Page 72 of 73

Those Who Mourn, part 1

Psalm 22
A Psalm of David, adapted by me

God, Where are you? Have you turned you back on me completely?
I feel like you’re so far away,
Off in the heavens, somewhere out…there.
As I speak, it feels like my words are just hitting the ceiling.
I’m crying out to you day and night,
So why won’t you answer me?

I know you’re holy, you are bigger than me.
You are worshipped by millions of people around the world.
I remember all the Bible stories I heard in Sunday school,
About Joseph, Daniel, Job, and the others.
They cried out to you, and you brought them through.
They put their trust in you and you made good on your promise.

But how can I compete with them?
I’m nothing compared to those great men I have read about.
I don’t fit in, I don’t belong.
My own youth group doesn’t accept me.
Everyone at school makes fun of the fact that I’m a Christian.
They mock my faith in you, they mock your power,
And now I’m beginning to believe them.

I feel so hypocritical when I’m around them
Because I try to fit in.
It’s hard to tell how real my faith is sometimes.

You have been my God since I was born.
I’ve been going to church and Sunday school since I was in diapers.
I’ve grown up hearing about you,
But I guess I never really felt you
I never truly experienced you.

I don’t want you to be that far away ever again
Especially in this part of my life.
The guys at school just don’t know when to quit.
They keep pushing me around because I’m the little guy.
My friends have made stabbed me in the back.
People spread rumors about me.
They go out of their way to make my life miserable,
All because I’m a Christian.

I’m close to calling it quits. It doesn’t feel worth it anymore.
Please, just show me something, anything!
Let me know you’re here, with me, right now –
Not off somewhere out there.

I need you.

—————-
Now playing: The Decemberists – The Soldering Life
via FoxyTunes

The Poor in Spirit

“Though free from all sense of possessing, they yet possess all things. ‘Theirs is the kingdom of heaven.'” – A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God

____________

Jenny never really understood the point passing around those velvet-lined, gold-ish, fancy plates simply to collect the money people gave to the congregation. Something about it always made her uneasy, especially when she was the only one on the row who wasn’t reaching into her purse as soon as she passed the juice. She was only a poor high school student anyway. She gave to God in many other ways – time, energy, pretty much in any way that doesn’t cost money. College isn’t getting any cheaper. She has always justified herself by bargaining with God. She would promise to give way more than ten percent once she got a “big-girl” job if he would not hold her responsible until then. She was a pretty good Christian, after all.

She grew up in one of the larger congregations in town. There were many rich people that worshipped there on Sundays and Wednesdays, and she didn’t really know most of their names, but she at least recognized everyone.

There was an older man in the congregation, Mr. Taylor, who always went out of his way to talk with the teenagers in the youth group. They called him the Candy Man because he always passed out pieces of gum and hard candy. Everyone loved him, and he loved them more.

His dated suits, his rusted pick-up truck, and his less than impressive house led Jenny to assume that he didn’t have much cash to spare. He was left a widower fifteen years ago, and he had no children to take care of him, yet his face was always joyful, like he knew something others didn’t.

The next Sunday, Jenny noticed that Mr. Taylor wasn’t standing in the back handing out candy to the children as they entered. In fact, she didn’t see him anywhere. He had never missed a Sunday morning service since she had been alive. There was a certain darkened aura about the minister and the elders as they prepared to begin. One of the elders stepped up to the pulpit, quieted the assembly, and made the announcement…

Jenny couldn’t believe it. This man that had watched her grow up, who had given her countless pieces of candy and advice, who had become another grandfather to her left to be with Jesus.

Later that day as Jenny and her parents sat around the dinner table, they began talking about Mr. Taylor. Her parents had known him much longer than she had. They knew him personally for over twenty years, back when he was still the CEO of the large computer company in town. He made countless millions of dollars in his time, and gave away almost as much as he brought in.

Jenny’s mom, who was the treasurer for their congregation, told her that Mr. Taylor was the single greatest contributor to church every Sunday. He had funded hundreds of youth activities and had helped start several of the outreach ministries in which most of the members took part. Yet he never told anyone, except Jenny’s mom, about any of this. He made her promise to keep it anonymous when she first took over the treasury.

The funeral was a terribly sad, yet extremely joyful occasion. Nearly one thousand people crammed into the church auditorium to pay their respects to Mr. Taylor. Jenny overheard numerous conversations around her between people reliving their fondest memories of Mr. Taylor and telling how influence he had on their lives. Jenny simply sat quietly, tears rolling down her face.

The preacher gathered the crowd’s attention and began to speak of the great ways Mr. Taylor had helped shape countless lives by giving of himself. The preacher read a familiar verse from the Sermon on the Mount.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

_________________

The next Sunday after passing the juice, Jenny reached for her purse…

—————-
Now playing: Five For Fighting – Easy Tonight
via FoxyTunes

The Poor in Spirit

“Though free from all sense of possessing, they yet possess all things. ‘Theirs is the kingdom of heaven.'” – A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God

____________

Jenny never really understood the point passing around those velvet-lined, gold-ish, fancy plates simply to collect the money people gave to the congregation. Something about it always made her uneasy, especially when she was the only one on the row who wasn’t reaching into her purse as soon as she passed the juice. She was only a poor high school student anyway. She gave to God in many other ways – time, energy, pretty much in any way that doesn’t cost money. College isn’t getting any cheaper. She has always justified herself by bargaining with God. She would promise to give way more than ten percent once she got a “big-girl” job if he would not hold her responsible until then. She was a pretty good Christian, after all.

She grew up in one of the larger congregations in town. There were many rich people that worshipped there on Sundays and Wednesdays, and she didn’t really know most of their names, but she at least recognized everyone.

There was an older man in the congregation, Mr. Taylor, who always went out of his way to talk with the teenagers in the youth group. They called him the Candy Man because he always passed out pieces of gum and hard candy. Everyone loved him, and he loved them more.

His dated suits, his rusted pick-up truck, and his less than impressive house led Jenny to assume that he didn’t have much cash to spare. He was left a widower fifteen years ago, and he had no children to take care of him, yet his face was always joyful, like he knew something others didn’t.

The next Sunday, Jenny noticed that Mr. Taylor wasn’t standing in the back handing out candy to the children as they entered. In fact, she didn’t see him anywhere. He had never missed a Sunday morning service since she had been alive. There was a certain darkened aura about the minister and the elders as they prepared to begin. One of the elders stepped up to the pulpit, quieted the assembly, and made the announcement…

Jenny couldn’t believe it. This man that had watched her grow up, who had given her countless pieces of candy and advice, who had become another grandfather to her left to be with Jesus.

Later that day as Jenny and her parents sat around the dinner table, they began talking about Mr. Taylor. Her parents had known him much longer than she had. They knew him personally for over twenty years, back when he was still the CEO of the large computer company in town. He made countless millions of dollars in his time, and gave away almost as much as he brought in.

Jenny’s mom, who was the treasurer for their congregation, told her that Mr. Taylor was the single greatest contributor to church every Sunday. He had funded hundreds of youth activities and had helped start several of the outreach ministries in which most of the members took part. Yet he never told anyone, except Jenny’s mom, about any of this. He made her promise to keep it anonymous when she first took over the treasury.

The funeral was a terribly sad, yet extremely joyful occasion. Nearly one thousand people crammed into the church auditorium to pay their respects to Mr. Taylor. Jenny overheard numerous conversations around her between people reliving their fondest memories of Mr. Taylor and telling how influence he had on their lives. Jenny simply sat quietly, tears rolling down her face.

The preacher gathered the crowd’s attention and began to speak of the great ways Mr. Taylor had helped shape countless lives by giving of himself. The preacher read a familiar verse from the Sermon on the Mount.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

_________________

The next Sunday after passing the juice, Jenny reached for her purse…

—————-
Now playing: Five For Fighting – Easy Tonight
via FoxyTunes

The Superbowl Sunday Dilema

As excitement mounts on this day, the most highly anticipated Superbowl Sunday in many years (at least for me), Christians across the country are faced with the daunting decision.

Should I watch this game from coin-flip to post-game, or should I be a ‘good’ Christian and go to Sunday night services for fear that God’s gracious love towards us ends upon our ‘forsaking the assembling of ourselves together’?

Hm… What if I watch the Superbowl with fellow believers? I am not technically “forsaking” our assembly if I am assembled with other Christians, am I? Loop-hole.

Go Pats!
—————-
Now playing: Jupiter Sunrise – Heaven and Endless
via FoxyTunes

The Superbowl Sunday Dilema

As excitement mounts on this day, the most highly anticipated Superbowl Sunday in many years (at least for me), Christians across the country are faced with the daunting decision.

Should I watch this game from coin-flip to post-game, or should I be a ‘good’ Christian and go to Sunday night services for fear that God’s gracious love towards us ends upon our ‘forsaking the assembling of ourselves together’?

Hm… What if I watch the Superbowl with fellow believers? I am not technically “forsaking” our assembly if I am assembled with other Christians, am I? Loop-hole.

Go Pats!
—————-
Now playing: Jupiter Sunrise – Heaven and Endless
via FoxyTunes

The Explanation


I feel that some explanation is needed in the meaning behind the blog title “Quench the Flame.”

Jesus said in his famous sermon on the mount that those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be filled (Matthew 5:6). However, it is obvious to anyone who has ever felt the quenching power of the Spirit that the desire grows, the hunger pangs get sharper, and the fire rages stronger. If you have a candle-flame inside you, YHWH* wants you to burn like a blazing forest fire. YHWH* alone can quench the flame, yet each time he quenches, the fire grows stronger. This is one of the many paradoxical ways in which YHWH* works in the lives of those who seek him.

Seek out ways to quench the flame inside.

*YHWH is the name given for the god of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
—————-
Now playing: Amos Lee – Truth
via FoxyTunes

The Explanation


I feel that some explanation is needed in the meaning behind the blog title “Quench the Flame.”

Jesus said in his famous sermon on the mount that those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be filled (Matthew 5:6). However, it is obvious to anyone who has ever felt the quenching power of the Spirit that the desire grows, the hunger pangs get sharper, and the fire rages stronger. If you have a candle-flame inside you, YHWH* wants you to burn like a blazing forest fire. YHWH* alone can quench the flame, yet each time he quenches, the fire grows stronger. This is one of the many paradoxical ways in which YHWH* works in the lives of those who seek him.

Seek out ways to quench the flame inside.

*YHWH is the name given for the god of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
—————-
Now playing: Amos Lee – Truth
via FoxyTunes

The House


The car came to a halt in a cloud of dust and fumes. After cutting off the engine, a man stepped out. Anticipation and apprehension garnished his face as if he were looking for something. But what?

He sauntered toward the rickety front door of the decaying house. Dead grass and leaves crunched beneath his feet. The air, cool and refreshing, smelled of memories. A mockingbird flew out of a hole in the porch roof as the man drew near. Stepping onto the weather-beaten porch, the wood creaking beneath him, he stopped, inhaled the familiar air, and looked around – remembering.

After a minute or two he turned to face the front door. He half expected the porch light to be shining for him and the smell of fresh baked pies to welcome him home. But there was only darkness waiting for him and the smell of damp, termite-eaten wood and dust to beckon him inside.

The screen door whined as it was pulled open, not wanting to be disturbed. The doorknob cried for lack of oil, and the door resisted every inch as it was forced to pivot around its rusted hinges.

Emotions swarmed over the man as he took the first step inside. This small, white house once filled with warmth from the crackling fire and soft, yellows light from the lamp stand now sat cold, empty, alone, longing for human companionship once again. Everything was exactly the same, yet completely different. The furniture was arranged just he remembered (he could still walk around with his eyes closed), but the timeworn couch and rocking chairs bore witness of the complete deprivation of human presence.

With every step he took, memories bombarded him: The nights gathered around the radio listening to the evening program. All the times his grandfather would tell him and his brother a childhood story about “the good ole’ times.” Every Sunday lunch when his parents invited a different family to eat after church. The cold winter nights when they would all huddle around the fireplace until he would fall asleep in his mother’s arms.

He walked over to the mantel. It was decorated, just as he remembered, with old family pictures. He reached up and pulled one out of the dust and cobwebs. A smile forced its way onto his face as he wiped the dust from the glass. He and his father stood on the dock of the lake. He held up his first fish, looking as proud as could be. It was smaller than he remembered. Everything was bigger as a child.

He placed the yellowed picture back in its place and turned around. After taking a few more steps he froze. He couldn’t take another stride, for in front of him was the door to his parents’ bedroom. He tried to turn the knob and open the door, but he couldn’t. Something inside him was telling him to leave – just walk away. But he knew he had to face this. For twenty years he had been running away, but now was the time. It took all the emotional strength he possessed to turn that knob. As the door swung open, he fell to his knees, and tears flooded his cheeks. Even twenty years had not prepared him for this.

He remembered that night vividly. The images haunted his thoughts and dreams.

It had been raining all day, and the storms raged on into the night. He was only thirteen years old and shared a room with his younger brother. The claps of thunder and flashes of lightning scared away any thought of sleep. He crawled out of bed and looked across the room. The silence between rolls of thunder was disrupted by his brother’s snores. He left his room and walked down the hall toward his parents’ bedroom in which to take refuge. The floor boards groaned beneath his tiptoed steps. He stopped, not wanting to disturb his parents if they were asleep. After a moment’s pause he continued nervously down the hall.

He reached for the doorknob but stopped. He could hear their voices, quiet at first but growing louder with every word. He recognized the slurred speech of his drunk father yelling obscenities at his mother who tried her hardest to calm him down. His mother’s tone told him this was no normal argument. His father had been drunk many times before, and they had engaged in many arguments, but never had he heard his mother so scared. It was as if she feared for her life.

He didn’t know what to do. Should he try and go back to sleep hoping things would be better in the morning? Should he call the police? Should he open the door and try to stop the fight?

As he opened the door, his world shattered. His father had taken out the revolver. He always kept it beside his bed for chance that someone would break in. The weapon intended for defense was now out for murder. His mother screamed cry that haunted him for years to come. The gunfire was muffled by a sudden burst of thunder and lightning which illuminated the scene, burning it forever into his memory.

His mother’s lifeless body fell limp onto the bed. Blood quickly turned the white sheets a deep scarlet. His father turned to him with tears in his eyes and an unworldly look on his face. He looked his son straight in the eye, raised the gun to his own head, and pulled the trigger.

The few years of life after that moment were a blur. Social workers and child counselors tried to tell him everything was ok, but everything was not ok. He and his brother had been orphaned. Life would never be the same, and it never was. It took him twenty years to face this, during which he had blamed God, his brother, himself, everyone. He always wondered why God would let this happen, but it was here, at this moment, on his knees that he realized the truth. He had heard something in the Bible once, and it had stuck with him. It said something like, “Everything will work out for the best for those that love God.”

That had been several years ago now, but he had always kept it in mind. It was only now that he truly understood what it meant. No one had ever promised it would be an easy process. There had been time he had felt like giving up, yet he made it through. He graduated from high school at the top of his class. He had gone to college and studied law. He was now a practicing attorney and was responsible for putting murderers, rapists, drug dealers, and thieves in prison.

But that was not all. Despite his suffering, he had found the greatest treasure in his life, his gorgeous wife and two beautiful daughters.

Reality came back to him. The tears had dried, and a new sense of joy swelled over his face. He inhaled deeply as he rose to his feet and closed the door. He looked around once more then exited through the screen door.

His wife was now standing against the car waiting for him, and his daughters were chasing each other around the aged oak tree in the front yard. They stopped when they saw their father walk outside and ran to him, clinging onto either leg. He stooped down and lifted both of them into his arms.

“Daddy,” asked the older of the two, “is this where we’re going to build our new house?”

“Yes, it is, honey,” he said as he gave both of them a kiss on the cheek. “Yes, it is.”