An Old Rotten Rag

I’m an old rag.

Stained. Tossed aside.

I’ve scoured and polished. But now?

I sit in a pile with others. We stink.

What? What’s that I hear? A servant says he needs us?

Ebedmelech takes us in his arms. “These’ll do. Soft. Just right.”

”Here Jeremiah!” Ebedmelech shouted as he lowered us down into the dungeon. “Put these rags under your armpits and under the rope tied around you.”

One more use for us. Not to wipe or clean, but to cushion and protect the fragile skin of the emaciated prophet.

Our softness and gentleness absorb his frailness.

What made us old rotten rags?

Time.

Abrasion.

Work.

Dirt.

Messes.

Life.

And Ebedmelech the Ethiopian said unto Jeremiah, Put now these old cast clouts and rotten rags under thine armholes under the cords. And Jeremiah did so. So they drew up Jeremiah with cords, and took him up out of the dungeon: and Jeremiah remained in the court of the prison. Jeremiah 38: 12, 13 KJV

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Blinders On, Blinders Off


horse_with_blinders_small.jpgClip-clop, clip-clop. That sound meant one thing–the horse-drawn ice cream cart.

Years ago Mom and I flew across the Atlantic to her homeland of Lancashire, England. While visiting, I discovered the Accrington ice cream vendor, an old man atop a yellow stagecoach-style wagon pulled by a horse.

Every afternoon I waited on the street and listened for the clip-clop. I hadn’t been around horses much. So when the wagon stopped in front of Auntie Ray’s house, I gave the man my tuppence then he turned to scoop my frozen treat. That’s when I studied his horse. Chestnut brown, black mane, black tail. There was just one thing I couldn’t see, no matter what angle I looked–his eyes. Blinders, leather squares attached to his bridle covered them. I figured they must be there to keep him looking straight ahead.

Last Sunday, as the congregation sang, O Magnify the Lord, I saw that horse again–blinders and all.

Mary, when you magnify something you make it big, so big it’s the only thing you see. Forget who’s around you . . . what’s going on at home, at work, and yes . . . even at church, and worship me.

Yes Lord. Blinders on.

I sang and worshipped. When my pastor preached, I absorbed the message. Then came the closing song and altar call. I bowed my head. Sometimes I’m the one in need of prayer. Other times, I’m compelled to pray for someone else.

Yes Lord. Blinders off.

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A Crow’s Nest, An Oak Grove and An Apron

The inner chamber, a phrase from Isaiah 26:20, means any place apart. For Edward Wilson, it was the crow’s nest on the ship Terra Nova. He’d often climb to it during his expeditions to Antarctica. He called it his private chapel.

Vesta Mangun’s father, Royal Gibson would slip away to his favorite place of prayer–a secluded oak grove not far from his house. Many miracles and healings occurred throughout his ministry. He knew that power with God came through unwavering faith in His word and in the power of the name of Jesus.

Susanna Wesley, (1669-1742), mother of nineteen children including John and Charles Wesley, would sit down and pull her apron up over her head. Her children knew to be extra quiet during this time so they wouldn’t disturb her time of prayer.

What does this have to do with outreach? Everythng! John 6:44.

We must pray until~

This robe of flesh I’ll drop and rise
To seize the everlasting prize
And shout while passing through the air
Fare well, fare well, sweet hour of prayer.

(Last verse of Sweet Hour of Prayer)

Selah

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A Voice in the Wilderness

Mmmmm. Roasted grasshoppers. Six grams of protein in each one.

While on a family camping trip, my brother demonstrated grasshopper flambé–one of the many survivalists’ skills he learned in the military. After spearing a grasshopper, he carried it to the picnic table and held his arthropod appetizer over a flaming candle. Assured the grasshopper was fully cooked he allowed it to cool a few seconds before popping it in his mouth. Crunch. Crunch. Swallow. He smiled at his wide-eyed audience and soon four young boys were hunting grasshoppers, all eager to check this accomplishment off their man-card. Besides, God’s word says their clean (Leviticus 11:22).

As strange as it seems, this is exactly what John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus ate in the wilderness, (along with wild honey). He was the voice commissioned to break four hundred years of silence. Clothed with leather and camel’s hair, he heralded the news, Repent ye for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. John 3:2.

Although our clothes and diet are different from John’s, our mission is the same. We are the 21st century voice in this millennial wilderness.

Jesus is coming! Jesus is coming!

May this mission drive everything we do–our interactions with our family, co-workers, friends, neighbors, store clerks, waitresses and even the unexpected divine appointments at Walmart and TaMollys.

Hmmm? Grasshoppers and salsa anyone?

Crunch. Crunch.

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The King’s Favor

The king’s wrath is as the roaring of a lion; but his favor is as dew upon the grass. Proverbs 19:12

It happens every time we go camping. In stillness, quietness and obscurity, after the moon and stars appear. Atmospheric water vapor condenses into droplets. By sunrise, the ground, picnic table and anything left outside is covered with glistening beads of moisture–dew.

And so it is with The King’s favor, and favor with people (Proverbs 19:12). It happens softly, slowly, in ways we can’t see, yet we know when His favor is upon us.

Jesus,
Bless my friends with favor wherever they go–jobs, stores, gas station, drive-thrus and neighborhoods. May your presence draw in souls. Your promises are true. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

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A Glorious Morning

cropped-christmas-07-in-ok-004.jpg

Many Christmas seasons have passed since the ten days we spent devoid of electricity and modern conveniences.

On New Year’s Day, our family, along with many other northeast Texans, awoke to see fields, roofs, trees, roads and powerlines covered in a two-inch thick glaze of ice. An unexpected overnight storm of sleet followed by freezing rain paralyzed travel, business and most of all, my college break. Linemen worked as fast as they could to restore power in cities and towns. But, we knew it would be a while before they reached our rural area. Dad, mom and I spent our days huddled by the fireplace, our only source of heat, and our nights sleeping beside it.

Six days later roads were still hazardous. Since we couldn’t go to church, Dad decided we’d have our own church at home, by the fireplace.

“Luke chapter two,” Dad said opening his Bible.

What? The Christmas story? Christmas was two weeks ago. Oh well. Wish I had a quilt. Three layers of clothes, a coat and two blankets aren’t enough. Brrrrr. Dad read. Mom and I listened.

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. (Luke 2: 6)

No room for them in the inn. Probably warm there. Sent to a stable. A drafty, smelly stable. No heat. No bed. Is Dad’s voice cracking?

I glanced upward and watched him take a white handkerchief from his pocket. I could count on one hand the times I’ve seen him cry.

Manger.

Swaddling clothes.

Such harsh conditions. I pulled the blankets closer to my face.

Mary.

Joseph.

The baby.

Jesus—the Prince of Peace. A newborn prince born in a stable, placed in a feeding trough. I’ve heard this story all my life but somehow, today it’s . . . I never really thought . . . tears gushed as I placed myself within the primitive birthing room. I sobbed and bawled and felt foolish for feeling sorry for myself, for being grumpy about the cold and disrupted plans.

Shepherds.

Angels.

Dad closed his Bible. I folded the wet corner of my blanket and wiped my face. Forever changed.

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A Compassionate King

For years Nehemiah thought about his ancestors’ desecrated graves. These thoughts troubled him. Then one day he could no longer hide his feelings behind a forced smile and his routine servant-cup-bearing duties.

“Why is your face so sad?” asked King Artaxerxes. Thick silence filled the throne room.

How do I answer him, thought Nehemiah. Will my reply cost me? My job? My life?

With trembling knees and hands he drew in a deep breath, admonished the king, then told him his desires.

If an earthly king can detect a downcast servant how much more can our Heavenly King discern our intents and desires (Hebrews 4:15)?

Dear Jesus,

You’re our Creator–a God of details. Your word teaches us we ‘have not because we ask not’ (James 4:2). You know the longings, and at times the aches in our hearts. Help us to give voice to those yearnings as we cast our cares on you. More importantly, cause our thoughts to align with your will. In your name we pray, Amen.

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A Memorable Break

At seventeen I had a lot of questions–few answers. Questions about life. Questions about the future. Questions about God. Is He real? And is there more to being a Christian than going to church and trying to live a good life? Yes, I had questions and a job as the Assistant Head Dining Room Girl at  summer camp.

My duties included setting tables, serving food, serving second and third helpings of food, cleaning tables, washing dishes and mopping floors. As second in command of the eight Dining Room Girls, I had to make sure all our tasks were completed and help solve any problems among us. Consequently, serving three meals a day, plus a night-time snack to staff left little time to enjoy any camp activities.

However, one day before supper, we were invited to step outside and join the campers.

“Everyone take on of these slips of paper from the basket,” said the Camp Director. “Now walk to an area by yourself, sit down and think about what you’re reading. Stay in your spot until you hear the dinner bell.”

I reached into the wicker basket and took one of the folded white papers and meandered to a nearby tree. I plopped beneath it feeling grateful to sit outside a few minutes, even if it was July. I leaned against the tree and opened my assignment.

 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine      own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Proverbs 3: 5-6

At last–an answer.

I peered at the sky then down again to what became my favorite Bible verses.

Yes Lord.

I will trust.

 

 

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Spiritual Survival

I’ve heard the secret to wilderness survival is what’s tucked away in your pockets, belt and mind. What’s kept there must sustain you when all else is lost.

As I make my way through this world of declining morals, I ‘ve found I must diligently put God’s word in my heartPsalm 119:11

God saw that human evil was out of control. People thought evil, imagined evil–evil, evil, evil from morning to night. Genesis 6:5, The Message.

Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy. Peter 3:15 The Message.

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God and not of us. 2 Corinthians 4:7 KJV.

As I make my way through this metaphoric wilderness of life, I must answer as Jesus did, It is written. Continue reading

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A Transformation

We called a friend to ask if we could borrow his pressure washer.

“Sure as long as you pay me in some of your homemade bread. Deal?”

“Deal.”

Making bread is one of our pastimes. It’s amazing how the ingredients can mix into such warm deliciousness.

Jesus told a parable about bread making, (Matthew 13:33 and Luke 13:21). Although there are other scriptures comparing leaven to sin, (Matthew 15, Mark 8, 1 Corinthians 5 and Galatians 5), Jesus’ allegory to His Kingdom being like leaven hits home–in the kitchen and in the heart.

Heaven’s Leaven

When yeast is mixed into the dough then left alone, a change will show.

The dough will soon be twice its size thanks to yeast that made it rise.

The kingdom’s like this Jesus said, like the leaven makes our bread.

Word and Spirit both alive begin to work, deep, deep, inside

and change a life bound by sin, setting it free–new life in Him.

And He in us, hope of glory. Heaven’s leaven. Unseen story.

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