Saturday, September 20, 2014

Through the Fire


Genesis 1: 26 - Let us make man in our own image and in our likeness.

Genesis 2:19 - Lord God formed all the birds of the air and the beasts of the field and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.

On any given day, Hilda, Carmen and Sybil could be heard preaching the Bible to any and all who would listen, and to even those who couldn’t be bothered to listen.
They could be heard boisterously uttering phrases like “Too blessed to be stressed!” “Thank God for Grace!” and “I’m glory bound!” and “Bless Jesus, I’m saved!”
You could hear them singing:
Pass Me Not, Oh Gentle Savior; Open my Eyes That I May See; I’m Climbing Jacob’s Ladder; Onward Christian Soldiers; and I am Delivered, Praise the Lord!
But, there was something not quite real about any of them.
If you passed by Sybil’s house on laundry day, you could hear her singing:
I don’t like work, and work don’t like me, and that is the reason that I’m so hungry. Hallelujah, I’m a bum. Hallelujah, a bum again. Hallelujah, give me a hand out to revive me again!”
If you passed by when Carmen’s husband had gotten drunk and beat and curse her and the children, you would know that she had completely forgotten all about the catch phrases that she loved to quote to people when she was on her “Jesus Juice!”
You could hear Carmen asking the Lord to let the day come when she would ask Him to give her five minutes to “out that cretin’s lights” permanently. And that was after she had used enough technicolor phrases to make even a sailor blush!
As for Hilda, when she left off her preaching stint every Wednesday morning outside Dolphus' Shop, she stepped inside for the requisite flask bottle of Cockspur Rum which she said was for when “King Arthur kicking in me old tail!”
Of course, after she had taken a liberal dose of her “medicine,” she set about doing her Christian duty to, as she said, “The poor, morally bankrupt and lost souls.”
Everybody knew that was Hilda-speak for “I am going to give and get the juiciest gossip on everybody in this neighborhood!”
And, of course, there was Ms. Daisy. The most devout of the neighborhood Christians.
Daisy could hardly walk during the week, and needed help to do even the most basic things to keep herself comfortable. But, when Church day came along, Daisy could outwalk and outrun everybody, rain or shine, to be the first one in the Sanctuary. She was the one to speak to if you wanted to know the 411 on “them deceitful people in this church!”
These women had forgotten their examples from the Bible: Noah, Shem, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, Samuel, Job, King David, Nehemiah, Paul, Dorcas, and on and on.

The Christian’s Lot
The lot of a Christian is hard, often bitter, and contentious. There is no minimizing that.
Look at the Master. He didn’t do anything wrong. He did all that was right in the sight of God and man, and yet, ultimately, he was brutally scourged and finally murdered.
However, with Christ as the only binding example of the Christian walk, we Christians are called upon
1. To be WISE, beyond education, training, situation or circumstance. We must remember that our current situation is NOT our final destination, and we must look beyond what is to what is possible.
2. To be temperate. We must do all things in moderation, including eat, sleep and work and play.
3. To seek to find our innate gifts. Think back to Genesis 2:19. God gives each of us gifts — we only have to seek for, recognize, accept and use, better yet, exploit them. If you want more gifts, remember, first, to use the ones with which you have been blessed.
4. To be our brother, and sister’s keeper. If your neighbor, your husband, or wife, mother, father, brother or sister hurts you, and you can help, even if he or she may have despitefully used you, you are required to assist that person. For, you are to heap coals upon that person’s head and let the Lord take vengeance, which He says is His, and which He will repay.
5. To surround ourselves with positive people, and to set a positive example for those who are otherwise. We must live up to our calling and project a sense of self that is worthy of our Christian calling.
6. To be rounded, a pie, if you will. A bible-thumper does not a Christian make, nor a slice a whole pie. We are to find the things that bring us and others joy, and stop sucking the air out of the atmosphere with our sour looks and pious expressions which only cover very shallow and one dimension beings.
         By way of analogy, I give you Life as told by the Rose:
Rose, that I am, while beautiful to behold and fragrant to the nose, is sheathed in protective thorns to keep at bay those who would mishandle or abuse me.

          As it relates to life, we are to observe, and enjoy, and handle said life wisely, or else the thorns

that are life’s prods to growth with tear us to pieces.
          I also give to you the analogy of the Redwood tree. That giant in nature which grows in community and toward heaven in all majesty.
A Redwood tree will never grow in isolation. It will never reach its potential if left to its own devices. At 1,000 plus feet of height, it needs the community of the brotherhood as support for its growth toward grace, as it cannot grow alone and be called by its real name.
           I also give to you the analogy of the Waterlily. The most fragrant and beautiful salve to the weary and wandering soul who gets life, and attains its regal stature and poise from growing where it is planted, in the dirtiest, dankest, smelliest, swamp imaginable.
In short, that Waterlily has learnt to “grow where it has been planted!” It has found its purpose in life and it lives above its surroundings while being a beacon to the lost, the weary and lone.
Finally, I want us to consider Samuel 16:7 - ... The Lord looketh on the heart.
We must not minimize people just because they are not like us in face, body, clothing, speech, education, living accommodation, financial acumen, bible mastery, or even in smell.
As Christians, we are to be as the Shepherd David:
David took his HARP and played for the soothing of his enemy King Saul’s soul.
David also played ,and sang unto his God of the desires of his heart and his personal observations of the Lord’s creation. David gave thanks and praise while seeing to the welfare of his parents, the displaced of the community; his followers; his army and the stranger within his gate.
David was not arrogant because of his elevation from the sheepfold. He accepted his chastisement when he was convicted of doing wrong in the sight of God and man, and he repented and became that beloved “Man after God’s own heart!”
David always sang of his faith in His Creator and TESTIFIED of His Creator’s saving grace and power.
David, that wise singer, songwriter, harpist, conqueror, builder, and King, after having found his purpose, and after having confessed and was forgiven of his sin, behaved himself wisely in all his ways, and the Lord, God, was always with him. **BJC**