Mother’s Day: Honoring Mother- Rising Up and Calling Her Blessed

Today is Mother’s Day. It is the day in this culture that is set aside to Honor Mothers.  It is a day where we are encouraged to express value to mothers. In general the concept is to honor those who you are a child of and those who you have children with.  The day is one in which Proverbs 31:28 (ESV) “Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her” is practiced. The verse covers both those who you are a child of and those who you have children with.  In context that verse is referring to what occurs in the life of a virtuous woman as described in Proverbs 31.  Honestly, most mothers fall short of the standard described in Proverbs 31.  There are things done that hurt and cause pain and miss the standard of virtue. Yet, even so, there is the need to honor. There is the need to attend to that which is of virtue.  The actions described in Proverbs 31 are really about proclaiming the virtue and giving witness to the good things, the virtuous actions.  It is really giving acknowledgement to the good that has been done.  

Personally, this writer does not yet have children. There are hopes, plans, and dreams of the same.  Yet, on this day, with no children yet, there are words to say to life up the woman who will one day share the joy of bringing children into the world. There is honor in the steps she takes while awaiting the time of bringing children into this world. Admittedly each day the time gets shorter, but the time taken is of worth and value so that we both may be of virtue in raising children.  So, this writer is proclaiming that his wife is a woman to be praised and valued.  I honor her.

Now, as to this writer’s mother; there has been no one who has more impact on the man I’ve become then her. She engaged in much care and nurture. There were many actions taken that shaped my life course and development.  She is even the one who identified and encouraged my life call and profession. She sacrificed on many levels to ensure that me and my brother had what we needed.  It is certain, that my awareness of what she poured into my life is only partial for many things actions taken that were well beyond the awareness of a child (and yes, even beyond awareness of an adult child.)  My mother did so much to love and build me up that it is need of honor and this writer greatly appreciates what she is done.  My mother is one to be honored and blessed for the value of what she put into my life is beyond measure.

Now, for the readers of this post, please take time to consider the mother’s in your life.  Praise them and rise up and call them blessed. Do so today, and do so beyond such days of cultural expectation. Find the things of virtue and honor that shaped you, and make it know, for as you bless, you in turn are blessed. 

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Musings on the Tragic Life and Death of Whitney Houston

Whitney Houston died tragically on February 2nd, 2012. Much has been written and examined related to the life and death of Whitney Houston. Many thoughts and statements have been made regarding Whitney. Some have even commented on her standing with Jesus, easily concluding that she rejected Jesus. Barry McGuire made such statements in an opinion piece: http://www.assistnews.net/Stories/2012/s12020066.htm suggesting that Whitney rejected the judgmental Jesus of the fundamental church. However, personally not really certain that Whitney rejected Jesus as she has given performances singing boldly of Jesus love including the snippet of her short duet with Kelly Price and the performance in Brazil in 1994 that are readily available on YouTube.

She knew of the love of Jesus. She grew up learning of the love of Jesus at New Hope Church pastored by Joe A. Carter. Her first solo performance was at age 11 when she sang “Guide me, O thou great Jehovah.” So she knew and was exposed to the love of Jesus and personally don’t think her story is one of rejecting Jesus, but rather getting lost and distracted by the things of this world and looking for love in places other than Jesus. She was hurt and turned to things that lead to death led by her own desires. While Whitney grew up in the church, she also group up in a family that valued music and entertainment. Her mother was Cissy Houston. Her cousins were Dionne Warwick, Dee Dee Warwick, and Darlene Love. Her honorary Aunt was Aretha Franklin. Music was central to her family and Whitney Houston was created and gifted with a beautiful voice. Her voice opened doors and brought her fame and fortune. However, all that she received did not fulfill her and she was lost and hurting. Yet, at the base level she knew of Jesus love. However, that knowledge appeared to be something that she knew intellectually but did not experience at the core of her being. She knew of the love of Jesus, but did not seem to experience it.

There is a reason that Whitney Houston gravitated toward the simple song, Jesus Loves Me. The words state “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” And that appears to be the level of Whitney’s knowledge of Jesus love. She was told it was true. She sang of the truth but her experience of it was limited. It is clear that Whitney craved deeply love. Her words deeply touched on the human perspectives of love and longing, yet ever missing the true love. Yet, at core she knew that Jesus was where there was true love, yet couldn’t break from the pain and loss and hurt coming from the wounds caused by others. She got hooked into the poison of alcohol and drugs that give momentary relief of those pains, yet she did not experience the healing of Jesus love in this life. She walked a path that lead to death and fully embraced the poison.

Whitney is really not any different than anyone else, other than being famous. She experienced hurt and pain. She wanted love, but what she experienced didn’t measure up. She lived a life that pursued her desires and she was able to have a lot of her desires fulfilled. However, one desire was not fulfilled, to be able to live free from pain and experience love deeply. She craved, it wanted it, sang beautifully about it, yet she did not let the words of her first solo be her path. She chose her own way and it came easy, for she had “THAT VOICE.” We also readily choose our own way and pursue the things that come easy. We go after our desires and do not surrender to God or look to Him for strength. We also at times only have knowledge that Jesus loves us because of what we are told. There is more. Jesus love is real and can be experienced. Jesus love is beyond measure. It can touch one beyond the deep levels of pain and hurt living in the fallen world brings. We all too often go ways that seem right to us, that give us all we think we want but in reality ensare us and trade the promise of love into pain as the promise turns to a cruel and abusive master.

So there is much to be learned from the life and death of Whitney Houston. We all have a story and paths to choose. We can follow God and surrender or we can walk the path of self. Each path has pain and joy. Each path has difficulties. One path leads to full life, one leads to death. Whitney is one of many who only grasp things at a superficial level and go looking for the answers in ways that seem right but are death. Our natural inclination is to choose paths that do seem right, yet are our own destruction. The choice to follow God is always difficult for it involves given up of what I think I want, for we fear giving of self will result in being denied goodness and pleasure. However, it is only truly in the giving of what we think we want that we can receive all that is of good. Whitney missed out in this life, for she walked the path of self. Walking the path of God brings more than can be imagined but it requires all, but in that is true goodness, pleasure, and life. So please, take time and lament the death of Whitney Houston, then examine own life. Open up to surrender to God and being able to truly experience the love of Jesus so it moves beyond knowing about it because one was told about it, but rather that love is experienced moment by moment.

Saint Patrick’s day musing: learning from the Faith of the Irish

 Today, 3/17/2012 is Saint Patrick’s day. A day where people celebrate their Irish heritage. This writer does have family who immigrated from Ireland, so the day has some meaning. Yet, the meaning for me does not rest on green beer and alcohol, but rather the roots of the Church in Ireland. There is a lot of history related to Ireland. Now I am not talking about the modern and infamous Protestant and Catholic battles that can easily focus on. The history is not even the legend and stories related to Saint Patrick. Rather, it is the unique elements of the early Church in Ireland and what it should point us to today. It is very worthwhile to examine and explore the early church history of Ireland. Granted, this writer has only viewed a few articles here and there over years and seen varied writings about “Celtic Christianity” but there is a core element that runs through the early Church and Ireland that want to discuss and encourage others to take to heart. Some of these thoughts are triggered by an old article found here: http://www.cslewis.org/journal/hearts-and-minds-aflame-for-christ-irish-monks%e2%80%94a-model-for-making-all-things-new-in-the-21st-century. There are three key elements of the Irish faith that is important for us to learn from: growth focused, other focused, and wholly surrendered. Let’s look at each area briefly.

 The early church in Ireland stressed growth with a balance of both knowledge and spiritual.  The encouraged discipleship. Growth of the whole person. They developed schools, monestaries and varied means of encourage growth in relating to God and growing in knowledge.  Ignorance was not tolerated. In order for people to grow in truth they needed to learn, so people were taught through a variety of means. Growth was not just limited to education either as creativity was embraced and used to spread and teach the truth. The just not teach things from a growth in knowledge standpoint but encourage over all growth. They truly embraced Philippians 4:8 (ESV) Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. This focus should encourage us to each continue to learn and grow much like the early Irish Church.

The second area to examine is that the early Irish Church was other focused. They engage others. It starts with Saint Patrick who is rumored to have brought the whole Island of Ireland to be disciples of Jesus. Now, while that is interesting piece of legend, those reach in Ireland were reached because of actions Patrick took to share God’s love with others. The same is true for Columban, who brought the Gospel from Ireland to England and beyond. The Gospel spread greatly because of early Irish Christians. They lived not to hold back but to share and give to others. They did so by word and deed. They created great works that spread. Even the Hymn “Be Thou My Vision” has Irish history. The used the gifts they had and created whatever God put on their heart, by it for a few, or be a reach of many. They gave of themselves to others. Too often in today’s church the focus becomes on what is good for self and what makes me comfortable in the world we live in. We want the world to shape to what makes us comfortable. The early Irish Church impacted the world by engaging with the Gospel and living fully as salt and light. It is a challenge to us to be that engaging and not dependent on what others give, but to give what we have to give to reach others.

The third area is that of a while surrender. The early Irish church recognized that whole submission to God was vital. They gave of all. They even often pursued a “Green martyrdom” of giving up all of self. They encouraged the fully giving of all not just for the purposes of self, but to reach and touch others. A relationship with God was considered, that a relationship involving the whole person with total commitment. In terms of what is best for the whole person, it all stopped and started with growth in knowledge of God. As one grew deeper in knowing God, one also grew in experience of God’s love. As that grew, in turn it flowed to those with whom they interacted. That love built great passion for God and others and that passion was seen in their expressions of music and art. Today, we settle for “good enough” and too often simply lean on the works of others. We sing songs with passion, but do we create? We recycle what others have done, but how much of gifts and self do we give? Do we have limits, do we give all that God asks of us? These are things the example of many of the early Irish Church pushes us to examine.

Admittedly, the early Irish church was not perfect and there are elements of what they said and did that are flawed, for we are all but just a part with limits that skewed by our own minds and imaginations. The early Irish Church though did not shrink back. They advanced the Gospel. They encouraged growth with actions that impacted others with a passionate whole surrender to God. This is the Faith of The Irish that should impact each of use today.

Freedom House Update 2/1/2012: Progression with ongoing battle. Response of trust, obedience, prayer, and requests

The battle does continue with no resolution on licensing concerns at this point. However, there is a progression going on in the steps needing to be taken.  Currently one property has been approved for Board and Lodge license. The property that has not is a duplex. It is scheduled to have four per unit.  The city has stated that it does not meet requirements for licensure at that number.  The units are at that number at cities request according to zoning laws. Kingdom Pathways has sought to be submissive and obedient to all city requests.  Yet, they have refused licensure on that property due to the number per unit. The part that is hard to understand is that licensure law is written that is one building that has to be over four members not a part or unit, so it should meet requirement for being able to license the one property. However, the city has declined licensure and directed Kingdom Pathways to go through the appeals process.

The other end of things is the State of Minnesota Department of Human Services which requires funding in order to receive the Chemical Dependency treatment funds.  They have been insisting on the licensure for funds even though the city does not require the licensure.  Attempts are being made by the lawyer to negotiate with the state to take inspection reports in lieu of licensure but so far they have declined to accept that condition.  Please pray for a potential favorable outcome here and if not, pray for the movement in the process to those that will make a favorable decision in the appeals process.

It is worth noting that in the process Kingdom Pathways has sought to be obedient and submissive to authority. It has not sought to create publicity, nor find methods of exerting pressure by finding connected members in community to exert influence. Rather, the steps in the battle have been to obey, submit, and pray.

It is noteworthy that in the process, the six resident building has been approved for licensure by the city.  Also, Kingdom Pathways has received a U-Care insurance contract. There will be services starting.  The plan is to start staff receiving training and starting on February 23rd.

Now it is important to make people aware that the financial needs are ongoing. Director Jim Michaud has missed is own personal mortgage payment for the first time ever.  The family has literally given all and put total financial health at risk by taking on personal debt to keep buildings running.

In terms of need, there have been several mortgage payments missed on the two properties. Jim Michaud has been able to negotiate with the banks but payments are expected in February with no ability to hold back payments.  One building has a payment due of $1400 on February 10th. So donations are needed ASAP to be able to make this payment.  The other property has a mortgage due of $2200 dollars on February 20th.  Please go to http://www.kingdompathways.org/generosity.php and make a donation online.  You can also send donations to:

Kingdom Pathways
P.O. Box 4125
St. Paul, MN 55104

You can reach the director of Freedom House and Kingdom Pathways at info@kingdompathways.org.

If unable to give please pray.  Also feel free to send an email with any encouragement or connections to the Kingdom Pathways email. 

Please pray for the obedience and submission to be honored with a negotiated resolution to the licensing issues on the duplex property. Pray for God to bring in donations. Pray for other preparations to start with things becoming operational by the end of February.

If you have considered donating but are waiting for the end result of the licensing please do not hold  back.  There are resources in place to start that will enable beginning but the biggest need is the financial resources, in particular with full funding not being in place for both properties.

It is also worth noting that the plan is develop multiple funding sources, as money from government is often fickle.  Yet, those all take time and need operations to be active in order to obtain.  Yet, God can and will raise up people to meet needs. So currently the steps on the path are to walk in trust and obedience.  The obedience it to both God and man (the established authorities) as go through the due process. The response has not been to go the way of the world but to pray, make requests known, and to obey. Please consider how God wants you to be a part.

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For those awaiting new content that is not simply a Freedom House update, there will be a return soon to new content.  In the meantime please read an old post on God’s provision that is appropriate to this situation: https://peacebringer7.wordpress.com/2010/01/16/some-principles-of-god%e2%80%99s-provision-found-in-1-kings-17/

Post-Christmas Musing: Christmas Future- Keeping each day well

The Christmas Holiday has come and gone. Gifts have been given. Traditions have been followed. Interactions with family have occurred. It is the time for taking down the decorations, using or returning gifts, and returning to normal routine. The focus becomes on what is needed from day to day until the Holiday season returns. It is important to recognize that there is far more available than moving from one Holiday to the next. There is far more than “keeping Christmas well.”

The famous character grew to “keep Christmas well” by being exposed to past, present, and future relationships. He turned from being self-focused to “keeping Christmas well” by being concerned with others, being generous and engaging the relational. The turning point came with awareness of own mortality and no impact on others. His looking at Christmas future showed limitations and changed focus.

In thinking about Christmas future it does seem to be all about where is your focus and impact. Are you focused on concerns of self or is there priority to growing in relationship with God and others? Christmas ultimately is about the celebration of God’s gift of a reconciled relationship. It is all about God being accessible. It is about God demonstrating his love and our reflecting it by sharing what we have received with others.

Each day is a day where ones focus is needs to be examined. Are we living in such a way to connect and impact others? Are we growing in relationships? Do we take in consideration all of past, present, and future in our day to day existence? Such examinations and more are worthwhile for the choices we make now impact what is ahead and lead to “keeping each day well.” For each of us need to daily keep the Christmas focus on God with us with the result of engaged loving of God and others. Doing such results in moving beyond “keeping Christmas well” and touches all.

Christmas Day Musing: Christmas Present- Moments of Reflected Love

Today’s thoughts focus on Christmas in the present; the here and now of the celebration. It is the actively taking time to recognize God’s gift of coming to earth, the “God with us.” So, the day is spent celebrating love. We engage in loving others in varied ways as a reflection of God’s gift of love to us. It demonstrates the “we love because he first loved us.” This celebration of love is highly anticipated. How we demonstrate love towards others goes through moments of preparation, anticipation, and then celebration with fellowship. We identify how we are going to bless others in preparation. We love forward both to giving and receiving. Even children look forward to reactions to simple small gifts and parents and family then show love by showing appreciation for the simply things. We want to see others touched by our gifts of love. Then comes the actual moment of giving which comes with celebration and fellowship. We consider others and look forward to seeing how we touch them. Granted, many times we can swing and miss in the connection. Yet, no matter what there are special times in the present moment of Christmas. These moments can display God’s love, for He thought of each of us and gives a gift beyond measure if it that gift is received. We are able to enter in relationship to God rather than continue in the separation due to our own falters and twisted being apart from God’s ways has been repaired and reconciled if agree to accept the gift and let it change you. If not, then these moments are moments and that either gives you a piece of love or builds you up, or fall short. The moments that do touch and precious and each moment forward it is a part of you as it enters from the present into the past. So, this year, in the hustle, the bustle, and the interaction with loved ones. How were you touched with love? How did you touch others? Where did you get a taste of love? For even in the worst of times, the driest of years, God’s love and reflections of love are around. For always in the Christmas present, and every day, God shows His love. He shows by his own interactions, by the loving acts of others, and your loving actions. God takes whatever is now, uses it to draw you closer to Him. So embrace the moment and accept the love. In whatever the season: be it pleasure or pain, planting or harvest, drought or abundance, storm or calm, joy or sorrow. God will use whatever is, in this moment and His love is there to be found for always in Christmas present and beyond God is with us, there is peace on earth and goodwill to mankind.

Freedom House UPDATE: Progress and Praise but Urgent Funds Needed

    Well first the good news, the approval has been granted for 14 beds in the two facilities and the proper zoning to get funding. So the green-light has been given to get things off the ground for the Kingdom Pathways facilities known as freedom house; this was aided by a Property and Zoning Lawyer Mark Theiroff who offered assistance pro-bono. This has had a difficult start and long process of getting through approval and red tape. The owner and found Jim Michaud and his family have given everything to keep things going during the past year. They have nothing more to give. Let me highlight the intent of the program and ministry.

The facility are board and lodge residential facility providing Christ-centered treatment to homeless men who have substance abuse issues. Christian principles and building of personal mental health skills are part of the treatment approach. The program seeks to draw from churches in the area to connect with these individuals. It is something I have committed my time and resources to helping once underway and have prayerfully served on the board of directors during the past year. This outreach is long needed and brings together a variety of people. This facility serves the Frogtown area of Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Personally, I have known Jim Michaud and his family for many years and there is a reason God put us together for me to have a chance to help these individuals and staff. Jim has taken up and given all they have to the poor. They have no further resources to give of their own. Now they need assistance from others. It was harder to ask for money for them when going through the bureaucratic red tape. So now is a critical and awesome time. The red-tape is finished and now resources are needed. I will share the breakdown of what is needed but the amount of resources needed for January and February is $17,500. Please prayerfully seek God about what you might be able to give to this ministry. Consider even having Jim Michaud come speak to your church in MN about this opportunity. Also please pass this on to other people or print it off and provide it to them.

Here is the breakdown of the $17,500 provided by Executive Director, Jim Michaud:

One Time Expenses:

* Board and Lodge License Fees: $1,450

* Commercial Dishwasher Purchase and Install: $4000

* Commercial Sink Purchase and Install: $1000

* General and Professional Liability Insurance Down Payment: $700

 

Monthly Expenses: (Need Help with January and February)

* 426 Oxford Mortgage: $2,200

* 1038 Aurora Mortgage: $1,400

* Debt Payments: $1,100

* Household Insurance for both properties: $240

* Gas and Electric for both properties: $925

* Phones and Faxs: $240

* Trash for both properties: $120

* Water for both properties: $260

* Comcast for both properties: $229

* General and Professional Liability Insurance: $150

PLEASE, help us with these interim costs. Feel free to send this to any and all you feel led to send this to. We NEED your help. All payments will be tax deductable, reported to, and reviewed by the Freedom

House managing board shown on the website. Donations can be made on-line at http://www.KingdomPathways.org, or sent to Kingdom Pathways, PO Box 4125, St. Paul, MN 55104.

 

You can contact the ministry owner at:

Rev. Jim Michaud

Exec. Director, Kingdom Pathways, 501(c)(3)

http://www.KingdomPathways.org

Ph: 651-387-8393

Fax: 763-862-5336

 

Thanks for your consideration. Feel free to contact me if have any questions or as feel led.