Musing on Remembrance

Today is a day marked of remembrance of a fateful day when two towers fell in New York city. On this day the memories of the darkness and the evil on man can inflict on another are prime. Remembrance is importance. This blog is not going to reflect on any aspects of that fateful day but rather discuss the ongoing importance of the act of remembrance. It is some God directs us to do and is important to any level of moving ahead and growing. Often we want to forget dark and painful things. Yet, there are important things to bring to attention, primarily the ways God moved.

God directed others over and over to remember. First of all to remember Him and His promises as we can often forget. We can become dull of mind and caught up in varied aspects of life and we can forget. God knows our tendency to forget. He directed Israel on several occasions to set up memorials and altars to remember what God has done. He established festivals in Israel such as Passover that focus on remembering what God has done. These things can be easily forget or even set aside off in some dusty corner of our lives and mind. We need to remember. There is restoration and healing in healthy remembrance. Any healthy remembrance is focused on what God did, is doing, and has promised to do. So take time, reflect and consider what God has done, is doing, and has promised. Look back on that fateful day eleven years ago and look at how God dealt with you then, where are you know, and where are you going. As you remember let God move in your heart and deal with whatever needs to be dealt with and surrender whatever comes to light to him. And when you do, when you remember, then praise God, for whatever has been gives chance for God to reveal Himself and each memory is an opportunity to give God praise and glory. Even in the darkest of memories and time.

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Christmas Eve Musing: On Christmas Past- Memories & Honor with Joy & Sorrow

Once upon a time a man wrote a story where a person looked at impact of Christmas past, present, a future to the point it changed his life and led to repentance. It is a story that captured the hearts and minds of many. In praying about what to write this season the focus on Christmas past, present, and future is what developed in my mind. See this Holiday; these days have become a very important day for the Church as a whole. Like a certain character in a book if each of us takes time to reflect on the past, present, and future elements of Christmas there will be impact that can lead to change.

Christmas it is a day that is meant to be a celebration and remembrance. It is a season that reminds us and focuses on what God has done and given in the gift of the Incarnation. A reflecting when God came to earth with a plan to reconcile all willing to receive to him, bringing peace on earth, goodwill toward men. Christmas as we know it today developed over time and a variety of stories and actions that have become part and parcel of the day. Now it is noteworthy, that God did not initiate this holiday itself. This celebration does not actually fall on the exact date of Jesus birth. Rather, it has become simply a day set aside where the focus is on what God has done. It is a day to think, learn, and look back on Jesus being born, coming to earth with His mission. It is a day in which Thanksgiving and Honor is given to God almighty. God’s act of love is remembered and acts of love are demonstrated to others. Those acts then create more memories and traditions that ultimately serve to Honor God.

Each family has traditions. Some remain consistent over time. Some fade as life changes. The traditions develop around memories of the ways love was demonstrated. In general we repeat the things that brought present memories to us, so that those we love can have a similar experience to our own. We care and give because we love. Sure, not all that has occurred on this Holiday is pleasant, pleasurable, or joyful. Sometimes there are hard and difficult times. Traditions end. Times change. Death and suffering take their toll. Yet, there are the memories formed and memories created. Even the hard times have moments of significant meaning for each individual. For God is always at work demonstrating His love, showing that He is now accessible and with us, because of the gift He gave of Himself that this Holiday commemorates and gives honor. And how we have been impacted by God and others has lasting impact. Otherwise none of us would have traditions. What we do we do because of what we have received for we act based on what we have received, hoping others receive similar.

Now while we have these traditions that touch us, ultimately each of us has our own personal memories. For ultimately any looking at the past is very personal. We are able to look at the joys and pains; the elation and grief. For in this world there is always good mixed with bad. Even the celebration of Christmas demonstrates that fact for we live with Christ-center thoughts and traditions and the other stuff. Good and bad. Those we love express the love, but they fall short. They may give what they can with good intention or be focused on self; or more often a combination of both. Now here is something that is special. This Holiday focuses on God loving and giving a gift unlike any other. God gave the only good and perfect gift: a gift of both Joy and Sorrow for God came to be with us, be among us to suffer greatly so that we may be reconciled to Him and enter relationship with our Creator. Now just as God’s perfect gift bring mixed emotions. So do our experiences and memories. We are touched in many ways with good and bad; love and pain. Each of our lives and stories are different. Each person has a unique Christmas past; ways that you have been impacted by others. Ways gifts have built you up. Ways actions have results in fears, defenses, and barriers. We all have them.

Initially when started writing this story the though was to perhaps share a memory of joy, disappointment, and even sorrow. Ask me in person and will gladly share stories. This article though is really to encourage personal reflection. Embrace the pleasant and painful memories. Embrace both the Joy and Sorrow and let each impact how you interact with others in this time and season. Identify, recognize, and remember what has gone on and see where God is working. Then give God glory and honor in your actions. Take time this season to grow in relationship to God and others as you remember your Christmas Past for whatever it is, look and you will find God’s love reflected, in both the best and the worst. And as you enter those memories and your Christmas past let “Hosanna’s” spring forth and the refrain of the Angels take root “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, and good will to men.”

Personal Musing: 9-11-2001 to 9-11-2011: Thoughts on ten years of change and choices

Today, 9/11/2011 is the ten-year anniversary of the collapse of the twin towers after airplanes ran into them. Tributes, memories, and stories have been playing on television on varied stations. It is also a time where can reflect on where at on that day emotionally and where are today. God showed both the illusion of perceived peace of the world as well as His sovereignty. Each person in the United States had to face how he or she perceived safety and some took time to examine relationship with God. God also showed that pride does come before a fall. People thought nothing could ever happen; pride was strong. Then towers fell. Things have changed. Ten years have brought a world more insecurity. There have been wars, financial struggles, and everything shaken. There were cries for change and disillusionment. In addition, whether we like it or not, change happened. Ten years ago the world is not the same as it was, this country and the world is a far different place than it was ten years ago.

For me and my wife, we had been married for just over a year. There were lots of hopes and dreams as we were working on growing together and getting started. It was a strange thing waking up and then learning what happened on the internet. The action shattered the perception of “safety” and awareness of pervading darkness was strong, particularly for my wife. Fears were pervasive. In the midst of that, as we sought God, He gave us a lesson and a promise. The story is found at this previous article https://peacebringer7.wordpress.com/2009/09/13/reflections-8-years-after-9-11-2001/. Quickly the lesson was twofold. People are bound in darkness, listening to lies and need the truth. The second is that God is aware of the encroaching darkness and is always simply a request away. He will provide safety in the darkest times if one turns to Him in surrender and calls on Him. The promise was personal to the desires of me and my wife with the promise of two children.

Looking back ten years, the promise still stands awaiting fulfillment. In the past ten years, the calling on God in need at times missed; succumbing to the darkness happens easily. Yet, we have changed and grown. We live each day aware of the fragility of this life. The things that have transpired have worked in our lives to shape and change us. We both have areas of needed growth and moving toward overcoming the own things that bind us. We are free in Jesus but He has us work out the healing and growth. It is easy to lose focus and at times, we certainly have; yet God brings us reminders, draws us back, and urges forward on His path. We know that as we walk through life in this dark world there is joy and pain. We can choose to focus on self, and on pain, or walk the path God sets before us. When we follow God’s way, ultimately there is fruit. When we go our own way, we struggle. It is easy to fall into the path of pride. It is easy to embrace unbelief. It is easy to be selfish. Honestly, there have been moments of each. There also was been moments of great change and repentance. Today, we face a challenge to move forward on God’s path. A challenge to trust in God and move forward on the path with what God puts before us. A challenge to spend more time calling on him and be filled with the light of His love. Each day needs to be a day to move forward. He will renew and uplift but there needs to be responsible forward movement while depending on Him. The choice is ours as it has been each day since that fateful day. Either shrink back and be overwhelmed in the encroaching darkness, or to walk in faith taking the steps as God leads. And these choices are not just for me and my wife but for each us. For tomorrow everything can change in a moment.

Every day each of us need to remember the He who promised is faithful. We live in days of encroaching darkness. Things will continue to change. A time is coming when right is called wrong and wrong right, even more than what is in evidence today. People will lose sight of God’s path and walk their own. People will embrace promises of safety that will crash. Some people will embrace illusion and lies. Other will see and speak truth. As much as things have changed, more change is to come. People will either embrace the darkness of find God’s light. As for me and my household, we are seeking and serving the Lord and His way. Take time and reflect where you have been, where you are, and where going. Are you seeking God or seeking self. Walking in God’s light, or lost in the dark. So here is the challenge, seek, examine, and pray. Ask God to show you where may be bound and what you need to turn over to Him. Seek him and move forward in your relationship with God and touching those in the world around you. Each day is a new day and new choice. Move forward or shrink back. Faith or fear. God’s light or chains of darkness. Truth or lies. God’s love or despair. Resistance or surrender. Self-determined path or God’s way. What do you choose?

 

In Remembrance: Sharing of Memories related to Janie Blake

My thoughts have been many since Janie Blake started her new day and left us behind. It has been hard to focus and write anything, yet there is much to write and process. It is though time to start putting down words that are on my heart. The best place to start is sharing a bit of the impact that Janie Blake had on my life and in the life of others. Yet, for me the sharing of the memories that is the story of Janie Blake and how she touched my life is not easy. See, Janie Blake in my life from the start is a mix of pain and hurt along with blessing and healing. The two really go hand in hand and are hard to separate. The elements of pain are not appropriate to write about as there are other people involved and they need to be considered and honored. So, my sharing of memories publicly is limited. However, the limit is on me being able to share the fact that God did use her in people’s lives to build them up and help them grow in love and truth by sharing love and truth.

Ultimately, the core of my relationship with Janie Blake can be summed up as a mutual sharing of love and truth. No matter what was going on with each of us being who we are, there was love and truth in operation. And honestly, most of the time, most of the memories are just us being who we are, together. This was whether sharing meals, playing games, or just having conversation. There are stark differences in our personality despite sharing that core of interacting in truth and love. Her personality was more active. She would find a way to be involved. She had to be part of the “action.” If there was something going on, rest assured Janie wanted to be a part of it. Now, my personality is one that is more observant, watchful. I want to be where action is but will often be at the edge, watching what is going on, always looking to grow and understand. Recently saw a picture from during my sophomore year on college, it was me as always on the edge, watching & observing. My nature is to meet people where they are and come along side.

Janie’s nature is that of going after someone and pulls them in. It is because of Janie that have met and cared for several people that otherwise would not have. It is even in her active pursuit that the healing, blessing, and growth that occurred in time, happened. She actively pursued with love and grace. Part of the healing pertains to my dear wife. We had a period where she ran from God in response to deep pain and disappointment. One related to a young man dying of brain cancer, the other a disappointment over a hope for job situation. Janie loved her, spoke truth, and pursued her with not knowing anything more than my wife was hurting and angry. She provided an accurate reflection of God’s pursuit, for ultimately God pursued my wife through Janie and others until she returned back to God. Janie was consistent in her pursuit and building up of others, reaching out with love and truth. She was faithful to God’s call on her life and produced much fruit. She lived who she was before God and man. She let her light shine in her actions and deeds and brought Glory to God the Father.

I hope folks take the time to share memories of Janie there are many places to do so. There is the comments section here on this blog article. There is here Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/profile.php?id=828554733. There is my father’s Facebook page as well: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/profile.php?id=1128826601. There is also Janie Blake’s caring bridge site: http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/janieblake. There is also the option to share thoughts at the online obituary at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/startribune/obituary.aspx?page=lifestory&pid=147504299. You also may have own resources, but please do share. I may add folks thoughts to comment sections as run across, so please subscribe to the comments in this article. I know there are many folks who have prayed for Janie and did not know her, by sharing others can know and the harvest and impact will continue.

Musings on the pain of separation and relationship to feast of trumpets (Rosh Hashanah)

Well this last Saturday was Rosh Hashanah. If you haven’t read last years article on the subject I hope you take the time to do so, it focused on the alarm and awakening aspect of the first trumpet. Now while I have some other thoughts related to Rosh Hashanah for another article I want to first attend to thoughts related to my experience which happened to fall on Rosh Hshanah.  The day for me was a traveling day.  Me and the wife were in the midst of traveling to visit family in Brazil.  In this process we needed to leave our little dog, Bella, behind.

Now we left her in good hands with my mother. She will be treated more like a dog and will have the company of my mom’s dog.  Yet, leaving her behind was very difficult.  As we left her friday night, the sadness was great.  The worst part was when we left and she followed us right to the door expecting to leave with us and having to see her watch us leave not understanding what was going on. My mother reported that whole first night she kept looking for us to see if we were returning.  She has now settle into the routine of that house but clearly she missed us.  Now, me and the wife feel this way over our little dog. I cannot yet imagine what it is like to be separated from a child you love. 

Thoughts that came to my mind during this time centered on how much pain God experiences over separation from us. There are two thoughts related to this.  First of all is the separation of sin.  The choosing to turn from God that goes back to Eden had to be devastating for God. God was enjoying his fellowship with his creation and then choices were made that brought on lasting separation.  This separation is so severe that God refers to it as death.  God certainly felt an intense amount of grief over that choice.  In the same way each time we go our own way, chase after whatever idol seems to satisfy, God is in great pain. He wants be with us.  He wants to be with us so much that he has taken whatever means necessary to reconcile the relationship.  He pursues connection and for each rejection, He has great pain.  The thought of such pain of separation draws me to examine myself and turn from that which separates me from the love of God. It is important to note, that once reconciled with God, there is nothing that we do that brings back that separation of sin. God has made it so that pain does not have to be experienced again.  Nothing will ever separate us from his love again.

The second thought the pain of separation brings to mind is about the joy of reuniting.  During this trip we are going to spend time with the wife’s family. Several of them we haven’t seen in five years.  When we landed the family members that were present were literally jumping with joy.  It is of great joy to be reunited with those you love after separation.  The same is true with God’s relationship with us.  There will be nothing of greater joy than when Jesus is able to end the separation and return to be with us.  The first trumpet is a call that says the time is truly near and Jesus is coming soon.  Now regardless of end times theology one subscribes, the fact is the first trumpet signals the soon and coming return of  Jesus. It is a time of exceeding joy.  The time of the pain of separation is over, and the joy of fellowship returning.  

Another thought that crosses my mind is that when there is separation we always have something to look back on with memory. For our dog we left something behind with our scents on it.  We have pictures, videos, and our memories to ease the times of separation from those we love.  God did not leave us without means of relationship.  He left us two things.  The Bible and the Holy Spirit.  The bible gives us God’s words and gives us pictures, memories and directions on how to live until his return.  Yet, he did not just leave us with his Word but also has indwelt us. While Jesus has left, we do have the Holy Spirit dwelling within.  God is truly with us.  For me it may seem like interacting with God on similar levels to communicating by phone or internet.   We have that direct connection but yet it is not quite the same as full physical contact with another body.  Yet, God even left us a third piece to deal with that separation.  We are the body of Christ. When we interact with one another, we  are able to step into the void of seperation. We reflect and demonstrate pieces of God’s love. 

So for each Christian, we eagerly await the soon and coming return of Jesus.  We long to hear that first trumpet blast that says the time is rapidly approaching.  God left us the Bible, the Holy Spirit, and each other to help us in this time of separation. But the time is soon coming when we will no longer be longing for the return of Jesus and experience the joy of His return.

Life reflections: On memories

 This weekend was a reflective one. The reflecting occured initially while on a boat with my Dad on Lake Minnetonka.  During the time places of memory were passed by. One was the property that once held my Grandparent’s home. They really were blessed to live of the lake, because they couldn’t do so today. Today all the houses are big. Some are moderate sized, like the house where my early childhood was spent.  There are good and bad memories of both. 

     Also went by the city of Excelsior, Minnesota  where there used to be an amusement part in the early 1970’s.  I used to pass out tracks, invite people to a smelt fry, and other ways of outreach.  There was an outreach house there, rented by the Church and overseen by a man by the name of George Gospel, I remember we called him brother George.  I don’t recall many details, but the memories I have are good.

    In thinking about memories, it is interesting to think how a child who had no fear in approaching others, who approached others without second thought progressed to the man I am today.  Perhaps coming to Jesus like a little child is more then just simple faith, but also a fearlessness, and unfettered approach. 

     Thing is as we go on life there are wounds created. I thought of some past wounds as well. Wounds from my family, wounds from other children as I grew up.  We all have wounds.  The wounds I thought about I thought had been healed, but perhaps still are parts open.  Dealing with past wounds is never easy. It is hard to let go and forgive.  However, I have seen the ravage holding on to wounds and anger and bitterness do to a person.  Holding on to wounds can lead to bitterness and rage, to sitting by passively, to not stepping out and doing all.  Sometimes fresh wounds open up parts of old wounds that hadn’t fully healed.  Whatever is open, if we hold on to it damage is done psychologically and spiritually. It also impacts our relationships and ability to relate.

    Here is a good thing though, as long as we surrender to God, and move and act as He does, he will be faithful to heal those wounds. It is often neither fast or pretty, but God heals.  God even moves in our lives to move us toward healing, even when we are far away. The dark points of my life, God was always there calling me back.  An old paster used to say, “God sends his sheepdogs after you when you stray off the path.”  I find this to be true.  Here is the amazing thing about God.  God being beyond time knows all aspects of our lives.  He knows all of the past, present, and future. He is not bound by the limits of time.  And he meets with us in the moment and while meeting with us in this moment, he meets with us at all moments. 

     Now I don’t have clear scripture to back this up, I do know that God is I AM, at all tenses. Somewhere I read that YWHW in Hebrew contains a conglomeration of all tenses of I AM in Hebrew.  I also know God created time.  There are some that believe that God is not really omniscient, omnipresent, or any of the other omnis. I find that it is very possible for God to be some because He transcends our understanding.  So in my memories, good and bad, the verse that stands to mind right now is: Romans 8:28 (NIV): And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

    So take some time, reflect on your memories good or bad. Ask God to show you what he wants you to know or steps he wants you to take regarding your memories.  Reflect on any lessons learned from the past, examine how it impacts you today and even how it impacts your thoughts about the future.  Above all, submit all of time to Him.  The past, the present, the future. Good memories, bad memories, and even lost memories are best laid at His throne. A step to true peace is found in this, surrendering all of our time on this earth to Him.