Why Leadings?

Not to lead, but to be led            -- by the Holy Spirit.

See Leader, Servant, or Slave? in the section below, "Walking the Walk".

Jack in Denali National Park, 2012.

God's Wrath

Why was Sodom destroyed? Ezekiel tells us in chapter 16, verse 49: "This was the sin of your sister, Sodom: Pride, full-ness of bread, and abundance of idleness. Neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy."

That's also why Jerusalem was destroyed.

And now, with greed as our national virtue, what hope is there for the United States of America? We are afflicted by imperialistic pride, obesity, and entertainment addiction, and we are all called to do our part to "strengthen the hand of the poor and needy".

"Strengthen the hand" is the King James wording. Modern translations say "help the poor and needy." And there's a world of difference between the two. Helping the poor = as little as throwing some cash in the Salvation Army bucket at Christmas time. That's charity. It's doing for, not doing with.

My Grandmother was right about charity. On a below-zero day, she went out on the back porch with a skillet to throw hot grease on the back-yard snow. She shivered as she re-entered the kitchen and said, "Wooooh, colder than charity."

Strengthening the hand is much different. We get personally involved with another person who needs help, and we work with her or him to get the needed help. That's risky. You're vulnerable. It takes prayer, time and patience. You need knowledge and wisdom from the LORD. There are great rewards, however. You get a brother or sister.

Strengthening the hand is great work for our churches -- which we ignore far more often than we perform. Why? Because we're afflicted with the Ameri-can curse of individualism. Christians are to be a tribe -- a tribe that takes care of each other. In Galatians 6:16, Paul calls us "the Israel of God" -- the new 13th tribe.

Jesus said, "The poor you shall always have with you." He didn't mean that as a curse -- the notion that the poor are an inevi-table nuisance and expense, to be hidden in the slums. Rather, He was saying, "You shall always be among the poor."

When you strengthen hands, you fulfill Deuteronomy 15:4-5: "However, there need be no poor people among you, for in the land the LORD your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you, if only you fully obey the LORD your God . . ." It's a glorious responsibility and promise.

And how do prosperous Americans fulfill that promise? Generally, by making sure they have no contact with people who are poor -- and we have been that way from our beginnings in the 17th century. Early villages in Massachusetts solved the problem by out-lawing poor people. Today, we deal with the same problem by confining the poor in urban reservations, our slums.

As the Supreme Court Bailiff says at the beginning of each session, "God save the United States of America..." 

Wednesday
Aug312011

DOES JESUS STILL RAISE THE DEAD? SURE.  

 

If a Pentecostal preacher tells you about a major miracle, you may cynically think, "Well, I can't trust him.  He's selling a product.  He has a vested interest."

In contrast, who's more of a realist than a licensed master plumber?  Below is Rich Hale's account of Jesus in his life.  Rich was the skilled repairsman in our firm, Sign of the Cross Housing in the 1980's and 1990's.  In '93 he qualified for his license as a master plumber.

In December, 1990, I published Rich's profile in the Sign of the Cross newsletter:

HOW  THE  LORD  GOT  MY  ATTENTION

Rich Hale:  I was raised in a traditional church, in Redwood City, California, below San Francisco.  I was baptized and confirmed.  But, in my teens, I didn't see anything serious about it.  Church seemed to be a place where they'd say one thing and do another.

I knew about God, but I didn't have a born-again experience.  Instead, I searched for God among the other religions of the world.  All through high school I was into drugs and alcohol.  They were my substitutes for religion, as I tried to fill the void where Christ belonged.

Because of alcohol, I lost my driver's license.  To get my license back, I joined an Antabuse program – Antabuse is the drug that alcoholics take when they want to stay sober.  With Antabuse in my system, I became violently ill if I had a drink.

I first accepted the LORD in 1977 through a near-death experience.  With the combination of Antabuse and alcohol, I poisoned myself unintentionally.  I tried to get to a phone, but passed out.  I was in a day-long coma. In the coma, the LORD spoke to me. He said, "Do you want to live?" Yes, I answered. Then, He told me, "I want you to work for Me,"

After I came out of the coma, I remembered the conversation and realized I had probably been dead, but the LORD brought me back to life.  My doctor confirmed this.  They had taken a blood sample while I was in the coma, and the doctor said I had enough poison in me to kill three or four people.

For six months after that I was on fire for the LORD.  But I wasn't plugged into a fellowship.  I told my priest that I wanted to be a missionary, so he sent me downtown to the local mission.  I guess that seemed sensible to him: "Missionary – Mission". He said, "If you can stick it out here, I'll send you to a better mission field overseas."

So I did some mission time.  One day I was witnessing to a drunk.  He had some wine, and it seemed logical that wine would help the discussion.  It did.  It also pulled me off the wagon, because one is too many, and a thousand are not enough.

At this time I was also going to a down-home Holy Spirit church in the mountains.  They taught that in baptism the old nature stays down in the water.  So, I was immersed in cold river water.  I was expecting a miracle; I was expecting the sin nature to be gone, but it didn't take.  I still had the same drinking problem. So, sometime later I asked to be baptized again.  It still didn't take.

Rich HaleBy falling away, I had broken my promise to God. I assumed that death was waiting for me unless I got right with God. And death was waiting.

In Medford, Oregon, I lost my driver's license again.  Late at night I was riding a bike home from a party. A car hit me from behind. Later I learned that the driver was also coming home drunk from a party.

I remember flying through the air.  (When the police later measured the distance, they found that I had been thrown 63 feet.)  I landed on my head in a ditch.

The driver kept going.  He was 16.  At home, his mother checked the car and saw the bashed-in front end. "What happened," she asked. "I think I hit something back in town." She and her son then drove the 15 miles back to where I was.

When I had fallen in the ditch, a lady came out who lived in a house nearby. When I regained consciousness, she was cradling my head in her lap. Then the kid and his mother returned. "Oh, is that what I hit?" said the kid, and the police promptly arrested him for a felony hit and run.

He went to jail. I went to the hospital. They X-rayed me and said I was OK. I just suffered abrasions. The skin was broken on my head, but my skull was not broken. The doctors were astonished that I was alive. So, they cleaned me up, bandaged me, and released me.

Years later I was in a minor accident and was X-rayed again.  The MD asked, "How did you break your neck?" Only then did I realize that I had broken my neck in the bicycle accident.

I'm convinced that the lady who found me was a Christian and had prayed for my healing. The LORD mended my broken neck and brought me back to life there in the ditch.

For the next six months, I was independently wealthy with money from the insurance settlement. In spite of the miracle of being alive, I still didn't get the picture. I spent my time partying.

During those six months, I also got my driver's license back. I also rebuilt a Toyota hot rod. I travelled around, looking for the LORD's will in my life. I decided that I was going back to the LORD. I also realized that I had to quit sitting around and get into work so I wouldn't be a bum.

For a couple of months, I picked pears. It was hot, miserable work. All that time I was waiting for a messenger from God – and He sent several.

Rembrandt: Raising LazarusSome people from the Highway Missionary Society were also picking pears. They were ex-hippies, West Coast Jesus freaks from the '60s – but they had what I was looking for. I could see their joy. They sang about Jesus while they picked pears. I went over to talk with them, and they told me about Jesus and the rich young ruler. That spoke to me. I still had lots of dollars, and my wealth was still stopping me.

So, I visited the Highway Missionary Society's communal farm at Grants Pass, Oregon. I loved it and realized that the LORD wanted me to join the farm, but I went away said because I still had too much money and wouldn't give it up.

After two months, I quit work and lived on the river to fish for salmon. I gave away my car to a person who didn't have one. After I spent the last of my money, I joined the communal farm at Grants Pass. There I poured myself into worshipping the LORD – and planting pine trees. It was hard work, but in the fellowship, the LORD worked out some of my rough edges.

So, I've been killed twice – or at least should have been dead. Do you have bigger problems? Jesus brought me back from death, and He gave me new life  -- in both meanings of the word. He can do that for you too.

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If you want to verify Rich's account, please contact me, and I'll send you his e-mail address.

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Unusual commentary accompanied the article in 1990:

It's hard for residents to believe that we're Christians if their toilets don't work.  That's why Rich Hale is vital to our ministry here at Sign of the Cross Housing. Rich repairs plumbing – also electrical, heating, and air conditioning.

However, he does more than make repairs.  Because of the experience of Christ in his life, Rich helps others who are hurting.  He listens to their stories; they listen to his.  And so they discover how Jesus deals with really big problems.

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Additional Biography: 

Van Gogh: Raising LazarusThe Highway Missionary Society evolved into the Servant Community, which sponsored the Christian rock band, Servant.  Rich was electrician for the band and mechanic for the band's trucks and cars.

In 1986, Servant Community moved from Grants Pass to Cincinnati, where they disbanded.  After that, Rich worked at Sign of the Cross Housing. He attended Vineyard Christian Fellowship in Northern Kentucky. In 1987, he married Jenny Gabbard. They have four daughters: Amanda, McKenzie, Caitlin and Morgan. Jenny and Rich are now empty nesters

Rich became a journeyman plumber in 1991 and won his master plumber's license in '93. Since the latter '90's, he has run his own plumbing company in the western suburbs of Cincinnati.

Rich's Comments on Alcoholism:

I've been through treatment programs and spent a lot of time in Alcoholics Anonymous. But I found that, for me as an alcoholic, I only found real peace through the LORD – by giving my will over to Jesus.

With AA, it was more of a job, a daily struggle to choose not to drink. With the LORD, to drink isn't a question. He removes the problem. To maintain my sobriety, I only need to keep a close relationship with Christ.

Salvador Dali: LazarusHe keeps a close relationship with Jesus in many ways.  Here's what he said in 1990:

+  I spend private time with Him daily, and I find time to read His Word.

+  I'm active at church with others in home meetings, where there's intimacy and where we believers share our personal problems with each other.

+  I support alcoholics and addicts by telling them what Jesus can do for them.  When they have drinking or drug problems, I encourage them and pray for them.

+  And I am helped greatly with my own problems by doing maintenance work with neighbors at Sign of the Cross Housing.

So for me, being with the LORD is a joy, a light and pleasing burden.

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Purpose of this blog is to compile a book for my grandchildren to read in 25 years.

Copyright © 2011 by Jack Towe

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