Monday, December 31, 2018

Redemption

The lines of the scroll read destruction, but she heard redemption. Not in the way that the story was told or the phrases that were used, but as an interruption. The thin paper was unfurled and a man with an aged, white beard read it in two languages, one she knew and one she did not recognize. It was a tale of woe. The words were precise and easily understood. The meaning was clear. It was a proclamation of despair. If you heard only the words of the story, all was hopeless. But as it was told, she heard a whisper, a quiet shout, a still, small voice, repeating over and over: redemption. Your destruction has come, you deserve it, you've earned it, but before it reaches you, a rescuer intervenes and carries you to safety. All of your wise men, prior experience, and hidden knowledge have not predicted this salvation. You will see it with your own eyes.


Promise was my word of the year for 2015 and it is again for 2019. 

A declaration assuring that one will or will not do something; a vow. 
Indication of something favorable to come; expectation: 
a promise of spring in the air. (Wordnik.com) 


Do you have a word of the year?


Promise



We serve the God who speaks to what is not 
and it becomes 
and 
to what is 
and it ceases to be.



I believe it was the minister John G. Lake who put this into these words, but it was inspired by Romans 4:16-17: That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Alexander Solzhenitsyn Quote


"More than half a century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of older people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: 

Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened."




"Since then I have spent well-nigh fifty years working on the history of our Revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous Revolution that swallowed up some sixty million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: 

Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened."

Sunday, December 16, 2018

St. Basil's Cathedral



Built 1555-1561 by Ivan the Terrible, complete with horrible legends of blinded architects, the incredible, fairytale-like church in Red Square has had many names, including:

Trinity Church
Intercession Church (prophetic, I think!)
Jerusalem

The Cathedral of the Intercession of the Most Holy Theotokos on the Moat
(Theotokos refers to Mary, the Mother of Jesus)

Pokrovsky Cathedral
Church of Intercession on the Moat 
and
Temple of Basil the Blessed

The name of Vasily (Basil) the Blessed was attached to the church in the 17th century. He is buried on-site and Ivan the Terrible, who he had boldy spoken out against, 
was reportedly one of his pallbearers. 

Who was this man?

His parents were poor serfs. He was said to have been born at the entrance of a local church. He trained as cobbler, but was known for stealing to give to the poor. He wore chains willingly and sometimes went naked in public. They called him a Holy Fool. 

He survived insulting Ivan the Terrible, calling him out for letting his mind wander in church (specifically telling him what he had been thinking about) and for violence and cruelty toward the innocent. He won the respect of the ruthless leader who, years later, served as his pallbearer. He called Basil "a seer of hearts and human thoughts." 
He was said to be the only man Ivan feared.

Mysterious happenings...

When he was a young man working as cobbler, a merchant placed an order with him for boots. Basil suddenly began to weep and asked the man to cancel the order, as he would soon die and would never wear them. He passed away several days later.

At just 16, the future saint arrived in Moscow and began exhibiting bizarre behavior. He would walk around barefoot in summer and winter. In one instance, he knocked over a stand of bread and poured out a jug of kvass (a traditional drink). The shopkeepers attacked him, but he remained joyful and thanked God. They soon discovered, however, that something had been wrong with both the bread and the beverage. He had saved everyone from getting sick! People began to see him as a holy man and, in a tradition of the time, a Holy Fool or Fool-for-Christ, 
because his actions often seemed unusual. 

He prayed for and showed kindness toward people who were drinking in the local taverns, sometimes clinging to the walls outside and weeping for their souls. 

His prayers were said to have stopped an invasion of Russian lands in 1521 when Khan Makhmet-Guirey was scared by a vision of legions of soliders 
who weren't really there and retreated.

In 1547 he foresaw the great fire of Moscow. He was believed to have extinguished another fire at Novgorod through prayer and symbolically pouring wine out of a window. It was discovered later that there had been a fire in Novogorod at that time, but it did not spread far because someone unknown to the eyewitnesses was seen pouring water over the burning houses. Later, after visiting Moscow, some of them recognized Basil as the stranger they had seen on that day, 
but he had been miles away at the time.

There came to be so much respect for him that the church in Red Square 
is now commonly known as St. Basil's Cathedral. 
It is arguably the most recognized symbol of Russia. 
Isn't it remarkable what can become of a simple person, a fool for Christ?

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Why Christmas?


Have you ever done Holy Communion at home? 


 I had my most moving Communion experience, so far, in my college apartment on the floor in front of a TV. It may have been my first Holy Communion, but I am not sure. It may not sound holy to you, but it was to me.

I did not have wine or even grape juice, a loaf of bread, wafers, or even chips. I had water in a gallon jug. I don't remember why I didn't use a glass. For the bread I had cold pizza. It doesn't sound holy, does it? I sat on the floor in front of my tiny box TV, earnestly aiming the antennae to bring a wobbly channel into focus. I was trying desperately to watch a Christian TV program. I was newly saved and hungry for the Word. The TV ministers were doing Communion and I joined them with what I had, where I was, 
and with all my heart. 

What was life like before I was saved? 

I was walking in that type of darkness where things are okay and just going along, but it's not enough and it is not at all okay. My ideas of right and wrong were unsatisfying. Not a lot of life made sense. Is this all there is? Work. Then come home from work. Buy nice dishes. Get a haircut. But why? 

There had to be more. 

I had no real sense of direction, except for experiences I had with the Lord at various times when I was growing up. Those stood out to me. They were real. It drew me to Him. 

Jesus Christ is real. 

It is hard for me to find the words, but He brought me to life. I was not, but now I am. I hungered for more because there is more. I was lost, just as lost as any bad guy or anyone who seems just terrible, just as lost as that. But now I am found. I didn't find myself. I was found, by a real person, Jesus. 

That's why I celebrate.  

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

 

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Start




"What starts as a spiritual problem 
eventually shows up as a 
cultural and societal problem." 

Dixie Hall





Friday, November 30, 2018

Tower


One day our world was different. 

A tower stood on the Earth. It looked like a fortress made from rock, carved, it seemed, by the hand of God. It was surrounded by an army of similar stone columns, each above the world and not of it, out of reach, away. On it sat a mysterious structure, a building perhaps. The people of that day were curious about these sites. Why were they there? But no one wanted to venture up because they had all that they needed below. 

She had all she needed too, but curiosity stirred her to reach for the top. She set out, using mortal hands to climb, stretching her legs and not looking down. Forever extended up toward the clouds, and eventually, the distance down was forever too. For a while, she remained in that place, still like the palace at the top. It rested. She waited. But when it was time, she began to climb again, lifting with now stronger arms and patience. She met her destination with relief. There before her was a building that had not been entered in one thousand years.  

Everything remained as it had been. No dust settled on our fair Earth anymore. There were no ruins, only what had been before, exactly as it had been. 

She was met with an elaborately carved wooden door frame, artwork, stone and wood together. Human hands had built this place! The door had been propped open with a rock. Had it been there for a thousand years too or had someone come ahead of her? She went inside. 

Realizing this was a place of worship, she pulled a long scarf from her bag to cover her head. It was an unusual tradition for her, but seemed to convey respect which she was eager to do. Frescoes on the wall showed people, Saints probably, and at least one surrounded by rays of light. 

Light didn't behave that way anymore. It was no longer coming or going. It remained, always and everywhere. There was no where to shine into, all was lit, all was seen. The Earth was light, the ground beneath and the sky above, inside this church and outside, all were beaming, all were vibrant. She was struck by that part of the painting, light that moved separately from other things. One person had it, but another did not. It was not so in her day. She could not even imagine darkness. 

After all of this, she saw the child in a painting by the door. She knew him instinctively and smiled and understood that she was indeed in a place of worship. He looked so small and young there, hidden away in the quiet places where the faithful had once worshiped in secret. But it was not that way now. Now he lived among them, with them, and all the world was a high place.


For he says, I heard you at the acceptable time, and in the day of salvation I helped you. Look, now is the acceptable time; look, now is the day of salvation! 
2 Corinthians 6:2

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

I'll Fly Away

Some glad morning, when this life is o'er
I'll fly away
To that home on God's celestial shore
I'll fly away

I'll fly away, O glory
I'll fly away
When I die, Hallelujah bye and bye
I'll fly away

When the shadows of this life have flown
I'll fly away
Like a bird from prison bars has flown
I'll fly away

I'll fly away, O glory
I'll fly away
When I die, Hallelujah bye and bye
I'll fly away

Just a few more weary days and then
I'll fly away
To a land where joys shall never end
I'll fly away


I'll fly away, O glory
I'll fly away
When I die, Hallelujah bye and bye
I'll fly away...

Thursday, November 22, 2018

1 John 1:2-4


The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 
We write this to make our joy complete.


Sunday, November 18, 2018

"Rabbi, I want to see."


Bartimaeus is Thankful. 

I read a post yesterday with this simple title. It really struck me how wonderful it would be to be remembered this way. What if, after all you or I have done or said or accomplished or failed at, this is what was said of us?

Mark 10:46-52

Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, 

“Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 

Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. 

“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. 

The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” 

“Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.



Thursday, November 15, 2018

Free







Unforgiveness
ferments
in the soul
and
destroys lives.


Forgiveness
frees
a soul
from 
the depths.







Friday, November 9, 2018

Eagles


Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God, 
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary, and 
his understanding no one can fathom.
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 40:28-31

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Mercy Seat

In the darkness
Where everything is unknown
I faced the power of sin on my own
I did not know of a place I could go
Where I could find a way to
Heal my wounded soul

He said that I could come into
His presence without fear
Into the holy place where
His mercy hovers near

I'm running, I'm running
I'm running to the mercy seat
Where Jesus is calling He said
His grace would cover me
His blood will flow freely
It will provide the healing
Come running to the mercy seat
I'm running to the mercy seat

Are you living where hope has not been?
You're lost in the curse of a
Lifetime of sin
Lovely illusions they never
Come true I know where there's a place
Of mercy for you


He said that you could come into His
Presence without fear
Into this holy place
Where his presence hovers near


Come running, come running
Come running to the mercy seat
Where Jesus is calling He said his
Grace would cover you. 
His blood
Will flow freely it will provide the healing
Come running to the mercy seat
I'm running to the mercy seat
He said that you could come into his presence
Without fear into the holy place
Where his mercy hovers near

Vicki Yohe

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Greater Awakening


The world wakes up
More than before
More than yesterday
Not just an awakening
Maybe the greatest
Certainly greater
I don't think we have been here before
We are at the top of a rollercoaster


Thursday, November 1, 2018

Asia Bibi


Today a Pakistani Christian wife and mother was acquited of blasphemy charges and will be released. She has been in prison for eight years. 

To be honest, it was a shock to see her freed. A good shock. Anything is possible!

Blessings to all, to the people of Pakistan, to those who accused her, to those who prayed for her, and to those who didn't. God bless you and keep you.


Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Isaiah 56:8


The Lord God, 
who gathers the 
outcasts of Israel, 
declares, 
I will gather yet others to him 
besides those already gathered.


Sunday, October 28, 2018

Blossoms


She was a simple woman, but not. Not really.

Each day after lunch she would walk under the cherry blossoms to the fountain at the far end of the park. 
On the way there, she thanked God for small things 
and big things, all the things. On the way back, 
she prayed for this, for that, for all the things. 




Sometimes the Earth shuddered under her steps and decisions made faraway were altered. The sun shone brighter or rain fell and flowers bloomed. On some 
days her prayers changed the world. On 
other days, her prayers changed her. 

She was a simple woman, but not. Not even close.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

The Hill of Crosses


No matter how many years I've lived I find there are still wonderful surprises waiting around the corner...
and on a hill in Lithuania, of all places. 

Have you ever heard of The Hill of Crosses?


The practice of placing crosses on a hill near Siauliai, Lithuania is thought to have started in 1831 as a memorial to people lost in the Polish-Russian War. It has continued since then, even though the practice was greatly discouraged during the long years (1944-1990) 
of the Soviet occupation.

The Soviets bulldozed the hill several times and, rumor has it, planned to build a dam to flood the place. Guards were assigned to watch the area, but the faithful snuck in anyway and planted crosses in defiance. I like to think that some of the guards put crosses there themselves or willingly turned a blind eye to those who did.

Despite those efforts to plow it under, the hill remains to this day and has grown to an estimated 200,000 crosses in the ground and who knows how many buried underneath 
by those who tried to stop it.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Taught



All your children will be taught by the Lord, 
and great will be their peace. 

Isaiah 54:13


Monday, October 22, 2018

Purity




sight
vision

I can see the riverbed 
clear like glass
cold
stones washed 
overflowing
rushing

unobstructed
unshackled

freedom from sorrow

innocence 
restored
life
breath hope