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..." 

Sunday
Jan122014

MARGARET: WHY I AM A DEACONESS

Just discovered:  Two sheets of onion-skin paper with a typed talk by Margaret Heine, written about 1964. (This was six years before our marriage and three years after she graduated from the Deaconess Program at Valparaiso University.)  She gave the message to the Women’s Missionary Society Auxiliary of Baltimore, Maryland. Evidently this was her farewell:

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Recently I was challenged with a question from a man who believes that what we can think, see and understand should be sufficient for what we can believe. The belief of God’s making man, of God’s revealing Himself to us in His Word, or God entering our world in Jesus Christ is to him a bunch of fairy tales.

He claimed, “I’m entitled to my belief, just as you are entitled to yours.” This is very true, but since he is always challenging what I believe, I feel that I can also challenge what he believes. So, in the course of our knowing each other, we have had some lively and heated discussions. But he really made me think when he asked me this question: 

“Just what is so practical about your work? You’re not a nurse or a teacher. You don’t really help a person in a concrete way. Why be a Deaconess when you really do not have a practical reason for doing it?

For him, “practical” meant helping people without mentally influencing them with the fairy tales that I accept as truth. I was thankful for an interruption in our conversation so I could put my thoughts together. He asked me a basic question: “Why do I do the work I do? Why am I a Deaconess?”

When I returned to answer him, I discovered I had words to express myself—

“I feel that there is nothing more practical in this world than love which accepts you as you are—love that doesn’t demand that you be perfect or good before you are accepted. I know that I cannot love in this way except that I know that God has loved me in this way. God was willing to be a part of my life in Jesus Christ—to love me when I was unlovable—to forgive me when I was unforgivable. When I see what God has done for me, I want to share this love with others. I want to let them understand this love of God.”

Whether he accepted this answer or not, I’m glad he asked his question. He helped me see again why I serve in this kind of work rather than something else.

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Coming as I do from a family that has moved at least ten times in the past twenty-five years, I have never really had a place I could call home. I learned that where I was, was home.

As Christian Dior said, "The secret of beauty is zest."Thanks to all of you, when people ask me where my home is, I can tell them that Baltimore is my home. As I thought about this, I put down some things which make a home a home. This list also expresses much of what I have found in serving as your Deaconess:

Home is a place where you—

are challenged to do your best.

have opportunities to be of help to others.

have someone with whom you can share your joys, sorrows and disappointments.

know you belong, even though some may question your way of doing things.

have people who tease you, even irritate you, and can get under your skin, but yet you realize that these people are special to you and can make you feel special too.

know you are forgiven when you have made a mistake.

These are some of the things which make a home a home and why Baltimore has been a home to me.

Because I have moved so much, I hate saying “Good-bye.” I know I’ll see many of you again—if not in future years, then in the world to come.

I’ll say thank you and so-long with the words we use in Sunday School for mentally-challenged children every Sunday—familiar words from Genesis:

“May the LORD watch between you and me while we are absent, one from the other.”

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After my talk, an elderly woman spoke to me. “I’d like to talk to the man you referred to and tell him about you. When you visited me in the mental hospital, I felt I received a part of you. When you came to talk or take me for a drive, you did me a lot of good. You helped me more than my doctor did.”

And yet, I had done nothing really but be myself. To me, this was the miracle of Baltimore. They accepted me and loved me as I am, even with my goofiness and intensity. For an under-nourished soul, nothing can be more healing than this acceptance. I haven’t had to prove myself to anyone—except to my boss and myself.

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“Goofiness and intensity”?  Yes. Those are among the causes of my falling in love with Margaret and marrying her. Ours was not an easy marriage, but it was seldom dull.

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

Copyright © 2013 by Jack Towe

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