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

Saturday, July 29, 2006


I like this word. What do you know that is entropic? Numerous things occur to me.

A trend to disorder? The school system. The mind of a 13-year old. My mind for that matter. My office.

The degree of disorder or uncertainty in a system.
Government, any government, you name it. Churches too.

Available energy, not being used. A measure of disorder. How about your walk with God? How much entropy is there? I must take a self-examination on that one. I know God's energy and power is boundless. Mine is definitely finite and limited. His power is there for me to access. How much I do not use is a measure of my spiritual disorder.

Now that puts another slant on things, doesn't it? How much entropy is there in my relationship with God? I've been reading Max Lucado's Cure for the Common Life: Living in your Sweet Spot. I definitely need to finish that

Available energy, not being used. On this hot, sticky day in the midwest I'm on my way to investigate. Just how much unused energy is available to me?

Yes, I like that word

Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural -pies

1 : a measure of the unavailable energy in a closed thermodynamic system that is also usually considered to be a measure of the system's disorder, that is a property of the system's state, and that varies directly with any reversible change in heat in the system and inversely with the temperature of the system; broadly : the degree of disorder or uncertainty in a system

2 a
: the degradation of the matter and energy in the universe to an ultimate state of inert uniformity b : a process of degradation or running down or a trend to disorder

3 :Chaos, Disorganization, Randomness

- en·tro·pic /en-'trO-pik, -'trä-pik/ adjective
- en·tro·pi·cal·ly /-pi-k(&-)lE/ adverb

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Life is never smooth!

Inside the Looking Glass?

"Never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to others that what you were or might have been was not otherwise than what you had been would have appeared to them to be otherwise." -- The Duchess to Alice
Alice In Wonderland
by Lewis Carroll

I can totally identify with Alice and her upsidedown, insideout, backward world. With visitors from Central America, I've been miscommunicating, misunderstanding, misunderstood and in general living on two separate planes, trying to find one another.

There's a marvelous little book by Sarah A. Lanier called Foreign to Familiar: A Guide to Understanding Hot - And Cold - Climate Cultures. She then divides the world's cultureds into two basic categories (hot climate and cold climate) and then discusses the differences in the categories. While it is not, nor does it pretend to be, a definitive text on cross-cultural communication, her anecdotes and explanations ring true.

An example that most people are aware of is that time designations are different. In a cold climate culture, time is of the utmost importance. Two p.m. means two p.m. not two-thirty or three, anyone who has missed a doctors appointment and been charged accordingly understands that. In a hot climate culture, a two p.m. wedding begins (at two p.m.) when the bride starts to dress, the guests start to get ready for the wedding. What a cold climate person would consider to be the "real" event (the bride walks down the aisle) might not begin until 3:30 or 4 p.m. A Norwegian would be on the steps of the church at 1:50 p.m. waiting for a 2 p.m. wedding to start, while the Jamacian (for example) would know to start getting ready at two p.m. Isn't that an interesting look at it?

Another difference is that in a hot climate culture, one person (the highest ranking one) speaks for the group. While in a cold climate culture decisions are made by collaboration. Even in the situation where one person is responsible for the decision, a wise leader consults his team members (listens carefully to their ideas and then informs them of his decision) before making a committment to a particular course of action. But in a hot climate culture, team members may not particularly want the responsibility of offering suggestions. They would lose face if a final decision were different that their opinion, so the decision is left up to the all-wise (we hope) leader. On the other hand, in a cold climate culture decisions are made by collaboration while in a hot climate culture, one person speaks for the group. Which would mean that an American pastor's family who is told by a "Hot Climate" bishop just as he's departing for a week in another state, "we've decided that my wife will stay in your house for a week because she is afraid in the [lovely, spacious] house you've provided for her to stay with our two grown sons [a twenty-three year old and a fifteen year old]" is expected to say "Mi casa es su casa."

Whoops! Anybody who knows me will know they picked the wrong pastor's family to try that on. While I do understand the cultural differences, I shall try to educate that bishop. (Did I really say that??) My logic being that if he and his family are traveling in the U.S. for extended periods of time, it's important that he learn the ways of this land (A cold climate culture) and make some accomodations. Flexibility is the name of the game.

But dancing these kind of relationship dances is not my cup of tea. While in another country I make every effort to flex to the culture there, (four hour services every night, conferences every day with thirty minutes to freshen up; the main meal after service each night, about midnight and be ready to give conference classes by 8 a.m. the next morning) I must, in the name of sanity, insist on some flexibility in return whenever they are visiting in our (cold climate culture) home.

And while in the words of Alice I "never imagine myself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to others that what I was or might have been is not otherwise than what I had been would appear to them to be otherwise." I shall proceed with utmost caution and (I hope) humility, I shall proceed.

Toward cross-cultural communication!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

"He restoreth my soul"
Psalm 23:2

On June 22 (Tuesdays are Terrific) I wrote about Pastor Michael Cole's sermon on restoration and described the life of a man being restored. Tonight Pastor Cole was back again for "Tuesdays are Terrific." Tommy had served God with this congregation in the 70's then fallen away, fallen on hard times and has come back to God. He's struggling; the battle is fierce, but we serve Jehovah Nissi, "God is our Victory".

Tonight another young woman was here. She received the Holy Spirit in the 80's, was a vital part of the youth group here for several years, and tonight she returned. Jehovah Nissi, "God is our Victory." God is calling. God is restoring.

Joel 2:25
And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpiller, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you.

Prior to this promise, there was an instruction:

Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly: Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, . . . Let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O LORD, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God? (Joel 2:15-17)

And then still later in the chapter is the scripture that Peter used to preach on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:16), "This is that that was spoken by the prophet Joel,

"And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: 29 And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. (Joel 2:28-29 AND Acts 2:17-18)

As surely as he has poured out his spirit in the past, he is doing so again today! He has done great things and continues to demonstrate HIS power.

Tuesdays are Terrific!!

(For Heritage week events, see

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Harnessing the Power of the Human Spirit

The human spirit is such a powerful force. Finding a way to harness that power is much like discovering how to make an internal combustion engine and unlease the power of gasoline. David did just that with his heartfelt Psalms. He wrote openly and honestly about his desperation and distress (See Psalm 77, this blog) but he also learned how to progress beyond that despair.

Psalm 63 is a good example of that progression:

Psalm 63
O God, you are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you,
my body longs for you,
in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
I have seen you in the sanctuary a
and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.
On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.

He begins with a lament colored by the situation in which he finds himself, in the Desert of Judah. "I thirst for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land."

He then remembers what God has been to him in the past, "I have ... beheld your power and your glory."

Next he recognizes what God is to him in the present and makes a commitment to praise God, "Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you."

Finally he can lift himself above the present circumstances and declare, "I will praise you as long as I live."

He also commits to a physical action to praise God "and in your name I will lift up my hands."

This progression of lament, praise, and physical response to God can be seen through the book of Psalms in varying patterns. David was called "A man after God's own heart" in spite of grievious sin. He also had to pay a consequence for that sin: He was not allowed to build the Temple.

This ability to raise above circumstances through prayer and praise served David well. He also was able to recognize his errors, accept responsibilty and carry his grief to God. We see his repentance clearly in Psalm 51. It is often said that the major difference between David and Saul was David's ability to accept responsibility and to repent for his mistakes.

David knew the secret to harnassing the power of his human spirit. He took his trouble to God; he acknowledged God's past intervention in his life and then was able to praise God, usually in a physical way. With praise for God on his lips, David could then reaffirm his faith that God would continue to direct his paths.

David often speaks of praising God with a "new song." I particularly like Psalm 149:1-9:

Praise ye the Lord.
Sing unto the Lord a new song
And his praise in the congregation of sants
let Israel rejoice in him that made him
let the children of Zion be joyful in their King
Let them praise his name in the ance
Let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel and harp
For the Lord taketh pleasure in his people
he will beautify the meek with salvation
let the saints be joyful in glory
Let them sing aloud upon their beds.

So for this week, let us follow David's pattern. When the stresses of life hit:

Let God know, loud and clear your feelings on the matter
Then move to thinking about what God has done for you
And Praise him for that
Choose a physical method of praise:
lift your hands
clap your hands
dance (no one is watching)
Then acknowledge God's presence in your present situation
Allow His presence, His Spirit to flood your spirit
His peace will come!

Proverbs 20:27
The spirit of a man is the candle of the Lord,
Searching all the inner depths of his heart
Psalm 18:28
For Thou wilt light my candle
The Lord my God will enlighten my darkness

So often we use our human spirit for anger, stubborness, rebellion. It takes a concerted effort to harness that power in praise. BUT...marvelous things happen when we do.

Be exuberant in Praise
Bask in His presence
Live Joyfully in spite of it all!


Saturday, July 22, 2006

Psalm 77
The Message
Verses 1-6
Listen, dear friends, to God's truth, bend your ears to what I tell you. I'm chewing on the morsel of a proverb; I'll let you in on the sweet old truths, Stories we heard from our fathers, counsel we learned at our mother's knee. We're not keeping this to ourselves, we're passing it along to the next generation— God's fame and fortune, the marvelous things he has done. He planted a witness in Jacob, set his Word firmly in Israel, Then commanded our parents to teach it to their children So the next generation would know, and all the generations to come— Know the truth and tell the stories so their children can trust in God, Never forget the works of God but keep his commands to the letter.
*****Then, the people disobeyed God. He forgave them. They still transgressed. Finally God had enough.***
Verse 65-72
Suddenly the Lord was up on his feet like someone roused from deep sleep, shouting like a drunken warrior. He hit his enemies hard, sent them running, yelping, not daring to look back. He disqualified Joseph as leader, told Ephraim he didn't have what it takes, And chose the Tribe of Judah instead, Mount Zion, which he loves so much. He built his sanctuary there, resplendent, solid and lasting as the earth itself. Then he chose David, his servant, handpicked him from his work in the sheep pens. One day he was caring for the ewes and their lambs, the next day God had him shepherding Jacob, his people Israel, his prize possession. His good heart made him a good shepherd; he guided the people wisely and well.

Friday, July 21, 2006

"But I don't Feel like it"

Did you ever have one of those days in which everything felt wrong, yet there was really nothing major amiss? A dizzy day, an anxious day, a down day, a negative thought day. I had one last week.
For no real reason, I couldn't sleep, couldn't think, couldn't function normally. Several times that day, I went over to the church for awhile to play the piano, to meditate, (my state of mind wouldn't even let me pray) just to calm myself down.
That day I was positive that nobody loved me, not even God, for after all if I was so unlovable to myself, how could anyone else stand me. Fortunately, I knew that it was only a battle, only a day (or sometimes a few). I knew to hold on. I knew that, I could "lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.
My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth. He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber." (Psalms 121:1-3)
I knew it, but didn't feel it. It felt like God was on vacation, or at least taking a nap. Our culture has served us badly by placing so much emphasis on the feeling of a situation or a time, or an era. We are regularly encouraged by popular culture to follow our feelings while scripture exhorts us to follow knowledge and obey. "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh; (for the weapons of our wafare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds); casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ" (II Corinthians 10:3-5)
What "imaginations" need pulling down today? What feelings have exalted themselves against the knowledge of God? What thoughts need to be taken captive?
Prayer: Today and everyday, God, help me to remember that the major battlefield is that of my mind. Give me the courage and wisdom to recognize the battle and take action.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Thirty-Seven Cents

Thirty-Seven Cents

God uses the simplest things to teach me. Not long ago we had a couple of new children for a children's activity. They had recently moved here from out of state and were excited about the trip here. The family didn't yet have a car, but their dad had walked them to the activity and walked to get them at the end.

Because it wasn't a regular church service, the teachers didn't do an offering time in the classes.
At the end of the activity before they left, they tentatively approached the pastor saying, "Our Dad gave us money for the offering, but the teachers didn't take one. Will you be sure that the church gets this?" And with outstretched hand they offered thirty-seven cents.

And I wonder, how long has it been since I offered anything so valuable to the Lord?


Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Some years ago, on a hot summer day in south Florida, a little boy decided to go for a swim in the old swimming hole behind his house. In a hurry to dive into the cool water, he ran out the back door, leaving behind shoes, socks, and shirt as he went.

He flew into the water, not realizing that as he swam toward the middle of the lake, an alligator was swimming toward the shore.

His father working in the yard saw the two as they got closer and closer together. In utter fear, he ran toward the water, yelling to his son as loudly as he could.

Hearing his voice, the little boy became alarmed and made a U-turn to swim to his father. It was too late. Just as he reached his father, the alligator reached him. From the dock, the father grabbed his little boy by the arms just as the alligator snatched his legs. That began an incredible tug-of-war between the two. The alligator was much stronger than the father, but the father was much too passionate to let go. A farmer happened to drive by, heard his screams, raced from his truck, took aim and shot the alligator.

Remarkably, after weeks and weeks in the hospital, the little boy survived. His legs were extremely scarred by the vicious attack of the animal. And, on his arms, were deep scratches where his father's fingernails dug into his flesh in his effort to hang on to the son he loved.

The newspaper reporter who interviewed the boy after the trauma, asked if he would show him his scars. The boy lifted his pant legs. And then, with obvious pride, he said to the reporter, "But look at my arms. I have great scars on my arms, too. I have them because my Dad wouldn't let go."
You and I can identify with that little boy. We have scars, too. No, not from an alligator, but the scars of a painful past. Some of those scars are unsightly and have caused us deep regret. But, some wounds, my friend, are because God has refused to let go. In the midst of your struggle, He's been there holding on to you.

The Scripture teaches that God loves you. You are a child of God He wants to protect you and provide for you in every way But sometimes we foolishly wade into dangerous situations, not knowing what lies ahead. The swimming hole of life is filled with peril - and we forget that the enemyI is waiting to attack. That's when the tug-of-war begins - and if you have the scars of His love on your arms, be very, very grateful. He did not and will not ever let you go.

Never judge another person’s scars, because you don't know how they got them.

I received this in an email. It touched me today, so I wanted to share the story with you. I tried finding the origin to give credit to the author. However, I could not find the original. I did find a hard rock, heavy metal band named "Scars of Life". Somehow that name as an identity saddens me. But I digress.
Hope this little tale is as meaningful to you as it was to me.


Saturday, July 8, 2006

God looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. - Psalm 53:2

(for the full panoramic picture, click below)

PARIS BY NIGHT is a sight to stun the senses. It is absolutely intoxicating to breath the night air, to take in the marvelous vistas from L'Arc de Triomphe to L'Tour Eiffel, from the Champs Ellysee to La Basilique de Sacre Coeur de Montmartre.

The thing that struck me about this marvelous parorama is that in these building along the streets, people live in the shadow of greatness, in the shadow of art and beauty, in the shadow of stunning triumphs of architecture and human creativity. I can clearly see the living room of an apartment, a lovely apartment. But I also know that the inhabitants don't exclaim daily about the beauty of the view, the marvels of Paris architecture. No, they talk about the high price of housing, the cost of utilities, the difficulties of commuting. Maybe they sometimes converse about the dangers of the trains, the bombs in Spain, London and India. They may decry or endorse the politics of the day. But the greatness around them dissolves into daily existence.

I was a tourist in Paris. For me, the beauties, the triumphs of creativity, the art everywhere left me awestruck, open-mouthed almost, in wonder. Especially Paris at night. There's absolutely nothing like it. I so remember breathing a prayer thanking God for the creativity of man, the beauty He has allowed us to build. But they live with it every day.

And then I think, what are the beauties around me? What are the wonders of his hand? What wonders of the universe or creation of His creation am I missing? What are the daily blessings that I overlook as I worry about the minutiae of the day?

How much of my Pentecostal heritage do I simply take for granted. We become so accustomed to the manifest presence of God who graces our services, who is with us when two or three gather together. Do I understand? Do I give time to the important amidst the frenetic race to attend to the urgent?

God looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. - Psalm 53:2

Give me understanding, Oh God. Help me remember to seek you faithfully, continuously.


Thursday, July 6, 2006

The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Sometimes I wonder about choices...did I make the right one? How do I know? Will I ever know this side of eternity?

I read in the newspaper the other day that Warren Buffet is donating the bulk of his $44 billion dollars to the foundation run by Bill and Melinda Gates. They'll be receiving $1.5 billion annually which will double the funds of the foundation. Bill Gates has topped Forbes list of billionaires for several years now. There's an interesting story here.

Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard to write software for Ed Roberts who had invented the first P.C., the Altair 8800. Ed hired him and Paul Allen for $10 an hour to write BASIC for the Altair. Humble beginnings for an industry that has literally changed the world. Beginnings that has made Bill Gates a household word.

In 1977 Ed sold the company, purchased a farm in Georgia and went to Medical school. Bill gates and Paul Allen went on to found Microsoft. Today, Ed Roberts is a physician in a small Georgia town. He is one of only two doctors for Berkley County.

According to sources, Bill Gates doesn't talk about those early days, but when asked about his Altair days, Roberts says, "The implication is that the PC is the most important thing I've ever done, and I don't think that's true. Every day I deal with things that are equally if not more important here with my patients." Although he says that he does still design advanced computer systems for certain clients, he has left fame and fortune behind with no regrets. Would you have know the name of Edward Roberts?

Two roads.

Imprisoned and at the end of his life, Paul said: Philippians 4:11 "Actually, I don't have a sense of needing anything personally. I've learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. 12 I'm just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I've found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. 13 Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am." (The Message)

Two roads. Whichever I chose, I can make it through because I have the ONE who makes me who I am.

Tuesday, July 4, 2006

(Baby Jude sleeping peacefully) (Our tools and retrieved items) **********************************************
I just got back from visiting my sister. We had a great time celebrating her birthday and I got acquainted with my greatnephews again, ages 2 & 4. I even helped retrieve a wide array of objects that the two-year old had stashed in the VCR without the knowledge or consent of any adult (Aren't two years olds good at that??). We got the unit working again, but really had fun pulling batteries, an allen wrench, plastic toys and paper from the VCR as well as the stuck video tape :) It's amazing what two country girls armed with a few screwdrivers, a flashlight, a pair of pliers, and a nailpuller can do!! I'm sure God must do that very thing with us....He come's along and helps us pull out all the unnecessary paraphernalia to get things working again.

I also got to visit with another greatnephew. (Okay. For those of you who know me, he's the grandson of my double cousin. Southern families are very complicated!) At nine weeks old baby Jude is a little doll. I almost got the baby bug!! Gasp! Quick! Somebody lend me a baby for a few days. That will cure me.

But one never goes on vacation from God. The message Sunday morning was a confirmation of what God has been speaking in me. Pastor Mike a couple of Tuesdays ago taught from Psalm 23 "He restoreth my soul." God moves beyond time and works to restore us to our original state -- not just our previous fallen state. But if we allow him to work in brokenness, the restored state will be better than our previous state. That's a thirty-minute message in about sixty seconds. Sunday morning Pastor Shawn preached from Haggai "The latter will be greater than the first." The older Israelites were crying that the restored temple did not reach the glory of the first. God directs them to rejoice. It is His work and when He is there, the latter will be greater than the rest. He does not measure in physical grandeur or size, but in His Presence and our yieldedness and worship.

God was there in Mexico, encouraging me to rest in His Peace. God was there in Missouri encouraging me to give my brokenness, my failures, my faults to Him. He will make my latter greater than the past!! And he can do the same for you!