The Great Rescue

wrecked ship

Photo by Aneta Foubíková

To be rescued one must have a solid knowledge from what we are being rescued. In the case of humanity we need to be rescued from Sin. We do not like to admit sin. We do not like to talk about sin. We definitely spend a lot of time trying to hide our sin so why would we not receive rescuing? Because being rescued portends that we give up all of our own control and humble ourselves.

As a child growing up in a Christian home and church I was taught often that I was a sinner. I did not however understand the nature of Sin nor did I understand  The Fall of human kind that occurred one black day in the Garden of Eden. I did not realize I was born an enemy of God and that I hated God and was in rebellion toward God!  

The good news of God’s grace is that he loves and came here for his enemies. He did not wait until I was all cleaned up outwardly. He did not wait for me to pray the “sinner’s prayer or walk down the aisle of my church. He did not wait for me to study theology or memorize the Bible.

The point of the Cross of Jesus is that on that Cross hung the vehicle of my rescue. The man of Jesus would provide the greatest rescue of all time. Understanding and receiving the Cross of Jesus is not so  we can congratulate ourselves for solving theology or religious formula but that we may understand the cost and the humility of the Great Rescuer in it’s heinous, bloody, awful Glory. We have not been rescued from sin so that we can be great thinkers of abstract ideas or to make sure everyone around us is doing what they should be doing. We have been rescued by being put right with God and becomin part of God’s family and God’s plan to save the whole world. That is how The Great Rescue works. Once we are put right with God we then go and share with kindness and compassion how while we were sinners and enemies of God he still loved us.  There is a Rescuer and His name is Jesus! His rescue is final and perfect.

 

Summer Sun

selective focus photography of grass

Photo by Jens Mahnke 

 

The summer sun is baking the side walks and streets.
The Texas horizon looks like a melting mirage.
Summer solstice has arrived and a few things never change.
Even in the shade it is one hundred degrees.
My grandchildren have begun their love affair with the sprinkler and popsicles.
In the backyard with their parents.
And wonderful cool sheets for an afternoon nap.
And all is right with my world today and I am grateful.

Louisiana June

white cotton flowers in vase beside clock

Photo by Irina Iriser 

I saw the first bloom of cotton

White and puffy like a cloud

it made me grin.

 

Mama Mae’s deep well water

Tasted like the honey of heaven

It rested my thirst.

 

My daddy had a smile

An umbrella to my world

it covered my heart.

 

The Night Heron

grey heron reflection on body of water

Photo by Leigh Jeffreys

She said what she first noticed was that images were spinning around her frontal lobe like those old 1950 children’s lamp shade night lights. As the lamp would spin around different nursery rhyme stories would glow in the dark. This is what she noticed first.

These scenes of life from childhood to ancient-hood would spin in her mind but then she would immediately forget what she saw. She said it was tremendously frightening at first.

She said with in a few months the the children started coming more often. Telling her what she should do more often. She just smiled and ignored them and worked in her garden. She managed dozens and dozens of tulips and daffodils around her large home built with field stones.  A beautiful home that once was in a country meadow but with human progress was now in the middle of a large city neighborhood. She said she loved to prune the bulbs and separate them each year. She used her little garden mat for her creaky knees and wore the hat which was her Mother’s. She said her Mother bought the hat in China where her family were missionaries until the Communist kicked them all out of the country.  The hat was perfect for long days in the Texas summer and was constructed so well that it looked as good as new instead of forty years old.

I would drive by her house every day on my way to work or to the market and everyday she could be found in her garden. I often stopped to chat.

One day we were talking and she said, “you know children can never know their parents young. That is why it is so hard for them to understand them as adults. They have never seen me run a relay race like a gazelle or fight with my sister. They have never seen me with skinned knees and pigtails. They surely cannot picture me as a lovely teenage girl going on her first date much less enjoying a healthy sex life at least until they were born! I also think they have forgotten that their Father always brought me tulips and daffodils our wholes lives together.”

As fall approached I would see her out there tending the bulb garden with her head bent over and her knees on her mat. It gave me a sense of comfort I think.  Then, of course, that inevitable day came when I did not see her for a week or so but had been too busy to stop by. The next week I saw a for sale sign in the front yard and stopped.

I was surprised when a nurse aid let me in and I knew this must be a bad sign but she was actually looking quite spry. I noticed when she stood up that her back was a tiny bit bent like trees whey they finally wear the shape of the wind. We sat together in some worn but comfortable chintz chairs by the front window. The gray-blue light of winter slanted through the stillness. She said, “Death’s cruel pluck is coming.” She was right.

By spring she was gone. By summer the children sold her house and the lot behind it. The new construction destroyed every single tulip and daffodil. All the lot taken up by a McMansion. They didn’t tear down the beautiful stone house but to me tearing up the garden was the cruelest act. I wonder if the children had no idea what it meant to her. I wondered why they did not see the hours she labored and loved in that garden. I wondered a lot of things.

The last time I saw her she talked about how the night Heron with it’s silver soft plumage was the most beautiful in all the marsh. She said she that the Heron had been visiting her each evening in the shadows of dusk. She said she was stuck in a memory of growing up on the Bayou of Houston and couldn’t remember a lot of things about being an adult.  The last thing she said to me with a gentle smile on her face was, ” thanks for coming to visit me Mama. I will see you soon for good.”  I just smiled and told her goodbye and thanked her for the beautiful tulip and daffodil garden.  She waved and I was gone. She was gone too.

Every time I drive by the property I go through a run of emotion from anger at her children for what seems carelessness to realizing I am not their judge. I feel sad that the beautiful tulips and daffodils no longer dance there in the breeze. I remember her smile and think of the Night Heron. I picture her in heaven with her Chinese hat on bent down on her knees with her mat working in God’s garden.

You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of the aged, and you shall revere your God. Leviticus 19-32

 

Reckless Endangerment

photo of child reading holy bible

Photo by nappy

 

Reckless Endangerment is a law that states “wrongly recklessness of wanton conduct that is likely to produce grievous harm or death to another person.”

I read an article recently that a young lady is being charged with Reckless Endangerment because she pushed another girl off of a sixty foot bridge and caused her to be severely injured. According to the article Reckless Endangerment is a misdemeanor which carries a monetary fine and possible time in prison. I do not believe the one who pushed the other intended injury, nevertheless she did cause injury.

What stayed with me the next few days was the sobering thought that as a follower of Jesus Christ I must be diligent in my words and deeds as His Ambassador. I fear any Christian’s speaking “out of context” or just plain “lie or twist the truth”  may do so at our own peril. There are many false teachers that I am aware of today because of social media. I am also sobered at the words of Jesus himself when he says that it “would be better for a millstone to be around your neck and you drown than to lead any of these astray.”   

Jesus warns those who are Shepherds of his people (and religious leaders)  strongly about misleading others in any way away from the simple truth that “those that believe on His name and that he is the Son of God shall be saved.”  We cannot add to Jesus or take away from Jesus. John the Baptist preached the simple act of repentance and humbling ourselves to the One whose sandals he was unworthy to tie…

However, there are those called by God to shepherd and lead and teach in the context of the Body of Christ.  I  believe there is  accountability like no other if or when we speak for or of God wether we speak in large groups or just to a spouse or our children.  I am reminded that Jesus said in a field of healthy wheat there is also growing weeds that look just like the wheat  in the same field and when the harvest is brought into the threshing floor the fake wheat would be separated from the real wheat and destroyed by fire.

Over fifteen million women follow other women speakers, Bible teachers, and preachers on social media…this tells me two things. One is perhaps these women’s spiritual study needs are not being met in the local church and secondly, how do they know who to follow or does that matter?  It is reckless endangerment, in my opinion, to teach that gay marriage is a holy ordinance of God. It is also reckless endangerment to let a man who has sexually molested  children and/or women be leading anyone. Another reckless teaching is that if you are ill and God does not heal you then you must have sin in your life! (Hello Job’s best friends), and one of my old favorites, which a young woman actually told me this week, she was told that if she doesn’t have sex with her husband every single time he wants to she is sinning against God. Reckless endangerment!

I think about this in my own life and take a posture of being down on my face before Holy God and somehow relaying to anyone any Word of God incorrectly. I tremble at the thought.

That is what concerns me as a teacher, mentor, writer, Mom, Grandmother, and wife. If I am expounding to anyone on God’s Word I am not playing a game and teaching little cute sayings or formulas.

The wonderful Reverend Billy Graham and my amazing Grandfather, Dr. C. E. Autrey, always said this about their preaching.  They never made a statement in a sermon that could not be prefaced by these three words, “The Bible says…”

But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves.  2 Peter

The Feast of The Fowl

I saw the angel standing in the sun and he cried out so all heaven and earth and under the earth could hear, saying…Come all you fowl in the heavens to the feast of the Great King and eat upon the flesh of captains and kings of this world!”   Revelation 19

flock of birds

Photo by Alex Fu 

 

All who hear open your hearts and eyes!

Not out of fear or dogma but for His name’s sake

He will execute perfect love and mercy!

They who think they are wise but are enemies of The One

who is Holy and Faithful and True be aware!

His name is Faithful and True

His name is The Word of God

The King of Kings is His name

His eyes burn  with the white flame of justice

Many crowns are upon his head

He  will judge those who hate him still!

The sword of His word will judge in perfect righteousness

 All the fowl of the earth

will feast on their flesh on that day!

 

I like stillness best…

turned on grey table lamp

Photo by Dorran

 

It is the end of the day and evening twilight has gone. It is that time when quiet lay like a mantle of fresh snow over my world. It is that moment when I seek rest for my mind and soul and prayers of thanks for this day are said. Of all the wonder this life brings as I grow older I have come to love “Stillness” best. Stillness when I rock my grandson to sleep or one of them tells me in child like whispers of faith an imaginary story or how they see the world. Stillness when my husband lay beside me and we read our books and hold hands. Stillness where I collect my thoughts, my dreams, my joy, and my sadness and I string them like beautiful pearls and give them back to God. In stillness I feel His peace and protection over my daughters and their families and dear loved ones in my life. Stillness where I let grief and hope arise together like an entwined tapestry and lay them at the feet of Jesus, the One in whom I put all my trust. Yes, I believe it is fair to say that in getting older of all the wonderful sounds of life I have begun to love “stillness” best.

the mourning is in the small connections to ordinary things

adult affection baby casual

Photo by Pixabay

The mourning is in the small connections to ordinary things. The smell of her hand cream and her talcum powder…

The crinkle of his skin in the corner of his gray-blue eyes when he smiles. The silly songs he  sang to wake me up each morning and the silly nicknames he called us to show His love…

The struggle, the grief, the mourning  is not between ourselves and others. It is within ourselves and lay between the longing in our souls and that which is ordained by God himself…

Between the body and its desire and between the mind and its necessary vital need of renewal…

These connections are learned at a very young age, as a babe already knows the scent of his mother and the lower tones in  her father’s  voice …So it is that these ordinary simple connections… are in reality the sound of Joy’s voice  like a warm spring rain…

These are the gentle paths of mourning that ease us into grief. There is no fear in mourning for it is a connection to our Maker…there is no fear or reason to “get rid” of grief.  For without the mourning there is no comfort. Without the sorrow there is no relationship and without grief there is no Joy.

 

 

 

“I got my meanness from the gutter and my kindness from God…

people-peoples-homeless-male.jpg

He said, “I get my meanness from the gutter and I get my kindness from God.” I sat down under the bridge with him and I said, “I think I could say the same.” He looked at me square in the eyes and I could see he was surprised by my response. He said, “You don’t look like you know much about the gutter.”

I smiled and said “looks can be deceiving don’t ya know?” Then he laughed. The sound of his laughter was one that made me smile. His laughter was like a nine month old baby’s belly laugh. The kind of laughter where nothing is held back and a sweetness of joy rings from it. I told him I had not laughed like that in ages and he said, “Oh you can only laugh like that when Fury and Thunder have cracked your soul and all the dark places have been opened up and cleaned out and all the pieces are strewn about and you cannot put them back together by yourself. I call it reconcilable purity. This laughter only occurs when you have lost your life to save it and when you were first but now you are last…”

I sat there in sober silence but something inside of me begin to tremble. “Who are you?” I whispered. He said, “I am just an old man who has been given a new heart and all day long I just like to go around and give my heart and life away to whoever might need it for a minute or two so that they can go about their day with some pure laughter…” The gorged veined, brown spotted hands palmed my face and the old man looked me in the eye and he said, “Go and be, not do. Go laugh and cry. Go and give your life away for someone else and you will see. You will laugh the laugh of “reconcilable purity.”

No Shadows can fall where there is only light

silhouette of person in green grass under the sun during daytime

Photo by Pixabay

 

Standing here under the brightest moon

I sense your presence like a cozy room

I feel your holy antiquity yet you make all things new

and now traveling North is true

 

 

I look over my shoulder at the past

and it is vanquished forever into long lost night

It never was what mattered to you at last

and no shadows can fall where there is only light