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.

Your church, Your body, is so much more than I can ever imagine - and You love it!!!

Sept 14, 2009

(Thank You for showing me – and confirming, in conversation with A & R – that Your church is so much more than I can ever imagine – just as You are! – and that even with all its imperfections and all the humanness and frailty and foolishness and yes, evil too, that it sometimes absorbs, You are always preparing it as Your beautiful, forever bride, loving, caring, encouraging, making more beautiful, perfecting – wrapped in Your amazing, wonderful, spotless, totally dependable, trustworthy, eternal, perfect LOVE! How amazing! Maybe we’ve “screwed up” incredibly for 2000 years nearly, maybe we’ve created “systems” that look more to the world than to You, too often… but still You love Your church, You nourish it, You build Your kingdom, You reign in glory and majesty – and Your people love You – and each other, Your family, Your body – despite, through, all the bickering and sadness and foolishness and lack of trust and faith in You.

Father, please help me also see YOU alone in every detail of YOUR CHURCH – YOUR BODY! Yay!  Yes! Thank You! Wow! Praise God!

conversations at church in the park... and talking with Papa about it all, afterwards

Sept 13, 2009

This morning (Sunday) I was up at 3 am to set bread dough – and make fried bread (and cow patty cookies). Realized my deep fryer just doesn’t heat up like it used to… so I heated a pot of oil as well… and the bread was all fried in double quick time! (So I had time to make cookies, and not be in a panicky rush…)

So right now, at church-in-the-park, there are about 20 people or so gathered around… and talking about how we trust God (a topic brought up by the gathering… Pastor P purposely did not plan a sermon…).

When the first 8 or so people were here, Pastor P (as usual) led in opening prayer… and then someone else prayed (and prayed!)… and then someone else shared the BIG trials in his life in the last 3 weeks – and how God has been with him in it all…

And since then I’ve had conversations with so many… I love this, Jesus! Thank You!

(I want to talk to You later about church and stuff, is that okay?) (But now I’m going to listen to the conversation going on right now… please let YOUR voice be heard clearly in it! Thank You!)

……… later ………

Papa, (I love calling You Papa… and Father… I love that You love me, that You are my Father – Abba, Daddy, Papa – and I am Your little child! Thank You for revealing Yourself to me in this way. I read it over and over and over in Your Word, and yet for so long I felt so – disconnected – I saw that relationship between You and a few others – and wondered at it – and then You opened my eyes and heart to the reality of it, the experience of it! Today I mentioned The Shack book to C, and he said immediately, “I don’t like that book!” … so many people say that to me… yet countless others have found amazing reality of relationship with You, in it… It is a book written by a man. It has “problems, theologically” (though not as crucial as some would say, I don’t thing… though they might rejoinder that it is the subtlety of it that is the greatest danger!) but You HAVE used it… of course I’ve known people who won’t let their kids near the Narnia series… and I suppose even the Screwtape Letters could be seen as making the “senior” and “junior” devils seem “too human” (C was concerned that “The Shack’s” depiction of Jesus made Him seem too laid-back, too friendly, not enough the “Suffering Servant” … and others are freaked by Papa being portrayed as a black woman – though Papa’s later portrayal as an older white male seems to be seen as more “acceptable” to some, which is kind of strange because You aren’t that either, really… just as You are Aslan the Lion, Jesus… of course You are “The Lion of Judah” … oh my goodness, people freak about things…

Interesting… I guess a lot of our reactions have to do with our personal perceptions and experiences with You: for C, coming to understand Your holiness and Kingship and majesty and so on has been an amazing step forward for him… while for me, coming to know You as my loving, amazing, personal Father – my Papa – has been an amazing step forward for me… hmmmm….

I gave E that copy of Perelandra. I wonder… will he allow You to speak to him through it, Papa? (C thinks E was just “baiting” me the other day, with his questions about the Bible and all… but I don’t know – I didn’t feel baited – although he was defending his “position” and his “questions” … Papa, You reach each of us in different ways because You know our hearts… and I wonder if he’d keep coming back and asking questions if he didn’t, really, at some level maybe he himself doesn’t yet even recognize, long for Truth! For You! I suppose some people who question a lot are just showing off, or seeking to have someone affirm conclusions they’ve already chosen (those “tickling ears” perhaps, eh!) – but questions can also be seeking… and those who seek You will be found by You – and thus find You – relationship! Eh? Yes!

About the scripture about King Uzziah (2 Chronicles 26:5-21)… I wrote it down because when I read it, I heard You telling me that I have been prideful about my “success” in the “position” You’ve placed me – planted me, even granted!?!?) – at the church office. Oh Papa, I am sorry. Please help me be constantly aware – and humble – and glorifying You alone… knowing – and sharing – that this is YOUR doing… and YOUR strength, gift, work…. Because boy, oh boy, if I really was a “neutral” kind of person, I would have “helped” the “church problem” a long time ago… but rather I, like others – no, worse than others! (like Paul – chiefest of sinners! Ouch! I’m sorry, Lord… thank You for showing me so graciously, when what I deserve is judgment and punishment – death!) (Sorry….) have been a gossip (terrible! The worst!), self-righteous, self-sufficient, critical of others (and You… I’m so sorry…), impatient, BITTER when others ignored my “great ideas,” etc, etc.

Well, oddly enough, that is so often how You work… through the weakest, most hopeless, useless, sinful, destructive vessels… hard to understand, Papa… I feel humiliated to think of where I’ve been, vis-à-vis that church (and my PRIDE re church-in-the-park… I’m sorry….)

Papa, thank You for loving me – unconditionally! That is amazing!!!

Thank You for this beautiful, awesome, sun-shining, light-breeze, fall-smell-off-the-lake-waters, wonderful day.

Thank You for Your amazing family!

Thank You, Jesus, for loving me so much that You died – for me! That You would have died just for e even if I was the only “failure,” the only “sinner!” (That is beyond amazing, to me…).

I liked what C said, how when we are with You in heaven, somehow we will all be able to be with You – at once, and yet, individually – as of course we are already, all of Your children, each of us, individually and together – but then in an infinitely greater way, because we will physically be face-to-face with You! I don’t understand it all, but boy oh boy, I do long for that day (in Your perfect timing, eh!)  Cool! (Some folks might say that “cool” is an inappropriate expression – but really, that thought is so cool! You understand, don’t You!  thank You!)

C dropped by and picked up the yoga/exercise mat I’ve had around here for years (left by one of my girls) and I only used once, I believe… so I offered it to him this morning; he is sleeping on the ground (in sleeping bag) these days… and gave him the petty cash from my pocket… after all, I prayed for him that You would provide for his needs (and quoted the little song about the cattle on a thousand hills, while praying)… and You have been really impressing me about not withholding what is in my power to give to those in need… and that You will bless – me! – for it! Wow! Especially “Wow!” since it all came from You anyway  !!

Every day, more and more, I am thrilled to be part of Your church! Your body! Your family! Your kingdom! Praise God! Amen! 

enjoying coffee with Your people

Sept 10, 2009

This morning I did exercises, yay! And I took my usual dozen eggs to Thursday coffee – as well as a mixture of cereals (ha! Hubby and son don’t like using almost-empty cereal boxes) with milk and brown sugar, as well as a few other odds and ends from the cupboard – cookies, a package of pineapple, a can of chicken, some rice cakes, a loaf of bread…. Once again, lots of people turned up, so it was a good thing I took that stuff! Thank You, Lord! L brought extra Tim’s stuff so that was good, too!

Had really interesting conversations this morning, especially with E… and C and P and so on… So enjoyable!  I picked up copies of Perelandra and Out of the Silent Planet from the bookstore to let E read. Lord, please answer the questions of his heart, help him trust in You! Thank You, Lord! And please provide C with the work he needs… and a mat for under his sleeping bag…

reflecting on a church meeting... and God's faithfulness and compassion

Sept 9, 2009

Everyone in that meeting room loves You, and they all want the best for Your church… and I really think for each other, too… but such sad personality conflicts, and gossip, and hanging onto the past… Lord, there would have been a time when I would have been terribly hurt, shocked, defensive… and yet You gave me peace to just sit there and type. A couple times I felt my gums trying to flap, but You just gave me the peace to hold my peace!

And afterwards, I was able to tell __ that taking this job was not my idea… it was from You… and I believe it is about having someone in the middle of the situation who can stay objective….

This is not an easy world. I really DID have trouble (still do, somewhat…) with “the church structure” – but not in a “personal” way… I just wanted to be able to worship You, love Your people, grow Your kingdom in a simpler way, YOUR way, led by Your Spirit… it just seemed to me that “church organization” has far too much taken over the living (life from You – life in Jesus), breathing, growing, loving body, family – organism!

Today’s reading…. Lamentations 3:21 This I recalled to my mind, therefore I have hope. 22. The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. 23. They are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness. 24. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul. “Therefore I have hope in Him.” 25. The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him. 26. It is good that he waits silently for the salvation of the LORD… 40. Let us examine and probe our ways, and let us return to the LORD. 41. We lift up our heart and hands toward God in heaven.

“Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with thee.
Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not.
As Thou hast been, Thou forever wilt be.
Great is Thy faithfulness, Great is Thy faithfulness,
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hast provided,
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.

Pardon for sin, and a faith that endureth,
Thine own dear Presence to cheer and to guide.
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!”

Great IS Your faithfulness, Lord, unto me! (unto us!) Bless Your church, O LORD… Papa Father, Jesus Savior, Holy Spirit Guide and Comforter!
Please bring healing, love, unity… thank You!

wonderful time at church in the park

Sept 6, 2009

Today (Sunday) I made devilled eggs – well, at church-in-the-park we call them sanctified eggs, lol! … from the 2 dozen eggs I boiled last night. I really jazzed them up – Mrs. Dash, pepper, mustard, mayo (and ranch dressing when I ran out of mayo), fresh parsley and chives from the garden, chopped up dill pickles, paprika, and a few dashes of hot sauce. I also made a batch of cow patty cookies. I took them all to church-in-the-park and everybody loved them! Yay! Thank You, Papa, for this fun thing I can do for Your children – and You, eh!  Thank You!

Pastor P had brought 8 doz of the wieners BD donated – and they were awesome! They are the old kind, individually wrapped, nice and big. Everybody loved the. All were gone by about 8:30 am or thereabouts. Could have used another dozen or two at least. Pastor P figured that about 70 people must have come through this morning. There were 10 or 11 still there at the beginning of “service” time, and then a few more came and joined in. He is really relaxing into his teaching. It is so good, and so is the participation and discussion. More and more people want to help him with his ministry too! Wow!

I had a great time visiting with so many of the people who turned up, and it was awesome telling M how You have been leading in our “move!” Every time I tell anyone, I think of more and more ways You have led and confirmed! This morning really showed me that this “street ministry” is part of Your plan for me!

Pastor P’s message was from Isaiah 53: “The Suffering Servant” prophecy. The guys were so interested to hear that the prophecy had come in such perfect detail 700 years before Jesus’ death and resurrection!

Oh yes, so I took the car this morning, put all the extra clothes we’d set aside into the truck. The guys were so happy. They loved getting hubby’s clothes; not so much of mine went, as there aren’t so many women, and most of them are bigger than me! But they were happy for the things they could fit. They guys were so happy to get clothes in good condition. I guess most of the clothes they are offered at pretty worn out… When I came home and told hubby their reaction, he was happy too.

It is sure cooling down. Rained again overnight. And the predicted high is only 19C (though it only got down to 16C at night… cloudy). I prayed for no rain for church-in-the-park… and we got lots of sunshine on us even though the skies were overall cloudy and the wind was chilly. The sun felt so good, and it really was shining down on us through a narrow break in the clouds! YOU were shining down on us!

People really are longing for the day when there will be a drop-in-center, where people can be reached out to every day, and can sleep on cold nights. Father, YOUR will be done!


September 4, 2009

I went walkabout in the cool of the evening, and GJ was sitting having coffee at the sidewalk cafe at Starbucks, so I sat and chatted with him (well, actually listened to him chat, mostly!). He is always an encouragement. He really loves the Lord! God has done amazing things in his life and brought him so far since he was on the streets of the east-end in Vancouver...

church in the park: freedom in Your Spirit

August 30, 2009

Another word from You today...
1 Jn 3:17 But whoever has the world's goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.

Took baked goodies to church in the park. There was a great deal of freedom in the Spirit - great, wonderful fellowship, conversations, sharing. Pastor Peter hadn't planned a word/teaching, but people really wanted it, so he went ahead and did it - again, good (great!) teaching and discussion. Lord, it really was of You!

confirmation from Papa...

August 26, 2009

I've been thinking about staying in Penticton - and the "mission/ service/ ministry" God has given me among the street people. And then tonight I read:

Deut 15:4... there shall be no poor among you, since the LORD will surely bless you in the land which the LORD your God is giving you... 7. If there is a poor man with you, one of your brothers... you shall not harden your heart, nor close your hand from your poor brother... 8 but you shall freely open your hand to him and shall generously lend him sufficient for his need in whatever he lacks....10 You shall generously give to him, and your heart shall not be grieved... because for this thing the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in all your undertakings.

Psalm 113:5 Who is like the LORD our God, Who is enthroned on high, 6 Who humbles Himself to behold the things that are in heaven and on earth? 7. He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap, 8. to make them sit with princes, with the princes of His people. 9.... Praise the LORD!

pictures for a daddy

August 24, 2009

I took cow-patty-cookies (oatmeal unbaked cookies), puffed-wheat-squares and blueberry scones to church in the park. I was finally able to give D those pictures of his baby (since his girlfriend wasn't with him). He was so happy! He had no pictures of the baby, and so he was proudly showing them to everybody, and they were all saying how much the little guy looks like him. Thank You, Papa!

two kinds of church in the park

Aug 16, 2009

Last night I boiled 18 eggs and made oatmeal unbaked cookies. Got up at 6 and made the eggs into devilled eggs - well, actually, sanctified eggs! For church in the park! Anyway the cookies and eggs were a hit! Pastor P brought frozen eggo waffles which we toasted for the street folks, and those were a hit too... Everybody laughed at my "boasting" about my "talent" for making waffles!

Good turnout this morning... and interesting conversation too. One young man asked some pretty good questions that came out of the topic of Jesus being living water and the bread of life.

I came home and did some tidying and laundry, then went to the annual Penticton Ministerial church-in-the-park-gathering of several churches, just in time to hear a message on Zaccheus, which was good.

the street church family

Aug 8, 2009

Got up at 3 am, set bread, back to sleep till 4:10, and made up a lot of fried bread by just after 6 am. Got dressed and headed to church in the park. There weren’t too many people this week, too much excitement Saturday night, with the Peach Fest. I find I am getting bolder about talking to people - and even bringing You into the conversation a bit more... Thank You, Father! I could not do it on my own!!!! Had one bucket of fried bread left (I had taken 4 buckets plus some sliced summer sausage), so I passed some of it out to people on the street on the way home, and gave the rest to the young man over at the second hand store).

Oh, the teaching at church in the park was on James 3, the power of the tongue to either hurt or encourage, and Pastor Peter had everyone tell about an experience of one or the other or both. It was good to see everyone participate like that. GJ came, I think it's his first time on Sunday. There is another young guy, he's on disability, originally from Quebec, trying to step out on his own. Anyway, he is a Christian. He had a Bible (King James, I think) and was reading it. I asked if he reads in French, too, and he said yes, but he had lost his French Bible. So I gave him the French NT/Psalms I carry in my bag. He was happy, especially since it was the Segond translation, his favorite. Then C, another guy, was telling me his adventure being in jail overnight (drank alcohol, which mixed with his meds - he has anxiety disorder – and he blacked out...). Anyway, then D told me that he and L had had an argument (she is bipolar, and her meds aren't working too well just now), and she went out last night, and didn't come home, so he was out looking for her this morning, and feeling really sad. And D was there with his new girlfriend. I had pictures of his baby from 2 or 3 years ago when I knew him and his former wife (his wife developed mental illness and got hospitalized, and he kind of went off the deep end, and their baby ended up being adopted out...), so I was going to give them to him, but his new girlfriend clings to him; I think she doesn't trust me, she won't leave his side when I'm anywhere in sight. Anyway, I talked to her, asked her about her kids etc, told her about my husband and kids and grandkids, so she won't be so paranoid... I met a new guy, G, and we talked about logging. I talked to lots of others too...

After I came home, I finished up dishes, etc. Then went to the store for eggs, milk, and bread. Milk is $4.70 a gallon! It just gets more and more expensive! But at least there was some excellent “thrift bread” so I picked up 3 loaves. Hubby will be happy.

I was thinking about the whole "church" thing. I really do feel part of church in the park (Another Chance Ministry)... but wonder what You might want from me (other than just baking and being friendly). It does continue to seem kind of strange to me to often be almost the only woman there! (Do You want me to go anywhere else? D says they have gone to “Cheers the Church” a big…)

Oh, on the way over to church-in-the-park, a man, 60ish I’d guess, came up to me and handed me some bracelets he’d found laying on the ground in the park. So I gave him a couple warm, fresh fry bread! He was happy to take them!

Later on in the day, when I was driving to the store, I saw D walking. I pulled over and talked to him; he hadn't found L yet but was heading home to see if maybe she'd come back there. I told him I'll pray for them... oh Lord, please help their relationship - with each other and with You... and please heal L from her illness, if it be Your will, or else help her to turn to You for her help and comfort. Thank You, Lord! I told him if he can't find her, he can come over to our house and I can drive him around, see if he can find her, in case she's gone to the other end of town or something.

Then D came by, poor guy, in tears, still can't find L, and his back is killing him, he ran out of his pain meds, so I gave him some T3s I had left over from when my back was bad, and listened to him, and prayed with him. He is so discouraged. Oh Father, please just heal L and bring her home safely and encourage D and heal his back, and heal their relationship, and most of all, please bring them closer and closer to Yourself, I pray, in Jesus' precious name! Amen!

street church happenings

Aug 4, 2009

This morning I boiled a dozen eggs and took them along to Tuesday coffee. Gave one to one of the street guys on the way. There weren't too many folks out but those who did come were happy about the eggs! On the way homeward I went through Nanaimo Square, and "the crew" were there with one of the guys on the ground. Then Pastor P (the street pastor) came in his van and picked him up to take him to the hospital. I gave the last 3 eggs from the carton to the street guys who were there...

(GJ also cheered me with all his stories of how You provide for all his needs - extravagantly!)

church in the park...

August 02, 2009

Made cheese biscuits again this morning for church in the park, and also took along some crackers from cleaning out the pantry. Hot dogs were the breakfast menu today! Being a long weekend, and being so hot, there weren't a huge number of street people out for breakfast... yet at one point there were 19 people sitting in on the teaching/discussion time - by far the largest attendance for that so far! The barbeque had already been turned off but people kept arriving so they turned it back on and made more hotdogs ... and people sat down and listened while they ate. The scripture was on the parable of the prodigal son ... a lot of people there could really relate to it... kind of neat! Well, really neat actually! Lots of personal stories and some discussion.

"truth" as we "Christians" often present it...

August 1, 2009

I read an essay written by Robert Francis, an American Indian, about “idols.” Boy oh boy, he has a way of articulating things – questions – that I find often hovering on the edge of my consciousness, just enough to keep me feeling uncomfortable about the “truth” as we “Christians” often present it. Like when R was talking to – trying to firmly, enthusiastically convince, “because I love you and don’t want you to go to hell,” to that guy at Tuesday coffee, about his need to become a Christian. Later, she emailed me, wondering why he didn’t accept her – well, preaching, hmmm? – and I emailed her back and suggested maybe she needed to be his friend and earn his trust first...

The thing that resonated with me in R. Francis’ essay was that You are SO immense, and yet we so often present “OUR doctrine” of You (who are Ultimate Truth) as “absolute truth” (which of course we don’t even agree upon in a lot of points, but a lot of us seem to think OUR version is 100% and everyone else’s is – well, WRONG!) (Hell-bound wrong, even…)

Yes, I agree with Francis that we have made idols of our doctrines… (and too often, turned You, the living God and Savior, into pretty much of an idol… he didn’t really say that, but I’m thinking I’ve done that too often myself… and others too, maybe… SO SORRY…. )

just sharing...

July 28, 2009

This morning I went to Tuesday coffee time, took a bag of little shampoos, pencils, notebook, bandaids, etc… stuff I gathered up when cleaning out the bathroom cupboards yesterday. The street guys joyfully dug through it right away. The only stuff that was left was some girl stuff (hair things, lotions, etc) as none of the gals turned up….

caring and sharing... vs. co-dependency?

July 22, 2009

Made cow patty cookies and iced tea for Tuesday morning coffee. Father, it seems like people just pop in for coffee and snacks, then leave quickly… of course it is nice outside so they are less likely to stick around than in the winter… and most of the crowd leaves about 8:30 to go to the liquor store for the 9 am opening…

This morning at coffee someone had left (donated) some nice shoes and they were taken joyfully by someone else. One of the guys had no socks, and another guy gave him his extra pair. Pastor P gives out socks regularly…. I guess when people don’t have washing facilities or homes, they just wear their socks till they are unwearable anymore?... and one guy was needing a backpack, so one of the gals gave him hers. Sometimes I’m thinking, “Why don’t you just straighten out your life?” But I’m beginning to see how difficult that is. And, I am blown away by how these guys and gals are so real family to each other, helping and caring for each other far more generously than the rest of us do (when everything they own is in a backpack!). … Yet then I find myself thinking, “Hmmm… co-dependency…” and yet, when I read how the early church totally shared and cared, you don’t find me thinking, “Co-dependency!” Of course, they also insisted that those who could work to support themselves, did… and that those who couldn’t, and who were supported by the body, were those who fulfilled certain criteria (like widows who had no one to take care of them, and were too old to remarry). At the same time, when circumstances (like poverty caused by famine, persecution, etc) occurred, the others pitched in joyfully and totally generously (even when they had little themselves) to support and help.

I guess it requires wisdom to know the line between “caring and sharing,” and “co-dependency.” (And getting to really know people… and understand the circumstances they are in… and find out how far they’ve already come… and know their heart… boy oh boy, what a difference that understanding makes… I’m embarrassed about how I’ve been thinking!) That’s why teaching and encouragement and edification and prayer and seeking and obeying and loving the Lord .. and loving one another with the love of the Lord… are so important… How long does it take to move new believers into a mature walk and relationship with God and with the body? How are we to “judge” when they’ve “gotten there”? (oh dear! I’d hate for my journey to be judged! I’m so slow!).

worker worthy of his wages... Papa?

July 20, 2009 W
. Father, Pastor P said that he is going to go around to the churches and see if they will help him out financially on a regular basis so he can take better care of his family. Well, it is sure true that he is taking care of the poor and downtrodden in a way that most churches are not, and as I read in 1 Corinthians 9 today, the worker IS worthy of his wages… and the church here, if the NT pattern is to be followed, IS “the church at Penticton” and so the believers should all be sharing in supporting those who do the work… on the other hand, it appears to me that Paul is saying that support should come from those whom the worker is leading to/ in the Lord… so does that mean that those P leads to the Lord should be supporting him financially as much as they can? (This might be a way to encouraged them to put some of the extra income, from bottle collecting, fruit picking, whatever, to Pastor P and to the activities of the ministry/ outreach, which might also result in less money to be tempted to spend on drinks, etc??) hmmm….

Father, yesterday at church-in-the-park, C kept asking me questions about what Your word says about this and that, and I was quickly able to find and show him the scriptural answers… I keep wondering if You are aiming me to doing some real teaching here before You move me on? (If you intend to move me on, of course…) (I’d also like to do some music… C encouraged me, again, to keep practicing )

Oh Father – YOUR will be done! Thank You!

learning from You vs. from the codes of men

July 12, 2009 (again)

Ty just gave me that blue stone that says, “FREE!” And I had such joy! From You! And then today I read: Galatians 5:1 “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery… 3 … to every man who receives circumcision [or whatever “sign” of a covenant other than that of grace given through Christ…], that he is under obligation to keep the whole law… 6. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love. 7. You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth?

Father, when Ja said that The Shack was a book of HERESY, I cried, because I could not bear to be parted again from Your love! Galatians 4:6 “Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’” And then I rejoiced because Jl said she has been “released” (freed!)… and it was such a confirmation of the release (from “churchianity”… from “that church”) that You gave me! And then Ty just topped it off with the blue “Free!” stone (The other stone says, “Laugh often” … which is what a freed person does, eh!)

But at the same time I keep wondering… and yet Your Word here in Galatians seems so clear… Lord, I have so much to learn, I know… but Father, I want to learn from You, from Your Word… rather than from the “codes” of men, no matter how long they’ve been “accepted” and by how many people (but also unaccepted by so many others… and they seem to have become more important or of more influence to many people, than Your Word and Your Spirit…)… It’s as if they CAME from Your Word, but have become a CODIFIED LAW of their own. Father?? Jesus?? Holy Spirit??

Speak Your truth to me, please? Please! Please!!

Oh! Galatians 5:16 “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh” and 18 “ But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” And how do I know if I am being led by the Spirit? 22 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” And 6:2 “Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ [love God, love your neighbor!]. and Ephesians 6:8 “For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life…. 10 let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith!”

being part of Your family: wondering how You want that to happen

July 12, 2009

So after church in the park I went “to church” … and the scripture was Psalm 84:10-12 … surprise! This was part of my own reading this morning! “For a day in your courts is better than a thousand (outside/ elsewhere). I would rather stand at the threshold of the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness… No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly. O LORD of hosts, how blessed is the man who trusts in You!”

Pastor J asked, “If you knew you only had one day left to live, what would you do with it?” He pointed out that serving God, even in the smallest, least noticed ways, is far greater than all the “pleasures” of the world.

Father, I’ve quite often heard that scripture used as the basis for sermons/ teachings on the necessity of “going to church faithfully.” Father, I still don’t know what to think about “church.” I do so want to be part of Your family… but I wonder how You want that to happen?

I keep wondering exactly what You want from me at church-in-the-park (besides making fried bread and other goodies, and just being friendly). Today, P started to read the scripture he planned to talk about, then realized he’d written down the wrong reference. He was scrambling to find the right one, and I asked him what he was looking for, and he said, “It’s about love.” I immediately suggested 1 John 4. And then in his talking, he said, “That’s what Norma is here for!” (ie knowing which scripture, where it is found). I think he was just being humorous, maybe, but I realized that people often ask me where this or that scripture is found, and I can often find it right away or very quickly…. Hmmm… serving God in the little things, eh!

head-aching theological thinking...

July 10, 2009

Dear God, (You are my Father, my Papa, aren’t You? Yes, I AM wrapped in Your everlasting arms… and You do not let go those who are in Your arms!)

Father, I have spent a lot of time the past 2 or 3 days – including many hours yesterday – trying to understand – trying until my head aches and my body is exhausted! – that whole penal substitutionary atonement / vicarious atonement / governmental vs penal / Calvinism vs Armenianism / biblical vs early church fathers vs reformation vs liberal vs emergent (etc etc) thinking on these topics [yep, there was even Mormon input in one of those blogs!]… and oh, Father… it seems like for a lot of people, “doctrinal purity” (their particular take on it of course: they simply cannot imagine how anyone could think differently than their particular “corner on the truth” … even if vast numbers of believers throughout the life of the church have either had a different take on it, or have had a wonderful, strong, close relationship with You, their Savior, without having codified, in precise detail, philosophically and mechanically, the doctrinal details (but I know myself that all my life I’ve had an idea that that “intellectual, rational, apologetical, theological, etc” approach is what makes “great Christians” vs run-of-the-mill, uneducated, well, you know, kind of bumpkin, Sunday-go-to-meeting types… You know… kind of like the Pharisees vs the disciples [can’t really put You in there, in that comparison, Jesus… You just totally don’t fit any of their classification systems! Although at first they expected You to be in the country bumpkin category… but You blew that assumption out of the water in a hurry… and boy, oh boy, when Your Spirit came upon Your disciples, that blew them out of the Pharisee’s categories, too… so that they could only shake their heads in wonder, and note that “they had been with Jesus!”] (And THAT is the category I want to be in… the “been with Jesus” category!!!)

Father, when I listened to that interview between Paul Young, the author of The Shack and the pro-penal-substitutionary-atonement guy (who kept saying, over and over, “but penal substitutionary atonement is the very key, cornerstone, etc, of the gospel”), I just kept shaking my head, Father, because everything Young said, was greeted with a “but… but… but” (though graciously, thank goodness!) – it was like the interviewer guy could not even open his ears and mind to at least listen to thoughts, ideas, etc, that were not couched in the precise terminology and codification that to him signifies truth. It seems to me like some people are terrified of not “knowing for sure” about every detail of what they “believe” or of “what the Bible says” … (not to mention the thought of “mystery” … or allowing relationship with God – which maybe seems to be too messy, too unpredictable and uncontrollable, too big and awesome and mysterious, too out-of-the-box…)

Papa, the Mormon guy went on about how his “take” was more accurate because he had not only the Bible, but also the three volumes of additional “scriptures” the Mormons adhere to… and of course Catholics have their papal traditions… and a lot of Protestants have their “Westminster Confessions” and other similar documents (even the “church fathers” had their Nicene Creed etc… which avoided some areas they disagreed on and codified other areas which resulted in those who held to those “disagree upon” areas being pushed out…) oh Papa, Jesus, Holy Spirit, how sad it must make You… You know, You ARE complicated to our little minds! You are so far beyond our comprehension – and maybe it’s just fear of that, fear of “heresy,” (wow that charge needs to be handled carefully!!!) that makes people get so “controlling” and – well, “religious!”

…. Proverbs 14:21 “…happy is he who is gracious to the poor… 23. In all labor there is profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty…. 31. He who oppresses the poor taunts his Maker, but he who is gracious to the needy honors Him.” I’ve really missed street ministry the last 2 or 3 weeks….

free at last!

July 9, 2009

Psalm 81:1 Sing for joy to God our strength; shout joyfully to the God of Jacob. 2. Raise a song, strike the timbrel, the sweet sounding lyre with the harp. 3. Blow the trumpet… on our feast day…. 4. For it is a statute… an ordinance of the God of Jacob.

Father, last night my guitar was sitting there in the living room. And A asked if I am playing it, and encouraged me. And I recalled the wonderful worship evenings she led… and she said that was the highlight of the years at that church, for her….

And later K picked up the guitar and started quietly strumming and singing, and L and I joined in, and then L had to leave, and I sang along… and it was so beautiful to be in Your Presence with Your people, singing praises (and nice that they liked my guitar)!

And then I read this Your Word this morning, and realized that praising You is a command… and yes, I WANT to praise You, Father, on my guitar, with others…

Lord God, we Your people DO need to be united with You! Father, You were among us last night! Oh thank You! In Jesus’ name, Amen! Help me praise You!

J told us last night (kind of hesitantly, nervously), “God has RELEASED me from that church after 13 years” … and hubby said, “Wow, he released Norma, too!” and she said, “Really?!?!?!” And we both, I think, were happy and relieved, because it was a confirmation for both of us… And yet… I still love those folks still there… and feel so sad for the things that happened… and wish they could just be part of Your body and maybe just let “that church” go!.... Oh dear God, not my will, but YOURS be done!

Psalm 81:10 “I, the LORD, am your God, Who brought you up from the land of Egypt: Open your mouth wide and I will fill it.”
That IS what I need to do – open my mouth wide to let You fill it… I’ve been in this “waiting” mode, holding off, holding back… though You HAVE been feeding me, blessing me, anyway…. But oh, dear God, I want Your fullness!

Last night, T gave me a shiny rock that says “free” on it… and I just hugged him, practically squeezed the breath out of him, poor kid…. I was so thrilled, because YOU HAVE FREED ME! “I’m free from the fear of tomorrow [because You love me, and have forgiven me, and have every moment of my life under Your perfect loving care and control… and our family’s lives… and… I saw this in action last night, and realized it just now: The life of Your church, Your people! … And the progression of all this world and all mankind!], I’m free from the guilt of the past [oh yes! I’m forgiven! Really! You love me – unconditionally! You are NOT going to withdraw You love from me. You aren’t holding my sins against me! Yes!]… I’m free, praise the Lord, free at last!”

Psalm 81:11 But my people did not listen to My voice: And Israel did not obey Me. 12. So I gave them over to the stubbornness of their heart, to walk in their own devices. 13. Oh that My people would listen to Me, that Israel would walk in My way. 14. I would quickly subdue their enemies… 16. But I would feed you with the finest of the wheat, and with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.

(Proverbs 13:12 “Hope deferred makes the heart sick [that’s kind of how I feel above moving to Vancouver Island..] but desire fulfilled is a tree for life” …. Lord???...)

Listening to the interview yesterday with the author of