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..." 

Tuesday
Dec252012

HEALING HELEN

Keith McLaughlin was a good friend.  He and I were both members of the Lutheran young adult singles group in Schenectady, NY.  Keith was an architect, worked in Albany, and was a member of an ELCA congregation. This was back in 1963, my first year with General Electric, when I was a member of Zion Lutheran, a Missouri Synod congregation. 

It was Keith who first prayed for me to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit.  In December, 1968, he was driving me through Connecticut on the Merritt Parkway at 70 miles an hour.  We We were on our way to La Guardia Airport.  While driving, he laid his right hand on my shoulder and prayed for me.  I snuck a peak to make sure he kept his eyes open while he prayed.

I didn’t receive my tongue then, however.  That happened eleven months later.

You can read more about Keith’s good influence in my blog article, “Healing Archie” at http://leadings.squarespace.com/healing-archie/

Keith married in ’65, but died only a few years later from a congenital ailment.

____________

One of my best memories of Keith was when he told me of a healing in his congregation.  As I recall, here is Keith’s account:

Helen was an elderly woman who had a strong relationship with Jesus.  However, she also had Parkinson’s disease, and her condition continued to deteriorate.

Faithful to Scripture in James 5, she called for the elders of the congregation to come to the hospital and pray for her healing.  They did – even though some of them believed neither in miracles nor in the LORD’s willingness or ability to heal.  As the youngest Elder, Keith believed in Jesus’ healing power, and so did one other Elder.

However, in the days after the healing prayer, her condition worsened.

But Helen gleefully told visitors that she was healed – even when she deteriorated to the point where she could communicate only by tapping her left index finger.  One tap for yes; two taps for no.

Of course, visitors spoke patronizingly to Helen and encouraged her – without believing their own kind words. It was clear that she was dying and would not last long.  Both her family and her doctors, as gently as possible, tried to prepare her emotionally for her coming death.

One night at 3 a.m. Helen woke up to see Jesus standing at the foot of her bed.  He reached for her hand and pulled her out of bed, saying, “Get up, daughter.  Your faith has made you well.”  And then He was gone.

So, Helen found herself standing by her bed.  She gingerly tried taking a step. She didn’t fall. So, she tried another. And another. And then she skipped.  And she went skipping, running, leaping, shouting and praising God along the hospital corridors at 3 in the morning, with a train of nurses running after her trying to shut her up.”