It ain’t that bad

“When your heart is thus established in Christ, and you are an enemy of sin, out of love and not out of fear of punishment, Christ’s sufferings should also be an example for your whole life, and you should meditate on the same in a different way. . . . If a day of sorrow or sickness weighs you down, think, how trifling that is compared with the thorns and nails of Christ. If you must do or leave undone what is distasteful to you: think, how Christ was led hither and thither, bound and a captive. Does pride attack you: behold, how your Lord was mocked and disgraced with murderers. Do unchastity and lust thrust themselves against you: think, how bitter it was for Christ to have his tender flesh torn, pierced and beaten again and again. Do hatred and envy war against you, or do you seek vengeance: remember how Christ with many tears and cries prayed for you and all his enemies, who indeed had more reason to seek revenge . If trouble or whatever adversity of body or soul afflict you, strengthen your heart and say: Ah, why then should I not also suffer a little since my Lord sweat blood in the garden because of anxiety and grief?

“One can thus find in Christ strength and comfort against all vice and bad habits. . . . And they are called true Christians who incorporate the life and name of Christ into their own life….

Author
Martin Luthor

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It ain’t over yet

Quiet time! Focus time!

There was a message on the radio today that spoke of dicipline. The man on the radio was speaking of instances when we don’t want to give God our attention or time. It’s not that we don’t think of that time as important, it’s more about our ability to rationalize our way out of it. Taking the time out of each day to give to God requires a commitment to dicipline. An unchanging mindset that puts these moments at the pinnacle of our priorities.

I have for many nights now, used this time to read about God’s will. The point of view and writing in this book has changed me and I am grateful for the author and the person who recommended him to me. However, tonight I left my book in the car and didn’t want to trudge outside in the cold to go and get it. So instead of continuing my reading I just layer down and prayed. I thought of recent days, the memories, the craziness, the driving but I eventually focused on the season. Is it over? I see porches and yards, that lit the night skies a week ago, now dark.  I couldn’t help but miss the beautiful scene that has once again disappeared from our windows. But as I lay here I still feel the Spirit of Christmas for it never goes away. There was an unfathomable joy the day Christ came into this world. It is a joy we have been commissioned to share, not just at Christmas and not just with friends.

When we accept Christ as our savior 2 promises are made. One by Christ. The other by the sinner who becomes an apostle. We promised through a confession of faith to be the messengers of what has happened in Bethlehem. It is our responsibility not only to keep the Joy of that wondrous night, but to pass it along. Whether in speech or action, we must testify to what we have experienced. What we know to be true. I sometimes wonder what a glorious sound the Heavenly Hosts made that evening. I believe they are still singing with the Joy of that blessed night and sometimes when it’s really quiet and I am in prayer, focused on all that God has done, is doing and will do, I get to feel just a little bit of that Joy he has promised to all who call him Master.

I hope those reading this will help keep me accountable to my own words.

The Great Blondin

The Great Blondin
I don’t know the author.

In the late 1800’s there was a great performer named Jean Francois Gravelot. He was known as “The Great Blondin.” He was a “daredevil” of sorts; a tightrope walker specifically.

One of his greatest stunts, involved walking a tightrope high above the world famous Niagara Falls. Blondin performed this death-defying feat more than once, adding elements of difficulty each time. Once he even carried his manager on his back!

Blondin was quite the showman, he had a knack for engaging the crowd, stirring the suspense and excitement. Upon completing one attempt, he asked the crowd if they believed a second attempt would be a successful one. The crowd unanimously agreed it would. Always looking to better his last great feat, Blondin now asked the crowd if they believed he could cross the falls on the tightrope while pushing a wheelbarrow. Having seen his previous stunt, and how seemingly easy it was for him, the crowd had no doubt he could pull off this new, more difficult one. Again, the response was unanimous, the crowd had no doubt “The Great Blondin” could do it!

Blondin was ready to attempt this amazing feat that only he could do, but before he set out on the rope, he had one last question for the crowd: “Which of you will ride in the wheelbarrow?” The crowd was frozen, still, silent. Not a single man or woman responded to his challenge…

All of those people witnessed Blondin cross the falls on the rope. They gained first-hand knowledge of his abilities. They had a well founded belief that he could perform the more difficult stunt. Yet, when it came time to act on those beliefs, they were silent…still. They did not trust him.

Many of us have seen what God can do, and we believe (faith)… when He calls us to “ride” with him (trust), will we sit silent? Will we stand still?…

Not Yet

If you haven’t read my previous post, “4th Sunday of Advent asked to teach”. The following may not make much sense.

I was given a simple assignment. To fill in for our leader while they are away on vacation. The study we are following is written by a very educated man who obviously spends much of his time conversing with others in collegiate academics. What made this assignment so frustrating is that the author of our study has complicated Christmas. In his text he asks the question, “As a Christian are you celebrating Christmas, because of Christ, or are you celebrating secular celebration”? Have you taken time to realize that God used a young poor woman from the tiniest of villages in a stable of all places, to deliver into the world, a Savior (Emmanuel). And that this occurrence is really a pattern that God prefers to use. How often does he use the least amount his people to do the greatest of works.

These are good questions, awesome observations. But, I still believe the best message of Christmas is the simplest message. Jesus was brought into this world, because God loves us so much! His arrival marked a new time, a new covenant. One so loving that even the heavenly hosts rejoiced singing praises to the one and only Creator. If Christmas goes by and we celebrate the day but don’t take the time to acknowledge the day’s true meaning, then all of our preparation, joy and fellowship is worthless.

4th Sunday of advent asked to teach

I have been asked to lead a discussion on the 4th Sunday in advent. Which in reality should be an easy assignment. After all, almost everyone I will be speaking to will be familiar with the advent wreath and candles and the significance of the evergreen and candles.

Yet as I was given the materials I would need to conduct my class, I was taken back by the complexities people have assigned to advent.

For example, when I was a boy, the candles represented hope, peace, joy and love. The attributes Christ displayed during his life and ministry. But now, I have seen these symbols distorted. Yes, I believe we should remember the prophesies, a promise made to God’s people. Yes, I believe we should consider the long wait as the world anticipated the Messiah ‘ s arrival, the joy that night expressed in Heaven and on Earth as Jesus entered this world. But as I continue to prepare my for Sunday. I am noticing more and more focus being put on Elizabeth, Mary, the town Bethlehem, wise men, angels, shepherds. Entire lessons and focus being given to what amounts to minor players. I have great admiration for Mary and a ton of respect for Joseph. I love account of Angels proclaiming the good news to the lowliest of people. That picture, in my mind gives me chills. Still the focus of advent is and should always be on God and his love for us and what we learned about God through the life of Christ. I think it is critical to remember and reflect on the attributes of the Father demonstrated by the Son. Hope, Love, Joy and Peace. Focus on the other things during epiphany, right now is a time to focus all attention on the Father and his only begotten Son.

I am never alone

Jesus said”I am with you, even unto the end of the world”. As a Christian these words are well known, yet as a seeker of Christ, I feel alone. It happens enough that I would call it “ordinary”. I can easily understand why some touched by the Holy Spirit can find it very difficult to stay the course. Honestly it does feel like, that at our weakest and most frightening moments. there is a feeling of isolation. I never suppose or assume to know God’s mind or will, but from what I do know, God actually wants the opposite for us. He desires to be such a meaningful part of our lives that we become utterly dependent on him for everything. Not just the big things, but in all things. So if I believe that is what God wants, then our seperation has to be related to my free will and choices I have made. Surely God’s grace is more than capable of restoring our relationship to an intimate level he so desperately desires. The only problem is finding the first step back to him. After sincere repentance and prayer, still there is a feeling of loneliness, despair and frustration. “What am I doing wrong”!!!! Leaps through my head and heart as I continue to seek him and the peace, joy and love he promises to all whom follow him. Thus. I am left with a feeling, I know is a lie. I know I am not alone, even if it feels that way. I know vigilant pursuit will merit the rewards I seek. In His time, always in His time. Some time, a week, a month, a year, maybe longer. I truly hope I can go back to this post and share it with the Love of my life, my best friend and savior. Until then, I will wait and pursue this quest despite the darkness tempting me to quit. If the Bible has taught me anything it is that I am one of his most prized creations, His love is unconditional and ready to be received. I know He is as anxious as I am to finally come together as Father and son.

Waiting in limbo

Not too long ago I was writing regularly to help process thoughts and emotions. Particularly focusin on God and his role in my life.
Jesus said, “seek, and you will find, knock and the door will be opened”.
Let me say that I truly love God. But is it me, or is anybody else get tired of knocking. I am beginning to hate the consolation people offer. “All good things in his time”,  “he has a plan and purpose for you. just wait a little longer”. I am tired of trudging along wondering if this will be the day.

With Christmas not far away, I often wonder what kind of Joy was experienced by those who realized the significance of Jesus ‘ s birth. In the book of Matthew, Jesus talks about the those who were born and lived their life hoping to see the prophesies fulfilled. Generations of disappointment and then it happened. The covenant changed, God’s promised fulfilled.

Maybe I am just jealous of those whose time of reaping has come. Maybe I feel I could be one of those generations expecting, hoping for a time, I may not live to see. I believe God will deliver on every promise made to every person. But the waiting, the patience, the disappointments, over and over again. I know God hears me, I know God loves me, I know his plan for me is better than I could ever imagine. But it is that reality that is so frustrating, how long must I sit and knock? Am I knocking on the wrong door, seeking the wrong things. Or, could it be a issue of timing or even preparation. Whatever is happening, it is exhausting.

I hope this make sense to anybody reading this.

God, please deliver me from me. please grant me the patience and endurance to persevere through this period of waiting.  Thank you for all your blessings, may I find my purpose doing your will. Amen !

Carol Wimmer not Maya Angelou

The following information is given as a copyright notice

Identification of the work or material being infringed:
An 8 verse poem entitled “When I say I am a Christian”
copyright 1988 TX-5-064-953 Library of Congress, USA

Web Site for the author of the poem, “When I say I am a Christian”
http://www.whenisayiamachristian.com

Identification of the material that is claimed to be infringing:
https://ministersjourney.wordpress.com/2015/10/06/when-i-say-i-am-a-christian/

IMAGES FOR LEGAL SHARING can be obtained
at http://www.facebook.com/whenisayiamachristian

Carol Wimmer
5504 E. 118th St.
Tulsa, OK 74137
cccwimmer@cox.net

Dr. Maya Angelou, who passed away in May 2014, became one of those figures (à la Mark Twain or Abraham Lincoln) who ended up with more of other people’s words attributed to her than words of her own. (As we note in another article dealing with an apocryphal poem erroneously attributed to her, many Internet-circulated bits of verse lacking authorship identification eventually become credited to Dr. Angelou, especially light-hearted inspirational pieces and/or poems written from an African-American point of view.) In this case, we not only know that Maya Angelou did not write I Am a Christian (she disclaimed it on her web site), we know exactly who did write it.

“When I Say, ‘I Am a Christian'” (the correct, full title) was penned in 1988 by Carol Wimmer, was first published in the Assemblies of God periodical Hi-Call Gospel Magazine, and has subsequently been anthologized in several books (including Chicken Soup for the Christian Family Soul.) Unfortunately, over the years the work has been reprinted on the Internet with either missing or incorrect attributions (most often being ascribed to “author unknown” or the aforementioned Maya Angelou), and with verses that have been rearranged or altered by others.

The original version of the poem read as follows:
When I say, “I am a Christian,” I’m not shouting, “I’ve been saved!”
I’m whispering, “I get lost! That’s why I chose this way”

When I say, “I am a Christian,” I don’t speak with human pride
I’m confessing that I stumble — needing God to be my guide

When I say, “I am a Christian,” I’m not trying to be strong
I’m professing that I’m weak and pray for strength to carry on

When I say, “I am a Christian,” I’m not bragging of success
I’m admitting that I’ve failed and cannot ever pay the debt

When I say, “I am a Christian,” I don’t think I know it all
I submit to my confusion asking humbly to be taught

When I say, “I am a Christian,” I’m not claiming to be perfect
My flaws are far too visible but God believes I’m worth it

When I say, “I am a Christian,” I still feel the sting of pain
I have my share of heartache which is why I seek His name

When I say, “I am a Christian,” I do not wish to judge
I have no authority — I only know I’m loved

When I say I am a Christian

When I say I am a Christian — by Maya Angelou

When I say … “I am a Christian”
I’m not shouting “I’m clean livin’.”
I’m whispering “I was lost,
Now I’m found and forgiven.”

When I say … “I am a Christian”
I don’t speak of this with pride.
I’m confessing that I stumble
and need Christ to be my guide.

When I say … “I am a Christian”
I’m not trying to be strong.
I’m professing that I’m weak
And need His strength to carry on.

When I say … “I am a Christian”
I’m not bragging of success.
I’m admitting I have failed
And need God to clean my mess.

When I say … “I am a Christian”
I’m not claiming to be perfect,
My flaws are far too visible
But, God believes I am worth it.

When I say … “I am a Christian”
I still feel the sting of pain.
I have my share of heartaches
So I call upon His name.

When I say … “I am a Christian”
I’m not holier than thou,
I’m just a simple sinner
Who received God’s good grace, somehow
Read more at http://www.snopes.com/glurge/christian.asp#cLxb1d2V4G0cjP9M.99

The Way It Was…The Way It Should Be

The Epistle to Diognetus is a text written recounting the lives of the Christians as they are beheld by others in the early communities. Parts of this are written from a first-hand perspective and accounting of the new Christian religion, parts of it are written as the perceptions of the outsider. And there is a remarkable passage that occurs in this anonymous epistle, describing the Christians as if from the outside. Those who have the text available—and it is certainly easy to find in printed volumes or on the Internet—will find this as Chapter Five of The Epistle to Diognetus:
The Christians are distinguished from other men, neither by country nor language, nor the customs which they observe. For they neither inhabit cities of their own, nor do they employ a particular form of speech, nor yet lead a way of life marked out by any singular worldly attribute. But inhabiting Greek as well as barbarian cities according as the lot of each of them has determined, and following the local customs with the respect to clothing, food, and the rest of their ordinary conduct, they display to us their wonderful and confessedly striking manner of life. They dwell in their own countries but simply as sojourners. As citizens they share in all things with others yet they endure all things as foreigners. Every foreign land is to them as their native country and every land of their birth a land of strangers. They are in the flesh but they do not live after the flesh. They pass their days on earth but they are citizens of heaven. They obey the prescribed laws and at the same time surpass the laws by their lives. They love all men though they are persecuted by all. They are unknown yet condemned. They are put to death yet they are restored to life. They are poor yet they make many rich. They lack and are in want of all things yet they abound in all. They are dishonored and yet in their very dishonor they are glorified.