On One Of My Heroes of the Faith – William Booth

“While women weep, as they do now, I’ll fight; while children go hungry, as they do now I’ll fight; while men go to prison, in and out, in and out, as they do now, I’ll fight; while there is a drunkard left, while there is a poor lost girl upon the streets, while there remains one dark soul without the light of God, I’ll fight, I’ll fight to the very end!” And these are the words I grew up with. They were spoken by William Booth the founder of the Salvation Army.

My grandparents were Salvation Army ministers, and my parents were entrenched in the fight for racial equality in a very racially tense Chicago at a Salvation Army youth mission. Even as a young girl,…

Won’t you please join for me for the rest of this piece at Anita Mathias’ lovely spot Dreaming Beneath The Spires?

At One Moment – A Good Friday {Repost}

At

One

moMent

Dark Sky,

Thunder

Rolling,

Lightening

Flickering,

Criminals on either side, one bitter to the end, the other humbly repenting.

“Father forgive them for they know not what they have done, do and will do.”

“King of the Jews”

The sign jeered.

“Save yourself!”

Soldiers sneered.

Man far from God

God far from man.

“It is not Myself

I am here to save.

It is you thief,

You soldier.

You reader.”

God close to man

Man close to God

In a moment

At-one-ment.

 

A Donkey’s Journey Towards An Epiphany {A Repost}

I remember the first time I gave a man a ride on my back. It was a lovely sunny afternoon, the day the stranger came and took me away. When my master’s servant called out, “What are you doing with my master’s donkey?” The man simply replied, “The Lord has need of him,” and kept walking. For some reason, that was enough for the servant.

When we got to where we were going, there was a Man waiting for us. He smiled at the stranger, put his hand on his shoulder as if He was going to say something and then changed His mind, stroking my neck. And His touch was like the warm sunshine, warm and soothing.

The stranger and his friends placed their coats on me so that the Man could ride on me. We began to ride through the streets and there were people assembled alongside the road as if they were expecting a parade. They were waving palm branches and shouting, “Hosanna! to the Son of David! Hosanna in the highest.”

“Apparently, this man on my back is very important,” I thought, “I must be pretty important as well, to carry such a famous man.”

The people laid down the branches at my feet, making the road before me much more comfortable than the usual dry and dusty road. The longer we went, the more excited the people became, jumping and cheering, clapping and waving.

Finally, we came to the Temple, and He dismounted me. After stroking my nose, He went in. Another of my master’s servants came to me and said, “There you are. How did you get here?” He was further confused by the coats draped across my back. “Strange!” he said as he led me to the Temple stables for food and water.

“Who was that man, I had on my back?” I asked a mare who had been alongside the road and was now being groomed in the Temple stables.

“He is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth of Galilee.”

“A prophet!” I thought. Why would a prophet want to ride a lowly donkey like me?

In the days that followed, I remembered what it was like to carry that Man on my back, His gentle smile and touch. I remembered the honor with which the people were greeting Him and felt warm inside that I should be chosen to give Him a ride.

About five days later, I was back home in my stable when I heard a commotion. I went to look out of the window in my stall. Once again, there were people lined up along the side of the road. “I wonder if the Prophet is having another parade?” I thought out loud. My ears perked up hoping He would choose me to ride on again. The oldest donkey in the stable, Old One, came alongside me.

This crowd was different, although I recognized many of the same faces. They were silent and suspicious. Many men had their arms crossed, or watched stroking their beards. Further down the road, I noticed a Man. He looked like the Prophet I had carried, but it couldn’t be Him. This man had been beaten, and had a crown of thorns on His head causing him to bleed. The drops of blood were dripping into His eyes, and He had gashes of open flesh on his back and legs. But the most obvious reason that I knew it must not be Him was that this Man carried a cross, and even I knew that crosses were reserved for criminals.

“Who is that Man?” I said to the Old One.

“That is the same man you gave a ride to five days ago,” he whinnied.

“That can not be! He was a good man. I know He was. I could tell by His touch. He couldn’t be deserving of such treatment! Especially by the same people who were honoring and praising Him just a few days ago.”

“Nevertheless, it is the same Man,” Old One responded.

“He must have done something wrong, for the people to allow this to happen!” I said. I was surprised at the feeling of shame I had for having carried this man. What would people think? I have transported a criminal, a prisoner?

“There are many reasons people will persecute another man. Often times, it has nothing to do with whether they have done something wrong or not. I only know that this Man comes from God.”

The road passed quite close to my stable, and the Prophet (or was He a criminal?) was almost even with my window now. He stumbled and fell under the weight of the heavy cross He carried. A soldier came and kicked Him, as He struggled to His feet. The Prophet looked up at us, and I could swear He gave a slight smile.

I turned my eyes downward, feeling guilty for my previous feeling of doubt.

I stirred up all of my courage and looked out the window again. With great effort, He lifted the cross from the road.

“But Old One, this isn’t fair! He is a good man. These people, how can they change their opinion of someone so quickly?”

Old One stayed silent, and I remembered how quickly I had gone from pride to embarrassment about my associations with Him.

Just then, a little further up the road, a weeping woman came into the Man’s path.

“I once gave this Man and woman a ride,” Old One reflected.

“You did?” I was amazed that he had never mentioned this before, especially in light of the fact, that I had repeated the story of my ride with the Prophet often in the past few days.

“Yes, I gave them a ride many years ago when I was about your age. This woman was great with child. There were no inns with available rooms that day, and she bore the baby, the Prophet, right there in the stable where I was resting from the long ride. This Man is from God. He is special. There were angels in the room and shepherds came to worship Him. He slept in the very manger I had eaten out of earlier that evening. The stars even sang and worshiped celebrating His arrival. This man is not merely a Prophet, but the Son of God.”

“Can’t we do something? Can’t He do something? Isn’t He known for His miracles?”

“I believe He could do something, but chooses not to.”

“Old One, what will happen if the people kill this Son of God? Will the world end?”

“I do not know,” Old One moved away from the window and laid down with a humph.

All morning, I wondered what was happening to this Son of God. Had the people come to their senses? Did they remember that just a few days before they had been worshiping this man? I also remembered how He smiled at me, even with the burden of His cross, even after I had be ashamed for a moment at having given Him a ride.

Later that day, my master decided to go to the Temple. “Let’s take you out for your first ride,” he said. I guess he didn’t know that the Son of God had already taken me out for a ride.

As we rode toward the Temple, the sky began to darken, and the wind began to blow. Just before we arrived at the Temple, the dust around my feet began to swirl, lightening began to flash. I thought back to my conversation with Old One. Was this the end? Did they kill the Prophet, the Son of God? The ground began to quake. The whole earth was shaking. I began to bray as I lost my balance. People everywhere were running and shouting, “This is the end! What is happening?” Priests ran out of the Temple shouting something about the curtain being torn and that we would all surely die. And then, just as quickly as it all started, it was finished. My master got up and dusted himself off. He checked to see if I was okay, petting my neck. He led me into the Temple stables where pandemonium still ruled the day, and went into the Temple to see if his help was needed.

The servants worked hard to calm the animals. They hadn’t had such a stir in quite some time. About a half an hour later, a strong military horse came into the stables. He began to speak about what he had seen that afternoon. He said that his master was a Roman soldier who had been at that afternoon’s crucifixion.

photo credit: bela_kiefer

“Jesus, the Prophet was on the center cross, and two thieves were on either side of Him,” he started.

“One of the thieves,” he continued, “cried out sarcastically, ‘Are you not the Christ? Rescue Yourself and us from death!’

But the other soldier answered him, ‘Do you not even fear God? We suffer justly receiving what we deserve, but this Man has done nothing out of the way.’

Then he turned to Jesus and said, ‘Jesus, Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingly glory!’

And then Jesus answered, ‘Truly I tell you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.’

And then the sky began to darken and the wind began to blow. The men on the hill tried not to look nervous or frightened, but their scent betrayed them.

The ground began to shake when Jesus cried out, ‘Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit!’ That is when my master recognized his part in what had happened. He fell to his knees weeping, and saying, ‘Indeed, without question, this Man was upright!'”

photo courtesy of Dustin Blay

The horse paused here, as if for dramatic effect. “My master gently and tenderly helped take this Man off of the cross and draped him over me. He and another man took His body to a tomb. His blood remains on me this moment.”

Some of the Temple groomers had come into the stalls now. They paid special attention to the military horse, combing and brushing his coat, washing the blood from his sides.

“Some say, this Jesus was the Son of God,” one said.

“I fear He must have been, for Whose death causes heaven and earth to respond in such a way? I heard that it was this horse that carried His body to the tomb. It is His blood on our hands.”

“Did you hear that He forgave the very men who killed Him?”

The rest of the day the Temple stable was silent. My master came out later, quiet and questioning. When we got back to the stable, Old One was waiting for me. After I told him the horse’s story, I said, “Old One, those men didn’t deserve to be forgiven. Some of them were the very same ones who had given Jesus the parade a few days ago. They deserve no forgiveness.”

Old One chuckled a raspy old donkey chuckle, “Perhaps this is why He came. To give man (and your case, donkey) the ability to forgive.”

I remembered Jesus’ eyes when I looked through the window, ashamed at my association with Him. They were eyes of forgiveness. Earlier that day, I had wondered if it was the end of the world, but now I had a feeling it was the beginning of a new world. A world for which God cared enough to send His Son to forgive even the worst betrayal. A world in which man now had an example of forgiveness. It was then that I realized that forgiveness changes everything, because forgiveness had changed me.

Written by kd sullivan Easter 2011

From “Hosanna!” to “Crucify him!”

Palm Sunday

Today was Palm Sunday, and as I read the text from the Gospels I was struck by a thought.  The same people who were shouting, “Hosanna!” on Sunday were shouting, “Crucify him!” five days later.  How fickle can a person be right?  But the thought that came to me next was even more frightening than the first.

The parade for Jesus was shortly after He had prayed for Lazarus.  Everyone now heard of the man from Galilee Who healed the sick and now recently raised the dead.  How easily these same peoples’ opinion were changed when a different opinion of Christ had been circulated!

My Pastor taught an excellent sermon recently.  He said that it matters not at all who other people say that Jesus is, instead it matters most who you say that Jesus is.  The Pharisees and priests decided that Jesus was a heretic, and at that point everyone else had to decide who Jesus was.

13When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?

 14And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.

 15He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?

 16And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

 17And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

 18And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

As you can see what was important to Jesus was who His disciples thought that He was.

There is danger and trap for many of us, for we shout, “Hosanna!”  when things are going well.  We see Jesus as the King of kings and the Savior of all our circumstances.  But then, when circumstances change, we start to doubt who He is in our lives.  We turn our back on Him, ashamed of the cross, and the man on it.  Maybe difficult times have come, or disappointments in life; or perhaps a “new” doctrine is going around changing the very definition of who Jesus is.  We must not change how we identify with Christ based on circumstances or trendy “doctrine” or we are no better than the fickle Palm Sunday parade crowd.

As long as Jesus was healer and provider it was “Hosanna!”, but as soon as He asked to become “Lord” it was “Crucify Him!”

As long as it was about what He could do for them to make their life better, it was “Hosanna!”, but as soon as it became about what they could do for Him, it was either silence or “Crucify Him!”

The silence continues as people discredit our Lord and we stand by, not saying a word.  And our silence allows the One who paid the ultimate price for us to have His character and reputation questioned and “crucified” making Him nothing more than a Sugar Daddy and when the sugar is gone, we are not willing to identify with Him any longer.

Who do you say that He is?

Celebrating Who He is with dear Ann today:

218. The best Bible Study so far! Changed Lives.

219. My wonderful group of students.

220. An unexpected day out with a friend.

221. Homemade Chicago Hot Dogs…except I forgot the relish…:(

222. My oldest son home from college.

223. An amazingly beautiful bride.

224. Lacey Day continues….

225. Scholarship to Write To Publish!!

226. e-mail from Cecil Murphey!

227. Request for interview for my dream job!!

228. Heart-to-heart with college son.

229. Bringing a guest family to church!

230. Guest goes forward to give her life to Christ!!!!!!!Yay!

231. Finished Hunger Games trilogy so I can return to normal life.

…sharing a playdate with Laura:

…hanging out with L.L.: On In Around button

and a new face, Rebecca…Moms Against Manic Mondays

Dissatisfied With Heaven’s Bread

Aspire | The Wave by Brandon Ku (bkuPhotography) on 500px.com
Aspire | The Wave by Brandon Ku

Sometimes we despise God’s provision.
“There is nothing to eat here and nothing to drink. And we hate this horrible manna!” (Numbers 22 NLT)
Isn’t manna something to eat?
How we exaggerate when we are determined to be dissatisfied.

Our flesh cries out, “I’m tired of this food! It’s the same every day!
God your provision just. isn’t. good. enough.
If you loved me, you’d provide a seven course meal, with plenty of variety.
This bread from Heaven isn’t measuring up.”

and we say, “I’m not satisfied any more.
Couldn’t you send me a sign?
A miracle? You expect me to chew on the same crust of bread over and over?
…and like it?”

We are like
children looking in full pantry and fridge
proclaiming, “There’s nothing to eat!”

Sometimes we grow impatient with the length and difficulty of the journey
and we speak out against God, and His man.
We complain about the package deliverance comes in.
“I didn’t expect this!” we rethink the path we’ve chosen.

and the serpent of bitterness
brazenly bites leaving behind his mark on our skin and his poison in our blood,
and we question His very name Jireh, Provider.

But He is Provider, and “God is always good, and I am always loved.”
There is goodness in the manna – the “what is it?” bread of Heaven.
There is love on the journey – water from rocks and brass serpents for healing
despite our complaints.

Counting the provisions of the Lord with Ann:

139. A reminder in an art gallery.

140. His Word a lamp unto my feet.

141. A shopping kitty.

142. A day with Mama.

143. Encouragement to be a finisher.

144. A metropolitan afternoon

145. Tiffany windows raining glory on my hair…

146. simplicity

147. The journey of an altar.

…sharing a playdate with Laura:

….finding heaven with Jen:

…hanging out with L.L.: On In Around button

…sharing with Shandra:

The Story of Valentine’s Day – Guest Post by Craig From Deep Into Love

Happy Valentine by Hamid Eslami (hammmyd)) on 500px.com
Happy Valentine by Hamid Eslami

February 14, 269 AD

Her face is round, as are her eyes…
and dark and deep…
and head lowered…
a voice as veiled as her face…
she lilts a whispered “I do”.

His arms strong, chiseled chin, brown locks…
eyes even softer than hers…
like a doe in the forest.

He places his hand to her chin.
Raises it to until her eyes meet his…
and says in definitive and loving tone…
“I do”.

There are three witnesses to the ceremony, God, myself, and a single dove resting on a vine branch in the courtyard. They had come, cloaked and dark, hushed footsteps entering my home, hooded heads, like thieves, indiscernible against the morning mist.

There were the three knocks on my door…
then the pause…
then one more single rap upon the wood.
Three…

and…
One.

So I opened my door and began the ceremony ending in the joyful declarations of both that they would love, and cherish until death. Entering as two they departed as one. A few coins tossed in the fountain as they left. Nods exchanged between them and myself as they scuttled off down the path to the sound of morning larks.

No one will know but us.
No one can.
This marriage is secret.
They all must be.

As they left Antony entered, my friend, another of God’s priests, “You can’t continue to do this.” His first words to me, not good morning, but these. I brushed the comment aside like dust off of a windowsill.

My answer came as easily as breath,“The Emperor’s decree cannot stop the will of God. What’s one more secret marriage, two more outlaws. I’ll make the whole land outlaws and he’ll be able to arrest no one.”

The decree of Claudius that there will be no marriage in Rome is too obvious in nature. Married men, he thinks, don’t enlist, don’t fight the invading hordes to the north. So he thinks by outlawing marriage his army will grow. But Claudius will not win. There will be marriage among God’s people.

If they choose to fight, the decision is theirs.

He wants an army armed with swords and daggers.
I’ll build an army of Christian Love, by marriage.
And I know this…
within a generation the Kindgom of God…
will overtake the Glory of Rome…

The setting of this story is a quiet little hamlet in the heart of the Roman Empire, called Interamna. The location is fact, The decree to outlaw marriage by the Roman emperor Claudius in 269 AD is fact too. The priest conducting the secret marriages is fact as well. The rest…

a bit fiction to lend body to the story that will unfold over the days between here and the holiday bearing his name.

It’s my Valentine gift for you.

That’s his name, by the way, the priest.

He is Valentine, Bishop of Interamna…

and you’ve not heard this story, not told this way…

of secret marriages…

and love…

and Valentine’s day.

Craig has two wonderful blogs. Deep Into Love and Deep Into Scripture. My favorite part of his bio is when he writes that he is a “perpetual weeble, occasional rock”…isn’t that the truth for all of us? He makes me smile.This magnificent piece comes as a series and has oodles more parts…for the next installment please click here.  Make sure that you read the rest of the story of St. Valentine!

Making Pillars: Testifying to God’s Goodness

Jacob was not a nice person. Taking advantage of his brother’s hunger, he tricked his brother out of his birthright. He was a deceiver. That is what his name means. He willingly fulfilled his mother’s instructions to deceive his father so that he received the blessing that was rightfully Esau’s. Jacob was a swindler. He made deals with Laban, and then tried to influence nature against Laban, for his own prosperity. The only thing really endearing about the youth of this biblical character is his love for Rachel. Continue reading

Epiphany Quest! – A Blogging Neighborhood Bible Study – Week 1

After praying and fasting I feel that the Holy Spirit has directed me towards a theme for the Blogging Neighborhood Bible Study in 2012. I take this task with trembling and trepidation, for I recognize the weight of responsibility I carry in sharing God’s Word with others…but o that I would cause a hunger and thirst for a desire in you, dear reader, for your own personal quest. O that you would desire to journey towards the epiphanies He holds for you and you alone, your own Pilgrim’s Progress of sorts.

So, as simple as it may seem, the theme for this year’s Bible Study is found in the name of this blog. Journey Towards Epiphany. And its name is so appropriate this week, in that January 6th is the ancient Christian celebration of Epiphany. The celebration that marks the first Gentiles to find Him as Christ the King.

I am overwhelmed by the mystery of it. Who were these men? How far did they travel? What does it all mean to me? And the first thing that I am struck by is their willingness to listen to their hearts. These men were more than likely Zoroastrians, but more importantly they were Truth seekers. They went beyond the common knowledge of those around them to find what they knew to be true.

You see, the Gospel had been prophesied to the Magi in the book of Daniel during the time of King Nebuchadnezzar, and the Magi of the New Testament likely studied what Daniel and his friends predicted. Just as Abram was called from pagan moon worship to follow a personal God, a Father, these men were called from earthy magic and from astrology to Astronomy. For the Heavens delcare His Glory (Psalm 19)…and they saw it. They had heard about the Truth, and they recognized it.

We only see what we seek for. Many things go unnoticed simply because we have not determined to notice. Days go by without really living; errands and laundry, and work lived without intentional seeking. Ann has inspired me to notice gifts…and my life is richer for it. Now, I hope to inspire you to notice the leading of the Magi in you.

There is a wise man in all of us. One that has seen or heard some “Truth”, something that causes our spirit to cry out “Yes!” I encourage you to take a moment to remember. What was that last morsel upon which your spirit fed? The last bit of Truth that sparked a flame? Now fan the flame.

For the Magi, that bit of Truth was what they heard from previous generations about a coming King. And the more they sought the Truth, the more they found Him. For when we seek Him we will find Him when we seek Him with our whole heart. (Jeremiah 29:13) Friend, what can I say to implore you and I to seek Him with our whole beings? For when we seek Him, we will find Him. Seek and you will find. Knock….pound on the door…until it is opened. (Matt. 7:7-8) For our determined purpose is that we may know Him. (Phil 3:10)

Do you know Him? Do you want to know Him more? Quest for Him. Live from epiphany to epiphany. Feed on Him as He is the Bread of Life. Thirst for Him as He is Living water, and you’ll never thirst for anything else again.

Seeking scriptures:
Deut. 4:29
Pro. 8:17
Isaiah 55:6
Jer. 29:13
Matt. 7:7-8

Luke 11:8-10
Luke 15:7-9
Acts 17:26-28

If you care to share, what was your most recent epiphany?

Sharing with Ann and Jen and Shanda

A Star, A Sage, A Shepherd and An Innkeeper – Day 12 Christmas Photo Scavenger Hunt

Blue starlight shafts through dark-and-dusty cave
illuminating child-yet-King.
The Heavens declare His glory.

Three wise men travel months, perhaps years
to find Him – experience Him,
bringing gifts fit for a King.

Shepherd’s work is interrupted abruptly
by skies full of angels
singing His praise.

An innkeeper misses the chance of a lifetime
to host the important human ever.
He shuts the door on opportunity.

“I can’t, there’s no room for you,” he objects
“I’m full already, and I won’t turn myself out.”
No Vacancy sign flashes red.

It never knocks again, this chance to host a King.
And I wonder…which of these four characters
am I?

Starlight declaring glory? Boldly announcing His coming?
Wise sage searching Him out? Bringing gifts?
A shepherd recognizing importance? Dropping everything to see?
or an Innkeeper full of everything and everyone? Turning Him away?

May I shine forth His glory to a dark and dusty world.
May I seek Him, no matter how long–until I find Him.
May I allow myself Divine interruptions to capture a moment.
May I never turn Him out of my home, because there’s no room for Him there.

Congratulations Dana from DRGT/Just Wondering. for your exquisite picture of your advent calendar…

There were no submissions for the prompt snowflake, but you still have until tomorrow for your submissions for a nativity…Can’t wait to see your pictures!

The linkup will be through 7Am tomorrow. I will go through the posts and gather the pics for the correct days. Thanks so much for your participation, this has been fun! Link up your post featuring a photo with a theme listed above. Include my blog button, and visit other “hunt” blogs. Stop by tomorrow to vote for your favorite “nativity” picture. Have fun! (Blog links must be provided before 7:00 AM CST, in order to be voted on 🙂 ) I have no idea why the number of links doesn’t update…There are participants!



Grace Like A Snowflake… Day 11 Photo Scavenger Hunt

Snowflake 1

full of grace. Hail Mary full of grace.

i feel grace-depleted. what little i had left
has melted on my nose tip like a lone snowflake
this warm winter season.

my husband needs grace. i have none.
my children need grace. i’m empty.
no. more. grace.

an angel came to Mary.
with a proposition and a plan.
she said yes.

God’s Word comes to me
with a proposition and a plan.
i say no.

Mary said yes.
she was full of grace.

i say no
i am replete of it.

awake. repent.
say yes.

graceful.

1. The Journey Advent photo comes to us from Dana at DRGT/Just Wondering. Her beautiful calendar comes from Ann Voskamp’s 15 year old son, who made these beauties so that he’d have money to donate to Compassion.

2. The Jesse Tree Advent photo comes to us from Blue Cotton Memory. She writes of raising Boys to Men.

3. The Traditional Advent photo comes from Christina at To Show Them Jesus. She writes about her experiences as a home schooling mom.

4. The German Advent calendar photo comes from me. 🙂

Thanks everyone for your participation!

I know that this week will be busy for all of us, so I’ve decided to post the week’s photo prompts:

Wednesday – Advent Calendar
Thursday – Snowflake
Friday – Nativity

The linkup will be through Friday. I will go through the posts and gather the pics for the correct days. Thanks so much for your participation, this has been fun! Link up your post featuring a photo with a theme listed above. Include my blog button, and visit other “hunt” blogs. Stop by tomorrow to vote for your favorite “gift” picture. Have fun! (Blog links must be provided before 7:00 AM CST, in order to be voted on 🙂 ) I have no idea why the number of links doesn’t update…There are participants!

Linking with my dear Emily:

and with the amazing poets at dverse