“The Lord will save me, and we will play my music on stringed instruments all the days of our lives, at the house of the Lord.”
Isaiah 38:20 ESV
Oh lalee oh Lalee, oh ukulele
Fear not the moth or rust!
Instead, Sit still in quiet trust.
Oh lalee oh lalee oh ukelalee
Play softly loud your wooden frame.
Tune strings of Grace to Jesus name.
My master and friend once touched my strings
He loved my sound , it made him sing
He kept me , he held me , he let my notes play
Til I was left in a closet when He was taken away
And silence sang this simple song :
Oh lalee oh Lalee, oh ukulele
Fear not the moth or rust
Instead Sit still in quiet trust
Oh lalee oh lalee oh ukelalee
Play softly loud your still wooden frame
Tune strings of Grace to Jesus name.
Sainted in wanting to play the Fathers tune
my Strings vibrated at sunrise but despaired still by noon.
No hand from above or below or between
Would lift this small frame to be heard or be seen
For only dry wood and dust and a small voice would say
Oh Lalee ,oh Lalee, oh ukulele
Fear not the moth or rust
Instead Sit still in quiet trust
Oh lalee oh lalee oh ukelalee
Play softly loud your still wooden frame
Tune strings of Grace to Jesus name.
but Suddenly sound was loud in the dark of night
When the door swung open and my frame felt light
A smaller hand than my masters but still tender and true
Lifted my neck and base past boxes clothes and shoe
She carried me happily as she softly sang
Ah lalee my Lord’s ukulele
I Fear not the moth or rust
Instead We will together play in quiet trust
Oh lalee oh lalee oh ukelalee
Play softly loud your live wooden frame
Lets Tune our strings to The Grace we have in Jesus name.
She then took me to the Father by the Spirits Hand.
And there we found a song in Jesus, not by law or command.
But, where instruments are perfect before His Radiant face.
And girls and ukuleles forever sing of songs only made by grace .
Note : dedicated to Destiny Wade. Destiny took the ukulele of her deceased uncle Geno, shook off the dust of death and despair ,and wrote a song . Her song was based on all she had learned in bible study on Galatians. This way of life is what we are all called to …In this way we are “instrumental “ in His Hand. Jesus has called life and beauty and song out of us ! It is our song back to Him from Him as it comes from Grace ! We are all His instruments ….but as always , though we hear the word , it takes a child to demonstrate truth. Thankyou little sister Destiny… Keep in His Freedom and Grace as you always look to His Face!
many years ago to set me free from addictions and distractions. But now ,He has given me a story to tell that has set me free from a fear filled and cold religion . The devil will always try to use addictions distractions and dry religion to keep us from the freedom and Perfect Love we have in Christ. Certainly we are more than dumb bunnies if we fall for his tactics !instead we must say …
It is written … if the Son set us free, we ARE free indeed.
“Where are your feet?” The sister asked her brother.
“They are … ugh.. stuck ” the boy replied with a grunt. twisting his hips back and forth in the sand. , his feet remained unseen beneath hard packed dirt.
the boy pleaded “ Sister help me. .cant you hear the coyotes howling. We gotta get outa here before dark ! before them dogs get us”
“I hear em, I hear em they are just howling “ the sister calmly replied sitting beside her brother in the dirt.
” great now what ? you want me to sleep in this cold sand and get eaten by dogs ” the boy asked “we’ve got to do something to get me unstuck! ”
“Chill brother “the girl said laying down beside him on top of the sand “ remember Phobia Phobia who became Faith Rabbit. . .”
“yesssss” the boy replied with another grunt and twist.
“ well once the Immortal Invisible one rescued him from the Cunning One, he lived with the Freedom Family.
“Great … wish I were there” the boy said sarcastically.
The girl continued ” well the family changed his name from “Faith Rabbit” to “Caleb cottontail. ” They called him “Caleb ” because he became just like Joshua’s two friends “Strong “and “Courageous”. And they all traveled many places with Joshua to tell other bunnies how they were set free.
Whereever the Shadow of the Immortal Invisible One was , they traveled . And ,if the shadow was not there , they would just ask their Father and he would the extend the Shadow to many new fields. The Father only would ask that they show White Pure Light everywhere they went. And that was easy becaouse they were all Cotton tails.
So Everywhere Caleb went you could see the light of his tail. It bounced through the field under the shadow of Perfect Love . It bounced and bounced bright and free though many fields . Caleb’s paws carried pictures, and flowers, and letters, and poems, and stories to tell about how Jesus, the Immortal Invisible One , sets bunnies free. Everything he made told of the story of the day the Perfect one, Jesus, came to destroy the works of the Cunning One, the Devil.
Caleb would bring these and many other things back into he freedom family where other cottontails were freely singing and waving flags to celebrate what The Immortal Invisible One had done for them. It was a beautiful time in the Freedom Family when they lived freely in the open field. There was no wall or fence, no varmint or rodent, to constrain them under the Shadow of Perfect Love .
And There was no need for the cottontails to fear anything. Fear had left the field. And while coyotes still howled
“and are still howling sister. .” the boy interrupted still twisting in the sand where he had buried himself
Continuing the girls voice thickened
“AND every fox tried to steal grapes…even then , these snarling critters could not come near the bunnies’s camp. They were always at a distance. In fact, many a supper, the cottontails gathered remembering Perfect Love’s last supper with them….and”
The girl lowered her voice ” right then , you could see only the eyes of the canines in the field glaring at them . ”
” and their tongues licking their lips to eat them ” the boy said
” Oh yes . . and hear howling and snarling! ” she intensified and then paused
. . . .but listen ,Boy , it was all put to dead silence as the aroma , that sweet sweet smell of the Last Supper filled the air.”
The girl closed her eyes.
“It’s that it ? “The boy asked
“It should be ” the girl replied but…she continued
BUT …one day a Fox. . a real fox came to dinner dressed as a bunny. And this Fox told the cottontails that they needed to do more to keep The Cunning One , the Devil, away. The fox said that they were not as free as they thought they were. And that the Cunning one could still get them. He told the cottontails that bad weather was coming and that the Cunning one could raise his head again for a final strike.
Not once did the Fox talk about the foot of Jesus on the Cunning One.The Fox only spoke but only about the frightening dangers ahead.
Though The Cunning one in reality remained far in the field where Caleb last saw him . There, immobile, with the foot of the Immortal Invisible one firmly on him , Fear erupted in the field of the Faith Family . Rumors spread.
Many bunnies soon reported that The head had not yet decayed .” In fact it looked as alive as the first day caleb saw it” they would say. And even though It did not move and it had no teeth , bunnies swore that that its eyes followed all rabbits with hatred and accusation. And in truth ,it did do that very thing for those who drew close to it.
Many bunnies were going back into the woods of Doubt and Fear to see the head of the Cunning Evil One. And as often as they went, they looked at his head and not at the foot of Jesus.
Soon, Every bunny who went to the dark woods to look in the Cunning One’s eyes would get hurt. So hurt were so many bunnies that you could hear their screeches in the night.
And not only their screeches, but the Cunning One’s hisses. He would hiss and hiss as they ran back looking for safety. He would hiss “scared rabbit. . . ha scarred rabbit. . run” Each hiss they heard invited Fear back in the field. And so it spread from bunny to bunny , fear upon fear.
Now Caleb heard all the fearful things that the bunnies were saying about the snake in the field “His head is rising! He will strike again! He is after you! He can take your freedom away! He smells your coming! He hates those with the whitest tail! And you Caleb your tail is tooo white!”
So Caleb became very ashamed and very afraid. Many friends left Caleb to go back to houses of addiction and distraction . ” I too have got to hide .” Caleb thought. So he buried his white tail in the dirty sand.
Caleb was sure he would blend in with other bunnies who dirtied their tails with distraction or addiction . But, it was not always so.
Because whenever Caleb would talk to the Immortal Invisible one, Jesus , he would get joy and bounce. And when Caleb bounced, all the dirt would fly off his tail. It was very hard to keep his tail buried and dark.
Soon , Only a few of Calebs friends remained in the field. But even they were not free. “We are going to protect ourselves “they would say. “See,you stand out Caleb like us . . but we are building a big house where you can come in and be safe“ his friends said “they will be nice strong houses with plenty of room and you will have everything in them that you need. You wont have to go anywhere else Caleb Cottontail, you will be safe with us. So come stay in the house we will build under the Shadow of the Immortal Invisible one” It all sounded very good to Caleb Cottontail.
“ I think Im going to live with my friends” Caleb told Joshua one day while they fished by the Main River.
“ Well. . .as for me” Joshua replied
“I know… ” caleb wouldn’t let him finish his scriptured sentence .
“I know but we too can serve the Lord. We must keep people safe from the Cunning One. He cannot get us if we build the right kind of house” Caleb said to Joshua
“ you make sure you stay free” Joshua warned Caleb .
Hearing a coyote in the distance Caleb bounced away” I’m always FREE . . just be sure to . . . tell Strong and Corageous, I will miss them”
“I will and We will pray for you Caleb. “ Joshua shouted back , wiping a tear with his paw.
“ . . . .beware of the foxes”he weakly cried.
The house Caleb entered was big and had a room for everyone in the family. An official rabbit from another country set up rules and ways because he had built many houses before. It all seemed comfortable. There was time for speaking, time for singing, time for dancing, time for eating, and all things were done together in order .
But as the days passed, more and more order was given, the bunnies stopped talking and thanking together. And the house became both big silent and cold.
Bunnies began to take their food in their own rooms and sing their own songs in their own rooms and dance their own dance in their own rooms . Soon everyone was in their own room and their only company was the mirror on their wall. The bunnies wrote alone to themselves, . . . . everything to themselves. There was nothing to one another.
The roof over their heads blocked them from seeing the Shadow of the Immortal Invisible one and they soon did not talk to him either. If anything broke in the house instead of asking one another for help, they would send for someone from another house to fix it.
Little by little , foxes moved into the house all dressed as bunnies. They would come promising to fix things but, instead ,they would steal things.
Though contrary to their instinct , the foxes always left the bunnies alive. It seemed that they had no want or craving of the bunnies because the bunnies no longer had the aroma of a bunny. They did not even sound like bunnies. Fear had made them no longer sound or look like what they were created to be.
In this house, Caleb too forgot who he was. And he became very lonely. Especially when winter came. No one invited him to their room and he was too afraid to invite another bunny to his. He was afraid that they may make fun of his tail. He still knew it was white but, like all the other cottontails, He became very self conscious and embarrassed of his white tail.
It soon became soo very cold in the Big House . Day after day ice would gather another layer of ice on Calebs door . Ice upon Ice until Caleb was in a corner and the door iced shut. He couldn’t even get with other bunnies if he wanted too. A cold wall of ice had grown right there in Calebs room!.
Cornered again , Caleb felt full Fear come over his whole body. He shivered and cried so much that the tears gathered as icicles on his pure white fur , all the way down to his tail. In a few months …maybe days…possibly years, he found he was frozen against a wall. Time seemed frozen as His cottontail stuck in the ice.
But this was not so for Joshua. Joshua and his house stayed in an open field. They continued to eat together and thank the immortal Invisible one with great fearless joy. No matter what the weather. No matter how many foxes or coyotes gathered. The sound of their joy and the aroma of their faith kept the foxes and coyotes far away. And as for the Cunning One , his voice was so distant and small , they would sometimes gather and laugh saying, “is this the one who scared the nations?.” .
But quietly, When they would laugh , Joshua would ponder and sometimes weep . .”is this the one that scared our brethren into that cold dark house? ”
Joshua thought a lot about Caleb. He thought and talked to Jesus, the Immortal Invisible one every day about Caleb. And often times when he was fishing , he thought about the last day that Joshua fished with him . With every thought and prayer , he wept.
Joshua wept many tears into a river. It was the big broad river that flows from the Home of the Immortal Invisible One. Joshua’s Tears gathered everyday until one night.
One night they met up with Caleb.
One night, Caleb was pulling against the icy wall with all his strength. Tearing hair and skin , he pulled and pulled. but the more he pulled , the more ice would fall from the wall crushing his every effort to be free. His feet became raw cold immovable. His lips were raw, his throat parched. He remembered to pray but he could not .
His lips were frozen shut. “now now when I remember to pray, I cannot, I cannot loose my lips to call for help.” he thought then moaned . . .ohhh… a… ba….. a …. Ba.
Two syllables came from his stomach like a belch out his throat. His lips tore apart , blood dripped from his lip onto the ice. .”Abba Abba” he cried patting his lips together to stop the bleeding.
But ,The few drops of warm red blood dripped on the door frame where Caleb stood.
The building slightly shook. A small crack formed. Soon, Water came trickling through the crack . Soon the ice all around the door was melting. Caleb continued crying but his tears were now warm and flowing.
He cried and cried with joy as he could faintly hear birds singing, bunnies bouncing, trains passing and far off….. far off in the distance, his dear friend Joshua praying.
Caleb’s weeping face slipped fully free from the melting ice and bent to the ground of the trickling water
The small drop of blood disappeared in the flow . Caleb touched his lips with the water . . . “give me drink “ he said . . . . sipping and sipping as the ice fell all around his room . A large chunk fell from the door and the sun came into the dark house.
The warmth began to melt the ice around his cottontail
. No longer afraid of Coyotes, or Foxes or the Cunning one. No longer cold. No longer without speech. Caleb soon bounced Free.
It took a long time for the ice to melt the rest of the house. Many bunnies thought something was broken and they would call on Foxes to fix it. No matter how many times Caleb sent letters to tell them that Perfect Love would melt the ice in the house so they could be free they would not believe him. And no matter how many times Joshua would tell them that the Cunning one was defeated they still stayed in fear in the cold house.
But Caleb was free. He was free on the day the River of Life came His way. And it just might have been because he had a brother who prayed.
“So give me your hand . Let’s go from here.” The girl reached her hand to her brother and he stood.
“How did that happen? . “The boy stood up amazed.
“Because Perfect Love Casts out all Fear and without Fear we are FREE!!”the big sister replied.
“now shake the sand off your feet and lets go” she commanded
“Okie sis and Im shaking a tail all the way “ the boy chuckled.
“That’s right boy and don’t let no foxy bunny tell you it aint white as snow!!!”
“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”
Galatians 5:13 ESV
“And he said to them, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course.”
Luke 13:32 ESV
“Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom.””
The Song of Solomon 2:15 ESV
“For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree.”
HERE … having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which is contrary to us. He has NOW taken out of the way (EVERY SIN) having nailed it to the CROSS..so far be it from me to boast except in the CROSS of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Colossians 2:15 Galatians 6:14
I praise magnify and adore the LORD with other brothers and sisters in a small storefront building . The building sits in a small Florida town . It faces south to a railroad track and west to a park. The park surrounds a small pond . In the park ,a statute of Ray Charles sits immovable like a royal guard . Day and night brother Ray is poised playing a piano . Ready to strike notes we never ever hear . His head is tilted slightly upward as a reminder that something blind ,weak, and insignificant became insightful and strong right here in Greenville Florida.
“That’s not really Ray Charles ” we teach the young ones . “it’s just a thing to remind us about him” we say.
But ,Ray Charles is not the only great story from Greenville. There are volumes of stories flowing from this town about God and Jesus and all the Holy Ghost’s battles in this town. If there were a statue for every story in Greenville from every spiritual battle and every valiant warrior, we could rebuild ,yet again ,the legacy of Rome. But now how many of The Lord’s sit stoically still with hands poised ready ? How many spiritual statues await with eager longing?(1)
The Cross Invisible
The stories rumble from the ground with every passing train. Out and over and in the building where I worship there are dramas . Many twisting and turning tales of faith filled fights that became healings of bodies and minds and spirits. They are valiant stories. Stories of folks pulling out the Sword to cauterize addictions. They are gentle stories . Stories of full grown folks becoming children again in the arms of “Abba” “Daddy” their God and Father . (2) There are volumes of stories on the shelves of time in a spiritual space .
A story about a wooden cross first began for me ,in my living room, where a remnant of my church family first met. . We were meeting 50 miles away from Greenville . We came from many places together in a place that had no name. But, God gives everything a name. So ,one day , He gave a name for our meeting to a young man .(3) The young man was so excited to have the name that he wrote it inside a big Bible dictionary. He wrote ” to the church of the Tuesday nights” It was easy for us to live up to that name. We met Tuesday after Tuesday night. And, when we invited folks to come, they always remembered what night to come by our name.
In the “church of the Tuesday nights” , Brother Chris preached and teached behind a flowery green end-table topped with a cross and his bible. We bent our kness on a green rug and we believed with Jesus for everything God promised. That was a story from long ago.
Pepsi stains and watermarks speckle both table and cross now . They stand tucked away in a small room silently speaking a story better than my writing could ever tell. They gather dust like ashes while I drive to Greenville on Sunday morning.
When we moved to the building in Greenville, we did not have a table or a cross. It was all new because Pastor and his family were bringing something new to Greenville. He had a podium for his bible and a new name for his meeting. We didn’t have a cross and we weren’t called a church. We were named “Renewed Life Outreach Center”.
I thought a lot about why it might be named “center” and not “church”. I was old thinking when I was younger. And in those days I always would give questions to heaven where answers either come down or where the question would be held hostage. It was before I learned to TRUST.
This particular question was kept hostage with no earthly answer. But when I prayed I had to call it something. So, with Jesus I called it “His church”. (4) But when I was around folks, I would forget the name so often that I would call it silly names like “skeeter hawk revival” . And sometimes ,when I wrote a check, I would write “Renewed Life Outreach CHURCH”.
But God , in His mercy, would not let me hurt my head thinking about why we weren’t called church too long .He held the question in His heavenly grip and slowly released an answer to me.
He began speaking first, in Corinth where Paul first had “church”. He took me there where I saw how the apostle Paul set up a place to meet right in a center of the town of Corinth . It was an open storefront and just like my “church” , it was first used as a market .
No one in Corinth that I met could tell me what Paul called his church . At least they could not tell me what it was called before Paul wrote to us “the church of God in Corinth”.(5) Maybe he called it a “meeting place” they said.
From reading his letters to these Corinthian folks it surely was some kind of a meeting place! It was a meeting place for the dead in sin to be made alive in Christ. It was a meeting place of deliverance from the sevenfold troubles of pride , gluttony, lust, greed, sloth, wrath and envy that caused divisions among folks in this first congregation.(6) It was such a meeting place for exchanging “the old” for “the new” that it could have easily been named “Renewed Life Outreach Center” . And Paul , the preacher, might have easily stood at the doorway of the enterance advertising ” cash in those rags for robes, renew your life here”
And, like Renewed Life outreach center, he probably didn’t have a cross in his building either. He seemed to talk about the cross as a message and not an object. He wrote words about it’s invisible effect but never as an object to wear or draw .(6)
In fact, folks around Corinth told me that they did not have any crosses in town for a long time. Things of life ,like fishes and peacocks ,spoke the effect of the cross from one believer to another. https://churchpop.com/2015/08/14/8-ancient-christian-symbols-and-their-hidden-meanings/ Rumors , rubble and written books all say that the cross was an object of shame in the early church. It did not speak of freedom but ,instead ,was a symbol of the death of slaves. (7)
Folks made signs with their hands of the cross 200 years before they drew them .It really wasn’t until the 4th century that a cross was first brought visible as a display of faith. Constantine abolished crucifixion as was practiced in Rome and brought forth the Cross as a display of this victory. They say that brother Constantine might have had the right spirit about the work of Jesus’s particular cross. He knew the Spirit spoke that Jesus physical cross was used victorious over the devil and death.
But the Devil took Constantines thinking away from the Spirit of the cross and had many people killed who didn’t see the cross in the way Constatine did. The Beauty of the cross mixed again with Bloody sinners in the Crusades and became a message of death and slavery.
All the rest of His Story about the cross is a tug of war between the true message freedom and the Devil’s message of slavery.(8)
The “chi rho” symbol adopted by Constatine meaning “to Christ” the victory
The Cross Visible
It wasn’t four hundred years but, just four years that Renewed Life Out reach church was without a cross. It did not seem like four years. It just felt like we were as Paul’s Corinth church. And it wasn’t for lack of believing in the cross. The whole mission of RLOC was “birthed out of the desire to see Gods people walking in and possessing all that was purchased for them by Jesus’s death ON THE CROSS” http://www.facebook.com/RenewedLifeOutreachCenter . Similarly ,a sign outside our building was wooden with a painting of a purple cross and our name.
“Where’s your cross” a visitor asked.
I held the cross on my neck. “No I mean a real live cross. You should have one” she insisted.
“We just don’t have a cross” I told the visitor who asked
“we believe in the Jesus’s work on the cross”. I said , reciting something I heard a pastor once say.
She looked at me , then looked again around the room as if for a lost best friend. She then hurried out the back door facing the railroad and never came back. She eventually found her friend . She found her friend in a place where a cross hung from a ceiling in a big church with colored windows.
Even though I was settled that we didn’t need a cross, I would sneak to chapels with colored windows late at night to pray alone and see a cross . And always, In RLOC, i might see the cross on the video screen from the back door on cloudy Sunday mornings .
As the four years passed, I would see more and more crosses everywhere. I would see crosses on necks , in pictures on walls, on tattooed arms, ankles and chests, as screens on computers, hovering over churches, in the hands of the dying.
Every day I saw them more and more peeking through bushes, as clouds in the sky, as breaking beams of sun, in cracks on side walks, on lattice windows and doors, even in prison gates. One day, on Good Friday, I made a cardboard cross and took it to the park where Ray Charles sits ever so still . I wanted everyone to see the cross .
Crosses were every where in those years. And on top of that , Pastor was preaching like Paul every Sunday ,for all four years, the message of the cross. https://soundcloud.com/vunglaub/sets/the-kingdom-of-his, a playlist on #SoundCloud. The cross was a tool to see our Savior and not a trinket to throw on a night stand or hang on a wall.
He had us look at every angle and side of the cross that could be seen. We looked so much at crosses our eyes felt splinters. Even some felt nails in their hearts and crowns on their heads. Everyone felt the work of the cross in their own individual way .
But not many talked together about it. We just talked of hunting and knitting, eating and fasting, working and retiring, if we talked at all. And we were a lot like that church in Corinth. Each one walking his own way.
The Cross Indivisible
But then, in the 4th year, on April 2nd , something began to change. It was Sunday during the first worship song . Some were singing aloud , some were singing silently, some did not sing. Some had eyes open. Some had eyes shut.
Open or shut, our eyes were chosing to see other people or problems or pain instead of the power of God. But, we centered our stance toward a podium or a screen expectant of something greater than ourselves .
As the first song played, our eyes were everywhere. There was not central place to set our eyes. There was no object that we all could converge on . Some were upward expectant at ceilings (9) , some downcast at the floor (10) . Some looking at the podium, some the screen. Some with eyes in the back of their head staring at the man or woman across the room.
Eyes were all over. Inward and outward. Eyes making judgement about what they saw. But , that Sunday , when Houston and Roland wheeled the cross through the back door, all eyes turned to them and turned to the cross.
It came through the very door that my friend had walked out. It came during a pause of our wandering eyes and worship . It came right when I was wondering if we were a church or a center. It came when sinners were looking for Jesus and the saints were saying “jesus” while secretly sinning
The cross came when I, a sinner against a Holy God, was looking for Jesus and when, I, a saint, had been given everything of Jesus to keep me from sinning. It came tall wooden and varnished, with a small base, on wheels. And we all turned and looked with surprise when Pastor said “we have a cross”
“So Houston I gotta meet with you to find out about that cross” I said to Houston later that Sunday. “okay ” he said.
“I bet you got a story about that Cross ” I said in great anticipation.
“I guess “he said drying off from his baptism.
When the time came , I shot round after round of questions at Houston” “So what made you make that cross. . . oh it was you and Roland making that cross . . what were yall doing that you thought of it making a cross . . oh an altar at the base of that cross. . . oh too big you say . . . then wheels for that cross. . . so you loaded that cross in the truck . . . what made you even think of all this . . what made you make this cross Houston?” I paused to breathe
Houston stared at me in silence perhaps wondering if I would let him answer. I stared back trying to hold back more questions.
“Well, Miss Vanessa,” Houston began pausing to make sure I would listen. “Well, I saw we didn’t have a cross. and thought to my self don’t every church need a cross.?”(11)
“Yep” he said
“Okay Houston. That’s it “I said and walked away. I walked away wanting only to remember the April day the cross first stood center in the church. The answer to every question.
The altar that Houston had only imagined drew many that day. The cross loudly preached the answer to every question that longed for truth. It preached a surrender of more than was possible. It preached like tounges of the Holy Ghost in my soul saying “By The Spirit of the Cross all things are possible”. It bellowed and whispered, it wooed and wept and it awakened and warned. It was not a piece of wood at all , it became the center point in the church. It spoke the message of Jesus’s death for my sins and renewed life in my freedom from sin. And it spoke with The Spirit . The visible spoke of the INVISIBLE.(12)
The upward plank still speaks each Sunday , every Sunday, of how much we need our savior. And the reaching planks , where His arms bore the nails, speak of how much we need His Love for one another. What joy set before Him compelled His outstretched arms of Love for this church? How generous His Spirit for every dead church to become a LIVE and WELL church beneath These arms!
Suddenly , centered in the shadow of this cross, made by our own brothers, we touch heaven and we rightly touch one another with heaven and change the face of those on earth. (13) Here we are clothed by Jesus that we may rightly wear the “Renewed Life Outreach ” shirt because our hearts are “Centered” on Him. Here is His Cross. And Beneath it He finds HIS JOY , His Bride.(14)
“Where’s Jesus ? He’s not on the cross” the little child asked , yesterday , on Pentacost Sunday.
“oh He’s here ” I said as I pointed to the church worshipping.” He’s off the cross He’s alive in them”
And yes, Houston,” every church needs a cross. “And every cross needs a church. Thank you dear brothers Roland and Houston for your obedience to the cross. … an obedience that gave THIS CHURCH A CENTER and the center is THE CROSS.
“For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.”
Romans 8 :22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together like in pains of childbirth for the revealing of the sons of God.
Romans 8:15 . . having received the Spirit of adoption as sons and daughter we cry “Abba Father”
Psalm 147:4 He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by name
Ephesians 5:27 So that he might present the Church (HIS BRIDE) to Himself in splendor without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
I Corinthians 1:2 To the church of God that is in Corinth , to those sanctified IN JESUS CHRIST call to be SAINTS TOGETHER with all those who in every place call upon the NAME of OUR LORD Jesus Christ both their LORD and ours.
1 Corinthians 1:18 For the MESSAGE of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
The letters to the Corinthians are loving instructions to a congregation who was born again as new creatures able to live free of what the ancients called “the seven deadly sins” that the enemy uses to kill God’s children.
My brother named John Calvin long ago among others incited hostility against the physical image of the cross. He stated that it was” impossible to visually depict God who is invisible and transcendent therefore it is idolotry” This teaching resulted in the destruction of many crosses and art inspired by the Holy Spirit to draw sons and daughters to a deeper love for the invisible three in one reality of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. Brother Calvin and I are no longer friends on this matter. I have seen again and again the cross is an visible though perishable reality of an invisible imperishable reality. And that reality is the GOSPEL.
Mark 2:4Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. Some look to the ceiling desperately seeking a miracle
Matthew 15:27 “yes it is Lord” she said “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table” Some look to the floor for but a crumb as a sign of a miracle
Exodus 36:1 “Bezalel and Oholiab and every skilled person in whom the LORD has put ability and understanding to know how to do all the work in the construction of the sanctuary shall work according to all that the LORD HAS COMMANDED
Colossians 1:15 Jesus is the (ONLY) image of the invisible GOd the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth visible and invisible . . . all things were created through Him and for HIm!
The caption on the back of the “Renewed Life Outreach Center” T-shirt reads “Touching Heaven changing Earth” . It speaks of our upward reach like the upward beam of the cross to Heaven and our outward reach in heavenly blessings as the outward beam of the cross to one another and the community.
Finally Hebrew 12:2,12 we LOOK TO JESUS THE AUTHOR AN FINISHER OF OUR FAITH, WHO FOR THE JOY THAT WAS SET BEFORE HIM ENDURED THE CROSS DESPISING THE SHAME AND HAS SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF THE THRONE OF GOD. . . . THEREFORE STRENGTHEN THE HANDS WHICH HANG DOWN AND FEEBLE KNEES AND MAKE STRAIGHT PATH FOR YOUR FEET SO THAT WHAT IS LAME MAY NOT BE DISLOCATED ED BUT RATHER HEALED.
See to it sister that “you do not fail to obtain the grace of God: that no ‘root of bitterness’ spring up and cause you trouble . . . forgive as you have been forgiven by Christ so that you will not be outwitted by Satan. . . cause we ain’t ignorant of his designs” Hebrews 12:15 & 2 Corinthians 2:10,11
We plant forgiveness and we wait for love to bloom. I waited a year to see the fruit of forgiveness. Now , today ,almost to the date of my planting with Jesus , I hear a pleasant report. Therefore I repost this blog as a true testimony that when you forgive as He is forgiving you, you will surely see the blooms of the resurrection of Love in your midst!
The Big Sister’s call
Hurry , my sister it’s Spring , it’s Spring!!
Put that Stoney thing in the dirt
For We must run and sing!!
Get Shovel, Get Hoe
Lest that Bitter Thing grow!
Put that Stoney Thing in the dirt
Lest the Devil soon sow!!
The Little Sister’s cry
But Sister, Sister , it stings, it stings
So it never will ever feel like spring!
I’ve a wound so tender , like a boulder at my core!
No friend , no doc, no priest could speak to a thing so sore!
Or release this Stone that the Enemy threw to settle a score!
No Goliath with gall, or David with sling, or Samson so tall or Peter could bring
My heart to be healed from the hurt of this damn Stoney thing!!
The Big Sister’s call
But Sister, but Sister, it’s Spring!!
Now put that Stoney thing in the dirt!
So you can laugh and sing!
Get shovel, Get hoe
Lest that Bitter thing grow!
Put that Stoney thing in the dirt
Lest far away your heart go
The Little Sister’s cry
But Sister, Sister, it stings, it stings
And now there is no longer hope for my Spring
For I claim this wound as a part of my being
And I strive no more for hearing and seeing!
So many ask me “how have you been”
I just reply “I feel the effects of sin”
I carry the stone daily like a cross on my back
I sleep with it nightly tucking it in dreams and pillow sacks!
My soul never considers what it has but always talks of what it lacks.
The Big Sister’s Call
Oh Sister, dear Sister, it’s Spring
Put that stoney thing in the dirt
So you may dress in robe and ring!
Get shovel, get hoe
Lest that bitter thing grow
Put that Stoney thing in the dirt!
Perhaps to church you should go!
The Little Sister’s Cry
But Sister, Sister , in church it will stink!
I am dead like Lazarus with no life of my own to bring!
Might it stink when I bring it to others to be buried?
Besides, I have much to prove now and my time is quite harried!
It is best dear sis that I pretend it not there!
Besides, this stone on my heart is really no ones care.
Perhaps heaven will own it if I ever get there.
The Big Sister’s Plea
Oh Sister, Stubborn Sister, come out into Spring
Put that Stoney thing in the dirt
And Let Jesus do a Resurrection thing!
Get shovel, Get hoe
Lest that Bitter thing grow
Put that Stoney thing in the dirt
Let your Spirit yield and your Pride forgo!!
The Little Sister’s Fear
But Sister, my Sister, I will be all alone
As I rip away from my heart this UNFORGIVING STONE
And I cry out to Jesus “If only you were home!!?”
Oh Sister, your prayers cause me to quiver with this shovel and hoe in hand
You are speaking strange words in a tongue I do not understand
Oh sister , Oh Sister will I be all alone?
The Big Sister prophesies
Sweet sister, Sweet Sister, See He is your Spring!!
When you put that Stoney thing in the dirt , watch a LILLIE HE BRING
How free you will be and a new song you will sing
and then, . my Sister You WILL KNOW HE is SPRING!
The Little Sister Laments as Jesus Plants
Oh Sister , O Sister, Look now He weeps on my Heart!
The stone falls off gently , from tender edges it parts.
He lays it deep in the dirt of HIS EMPTY GRAVE!!
And grave side He calls me “child” no longer “slave”
Oh sister, O sister, why so long did I wait?
Holding tight to this hurt and bound to it’s hate?!!
I hurt Him so deeply with this stone on my heart!!
At times we must return to remember what The Lord once tenderly taught us. This is a post refined and matured from 3 years ago . Difficulties and darts seemed to dull the glorious truth once planted so deep in my spirit But. . .He waters His word with our tears and so it grows !. I thank my church for refreshing me in truth and growing me up in this word …
When we first enter church on Sunday there is a sense that all of what the preacher is saying, and all of what the songs are proclaiming, and all of what the folks are “naming and claiming”, is very far away.
Entering , we realize how we have forgotten much from the week before. There were so many large and heavy words said in the church that were not said outside the church on the days that followed Sunday. We enter with the shadow and dust of the world. It follows us in like a dark cloud .
Yet quickly , ” the dust settles” and the veil of fog lifts when Pastor prays. At that moment , the Holy Ghost, like a stage hand, draws back the dark shadow of dust and fog . With a strong arm He pulls back the curtain to introduce God. BEHOLD YOUR GOD !!!The Holy Ghost shouts!! He shouts in whispers deep into souls.
Here, at that moment , God becomes very big and very glorious in our minds . And , at that moment , when the songs are sung, God becomes very strong and able in our hearts . And , at that moment, when Pastor preaches, God becomes very near and pressing in our minds . And , at that moment ,when the people touch us and pray , God becomes very Merciful and Healing.He becomes present. He becomes Just like Jesus in our midst.
BUT, the moment we leave the door, that moment when we echo our last “good-by”, all His glory begins to shrink. There seems to be a commonness of life that steals the glorious. We sense someone has stolen the “garment of praise” and “the robe of righteousness” right off our back .
To begin to walk ” in faith” , to even write this is to press into greater obedience. I began to wrestle as I do on Sunday afternoons. I begin to hold a fear of losing sight of His worth and glory. I have given my writing to Him and felt always that to privately write Him was my act of worship. At times, He would have me write to others but never publicly.
Worship is where God magnifies Himself to us and we in turn adore Him. So God would do so when I would write. It was like entering church for me, an entering in and being dressed by God in His glory and His righteousness.
My greatest fear was that I would either become self-righteous or would fail if I tried to glorify Him in public. This is how the enemy keeps us from worshipping Our Lord with our gifts.
So also, He hinders us as we go into the world. We all carry His Word as our worship and have Christ’s commission to proclaim. But , This is sooooo often held back by our greatest fears of self-righteous pride or of shame and failure. This is when we operate from ourselves, our feelings. The enemy has us think we will be stripped of all of His presence as we go out , as we obey a call from the Spirit . We suddenly feel naked reaching hard to grab clothes of righteousness to put on. We reach for clothes when we are already dressed IN HIM and BY HIM!!!.
BUT GOD.. But God we hear from Pastor Chris , From every worship song , from every prayer. “But God” does not leave us undressed. When we leave the door of the church, we feel naked of His presence only because we have let our minds forget we are clothed!!!!We are a royal priesthood dressed in the most glorious gowns and robes ! Designer Gowns and Robes labeled “Jesus”.
We are not like the royal one in the children’s story by Hans Christian Anderson (1837). In the story , “The Emperor’s new clothes” a king commissions a designer to make clothes. He is fooled that he has the best designed suit but , he is actually naked . The king displays nakedness in the street thinking he is clothed. How often we are like this royal one ? When we try to design our own clothes are we not like this foolish emperor? In an opposition to the truth , we are foolish in our thinking when we, ones who are clothed in Christ, think we are naked ?
As the Emperor did not know he was an old naked man when he went before the crowd, we do not know we are a clothed “new” man when we go into the world. When we forget that Christ has bore EVERY sin from dark sins of the body or mind or tongue to the self-righteous sins of body , mind and tongue on Himself. (Galatians 5:21) , we forget we are saved. We forget we are covered eternally in “robes of righteousness”. We forget we are pure children and “if children then heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ!” What Christ is wearing today, at this moment , is what we are wearing.
To look at this glorious truth and forget it is called “double mindedness’ (James- 1:8, 22-25). Like the Emperor we do not know what we look like. But to know what we look like is to have a single mind, the mind of Christ. The Scriptures of Isaiah 61:10 describe how we are dressed: “with garments of salvation (SOZO) and robes of righteousness”
As my mind agrees in greater certainty with my spirit that holds the clothes of Isaiah 61:10, I then agree with God. And , only as I agree with God ,can I write this blog , can I go and pray, can I love , can I produce fruit or gifts or desire my greatest treasure and worship Jesus with my whole life. !!
The glory of God does not only sit inside a few moments on Sunday morning. It sits on the inside of me. It sits certain and bright. It sits on the inside of us His Bride , The Church !! It has dressed us beautifully in a “robe of righteousness” and a “garment of salvation” that we may live and act to the “praise of His glorious grace”.
This is a letter to my brothers and sisters at my church, Renewed Life Outreach. It is current and true. It is a call for revival. For revival is truly built on the blood of martyrs. And we, in a small town of 800 are seeing many martyrs have shed their blood overseas and now at home in the US.
This is a declaration to the Enemy of our Lord that the victory is won and we are not afraid. Thank you Emanual AME for being a modern day cloud of witnesses to us at Renewed Life Outreach Center , Greenville Florida. To our God be all glory.
My most dearest brothers and sisters of common blood, of the Blood of Jesus:
I have been awakened in the night since we have met on Tuesday with Psalm 91. I am most certain I have been awakened by the Holy Spirit. He wakes me with the word we spoke to one another in the Haffee Hays Park. He has wakened me for four nights saying “ you will not fear the terror of the night nor the arrow that flies by day”.He wakens me with “a thousand may fall at your side ten thousand at you right hand but it will not come near you. You will only look with your eyes and see the recompense of the wicked”. He wakens me with questions He wants to answer. He awakens me to write to you . He awakens me to a “secret place of the Most High . .
IN THE SHADOW OF THE ALMIGHTY
On Tuesday we rejoiced in the Word of the Lord in the Park. We spoke of our secret place right there at the right hand of Daddy where Jesus gives to us any and every spiritual blessing we ask for. We spoke of how Jesus longs to draw us to his perfect Heart , under His wing. We talked of how we hear he weeps like he did over Jereselum also over Greenville. The Spirit called that we would come close to hear His heart to find refuge and from there we would see His kingdom.
Snuggled beneath His wing, we see so many great ways that He protects us and cares for us. We are never in want . We are never harmed. Rattlesnakes in our yard do not touch us. Viruses and germs stalk after us to no avail. Homelessness and hunger have no place for us. And gunshots. like arrows ,fly past us all day. We only look with our eyes, perhaps weeping like Jesus, for the recompense of the wicked. All because we hold fast to Him in Love. All because we hold fast to Him in Love, He delivers us.
In the park, we were distracted by children and cars and heat. Surely the 100 degree heat reminded us that everything withers. . . . Everything but His word. “ It is all that remains” we agreed. And Joseph opened praying, “God let your kingdom come, your will be done by your Word”
After our worship and study , we walked to RLOC in an awareness of the protection of our great Father . We heard that Pastor was not able to come to Bible Study. But we feared not for him because we believed Psalm 91 for him as well. We only missed him. We all missed him for He had led us for many weeks from Ephesians to Romans. Verse by verse , he equipped us with great words from Daddy.
Last Tuesday night , our souls were parked at Romans 12:1 where we were left weeks before “Therefore , in view of God’s mercy we present our bodies as Living Sacrifices Holy and acceptable unto God for this is our reasonable act of worship”. We had been in prayer for weeks after this verse.We were in prayer and study about the gifts that come to us to use to worship in this way to Daddy. Through prayer and fasting, The Holy Spirit had been putting fire under these Living Sacrifices. .Every soul at RLOC seemed to burn brighter. Daddy was teaching us the depth of this verse.
Daddy God did not cancel Bible Study. He kept it with Brother Roy as the leader because he wanted us to hear testimonies.Testimonies of Daddy’s work. In every testimony we knew all that was said came from the Word manifesting itself in the life of a lost child found by Daddy . We had learned this Word as we had been taught by Pastor. We saw how true the Lord had been to His word that says again and again to His children “I love YOU”
It was if Daddy Himself was giving testimony of His salvation for the most unlikely of all . . . US. He was saying in every testimony: I created you as my child. I created you for my glory. You exchanged the glory of God for a lie. You sinned and fell short to my glory.(Romans 1 &3) But , I the Lord ,came to rescue you.I came as Jesus the exact imprint of Me God. I came to buy you back to Myself, my purpose for you, for My glory.(Ephesians 2) I died to do this. I God , died for you through my son. I have bought you with a price . You are not your own, nor the devil’s nor any created thing’s . You are mine. Choruses of testimonies resounded: I once was lost but now Im found. . . therefore I give myself away that He who saved me may be glorified, magnified, and shown worthy!
Brother Roy ended the night in a prayer quoting from Revelation 12:11 “They overcame by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.” He did not quote the rest of the verse but, in a day, it was displayed in a church not far away.
“Isn’t Psalm 91 awesome? And those testimonies. . . that was awesome” I said to Joseph on the phone the next night
“yeah, but did you hear what happened in South Carolina?” He replied.
“No . . . .”
Soon I did hear. I heard that on the night after our bible study, in Emanuel AME church in Charleston South Carolina a few folks gathered with the same mind as the brothers and sisters at RLOC. Like minded brothers and sisters , by blood, by the Blood of Jesus gathered to worship their King. Reports say a young man entered the church for the first time. Reports say they welcomed the young man into their Bible Study. Reports say he listened to them for an hour. Reports say he almost received prayer. Reports say he said “they were so loving it was hard to do what I came to do”. He came to shoot them dead
.Had not Psalm 91 been written for them? I heard myself ask. Had not the Church of Emanuel of South Carolina who were dwelling in the secret place of the Most High been in the Shadow of His protection? Doesn’t Emanuel mean God with us? Where was God? Why could they not have just seen the recompense of this wicked young man? Why did they not get saved from the arrow that flew by day? Why did you not save them from the deadly pestilence that stalked into that church that night? Daddy why? And Daddy how can we sit in the park in Greenville and think we are any more safe? Or how can we be in RLOC and think we are in an even safer place? If your word is most true, and I know it is Daddy, show me , show me the glory of it amidst this tragedy.
“When we can’t see His Hand we TRUST HIS HEART” Pastor has told us again and again.
“WHERE IS YOUR HEART DADDY ? WHERE IS YOUR HEART JESUS? I MUST KNOW THAT I MIGHT SERVE YOU !” We all must know because there is a Louder voice saying what Brother Roy prayed on Tuesday night . . .”a Loud voice from heaven says “NOW the SALVATION and POWER and THE KINGDOM of OUR GOD and the AUTHORITY of CHRIST has come for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down who accuses them day and night before our God . AND THEY HAVE CONQUERED HIM BY THE BLOOD OF THE LAMB AND BY THE WORD OF THEIR TESTIMONYFOR THEY LOVED NOT THEIR LIVES EVEN UNTO DEATH”
UNTO DEATH IN THE SHADOW OF THE ALMIGHTY
In World War II , the chaplains would quote Psalm 91 over dying soldiers. It did not make sense for that fact to be shared on Tuesday afternoon on the 16th of June.We were but Children of God hovered over by a Good Daddy. But now , on June 20th, I am compelled to think of us as soldiers. We must see we are soldiers in a battle that has already been won.
This psalm read over and over was shared to give the soldiers a hope. And eternal end. The psalm speaks of a current promise of protection for the believer and an eternal protection promised exclusively to the believer. In this life both unbeliever and believer are given protection. The unbeliever , a limited protection. The believer , an unlimited protection. The unbeliever is not protected from eternal damnation (unending death) and hell. The believer is protected from both death and hell. Though our bodies die , we live forever. This is not so for the unbeliever, Therefore there is indeed a limit on the protection THE Most High offers the unbeliever.
So, in WWII , when bullets and arrows literally flew by day and pestilence walked at night and ten thousand fell at their sides , there was comfort, great comfort in Psalm 91. There was great comfort in hearing the chaplin read to the dying believing soldier “Jesus covers you with His feathers and under the wings of God you will find refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and buckler”. This is the HOPE of a certain end.
As Angela said in the park “its like we are strapped to Jesus. Always Buckled to Him FOREVER”
“Sheild and buckler” I awoke in the night hearing the Spirit say again and again “Sheild and buckler”.
Awake, I saw in my mind the young man speak to the boy Roof: “you don’t want to do this” . It is said a certain young man at the Bible study stood before the shooter to try to talk him out of his planned assault. It is said that his argument failed in the mind of the boy and the boy proceeded to aim his gun at the believer’s aunt. In order to save his aunt, the believing man lunged in front of the gun. He was ready to take the bullet for his aunt. He was ready to die.
“NOW for a good man one might die, but God show HIS LOVE for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us”.Romans 5 preaches in the night to me. The young man could die for the body of his aunt but not for her soul. He is shot. Eight others are shot. But Christ remains the shield and buckler for the young believing man who went from life to life while saving the body of his aunt. His life testifies “The Lord took the bullet for you sinner”.
I remember again what Dylan Roof said “ It was hard to do what I came to do because they were so loving”. Love delayed the work of the enemy. A love poured lavishly into a surrendered heart delayed the devil. The Love of God poured down from heaven into the hearts of a dozen of believers halted a man equipped in mind and weapon and backed by Satan. He was held hostage to the Love of Jesus for over an hour!! Love almost stopped the shooting.
Suddenly I saw RLOC, Daddy’s church in Greenville ,holding Satan’s minions hostage through the Love of JESUS. Still Nine believing children of God, servants of King Jesus , were killed. Murdered. In a moment amidst the Shadow of the Almighty., Nine saved souls murdered in the sight of three who looked with with their eyes.
IN scenes of WWII we see the blood of thousands drip onto and past the dying soldiers eyes. Meanwhile chaplains pray desparately from Psalm 91 “ a thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand but it will not come near you .you will only look with your eyes and see the recompense of the wicked” . They say that blood was everywhere in the church. They say not everyone was shot. They say Roof wanted to leave a witness to the crime because he said he was going to kill himself and he wanted someone left to tell the story. A few remained alive covered with the feathers of the Most High.
A few were there with Jesus weeping as Jesus said “ Roof, Roof, my created boy that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to you. How often would I have gathered you a a hen gathers her chick under her wing but you were not willing. See now your house is left desolate. “ Matthew 24. With His wings outstretched , the shots fired. Only the victims found “refuge” in His wings.
SEEING SALVATION IN THE SHADOW OF THE ALMIGHTY
Another night is interrupted. Aching for my church I pray the prophecy of psalm 91:14-16 that we spoke over each other. “ Daddy because they hold fast to you in love you say you will deliver them, you will protect them, because they know you name and when they to all to you You will answer them . . . You will be with them in trouble you will rescue them and honor them with long life. . . . . “I weep for the church of Emanueal With long life Daddy. . . . what about with long life. . . . I ask Daddy. He answers with the last six words of Psalm 91.
“I Will Show Him MY SALVATION”. I cannot sleep.
Though I never watch TV , on Friday afternoon the whole town had TVs showing the bond hearing of the shooter , Dylan Roof. Broken children and parents spoke from hearts that knew deeply what the angel Micheal knew , vengenace and judgement are assigned only to God. Vengance belongs to the Lord to speak but Salvation belongs to us to speak.
Clips of family members speaking echo in my mind. They spoke so much forgiveness I could but hear my Savior from the cross speak to Dylan “Father forgive him , he knew not what he did” So the families spoke one after another of the work of God “we forgive you because He has forgiven us” “God forgive you and have mercy on your soul.” “Take the opportunity now ” Anthony Thopson said to the young man ” Repent. Confess. Give your life to the one wo matters the most, Christ, so he can change your ways no matter what happens to you and youll be ok. Do that and you will be better off than you are right now” Suddenly, salvation was spoken.
“When you can’t see His hand Trust His heart” Pastor says again and again to us
How His heart beats louder than His wrath. The murderer stands bound by shakles of both man and Satan. In my mind I see him standing with a youthful innocence yet staring with a haunting emptiness. The word of salvation lands on him like an arrow, an artillery against his captor, Satan.
Jesus calls “I came to seek and to save the lost”. I came for you Dylan Roof. It is no accident that you were exposed to the love of the saints. It is no accident that you were assaulted with Love and Forgiveness of Jesus.
“if there were but one sorry hamerknocker of a sinner in the world. If it was just you ” our Pastor shouted one Sunday “He would die for you!! He would die for one!!!” I pray for a chaplin like Pastor to preach to Dylan Roof.
I imagine Dylan saved . I imagine and I remember Brother Roy say ” Satan will look like the small wizard from the Wizard of Oz in the face of the Glory of God.” In righteous anger and godly hope, I read Isaiah 14:15-17 to Satan. ” How you are cut down to the ground oh Evil one who aims to be like the Most High!! You defeated foe!! You puny enemy who makes the earth tremble who shakes kingdoms who make the world like a desert who does not let his prisoners go home. Look what The MOST HIGH is doing!!! He is saving yet another through the testimony of the Redemened. ‘
Miss Ann reminds me “God is Good”
“yes, God is good ” I sigh
“All the time” She says convincingly.
“yep” I feel encouraged by Miss Ann ”
Aint the end of the story till God gets the glory” I say.
God is Good and Faithful to His Word. All the Time. Is not the Shadow of the Most High His Love for His people? His Love has saved us. His Love keeps us and protects us. AND His Love consumes us in the face of the Enemy. Finally His Love sustains us in death by the Enemy.
And in this War, His Love is Testimony. The testimony comes in the death of His saints. And testimony is to “SHOW HIS SALVATION” so that more and more will “DWELL IN THE SHELTER OF THE MOST HIGH AND ABIDE IN THE SHADOW OF THE ALMIGHTY”
“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, COMPLETE MY JOY, by being of the same mind and having the same love and being in full accord and of one mind. “Phillipians 2:1-2
Like any other professional week, marketers burn with creative ideas and products to promote “pastor’s appreciation week”. Cards and cups and canisters, banners, plaques and brochures scream “we appreciate you Pastor”. Church folks buy and give with hearts bent in thanksgiving for all that God did through their pastor during the year. But, somehow , deeply groaning, the Holy Spirit cries in the soul that there is an appreciation to give apart from what the temporal world would offer other professions. Somehow, deeply, we know in our “inner man” , that there is something greater that THE LORD would give our pastors ,through us , in appreciation for their zeal in love and labor.
Perhaps, this concept is older than the modern marketer can trace. Perhaps , Pastor’s appreciation is a call from God through the Pastor Paul many seasons ago. From Phillipians ,we see ,that it is not so much a convention or ritual of Christian church folks as it is a plea from a pastor himself. Pastor Paul cries out for a gift that he wants given to him by his church. He wants the gift of “complete Joy” that only a church, under the unified headship of Jesus, can give. This is a plea not for a glory that ends with the adoration of the pastor but a plea that ends with the adoration of Jesus.
A pastor is surely filled with joy that the Lord Himself gives him directly through an anointing in his spirit . And certainly, our Pastor, Chris Peterson, is a lively mage of a pastor with a “joy unspeakable and full of glory” But the words from Paul, who also had a great joy from a divine anointing, hint at a joy that is actually incomplete. He seems to call for it to be completed by the church’s submission to Jesus. This “Submission “echoes from wall to wall , from ceiling to floor , to us every Sunday, as Pastor Chris calls surrendered hearts to fall in the hand of a Loving Father, in obedience to the voice of the Shepherd Jesus.
So ,what can we really eternally give our pastor? We can only offer ourselves , our “everything” to Jesus. Then, as each individual soul comes to fall before a One Father, hearing the One Voice of the Shepherd, in the Power of the Person of the Holy Ghost, unity manifests. Submission will result in our oneness. And our oneness will produce “complete joy” in our Pastor.
May we enter a season of complete joy for our pastor and his family as we have like minded ,surrenderd ,eyes and hearts fixed on Jesus!!
Brothers and Sisters we will no longer be outwitted by Satan for we are no longer ignorant of His designs (2 Corinthians 2:11) Joseph is my brother. And Joseph knows I get kinda mad when folks outside the house snicker and say “if he’s her brother , then he’s her brother from another mother”. They wouldn’t say stuff like that if they knew our Daddy. Daddy would look at them one time with His glory and they would be ballling and sayin: ” we’re sorry, so sorry, amen amen , they BOTH look like their Daddy!!” (1) Until then , there is whole lot of talking behind our backs, right in front of Daddy.
To me , Joseph looks more like Daddy than I do. Sometimes I see the spitting image of our Big Brother JESUS in him . Our brother , Pastor Chris, has been telling us every Tuesday how Jesus is IN each of us. If we took a group picture, with all the other brothers and sisters round the world , it would be a big portrait of King Jesus .(2)
On Tuesday nights, when our brother Chris tells us about these things , I sometimes look over at Joseph to see what Jesus looks like IN just one of us. Sure enough, when I look at Joseph, I see a whole sun of the bright light of Jesus bursting through Josephs face. There are lots of folks that glow like Jesus on Tuesday nights.
It is really a miacle, this thing about Jesus in Us!! It’s a miracle we don’t always see cause, lots of times, when we get outside the door, we look so different. We look a whole lot different than Jesus. It bothers us cause we want to look beautiful like Him. But we trust what Daddy said about making us look more like Him day by day. Till one day , a most glorious day we will look the same outside the door as we do inside the door. We will look JUST LIKE JESUS EVERYWHERE!(3)
One day ,Joseph and I were standing outside the door. We were with sister Marilyn and brother George. We were watching a train go by Daddy’s house. The train looked long , strong and unwavering. I knew it was just a train but it looked like something created with purpose , the way it moved.
We looked different. We looked different from Jesus right then. I was frown faced worrying bout another brother . Joseph and George were covered in clouds of cigarette smoke and sister Marilyn had a neck like a giraffe, straining to look for something. She was looking for hobos on the train. Marilyn was the only one fit to talk that day. She said “sometimes them hobos attach themselves to a box car where they don’t belong”
“Them trains are for carrying cargo NOT hobos! ” she declared. The rest of us stared at the train and started looking with her for hobos. We looked a long time.
I know we looked a long time because brother George and Joseph finished a couple cigarettes. So when the last box car and caboose passed, the brothers stabbed their stumped cigarettes into the sand and went inside Daddy’s house. We never saw a hobo that day. The last thing I remember seeing was two cigarette butts, smothered in the sand, breathing their last breath of smoke. I did not know that was the last cigarette to get friendly with my brother Joseph. I was too busy worrying to think much about anything.
The next Tuesday , Joseph took the box where the cigarettes lived and crushed them in his hands. He left them on the table maimed and surrendered in Daddy’s house. Joseph looked like Jesus that day. He looked like Jesus turning over the tables saying ” my Daddy’s house (this body) will not be the house of robbers (Satan’s thievery) !! Our brother Pastor Chris prayed over Joseph and all of laid hands on Joseph just like Daddy said for us to do. It was a very exciting night in Daddy’s house.
I wanted to do the same thing with my worry that night. I wanted to lay it on the table . It seemed like I picked up fretting like a smoker picking up a pack of cigarettes , drawing out one smokey thought after another all day. Some how worry just clung to me and I was not ready to crush it and lay it on Daddy’s table. Somehow, it felt like it was clinging to me , like a hobo on a moving train.
I began to worry more and more. Folks kept telling me to TRUST Daddy with the things I worried about. In my mind , I would say TRUST over and over again. But worry stayed on board . It stayed on board my soul like a hobo inviting his friends. Worry piled on worry till I think I worried myself sick. Daddy says you can really worry yourself sick. Suddenly, like a hobo hijacking a train , it sends you off rail , crashed.
By Friday evening, I was sick of being sick with worry. I was very tired of being left spinning upside down, train wrecked in the woods of worry. With my knees to my chest , I rocked back and forth crying “abba , Daddy””Daddy interrupted me that night with a phone call . It was Marilyn.
“Sister Vanessa , Did Joseph tell you what he did?” she asked like a big sister fixin to tell on her baby brother.
“no what did that Joseph do?” I asked
“well , I will let him tell you hiself” she said ” “here Joseph, you tell sister V what happened”
” well. . . .” Joseph let one word fill the air.”we’ll”
“Well what Jospeph?” I interjected the air.
“I had a cigerette” Joseph confessed. (4)
“Ah brother. . . what happened?” I asked.
Waiting for Joseph to speak I remembered the train. I remembered the last cigarette with Joseph. Again I could only pray: “abba, Daddy”
” Well I just had one . . . i don’t know what happened. . . I do know ,it didn’t even taste good to me anymore, It didn’t taste good at all”
Suddenly, I felt Daddy send a wind. A wind to flip my train-wrecked soul upright. Suddenly I saw what Marilyn was saying outside the house about Hobos. I saw why she said they didn’t belong on the train.
Certainly, they were to have no part of the train! They are only jumping on board to steal a ride or take something away from the train . Like the habits that the devil throws on us are hobos jumping on a train. The devil is always ready to re-engineer our bodies and minds with harmful habits so he can derail our destinations assigned by Daddy. Oh how this homeless vagabond, Devil, is always trying to make a home with us and train wreck our faith.(5)
And then, then, I saw something greater and greater AND more powerful. Something brighter and stronger than that dark robber of our souls. I thought of the Engineer of the train. I thought of Christ in us!!! Christ the Engineer of this engine. . .
“Of course you don’t have a taste for cigarettes!! Jesus doesn’t have a taste for cigarettes!! He doesn’t have a taste for worry. He did not worry a single moment!! Neither did He smoke a cigarette ! That’s who is living IN us. Jesus doesn’t wanna have nothing to do with them smokey little hobos!! Thank you Jesus for showing us that today!! Thank you Jesus!” I felt Jesus kick worry off my soul as I saw Him snuff every cigarette before Joseph would reach for it.
Together Joseph and I praised Daddy for crushing cigarettes like he crushed the head of Satan long ago (6). We praised Him for kicking devil hobos off our train. We said we would not invite them anymore. We said we would let Jesus kick them off before they got on board. Together we thanked Daddy for showing Himself very great and strong in our weakness. Together we thanked Daddy for our appetites for Him. Together we thanked Daddy for an appetite to TRUST Him in all things!!
With hands waving and legs kicking we pointed with praise to the seat set for Jesus!! He would drive this train once again!! And if anyone saw us that day, that day they would say “them two kids look just alike . . they MUST be brother and sister!!”
Ephesians 3:20 NOW TO HIM THAT IS ABLE TO DO EXCEEDING ABUNDANTLY ABOVE ALL THAT WE ASK OR THINK, ACCORDING TO THE POWER THAT WORKETH IN US . UNTO HIM BE GLORY IN THE CHURCH BY CHRIST JESUS THROUGHOUT ALL AGES WORLD WITHOUT END . AMEN.
The Beginning of the Glorious WORLD WITHOUT END
Galatians 3:28 “there is neither Jew nor Greek , there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male no female: for yea are all ONE IN CHRIST.
Ephesians 4:13 till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, (Jesus) unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ!
2 Corinthians 3: 18 But we all with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by he Spirit of the Lord.
James 5:16 Therefore confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
1 Timothy 1:18 (paraphrased) This charge is entrusted to you, children of RLOC, in accordance with all the prophetic word calling you Children of GOD and Servants IN CHRIST, that you wage good warfare, holding faith and TRUST and a good conscience. For by rejecting this some have Trainwrecked their faith. BE NOT LIKE THEM.