Household of Faith

A Mothers' Prayer Meeting | Faithward.org

A household of faith – standing side by side

For each other’s needs prepared to provide

Bound as a family – steeped in love

Like that shown to us from Him above

While we were yet sinners, we still had His affection

And He placed us on a path to develop perfection

While we may not have managed to attain it

We begin with things like the kindness we transmit

For each of our brethren have their needs

And we can easily provide for them – when we give up our greed

We are a household, one built on belief

And together we can change the world – giving to others relief


Padre

Thank you again Brother Vince for a powerful message

Neighbourhood

Grayscale Photo of Houses Near Road
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A neighbourhood like many others

Dwellings, streets, and things

Each resident their own lives live

Behind curtains and window screens

Dramas unfold every day

Issues both great and small

Hidden from prying eyes

By the freshly painted walls

A neighbourhood like many others

But like every community unique

Just getting on with each day

Is all that the inhabitants seek


Padre

The Space

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“And that’s final,” Edgar shouted as he closed the front door in his neighbour’s face.

“What was all that about?” his wife, Martha asked.

“That numbskull next door expects me to move the car.  He says that I am taking ‘his’ space in front of ‘his’ house. Well, I told him there are no assigned parking spots on this street, and it’s finders keepers.”

About an hour later, Martha came into the TV room and said, “Honey, that space you so vehemently argued over; I think you should move our car.”

“Why should I?” Edgar challenged in a cross tone.

“Well I think you should go have a look. John seems to have come up with a better argument than finders keepers.”

 

Padre

FOWC with Fandango — Vehement

Leading the Way

Image by Cheryl Holt from Pixabay

There was an air of excitement as the convoy of eleven cars and SUVs arrived in the parking lot.  Many had been looking forward to this event since last year.  There would be singing, games, and of course – food.

Angel’s mom had made mac and cheese; the really yummy type with ham in it and the cheese all thick and gooey.  It was Angel’s favourite.  Tonya’s mom had made brownies, that were soft and chewy.  There were no nuts in them though – Tonya hated nuts.  This was also really good because James was allergic to them.

As the families began to unload coolers, and folding chairs from the vehicles, Charles started to sing Jesus Loves Me with a lisp, he having lost not one, but two front teeth the night before.  Several of the children giggled at this, only to be shushed by Sister Taylor.

“He’s doin’ a lovely job,” the Church Mother said, “You go ahead a sing, Sweetie, it’s lovely.

“Everybody ready?” Tonya’s mom asked the gathered families.

“Looks like it,” Someone responded.

With that, Angel and Tonya, the Pastor’s grand-daughters, ran across the little bridge.  They knew just the perfect spot for the annual Sunday School picnic.

 

Padre

Daily Writing Prompt #27: Realistic Fiction

 

Daily Blessings and the Family Eternal

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I am blessed.  That is merely a statement of fact.

Brother James brought a timely message today which clearly came from the heart.  Without going into a full recap, he made a powerful statement about our relationship with miracles.  Drawing on the I Kings 18, he noted that there are those moments in between the miracles when we can lose sight of the power of God.

I loved the point he made in reminding us to look between the gaps.   I have been doing that a lot lately, thus my opening paragraph.  I am blessed.  The big “miracles” may not be ever present, but God’s blessings and mercies are ever present.

God blessed me with a wife, who was not only my soul mate, but my best friend.   God has taken her home, but that too is a blessing in that I know she will no longer feel the pain and fatigue of her long term illness.  Yes, I have suffered a bereavement, but God and His people in my life (my family eternal). They have put me into a position of blessing even the more.   I am sad (that’s natural with grief) – but I am not depressed.  I am often lonely – but I am not alone.  I am encouraged in my faith.  I am encouraged by that faith.  I have wonderful friends who check in on me, and comfort me, and pray for me.  I have a church family who prays with me, for me, and over me.

Today’s service was a special experience.  It was one of those times when I was prayed over, it was especially comforting as we also announced the date for Dianne’s memorial service today.  But by far the most powerful act of love and support today came from my little sister in Christ, Jell.   She used one of my favourite images of Dianne from my Facebook and copied it to accompany words of comfort and support.  She is truly a precious and pure heart, and the little note will be prized by me and find pride of place among the condolence cards I have received.   I have put a link to the picture below, I am not tech savvy enough to know if it will open for others, but if it does, you will see the love in it.

My blessings are daily, as is the love from my family eternal.

 

Padre

 

Jell’s Drawing of Love

 

Legacy of Faith: “Holding His Hand Each Day”

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In I Thessalonians 5:11, Paul wrote: “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”   There are many ways in which we can lift each other up.  First and foremost of these is in the act of prayer.  The act of intercessory prayer is a mighty one.  It  taps into the central power of all creation – God – in order to strengthen and provide for the needs of others.

In addition to prayer there are our words of kindness and encouragement.  It is easy to get lost in one’s own struggles and to feel alone – “I am the only one suffering this,” or “nobody cares.”  But a gentle word can prove to be, not just a “reality check,” but a load lifter all on its own.

My wife, Dianne addressed this “ministry of encouragement” in the face of her own illness.  It is part of her legacy of faith, that she set out to lift others while she herself was in decline.   Below is a posting where she discussed it.

Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami: ‘When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.’

I make a public posting almost everyday, and document how i am coping and remind readers that God is helping me through.

I do this because i want to connect with others out there, perhaps suffering terrible trials, maybe even waiting through terminal cancer as i am, maybe you have relatives out there who have a diagnosis or you just want to understand. Possibly you are prepared to pray for me to make my journey easier.

Whatever the reason, this is possibly my legacy, all i have to leave behind.

I have prayed to be healed and certainly believe God can heal me, but i wont know the truth until my time limit of 6-18m[onths] is over.

Most of the time i try not to think about it, but it an ever present ‘spectre at the feast’ and colours every decision to some extent.
In my case i will potentially be mostly well, until suddenly i am not, and then it would be a quick decline.
I do have other co morbid issues though which make me generally ill and confine my to the house largely, often to bed for long periods. These are the issues my post largely comments on and also logs my positive attitude, which i work hard to maintain.

There are issues i havent touched on yet, the stress of not knowing, will i see another birthday… The loneliness of being home all the time but too ill to really see anyone. The pressure to leave something positive behind, to not be an extra burden to loved ones, to be upbeat and cheerful, to ensure nothing is left undone, and just waiting to see …knowing everytime i am in pain or have a new symptom my husband worries and quietly panics inside.

It is a fulltime job, this being brave: as my mum described it today. But -it is what it is, and i am doing all i can, -all i believe God is guiding me to do.

Cancer… Is a terrible word, it has terrible connitations. i pray daily for those who have relatives who are suffering this cruel monster, who struggle to hold their life together whilst quietly being terrified and out of control.

But, God is there for all of us, he walks us into the storm, holds our hands through it and brings us out the other side changed, improved, sanctified.
Never forget to check if you are holding His hand each day (Dianne’s posting for 24 September 2018).

She was indeed “mostly well, until suddenly [she] am not, and then it would be a quick decline.”  Her decline was a matter of four days, but her bravery, concern for others, and this wonderful reminder to hold God’s hand daily inspire me to carry on.

 

Padre

Seeing the Opportunities

Water, Raindrops, Raining, Wet, Liquid, Splashing

Image by Roman Grac from Pixabay 

Last week at our church’s weekly prayer meeting, Pastor Vince noted that he felt the call for the church to take this week’s Monday meeting to the streets.  Several of us stayed at the church building to offer up prayers of protection and support, while the others went out and prayed for the community, even entering into pubs and fast food establishments to pray for those there.

As with many godly acts it didn’t come easily.  The skies opened and the “street team” faced some of the heaviest downpours we have seen in several months.  But their fire was not dampened, and though wet they saw the opportunity to affect the community and took it.

” . . . As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’ (Romans 10:15b).”  The beauty was truly there in the obedience and commitment to make a difference!

This attitude of taking all of the available opportunities to serve God was one that Dianne understood.  It is, I am sure, more than coincidence that my perusal today of her testimony journal* contained this passage:

“i have been very aware that 1 Peter 5: 7 instructs us to cast all our anxieties on him, because we know that he cares for us. I know these trials are disguised opportunities, i just need to look for openings. I have been able to share my faith with my gp and now with the hospice workers i have met. Next week i meet the hospice doctor and another opportunity.  At the same time i continue these weekly postings, and talk with friends via im and give and receive encouragement and prayers. Even housebound, i can touch the outside world thanks to modern technology and hopefully give glory to God. For that i am very grateful. I can still serve Him, even now.”

Let us too, look for the opportunities to serve Him!

Padre

*Dianne’s posting 27 April 19

Manifesting Power

 

Pastor Vince spoke this week on the topic of manifesting power.  He gave his message the title:  POWER THAT WILL END THE MATTER.

He began the lesson with Joshua 2 which, in paraphrase, recalls the two spies sent by Joshua to the region of Jericho.   They are harboured by Rahab, and she gives a telling admission, that the Canaanites are in terror of the people of Israel.  They have seen God’s hand in the crossing of the Red Sea and the defeat of the kings of the Wilderness.   They now cower behind the mighty walls of Jericho.  She then gives a wonderful revelation that she is convinced that God will give the Hebrews the land.  She then seeks assurances that she and her family will be spared because she has acted in a friendly way to the people of God.

She didn’t have to help them.  She didn’t have to be fearful just because of the Hebrew numbers.  She was fearful because she could observe the power of God among the Hebrews.

We need to have such a power.  We are not “going into all the world,” just as smiley or “happy clappy” people, but ones forged in and instilled with the Holy Spirit.  We like the Hebrew children before us are empowered.

But we need to focus on how that power is manifested and what is required.  Psalm 133 reads, “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!”  Like Israel approaching the walls of Jericho we are to be united.   United with God and His purposes and instructions, but also with one another.  Look at 1 John 4: 7-8, “ Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”  We are the people of God unified in love and purpose.  With that comes power.   Here we can return to Psalm 133 which says our unity, “It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion (v 3),” a dew of dedication or common purpose.

Pastor Vince next called our attention to Matthew 13:44f in which a man sells all he has to buy a field in which he will find treasure.  All else falls short of the dedication to the goal.  Our service to God is to be like that.  But again this is not ideally an individual act.  It is an act of a loving brotherhood of people.  Remember when Jesus was asked about the greatest commandment of the Law.  He started out with saying we need to love God with our whole being, but the second point is like onto it, “Love your neighbour.”  We are not meant to do this alone.  Yes our Christian walk can be done in a solitary manner, but it will often lack the power possible when together.  It may well be the reason for Hebrews 10:25 telling us not to forsake meeting together.   When we are combined and committed we will be like the church at Jerusalem in Acts 2 and following – having all things in common, and dwelling in the Apostles’ teachings.  The result – the church was held in high regard by all of the people.

Here we can go to Hebrews 11: 31 “By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.”  She witnessed the unity of the Hebrews, saw the power of God, and she believed.   Think of what we can achieve when we come together in God’s plan, unified and supportive of one another.  We will act in one accord, and then just look out for the power to become manifest!

Padre

This is a message that was well understood by Dianne.  Even in her weakened last weeks, her goal was to be unified with her church family and actively sought prayer requests that she could life up her brothers and sisters.  Seeking first the kingdom of God, we likewise should always unite with and lift up our Christian family.

 

 

Disagreeable?

Angry Man, Point, Finger, India, Angry, Male, Hand

Image by ashish choudhary from Pixabay 

Fandango’s Provocative Question for this week is: Is it possible anymore to disagree without being disagreeable?” 

It is interesting that this question was posted on the very day that my wife and I witnessed a hair-pulling confrontation with accompanying blows between two young women in a restaurant.  The exact cause of the fight is unknown, but as it came to punches, a server from the restaurant who tried to calm the situation was struck and pushed, leading to a wound on her arm.  So can being disagreeable be avoided?

Fandango in issuing the challenge raised the areas of religion and politics as examples of points of disagreement.  These are tricky at the best of times, but it often comes down to the attitude of the disputants.  Here I will need to speak with some familiarity, though No Authority.  I am a minister of religion, and as such have succumbed to the occupational hazard of being a theist.  I must start with the premise that “I believe, I hope, and I even have faith.”  A belief is something that you hold to be true, even if you cannot “prove” it.  A hope is something that you have a expectation and desire to be true. A faith is a belief in which you have absolute trust in it being true.  But that is not the same as saying I have all the answers.  There are many aspects of the spiritual and the temporal that I, even as a working theologian, do not “know.”  It is with this attitude that I enter into religious discussions.  When Fandango once challenged me on a point of word choice and semantics, I was quick to concede the point.  Dogmatism on definitions is iffy at best.

When I served with the Navy’s Chaplains Corps, I was happy with the sentiments of the motto: “Cooperation without compromise.”  I hold my beliefs, to which I will not yield unless given good reason, and I expect you to do the same.  It isn’t about pushing one view over another, it is about common purpose.   Later I worked in Inter-Faith Dialogue in which the principle was “Hold fast to your beliefs, respect others for doing the same, seek areas where there is agreement in order to facilitate further dialogue.”  Does all this mean that I will not teach what I believe?  Of course not, but I am not going to condemn you for disagreeing.   I will share my views, not impose them.

Politics is a bit stickier.  I am a trade union official.  I have dealt with employers, and politicians who make educational policy.  We often don’t see eye to eye, but slurs and hostility seldom result in useful results.  Compromise may seem anathema in religion, but in politics – dogmatism ends up building walls – literal and figurative. Finding common ground is always best.

So can you disagree without being disagreeable?  Most certainly so.  In the end it is about human respect.  You will never even consider my point of view unless I am willing to hear yours.  Dr. King noted that aggression does not help your opponent to understand you, and that aggression breeds aggression.  The path of mutual respect therefore calls for us to step back from dogmatism.  Even is we in the end disagree, we need not do so disagreeably.

Padre

The Farm Scheme

Real Estate, Land, Development Of

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I really didn’t know what i was getting myself into when I agreed to be co-opted onto the local council.  It seemed the right thing to do at the time, a kind of ‘civic duty’ fulfilled.  But wow, how could I have been ready for what followed?

My first meeting was about whether we should allow a co-operative farming venture to be set up in some disused land on the side of town.  It seemed positive enough, a kind of allotment scheme writ large.  Cheap affordable veg for the local community, and the clearing away of what had become a fly tipping site.  Better still it would involve several of the homeless people of the town, who largely felt themselves to be ‘outside’ the community. Win-win I thought as I cast my vote in favour.

Little did I expect, that the council then selected me to be one of the Councillors that would coordinate the venture.  My opposite number would be Herman Grant, Councillor and local green grocery.  It quickly became clear that this lone ‘no’ voter on the scheme was not going to cooperate, no matter how beneficial the scheme might be.  After all, it was going to hit him squarely in the bank account.

He made no waves in getting volunteers to clear the site.  He approved funds to have it fertilised.  He even agreed to the list of plot holders – not once showing aversion to the would be farmers named.  Then the penny dropped, the only crops he would approve for the site were olives, lemons, and other Mediterranean type produce.  Each would take years to grow, if they grew at all in England.

Well, so much for the dream of community cohesion.

Padre

The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS August 17/19: co –