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.

Holy Week Musings: Palm Sunday- Evaluate Expectations

Today, 4/1/2012, is celebrated as Palm Sunday. It is the day Jesus made is triumphal entry into Jerusalem on a colt and people laid palm fronds before Him proclaims Hosanna. Jesus came to Jerusalem for Passover and excitement was buzzing. He had raised Lazarus from dead and taught from the Mount of Olive. People were excited about what Jesus was about to do. They eagerly expected that the tyranny of Rome would be shaken off and that Jesus would take his place on David’s throne to rule as Messiah. On that day, many years ago, Jesus entered Jerusalem in the way that scripture prophesied Messiah would enter Jerusalem. The buzz that day had to be immense and it culminated in a huge spontaneous celebration. Palm Sunday was in essence really the first flash mob, only there was no planning involved, it just happened. People were excited. God was about to change everything and life would soon be better for all. Unfortunately, they missed the reality. Yes, God was about to change everything, just not in a way that matched expectations. Rather, God moved in a greater way that was beyond improving our life now, but rather making a way for all to be made right, fully. For Jesus did not lead a revolution or take the throne. He did not destroy Rome and life was not going to be any different. Now certainly the throngs and cries of the people had to bring temptation to invoke the plan of doing whatever to make life best for now. He could have taken the throne and undid of Rome but that would have missed the point of undoing what had been done. Adam had put all of creation under a curse of sin by one action. Jesus by one action made the way of restoration and redemption. He made it possible for man to be in direct relationship with God. He suffered greatly to bring freedom.

People expected and wanted one thing but God had something else in mind. Today, often times we are not any different than the Palm Sunday crowd. We want God to make our life best in the moment. We are focused in what God is doing for me know. We get upset if God doesn’t somehow bring circumstance to our liking. Personally, I have had my own expectations shattered at times and it did lead to periods of great anger and sin. God didn’t do things the way I thought He should. See our expectations are dangerous things and are usually wrong. Our expectations are based on our view of the world and what we think is best in the moment. Our expectations come out of our selfishness. Life doesn’t play out in accordance with what we think is “our best life now.” Things do not work out in accordance with what we want. And if we get what we want, the how we get there is usually not the way or path chosen on getting there. The story that plays out in life is never what we expect and always filled with surprises. There are many reasons for the many twists and turns of life that run contrary to even the most honorable of expectations.

So does that mean we should not have expectations? No, but we need to be constantly evaluating our expectations and desires. We need to continually be submitting whatever we expect or want before God. We need to exam self and the motives behind what we expect. We need to continually pursue God and his truth and change our own perspective to line up with His perspective. We need to move beyond the momentary and temporary and be open to whatever greater has in store. Ultimately, God meets our wants, desires, and expectations. When God does act, He acts in ways that far exceed whatever we could hope or imagine. Just like God’s plan of redemption truly met the needs of all who are willing to accept it. God had a better way. This remains true to this day. So, take time to examine where you are at, what you expect of God, what you expect with others, and what you expect of self. Examine all in light of scripture and ask God to direct paths and steps, even if things to do not go the way you expect. For Gods ways always exceeds expectations, even if we do not grasp it.

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.

Late Night Musing Related to Care and Concern for Bill and Janie Blake

Well tonight I am writing because I know not what else to do.  I was set to head to bed to sleep and plugged my phone in to charge when saw a text from my father. The text indicated Janie Blake had less energy today and that to him it seemed that the Janie that we have all come to love is slowly slipping away. Turning to God in prayer with no real words all I sense is pain. It hurts.  Questions fill my mind as my heart reels with the pain.  What is occurring that brings this point forward? Is this a point to the death? Is that what this pain is?  Does God still hold her with life left. When the battle was engaged a few years back leading to her appearing cancer fear over a year ago Janie reported receiving a promise or word that it was not to death so did something change?  I do not have an answer to the question. Only the response of pain.  So here I sit and write. I did dig out notes and an article someone sent me in the mail, looking to see if God had an answer for me. The notes discuss the nature of cancer. Cancer being a twisting of natural DNA so that they no longer are fulfilling their God given roles and have gone rogue or independent. The articles go on to discuss the nature of transcription errors and the God design of apoptosis. This is what most cells do when damaged. Cancer are cells that have failed to do so, pretend to be something they are not, take over, and steal nutrients.  Now there are nutrients that can possibly aid and help defeat cancer such as Tumeric, Green Tea, elderberry, ellagic acid, skullcap, Vitamins D3 and A, and Broccoli with “Indole 3-Carbinol.”  Now I don’t know what nutrients Janie is taking. I know she is aware of tumeric.  I know that whether she takes the nutrients or not whether she lives or dies is in God’s hands. Yet, there may be things that need to occur to allow God to move.  Actually, there is one word that comes to me in the midst of all the pain and that is surrender.  Of course surrender to their proper place and role is what cancer cells do not do. I don’t know what that word means to Dad and Janie.  All I know is God calls each of us to surrender, of walking in accordance with God’s will and not walking in accordance with our own.  I do not know God’s will here.  I know that God will keep his promise, but we always need to submit or like cancer we are going rogue and wild.  Yet God has given us this verse in Romans 8:13 (ESV) For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. Now I do not know if that is a specific word but felt led to Romans 8 and that verse stood out to me given the nature of cancer and the way cancer will be undone through the activation of apoptosis.  So even taking the proper nutrients, if done in flesh will be of no avail. This again leads to the importance of surrender to God. And ultimately the battle belongs to the Lord. If Janie is to live or die at this time it is in God’s hands. She is currently described as slipping away and it is difficult to see beyond the now. But God is in sole control and always as Paul wrote, “To live is Christ, to die is gain.”   All of us are to walk in surrender to Him.  Like the cells in our body we are all exposed to things that damage us daily.  Each of us in a moment can suffer great illness or injury.  We need to walk in surrender to the King of Kings no matter what the cause.  If we walk in surrender to God and equipping ourselves with His armour, the battle is His, and His alone. We just need to walk in obedience in truth and love even when it appears that our hopes and dreams and desires are shattered. Maybe they were only our own flesh to begin with and God has something else in store. Maybe it is all the process of being sanctified and refined in trials of this life.  I don’t know, but I know God is with us every step of the way. God feels our pain. The empathy and overwhelming sadness I feel is felt in whole by God.  As my most recent musing discusses in part, God’s empathy is a reason he cannot tolerate sin, for it hurts him, and the closer He is to sin the more the pain.  Some other articles make similar points Does God Feel our Pain and Empathy and New Testament.   Well I think I am done rambling but hopefully there are thoughts here that build up and encourage.  Perhaps now God will allow sleep. For right now the path my Dad and Janie on is tough and filled with pain. Yet, in Jesus and Him alone is life. In Him alone through the cross is any healing. It is His stripes and His suffering that will make all things right it is just a matter of when, but all who are in His Kingdom are in the process.  In Him alone is life, and the life is everlasting and not of this world.   So to close this off these are the words that come to my mind:  Verily, verily all life is in the Son, the walking embodiment of God’s divine empathy. The great physician.  The seal of that life is the Holy Spirit, the great comforter, the counselor, the one who leads us to His restoration.  Walk in His ways, not our ways.  Follow His steps.  He alone makes the twisted straight. His word gives light to the path through the darkness. Whatever is, is!  For all that is comes from God the Father who we can approach by the gift of Jesus our Messiah and we are guided to the the right way and empowered to walk in it by the Holy Spirit.  So submit therefore to the Godhead for there is no other way.  AMEN!

Musings on the Incarnation: God’s Divine Empathy

Lately God has brought to my mind a growing awareness of the depth of God’s empathy. Perhaps it is related to the gifts of empathy he has given me and the ongoing awareness of deepening levels of pain. As thinking about empathy and God in relation to this season where we celebrate the Incarnation, of God stepping down and taking on flesh, being God with us it cross my mind that the Incarnation really is a visible demonstration of God’s empathy. God became flesh, experienced life in a world twisted by sin and filled with pain and suffering. Jesus ultimately suffered greatly, dying a gruesome death in order to set us free and opening the door for God to be truly with us.  Emmanuel, God with us is all about divine empathy.

Divine empathy is a difficult concept to fully grasp for often times we fail to even grasp simple human empathy.  We have difficulty at times putting ourselves in the place of others.  Yet, God is constantly aware fully of others.  He knows our depth.  God daily is aware of the pain of all.  He knew from the moment of the first choice to go against His will the depth of pain, the twists it caused.  God is in constant awareness of the whole of pain. He is constantly filled with empathy. Then He took that empathy, came to earth and entered into the physical reality of the fallen and twisted world.  He moved beyond the emotional awareness to the physical experience. He does not just know of the pain, does not just feel the pain, but experienced the depth of the pain.  God’s awareness of the pain of sin, God’s empathy, really helps us understand even God’s wrath and actions that cause many to suggest wrath in inconsistent with love. Well if one begins to understand divine empathy the reason for divine justice and wrath is clear.  God is not capricious in His actions, there is purpose and that purpose pertains to the pain and twists caused being outside God’s will, plan, and order. 

Yet, even greater than understanding God’s wrath, is if we understand part of God’s character as divine empathy then we understand better the relational nature of the Holy God.  Personally, one of my struggles with God is truly entering and engaging God relationally.  God often has felt distant and far off.  Now there are certainly experiences in my life that helped shape that faulty perception but really grasping God as one who embodies true and pure empathy lets me grasp deeper the love and know that God is far beyond one that is distant.  He is always aware of every ounce of my pain and knows full well the pain of my own choices.  Each and every self-centered action is aware of.  In fact, God’s empathy stretches beyond humanity to the whole of Creation. He knows how it was twisted. He knows the pain of each living creature.  Divine empathy is beyond understanding.  And grasping God as divinely empathetic gives a grasp of His love and awakens me that there is not a moment, not a speck that God does not know and understand.  He knows my pains, my hurts, my pains, my fears intimately not just at the “awareness” left but also at experiential and felt level. 

Takes some time during this season of celebrating the incarnation and God’s carrying out His plan of salvation. His plan displayed divine empathy and enables God with us, enable God in us, and makes it so we can approach God, as no longer any barrier for the sin and pain and twist of actions outside of God’s will is more than He could bear in His Holy empathy for our sins cause God great pain.   God’s love and empathy and immeasurable, ever enduring.  Praise the Most Holy One who is beyond our ability to grasp, for who can measure the love of immeasurable empathy that bore all so that we may be made right.  Hallelujah!

News Commentary: St. Elmo’s Friedrich house doomed to destruction

In Today’s Pioneer Press there is an article about a house that seems doomed to destruction and the dreams of one Linda Hardy. The home is a historic farm home from Lake Elmo.  Linda and her husband David saved the home from destruction in 2006 with a promise of restoring the home.  Then David became sick and died and Linda is left with the home and the dream.  However, she is not able to deliver on the promise.  Restoring the home is beyond both her ability and means.  She would need someone else to intervene and the cost is beyond what she can pay.  She is holding on to the dream and stated, “”If they want to fine me or something, OK. But if I miss a deadline, I am going to lose my house and belongings?” and “I am 62. My husband is dead. I can’t get a job. There will be no comeback for me.”  The fact is her husband died, and what may once have been feasible is not. In order to keep her dream alive she needs the intervention of someone else to do the work and even at a reverse mortgage will have a debt far too large for a 62 year-old woman with limited income to maintain.  In this story, there are lessons for each of us.

Lesson One:  Dealing with the Past. 

            This lesson is about the farmhouse itself. A building holds memories to the town of Lake Elmo. There area has some emotional attachment to the building. Yet, it is just a building that has far outlived its usefulness.  It is admirable that the Hardy family wanted to take on the challenge of restoring the old house.  Turning something old and damage into something new is a challenge that takes a lot of commitment, time, and resources.  Perhaps if David had not gotten sick and lived they would have been able to accomplish it but now the house becomes a burden. It is now about something to which one person is holding. It is one really large burden that has become an object one person is holding onto in her grief.  If the community as a whole truly valued the building as an historic landmark, it would not depend on the limits of one family to restore. The community could work to bring it to restoration. Instead, it is a rather large piece of the past that needs to be let go of. Often in our own lives, we can old onto remnants of the past.  We can even take on the burdens of others, seeking to display some good.  Sometimes though the past is something that needs to be let go of and let be a memory to look back on.  Trying to hold on to something that is best let go will just bring a burden that is unbearable.

Lesson two: Own dreams often pursued at expense of others.

            Too often in this world we focus on self.  We identify a want, a need, a dream and it is our sole focus.  We fail to take into account others.  We hold on to what we value most.  This is seen in this story as well on multiple levels.  We have an individual holding onto a dream and not considering those around her. Her expectation is they should understand and points to her attempts to preserve something that is a reported landmark. The neighbors and Lake Elmo community on the other hand are exhibiting their self-focus as well. Complaints about how one persons dream and project interfere with their own lives, dreams, and desires. We have a widow; holding on to a dream and project beyond her own ability and no one has offered to help. Sure there are contractors who are willing to get paid, if allowed, all ultimately at the exploitation of this widow. Yet, no one has offered to set in to aid the widow. She will lose the dream, lose the house, and lose the little she did hold onto and will be destitute and alone. Not one soul has come to her aide.  ABC Extreme Makeover is not coming to help.  Neighbors are caught in their own world and dreams that the struggle of a widow and her dreams are simply a nuisance. Fact is no one in the community really cares and Linda Hardy is left holding onto something that for her is just simply beyond. Apparently, some people have thought it would helpful to provide items like a shower and just dump it their, basically getting rid of their own baggage and turning it over to someone already over-burdened.

Lesson Three: The cost of being saved from destruction is beyond own abilities.

            This story really points to me that saving anything from destruction comes at a great price. Here a home is in need of restoration and salvage.  However, it is beyond the scope and ability of one person to do it.  Linda Hardy can put in all she has and more and still she will fall short.  There is a need for someone to step in and do what is beyond her help.  Now perhaps it can be saved at a dept that Linda Hardy cannot repay.  It is rather a hopeless situation. The picture though is one that rings true for each of us.  Each of us ultimately are like the farmhouse.  We are in great disrepair due to our own sinfulness.  The best work we put into restoring self will fall short.  Any attempt to restore self by works is akin to Linda painting the house “as far as she can reach.”  Trouble is our reach will always come up short.  For each of us there is needed intervention for the cost of restoration and transformation is beyond our own limits. 

We need the help of others, but ultimately the damage done by self is so great that even those we know trying to help can only touch the surface.  For true change and true restoration their needs to be an ABC Extreme Makeover type event, only one far more lasting.  Extreme Makeover comes in, guts a home, and rebuilds a bigger and better home. Yet, the families are left to deal with cost, have greater expense, and can still lose their home.  The Extreme Makeover needed is far more intensive and far more reaching.
We all need a Savior, a redeemer. Someone that can change us wholly and take on all the debt associated with change.  There is an answer for each person, and the answer is Jesus. He paid the price and He alone can restore us and save us from destruction.  He alone can pay the debt we cannot pay.  He has paid the price, all each person needs to do is accept the price and remain in the submitted relationship.  The choice is up to each person but too many will try to take on the impossible task and depend on own efforts with like the house, ultimate destruction being the final destination.

Haiti Days of Prayer and Repentance

 Received this via Andrew Strom’s email list. 

AMAZING MIRACLE in HAITI

Jerry Miel is a radio engineer who served as a
missionary in Haiti with World Team mission when we lived there.
He worked with the Christian station, Radio Lumiere (Radio Light).
He has gone back to Haiti to help in the aftermath of the earthquake
and makes these important observations. — Boxley

AN INCREDIBLE DAY in the HISTORY OF HAITI
-by Jerry Miel (Feb 17). (actually per this blog article: http://haitiinhishands.blogspot.com/2010/02/incredible-day-in-history-of-haiti.html the article was written on February 12th.)

I think that I will remember this day as one of the most significant
in my life, not because of what I did, but for it’s meaning…

Today was the one month anniversary of the great Haitian earthquake.

About 3 days ago the Haitian President announced that there
would be 3 days of holiday from work for the purpose of fasting
and prayer.  This is absolutely historic.  If you have ever been in
Haiti as a visitor or missionary, could you ever have imagined
such a pronouncement? Could you image such an announcement
from the U.S. President?  This morning I saw a young Haitian-
American woman, the leader of a work team, crying because the
Americans could not understand the incredible importance of this
day and wanted to go about business as usual. Remember, it was
only about 6 years ago that a former Haitian president called the
nation to come together to rededicate the nation to Satan.

This was not “a minute of silence for the deceased” or something
as equally insignificant.  Whatever the President might have
originally intended, this became a real commitment for the Haitian
people.  As I sit here this evening, I can hear the preaching coming
from a nearby church.  Services have been going on all day…

Let me tell you what I saw and felt today.

Peniel and I had planned an inspection trip up to the Artibonite
Valley today. Right or wrong, I don’t really know, but since it was
the only opportunity, we went ahead with the trip.  As we left the
guest house about 7:30 am, we were met by throngs of well
dressed people headed to various churches.  The sounds of
Christian music and worship filled the air everywhere.  The next
observation was that there was NO traffic. Port-au-Prince streets
are always clogged and overflowing with bumper to bumper traffic.
This morning there were only a few vehicles on the roads, a few
small buses (tap taps), some UN and military vehicles, and a few
private cars.  We had clear sailing through town.  The same was
true of foot traffic.  Usually the streets are clogged also with
people walking.  Today there were only a few and many of them
dressed for church.  The only place that there were traffic blocks
was in front of several churches where the congregations had
overflowed the buildings and the yards and had moved out into
the streets as well.

The next observation was that EVERYTHING was closed!  We
could not find even one business or gas station open.  There were
no intercity buses running.  Whereas the sidewalks are usually
overflowing with millions of street venders, we only saw a few here
and there.  The huge outdoor market near the wharf where
thousands work each day and is  spread out to cover most of the
street, was EMPTY.

Where were all the people?  They were in churches and makeshift
meeting sites. Every church (except a JW church) had services
going on, almost always overflowing into the streets.  Beside
broken down churches, services were taking place outside.  In
homeless camps, there were services.  Everywhere the nation was
gathered to worship and pray.  No, I did not see any voodoo,
Islamic, or Buddhist services.  This scene was repeated in every
town and hamlet that we passed during the day.

Tonight, Pastor Ignace, who is sharing the room with me, asked
this question: “Can people still say that Haiti is a voodoo country?”
What has been happening and is continuing to happen in Haiti did
not happen because of the earthquake. It has been happening
because the Haitian people know how to pray. This is a tremendous
outpouring of God’s power as the result of prayer.  Twenty years
ago I started praying for the Gospel to change the Haitian culture.
I think that I am seeing God do that work.

The only sadness that I feel today is for our nation.  While a nation that has long been under Satan’s domination is turning to God with total commitment, our nation, founded on Godly values has rejected God and rapidly trying to forget that his name even exists.  Let us pray for revival.

4-MIN VIDEO of HAITI DAYS of PRAYER-