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Love, Legal Aid, and Omelets

Below is a volunteer profile from Christian Legal Clinics of Philadelphia (CLCP) http://www.clcphila.org/, a faith-based non-profit near and dear to my heart.

“Attorney Vicki Piontek is a gem.  She loves Jesus, she loves her family, and she loves CLCP.  She has become an indispensable member of the CLCP family.

Vicki and her husband run their own law firm where they help defend clients from unfair debt collection practices.  She is vigilant in her client representation.

If there is a CLCP event you can count on Vicki to be there to serve the clients, assist the volunteers, and feed everyone a hearty meal.  She makes a mean omelet!

Vicki has a heart for people, and she wants to see those around her do well in all aspects of life, especially in their relationships with Jesus.  Vicki carries the light of Christ wherever she goes and continues to illuminate CLCP.

Thank you Vicki for all you do and for what you have added to CLCP!!!”

Therefore I urge you, brothers, on account of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, which is your spiritual service of worship” (Rom. 12: 1).

Please, pray for the victims of the terrorist attack in London.  Pray, also, for South Sudan where aid workers are being prevented from reaching the 5.5 million people impacted by famine.  US Deputy Ambassador Michele Sison describes the situation there as approaching “deliberate starvation tactics.”

READERS CAN FIND MY VIEWS ON ABUSE AND ABUSE-RELATED ISSUES AT ANNA WALDHERR A Voice Reclaimed, Surviving Child Abuse http://www.avoicereclaimed

“Light and Darkness” by Dr. Lloyd Stebbins

Church of St. Michael (nave north window), Essex, England, Author Acabashi (CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

This eloquent post by Dr. Lloyd Stebbins began life as a comment on an earlier post of mine.  Dr. Stebbins’ insights are always wise and welcome.  Regrettably, I did not give his comment the attention it deserved.  Today’s republication is an effort to correct that oversight. 

Dr. Stebbins is the author of “Wake Up America – Or Die!  YOU Must Save America and the Family”.  He blogs at Dr. Lloyd StebbinsDeliberate Joy https://lloydstebbins.com/.

And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it” (John 1: 5).

“It is interesting to notice church windows.  They vary from stained glass to clear, large and small, a lot of windows or just a few—or even no windows at all.  As churches have migrated from traditional Christian music to contemporary Christian music or Christian rock music, there has been a growing trend to build churches without windows.

The church leaders claim that the windowless churches, sanctuaries, or auditoriums enable better control of the lighting, absolute control if the inside walls are black or a dark color.  Indeed, the churches are becoming increasingly theatrical.  Could it be that the increasingly theatrical nature of ‘worship’ services tends to place more emphasis on man and less emphasis on God, despite the very best of intentions and the clearly Christian lyrics of the contemporary or Christian rock music?

The dark-walled, windowless churches provide the pastors and other leaders of the Sunday morning ‘production’ absolute, godlike control of the lighting. Yet, scripture says that, ‘God is light.’  A long time ago, Lucifer wanted to be like God.  It clearly did not work out well for him.  Is it really a good idea to shut out ALL of the light?

By shutting out all of the light are we literally, figuratively, or symbolically, shutting out God?  Is there an affordable architectural compromise that would allow professional control of lighting for Christmas and Easter productions, but allow God’s wonderful physical and spiritual light to shine, at least while the pastor is preaching?

The type, size, and number of windows are largely a matter of personal and congregational preference.  But can zero windows become problematic? The abundance of windows in many older churches suggests a clear intent to let in as much light as possible. What has changed?  What do you think?”

READERS CAN FIND MY VIEWS ON ABUSE AND ABUSE-RELATED ISSUES AT ANNA WALDHERR A Voice Reclaimed, Surviving Child Abuse  http://www.avoicereclaimed

Cathedrals

The

The “rose” window of Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, Author Krysztof Mizera (changed by Chagler and MathKnight), Source File Rozeta Paryz notre-dame chalger.jpg (CC BY-SA 4.0 International, 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic, and 1.0 Generic)

Using little more than a set of compasses, a T-square, and a rope marked off at regular intervals, medieval masons crafted masterpieces in stone – places of worship filled with light.

The construction of Gothic cathedrals began with the laying of a cornerstone.  Completion of these soaring structures could, however, take hundreds of years.

At a time when higher mathematics was largely unknown in Europe, masons (responsible for actually laying the stone) combined the modern roles of architect, engineer, builder, designer, and craftsman.  With little or no formal education, stonecutters shared tips with one another, learning through trial and error.  Maker’s marks can still be seen on the stone in some locations.

Many Gothic cathedrals stand to this day, attesting both to the faith and skill of their builders.  But the real monuments were – as they are today – the lives of the men and women who worshiped in them.  God wants our stony and battered hearts.  He has set His mark upon them for all to see.

The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone” (Ps. 118: 22).

Lord Jesus, You are the Stone the builders rejected, and our Cornerstone.  You are the Rock upon which we build our lives.  Help us to make You central to all our endeavors, that they may rest on a firm foundation.

We place our faith in You.

Amen

Originally posted 5/1/13

READERS CAN FIND MY VIEWS ON ABUSE AND ABUSE-RELATED ISSUES AT ANNA WALDHERR A Voice Reclaimed, Surviving Child Abuse  http://www.avoicereclaimed

Almond Tree

Detail of gold menorah, Jewish Quarter, Jerusalem, Photo zeevveez (CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic)

Detail of gold menorah, Jewish Quarter, Jerusalem, Photo zeevveez (CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic)

“I said to the almond tree, ‘Sister speak to me of God.’  And the almond tree blossomed.”

— Nikos Kazantzakis, Report to Greco

The almond tree, a relative of the peach, is native to the Levant, but has been cultivated as far north as Iceland.  It was among the first trees domesticated, thought to have sprouted initially on pre-historic garbage heaps.

Domesticated almonds were in use by the Bronze Age (3300-2000 BC).  They were found amid other treasures in the pharaoh, Tutankhamen’s tomb.

Almond blossoms have been said to symbolize hope, perseverance, and justice, among other things.  For the Israelites, they signified watchfulness, specifically God’s vigilance on their behalf.  The Hebrew word “almond” and the phrase, “I am ready” (or “I am watching”) sound similar.  The almond, also, flowers in early Spring.

It was for these reasons that God instructed the Israelites to make a golden lampstand shaped like an almond tree, for the sanctuary (Ex. 25:31-40).  Three branches were to extend from each side, decorated with flowers in the form of almond blossoms and buds.  The Jewish menorah (a candelabra with seven  branches) was the result.

The staff Moses’ brother, Aaron, carried was made of almond wood, as well.  The same staff bloomed and brought forth almonds overnight, in validation of Aaron’s claim to the priesthood (Num. 17).

The Book of Revelation describes Christ as surrounded by seven golden lampstands, thus, portraying His central relationship to the seven churches (Rev. 1: 12-13, 20).  He is, in effect, the stem of a greater lampstand (a reference, also, to the vine and branches symbolism at John 15: 1-7). Read more…

From A Stone

“Moses Striking the Rock in the Desert”, wall painting in an early Christian catacomb, Author Leinad-Z (PD)

“Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Take the rod; you and your brother Aaron gather the congregation together. Speak to the rock before their eyes, and it will yield its water…’ ” (Num. 20: 7-8).

“You can’t get blood from a stone.”  It is an idiomatic phrase we have heard countless times.  There is more than a hint of anger conveyed by the expression.  The source, in other words, is unyielding or has been bled dry.

“You can’t get blood from a stone.”  Why would anyone try to get blood from a stone?  How could that even to be done?  Surely, the outcome is a foregone conclusion.

Short of water for thousands of thirsty people he had led into the desert, Moses must have thought the same.  “Why did you make us leave Egypt?” they whined.  “Why did you bring us to this evil place to die?” they complained to him.

Weary, angry, doubtful, Moses struck the rock twice and water gushed out.  Yet for this disobedience, for this failure of faith, he was barred from the Promised Land after decades of faithful service.  Wait!  Hadn’t Moses just performed a miracle?  Why did God treat him so harshly?

God had instructed Moses to speak to the rock.  It was Moses who took it upon himself to strike the rock.  Wasn’t that a distinction without a difference? Read more…

BOOK REVIEW – “The Mind of Christ”

With “The Mind of Christ” David Murry has given us a passionate declaration of Christ’s love for us, a powerful indictment of the American church, and a moving statement of his own experiences with God.

Written in a conversational style, “The Mind of Christ” examines these interrelated topics from a biblical perspective.

Murry begins by exploring the relationship believers have with God.  The author distinguishes between believers’ positional righteousness (earned for us at the cross), and our relational righteousness (the result of sanctification, and the depth of our communion with God).

Positional Righteousness

“We died to our sin nature.  We are new creatures in Him, with His mind, His righteousness, and the greatest gift of all, His raging river of love…”

-David Murry, “The Mind of Christ”

By the cross, we were given the mind of Christ and a new identity, as Murry puts it.  Our self-worth was established here.  It is separate from our function within the Body of Christ.

Relational Righteousness

“Relational righteousness, or said another way, a life lived seeking to walk in holiness is meant to be the natural response to the revelation of His love toward us.  We can only do this if we first understand our position in Christ.”

-David Murry, “The Mind of Christ”

As Murry explains, our self-worth is not dependent on the depth of our relationship with God.  We choose how far to allow God into our hearts and our lives.

God’s Unconditional Love

Throughout the book, David Murry emphasizes God’s boundless and unconditional love for us.

The author explains that if we do not turn to God and Kingdom truth, in any area of our lives, then we believe a lie about ourselves.  Murry goes so far as to say that:

“If in any way, an action of ours or an action of others, affects the way we view ourselves, it is an idol [1].”

-David Murry, “The Mind of Christ”

Murry, in this connection, explores fear of rejection and fear of failure, along with pride and mysticism.  He, also, discusses in the book manhood, as defined by the Bible, and the purpose of trials.

Impact of Sin

The author explains that God’s love never waivers.  Our sin does, however, grieve God’s heart, interfering with our relational righteousness.

Only “…when we begin to accept how much He loves us…[do] we begin to feel…His heart,” the author points out.  Ultimately, it is God’s love that transforms us, setting the captives free.

The Body of Christ

David Murry then turns his attention to the American church – criticizing its worldly attitude toward worship, temporal goals and concerns, materialism, compromise with sin, and failure to care adequately for the persecuted church abroad.  He pleads, in particular, for the needy. Read more…

Model Prayer

Pater Noster Chapel, Jerusalem, with multiple translations of

Pater Noster Chapel, Jerusalem, with multiple translations of the Lord’s Prayer on chapel walls, Author Magrietha Knight (CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

My prayer life is no model for anyone.  Prayer can bring me to tears.  But I sometimes abandon it altogether, overwhelmed by the emotion it can evoke.  Other times, I avoid prayer out of a feeling of abject unworthiness.

Snippets

During the day, I pray most often in short snippets:  “Jesus, bless those boys over there with the basketball.  Keep them from harm.”  “Would You help me find my glasses, Lord?  I’ve managed to lose them again.”  “Draw their hearts back to You, Lord.  I beg You.”  “Father, forgive my impatience, my anger.  Will I never learn?”  “Oh, my God!?  Please, protect the Syrian refugees, and civilians being bombed.  Please, please, watch over our troops.”  “Tell me what to do, Lord!”

I do not know what the Lord makes of these pleas.  However, if I delay in addressing Him, I fall immediately prey to perfectionism.  That only serves as an obstacle, interfering with prayer.

Confession

Growing up in the Catholic faith, I could confess my deficiencies to a priest, and be absolved of them.  God, of course, knew them already.

But an examination of conscience is as necessary as weeding.  It roots out the thoughts and behaviors competing with God for our time and attention, the thoughts and behaviors gradually drawing us away from God.

Brokenness

I pray when the world has taken its toll, and I am broken.  I pray when old, familiar demons plague me – anxiety, depression, migraines to name a few.

Night Watches

Most of my profound communication with God takes place during the stillness of the night watches.  It helps that I have insomnia (LOL).

I pray for friends and loved ones, and for those who write to me.  World events frequently move me to pray about people or issues.  And inspiration, for which I have no way to account, at times flows through my pen (these days, my computer).  Read more…