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