brought it in, he put a white paper towel over his arm, and brought it to the table where I was sitting, and very formally served me, with great flourish! We all got a good laugh out of that!

Apparently last Sunday (when I went to Edmonton) 70 people turned up. There were maybe 35 or 50 this Sunday (brrr… it was a chilly morning!) but we still went through a good 10 plus pots of coffee!).

Pastor P is all excited as he as received the official “society” paperwork for Another Chance Ministries (although it could take several months to receive “charitable status”). He is especially excited that it serves as an opportunity for lots of “churches” to come together under one umbrella to do things together that they maybe couldn’t do as well separately. So while his special interest is of course still the street ministry, he can also see the “church at Penticton” coming together through this “neutral” venue to do all kinds of other things as well. “Cool!” I think!

P asked the group what they see God doing, what they hear Him speaking to them, what they are hoping for. My goodness! What a wild time! Of course, there were a couple kind of “loud” people who tended to sort of dominate the conversation, and some peoples’ “issues” kind of spilled out toward the end, and at several points there were multiple conversations going on – loudly! Not like any church “service” I’ve ever seen before, lol! Well, one thing I thought was cool, was the way Papa gave a word through D, which he wrote down in the middle of everything – and which P read to the group once he got people quiet enough to really listen. It was about listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit. Right on, I think! (Later, D said something else that wasn’t quite “right,” and P gently steered that into more truth, which was good.)

As for me, I said almost nothing. My sense from You, Papa, was to sit and listen at this point (for today, anyway!). One of the young folks was saying that he really needs to learn to pray… and I wanted to jump in and explain that prayer is conversation with God, and that listening is as important – well, probably more important! – than the prayers that we ourselves speak. And I wanted to mention about “practicing the Presence of God” (like Brother Lawrence)… but Papa, I believe You had me hold my tongue!

(Much as You did last night at the other gathering… where, oddly enough, what I did talk about was why I left teaching at the Christian School… of course, I have taught K&R’s kids – and W was involved with the school in some way… and I didn’t want to criticize the school… but at the same time I seemed compelled to explain about how difficult it is to follow Your guidance in the school when the curriculum – and government funding etc – is so overwhelmingly “important…”

I did feel compelled to keep silence about the church where I am working, beyond mentioning how my experience in the school systems (public and Christian schools, both) were often found in “church systems” as well (sometimes more-so!).

I also expressed about my amazing experience of discovering that YOU LOVE ME!!! And how I longed to express that to my students, yet felt so bound… (not only by the curriculum, but also by the underlying current of “not rocking the boat” – or getting fanatical! – in a “multi-denominational” setting, etc… but I did not bring that up!)

Anyway, this afternoon I have been typing more journal notes… and so much of what You spoke to me at the gatherings last night and this morning was amazingly confirmed in what I had written (and yes… forgotten about…!) 3 months or so ago!

I am really sensing that You DO have some kind of teaching ministry/ service/ outreach for me to do in the coming time… and I am longing more and more to open my home (maybe on Sunday evenings?) for soup and fellowship and maybe study in Your Word…

(Your will be done, Papa… all from You, all for You! Period! Please! Thank You! Wow, I love You!) (And please forgive me… I really haven’t been walking with You as I need to… I really have been wasting my time – I want to, need to, “redeem the time” – for sure!)

It is really getting to be fall. Gray skies, cold breezes, brilliant colored leaves (rapidly filling!), rain… and snow in the mountains, and in Alberta! Well, I need to get eggs and stuff ready for coffee time tomorrow. Maybe I’ll make cheese biscuits too… And D wants me to bring the scissors to cut his hair!

… later… Oh! I forgot! Regarding the whole teaching-the-Word thing… so last night at the gathering, that verse was kind of ringing in my head: Jeremiah 20:9 “But if I say, ‘I will not remember Him or speak anymore in His name,’ then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary of holding it in, and I cannot endure it.” And I was trying so hard to locate the verse in my Bible, but could not… so I decided it was not something for me to say at that time (and I wasn’t really thinking of myself then… it came to my mind when someone else was talking about how we need to speak God’s Word when He puts it on our hearts).

Anyway, I still had it on my mind this morning… and there it was in my journal, as soon as I started typing from it… from back in August! But also right beside it was Proverbs 18:2 “A fool does not delight in understanding, but only in revealing his own mind.” - a serious warning to be sure that what I speak is actually from You, Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit – my God and Lord and Savior and King!

an amazing dream!

October 10, 2009 (again)

I had an amazing dream yesterday morning…. I don’t remember all the details (it was kind of long and rambling) but there were a lot of people on a beach – on the shore on Haida Gwaii – native people and non-native people both, and they were talking and the kids running and playing, and some (3 groups) getting ready to do Haida dancing.

I was sitting on the beach talking to F, and a girl was standing behind us talking to us. The day was chilly and the sky full of gray clouds. Suddenly there was a break in the clouds and sun streaming through. Then the most amazing “light show” in the gap – great flashing, sparkling lights, extremely brightly sunshine colored, some of them kind of hexagonal-shaped. And then the clouds around the edges of the gap began to “roll back like a scroll” and then the “rolled” parts began to move downward and pull together and take form – the form of a man! – as they swooshed and curved toward us.

F and I were gazing at it, and as the cloud form drew near, head first (head and upper body clear, the rest less so, as I recall) (it all happened so quickly!) we suddenly saw Jesus’ happy, joyful face smiling at us, His eyes sparkling and laughing joyfully, and His arms and hands outstretched toward us. He reached out His hands and oh, so gently, touched the sides of our faces and then ran His hands down kind of under our chins, holding there a moment, gazing with His incredible love into our eyes – and then He suddenly turned and twisted upward, fading/ melding back into the clouds – and it was over.

F had lifted his arms in the air and was praising and worshiping in tongues. Me – I was just almost speechless – maybe said a “Wow! Praise God! Thank You!” kind of thing – I’m not sure if I actually said it, or just felt it – I was overwhelmed… We leaned back against each other and looked around. It was like Paul on the Damascus road, kind of. The others had seen the light show and the clouds as they rolled back and moved downward – but only we had seen Jesus! We felt as though we’d never be able to talk to anyone else about it, because they probably wouldn’t understand. We were just awestruck, and full of joy and love to our Lord Jesus!!!

When I woke up, I was actually thinking I should phone or write F, and ask him if he had the dream too, because it was so real and so alive and so personal to us from our Father. Wow!

"finding our ministry"

Sept 23, 2009

Our life is our ministry! In all things, we serve, we minister!

I’m thinking that this emphasis on “finding your ministry” makes us think that “ministry” is some discrete part of our life… and that it deserves special recognition, special effort… and, if it “takes up” a large amount of our time, should be paid for, especially if it is in a category related to “the work of the church” (organization…)

I’m thinking that if we all saw our entire lives as ministry, and committed ourselves to serve/minister wherever we are, whatever we are doing, the result would be a much lowered need for “vocational ministry people/leaders.”

I am also thinking (again) that a church without a “senior pastor” might be in an excellent position for everyone to “share” when they meet (share whatever gifts they have, share whatever words they have from You, Papa, share a song, pray, etc etc etc)… and it might be discovered that God has already provided for a lot of the “ministry needs” right there in the local group, no matter how small it might be! And that as people are not only “encouraged” but NEEDED to serve/minister to the brethren and reach out into the harvest fields, the Kingdom might actually really grow, and love and unity within the family really develop.

Of course, if there is “competition” among the members, and/or “waiting for God to send a new pastor,” the opposite could happen….

Deuteronomy 29:29 “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.” … Psalm 127:1 “Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it.”

John 12:26 “If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me…” Hmmm… I think we generally think of this the other way round… but for sure, we CAN “serve” without really following… just as following without serving is incomplete and quite possibly not real, so serving without following is, as well! – maybe more so!

keeping humble...

Sept 22, 2009

I felt sad about J resigning, but he seems happy, relieved – free! as he says.

Papa, please be with DL and P – There’s a little rift there, You know all about it – please help them all. Papa, I don’t know, maybe all these new changes in the street ministry are making P a bit insecure or whatever – he seems to be trying to prove that he is, I don’t know, in control of everything – well, that he can handle everything or whatever… oh Papa, please keep him humble and trusting in You and hearing Your voice and doing things Your way, under Your control and ability and handling! Papa, when things “grow” it is so easy for us to get caught up in them, and pride can creep in, and we start listening to ourselves and to the enemy and to people who, in their “encouragement” and “direction” (all well-meant…) can really take our eyes off YOU! (I think maybe it’s a big trap for MEN, especially…). Anyway, Papa, please help him…

(And Papa, I still don’t know where I fit into Your church, exactly… but I guess I don’t need to “know!” – ha! That’s a novel concept for me! Day by day, hour by hour.. Your will, Your ways, Your timing!! Thank You!)

please replace the politics with love and unity... and family conversation at church in the park

Sept 20, 2009

Lord: Father, Holy Spirit, dear Jesus –

Thank You for putting it on my heart to pray for that church these last few minutes. Dear Jesus, please bring Your children together in love and unity instead of distrust and anger! Oh Father, bring forgiveness and healing and redemption (that wasn’t the word I was thinking of, but I feel that is the Word You want me to pray – and maybe some day I’ll look back and understand … but even if not – YOUR WILL BE DONE because it is PERFECT! YAY! Yes! Thank You! Praise Your Holy Name!

I don’t know what today’s “announcement” at the church will be – and I really did seriously think of going… but when it came time this morning, I felt You telling me to stay home.. and then You called me to PRAY! Oh dear God, please, please do Your work among Your people at that church!!

Dear God! I did see You at work among Your children at church-in-the-park this morning! There must have been 90 to 100 people go through – I don’t know, there were sure a lot! And goodness, I’m sure more than 20 stayed for “service” – well, more, I think! – and a lot of them were really street people, not so many “helpers” … and You brought J and T again… and that young couple with their little family (who really are thinking of making it their “church family” … or whatever we call it! Eh!).

But what was really neat, Papa, was that young Jewish guy, A, was there, and he was “theologizing” anyone who would listen (I talked to him a bit, and he just really wanted to give his viewpoint, Papa – and he just, I don’t know, assumed mine… and everyone else’s… would be wrong… Oh Papa, he is seeking his roots, and he wants to follow You truly… please help him to find relationship and love in You, Papa, Jesus, Holy Spirit… thank You!).

Anyway, Pastor P’s message from You today was a lot of Your promises, from throughout Your Word – and while there were a few comments along the way, he said the discussion would follow the readings, and his teachings throughout it… and then, when he was done, “family conversation” started and people were just talking together and among themselves… and it just seemed to me like You just brought joy and yes, unity, among Your family – relationship, fellowship – and there was just no space for “doctrinal disagreement” at all (which had been going on in the background all morning… I think You wanted Your child to see that! to experience Your love, Your Presence, Your Spirit in the midst of Your people (without a whole lot of deep, theological discussion!). Thank You!

Oh dear God, please be with Your children at that church right now! Bring unity, bring love, bring tears of repentance and forgiveness and love – oh dear God, please bring Your redemption into their midst – I do see what You mean! (At least I see it a little… that is an amazing word… and action… with outcomes that ripple out and out – and change everything! That bring Your creation, Your children, all of it, back to You – oh dear Heavenly Father!

“Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven…
Forgive us our trespasses – as we forgive those who trespass against us…
Deliver us from evil – For Your’s is the kingdom, power, glory forever!

Oh dear Father, pour out Your Spirit, I pray! Right now! In Jesus’ name! Thank You, Lord! Forgive us! Forgive me! (even – especially – my pride in “steering clear of all the politics,” Lord! Lord, I don’t understand the politics, I don’t understand the need for it, I don’t understand carrying on old hurts, old grudges, I don’t understand the mistrust and anger and assumption of evil!!! And yet, how many, many times have I been there myself? I am SO not “above” it – Yet You HAVE been bringing me out of it – and it out of me… oh dear God, heal the others also… and continue to heal me, for I am sure those old roots have run deep… and the enemy longs to dig deep into the past – oh dear God, it is a FORGIVEN past … help me leave it behind (just as You told me this morning to “leave behind” the speaking of things I used to do!).

So many wonderful lessons from You this morning! Thank You! Amen! Hallelujah! Amen!

A Word from You now?

Norma, My child, I love you. Oh child, keep your heart soft and keep your ears open to the still, small voice of My Spirit. I have great plans for you… but your heart must be gentle, humble, utterly childish (innocent, trusting in MY wisdom, not your own…”

… my own arrogance? Papa? That “polite” looking down on others… disdainful…

Papa, when You said “childish” I wanted to write “childlike” … but You definitely said “childish” … You really want me to be Your CHILD!!! A little one, sitting on Your knee, total trust, total love, total humility… like my little grandson when he just suddenly puts his little head on our shoulders, and sinks into our arms, like he’s just soaking up our love and pouring his love into us! Man oh man…  Thank You! Woooo!!!

… later…

I went for a walk, and ran into D&L… L went to that church this morning. She said the pastor announced his resignation effective the end of the month.

Oh dear. Well Papa, I prayed for Your will.

(She said everyone cried).

reflecting on love... and submission

Sept 15, 2009

Please, please, please dear Papa… help Your children at that church to love each other. I just don’t understand the level of anger and pain… it’s so deep… they seem so blinded by it. I think they really do love You, Lord, and love Your church – at least as an entity – but then how can they be so angry at each other? How can they so distrust one another? Your Word says that if we really love You, we will love one another too… in word and deed, not just theoretically! Oh, S is right, isn’t he? Your people need to learn to submit to one another…

the gifts, the flow of the Spirit, and the church

Sept 14, 2009 (again)

…. Later… (sitting on a bench by Okanagan beach on a BEAUTIFUL calm sunny morning, with crystal clear lake water before me!)

The GIFTS of the Spirit are given for the health (edification, encouragement, spiritual growth and development) of the organism (body, living interactive loving family) – NOT for the “successful” administration and business of an organization (company…). The gifts are for the moment-by-moment, day-by-day life of the church (the Kingdom of God, the family and body of Christ – Who is the Head, the Great Shepherd, the Leader, the King, the Savior!), not particularly to provide “successful” services and programs at set times and places (although if those services and programs are truly Spirit-led, they WILL benefit – immensely even – from the exercise of the gifts… but if they become “the life” themselves (usurping the constant flow of the Spirit, the constant, living, loving relationship between God and His children), it seems to me that the true gifts are soon usurped by “dead” imitations (although God is all-powerful and we cannot stop His work… but He chooses to work THROUGH HIS BODY, as they truly follow Him and walk in the Spirit.