Tuesday, October 26, 2010

"My Brothers" Pt. 3

When Jesus stopped Saul on the road to Damascus, Saul was on his way to persecute Christians. Jesus' words to Saul rang out clearly" "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" Again, I see that Jesus' heart is so bound with the hearts of His people, that those who persecute us persecute Him.

Jesus is still being persecuted today. And I wanted to post this as a reminder to us. We must not forget our brothers and sisters who are being hurt for the name of Jesus! We must pray for them!
In Egypt, a brother named Samir is being stalked and tortured. This is not something that happened a decade ago... not even 5 years ago... but RIGHT NOW. After he became a Christian, this highly successful college professor was declared insane and sent to an institution for the mentally disabled. There he has been given high dose hallucinogenic drug injections until saliva dripped from his limp mouth. He was "treated" with shock therapy until his mind and body have been irreparably damaged. Electrodes were also placed on his genitals and he was shocked there. The shock "treatment" lasts for 6 days, six times every morning. He has been released, followed, and re-admitted several times. Voice of the Martyrs magazine's August edition reports,
Samir was released from his sixth hospital visit just six weeks before we interviewed him. His mind appears to be irreversible damaged and he has continual tremors throughout his body, but his heart is still in God's hands. "They changed me from a normal, regular person to a mentally retarded person," Samir says. In addition, the public safety police still call him often...in fact the police had called Samir only two days before we met with him.
On July 19th, two Christian brothers in Pakistan (Rashid, age 32 and Sajjid, age 30) were shot dead in public.

On April 8th in Gulberg, Lahor, a 15 year old girl named Uzma was abducted by four Muslim men (one of them her neighbor's son). Her family's neighbors had been trying to stop her family from their audible singing and praying each morning. The men who beat Uzma taunted her by saying "Call your God for help, to whom you worship loudly and regularly, if can save you...for whom you are disturbing others." The child was dragged away, and the next day her parents were told that she had converted to Islam. She has not been returned to her family and, as of last word, is still in captivity.

These are three separate stories of the persecution of Christians happening RIGHT NOW in three different countries. The reason I tell them to you is to remind you that Christ's brothers and sisters are being tortured even as you read this for His name.

Brothers, sisters, friends... I can not tell you what a burden this is on my heart!

For more information or to support Christ's sufferers around the world, to give financially, to learn how to pray, and to sign up for a FREE magazine, I urge you click here and visit the VOM web site. God is passionate about His people and inasmuch as you support the "least" of these, you are supporting Him. If we allow ourselves to forget them, we are forgetting Him.

"My Brothers" Pt. 2

This is part 2. Part 1 is below.

Last week I received a package in the mail from Elisabeth S., a dear woman who I've known for years. It was a tough day for me. I had cried earlier that morning. I was feeling discouraged, alone, and unhappy. And then Elisabeth's package came. A pair of funky socks, some chocolate, Twizzlers (my favorite!) and a few special tea bags with a little card, written in her sweet, random way. I sat with the box in my lap and smiled up to heaven with swimming eyes. I felt so loved all of the sudden... because JESUS, in the form of Elisabeth, had sent me a box. She didn't know I'd be getting it on a "down" day. She didn't probably even stop to think that by sending me a package, she was taking the time to send a special gift to Jesus. She was encouraging His heart. She was making Him smile and wiping away His tears when she wiped away mine. Do you see the beautiful interaction--Jesus serving and being served through His children? Do you see how amazingly, breathtakingly beautiful the body of Christ is!? Do you see what a privilege it is to love each other, and be kind to each other, and go out of our way to bless each other? Dear brother or sister, if Jesus loves you so much that His very heart is wrapped up in yours, it is my privilege to love you and serve you!

It boggles my mind that Jesus loves me so incredibly, is so deeply interested and engaged in my life, that a deed done to me is a deed done to Him. When I stop and think about that, I feel so loved that I just have to quizzically shake my head and say "Why, Lord? Why such an intensely deep and personal love for ME?" The thought challenges my thinking though. If indeed an act of service or disservice done to one of Christ's children is done to Christ Himself, how many times have I personally wronged Christ by treating one of His children the way I would NEVER treat Jesus in bodily form? Are my actions consistent with the understanding that Jesus takes personally every blessing and every ill deed done to one of His own?

When I care for Miss Elisabeth, I love to remember that I am caring for Jesus through her. In combing her hair, making her laugh, tying that hard-to-reach shoe or sneaking her a piece of chocolate, I am delighting the heart of God. It makes me want to go out of my way to serve; to love.

I know of a girl, Kimberly, who has spent the past 10 YEARS--yes TEN--of her life caring for her mother who had a stroke. I know of a woman, Michelle, who cooks gourmet meals (not just casserole dishes or pre-bought pizzas) for those who are going through rough times. She pours her heart into her cooking because she loves people and she wants to encourage them through her talent. I know a young man (my brother) who has given up a job he could have had as a successful pilot in Alaska because he wants to leave it all behind and serve poor, obscure, needy people overseas with his talent. I know a woman named Sheila who knows what it's like to lose a loved one to cancer, so when she found out about my sister last year she was willing to drop her life at ANY time to do ANY thing for my family. These are all people who are serving Jesus HIMSELF and many days hardly stop to even realize it I'm sure. The list could go on, and the acts of service range from huge deeds to small everyday servanthood. You all inspire me when I see that kind of love.

And now I have one more part to my sermon before I step out from behind the pulpit. But I'll probably post it tomorrow.

"My Brothers" Pt. 1*

*Dani is feeling preachy.

Been thinking about the following verse lately, and there are some points I've taken from it. I think they warrant two or three separate posts. So without further introduction, I am going to commence to preach.

"And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’" -Matthew 25:40

I think you know the context of this verse, but if you're interested on a refresher I'd encourage you to look it up. I've thought it interesting that many people seem to disregard two words in Matthew 25:40: "My brothers." There seems to be a trend in our thinking that is not Biblically based, and I'm pretty sure I know the culprit of it: The Christmas song, "Here Comes Santa Claus." In this cute-but-creepy song, we're told this:

Santa knows we're all God's children; that makes everything right.

Well I'm glad it's a reassurance to the jolly old elf, and I hate to criticize his theology (because you know what they say about looking a gift horse in the mouth...or biting the hand that feeds you...or something like that...) But Santa's wrong. I can't seem to find any place in the Bible which says that we are all God's children by default. We are all His creation, yes, but not all His children. Scripture makes a very clear delineation between the children of God and the children of the devil. I could list a whole slew of verses to support that statement, but I'll stick with 1 John 3:10-
"This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother."
Pretty clear. We are NOT "all God's children."

Having said that, I think it's important that in Matthew 25:40, Jesus is specifically talking about doing good to His "brothers." Just as we are not all God's children, we are not all Christ's brothers (or sisters as the case may be). Jesus clearly delineates this for us too, in Matthew 12:50.
"For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister..."

So what Jesus says in Matthew 25 refers specifically, (only, I believe) to believers. Christ followers. He's not saying that every time you give a beggar a quarter you're giving Jesus a quarter, or when start a prison ministry you are ministering to Jesus. Only, He says, if they are His "brothers" does it count as doing it unto Him. Now plenty of times in Scripture it talks about doing good works, feeding the poor, being kind to strangers, etc. etc. But the specific promise that we can know we are serving Christ Himself only comes when we are serving Christ's followers.

This is beautiful. It means that Jesus so identifies with each of His Children, and He is so completely wrapped up in our lives, that He considers a good work done to me to be a good work done to Him! He considers a slanderous word said about me to be said about Him. He appreciates it when people love and care for me to such an extent, that He feels as if they are loving and caring for Him.

With this in mind, I am going to start in on post #2.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Hmm... I've never been tagged online before (or if I have, I didn't see the great need to acknowledge it. Is that snobby?) But when Carrot Soufflé Lady tags ya, you can't just ignore it. It's a bit of a conundrum for me, because to not acknowledge the tag is a little rude. But to assume that you are interested in my answers to these questions seems a tad egotistical. So this one's for you, CSF...Particularly because your questions are... wow. Really lovely and thought provoking. So, without further ado, here goes.

1. I have a painting in my home that immediately gets my heart to singing Sheep May Safely Graze. Is there a photo or a painting or even an object that makes you think of a song to sing? If not a song, is there a Bible verse that comes to mind?
When I was in Orlando, Florida many years ago, I took a picture at the Holy Land Experience; a picture of the actor portraying Jesus. He was holding a lamb and speaking to the crowd, and at one moment, he hugged the lamb. I snapped the picture right then, and I still have it up on my mirror in my room at home; Jesus with his head bent tenderly down to the lamb, snatching it up in a wholehearted embrace. The picture brings to mind His words in Luke 12:32- "Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." I remember I am His lamb and He loves me tenderly and guides me carefully. And I live for the day when I'm getting a wholehearted embrace from Him, like the lamb in my picture. :)

2. If you could sit across a table with someone living today, who would it be and what one question would you ask them? Please, I beg you, no politicians.
Yikes, I guess most of the people I want to meet are dead already! So if I could choose to sit across the table from anyone today, I think the funnest, least stressful, most delightful time would be with my nephew Wes. I miss him so much. And I would ask him silly questions to make us laugh. :) Sound like a unexciting choice? You don't know Wes!

3. We are studying the history of classical music at our home. If you could choose one piece of classical music, what selection would you choose, who is the composer, and why does this song have meaning to you?
My all time favorite classical piece (not including Handel's Messiah because that's more a choral piece I suppose) is the 1812 Overture by Tchaikovsky. Not only is this song passionate and beautiful, but when I hear it, I'm immediately transported to Blossom Music Center, laying under the stars with my family on a blanket on the 4th of July, hearing the crickets in the background adding to the Cleveland Orchestra, waiting for the cannons to boom. Blossom with my family on the 4th is one of my happiest memories in the world.

4. What one thing in all of creation that you can see with your eyes, grips your heart and makes you stand in awe of His majesty? Why?
One thing!? The night sky, I suppose. Because it's vastness reminds me of the vastness of my God-- it's beauty reminds me of His beauty--To think that He calls all the stars by name reminds me of His unbelievable power--to look at the constellations reminds me of His imagination and order. And to think that the Creator of all that loves ME, completely boggles my mind.

5. Is there any thing you are
fanatical about? How do you know (has somebody told you!)?
In the past I've been fanatical about a few things, but I don' t think I'm a particularly "fanatical" type of person anymore. Suppose I can tend to be a little crazy about animals. I kiss them, which has shocked and greatly disturbed Mr. Gren. My passion, other than my Creator, is people. I love knowing them and meeting them and people watching to discover new and interesting "specimens," as my brothers and I call them. :)

6. If you could choose a season, which one is your favorite and why? Describe what it looks like outside your window today.
Summer, I think. I love the warmth and the flowers; the chance to be outside. Today out my window the sky is a very unpromising gray.The sea is very calm, and there are a few late-season lobster boats floating past. The gulls are flying so close to the surface that I'm amazed their wings don't skim it. The trees on the edge of the rocks are a little past their prime color, but they add a beautiful rusty color to the scene. It looks...cold out there. :(

7. What's your favorite
"just got out of bed in the morning" drink and do you have a special place you go to enjoy it?
Depends on my mood; I love chai, tea, hot chocolate, and sometimes coffee. At home I like to curl up on the couch near the fireplace. Here in Mass. I like to sit up in my room overlooking the sea.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Charmichael on God's will

One reason I'm posting is that I can't stand the list of complaints at the top of my page so I thought I'd post a "nicer" bit on top of that. It's just...not for the top of the blog. It seems so grumpy or something.

I've been reading "A Chance To Die", the biography Elisabeth Elliot wrote on Amy Carmichael, missionary to India (and China and Japan, incidentally. I hadn't known that.)
It's good reading. One of those books, not unlike the bio of Jim Elliot, which shames me. Comparing yourself with others usually isn't wise and is even warned about in Scripture, but when you're comparing yourself with a spiritual person, painfully aware of the difference between your lives, striving to follow their example, I believe "comparison" is healthy. (1 Corinthians 11:1-"Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.")

Amy Carmichael wrote this poem, and it resonates deeply in my heart tonight. Thanks be to God for these words...For the rest we find in our Beloved's arms!

And shall I pray Thee change Thy will, my Father,
Until it be according unto mine?
But no, Lord, no that never shall be, rather
I pray Thee blend my human will with Thine.

I pray Thee hush the hurrying, eager longing,
I pray Thee soothe the pangs of keen desire--
See in my quiet places, wishes thronging--
Forbid them, Lord, purge, though it be with fire.

And work in me to will and do Thy pleasure
Let all within me, peaceful, reconciled,
Tarry content my Well-Beloved's leisure,
At last, at last, even as a weaned child.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Prayerfully awaiting Nov. 2nd...


1. The government spending mine and my children's money

2. Mahmoud Ahmedinejad

3. "Going Green"

4. People calling other people racist

5. The U.N.

6. Democrats and Republicans

7. People who call conservatives "ignorant"

8. Career politicians

9. Global Warming

10. Muslim extremists (Note I was politically correct enough to say Muslim extremists. Not just Muslims. I wouldn't dare.)

11. Political correctness

12. Americans who don't care enough about their country to stay informed of the facts instead of eating whatever the biased media (any biased media) feeds them.

13. Demagoguery

Please; feel free to object or add to the list! But be aware that I might call you ignorant or racist if you disagree with me on any point. And, if you continue to disagree with me after that, I just might take away your right to comment.

...I'm joking, I'm joking!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Valerie's Visit

Mr. G. left for his home town in Norway two weeks ago, and Miss Elisabeth's dear daughter came to stay and make our home a Female Only residence for 10 days.

On the wall of the hallway hang three pictures from Ecuador that I absolutely love. All three are taken with a camera which the renowned photographer Cornell Capa gave to Elisabeth to use during her stay with the Aucas. One is a close-up of Elisabeth, taken presumably by firelight or lamplight. In the background and foreground you can just make out the faces of several Quichua Indians, but between them, in focus is just Elisabeth; her intent, beautiful face (Jim once described it in his journals as a face "with all it's deep intensity of longing"), pensively gazing into space--and I imagine her to be lost in a moment of reverie while the quiet bustle of the service or gathering she is part of slips by unnoticed around her. The other two pictures have a naked little blond sprite in them. In the first she is seen from behind walking down a shallow riverbed hand-in-hand with an equally naked Auca man, his stocky dark body contrasting to her thin, white one. (Neither have even a hint of self consciousness about them; why should they? A savage and a child share an equal disregard for clothing.) He carries three 8 ft. spears in one hand. This is one of the men who killed Valerie's father when she was only 10 months old. This is the man, who when she first saw him, she asked of her mother, "Why can't he be my Daddy?" The other picture is of Valerie and the same fellow (Kimo? Dawa? I forget his name) sitting together on a tree trunk hunched in interest over a picture page of some sort. Val, with tousled white-blonde hair, and one finger pointing knowingly at the page is obviously instructing the man about whatever mysteries the picture page holds.

ALL that to say, (You probably thought that I had derailed my train of thought but I had a plan for it, mwaha!) ...When I met the little dimpled blonde girl two weeks ago she was my mother's age and rather less blonde than when she was 4. But still with the same dimples, still with her father Jim's eyes, and the beautiful face I love looking at in pictures from when she was a child. I couldn't help but just sorta stare at her face and try to morph the 4 yr. old into the grown woman she had become. She has 8 children of her own now, mostly grown, and it was a delightful two weeks that she and her mother had together. I felt blessed, and perhaps a little guilty, to be in the midst of it. Given the tenderness with which she treated her mother, the wisdom of her words, and the love for her family and her Lord... I think that my hero, Jim Elliot, would be proud of his little girl.

And now for a few photos of Nantucket, where we stayed with friends of Valerie's for two days. It was beautiful; absolutely quaint and picturesque but... does it really warrant being the most expensive vacation site in the country? I'm a bit doubtful on that one.

~The Giant Shell of Nantucket~
(Well at least that's one way to reduce sun glare.)

An evening with friends was spent watching YouTube videos and munching on popcorn. :)
Oh, the laughter! Valerie's friends are very sweet! And I love all the facial expressions.

Miss Elisabeth, Val and I. Not in that order.

I'm always entranced by sparkling water!!

A parting view of Nantucket from the ferry

Fun on the ferry- how's that for a good lookin' lady?

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Paul Washer on Regeneration

I know, I know: who posts sermons on their blog? Tends to be unexciting, so possibly if you see that there are no photos or interesting anecdotes in this post you'll click off and forget about it. Or, if you're semi-noble you might make a mental note to listen to the sermon but come back next month and remember that you forgot to remember to do that. "Oops."

But this is an incredible sermon and I really encourage you to listen to it. C'mon I don't ask that much of you, do I??

This morning while reading in My Utmost For His Highest, I came upon the word "regeneration" and did a bit of a word study on it. Though it's only found once in Scripture as relates to our hearts (Titus 3:5) it's an intriguing, exciting reality! This afternoon I Googled "Paul Washer Regeneration" because I had a hunch Washer has probably preached about it and....yes! YES! It's an amazing sermon and I hope and pray that if you've come across this page you'll take 50 minutes to listen to it. I listened while baking cookies. :)

50 minutes to contemplate the Invisible Realities... not much time, when you think about time, is it?

Praise GOD for this amazing truth, and for helping me to understand it more today. Please comment if you have any thoughts about it! Or, just comment if you listened because I'm interested to know if anyone will.

(FYI: The cookies are delicious. Chewy.)