Sunday Chronicles. #110, Sept. 23, 2018
Conduits of Blessing or Stagnant Ponds?
Gray thunderheads over Springfield, MO filter out much of the sun shining above them. Temps are much cooler with a hint of fall. Physically, I’ve had a tough week, and I’m feeling old today. Yesterday, son Jon drove me to Ozark, MO to renew my driver’s license. (SP offices that handle those duties are closed on Saturday.) The eye exam showed my left eye is getting weaker. Many things I enjoy doing– reading, writing, cooking—require good vision. So I was feeling down…but the mail brought a card from a friend with the picture of a droopy teddy bear penned on a clothes line by one ear and dripping water. The heading asked, “Feel like you’ve been through the spin cycle?” My mood exactly! Ps. 124:8 was printed on the inside: “Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” I thought, “Well, since He did that great creative act, He can surely help my little problems!”
Stiffness in my knees has made getting in and out of cars and walking with canes more difficult. I participated in MV Chapel via TV today; I sang with them and followed the sermon with my Bible open. The Holy Spirit was with me even as He was present in the chapel. Our chaplain was back from his vacation, and he lead the opening. The speaker was Donna Barrett, the newly appointed general secretary of the Assemblies of God. Her topic was “Remembering” and she based her remarks on I Cor. 11:23-26, the Scripture that most of us associate with communion. Her first point was from Paul’s statement that he was passing on to the church at Corinth “what he had received from the Lord”; not something stale and lifeless, but a fresh download from God. She challenged us to keep our spiritual life fresh and to be conduits of blessing for others.
Point 2 was “Remembering the gravity of sin” from the phrase “the same night He was betrayed.” Jesus, facing death and knowing that His betrayer was at the table, yet gave His disciples final instructions. She admonished us to ask God to search our hearts for unforgiveness, a critical spirit, or other “secret” sins. She quoted Dr. Dobbins as saying that his greatest concern for the A/G fellowship was that we would lose our fear of sin and cease to be thankful for the price Jesus paid for our redemption. Point 3 was not to hide in externals and forms of worship but nurture our fellowship with Jesus by being forgiving of others and quick to repent and apologize when we did wrong. Point 4 was based on the phrase “when he had given thanks” in V. 24. She encouraged us to develop an “attitude of gratitude.” She mentioned that giving thanks is a powerful tool in spiritual warfare. I have found this true in my life.
She had my heart when she told us about some of the problems of the Grant Beach neighborhood that borders the A/G headquarters offices on the west. When she moved here two months ago, she began walking in that area until someone advised her it wasn’t safe for her to walk alone there. She challenged us to join her in prayer that God would heal that neighborhood and bring change to lives broken by sin.
I’m no stranger to the Grant Beach area. When we came to Springfield in 1972 we bought an older home in that neighborhood. I could walk to the A/G offices where I worked; Weaver School is less than a block west of our old home, so I our children walked to school. We soon learned that many of the older homes in that area had been cut up into cheap rental units and that drug use and alcoholism were rampant. Some of my A/G friends advised that I should move to a better neighborhood, but that home was right for us. I didn’t have to tell my children what sin did to people’s lives; we had front-row seats to view the effects. The principal at Weaver was not only a dedicated educator but also a woman of faith. She welcomed my assistance in PTA and counseling parents. I have no doubt that God sent us there. Another A/G family, here for the husband to attend the Assemblies of God Seminary, moved in across the street and joined us in praying for and assisting our neighbors. We left that neighborhood when we moved to pioneer the church at Ridgedale in 1998. Now, this woman has taken up the burden. I applaud her for her concern for a neighborhood almost in the shadow of A/G offices. Please join us in prayer for those so near to churches and help, but yet so far from Jesus.
Your prayers are very much appreciated, as are your visits, cards, e-mails…all the ways that you encourage me. Although Nelson has been gone almost 18 months now, living alone is not any easier. More medical issues are surfacing, and I see another doctor this week. Yet I am fully aware that “my help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” Please continue to pray for the lonely believer in a closed country. I will let you know when I hear more from the missionary who requested prayer for him…Peace, jwb