Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Easter Letter to Jesus... #4

(Note: Please see Easter Letter #1
for introduction to this series of posts.)


The tomb IS empty! It IS true! The news was brought to our home earlier today and mom is so thrilled but the rest of us don't really know what to think. You see, I am James, the brother of Jesus. Our family has been together since Jesus' death on Friday. There've been so many things to talk about, so many feelings we have. This crucifixion has been really difficult for all of us but especially me because I was closest in age to Jesus. I have been trying to be the brave big brother but it hasn't been easy. You see, I have a lot of questions about who Jesus really is. But let me read you a letter I've written to him. There are so many things I want to say to him.

Dear Jesus, My brother,
The news came to us earlier today that your grave was found empty this morning. Some are saying that there's been a resurrection; that you have come back to life. Several of the women even claim they've seen you. They also seem to think they've talked to you and some angels. I really don't know what to think. I wish I were able to sort this out in my head and know for certain whether or not you really are the Messiah you claimed to be. I was so positive until this morning that I had the truth about you and now I am completely confused.

Have you wondered why none of your brothers and sisters believed you really were God in the flesh? Let me try to explain. As soon as I was old enough to understand things, I realized that there was something different about you. You were always so perfect - so in control- so almost inhuman and yet you were also ordinary but in a way I can't really explain and I never could understand. We were such close buddies when we were little - we used to chase each other around everywhere but I always had the feeling I could never be as good or as religious as you were. So I decided I would get recognition for being different from you - looking different and acting different and believing differently. Those avenues for expressing my individuality brought me some recognition but often left me feeling somewhat unfulfilled. It was as though I accomplished notable things but found they lacked satisfaction even though their achievement required much courage and resolve on my part.

When you told us you were God and man, and we heard the story of your birth and the early years of your life from mom and dad, none of that really made any sense. To me you were just another of my brothers - how could you be the Messiah? We knew you were just like any other human being except for the things you claimed about yourself. And that's really why I decided you must actually be crazy, mentally unstable. For your own good, I felt you should be restrained. When the Messiah came, he would set up an earthly kingdom. You weren't working on that. In fact you were an embarrassment to the rest of your family. You were associating frequently with scum, riff-raff, low-life. Your ideas were provincial and weird. We valued education, proper affiliations, community esteem and all you brought our way was disgrace. We even heard that you terrorized employees at the temple. When you rebuked our attempt to calmly and quietly get you some counseling, I decided the only thing I could do was distance myself from you and your fruitcake ideas.

When I heard of your death on Friday, I wasn't surprised. It was just a matter of time. We tried to prevent that from happening but people just can't put up forever with such a bizarre character as you have been. I wish it could have been different for us. You were really a cool big brother to me. I really looked up to you but I just couldn't swallow your philosophies. But you know, since this morning, I've really started thinking again. You told people, "Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days." I always thought you were referring to stone and brick but maybe you were talking about your body as a temple. I heard that at the moment you died on the cross, that the curtain in the temple was torn from top to bottom to open the way into the holy of holies. If it tore from top to bottom, that was supernatural because that curtain is 40 cubits or 72 feet high. How could anyone get up that high to tear it from the top down? But I wonder where the logic is in all this? I know you. I just can't believe you could be God. But this I have decided. I will attempt to learn the truth. I want to see you again so I can find out for myself, if you really have come back to life. If I am convinced that you really were dead and now live, I will change my mind. I will devote my life to serving you as the worthy sacrificial lamb. I will repent and give you my allegiance.
Your brother in the flesh and in the Spirit,

(Remove costume and continue speaking.) I, too, have a letter I've written to Jesus.

Dear Jesus,
I can relate to some of the experiences of James, Jesus' brother. I, too, have an older brother. It was sometimes difficult to maintain my own identity as I followed his footsteps through life. I haven't, however, experienced the same degree of doubt about you as did your brother. I am so grateful that you did appear to him so that he could resolve his dilemma and follow through with his promise to serve you faithfully. He wrote another letter which I've read many times. It has reminded me that trials are to be considered pure joy because they produce perseverance. It also has clued me in that my faith is really nothing if it's not accompanied by good works. I do want to thank you for giving me a brother, a sister, a strong family. I am not always worthy of your love but Easter reminds me that you considered me worthy to die for - a truth I can hardly fathom. Thank you. I give you my allegiance and desire to always be, your faithful friend and follower.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Psalm 62: 5 - 8...

Psalm 62: 5 - 8
Find rest, O my soul, in God alone;
my hope comes from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress,
I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor
depend on God;
he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge.
Reading these verses multiple times opens my eyes to profound truth for my soul which I need every day. Today I am noticing these truths:
Rest for my SOUL is found in God alone.
God is:
my hope
my rock
my salvation
my fortress
my honor
my refuge

And what is my part in response to this truth?

Trust in Him at all times &
Pour out my heart to Him.

God is all we need but too often I forget to trust that and end up with some fear, doubt, insecurity and weakness. At the point of realizing my lack of trust, I can "Pour out my heart" - that's the picture of real prayer - with a whispered whimper or loud wail.
And that's when my soul finds rest in God alone.

Monday, March 22, 2010

An 11 year old's poem...

Saw-Whet Owl
He lives all year round
in northern states from
Washington to Maine, and
somtimes spends the winter
in southern area rain.
His tiny feathers puff, making him
look wise and vain. He has a seven-
teen inch wingspan, and calls Saw-Whet,
his name. He prefers to perch on evergreen
trees to wait for coming prey.He is a
creature that God made, fragile, new,
and small. Saw-Whet is his name.
a sweet sweet name
is Saw-Whet and
shall he ever live.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Moldova 2010...

The dates for our Moldova Mission Trip this summer have been decided.
July 30 - August 9, 2010

A team will return to Chisinau, Moldova to spend a week with children ages 7 - 16 from Internat II (Boarding School/Orphanage) who will be living at a camp outside of the capitol city this summer. Our team will stay in the IMB mission house in Chisinau and be driven to the camp each morning for our daytime hours there.

We have at least 7 people ready to book tickets but others are welcome to explore this privilege. We don't want to be the only ones having all this fun so contact me if you want details about our plans.

This trip is sponsored by CERI, Children's Emergency Relief International, which is an arm of, BCFS, Baptist Child and Family Services.

This will be the sixth year for a team from Trinity Baptist Church in Kerrville, TX to lead this life-changing trip.

If you love the Lord, love children, love hugs and have a longing to share yourself and your Savior's truth with some kids waiting for attention and activities, plan to be part of this experience this summer.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Farm on Buffalo Ridge - A Poem

The Farm on Buffalo Ridge

We moved there as I reached age four.
It was the farm my folks saved for.
I would come to love those verdant acres;
the stage for childhood memory makers.

Those years from 4 to 18 filled with toil;
our major duty tending cows; tilling soil.
So few days with refreshing solace;
though front yard trees were outdoor palace.

From top branches in the oak and maple,
I viewed with joy the outdoor table
on which my world was deeply rooted
while hidden so high was nearly muted.

Now I know what fed my soul.
It was wisdom in that leaf bound hole.
I pondered long of home and hearts,
and there refreshed my burdened parts.

I love that place with memories to treasure;
Safety, lavish love and truth mixed with leather.
Though years and distance dim my thoughts;
His strength grasped there remains my tether.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Celebrating St. Patrick...

Since today is St. Patrick's Day, it seems appropriate to share a prayer that is attributed to him. This prayer and additional information about St. Patrick, are available as today's DAILY REFLECTION and PRAYER by Mark D. Roberts at THE HIGH CALLING.

A Prayer attributed to St. Patrick

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through the belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness,
Of the Creator of Creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ's birth with his baptism,
Through the strength of his crucifixion with his burial,
Through the strength of his resurrection with his ascension,
Through the strength of his descent for the judgment of Doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of Cherubim,
In obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In prayers of patriarchs,
In predictions of prophets,
In preaching of apostles,
In faith of confessors,
In innocence of holy virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven:
Light of sun,
Radiance of moon,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of wind,
Depth of sea,
Stability of earth,
Firmness of rock.

I arise today
Through God's strength to pilot me:
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptations of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone and in multitude.

I summon today all these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel merciless power that may oppose my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man's body and soul.

Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me abundance of reward.

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness,
Of the Creator of Creation.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Responding to Reconciliation...

I have just spent a couple of hours researching the issue of whether or not the Senate version of the Health Care bill contains the same restriction of funding for abortions as is contained in the Stupak amendment of the House version. I have read a number of articles at the Politico website and a number of others. There are many different opinions about whether or not the Senate bill includes the Hyde Amendment wording.

I do not want to make a judgment here about whether or not the funding of abortions is denied in each version of the Health Care bills. I want to make another point.

My concern is with the process of passing this legislation.

My concern is related to the issue of trust.

It is my understanding that House members are being urged to vote for the senate version as it is with the promise that there will be an opportunity to fix the unacceptable aspects of the bill through a Reconciliation process after the bill is passed and after the President signs it into law.

But many folks state concerns about whether or not this process can be trusted to work as promised. And I share those concerns.

To illustrate the personal nature of my concern, I will relate something my husband and I experienced within the first year of our marriage - about 43 years ago. My husband signed a contract to teach high school speech following our August wedding in 1966. His contract also included the stipulation that he would become the assistant drama coach for the school. This school produced 2 major student musicals each year and had lengthy after school rehearsals which started before labor day and continued through the public performances which were held in November just prior to Thanksgiving for the fall semester and the spring event was similar. My husband was required to be at school at least 3 nights a week and many Saturdays for several hours. He was responsible for the sets and all staging for each production. It was a hugely time consuming responsibility but he faithfully fulfilled his commitment during his first year of teaching.

When it came time to sign his contract for the 2nd year, he told the department chair that he would like to be replaced as the assistant drama coach so that he could devote more time to his classroom assignment and other interests he had in the school and community. The department chair readily agreed that there was no problem with his request. A replacement would be selected for that position. He mentioned a new hire that was being interviewed with plans to move from another state.

The day came when the contract had to be signed. My husband noticed that the contract had the same wording as the previous version had a year earlier and included this position as the assistant drama coach. He mentioned that to the Department chair. And the immediate response was,

"Oh, that's just a technicality. We have a new person being hired from out-of-state who has agreed to serve in that position
so just sign this with the understanding that
you won't actually be doing that part of the contract."

So he trusted the man's word and signed the contract.

You guessed it. There was "no new person from out of state" but a contract had been signed with wording which would require my husband to honor a commitment he had knowingly but unwittingly signed. I'm proud to say that my husband fulfilled the contract as signed that year and did it without malice or vengeance against the man who misrepresented the facts. It was my husband's last year to teach at that school though that had been the plan before the conned contract.

How does this apply to the current Health Care bill?

Legislators, please study this bill and vote on the merits of the bill and not on what is promised as change after your signature is secured.

Too often promises are not kept and trust is seriously eroded. Unfortunately, I speak from experience.