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..." 


The Spectacular Ride

You like theme parks? When my Dad, Larry, was ten, he and Grandpa Burt developed a ride that was more spectacular than anything in a theme park.

My Grandfather, Albert Towe, was the kind of genius who was still common in the early 1900's, but is almost unknown today—

  •        He had two years of high school education.
  •        He built barns.
  • ·      He built roads.
  • ·      He built a mini-mansion for his family.
  • ·      He could do math in his head that I have trouble doing on paper.
  • ·      He was an able lumberjack.
  • ·      He managed lumbering operations.
  • ·      He could fix almost anything mechanical.
  • ·      And he could scale lumber.

"Scale lumber"—what's that? Suppose you had a section of timber (one mile X one mile,) and you wanted to sell it. A lumber mill wanted to buy it. But, what's a fair price? There are at least a dozen varieties of tree in the section, with trees of different heights.

You'd hire Albert Towe to give an estimate of potential board feet of each variety of tree in the section. He was familiar with all the Michigan varieties, and he knew the wholesale values of each type of board foot. He'd walk the perimeter of the section, take some notes, and give you the estimate for the board feet per type of tree and its wholesale value--your basis for negotiating with the mill. Evidently his estimates were fairly accurate because he was hired repeatedly for this work.

Well, I told you all that so you can trust what I tell you about the spectacular ride.

When Grandpa was going to manage the lumbering off of an area, he'd sometimes take son Larry along. Grandpa Burt picked out a large, full oak, elm, or maple at the edge of the woods. Then, he'd set the tree.

"Set the tree"—what's that? Grandpa planned to drop the tree onto cleared land, not into the woods. So, on the cleared side of the tree about three feet above the ground, he chopped out a large notch about a third of the way into the tree. Then with his ax, he chopped another, smaller notch on the other side of the tree about four feet off the ground.

Then ten-year old Larry climbed the tree. He found a good limb to sit on about a dozen feet up. The limb was on the woods side, above the smaller notch. He put his arms and legs around the trunk and closed his eyes. Then Burt chopped away at the small notch, and the huge tree collapsed into the bigger, lower notch. The tree fell into the clearing.

Here's what Dad experienced: The tree shuddered with the chopping—small shudders at first, followed by one big one, and the tree began to fall—slowly at first, followed by a sudden drop, a crash and one sharp bounce. Then Dad opened his eyes. Broken limbs were all around him. He was safe and unhurt. That was fun.

And neither of them ever told Grandma Eva.