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Tuesday, May 21, 2013, 4:31 PM
“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.. –Acts 2:1-4 (NIV)
Many doubters of God’s existence have said, or written, “If there is a God, why isn’t the existence of such a Being obvious to everyone? Why isn’t God’s existence and presence completely obvious and beyond question or dispute? Why is there so much mystery and uncertainly about whether or not there is a God? Why does God make humanity struggle in order to know Him?”
One day, many, many years ago in a temple in Jerusalem (a temple visited by people of different languages from throughout that region), God’s presence was visible and obvious to everyone present. Those who witness this “happening” had different views of what went on that day. Some said those impacted by the Undisputed Presence were simply drunks, even though it was only 9 am. After all, there is nothing to stop someone from getting drunk at 9 am if that is what is wanted. Others were amazed, beyond words, and had no explanation of what they witnessed. Still others proclaimed they’d witnessed a unique appearance of God.
No one today need struggle to know of God’s existence and presence. A simple prayer of “God, I want to know you and I want to experience you as the Creator and Sustainer of my life. Show me your presence, tell me what you want me to know, speak to my heart and I will listen” will bring an immediate response to anyone who honestly prays this prayer.
Because something happened a long time ago does not diminish that event’s significance.
Most amazing about the events of Pentecost is the permanent change which occurred in those who experienced God’s presence resting on them on that day. This (somewhat) motley crew of individuals
were transformed from former fugitives into bold spokespersons who challenged the powers of their day by teaching and telling of God’s closeness, God’s love, and God’s call to repentance and righteousness.
The “old selves” died, new selves were born, and they changed their world. The followers (later called apostles) encountered and overcame strong opposition, constant persecution, ostracism, and outright rejection. Their impact was positive and permanent. They gave up much of what they had to follow a path unmarked, unplanned (by them), and unpredictable. They were honored of and loved by God. The contradictions in their experiences are endless.
Are we certain we want to experience God in this way? Encountering God close up and in-person leaves no room for backing out or backing away. Is this what we truly seek?
(c)2013 Deborah Evans
Tuesday, May 14, 2013, 1:52 PM
Paul, the first century apostle, wrote to early Christians that if they did certain things, the peace of God would guard their hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
What does this mean, and is this available to everyone? What were the certain things that had to be done in order to get and maintain this special peace?
" Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!F)"> Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.G)"> Do not be anxious about anything,H)"> but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God,J)"> which transcends all understanding,K)"> will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Phillipians 4:4-7)
Paul tells those reading or listening to the reading of his letter to do the following things:
1) Rejoice in the Lord, always. Do not be jealous, resentful, or envious of anyone, regardless of appearances and circumstances. Rejoice in the Lord by re-membering and re-counting God's kindness and blessings. List and remind yourself of the good things done on your behalf by God, or at the very least, the bad things kept out of your path by God. Write these things down, sing them, pray them, speak them. That's what rejoicing in the Lord means.
2) Let your gentleness be evident to all. Why? Because the Lord is near. The Lord is not only near to you, the Lord is near to all creation and all creatures. God's work may not be evident in the life of everyone, but let God's work be evident in you! Yes, you can afford to relax and be gentle. Because the Lord is near, you do not have to fear that your gentleness will be used against you--to harm or to disadvantage you. You can afford to breathe deeply and live gently. The Lord is near, keeping guard and keeping watch and guaranteeing good outcomes for you.
3) Because you have presented your needs and requests to God with a spirit of thanksgiving, you can leave anxiety behind. Your ability to leave anxiety behind is totally dependent upon you and God, not upon what other people do or choose not to do. What a relief! By turning your concerns over to God in a spirit of thankful prayer, you are not longer depending upon the whims of others to have a peaceful life. Regardless of what others do, God can lift you higher!
When you have done 1), 2), and 3) listed above, you are ready and open to see and accept the peace that transcends, or passes, all understanding.
You are no longer responsible for struggling and straining to "be peaceful." God transfuses His peace into your heart and into your mind. This transfusion of peace guards you from becoming overwhelmed with the anxieties and fears that stalk all of us unless we turn them over to God and leave them there.
This is not a one-time, done-for-all process. Actually, it will become a way of life and the only way to live as you practice living with a joyful knowledge of God's goodness, gently acknowledging God's nearness, and leaving all of your problems on His doorstep. Allow His peace to rush into you, freeing you, increasing your knowledge, and making you a faithful witness of His goodness and His greatness.
(c) 2013 Deborah Evans
Tuesday, April 23, 2013, 11:03 AM
Wednesday, April 17, 2013, 5:50 PM
Saturday, April 6, 2013, 11:43 AM
My father died eleven years ago, on April 5, 2002.
It was a staggering loss for me, because although I grew up with both of my parents in our home, my mother had been ill with multiple sclerosis for many years of that period. (She died the following year, in 2003). As a result of my mother’s illness, my father often played the double, “two parents in one body” role.
To help me process his passing, I started what I called a “grief workbook”, a small blank book in which I wrote memories, feelings about his death, poetry, and into which I also pasted published proverbs, poems, etc. related to grief and parental death. Having that little book helped me immensely, and I often referred back to it to measure my progress in adapting to the loss of my father.
Last Friday, April 5th, I went back to my little book and was amazed at how deep the grief was, how hard it was for me to envision a world without my father, and how much I struggled to get through the basic routines of daily life.
Coming through to the other side of pain and grief taught me many lessons. I offer you a few of them…
From my grief workbook, entry dated April 5, 2013:
“As I have spent time this evening reading through this little volume, I am feeling gratitude and gratefulness and grace.
Life has changed so much since the years when Pop--my father’s nickname in our family-- was here. Some of those changes have been experienced as loss and pain. Others have been experienced as incredible spiritual heights and the widening and deepening of my entire life experience.
The pain and losses refined me. They strengthened me for the new challenges and opportunities that awaited me. Without the growth that arose from absorbing and managing the pain and losses, I would not have been prepared to move forward, nor would I have been able to sustain my forward movement on new horizons.
The pain gave me an emotional freedom, an independence that helped me rely more fully on God and on my own character and my own life’s purpose. I became less dependent on
”good” circumstances and the approval of others to make me happy. I learned through experience how to live without those things. I realized God could show me joy in any situation.
I also realize how living and moving forward through and beyond the pain gives me credibility and authority when I speak with others about God and God’s goodness. I can give specific, real, and compelling testimony of God’s love and power in every situation. When I speak of these things, I am not repeating someone else’s story. I am telling my own story. Nothing is more powerful and nothing is more honest.
Pop was a good example for me in so many ways. I am sure his life did not end in the time, place, or way he’d anticipated as a younger man. Still, he went through it all with grace, and that expression of God’s grace in my father has remained the most inspirational showing of God’s power I have ever witnessed.
For me, his legacy points to a life well lived and a finish worthy of emulation.”