Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Agnes and Agatha

Click on the arrow to hear a 2015 28 minute radio broadcast about Christians dealing with ISIS from Voice Of The Martyrs

The most unchurched state in the union, according to a 2014 Gallup poll, is Vermont, http://time.com/4294/these-are-the-most-godless-states-in-america/. Following Vermont is New Hampshire and then Maine.  Washington State is the 7th least churched state.  This leads me to believe that it would be most unlikely for there to be very many people in the U.S. who would be willing to die for their faith, especially in the Northeast and the Northwest.

When Martin Luther wrote his “Table Talk” he related the story of two teen girls who had such a deep faith that they knew Jesus would receive them into His arms at the moment of their deaths.  Luther wrote,

 “Whence comes such courage and confidence, even to little maidens of thirteen and fourteen years old, such as Agnes and Agatha, & c., that they stand so bold before the Romish judge and sport when they are led to death, as though they were going to a dance, but that the glorious rooted faith and sure confidence has filled their heart, that God is not wroth with them but His gracious and merciful will is purely for their highest and eternal health and salvation!”

Because of the trust of these girls and of other martyrs, I pray that there will be a revival, if not in our whole country, at least with our young people.  If only God would do such a work that every young person would take a stand for Jesus.  We see Christian families being slaughtered across the Middle East.  Christian relief agencies are trying to help in very difficult circumstances.  The United States has turned its back on Christians and on Israel. If more of this evil, than is already here, comes to the shores of the U.S. how will we react?  Would Christians love Jesus so much that we would trust Him for our very lives?  I pray that it is so.

Friday, January 22, 2016

I Have To Dream

Click on the arrow to hear "I Have To Dream."  Words at the bottom.

I wanted to be a boy from a young age. My brother, two years older, was the first grandchild on both sides of the family and all the grandparents doted on him. I insisted that I wear my brother’s hand me down clothes and refused to wear dresses.  Because my brother ran around without a shirt on during the hot California summers, I was resolute that I too go topless.  When I was nine my parents gave me the requested Hopalong Cassidy watch.  

After my parents passed away I went through their old letters.  I found one my dad had written to his parents when my mom was pregnant with me. He said that my mom wanted a boy. She never said anything to me so I don’t know if her thoughts had anything to do with me wanting to be a boy.

When I was 13 I noticed how boys and girls were pairing up. I wondered why the boys didn’t like me. When the boys did start noticing me I was glad I was a girl.

Then at age 15 my best friend from high school, Nancy, suggested that we start a business and save up money to travel to Norway. I jumped on that dream. (Our motivations were different however.  She wanted to take a trip to Norway because her father had been there during WW II and she wanted to buy some sweaters.  My motivation was that I wanted to meet a bunch of young blond men.)  So here was an aspiration to replace my delusion of becoming a boy. (Nancy and I were able to journey to Scandinavia with our husbands many years later.)

As I grew older I began to study the Bible.  I have never understood the parable of the talents ( Matthew 25:14-30).  I think what it means is that we are supposed to develop our talents and then use them for God’s purposes.  The only talent I could identify in myself was that I was good at tap dancing.  As I look back I realize I should have started a dance school for children and used that talent.

But now, years later, because of health problems, I have taken up writing and praying.  I believe that God wants to give us the desires of our hearts as we delight in Him (Psalm 37:4).  So I dream about writing the great American novel or at least a short story for the Good Housekeeping Magazine!

The reason one of my favorite movies is “Children On Their Birthdays” is because I love the song “I Have To Dream.”  It expresses why I dream. The words are below.

What lies before me
What stands between
No one can tell me
What I have seen
Some see the tarnish
I see the gleam
I have to wonder
I have to dream

One dream can change you
One dream can make
All the difference
One heart can take
I dream of flying
I'm in mid-air
I have to wonder
What's out there

The skies the limit
Today's the day
(The) Heavens are still there
When skies are gray
Some days are better
Than they seem
Some days are better
Because you dream

On rainbows to rainbows
On starlight to star
To dream isn't that what
Tomorrow is for
Only a dreamer knows what I know
What it's like to wonder
And then let go

On rainbows to rainbows
I know what I seem
I have to wonder
I have to dream

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Soul Food

One of the VW Microbuses we drove to church.  My sister in the front and my mom behind.

I cried in church for years.  Because of chronic pain, no money, and difficult relatives, my soul was not comforted except—when in church—I would focus on Jesus and His promises.  He promised that He will never leave us of forsake us.  He promised that all things would work together for good for those who love Him.  He promised that He would come back and set up His kingdom on earth.  He promised that when He lives with man on earth there will be no more war, or pain, and that He will wipe away every tear.

So as I sat in church I was comforted in spite of my tears.  Because of growing up in a Christian family I knew that God commands us to “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” Also, Jesus told us to remember Him until He comes back with the cup and the bread.  How can someone do this if he doesn’t attend church?  Additionally, my parents set an example of putting God first each Sunday. They got the whole family to church, although many times late.  (My husband called them the Slowells instead of the Stowells.)  So, I went to church.  I prayed, cried, and asked God for a way of escape.  In His mercy God answered.

In a series of small steps, which involved moving many times, we had wonderful relief from the money problem and the relative problem.  God rescued me and did above and beyond anything I could ask for or imagine.

Now, if I cry in church, my tears are dried quickly because I remember that God is faithful.  He treats me as His dear child.  He is a generous, and gracious, God.

I am reminded to tell others to show up each week for a worship service by this blog—“Any Given Sunday.”  Click here to read. 

When the Apostle John wrote Revelation he wrote this; Revelation 19:7-9 “Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready. It was given to her to cloth herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.  Then he said to me, “Write, Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.”

Attending church is a way to get ready for the Marriage Feast we shall have some day with Jesus.  Come as you are and He will give you soul food!

Monday, January 11, 2016

A Funny Thing Happened On My Way to Bible Study

June, a dial-a-ride bus driver for those who cannot walk to the bus stop, or stand and wait for a bus because of physical or mental disabilities, always seems to have troubles.  If it isn’t the passenger not being ready, to garbage trucks blocking the area for the next pickup, to the computer system failing, to dispatch not answering their phone when there is a need for EMT to assist a passenger—it happens to June.  This was all in one day.

I ride the Dart bus to my Bible Study Fellowship class as I do not drive on the freeway, and there is no other way to get to the class.  There is a different driver for my route every week, but it is always June who has the delays.  This last Thursday the computer system for the bus company, was down, so I did not get my five-minute call that the bus was arriving.  Finally, after June waited fifteen minutes, she got through to dispatch, and they were able to call me in spite of extreme static on the line. 

The next person to be picked up was in a wheel chair in which she had never ridden.  She had a broken leg and was being cared for in a convalescent center.  Penny and I had a nice conversation about where I was going and about my study in Revelation.  After a big bump in the road she suddenly yelled out—“I’m falling and I can’t get up.”  She had slid to the edge of her chair and was about to fall on the floor. June, while she was driving, tried to assess the situation.  Penny screamed again.  Finally June was able to pull over.  She could not get Penny back into her wheelchair and could not get dispatch on the emergency line.  Finally she was able to get through, and the EMT’s were dispatched.

I said, “Penny, I’m praying.”  Penny said, “I’m praying too!”  Within five minutes the EMT’s arrived and were able to lift her back into the chair and to strap her in securely.  We noticed, as we passed, that the firehouse, from where the EMTs were dispatched, was five minutes away from where we had pulled over. 

I said, "That was an answer to prayer.”

I missed most of my class, but I was able to talk about the Bible and prayer with Penny, while June listened, as a result.  Only God knows if our conversation made a difference.  Sometimes God directs our paths where we hadn’t planned to go!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Safe Spaces

1901 8th grade class.  My grandmother Stowell is the 3rd from the left in the 3rd row.

Not in my wildest imagination could I have thought up a college campus where students needed a “safe space” to talk about and approve of sexual immorality. No other opinions are allowed in the space.  Click Here to read the definition from Wikipedia of a “safe space” which some college students are demanding.  I chalk this behavior up to the sexual revolution.  Anything goes these days and we who disagree are not supposed to have freedom of speech. 

Unfortunately most Christians who believe that what the Bible says about immoral sexual behavior no longer have “safe spaces.”  In the past, like in the 50’s and 60’s when I was a teen, there was some disparagement of Christians –like not being invited to parties by the “popular” kids as Christians didn’t “party,” (meaning sex, alcohol and drugs). But now it is much worse.  Jesus said that the world hated Him and so therefore the world will hate us. 

John 15: 18 “If the world hates you, [a]you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. 21 But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me.22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have [b]sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 He who hates Me hates My Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have [c]sin; but now they have both seen and hated Me and My Father as well. 25 But they have done this to fulfill the word that is written in their Law, ‘They hated Me without a cause.’

Since Christians are to expect to be hated by the world fortunately God has already made a “Safe Space” for His followers.   All along He is with us and will never leave us. Bible verses and hymns comfort us.

Deuteronomy 31:Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.”

  In this hymn by Fanny Crosby she writes about the safety we have in the arms of Jesus:

In Psalm 32: You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble; You surround me with [a]songs of deliverance. Selah.

Many promises in the Bible comfort us and strengthen our resolve to obey God rather than men.  But in the meantime we are to be the salt and light in our communities to bring glory to God!