..."and a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the way of holiness; evil minded people shall not travel on it, but it shall be for those wayfarers who are traveling toward God. (Isaiah 35:8, adapted)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

With My Face into the Wind

"I work now as I have always worked:
with my face into the wind... I'm only an
instrument that God is using for
the moment. Afterwards, things will be
as God wants them."
..... Fr. Alexander Men

photo taken at Beach near Wreck of the Peter Iredale"
(Fort Stevens State Park near Astoria, Oregon)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Embracing Detours in Our Spiritual Lives

Detours are inevitable both in our natural and our
spiritual lives. We often have a negative view
of them because we want to be "on with it." We
want to get there, we want to proceed with our
plans and go the way we want. God, often,
in His Wisdom, has other plans. We must learn
to trust Him in the detours of life, even
when we do not know where the detours will take us,
and even when they are confusing.

Detours are not always bad. Sometimes they are
ordained of God. In the natural, detours are
meant to steer you around trouble. In the town
that I live in, they are laying sewage lines,
and God knows we need the sewage pumped out
of town. Where the road once was, are deep, deep
holes. To proceed as you have always done would be to
find your car and yourself wrecked in a ditch.

The authorities, well-meaning folk that they
are, have posted a traffic sign recommending
that you take a detour. Of course, there is no
easy way around. As the old Vermonter's used
to say when asked directions: "You can't get
there from here." Sometimes detours feel
like that. But God has His ways. Going the
long way around may be a pain,
but not as much of one as going through
a forbidden zone.

When Paul preached the gospel he encountered
Holy Ghost detours: "Now when they had gone
throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia,
and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach
the word in Asia, 7 After they were come to
Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but
the Spirit suffered them not. 8 And they
passing by Mysia and came down to Troas.
9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night;
There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him,
saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us.
10 And after he had seen the vision, immediately
we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly
gathering that the Lord had called us for to
preach the gospel unto them. (Acts 16:9-10)

We make plans, but the Lord continues to guide
us in the best way. Sometimes doing the
right thing will include a detour.
The story of the good Samaritan is one such
example: "But a Samaritan, as he traveled,
came where the [wounded]man was; and when he
saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to
him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil
and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey,
took him to an inn and took care of him.
35 The next day he took out two silver coins
and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’
he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you
for any extra expense you may have.’ (Luke 10:33-35).

The "Good Samaritan" had to stop to help the man.
He had to take time to tend to his wounds, and
take him to a place where he could recuperate.
Perhaps not much time was lost, but whatever
he had planned for that day was disrupted.

Can we see these detours as divine appointments?
Can we trust that even when we are delayed
that God is watching out for us? Sometimes
the right road to proceed on is not abundantly
clear. We look one one way and there is a detour,
we look another way, and that way has a detour
also. How can this be of God? As long as we
are looking to God and are willing to
submit to Him, we will be on the right
track, no matter what. Sometimes the
detour is so bad we have to come to
a complete stop. Being puzzled at that
point is all part of it.

Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit out into
the desert to be tempted! Upon his return
He went to His home town of Nazareth but
was not well received. God created His
own detour for Jesus. The people of
Nazareth "rose up, and thrust him out of
the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill
whereon their city was built, that they might
cast him down headlong.

30But he passing through the midst of them
went his way
. (Luke 4:19-30). Sometimes
when God detours us, it is to protect us.

The detours of God can be God's most
swift and efficient ways of getting
us to where we need to be. Trust God
in this season of detours. You are not

photo taken in Southwick, Massachusetts

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Sleeper Cells of God

In a day when we hear much, and
possibly fear much, about embedded
terrorist sleeper cells even in
our "sleepy" suburban neighborhoods, be
greatly encouraged that God has a plan.
His plan includes righteous and Godly
sleeper cells for His purposes. And
realize, too, that you have a call
to be a member of those holy cells!
If you look around, like Elijah, and
wonder where the people are who have
not bowed their knee to Baal, rest
assured God has them out there! He
may have them hidden, but they are
hidden for His purposes.

I am a child of God, born of God, but also
born in the atomic age. Atomic is back
"in," you know: atomic as in nuclear,
"duck and cover," Cold War kind of stuff.
I grew up with the spy movies where the bad
guys, and the good guys, plant "sleepers"
into everyday Springfield kind of cities
to live soccer mom and banker dad kind of
lives until the red phone rings in their closet.
Then they are called out on their Man from
kind of missions.

Consider this. God also has a plan.
An anti-evil, anti-terrorist,
anti-antiChrist plan. You may feel not
very useful in your situation, you
may wonder if God is using you at
all, you may try and figure out what
in the world it is you should be

Well, perhaps you are all already doing
it: perhaps you are just meant to be
who you are as a Christian, little ole
you, just living your life, seeking
God daily, loving others, being salt
and light in your neighborhood, but
in the back of your mind you were
expecting it to be different. You
know, somehow more dramatic. Well,
more drama may very well be coming and
the only way you will live through
it is to faithfully keep doing what you
are doing. Be faithful to your calling.
Be faithful vehemently!

Although you may be part of God's
sleeper cell for the coming Day,
you should not be sleeping. And
when you do need to rest, you should
rest in spiritual preparedness and
be ever ready in your heart.
You never know when the red phone
is going to ring in your closet
and you need to be ready.

Remember the parable of the ten virgins?
The bible says that ALL the virgins were
asleep, not just the slackers. A lot of
time had gone by since the Lord had sent them out
to prepare for His return. The point
is, when the Lord calls us into
an active service, for an appointed
hour, will we be ready?

Or will the cares of this world cause
us to ignore the call? Will we have so
assimilated into worldliness that
we will have forgotten who we really are?
Will our tools be rusted over, and
the weapons of our spiritual warfare
dormant? Will we care about the
spiritual mission we are called to
or will we say, "just a minute
after I finish watching the game,
or "just as soon as I am able to
get a moment in my busy schedule."

Jesus calls us to follow Him. He
tells the one who hesitates because
he needs to go bury a dead relative,
"Let the dead bury the dead." Not
a very "politically correct" admonition,
but a totally "spiritually correct" one.

Soon, even now, God will be waking up HIS
sleeper cells to serve on the spiritual
battlefronts of the end of the Age.
"Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that
sleepest, and arise from the dead, and
Christ shall give thee light."
(Ephesians 5:14).

"And this, knowing the time, that for us,
the hour already is to be aroused out of
sleep, for now nearer is our salvation than
when we did believe." (Romans 13:11)

Finally, may the Lord of the Harvest
find us faithful and ready when He needs us.
Let us continue to walk, day in and day out,
in the simple tasks that He presents us
with. But do know this, there is most
probably, for our generation, much
more to the story. Be ready for
His call. Be faithful NOW.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Judgment amidst the Falling Apples

We have this really old apple tree in our yard.
When we have the pruning man over to trim it, he
is always amazed. Its a great tree, although
by now it has lost quite a few major limbs.
It still, however, produces large quantities
of apples. Baldwin apples to be exact.

My job, each fall, is to pick them all up.
We are an organic folk, and don't spray,
and our hand apple picker just doesn't
work right. So all the apples fall to their
destiny on the ground. I hear them, especially
at night, falling with a padded "thud" to the
earth below.

What got me to thinking is my approach to
picking the apples up. It takes longer
than it should because, being a "waste not,
want not" kind of gal, I examine each
apple to see if it worth saving. We make
applesauce, apple pies, dried apples,
apple cakes. You really should stop by
in the autumn if you are hungry.

Instead of just picking up all the apples
and throwing them all away, I sort through
and inspect their defects, hoping that,
through any means, some can be "saved."

I think about how God looks at me, and
where it not for the grace of Jesus,
and His sacrifice for us, there would
be no hope, but realize that all our
works shall be judged by God and
He shall look so very carefully
at us and make all hidden things

So it takes forever to sort the apples,
not wanting to be unfair to the good ones
and just dismiss them with the bad.

Some apples, perhaps most, because we do not
spray, have worms in them. So some are
too wormy to be saved. Some have fallen
on the hard, wooden steps and because
of the hardness are broken to pieces,
Many of the large ones make it to the
ground safely, but then are eaten
by chipmunks or squirrels. The sweetest
ones are attacked by ants and slugs.
The hardest ones will never ripen properly.
Some look fine but have fallen in such
a way that the damage is hidden.
Others have rot and will damage the
other apples if they get too close.
If Jesus had been born in New England
the parable of the sower might
have been about fallen apples.

Yes, spiritual lessons left and right,
overwhelming my thinking and causing
my ability to judge them to slow way
down. Yikes. Now I have moved from
how God will judge me to how careful
I need to be in judging others.

This morning as I was out there picking
up the apples, judging them into good
and bad piles, I saw a little apple
that, for some reason made me smile.
it didn't have much going for it,
not overly big, a bit mishapen,
but a lovely red, shining in the sun,
but no worms, no rot, no damage.
Something in that apple made me want
to save it. I love that God looks
at me that way, and you, too.

May we co-operate with who God has
made us to be, no matter where we
have fallen, or no matter what
issues we have. God's grace is different
from man's opinions and man's judgements.
His judgments are righteous and true.
Sobering but comforting at the same time.

As I picked up the apples, I told
God, "You can have the judgment job,
its just too much too handle."

A word to the wise is sufficient.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Praising God in the Approaching Storm

"You will never find Jesus so precious as
when the world is one vast howling wilderness.
Then he is like a rose blooming in the midst
of the desolation—a rock rising above the storm.

... Robert Murray M'Cheyne (1813-1843),

photo taken near Oceanside, Oregon

This World in Its Present Form is Passing Away

Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer
man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed
day by day. (2 Cor. 4:16)

Those who use the things in this world should do so
but not depend on them. It is clear that this world
in its present form is passing away. (1 Corinthians 7:31)

photo taken of a tree near Cape Meares Lighthouse, Oregon