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, October 30, 2010

"He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint"   Isaiah 40:29-31  (NIV)

Recently a friend was rejoicing that some promises God had made to her has come to pass in her life.   At the same time, she was able to see that something that she had wanted with all her heart would have turned out badly.  Sometimes God allows us to see things like that.   But what about those times when we can't see?

I think the prophet is talking about those times.  Times when the view is dismal; times when our vision is blurred; times when it seems all is about to be lost.   

But those who HOPE in the Lord.   King James expresses it as those who WAIT on the Lord.   When we can lift our eyes beyond the present, beyond the daily grind, beyond the fear of failure, THEN we can see HIM.    When the view, the vision, the daily grind, and the present moment contain HIM, we are able to HOPE, to BELIEVE, to WAIT on the promises of God.

Last evening, I had another one of those moments, a time when God whispered "that's will be yours.  This will come to pass."   My strength has been faltering, my hope waning.  Just one whisper from God and I believe I can make it through.  I will soar on wings like eagles; I will run and not grow weary; I will walk and not be faint. 

Psalm 121:1-2 (The message)   I look up to the mountains; does my strength come from mountains?   No, my strength comes from God who made heaven, and earth, and mountains.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


How to Teach an Old Dog New Tricks

We were having a quiet work time during science class.   A girl raises her hand and asks, "Mrs. Huerta what does "Grenade" mean? "  

I tried the standard answers:  a small hand held explosive..

"No.  When talking about a person.  What does it mean to call a person a grenade."

I don't think I've ever heard it.   Metaphorically, someone who explodes, as in a volley ball player who really gets into the game?

"No!  It was a girl on the sidelines."

Smeone who gets angry easily?

"no. She was like...a girl with long blond hai."

Long blond hair doesn't have anything to do with a grenade.   I turned to the young college student who happened to be  observing that day and raised my eyebrow??

Embarrassed, she stuttered, "I think it means an ugly girl"   Then in a whisper.  "It's used on Jersey Shore that way."

The student was satisfied with "Ugly girl".   HOWEVER, a couple of tables of boys who had stopped working to listen to the interchange, were giggling in that manner that all teachers know.  You just can see when 13 year old boys are thinking about ....  uh.... well, whenever the testosterone is flowing.  They were giggling like third graders, heads together, glancing over their shoulder, giggling more.   

So I walked to my computer and but in Urban Dictionary:  Joisee Shoor  (If you know what I mean).   And...a grenade is indeed an ugly girl in a group of "hotties" and in order for males to gain entree to the "group" someone must "throw himself" on the grenade in order for them to get action in the group if you know what I mean.

I was aghast.  First of all, that a term exists for that.   Secondly that my 13-year old students know the word and what it means!!  Apparently, more than the 20 year-old college student!  I called her over to show her the explanation on my computer and she had an aha moment.

Then she asked, "How old are these kids?"    

And we shared a moment of consternation in silence, staring at the students who were once again studying with heads bent over their books.

I suppose I shouldn't be shocked.  But bad taste and degradation never fail to amaze me.   I
realize that one cop-out would be that it is an expose' to demonstrate just how amazingly stupid certain groups can act.   but it isn't.   

It's a chance for decent people to live vicariously, live a life of degradation with all the cheap thrills that unlimited liquor consumption and unbridled human passion could provide while remaining safe on the living room sofa without the danger of STD's, the emotional, legal and physical danger that abandonment to the darker side would incur.  

But it's also a chance for young teenagers to find heroes and role-models who lead them to believe that fun and freedom is found in that same unlimited liquor consumption and the release of unbridled human passion.   It provides the opportunity for these children to learn from a dangerous source values that should be found in the classroom, in the family, in religious education.   

Unfortunately, the parents of most of my children are busy working two and three jobs, and are unavailable or unable to block such programs from their tv's.  

I respect the freedom of press, freedom of artistic expression.  But there's also something within me that asks:  "Isn't there a way to protect our children?   All of our children!!!"   And those students of mine?   If they are not able to find values and grounding somewhere, they WILL become a problem for ALL of us!!!  You can take that to the bank!  Or back to MTV!

And this very senior teacher has learned something new today.   I must ever be diligent to discover what my children may be absorbing from those forces out to subvert American culture.  

There are days when I know that I am getting too old for this!!!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Provide (comfort) for those who grieve in Zion

The story had me in tears.   Yet I noticed that the Grandmothers (grannies) there were rejoicing!  Rejoicing that their grandchildren though stricken with AIDS and rendered parent-less, had food to eat and clothes to wear.   Although I did note that some of the little tee-shirts had huge holes!  In addition the ministry assists young girls to get out of the sex trade and acquire an education.

Uganda.  I think of Idi Amin and his reign of terror during the 1970's.  Today Uganda is 207 (out of 227) in per capita income.   It is certainly not a prosperous place, but they are working on providing employment and income for their people.  The per capita income is averaged at $1,200.   (Makes me cringe...even if I did grow my own vegetables.)   That doesn't pay for much education and health care.  It is 14th in the world with the most people living with HIV/AIDS.   Most of them children.  Most of those orphaned.

I'm thinking I may be headed to Uganda this summer.     But in the meantime, if you hit the "donate" button on the website, you can fund a child's education for a paltry $30.00 per month.   I'm gonna take the leap on that one -- today!!!   Who will join me??

 Two ex-sex workers with a volunteer.
 Children from the orphanage and nursery lined up for lunch.
A Canadian medical doctor dances with the "Grannies".   The grannies take care of their orphaned grandchildren in the village, but are assisted either through no cost loans, or donations of animals, etc. to raise their standard of living.   "Teach a grannie to fish" is the idea!!

Like I said, I'm helping out today!!!

Pastor Phylis


Monday, October 11, 2010

Good News To the Poor

Isaiah 63:1  "The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor."

We are engaged in an interesting activity this week.   During Tuesday night Bible Study, each participant was given a $20-bill with instructions to give it away this week and report back on Tuesday what happened.  We were to get out of our usual patterns of interaction and look for someone that would be blessed.
Bob and went out tonight to a 1/2 price night at a resale shop not that far from where we live.   I met someone I used to know and felt the urging of God to give mine to her with a blessing from me and the church and a promise of prayer. 

Bob went into the resale store and found a 3-member, 3-generational family sorting clothes in a basket.   He introduced himself, "Our church is doing a project.  We are to bless someone this week.  Would it offend you if I gave you $20 as a blessing from God."
The grandma promptly responded, "Offend us?  It would save us!  We're trying to decide which of these clothes we can buy for my grandson.   He needs some warm clothes."

We chatted for a few minutes, and gave them a church card.    As we were walking away, I heard the child ask, "What did they do."   

Grandma, "They gave us $20."

"$20???" He asked in the incredible voice I might have used if someone had handed me a week's salary.

Sometimes the good news to the poor is a tangible evidence that God loves them!!!    No matter who you are, or what your circumstance, God loves YOU!!!