Come, Read the Bible with Me!

Monday, October 24, 2005

Here am I; Send me!

'Before I left, I waved at her and hollered, "See you next week!" She hollered back, "See YOU next week."' (See "Rocky vs. Li Quan" post below)

When I go to PP, I usually come down Second, cross College (Southbound) and proceed to Walnut and turn left (Northbound). Then I go around the block to Third, turn left, proceed to College and turn left again. I used to go around the block a couple of times to get in closer, but that was when I would sneak in as the real protesters were leaving. Now I park on the left side of the road in front of Signs Now or a health food store.

Last Thursday, anticipating whether the counter-protester was there and determined to go to her with a hot cup of coffee (butterflies...butterflies!), I turned instead north on Rogers to Third and then East to College.

[It is quite chilly, I thought, and she will like a cup of coffee. As a matter of fact I think everyone would like a cup of coffee!]

Headed South on College, I was in the right lane with PP on the left.

I would swing past and then go to the place formerly known as Bigfoot on the corner of Fifth and Rogers. There I would get a couple of cups of coffee and share them with her. I would wait for God to give me words.

What would He have me talk to her about? What did Jesus talk to the woman at the well about? He kept the conversation on the essential--the eternal. She wanted to talk about water, He talked about Living Water. She wanted to talk about where to worship, He talked about worshipping in Spirit and in Truth and that Salvation does come from the Jews.

How did Nehemiah answer the scoffers? This is God's work, these are God's people, and you have no part in it. The end.

What did God tell Ezekiel to tell the Isrealites? Tell them this is what the Lord God said whether they listen or fail to listen.

What is my issue with her? When it is boiled down, it is that she has no regard for what God says. That I know.

Side issue: {What I don't know is, why is she so adament? When I lived according to the ways of the prince of this world, I didn't care whether someone got an abortion or not, but this passion, has some root.}

Side issue: {What is her issue with me? Does she think that killing unborn babies will become illegal? Why is this issue so close to her heart?}

I saw the men in robes, and the women with beads on the left in front of PP. (What is my issue with them?) I saw the signs telling and showing the gruesome realities of this day in Bloomington. I did not see the long blond hair I sought either on the left or on the right side of the road. She wasn't there.

I drove around the block again, not stopping for coffee. I pulled up in front of Signs Now, (no, it was even further down the street, because it was the third Thursday) and walked the rest of the way to the sidewalk in front of Planned Parenthood. Carole greeted me with a hug and filled me in on the day's doings. Fifteen women had gone in, she said. For abortions? Yes. I asked about the Starbuck girl and she said that she never came.

I cannot tell you...I worked that out and was ready to...what? I'm not sure, but I was available... Here am I, send me! It was exhausting. I was disappointed.

Has God prepared my heart to be ready to set myself on fire for Him? Has He prepared me to be the fool for Him?

Here am I. Send me!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

What's It All About, Alfie?

Galations 6:8-10
8 The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. 9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

I struggle with my motivation in almost everything I do. The Bible says, "10 Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. 12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you." (I Peter 4:10-12) And also, " 31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." (I Corinthians 10:31)

11 Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. 13 Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, 14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15 For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. (I Peter 2:11 - 15)

Sword Drill: Where does it say that it is He who enables us to will and to do His good pleasure (mixing quotes?) Where do we get the idea that He burdens our hearts and then enables us to accomplish those things that He has called us unto?

So, if I go to Lady Starbucks with a cup of coffee, is it for my own self image? Will I be puffing myself up?

On the other hand, if I don't, is it because I don't want to appear to be a fool, not knowing what her reaction would be? Is it so that I won't appear to be puffing myuself up? Is it because I have no idea what I would say to her, and I do not trust God to give me words (Matthew 10:18 - 20)?

10 And he said to me, "Son of man, listen carefully and take to heart all the words I speak to you. 11 Go now to your countrymen in exile and speak to them. Say to them, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says,' whether they listen or fail to listen." (Ezekiel 3:10&11)

Look to Nehemiah. Again and again this man of God was able to keep his focus and restore the focus of the remnant of Israel to where it belongs: not on the "feeble Jews" or on the rubble with which they would rebuild the walls; not on the danger from their enemies or the reproach of their tormenters. The focus is God, His will and His glory. It always has been, and should be now.

I want to keep the focus where it should be. I want to want to take the lowest place for Him, trusting Him to be my good.

(Reminds me of Jesus speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well.--I want to love like that!)

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Rocky vs. Li Quan

(Sometimes I'll read a portion of Scripture as if I had never read it before.)

I felt like Rocky this morning when I arrived at Planned Parenthood. I was wrong. It is not our fight. It is the Lord's. Some trust in chariots, arrows, horses, presidents, judges, signs, and numbers...but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. (Ps. 20:7)

There was a young woman on the other side of the street with a two-sided sign. On one side it said, "Abortion is a woman's right!" On the other side was written, "KEEP IT LEGAL!"

She made the hour interesting. She made me think. It occured to me that there is fear that killing unborn children may become illegal. Outside of the intervention of God, I don't see it happening. We are afterall, wise in our own eyes. We, the people of the United States of America are in agreement that we are right, and have our rights! We, afterall by our mouths lay claim to heaven itself and by our tongues take possesion of the earth. We also say, "[Huh!] How can God know? Does the Most High have knowledge?" (Ps. 73:9&11)

It also occured to me that God is not afraid, "the Lord laughs at the wicked, for He knows their day is coming." (Ps. 37:13) Knowing God, we are instructed also not to be afraid. "Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret-it leads only to evil." (v.8)

So what do I do with this woman? I watched her, and prayed for her; and our nation and the protesters, and the doctor and staff and the beeping passers-by. Every now and then she made eye contact with me across the street. What is she thinking? What is her reasoning? Is she beyond reasoning?

I am not afraid of her. I do not know her and don't care what she thinks of me. I do have the fear of man, so I am not speaking lightly about this. It is a real issue with me. Every now and then she would reach down and take a drink from a Starbucks cup. I wondered how she likes her coffee. What an odd thing to wonder at a time like this, I thought.

Before I left, I waved at her and hollered, "See you next week!" She hollered back, "See YOU next week."

Besides the fear of man, I also fear Starbucks. Starbucks was featured in "You've Got Mail" as a place where you can make 7 different choices to get one beverage for an incredible amount of money. Starbucks features about three of my top ten fears.

So I wondered: I wonder how she likes her coffee? (Colossians 3:1-15/focus: vs.12-14)

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Quest

The quest began when I started going to Planned Parenthood on Thursdays. I normally take my lunch break earliest in our office, at 10:00 am. By then most protesters are gone from the place. So I would sit in my car and read Psalms and listen to God and talk to Him as I meditated on His word in the context of the place and time I was in. I fell into a pattern of reading, during the hour I was there, seven Psalms; one for each day of the previous week since I was there last.

I came one day to Psalm 36. I cannot tell you how deeply this has impacted me. The entire Psalm, of course, but focusing in on verse two: "For in his own eyes he flatters himself too much to detect or hate his sin." At first I thought, "How appropriate for Thursdays! God, open THEIR eyes that they may see THEIR sin and hate it."

But how could I say that, when the people driving by, or going about their business, have closed their eyes to what goes on there or to what God approves or dissapproves? So I said, "God, open the eyes of the people of this city and of this land that they may see that they love the sin they support by their apathy, the sin they call choice, and sexual freedom."

But how could I say that, when there are people standing in a group on the sidewalk in front of Planned Parenthood holding their beads and signs and wearing their robes, who have blinded themselves to the sufficiency of the blood of Christ to wash away their sins? So I said, "God, open the eyes of those who are captivated by the mysiticism and rituals that seem to them to make up for their sins and gain favor in your sight. Open their eyes and let them know that their righteousness is as filthy rags."

But how could I say that, when my brothers and sisters in Christ, who worship God in truth and humility, are not burdened for the children being slaughtered or for those whose daily steps take them closer and closer to the edge of the abyss, and they do nothing to snatch them back from the flame. So I said, "God, Open their eyes that they may see that their silence condemns the sinner to hell..."

But then I realized that "they" are me and how could I say anything but "God, I am a woman of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips. Show me if there is any unclean way with in me, and make me clean."

So this has been my prayer. God, I am a sinner, lead me in your way (Ps. 25) Open my eyes and let me see my sin and let me hate it. (Ps. 36) Create in me a clean heart. (Ps. 51)

So the quest began...

Once I commented on a blog and I received a blog-flogging
from some lurkers there. A dear little one thought that the
internet was a wonderful way to cloister yourself up--I mean hedge
yourself about-- and still impact the world. Maybe, but there is no "pressing flesh," no touching, no eye contact, no reassuring smile,
no tears to temper your criticism, no wink or sparkle that would indicate gentle humor or understanding and love.

I bring this up to say this: I haven't posted in a couple of weeks. I
have been thinking a lot, though. It takes me a long time to post the
simplest of musings, and a lot of tissues. I never intended for this
blog to be used like this. I wanted to put up ponderables and work
them out with whoever stopped by. I really did want to wrestle out some of the stickier issues in the Christian life. I expected to wrestle them out with unseen flesh and blood.

I have come to realize that God is using this to reveal to me sins of which He
will purge me. (Remember, I did ask Him to do this, and He has shown Himself faithful and powerful.) He is using it like a refiner's fire, and although I thought it would be through the corrective responses of bothers and sisters, as it turns out, it is through His Word and His Spirit.

When I post the tears flow. I am amazed, and it is exhausting. I came to realize this when I posted about the missing V key on my keyboard. This was going to be a simple, humorous, light-hearted post, but by the end of the post, I was convicted of my lack of gratitude for what God has given me; also that others, seeking God would be hindered by my words and behavior.

I don't want this to be a negative blog, but the purging of sin is a terrible and wonderful process.

I want while I am going through it, and forever afterward to say:

16 Come and listen, all you who fear God;
let me tell you what he has done for me.

17 I cried out to him with my mouth;
his praise was on my tongue.

18 If I had cherished sin in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened;

19 but God has surely listened
and heard my voice in prayer.

20 Praise be to God,
who has not rejected my prayer
or withheld his love from me! (Psalm 66)

Answers? I'm not sure that I am going to be getting black and white answers like I would like:

I think I just got my "Propriety in
Prayer" question answered on the Pastors Bayly blog ( Baylyblog: Out of
our minds, too: B. B. Warfield on silence in the church... ).

Now I would appreciate answers to some other questions like:

How do you love like that?

Is passion, like love, an action and not a feeling?

How do you tame the tongue, putting yourself aside and the needs,
concerns, reputation of others ahead of yourself?

If the issue is, "On what or whom am I trusting for salvation?" then
how can Catholicism be called anything but heresy?

How can we "stand with our Catholic Brothers in the cause of life" if they are not our Brothers?

Would this be "unequally yoked?"

Exactly what do we call freedom, and when do we call it heresy?

Actually George, an 88 year old black guy who goes to Planned Parenthood on Thursdays has helped me to understand the Catholic Brother/heresy question more clearly than I have ever understood it before. I only met him once. He thought I said I was Saint Rachel, but I said that I usually go by just plain Rachel. He, being a "regular Catholic on the street" shared with me about how his sister was released from purgatory. He also stated clearly that although he thought Christ was "sufficient" that he also needed to do some things to "boost" himself into heaven.

Brothers, let us not grow weary of doing good, just because others use these same good works to justify themselves before a righteous and holy God. Be responsive to the burden that God places on your heart, it is the good works that He has saved you unto (Sword Drill: Where does it say that we were saved unto good works that He prepared for us in advance to do?)