Coming About

I have been feeling and expressing all kinds of frustration and anger over the past few days because my Gmail accounts were hacked…as well as all of the accounts which my Google browser held passwords for.   I was not thinking about the truth of what I said in How to Win the War.  In fact, it took anger at my blessed neighbor to come to grips; she has been doing very poorly lately but got herself out of her chair to yell out her front door at me that my dog was “doing dookie” in the yard.  Really?

I struggled with my reaction to that…and everything else…last night.  (I have had 3 credit card companies reduce my credit limit to at or BELOW my credit balance because of a credit report pulled last December…when I couldn’t make house payments, moved here, and put the house up for sale.  One card had this month’s minimum payment set at $792.00…the minimum due… and reported my status as OVER LIMIT.  My credit score is now 551 primarily because of my credit allowance to credit balance ratio.)

Okay, I got that out.

Time for my sailing analogy.  It is time for me to make a course adjustment.  I have been sailing off-course for about a week.  I have been focusing on spiritual battles and race-war distractions.  (I am not implying that inequities in the laws governing the treatment of blacks is not an issue.  It is.  These laws must be changed…NOW.)  But, the REAL enemy is drawing us off course and is pitting blacks against whites and blacks against police and protesters against military and protesters against police and ….  We are distracted by these confrontations and the evil one and his minions and those who believe his propaganda are the ones perpetrating these evil deeds and as long as we don’t recognize this as a distraction from the real war, it appears to the world that they are winning…but they do not…have not…and won’t.  Remember who the enemy is.  Remember Who has won.

“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.”  That is from Isaiah.

Back to my sailing analogy.  The appropriate action which one should take to make a course adjustment, depends on how far off-course you are.  Sometimes you just move the tiller a bit to the left or right.  The tiller (your mind or the thoughts you focus on) moves the rudder…which is underwater, therefore hidden.  The rudder would equate to your sub-conscious or perhaps your spirit or soul.  You can make subtle adjustments to your tiller (thoughts or focus) by reading scripture that refers to God’ goodness, Jesus’s commandments, and the strength and protection of the Holy Spirit.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”  That is from Philippians.

If it is not enough to just change your focus or thinking, then you may need to ‘come about.’  Tacking is another word for ‘coming about;’ what you must do is switch which side of the boat your sail is leaning toward.  It requires a major shift of the tiller (and, therefore, the rudder) and causes a change in how the wind affects the sail.  What may be required is a major change in what you are focusing on.

Think of the wind as everything that affects you emotionally or spiritually.  That would include the news, events around the world, what’s going on in your family, your city, your country.   That also includes the Holy Spirit, prayer, and scripture.

Your sail, responding to the wind, is what propels you and gets you where you are going.  If your sail is picking up ‘bad’ or ‘foul’ wind, which means it is wind influenced by something (like another boat or bad teaching that you are following or ‘bad’ news, or fear, or hate,….), then coming about and making a major course change can move you into better wind and will greatly improve your journey.  The best wind is the Holy Spirit.

To get out of a ‘foul’ wind,  pray:  present to Jesus all of those issues fouling your life (hates, grievances, injuries, resentments, abuses, fear, guilt, …) and ask to have your sails filled back up with the good pure wind of His Spirit.

(Aside on how to present those issues to Jesus:  imagine a hamper or a bucket….like one you would bail with.  Imagine or list all the crap that you can think of and a few you aren’t aware of …Jesus will know…imagine putting all that stuff in the hamper or bucket and laying it at the feet of Jesus.  Imagine putting it at the base of the tree from which He was crucified, if that helps.  Then back away.  Do Not pick it back up.  Then pray that the space opened up by the releasing all of that junk…that that space be filled up with good, clean, pure Spirit from God.)

When you are sailing under a good wind, you can make progress in your journey and do constructive things to improve the world, as well as your own life and your eternity.  Good wind comes from your own relationship with God…your creator.  Good wind does not come through your church membership.  Good wind does not come from just reading the Bible.  Good wind is the Spirit of the Lord which comes to you Directly…not filtered…not translated…not through association with others.  It is directly to you…directly from God.

If you are unable to connect directly with God, your creator, ask for His help.  He will give it.  He will bring to mind those things which are fouling your wind, and when He does, immediately put them at Jesus’ feet; do not dwell on them or relive old injuries.  Give them immediately to Jesus.  And when residual stuff comes up, and it will, give that to Him, too…over and over.

You are not fouled….your wind is.  You are a sturdy, well-built, little craft.  Get out of the foul wind and sail on.

I’m heading next door to apologize for my dog’s having gone “dookie” in my neighbor’s yard and to see how she is doing.

(Thank you, God, for this deliverance.  To You be the Glory.)

(Yes, that is a picture of me hoisting a sail …many years ago.  I have stopped stealing images from the internet and that photo is the only one of my own that I could find quickly that had anything to do with sailing, sails, and wind.)

 

 

Christ’s Embassy

” We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.”

God does make His appeal through us.  Jesus is not here.  We are.  We are His hands and feet…as well as His lips and fingers.

Much of what I have read recently came together yesterday the way rivers, streams, and runoff come together to produce torrents and flash floods.  I have been quite busy scribbling notes as the Holy Spirit fed me insights, connections, and brilliant ideas.

At some point I thought of writing this all in a book … a book of instruction for individuals and churches.  However, the penlight of the Spirit revealed that I was being drawn toward the trap of anticipating notoriety, fame, success, and reward.  It didn’t take much convincing to change my mind.  So, nope, I’m not going there.  I will lay it all out here as individual posts.

First of all, God is responsible for this work.. He directed it.

Jesus led me to the blogs, books, and writings which have been blended to support the concepts put forth here. He planted the idea for me to write this and even made me slow down in my reading at the parts that were key to the development of these ideas. The Holy Spirit gave me joy when the concept really started to take off and I depend on Him to pave the way for me to get the necessary permissions to borrow the essential truths from the various sources of research and insight. Jesus orchestrated the book; I am merely conducted the work and performing the writing. Furthermore, any spelling, punctuation, or grammar errors are His. (Just kidding)

As I wait to get permission from specific publishers, I will set up the environment of what I hope to address:

Have you ever turned to a church for help and were told “no,” or were merely ignored, or were referred to the state or country department of social services? …even if you were known to be Christian and a member of that denomination?

Have you ever wondered why mega-churches thrive and smaller churches are failing?

Have you ever wondered why the seriously struggling in our neighborhoods have a stronger faith in God than those who seem to be truly blessed by God?

Have you ever experienced yourself drifting from your faith when hardships lighten up?

Have you ever wondered why so many of the wealthy and successful blow it by falling prey to drugs, addictions, adultery, crime, and suicide?

Have you ever felt alone within a congregation…misunderstood, ignored, marginalized?

Has it ever taken you a week to do what you could do in 15 minutes…if all the time you had was 15 minutes?

Do you ever get drawn off track by enticements, doubts, pride, addictions to validation, fear, or memories of abuse?

Do you ever feel that you have something to give but no one to give it to?  There is no one who wants it?

I am going to present a new way to be a ‘Believer in and Follower of Christ…’ a BiaFoC.  Okay, that sounds awful but I may in fact use that acronym because the term Christian carries along with it a bunch of associative junk that I intend to avoid:  preconceptions of what a Christian is, does, and has done…the details of which I will leave for another blog and, hopefully, a different blogger.

As I mentioned above, I hope to present advice and guidance for individuals as well as ‘BiaFoC Collectives,’ heretofore referred to as churches…a term and concept that has its own associative junk.  In fact, mainline churches with their council-approved doctrines, prayer manuals, and pre-ordained services may not be flexible enough to consider the recommendations I will make.  Some of what I will propose, I borrow (if not steal) from existing denominations, with slight modifications or blending.  In truth, I am gleaning the best practices of many denominations and suggesting a hybrid.  I can do this because 1) Jesus is suggesting it and He is the Executive Director.  I don’t need anyone else’s approval; 2) I am not having to make these ideas fit within any existing paradigm.

I am a free agent.  I no longer ‘belong’ to a particular denomination.  I belong to Jesus.  I am not ordained or formally educated  in theology, apologetics, or doctrine; a seminary education limits one’s options and can weaken one’s faith…(which is another subject that I will not go into, here.)

I will address a variety of issues:

  • four stages of BiaFoC faith and the keys to staying in the optimum stage;
  • techniques for identifying, shedding, and ‘keeping shed’ one’s personal demons;
  • keeping protected from the evil one and Practicing the Presence of God
  • fundamentals of the BiaFoC Collective…
    • its strengths and key components (“divide and pair up”)
    • the critical mass of BiaFoCs
    • the critical mass of issues
    • key practices
  • doing enough but not too much
  • the right way to measure prosperity and success
  • balancing intake and outflow
  • “Reach out”…not outreach
  • being public

I am excited.  While I await permission to proceed, I will be composing drafts.

I am not a salesman; ask my brother if you don’t believe me.  In fact, over the years, I have tried many times to market the products of my God-given talents (painting, photography, graphic design, writing,…) all to no avail.  Furthermore, I doubt my writings here get very far; the typical post of mine sees less than 10 views.

If what I present appeals, use it.  It comes from Jesus.

 

 

 

What Amazes Me

I have moved to Upstate South Carolina from Western North Carolina.  I moved because I lost my job and my children were ready to launch; it was time.  It has taken me 4 months to move.  My children thought I was crazy to start packing in October when our target date for launch was December 31.  Well, here it is February 7th and things are still not completely wrapped up…but we’re close.  (I’ve been saying “We’re close,” for two months.)

I have noticed several things, which have amazed me, during this move.  One is, the sunsets last forever, here in the Upstate.  It is probably due to my being used to the mountains, which, I am sure, obscure enough of the horizon to limit the expanse of the sky that is in sunset over a long period of time; there’s simply more visible sky, here.  But, there’s also something about the cloud cover looking west from where I live or drive.  West, for me, usually means looking over the lake and the ambient moisture of the lake probably has something to do with the predominance of evening cloud cover.  This is total conjecture, based on limited knowledge of meteorology, but since nobody reads my writings, anyway, I’ll stick my neck out and say that that is exactly why there are so many wonderful sunsets here.

There are the same varieties of birds, here, that I fed in North Carolina, but also many more.  I’ve been too busy to take the time to do much actual bird watching, taking note of all of the varieties, but when I get unpacked, settled, and into a routine, that will become a regular part of my life.  I’ve seen more Goldfinches, for sure.  And I hope to attract some Bluebirds, as I will be putting up a house or two.  But what truly amazes me is that I have to refill all four of my squirrel-proof feeders every day!  I’ve been through several enormous bags of bird seed (predominantly sunflower seeds) since I unlocked the front door and put up the first bird-feeder, last October.

While we are on the subject of the birds, I am amazed at how the very large Pileated Woodpeckers and the Mourning Doves can fit inside my window-mounted bird feeder.  The opening to the feeder is no more than 4 to 5 inches high and about 10 inches wide.  The feeder itself extends into the room about 8 inches and is rounded with a one-way mirror that allows me to see them when it is brighter outside than it is inside.  I can not always see the birds well, but I hear them; the feeder is four feet from me as I sit at my computer.  The woodpeckers (and I never knew woodpeckers ate seeds) will grab some seeds and then beat at my feeder for good measure.  Now, the smaller birds will often pause at the edge of the feeder, with a seed, and beat the seed against the floor or edge of the feeder to crack the seed open.  I think the woodpecker is just reminding me that he is, in fact, a Woodpecker…not to be mistaken for a mere seed-eating variety of bird.

Another thing that amazes me about this area of the Upstate is the number of churches. There is a church on just about every corner or mid-block of every street…in every kind of building.  There are at least three within walking distance of my home and I live in a rather remote, rural area.  The church I am leaving is lovely and in the middle of the city.  There is a picture of Grace Episcopal Church, several essays back, that shows how lovely the stone church is, with it’s big Red Doors.  It also has rather unique stained glass windows that portray everything from Jesus and Mary Magdalene (my favorite) to a view of Downtown Asheville and the mountain ranges beyond.  The artist’s shepherd dog is even in a window.

I will miss my church.  I love everything about it:  the grey stone walls, the massive wooden beams, the gleam of the wooden floor and pews lit up by the sun’s rays shining through the stained glass, the breezeway with it’s zen views of gardens and trees, even the light fixtures hanging long and still from the high, peaked ceiling.  What amazed me was how people would climb ladders, tens of feet up, to hang real, massive, boughs of fir and pine to drape them across the sanctuary for Christmas.  I loved that they practiced the tradition of not placing the baby Jesus into the Nativity Scene until midnight on Christmas Eve.  (Aw, Jesus, that makes me cry.)

I love the people at Grace.  I hadn’t been there forever, but I was there long enough to lose some dear friends to illness and death or their moving to other places.  I miss them.  There are friendships from there that I am bringing with me, but I will miss seeing the faces, hugging the shoulders, shaking the hands, and hearing, “Good Morning, little buddy!”   I have mentioned it before, but the people of Grace have saved me quite a few times.  My life has been a hard one, and they have witness it and sat with me, held me, prayed for me, cried with me, and blessed me…every step of the way.  They are even blessing me and praying for me as I move here.

I have yet to start my search for a church home, here.  The logical choice would be a local church of the same denomination.  I have reached out to that church several times to help me in my move.  What amazes me is that, each time, they said they did not have time to talk with me or, simply, “no”…but added that they could recommend someone, if I was willing to pay them.  I’m not in the mood to get on my soapbox this morning; it’s Sunday and the birds would disapprove.  I had previously met the church secretary and, in fact, had a long, lovely conversation one fall day in October and I must have given her the impression that I had money or was comfortably situated.  To be honest, I am quite comfortable in my 60-year-old house trailer that I will one day be paying my brother rent for.  But this move has been very hard on me, physically and financially.  I was moving because I could no longer afford to make house payments, where I was, on the small house in North Carolina.  I was forced to vacate.  If it had not been for my brother, I would have been home-less.

I needed help…and still do.  I had fallen and hurt my neck and shoulder and needed to paint a very small room.   I was too proud or dignified to beg or to inform the people at the local church that I not only did not have money to pay a painter, I was in serious financial debt and broke.  I’m as old as this trailer, but I managed to work though the pain and paint the room myself…at least the parts behind the furniture.  When I finish unpacking and heal my injuries, I will finish painting.  In the meantime, I feed the birds, watch the sunsets, tend to my elderly dog, Stella, and my black cat, Mr.Tubbs, and I write.

After being turned down by this church here, I was attending Sunday morning services at Grace in North Carolina, and while preparing to take communion, I told Jesus, “You know I have to forgive them.”  He said, “Yes, I know.”  “How do I do that?”   “They know not what they do.”  Good point.

One final amazement…no one reads these essays.  Even when I send out emails to over a dozen friends, family, and acquaintances, announcing a new piece, the stats page shows one or two views…usually my own.  That’s not too amazing since very few people read my emails.  But, I write nonetheless.  It’s out there, in the Universe.  God may enjoy it but God is who revealed it all to me in the first place, so that just makes me look stupid.  My older blogs, listed across the top of this page, had more views, and more ‘likes,’ but that is because they are darker and more depressing, the farther back you go, and appealed to a younger, more internet-present group, hungry for (and searching for) commiseration.

However, one final, final amazement is that I am able to do this at all.  I have lived over an amazing span of time and history…particularly when you look at technology and communications.  The expanse of knowledge and connected-ness, global awareness, and diversity of information boggles my mind.  I saw the first fuzzy black and white TV images, the first moon walks, and, now, real images of galaxies only dreamed of by very few people when I was born.  I started programming on punch-cards (look it up), then taught myself Fortran on a 4K terminal to a Unisys mainframe (look it up).   My daughter has learned Korean by watching Korean dramas, has reviewed them in a blog which has had hundreds of followers, thousands of viewers, and she has made friends globally this way.

My son is a self-taught genius in everything from music and history, cinematography and philosophy, as well as computer technology, because of the internet and internet-(and formally-)educated friends.  He has rebuilt a complex, turbo-charged engine; is a moderator on a sub-reddit (look it up); and knows as much (if not more) about physics, astronomy, rocketry, math, and programming than I do…and I earned a four-year degree in physics (a gazillion years ago).  He has a fifth-grade public-school education (I yanked him out of school in the sixth grade because of verbal and emotional abuse by his teachers) and now he is working full-time and attending college classes toward earning degrees in physics and computer science.

All this amazes me.  My children amaze me.  God amazes me.  The world amazes me.  And I will continue to express my opinions and observations here, and in letters, and to the people I encounter in grocery store lines, fast food restaurants, and churches, until I can no longer communicate.

And that probably amazes me most of all.

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