ISAIAH 61:1-4

ISAIAH 61:1-4

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me and has anointed me to
Preach the good news to the poor. .
Bind up the brokenhearted,
Proclaim freedom for the captives,
Proclaim release from darkness for the prisoners,
Comfort all who mourn
Provide for those who grieve in Zion to bestow on them
The oil of gladness for mourning
And a garment of praise for a spirit of heaviness

Friday, June 30, 2006



Right now, I'm at my sister's in St. Louis, visiting family. We went south to see my Dad today. Interesting how that works. Being in places where one used to live brings up long forgotten (or supressed) emotions and memories. Isn't it great that God is not limited by time? He can reach down and heal old wounds as easily as he can new ones. 

Thankfully, I'm reminded once again that God has brought me from a very long way. I'm grateful for his Love and care. When I get back home I may write more about returning to old paths with new vision.


Sunday, June 25, 2006

Rainbows and Angels

 Rainbows and Angels in Harmony Some things are hard to describe, like the rainbow pictured above that the girls and I saw the other day. "Look Grandma. There's a rainbow. It's God's promise to us!" The picture doesn't do it justice. Light infused the sky with intense color and reflected those unusual hues to everything in sight, not just the rainbow. That light, those colors are not captured by my lens, not properly reproduced on this page. 

Service this morning had a quality like that. (oops, my granddaughter arrived...finish later...back to the keyboard. She's taking a nap.)

This morning, worship time was good, not spectacular, just good. Meaningful worship. For those of us there Tuesday night (or readers of my blog), we were a bit disappointed that our new believers were not there. Pastor Bob then called for prayer for some special needs: a former member critical with Parkinson Disease in Paducah, Kentucky and then for Tom, who had recommitted his life to Christ. Prior to this prayer, I related to the congregation what had happened during Tuesday's service. Wesley was to lead in prayer.

Wes stepped to the pulpit, gave a quick word of encouragement to intercessors and began to pray. His voice choked with tears, he managed to say, "Oh, God." and a Holy hush came over the congregation. In that space of time, Tom and some friends stepped into the Narthex. I saw what was happening because I was on the platform with the singers and have this habit of praying with my eyes wide open. 

As Tom was seated in the back, where no one else even noticed, the Spirit of God began to move. A few moments into this Holy atmosphere, Laura began interceeding aloud; Wes remained praying, but wordlessly. Afterward Pastor Bob gave a call for those who needed healing. 

But as Tom stepped through the door, my mind's eye could see a phalanx of angels accompanying him. Ministering angels who had been with him this week, and now spread out and began ministering to the congregation.

Okay. Tell me it's my imagination. But I was just reading from Cure for the Common Life by Max Lucado. He relates the following story:

"Consider a wacky example of this truth. I jogged through my neighborhood the other day under a cloud. Not a cloud of rain, but a cloud of self-doubt. The challenges of life seemed to outnumber the resources, and I questioned my ability. And, quite frankly, I questioned God's wisdom. Are you sure I'm the right man for this job? was the theme of my prayer.

"Apparently God really wanted to give me an answer, because I heard one. From on high. From a deep, booming voice. "You're doing a good job!" I stopped dead in my Reeboks and looked up. Seeing nothing in the clouds, I shifted my attention to the roof of a house. There he waved at me--a painter dressed in white and leaning against a dormer. I waved back. And I wondered and almost asked "How did you know I needed to hear that?"

"Did I have a brush with an angel? Did I see an angel with a brush? Was the worker sunstruck? This much I know. A painter spots a middle-aged guy with a bald spot puffing through the streets and thinks, The guy could use a good word. So he gives it. "You're doing a good job!"
Am I stretching theology a bit when I suggest that God put the man there, at least in part, for me? Long before time had time, God saw each moment in time, including that one. He saw a minister in need of a word. He saw a fellow with a skill for painting and a heart for encouragement. He put one on the street and the other on the roof so the second could encourage the first. Multiply that tiny event by billions, and behold the way God sustains his world." (Max Lucado, Cure for the Common Life, p33-34, W Publishing Group, 2005) 

"God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies" -Philippians 4:9 MSG

This morning we were in harmony. Like the runner that day. Like the girls spotting the rainbow. Moments when divinity meets humanity, heaven intervenes in earthly matters, God communes with man. Those moments are difficult to describe and harder to comprehend. But at those moments we know, just know, that we have experienced a Holy hush, a precious moment of harmony with God Almighty.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Tuesdays are Terrific! It's amazing the way God works. He pulls elements and people from here and there, puts us all together in one place and, zap, we can only say, "That was a God thing." I suspect he does it more often, but frequently we're too dense to recognize his hand in things. Last Tuesday was too obvious to miss! It had to be God!

In the early 1970's (ancient history again), Bob and I were assisting George Taylor here at the church we pastor now. Bob was Associate Pastor and Spanish Pastor, I was Youth Director. At the apartment complex where we lived and Bob worked, we became acquainted with a couple of young teenage boys, brothers. They would help Bob around the apartments and at times one or both would watch our two young sons for a hour or two to free me for ministry or errands. We began bringing them to Youth Service and then to Church services with us. Soon both were baptized and Holy Spirit filled. At one point, we offered to take them into our home to live with us, due to some circumstances at the time. It did not become necessary, but they remained close to us until we left for a mission in Ecuador, South America.

In the intervening years, both young men went astray, but never forgot the touch of God on their lives. Since we've returned to Elgin, we've seen one of the brothers several times. He's come to services now and then. The other we saw only once, at a funeral and had little time to talk.

This summer, a new neighbor moved in next door to the church. Over the last few weeks, we discovered that one of the brothers is frequently at their house. We've talked a few times, talked about the way God works, invited him and the neighbor to church. Then Monday, Bob wanted to talk to the other brother, the one we had not seen, to invite him to Tuesdays are Terrific. Bob said he felt it ordained of God that Tom come to service Tuesday. We hadn't seen Tommy for several years. He called his brother and asked how to contact Tommy. The reply was, "talk to your neighbor. He usually knows where Tommy is at."

Determined to make contact, Bob headed next door and asked, "Do you know how I can reach Tommy?"

The neighbor directed his comments to a man seated with his back to Bob, "Hey, Tom, Pastor Bob wants to talk to you."

And Tommy turned around, gave Bob a huge bear hug and began to cry. He then proceeded to tell the above story to the astonished neighbor.

Tommy came to church on Tuesday (two days ago) when Michael Cole, Jr. from Dixon, IL came to speak. Pastor Mike has a prophetic ministry. He knew nothing of this story when he came. Pastor Mike spoke from Psalm 23 "He restoreth my soul." Tommy and his friend sat toward the back of the sanctuary until the call came for "restoration" and Tom came forward. With no carnal knowledge of the man or his situation, Pastor Mike talked to him and prayed with him about "these people who have loved you for years," "God doesn't care where you've been or what you've done, he welcomes you back." and more specific pieces of Tom's history. Possibly some that apply much more than I know.

For a restored Christian of two days, Tom's doing well. He says people at work are looking at him differently. He hasn't lost his temper; he hasn't "cussed out" anyone; he hasn't been drinking. He's reading the Bible Bob gave him and listening to the Larnellle Harris CD's Bob gave him. His smile says he's a new man.

It was such a God thing. There's much of the story I don't even know. I know Tom's been in some really bad places in these intervening years, but there is no place so bad or so dark that God's light cannot penetrate.

What happens now is largely human choice, a matter of man's choosing to follow God, choosing to grow, choosing to pray. It's a matter of Prayer Warriors choosing to intercede, of Christians choosing to reach out, to befriend. But God has moved heaven and earth to bring together those elements for a fresh touch, for a true restoration. Look around and see the wonders that God is working in your life. To penetrate the darkness, you need only THE LIGHT!

I'm thankful!! Tuesdays are Terrific!!

It's all a matter of perspective. I was reading a book recently by Shaunti Feldhahn -- one of her novels, The Lights of Tenth Street, I think it was. (I highly recommend her books -- For Women Only, For Men Only and both novels). The omniscient viewpoint of the book reminded me that God sees things so differently from his perspective. I'm in the middle of the action, sometimes confused, sometimes can't see the forest for the trees. But God views things from the vista of eternity and knows the why, knows how things will connect, knows the ending as well as the beginning.

These aerial photo of Mexico City emphasize that difference. From the air one sees the entire area; on the ground perpective is limited by the surrounding environmental details.

I'm writing this as I'm preparing to go for my final checkup after the liver donation. Exactly four months since Victor's death, almost six months after the surgery, I'm going for the doctors to give the final analysis that everything has grown back normally and functioning properly.

God, let me yield to your direction, your guidance remembering that you have the omniscient perspective. Let me not be distracted by the here and now, the details, the pain, the messiness of life. With the psalmist, I sing, "I will lift my eyes to the hills from whence cometh my help. My help comes from the Lord."

Friday, June 16, 2006

A Peaceful Interlude

A Peaceful Interlude
  (This is Bob at a restaurant on the beach. The internet cafe was actually a building!)

I´m sitting in a little internet cafe a couple of blocks from the beach. This slower pace has been great for me. I love sitting on the terrace at the hotel watching the waves roll in. Something about the ocean calms me and, at the same time, lifts my spirits. The consistency of the waves, yet with a uniqueness of the rhythm, reminds me of God´s power. Sometimes the waves come in quickly, close together, making little ripples on the sand as they dissipate and return seaward. At other times, there is a time of silence, then a larger wave comes roaring in, breaking into white foam on the rocks and sand below. But no matter the time between the waves, another will come. It is as inevitable as the sun rising tomorrow morning. It just isn´t always timed the same.

God´s timing in our lives is like that. Sometimes waves of blessing seem to roll in, leaving a peaceful sense of God´s presence. At other times, there seems to be a interminable space of time between those power surges. But I can rest assured that it will come. As sure as the next wave, God´s power will roll in. As I watch children collecting shells or clams on the beach, they will sometimes be so engrossed in their task, they lose track of the waves. One comes unexpected, lifts them a few feet and deposits them on the sand again. The children don´t mind. They laugh; they´re accustomed to the ocean and it´s rhythms.

My prayer today is: God, give me the grace to relax and enjoy the moment, the things you are currently doing in my life. While I want the next surge, the next big wave, help me to concentrate on the task at hand, to do those things you have set in front of me. Even as I wait for the inevitable surge of power that I feel coming! Steadfastness. Keep me steadfast in You.


Sunday, June 11, 2006



(When I wrote this, little did I know that by fall I would NOT be returning to teach, but headed for Surgery and Chemotherapy.   I would spend the next year wondering if  I would ever teach again.)

There's something terribly sad about an empty classroom. Or, is it just that I'm reluctant to let go of one year, one more batch of students headed for high school and the big adventures of life? I like getting prepared for the new set of students in the fall, but I do have trouble ending the year. It usually takes me several days to clean up the classroom, stash all the books, clear all the bulletin boards, dump all the inevitable papers left behind, evidence that learning took place here. I finished the classroom on Wednesday. The cleaning crew was right down the hall. Three classroom North, all the desks were in the hallway, the tables stacked high and various files sitting around gathering hallway dust as the crews prepared to strip and wax floors. By now probably my precious memorabilia from this year is set in piles decorating the hallway with all the rest. I won't know. I won't go see it again until August.

So it's off for a few days of R & R. Grab some warm sun. Read a book or two. Recharge my batteries to start anew. One more rotation on this merry-go-round called life.