We Are Truly Marvels to Behold

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“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.”

Acts 4:13

“God created the world out of nothing, and so long as we are nothing, He can make something out of us.”  

Martin Luther

Consider this: the jawbone of a donkey, a sling shot. and barley loaves, a woman’s tears, a young boy’s lunch, a young colt, and a talking donkey, they all suggest that God touches the common and the insignificant. He uses what we consider of minor importance. We often turn to the talented and gifted far too readily.

Peter and John are being seen by the Sanhedrin (the Jewish “Supreme Court”). They are to give account of themselves before the highest court of the land. There had been a healing, and there was the matter of preaching as well. Both Peter and John exude a confidence that these religious leaders couldn’t deny. Their perception was that they were ignorant men. Uneducated and common. But. They also knew they had been with Jesus.

In the minds of the leadership, they were nothing more than religious “white-trash.”

God loves to use what we consider common. His revealed history has been to take anything at His disposal and utilize it to redeem lost souls. A staff or a sling-shot are used with an adroitness that seems extraordinary among men. The things we think are simple and common are used to further God’s work among mankind.

But the message always returns back to the preachers. The Sanhedrin knew of the disciples preaching. They had absorbed the fact of a miracle; a crippled man had just been healed. (This they couldn’t deny.) But they were troubled. And they didn’t really know what to do.

What more could this be, but a direct intervention of God? And yet, God is working through “common people.” Then look…

“…if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed,”

Acts 4:9

Within this preaching was woven this healing. The Holy Spirit was ‘rocking their  world.’ The people who came in contact with these disciples would never be the same. Paul tells the Corinthian church that:

“Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful.”

1 Corinthians 1:27, NLT

If God has a specialty it would be this. He desires all the glory. He goes out of the way to use the broken and weak. He shows His strength through insignificant and minor things and people.

“We are all wounded. But wounds are necessary for his healing light to enter into our beings. Without wounds and failure and frustrations and defeats, there will be no opening for his brilliance to trickle in and invade our lives. Failures in life are courses with very high tuition fees, so I don’t cut classes and miss my lessons: on humility, on patience, on hope, on asking others for help, on listening to God, on trying again and again and again.”

Bo Sanchez

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They Are Bread for Us! [Challenges]

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Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their protection is removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them.” 10 Then all the congregation said to stone them with stones. But the glory of the Lord appeared at the tent of meeting to all the people of Israel.”

Numbers 14:9-10

Exactly, how do we see our challenges? During the time of Moses and Joshua, and when the land of Canaan [still out there] had yet to be conquered, was still waiting, this happened. But there were many [most] who wanted out. In their limited experience, they saw some serious problems– disaster, becoming a slaughter. They were terrified.

An attempt to stall this insurgency, a few speak up. They call it what it is– rebellion. The people [enmass] begin to organize. More a mob than a crowd, things get nasty. Moses stands up, and speaks loud enough to be heard. [He is not a public speaker.] And do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their protection is removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them.”

Many times we have to choose. The decision to follow Him is almost always dangerous. It requires daring ideas, and is against much of we label common sense. People will always speak doubtful things, and we find little support for our faith to launch out.

Bread is there to build us up. It is good food that might strengthen us. It becomes the metaphor for strength that increases. I grew up with “Popeye” eating spinach out of a can. He found lots of energy, with amazing new abilities. [It almost persuaded me to eat it.] The enemies in the land may seem to be formidable, and without the presence of God they were.

But we are really strengthened by our foes. That which did not weaken us, but only made us stronger. What is bread? Why it is “the staff of life.” In 1 Corinthians 16:9, “There is a wide-open door for a great work here, although many oppose me.”

Victory is never easy. It would be easy if it is always found in a can of spinach. But it is not. It is exclusive to the “presence” of God. Our foes will only fortify us. And that’s a promise for you.

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The Church Triumphant

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A church as a hospital during WW1

“The church is not a select circle of the immaculate, but a home where the outcast may come in. It is not a palace with gate attendants and challenging sentinels along the entrance-ways holding off at arm’s-length the stranger, but rather a hospital where the broken-hearted may be healed, and where all the weary and troubled may find rest and take counsel together.” 

James H. Aughey

I have heard of a hospital in England that gives a loaf of bread to everyone who asks. This tradition has been going on for over 800 years. The hungry are fed at St. Cross Hospital by just knocking at a door. This hospital takes ministry very seriously.

Jesus Christ so loves sinners that He gives to all who come to Him. Hungry sinners have to do is knock. But there is more than this. He provides a bath to all who are filthy. A wardrobe to cover up any nakedness. A bed to everyone who is weary and sad, for the Gospel meets every spiritual need.

I like to think that there is room for the mentally ill at Jesus’ hospital. A safe place for those who are exhausted by their battles, a room where Jesus can bless those who are afflicted. I believe there is such a place. For my own soul has been comforted by Him.

The Church carries on the ministry— it’s a St. Cross Hospital— for the immense needs of human beings. The sons of Adam and the daughters of Eve can find salvation and comfort from a world that intends only to destroy. Furthermore we now represent Jesus to a desperate world. We become Christ-like for this reason. The Church triumphs during times like this.

The poor and needy– the sick, the lame, the mentally ill, the prisoner, the addict are the Church’s glory. This little group of rag-tag disciples are responsible for the care of the lost. We just need to figure out how we can reach them. The Holy Spirit will help us.

The World is watching us. We welcome this, for we are the salt and light lifted up so all can see. We were born to serve.

 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

14 You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.”

Matthew 5:13-14

We dare not remove and nullify our mission. When we do so we become nothing more than another institution that is trying hard to secure a place in this world, Our distinctiveness is “blood bought” and our mandate is to be  “the Salt and Light” in this dark place. It is our sure calling. It is the Father’s will. We will be the Church triumphant.

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Check out: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hospital_of_St_Cross

Understanding Bread

I have learned a lot about my Christian walk in the last few years.  Most of it has been gathered from ordinary life experiences.  Like working on a farm, hanging wallpaper, driving too fast in a cornfield (!).  If I set long enough I can list 100 more, each with a lesson or two.

Been thinking about baking bread though.  The flour, and water, and yeast are combined and mixed (kneaded).  It takes some patience and timing.  Experience is really helpful.  My Great-grandma made the best bread in Northern Wisconsin.  (As a little kid, I got a slice of bread soaked in cow’s milk for a tasty snack.)

After I grew up, got married and moved to my cabin in Alaska.  I decided I would show off my bread-making prowess to my young wife.  I floured the table and set myself to making “Grandma’s bread”.  I was going to be the star, hotshot baker!

As I worked the dough something just didn’t feel right.  I surmised that I didn’t have enough flour–it just wouldn’t come together.  I kneaded the dough for quite sometime, while I racked my brain trying to fix the out-of-control mess on the table.  I was getting embarrassed.  It was taking far too long, and the texture was all wrong.

I was getting very irritated at this growing mess. It was then my brave wife graciously pointed out that perhaps it was because I was not using white flour like I thought, but powdered sugar!  See, we had just moved in, and she had been wanting to label the canisters but hadn’t got around to it.

I took the lump outside and buried it in the yard.  It’s been over 20 years but I’ve been told that grass still doesn’t grow there!  The funny thing was I thought I was making bread, but I guess what I really was making was humility. (I keep having to learn this).

When you make bread, you need clean ingredients; pure flour and good water.  If you just came in from the barn you should wash your hands–throughly.  Whatever you mix in, stays in.  (My mom would get a little crazy and throw in raisins or nuts, which I hated.)

You do not sweep the floor and add it to dough, nor do you add chalk or anything that may look like flour.  In the same way, you and I make spiritual bread.  It  takes experience and good and wholesome ingredients.  It takes patience.  You can’t accelerate the process of baking bread.

I hope you can see my point.  We try to mix up a fresh batch of our discipleship everyday. The table is our hearts–it must be clean.  We add the flour and the yeast.  We only use clean water, purity must be maintained.

I’ve been struggling with some things in my discipleship.  I haven’t been too picky about many things.  Purity of heart and mind are areas of compromise.  As a result, I have not been pleased with the outcome.  I am embarrassed by the quality of what I serve up to my guests.

I believe there is nothing as tasty and fresh bread from the oven, served up with homemade jam!  Man, that is good.  Maybe, I’ll make up some bread.