Monthly Archives: March 2012

Hellfire and Damnation

I’m sure, in my 6+ year history of blogging, I’ve mentioned the frustrating (and for a time, wounding) experience I had while in university, being accosted by a street preacher.  It was my non-Christian friend, of all people, who had to pull me away from the man with the megaphone who was shouting at me that I was a Jezebel who would burn in hell.  I tried to reason with the preacher and tell him I was a sister in Christ, but he would have none of it, and hollered at me — at point-blank range, still through the megaphone — that I was lying.  My friend, meanwhile, growled at the preacher that he had “got the wrong girl” as he dragged away my offended self.

Ah, memories.  😀

That event, oddly enough, really cemented my heart in commitment to the Vineyard church.  With its emphasis on much-more-subtle (and practical!  and never emotionally-damaging!) activities like servant evangelism, it just seemed much more in line with what Jesus would truly do (and this, my friend, was way before the WWJD phenomenon).

Recently, I have decided to read through the book of Acts.  My pastor very often uses passages from Acts in his weekly messages;  they’re very practical for the everyday life of a Christian, for he is nothing if not practical.  So, I feel like it’s a book with which I have a good acquaintance.  And I tend to concentrate my Scripture reading in portions of the Bible that are less-familiar to me.  Nevertheless, I decided to read Acts for myself…  to reacquaint myself with what the early Church was doing, and to re-prioritize it in my own life.

Most days, I only read a few verses, before cross-referencing, word study, and contemplation take over, not to mention little girls waking up early, wanting to snug.  Yesterday, however, I read the whole of chapter three.  In it is the account of Peter healing a man who was 40+ years old of a lifetime of being lame.  The thing that really struck me, though, was the tenor of Peter’s sermon on the matter, and its effect.

Consider:

Not exactly the world’s most touchy-feely sermon, eh?  But what was the fruit of it?  What was the result??

But many of those who had heard the message believed;  and the number of the men came to be about five thousand.

Peter, the street preacher, with his megaphone, so to speak, delivered some really scorching words to the hearers.  And what happens?  Conviction!  Salvation!  Church growth!

His hellfire and damnation sermon WORKED.

Wow.

I suddenly have some compassion for my own street preacher — which I have never previously felt, in the twenty years or so since it happened!  Perhaps he was just trying to follow Peter’s lead, expecting the same result.

This morning, pondering it further, I was reminded of George Müller, whose amazing life is a profound testament to prayer, faithfulness, and God’s redeeming power, not to mention vast social change*.  If I am remembering correctly, when George first became a believer, he took his university Divinity education, and tried “pastoring” simple German farming folk** with high-falutin’ sermons, even copying, word-for-word, some of the most sophisticated ones he could find, in hopes of impressing those who heard.  The result was that he impressed them, all right, but he didn’t pastor them, nor bring any closer to knowing and loving Jesus, because they couldn’t understand what he was saying!

In other words, it may have been the right words, but it was at the wrong time, to the wrong audience.

The greater difference between Peter in Acts, and the megaphone-toting, hellfire and damnation New Orleans street preacher, though, may be this:

  1. Peter was filled with — and controlled by — the Holy Spirit.
  2. Peter’s words came after some serious manifestation of “signs and wonders“, which, in and of itself, made believers out of non-believers.

In Acts 4:23-31, directly after this event — Peter healing the lame man and being detained by the religious leaders of the day for it, and for preaching the resurrection of the dead in Jesus — the believers gathered to pray for further boldness!

I need that.  I need all of that:

  1. The right timing,
  2. being filled with the Holy Spirit,
  3. participating in the miraculous,
  4. and more boldness.

I really don’t want a bad experience with someone who had only one of those four in operation — the boldness part — to… well… I don’t know how to put it.  I think what I have done for the last twenty years, is mostly be afraid that anything I say or do out of boldness will have the same negative effect on others that my own experience had on me.  Until now, I really haven’t pieced it all together that it wasn’t the boldness, per se, that was wrong.  It was not having the REST of the package in concert with the boldness.

Having all of it together is the difference, I now believe, between wounding others and revealing the true heart of God to them.

As I re-read what I’ve written above, it sounds like a no-brainer.  “Duh.  Of course you need the Holy Spirit in order to be effectively bold.”  But, I guess that’s what a revelation is all about:  Really sealing things that you may have heard a million times before, and to which you can make a quick mental assent, into a true thing that goes deep in your heart of hearts, so that it’s really REAL, in a way that it never was before.

So.  Now.  Instead of tentatively praying for boldness, afraid of what would happen if God actually GRANTED that prayer to me, I will not just pray for boldness, in and of itself.  I will pray for His timing, His presence, and His power to accompany that boldness, continually in my life.

It’s a good recipe, I think.  And may it bear, oh God, the same fruit that Peter and the apostles did.***

———————-

*To my mind, no two men did more to change the way orphans were treated in Victorian England — and to this day — than Charles Dickens (who raised awareness in a socially-palatable way) and George Müller, who actually DID something about the horrid state of orphanages.

**George hadn’t moved to England yet.

***Might as well start now with the bold requests, eh??  😉

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Step into my garden…

On Thursday, I spent a couple of hours with two friends — one new and one I’ve loved for nearly 20 years.  Just Audrey and Fiala accompanied me.  Between we three moms, there were seven little girls playing together, mostly very happily, and eating lunch while the mothers enjoyed conversation, truncated by hugs for scraped legs and correction for bratty behavior and determining to where one’s child had run.

I really like the new friend.  And, she has a very unique life story.

The thing that has stuck with me, though, is this:  It was her first time ever — EVER — to meet up with other moms.  Ever.  She has been seriously ill for pretty much her entire adult life;  at one point, only about two years ago — while pregnant with her second child — she was given two weeks to live.  She pulled through, obviously.  But, she has literally been on the edge of death, where every day finds her in literal survival mode, rather than, “Oh, with whom should we lunch today??”

I’m quite an introvert.  I could happily live down a five-mile dirt lane and only see folk when I came into town, contentedly spending the vast majority of my days in the presence of only my immediate family.  There’s enough here at home to keep me busy, pretty much forever.

However, God has called me into relationship, outside my immediate family, and that’s a good thing.

I find myself often reminding my son Grant (the one who is high-functioning autistic) that he doesn’t live on an island by himself;  he lives in a world of people, and there’s no use pretending that others don’t exist.

Perhaps there’s more of me in Grant than I’d care to admit.

BUT.  I can say with some triumph that I have learned — had a revelation, really — over the last fifteen years or so, that we truly were created to be interconnected.  Independence is not the most exalted status.  Interdependence is, where I help you, and you help me, and we bless each other.   Where we carry each other’s burdens, and exult in their joys, as well.

So, on one hand, I don’t find myself going stir-crazy when I’ve not left my home for days on end.  I’m actually more peaceful under those conditions… like a mini-vacation from reality.  But, on the other hand, I do understand that even if it’s my “natural” tendency, isolation isn’t healthy for anyone, and I need others, and frankly, they need me.

With those thoughts tossing around in my mind, it felt significant to be a small part of this young mom’s “coming back to reality” as she recovers.  She well-understands the need for relationship;  it’s just that she has literally been unable to concentrate on forming friendships, as her time and energy have been severely sapped by long-term, profoundly serious illness.

I just felt… I can’t quite articulate it.  I just feel the value of relationship, of friendship, of time spent together, how incredibly important it truly is.

I hope we get together again, and soon.

Step into my garden...
(No, this is not really my garden. I mean, figuratively. Please click on the photo to take you to the blog original photographer of this lovely visual, Dora Sislian Themelis...)

Garden! Health! Books! Road trip! Working!

I really don’t have writer’s block.  I’ve written countless posts in my head!  They’re just not happening in real life.

So…  small updates:

  • They're even prettier in real life. I have some that are downright purple on the outside, but the interior is bright orange. Lovely!

    Garden:  It’s beautiful and flourishing, and it feels fabulous to eat my own hand-raised, organic veggies.  It is truly decreasing my need to buy vegetables from the store.  It has taken a while — more than a year — to really get GOING and productive.  And, I still have lots and lots and lots to learn… it’s one of those areas of learning where you can never know ALL there is to know.  Ever.  Interestingly, though, I don’t mind that.  Normally, I get a little cowed by problems with unending possible solutions;  I like things that I can wrap my head around.  However, I find that gardening is enjoyable even when I will never know everything there is to know.  My most recent discovery:  When the planting schedule says that you shouldn’t plant your green beans until March 15, February 20-something really IS too early, and your seeds really WILL rot in the ground when planted too soon.  Bummer.  A triumph, though:  My hubby is taking my gardening seriously.  I tend to get interested in things, and hit them hard for a few weeks or a few months, spend too much money on them, then my interest and devotion fizzles, which amounts to a lot of time and money wasted.  So, he wasn’t robustly supportive of my garden plans, initially.  Now, he TOTALLY is, probably because I’ve been faithful, instead of just excited.  🙂  And he can see the benefit.  Last garden note:  You MUST grow these carrots.  I scrub them and we eat them unpeeled.  They are gorgeous and tasty.

  • Fiala’s health:  I wish I could say that she is 100% better, but I can’t.  She does continue to improve, and it is absolutely clear that her major struggle IS with a candida infection.  However, it is taking longer to clear than I had hoped.  And, she is not self-regulating.  She is happy to “steal” a banana or a jar of honey, or even pull a carrot from the garden, whenever the opportunity presents itself.  Then, the yeast in her system feeds on that sugar, and we have a setback that takes a week or two from which to recover.  So, it’s kind of like three steps forward, two-and-a-half steps back.  She still has head-to-toe “eczema” — which really isn’t eczema — and it’s worse in some places than in others.  But, she has no open, oozy wounds, and over all, her skin, disposition, and general health has improved by, oh, about 40%.  She is on oral and topical Nystatin, plus probiotics, colloidal silver, and grapefruit seed extract (in capsules).  Plus a no-sugar diet, minus the 1/3 cup or so daily of blueberries — her lone joy in food.  Actually, it’s funny, because now that we’re aware that SUGAR in food is her main problem, I’ve been letting her sample various sugar- and starch-free foods, and she just doesn’t like most of them.  So, her diet is still very, very simple, very limited.
  • My own health:  I have improved SO GREATLY on a low-carb, sugar-free diet.  Not only have I lost about 15 lbs, but instead of getting neck-to-thighs hives every single night, that lasts for HOURS and to be relieved only by a double-dose of Benedryl, I’ll get a patch here, a patch there, about twice a week, and it lasts for 20-30 minutes or so.  So, I’m not 100% healed, either, but I’m getting close.
  • Books:  I should really do a whole post on “Books I’m Trying to Read.”  I normally only read one book at a time, but I’m partway through about six books right now, none of which I want to put down, and for none of which I actually have TIME to read right now.  The only one I’ve actually finished has been The Confession by Charles Todd (see next bullet point).  And that took me nearly two weeks of whittling away…  The others have taken — are taking, actually — much longer.
  • Road trip!  Two friends and I drove to Prescott a couple of weeks ago.  It was a treasure of an afternoon — such a pleasant drive of wonderful conversation, lunch together, then a really awesome two-hour meet-the-author presentation by Charles Todd, which is actually a mother-and-son team.  They were both present, and were such engaging speakers.  It was interesting from all angles:  as a writer, as someone interested in WWI (the setting for all their books), as a semi-Anglophile, as a fan…  I’ve read all of their books, save one.  My friends and I had lunch was at The Raven Cafe.  I had researched which places had a gluten-free menu, and when we got to Prescott, my friend Kathy said, “After lunch, I hope we have time for the best cup of coffee in Prescott.  It’s at The Raven.”  The Raven was already on my short list of g.f. lunch spots!!  It has such wonderful ambiance, and it stocks GLUTEN FREE BREAD.  With my low-carbiness, I haven’t had bread in a couple of months.  But, I broke with that for an amazing turkey melt sandwich with avocado, muenster cheese, and other good things, with a side of amazing sweet potato fries with garlic aioli.  I was in heaven.  The whole afternoon, I was in heaven.  It was perfect.  Kathy kept saying, “Is this really real?  Is this really happening?  Am I really in Prescott with two of my dear friends???”  Now, I think I need to come up with more reasons to take little drives and spend a good chunk of a day with my friends.  The whole experience is still glowing in my heart, two weeks later.
  • Jobby-things:  I know a while back I said I wasn’t going to make any writing-related work, but I had already told my author-friend Marietta I’d give her most recent book my once-over.  So, I’ve been working on that.  I also co-taught a small workshop on prophetic singing, which was a complete and total joy.  I was absolutely shocked when I was handed a check for payment.  It was a little disturbing, actually.  I had to ask my pastor what he thought I should do with the money, and he said, “Keep it.  You’ve invested hours of your time and commitment learning about this, making the teaching notes, investing in the prophetic and singing.  Keep it and enjoy the fruits of your labor.”  So, I am.  Haven’t cashed it yet, though.
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