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
Mar042012

PLAYING THE SLOTS WITH JESUS

I have a wonderful memory from when I was twelve.  It's a memory of a kindness – one of the kindest, most thoughtful things that happened to me when I was a boy.

That year, 1946, we lived in Susanville, California.  My parents owned and operated the town's newspaper, The Lassen Advocate.  We were in northeast California, 85 miles northwest of Reno, Nevada – so we were east of the Sierras, at the head of the Great Nevada Desert.

I had just finished the sixth grade, and Dad asked me whether I wanted to drive with him up to Little Dixie Valley on Friday afternoon.  He was going to interview Ned Bognuda.  Little Dixie was farther up in NE California, not far from the Oregon border.  I grumbled some because I wanted to play with the guys.  But, I agreed to go.

Early Saturday morning, we went to the shack where Ned and his family lived.  Ranchers in our part of the country didn't build fine houses until after World War II.  Ned was not poor – each year he chartered a DC-3 to take family and friends to the World Series.  But, he and his family still lived in a shack, so Ned suggested that we go to the bar for the interview.

That early in the day, the bar was still closed.  It was a good place for Dad and Ned to talk.  They talked for a while, and Ned must have seen that I was bored.  He said, "Come here, kid."  Ned hit the No Sale bar on the cash register and told me to hold out my hands.  Scooping the nickels, he filled my cupped hands with coins and said, "Go play the shot machine." 

I was thrilled.  I had seen lots of slots when we went to Reno, and I wanted to try one.  So, I eagerly took the nickels, put them in a pile, and began stuffing the machine and pulling the handle as fast as I could.

Slot machines were illegal in California, but as the duke of Dixie Valley, Ned followed California law when he felt like it.  The bar had three slots.

Was I gambling? No. I was running an experiment. I had some idea of how the odds were set on slot machines. My goal was to see how soon the slot would eat up all the nickels. So, occasional big wins frustrated me.

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For me, yesterday, March 3, 2012, merged with that June day in 1945 for a moment, but it takes me two pages to explain what happened.

I have spent the past day and a half in a conference, led by Rita Bennett, on being emotionally free through the healing of memories.  And this is an example of how memory healing works.

I was taking a break from the conference and the memory of Ned's bar flashed in my mind.

I'm playing the slots, and Jesus is sitting next to me. To my surprise and pleasure, He's as delighted as I am with the game. Delighted! Why? Because he sees I'm not gambling. He says, "Way to go. You're learning that the purpose of gambling is for the house to make money. You're cured before you start."

So, Jesus isn't there to heal me of gambling.  It's never been a problem.  Rather, He's with me for another purpose.

When Dad finishes the interview, he says, "Come on, son.  Time to leave."

I'm disappointed and hurt and angry.  I still have a third of the nickels left, and Dad is taking away my joy. But I didn't say anything, except to thank Mr. Bognuda and hand him the rest of the nickels. When I thanked him, I really meant it. No other adult had so fulfilled a secret wish.

Why don't I say anything to Dad as we walk to the car? Because we don't put words on emotions in my family. We just stifle.

But, I see Jesus, Dad, and me walking to the car.  Jesus nods to me in encouragement, so I say, "Dad, I'm hurt and angry."  Dad stops in surprise.  "Oh?  Why?"

"I want to keep playing the slot machine until all the nickels are gone."

"Hmmm.  We can't do that.  Ned's a busy man.  We can't expect him to stand there for half an hour and watch you play a one-armed bandit."

I hadn't thought of that.  But I'm still hurt and angry, so Jesus again nods in encouragement. I say something that I've never told my Dad before.  "I'm still hurt, but I forgive you.  Can you forgive me for being angry?"

"Oh."  Dad can't look at me.  He's not used to this either.  "Sure, son.  I guess I can."

I hold out my left hand to Dad, but he doesn't see it. Jesus takes my left hand. He takes Dad's right hand. We walk to the car.

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For much more on being emotionally free, go to Rita Bennett's web site, The Christian Renewal Associaton at http://www.emotionallyfree.org/

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

Copyright © 2012 by Jack Towe

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