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
Jun302013

WHAT ARE OUR REMEDIES?

[This article is a follow-up to two previous articles, "Learning from The Last Christian, Parts I & II".  This article is also a work in process.  Each time Jesus and I have a change in relationship, I change the article.]

In June on a whim, I took an audio book out of the Ballard library.  It was The Last Christian by David Gregory, WaterBrook Press, Colorado Springs, 2010.  It's well-written Christian science fiction.  To my amazement, it gave me a whole new insight into my relationship with Jesus, based on I Corinthians 13:5.  "Don't you realize that Jesus is in you?"

That was news to me.  Good news.  But I'd not heard it before.  Maybe it had been proclaimed in church. If so, it didn't register.  If we take the promise literally, however, it gives new significance to our walk with Jesus. He's not just along side of us.  He's in us -- in each of us who follow Him.  He shares our joys, problems, sorrows.  And He wants to live His life through us.  He wants us to rely on Him and to release Him to others. This gives real meaning to St. Francis' prayer:  "May I see you, Jesus, in each person I meet today, and may they see You, Jesus, in me."

Le's start at the beginning.  We're all addicts.  It's part of original sin.  We each have cravings or needs or behavior patterns or faults which are stronger than we are.  We can't overcome them alone. We need help. Jesus is our help. Helping Him are organizations like AA, NA, SA, GA, the Salvation Army, Teen Challenge, and Victory Outreach, which work with addicts to overcome their slavery. They're wonderful organizations which provide the healing fellowship which our churches should provide, but seem incapable of doing.

Substance addicts are advantaged.  They know they're enslaved sinners.  They know they need help, and there are organizations to help them.  Most people, however, don't realize the mess they're in, and to the extent they realize it, they have no idea how to get help.

For me, Jesus needs to become my default resource.  Because He's in me, He's available anytime – when I'm lonely, discouraged, exhausted, hurting, bored, in need of excitement, fun, recreation, or love.  That's easy to write, but I’m not at all sure how it happens.  But that's his promise to us.  Philippians 4:19:  "And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus."

Because He is in me, my responsibility and opportunity is to let Him out, to let Him flow through me. I'm discovering how that happens.

Here's what I do know:  He's far stronger than any temptations which allure me.

He's doing much already to make my cravings less urgent.  And when I do give into them, they are less and less satisfying.

Because He's in me, I have the option of overcoming temptations.  When they hit, I can –

  • Say "Jesus, please get rid of this."   And He does.
  • Say the Jesus prayer.  In Russian, that's "Ghuspodi, pomilooi," which translated literally means, "Gentleman, help!"
  • Speak in my private tongue, so His language flows through me.

When I do any of these, I can feel the power of the temptation draining away, but I do have to choose to turn to him.

And then, I also have a great cure for temptation:  Get out of my apartment.

I'm now 79, and it's to easy to hang around my apartment, day and night, still in my PJ's.  Temptation lingers here – urges of lust, sloth, gluttony.

I have a great deal of writing to do and books to publish, but I have a MacBook, so I can write at my office, at the library, or at a coffee house.

And I have a wonderful place of healing to which I can go.  It's not the chapel in the valley; it's the Olympic Athletic Club.  With an hour's workout – rowing, sit-ups, running, stretching, swimming, followed by a hot tub, sauna or steam bath -- I get recharged in body, mind and spirit.  It's effort, however, so I have to stir myself to get up and go, and some mornings I'm not all that interested in getting out of bed.

There are other sources of healing which I have largely ignored in Seattle –

1.  Fellowship.  I thought my congregation would provide fellowship, and it does somewhat, but Seattle is not a friendly place.  I invite one or two people a week out for lunch or coffee, but during the past three years in Seattle, perhaps five people have invited me to lunch, and fewer than that have welcomed me into their homes.

2.  Prayer, morning and evening.  While I'm doing a little better, I'm not well-suited to the contemplative life as an anchorite.  Prayer is easier when I'm with other faithful believers.

3.  Fasting.  I used to fast with some regularity, but not yet in Seattle.

4.  Alms.  Oh sure, I tithe at church and with other excellent Christian organizations, but I'm not yet sufficiently involved in peoples' lives here in Seattle to do much creative leading or giving.

5.  Meditating in Nature.  The United States is a gorgeous country, and everywhere there are lovely spots where one can enjoy the bliss of peace, quiet and beauty.  Seattle, however, overachieves with its mountains and water.  But busyness nixes quiet.  For peace, I go to Ballard's Golden Gardens with its magnificent vista over Puget Sound to Olympic National Park.  Golden Gardens!?  On a sunny day, a quarter of Seattle is there.  Yes, but I've discovered a path at the north end, on the east side of a small lake which houses a flock of ducks.  It's in the woods.  A private spot to enjoy the beauty, peace, ducks, and Jesus.

6.  Retreats (or as the Pentecostals say, advances).  In Cincinnati, my wife, Margaret, and I made a monthly silent retreat at the Episcopal Convent of the Transfiguration in the lovely northern suburb of Glendale. The retreats were healing experiences, both in our relationship with Jesus and with each other. We weren't silent all the time.  We talked during lunch and on long walks in the mid-afternoon. I miss those retreats a lot. My closest retreat center in Seattle is in Federal Way, less than an hour's drive. I need to start using it.

7.  Witnessing.   I love to introduce people to Jesus.  It's a real high.  And I'm trained and equipped to do it.  But I'm also chicken.  Jesus said to go in pairs, and He's right.  Holy boldness is easier when there are two of us.  And I know two great places to witness – on Saturday or Sunday mornings with dog-walkers in Golden Gardens; anytime at the Fremont Troll where couples and families need someone to take their photos.

8.  Ministry of Helps.  I have a wonderful opportunity to develop industrial co-ops through ethnic churches.  But, the task is so overwhelming, that I have hesitated to try.  So, I begin.

9.  Ministry of the Gifts of the Spirit.  Because I was baptized in the Holy Spirit in 1969, I've learned that any of the gifts of the Holy Spirit are available for building up of the church.  Of the nine gifts, I've experienced faith and healing–a start. Will I have the guts to use them? 

For example, I can truthfully say to a lame or crippled person, "A year ago, I had the same problem.  I had lots of pain and walked with a cane.  I had a torn cartilage on the side of my right knee.  A twenty-minute operation took care of the pain.

"In the process Jesus also gave me another healing.  When I was twelve I broke my right leg going off a small ski jump.  As a result, I had a ¾" pelvic tilt, which did not disable me.  I ran track and cross country in high school.  Last summer, I had asked for prayers for my right leg to be lengthened.  Six months later, my right leg grew out to be the same length as the left.  Consider:  Bones don't grow for a 78 year-old man.  Why did Jesus give me the healing?  I think it was encouragement, a witness.  What He's done for me, He can do for you."

Updates

This is an on-going article, a record of exploring with Jesus. As events happen, I'll add them.

On Sunday worship on July 28, as we said the LORD's Prayer, I discovered a new under-standing. We began, "Our Father. . ." For years I recognized that in saying "Our Father", there is a huge horizontal dimension. By saying "Our", I join with my congregation and my family, with Christians in our city, state, nation and world. The new understanding was that, with Jesus living within me, there was also a vertical dimension. Together, He and I spoke, "Our Father".

I assumed that with this great new realization that Jesus lives within me and wants to live through me, I was going to be liberated from cravings and self-indulgent sinning.  Evidently, that's exactly what the devil wanted me to think – because I fell off the wagon long and hard.

But the LORD keeps providing means of escape – and through crazy, unexpected means.  "The Last Christian" gave me profound insights.  And my next surprise came from Charisma magazine.  I appreciate Charisma because it gives me news of what the Holy Spirit is doing around the world, but it also suffers from the ordinary Christian malady of answering mostly questions that begin with "What?"  I have always wanted to hear replies to "How" questions – answers in spiritual engineering.

And Lo!  In the August, 2013, Charisma, there was an article, "A Covenant with My Eyes."  It dealt wisely with problems of lust – and outlined a specific, Scriptural remedy.  The author, Bob Sorge, provided both Biblical understanding and a sample covenant.  Since reading the article, I've made a covenant of hands, heart and eyes with Our Father.  But, following Bob Sorge's advice, the vow is not for my lifetime or a year.  It's for 48 hours.  He recommends starting small and then making longer covenants as we grow in the LORD.  Very sensible.

To give you an idea of the vow of purity, here's Bob Sorge's version:  "Heavenly Father, for the next 24 hours I make a covenant before You with my eyes.  I vow never to let my eyes settle upon a woman or man to lust or compare.  When I unexpectedly encounter a seductive person or image, I will turn away, turn it off, or walk away.

"Please remind me continually of this covenant vow, and grant me the grace to keep it.  Knowing the weakness of my frame and the greatness of Your power, I throw myself upon Your mercy and strength. Amen."

So, how is that any different from vows of purity I've made in the past?  It introduces both love and terror. "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom."  Check out the beginning of our covenants with God in Genesis 15:7-21.  If we violate our covenant with Him, terrible results happen.  So, a purity covenant is a great inducement.  And now I pray to Jesus to send me a man for an accountability partner.

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

Copyright  ©  2013 by Jack Towe

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