LIVING WITH AUTO-CORRECT

Sunday Chronicles. #203. 7/05/20

Guardian angel guiding children

I came to computers late in life, and while they have done much to facilitate the exchange of information and ideas, they have some “helps” which can be frustrating for older users. One such device for me is “auto-correct.”

Yes, I know auto-correct can be turned off, but sometimes it makes needed corrections. At other times, it makes me say things I never intended. I proofread my typing, but my fingers are stiff with arthritis, and they often hit wrong keys. My eyesight isn’t good either, so mistakes continue. Last Sunday when the chapel service here at Maranatha was being broadcast, words to the songs were on the screen. A verse of one song (Yesterday, Today, Forever) begins:

“As of old He walked to Emmaus, with them to abide,
So through all life’s way He walketh, Ever by our side….” 

But auto-correct had kicked in without the person doing the typing seeing that “Emmaus” had been changed to ”Emma’s.” I assume “Emmaus” is not in the auto-correct database. Anyway, I hope “Emma” was glad to receive the two disciples!

The story of Jesus walking with the two disciples is recorded in Luke 24:13-35. It took place during the Passover season when Jesus was crucified. Apparently, these disciples had come to Jerusalem from their home village to keep the Passover. Perhaps they were expecting Jesus to set up His Kingdom as the other disciples were. They believed Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God, and in their thinking, it was impossible for Him to be put to death. Yet on that Friday, they had seen Him crucified and buried. Their world had fallen apart, and they were sad! (Can you relate?)

On this Sunday, as they walked approximately 7 miles back to their village, they discussed what had happened. They had heard that some women followers of Jesus had been to the tomb, found it empty, seen angels, but had not seen Jesus. About this time Jesus joined them, but they did not recognize Him. (Can you pinpoint times in your life when Jesus walked with you but you didn’t recognize His presence until later?)

Can you pinpoint times in your life when Jesus walked with you but you didn’t recognize His presence until later?

Jesus explained Old Testament Scriptures showing the two travelers that Jesus’ death was necessary –the sinless Passover Lamb crucified to pay the redemption price for every repentant sinner. The disciples must have appreciated His teaching, because they invited Him to stay with them for the evening meal. When He blessed and broke the bread, they recognized Him and He disappeared! They were so excited that they walked back to Jerusalem that night (at least a 3-hour walk!) to tell the other disciples, but Jesus had already appeared to them also.

What does all this have to do with auto-correct? Have you ever said or done something, perhaps when you were angry or troubled, and immediately the Holy Spirit would whisper in your heart that you had displeased Jesus? Among His other duties, the Holy Spirit acts as a correction device. He doesn’t make changes without your permission, but He points out your need to make things right.

Our nation is now in a time of change. Exactly what the future will be, I don’t think anyone knows. It’s time to make corrections as the Holy Spirit directs us.

Remember, Jesus is walking with us “all the way home,” so what do we have to fear? If you happen to go by “Emma’s” invite her to join the walk with Jesus, too!

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Personal Notes: Hot and humid in Springfield, MO with temps predicted in the 90s today. A few puffy clouds straggle around in a nearly white sky. They may get together and bring a shower later today. Lizards travel on the patio but so far, with diligent door-closing, none have made it inside! The doves are frequent visitors now. I hope their presence indicates good news as my sister Lucille believes. Please include her in your prayers. She is recovering from a fall—no broken bones, but extensive bruising on her head and face, with sore ribs and knees. She is a dedicated prayer warrior and encourager. I have never lived a day in this world without knowing she believed in me! Neither of us is able to travel, so we communicate by phone and letters. Thank you for adding her to your prayers. May the “bread that you cast upon the waters” by your visits, cards, gifts, and prayers for me bring God’s rich blessings back to you, “pressed down, and running over!” My prayers are with you. Peace, jwb

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Song lyrics by A. B. Simpson

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+24%3A13-35&version=NABRE

“He Who Rides on the Wings of the Wind . . .”

Sunday Chronicles. #202 6/28/20

A storm is sweeping our nation. Few, if any of us, saw it coming. It has brought tremendous upheavals to our daily lives. At this point, we do not see an end. COVID-19 is spiking again, and some health experts say we will be at least a year in recovery from its ravages. Small businesses are struggling to survive, and unemployment is rising daily. Altogether, these components paint a dark picture.

Since I lived much of my early life on the plains of Oklahoma, I remember the dust storms, prairie fires, and tornadoes that swept across that area in the mid-1930s. When red clouds of dust showed up in the west, no matter how hot the day, my mother closed all doors and windows, then hung wet sheets over them to catch the dust that filtered in. When prairie fires threatened a neighborhood where we lived near a gasoline plant, every able-bodied person took buckets of water and used wet gunnysacks to fight it.  At 5 years old, my job was to carry water to those on the front lines. 

But we, believers in a creator God who sent His Son
to be our Redeemer, do not need to panic.

While these storms were localized, the storm we are in today is global. But we, believers in a creator God who sent His Son to be our Redeemer, do not need to panic. All through history God has walked with those who trust Him and kept them in His care as they passed through storms. In Genesis He warned Noah to build an ark on dry land; in Joshua He stopped a river in the height of flood stage so that His people could cross on dry stones. When jealous enemies developed a plot against Daniel to get him thrown into a lions’ den, God closed the lions’ mouths. Daniel’s friends would not bow in worship to the king’s image, but God walked with them in a furnace hot enough to kill those who threw them in, while they survived unharmed, not even their clothing scorched!

When Peter was in prison, sleeping chained between two guards, God sent an angel to rescue him. It was all done so quietly that the guards did not awaken. Paul, en-route to Rome to be tried before Caesar, was on board a ship that sailed into a storm. Sailors saw neither sun nor stars for 14 days and lost hope of survival. Paul gave them a message, brought by an angel, that all 276 people on board would be saved if they stayed with the boat. When the disciples were caught in a storm on the Sea of Galilee while Jesus was asleep in the boat with them, they woke Him up in a panic. He spoke to the wind and waves and all became calm.

These are only a few of the biblical examples of God’s faithfulness in times of storm. It is also true that God sometimes allows storms to bring His children, who have finished their work here, to our eternal home. But as Paul wrote, “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord” (2 Cor. 6-8).

This is not a time to “throw away our confidence”
but to stand strong in faith.

Yes, we are in a storm, and storms change things. Life as we knew it before this storm will never be the same. A large tree may look good on the outside but have rot at the core. A strong windstorm will take it out. In its place a young tree can grow. I do not know what the new tree will be like, but it will become our daily normal. This is not a time to “throw away our confidence” but to stand strong in faith and reach helping hands to those buffeted by the storm. Keep your eyes on Him who never changes. Instead of focusing on the storm, look to the Almighty God who rides on the wings of the wind!  (Ps.104:3). Give Him praise and adoration!

Personal notes: Apparently the lizards didn’t like Florida; they are back playing on my patio! Birds continue to visit, and the doves stop by occasionally. In the last two weeks, I’ve seen deer running across the open space in front of my apartment. Sometimes a male accompanies a female and baby, and a few times a mother with two young ones came by. How they can run, and how graceful they are! How I’d love to run with them!

Springfield temps are in the high 80s most days now, and rain is not coming as often. This week concludes the first half of 2020. It always makes my day when I get mail from real people, so please keep writing. Also, don’t forget other older friends who are living alone. The days get long when there’s no one to share meals, news, laughter, and prayers. Thanks to all of you for the caring things you do. You are so appreciated! Peace, jwb

Scripture references for further reading. Genesis chapters 6 and 7. Joshua 3:14-16. Daniel 6:19-22. Daniel 3:19-30. Acts 12:5-7. Acts chapter 27. Mark 4:35-41.

Proud to be “The Preacher’s Daughter”

Sunday Chronicles. # 201 6/21/20. Father’s Day

Grandpa Wells and Jon Booze-sized

Harold E. Wells. Oct. 18, 1894–April 2, 1977. With Jon Booze.

Since today is Father’s Day, I decided to share some of my father’s story with you. Much of what I have accomplished in ministry goes back to his teaching and example in my early years.

Dad was the sixth in a family of eight.  The children in birth order are: Herbert, Elizabeth (Lizzie), Frederick (Fred), Hattie (died in childhood). Katie (died in childbirth) Harold (my dad), Howard, and Walter (Darb).

Dad’s father, James Evert Wells, died in 1900 when Dad was six years old. The family was traveling in Northern Arkansas, in two covered wagons. They had been to “the bottoms” (Oil Trough Bottom) to harvest crops and were on their way back to their home in Stone County, south of Mountain View, Arkansas. They camped at night in areas provided for travelers by small towns along that route. Apparently, they drank water from a contaminated well, and the whole family became ill with typhoid fever except Fred. Mr. Wells died and local people buried him. Mrs. Wells could only remember being raised up to see him in the casket before he was buried.

Local people took care of the family, providing meals and water, until they were able to continue traveling home. Because of her illness and the strain of caring for the sick children, Mrs. Wells suffered an emotional breakdown that lasted most of the winter. Fred (about 12 years old) prepared food for the sick ones and kept the fires going until Lizzie and Herb got well enough to help. The family had a very hard time that winter.

In later years, my Dad, Fred, and Howard went back along the route the wagons had traveled and tried to find their father’s grave, but it was never located.

My Dad’s life changed in 1912 when he was 17 years old.  An evangelist came into Northern Arkansas in the spring and brought the news that God was pouring out His Spirit with signs and wonders. The family had been part of the Methodist church, but at the revival my dad, his widowed mother, and some of his brothers and sisters accepted the message of Pentecost. They saw the sick healed and miracles take place in the changed lives of men who had been involved in gambling or making and selling illegal whiskey. My dad talked about this revival as long as he lived.

The revival lasted three years. Dad said he could go outside anytime in the night and hear people praying across the hills and hollows. He was filled with the Holy Spirit and called to preach. His first sermons were preached as he plowed corn. People heard about his preaching, and some came to hide in bushes at the edge of the field to listen.

He also traveled to other communities in Northern Arkansas to assist in revivals with a well-known evangelist, Rev. A .E. Humbard (father of Rex Humbard who pioneered a TV ministry years later.) Early in 1914, Dad spent six weeks in a short-term Bible school in Malvern, Arkansas, under the leadership of E. N. Bell, one of the men who helped form the Assemblies of God. Both of these men gave him excellent Bible teaching.

He missed being able to attend the meeting in Hot Springs, AR, in 1914 where the Assemblies of God was formed. He was needed at home to help with the farm.

He and my mother married in 1915. Dad was partly responsible for caring for his widowed mother, and he felt he had to farm to feed his family, so he resisted full-time ministry until 1935. However, in the years between 1920 and 1935, he preached revivals in the summer, led home prayer meetings in the winter, and studied his Bible early in the mornings. His formal education was limited because he had dropped out of school at about the fifth grade to help his brothers grow food for the family. But he continued to read and study all his life.

In the late l930s I remember his getting up about 4 a.m., building a fire, and reading his Bible until time to cook breakfast. I was eight years old and in the second grade when Dad began studying to be ordained. After supper, he and I would sit at the dining table, read the prescribed textbooks, and fill out the answers to the study questions. I would look up the Bible references, read them aloud, and we would discuss the meaning. He mailed the completed work to Assemblies of God Headquarters in Springfield, MO. It was a great day when we got a test back with a high grade on it!

God continued to deal with him about full-time ministry, but Dad delayed until God forced a decision. In the fall of 1934 Dad took our family to California, hoping to make enough money to buy a small piece of land where my mother could live and take care of my sister and me, while he traveled and preached.

At age 18 months I came down with pneumonia and doctors in the hospital told Dad I would not live through the night. They directed him to make arrangements with a funeral home to pick up the body within an hour of death. My mother was in another part of the hospital in a serious condition.

But Dad went instead to a small Pentecostal church where our family had been attending. He got there just as the service was closing, and the pastor, seeing his state of despair, called the church to prayer. Dad told God that if I and my mother recovered, he would trust God to provide for us and go into full-time ministry. When he got to the hospital the next morning, the doctor in charge told my dad a change had taken place in the night and I was much improved…”and had a fair show to live.”

As soon as my mother and I were able to travel, our family returned to Oklahoma and Dad became the pastor of a group of Pentecostal believers. From that time on, ministry was first; to help support us, he often took a few days’ work, but always with the understanding that his church came first. My dad was one of the “little” preachers in the early-day Assembles of God. He pastored country or small-town churches. In most places he built a church or a parsonage, Sunday school rooms, or other needed facilities. I was often his working partner, holding boards while he sawed, (no power equipment) and helping get the measurements right.

 

Here are some of the things he taught me for which I am forever grateful:

  1. Any Bible doctrine must be supported by two or three Scriptures, taken in context. You cannot take one verse or part of a verse and build a doctrine on it. In early Pentecost, we had preachers who preached more from their personal convictions than Scripture. My dad trained me to tell the difference. If God convicts you of something, you should live by that conviction, but not impose it on others. Listen to what preachers and Bible teachers say, but search the Scriptures and listen to the Holy Spirit before following any new “revelation.” This liberated me from feeling in bondage to every wind of doctrine that came out.
  2. My dad was a man of his word and he expected me to be. I learned early that if I promised to do something, I had better do it or go to him and explain why I hadn’t. Excuses such as “I forgot” or “I didn’t have time” were not acceptable. If you said you would do it, then you did it, or you better have a good reason why you hadn’t.
  3. He didn’t tolerate lying. He expected me to tell the truth. If I had done something wrong or that would be a problem with the church people, my best defense was to get to my dad and tell him the truth. Then he stood between me and my accusers. If what I had done was actually wrong, he dealt with me about it, but before others, he was my advocate.
  4. Dad enjoyed a good laugh. He laughed for years about a lady minister who requested prayer for one of her parishioners. The man was injured while milking his cow. The lady intended to say that the cow hit the man’s eye with its tail and knocked his eye out. But she misspoke and said his eye was knocked out when the cow hit him in the tail! My dad, laughing hard, would slap his knee and say, “My, what a lick!” During the late 1930s we had a radio and sometimes in bad weather, he would tune in to stations in Del Rio, Texas, or Chicago, Illinois.  Across the Oklahoma plains, they came in loud and clear. We laughed with Lum and Abner and their Jot ‘Em Down Store; Baby Snooks; and a comedian called Kingfisher.

In memory of Dad, think on these things: (1) Know the Scriptures and apply them correctly to your life. (2) Keep your promises unless you have made a promise you shouldn’t have. If so, go to the person and explain why you aren’t doing what you said you would. (3) In tough situations, tell the truth. If you can’t tell the truth, don’t say anything.  (4) Find the humor in life and hold on to what makes you laugh.

I’m still proud to be his daughter!  Joyce Wells Booze


 

Some of the following story is included above.

When God says, NOW!”

Time: 1934-35    Place: Porterville, CA

My parents were living on the Huckaby place near Nuyaka, OK, in 1934. Dad continued to minister locally while he farmed. The Cobb family, friends from Arkansas, had migrated to California to find jobs. They wrote my parents and encouraged them to come, telling them that jobs were plentiful and wages good.  Julius Hobbs, one of my dad’s nephews, and his sister Eunice Hobbs Hamm and her husband Otis Hamm added their plea. Julius had a flat-bed truck, and they offered to travel with our family on the trip.

My dad still had the dream of earning enough money to buy a small acreage where my mother, my sister, and I could live, raise a garden, keep chickens, pigs, and a cow, while he went into full-time evangelistic ministry. So in the fall of 1934, my parents loaded a few pieces of furniture on Julius’ truck and sold the rest for money to travel on. They packed the Model A with clothes and bedding, leaving only enough room in the back seat for my sister to sit.

Arriving in Porterville, California, about the middle of October, they were welcomed by the Cobb family who helped them get settled and rent a small cottage. My dad went to work on construction jobs. My sister enrolled in the 9th grade (six weeks late!), and my mother took care of me. They found a Pentecostal church where other “Okies” attended and settled down to save enough money to enable them to go back to Oklahoma and begin ministry.

But those plans never worked out. After a few months of moving brick and pushing a wheelbarrow loaded with wet cement, my dad’s fingers swelled with some type of bone infection. The skin on some fingers broke open and sores developed. My mother made bandages that fit around each finger and tied to the wrist. Many days the pain and soreness kept Dad from working.

The milk, butter, eggs, meat, and vegetables they had on the farm in Oklahoma now had to be bought at the corner grocery. Mama made arrangements with a neighbor, Mrs. Blaylock, to look after me, and she took a job picking oranges. The strap on the bag that held the oranges she picked rubbed a raw place on her shoulder at the base of her neck and what seemed to be a boil developed. It became worse, and the job overseer suggested that she go to the free clinic and have it lanced. She went, and the doctor there diagnosed a carbuncle. He insisted that she go to the hospital immediately.

Mama protested. She told him she had a 18-month-old baby who needed her. I had caught whooping cough from Mrs. Blaylock’s grandchildren. As I was recovering from that, I broke out with measles. Mama didn’t think she could be away from me; furthermore, they had no money for hospital bills. Still the doctor insisted. He made arrangements for her to be admitted as a charity patient, called a cab, and sent her to the hospital!

My dad and Lucille were in shock. School was out for the summer, so Lucille helped Dad take care of me. They also picked fruit as jobs were available. In addition to the reccurring whooping cough and the aftereffects of measles, I cried for Mama. I had never spent a night away from her.  When I developed a high fever, Dad and Lucille took me to the clinic. The doctor declared that I had bronchial pneumonia in both bronchi. He told Dad to drive to the hospital as fast as possible, and he sent a nurse along to work my arms to keep me breathing. Lucille says my lips and fingernails were blue.

After I was admitted to the hospital, the doctor there told my dad that he didn’t expect me to live through the night. He said the hospital was allowed to keep a body only one hour after death and that Dad should go make arrangements with a funeral home to be ready to pick up the body.

I was in the children’s ward of the same hospital as Mama. Dad went to tell her what the doctor had said. They agreed that if I died, they didn’t want to have me buried in California. Perhaps they could borrow money from friends to send my body back to Oklahoma. Dad left the hospital and went to the railroad station to find out what shipping would cost. He was so distraught that he stumbled getting into the station, and the stationmaster thought he was drunk. But after my dad told him his little girl wasn’t expected to live and he wanted to know what it would cost to send her body back to Oklahoma, the stationmaster realized his plight.

At that time California cremated bodies of people whose families could not afford a burial. My dad was concerned about this. When the stationmaster understood that Dad had no money to make any kind of arrangements, the man’s heart melted.  He told dad that he had lost his 7-year-old daughter to pneumonia the first year his family was in California, and that he had begged on the streets to get money for her burial. “Mr. Wells,” he said, “you won’t have to do that. I’ve done well here, and if your child dies, I’ll pay to ship the body back to your hometown.”

When Dad left the railroad station, he went to the church we had been attending to ask for prayer. He arrived about the time the service was ending. Dad knew that he had been using his family as an excuse not to go into full time ministry. One of his brothers had already asked for Lucille to come and live with them if Mama and I died. Dad would have no excuse left. As the pastor and people prayed for him and his family, Dad made a vow to God that if He allowed Mama and me to live, he would no longer delay going into full-time ministry.

As God heard a rebellious Jonah when he prayed inside the fish, he heard my dad’s repentant heart. When Dad returned to the hospital the next morning, the doctor told him, “A change in your little girl’s condition took place last night about 9 o’clock. This morning, she has a fair show to live!”

Dad went to tell Mama, but when he reached her room, it was filled with doctors and nurses. When Mama entered the hospital the carbuncle had been cut out leaving a hole more than 2 inches deep and 3 inches wide at the top. Nurses had kept that hole packed with gauze and had continued to peel off contaminated skin. They had seen no sign of healing.

But that morning when the nurse removed the gauze, she saw new healthy flesh at the bottom of the hole. She had gone to tell the doctor, and the news had spread. One of the doctors told my mother that they had never treated a carbuncle by this method successfully before!

When the room had cleared of medical personnel, Dad told Mama about my healing and the vow he had made to God. She said, “You’ll get no complaint from me.” She kept her word during all the future tough times they faced.

Mama and I were released from the hospital at the same time. The pastor of the church we had been attending took up an offering to send us back to Oklahoma (it was $35 and some cents!)  and as soon as we were able to travel, our family returned to Nuyaka. The following Sunday Dad was elected as pastor of the group of Pentecostal people meeting in the Methodist building, and thus began our pastoral life.

Earlier blogs record events at Nuyaka in 1935-36 (# 1 & 3); Beckett Mountain in 1937-38


Personal Notes: Maranatha Village in Springfield looks its best today – lawns are beautifully green and well-manicured; skies have a few thunderheads that seem to be blocking the view of heaven. Birds are busy singing, tweeting, eating, and caring for their young. I’ve kept my promise to God to keep their feeder well-filled, and He has kept His promise to supply my needs. The lizards haven’t been seen this week; perhaps vacationing in Florida. I’m told there are many of them there. My thanks to those who have sent cards, e-mails or comments of encouragement. I was distressed last week because of my mistakes, and considered closing the Chronicles. But a former co-worker and friend, Beverly Graham, offered her help in editing and with technology. I’m sure you’ll see the results in today’s post. Please let her know you appreciate her work.  Peace, jwb

 

What Would Jesus Do?

Sunday Chronicles,  # 200. 6/14/20

 

What Would Jesus Do?

One of our Springfield, MO weather forecasters promised several days ago that we would have a “picture-perfect” Sunday. She got it mostly right! It’s sunny with temps in the mid-80’s. The only thing to mar the “picture” are gray thunderheads playing hide-and-seek with the sun.

This week has been a time of seeing how deep the problems in our nation have become. Some protests have been peaceful efforts to bring needed change, especially to guarantee every citizen equal justice under the law, but other demonstrations descended into smashing storefronts, looting, burning police cars, and acts of violence. As Christ-followers, how should we react?  What would Jesus do?

Let’s look at some of Jesus’ interactions with people who were usually ignored by Jewish religious leaders. After being baptized by John, then overcoming 40 days of temptation by Satan, Jesus returned to His hometown, Nazareth. On the Sabbath He went to the synagogue to worship as usual. He was given the scroll of the prophet Isaiah, and He chose to read 61:1-2: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are down-trodden,…” Jesus spoke about how Elijah, when Israel was in famine, was sent out of the country to a Gentile widow to be fed, and how Elisha’s prayers brought healing to Naaman, a non-Jewish army general. HIs message that God used and blessed people other than Jews made the men in the synagogue angry. They took Jesus out to the top of a hill intending to push Him off and kill Him but God delivered Him. After that, Jesus moved HIs ministry headquarters to Capernaum (LU 4:14-31.)

Other examples of Jesus reaching out to people ignored or rejected by Jewish religious leaders:

(1) Jesus interacted with Samaritans at a time when the “Jews had no dealings with Samaritans.” An immoral Samaritan woman was the first person He told that He was the Messiah. She became an evangelist and brought her village to Jesus. In Luke 10 :29-37 Jesus used a Samaritan as the hero who helped a man beaten by robbers and left to die. A Jewish priest and a Levite passed by without helping.

(2) Most religious Jews would not teach a woman or allow women any participation in synagogue activities. Mary, Martha, and Lazarus lived in Bethany near Jerusalem. They often entertained Jesus and His disciples. Once when Mary was sitting in the room with Jesus and His disciples, listening to Jesus teach, Martha became concerned that her younger sister was not observing the Jewish rules for women. She went to Jesus and complained that she needed Mary’s help in the kitchen. Jesus scolded Martha for being so concerned about the serving, and told her “Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” LU 10:38-42.

(3) MT 5-13: Jesus healed the son of a Roman centurion. Romans were the oppresses of the Jews, but when they reached out to Jesus, Jesus reached back in love.

(4) MK 5:1-20: As Jesus and His disciples came to land in the country of the Gaderenes, a devil-possessed man who lived naked among the tombs met them. I’m not sure what nationality Gaderenes were, but they were raising pigs, so we know they were not Jews. Jesus cast out the demons, restored the man to his right mind, and commissioned him to tell others what Jesus had done for him.

(5) MT 15:21-28: Near the end of Jesus’ ministry, He took His disciples and traveled to Tyre and Sidon, cities on the Mediterranean coast. People there had heard about the miracles of healing Jesus had done in Galilee, and some had made trips down there. When Jesus arrived in the city, a Gentile, Canaanite woman, began begging for healing for her demon-possessed daughter. Jesus tested her faith, found her to be tenacious, and healed her daughter. He also complimented her: “O woman, Great is thy faith!”

May the Holy Spirit direct us this week and enable us to bring the presence of Jesus into difficult situations, to be His hand extended, “Reaching out to the oppressed.”  Peace, jwb

Personal Notes: Thank you for all the ways so many of you have shared love. Age-related losses in the areas of vision, hearing, energy, and flexibility, make many days a struggle. I love to hear from you by way of any type of communication! It helps me forget (temporarily) that I’m old! As I think of you, I ask our Heavenly Father to bless you and make you a blessing wherever you are!

 

“Say SomethingNice”

Sunday Chronicles  #199. 6/7/20

 

“SAY SOMETHING NICE”

A bright and sunny Sunday afternoon in Springfield, MO, after a turbulent week.

About 5 a.m. Thursday, June 4, a wind/rainstorm with lightning roared through this area. Lightning struck a tree some 200 feet from my patio door and split off about a third of it. When I got up later in the morning, I discovered that the whole village, as well as some of the surrounding area, was without electricity. Nine hours later City Utilities had our lights and air conditions on again, but the internet remained off until late Friday. I didn’t realize how much I depend on it until it’s off for two days! Must be the modern version of the old adage, “You don’t miss the water until the well runs dry.”

Chaplain Norris Burkes, who lives/works in California and ministers both in military and civilian hospitals, has a column each Saturday in the Springfield News-Leader. In this week’s column he relays a message from a layman in the First Baptist Church in Charleston, S.C. This man requests that others join them in making the first Sunday in June a “Say Something Nice Sunday.” He asks participants to do two things: (1) Refrain from saying anything ugly, demeaning, or derogatory to anyone. (2)  Instead, say something nice, uplifting, or encouraging. In so doing, we would be obeying Paul’s instructions in Colossians 4:5, 6: “Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out” (The Message.)

Instead of doing this only one Sunday, I believe it’s a worthy goal for every Christian every day!  At this time when our nation is in turmoil, extra doses of kindness and courtesy can help spread the oil of peace on troubled waters. We won’t agree with every person, but we can let Jesus’ love flow through us. If we need to respond, the Holy Spirit will give us the right words at that moment (LU 12:12). I’ve experienced this in my life. Sometimes in tense situations, when I’ve been questioned and had no clue how to respond, the Spirit dropped an answer into my heart at that moment which silenced my opponent, yet without being rude or unkind. But if I tried to answer on my own, the situation deteriorated. I’ve thought of Jesus on the cross, suffering intense pain, yet never an unkind word came from His lips. He prayed for forgiveness for those doing the crucifixion; He welcomed a repenting sinner into the family of God; and He arranged for the care of His mother. What an example of “saying something nice” under stress.

Join me this week in saying something nice to everyone with whom you come in contact. It can be as simple as “Thank you for helping me” or as extensive as the Spirit directs. Start with those in your own home and family, but add those who serve or assist you in any capacity. Not only will you brighten someone else’s day, but thinking and saying good things will change your outlook, too. Each day, apply Philippians 4:8-9! If you have an experience in “saying something nice” you’d like to share, send me a comment or an e-mail. It might make my day, too! Peace, jwb

Personal Notes: Thanks so much for your prayers. The back pain is nearly gone! Additional exercises and more changes in my diet may have helped, but I give God praise for answering prayer any way He chooses.

Other news: The birds continue to tweet and sing and keep me company on the patio. Twice this week I’ve seen a dove,  but I’m not sure if it’s one of the pair that visited previously or if it’s a newcomer. Perhaps they have a nest in a nearby tree with eggs or baby birds, and they take turns coming to eat and guarding the nest. But that could be just my imagination! I’ve been accused of having a BIG imagination!  On the downside, another lizard got in my apartment…and I didn’t imagine that! I saw him crawling on the bathroom floor and tried to shut him in while I got a worker to come and catch him. By the time the worker got here, the lizard was nowhere to be found! The worker assured me that lizards are harmless, but I told him if I got up in the night and stepped on one, they would have a heart attack patient on their hands! Other residents on this hall are having lizard visitors too, so this isn’t just my imagination! If it were, I’d imagine them gone! But in the big picture of life today, I assume lizards don’t constitute a major problem! That seems to be a human trait. Don’t forget to say some thing nice!

The Comforter Has Come

Sunday Chronicles. #198. 6/31/2020. Pentecost Sunday

 

THE COMFORTER HAS COME

Filtered sunshine with a light breeze in Springfield, MO on this last day of May. Weather gurus have promised several dry, sunny days with temps in the 80s. I hope God agrees!

This Sunday the church focuses on remembering and celebrating the coming of the Holy Spirit, as in Acts 2. When Jesus told His disciples He was going away, they didn’t understand and were sad. Jesus made them a promise: “I will send you another Comforter…”(John 14:l6). Our English word “comforter” translates a Greek term which literally means “One called alongside to help.” It also includes the sense of being an “advocate, a friend, counselor, advisor, and helper.” What a rich word, and how fortunate we are to have the assistance of such a powerful member of the Godhead to help us navigate daily life! When the Comforter takes up residence in our spirit, He brings gifts: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance! As with all of God’s gifts, we can choose to accept these gifts and practice using them in our lives, or we can refuse them and cling instead to our “Poor Me! Look-how-bad-I’ve-been-treated” attitude which leads us to hatred, bitterness, and complaining.

When Jewish religious leaders crucified Jesus, they thought His followers would fade away. Imagine their surprise when Peter and John, newly filled with the Holy Spirit, prayed for a lame man who had sat at one of the temple gates and begged for a long time. Now he was leaping for joy! When an outpouring of Pentecost came to the area around Mountain View, AR, in 1912-13, a 17-year-old boy received the Holy Spirit and was called to preach; he began his ministry by helping older Pentecostal ministers with revivals. Some of his family, especially an older sister, objected to his Pentecostal experience, but he continued in lay ministry. He married and became the father of one daughter, while still preaching part-time and struggling to support his family. I joined the family in 1933, and in 1934, when I was at the point of death and my mother seriously ill, God made it plain to my parents that they were to cut loose from all other jobs and go into full-time ministry. Both my mother and I were dramatically healed, and my parents began pioneer ministry, trusting God for our needs. I grew up, knowing that the Holy Spirit was a valued friend and guide. The ministry of the Holy Spirit to be our Comforter and Advocate can bring healing to our nation if we yield our hearts to His will. Use His gifts of love, joy, and peace to speak words of hope to weary hearts this week.

O spread the tidings ‘round, wherever man is found, Wherever human hearts and human woes abound,

“Let every Christian tongue proclaim the joyful sound: The Comforter has come!

“The Comforter has come, The Comforter has come!

“The Holy Ghost from Heaven, the Father’s promise given;

“O spread the tidings ‘round, wherever man is found,

“The Comforter has come!” (Lyrics by Frank Bottome)

Personal note: Thanks to so many of you who have prayed for me this week. God helped, and the pain is not as severe. I am working with a physical therapist and making additional lifestyle changes that may help. I enjoy sitting on my miniature patio and watching the birds. The doves have not been around lately, but red birds and robins visit the feeder regularly. Today a squirrel came prancing by, ran up a tree, then promptly came down. Perhaps a mother bird gave him reason to move along. Lizards still inhabit the front lawn but haven’t ventured inside again. A racoon recently tried to steal a bag of trash that we had set on a chair outside the front door, waiting to be taken to the dumpster. The racoon had to have encouragement to leave, but he finally got the point. The exciting life of a shut-in! Peace, jwb

 

AgingDuring COVID-19: Gains and Losses

Sunday Chronicles,  #197 May 24, 2020. Memorial Day Weekend

Aging During COVID-19:  Gains and Losses

Greetings from Springfield, MO on a warm, humid Sunday afternoon. Definitely a day for cold watermelon and ice cream! Thunderstorms are predicted for tonight and for every day in the coming week. But I‘m grateful for two sunny days…yesterday and today. Son Jon and his family (Amy, Andrew, and Elizabeth) and daughter Melinda came Saturday; we took flowers to Nelson’s grave. The cemetery was filled with families remembering their loved ones. I‘m not sure what people in heaven know about what happens on earth, but if they do know, I didn’t want Nelson to think we’d forgotten him. The writer of the New Testament Book of Hebrews mentions that we are “surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses” (which he refers to in Ch. 11) as “…cheering us on!” (MSG 12:1). Therefore, he encourages us to be faithful and “run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (12:2, NIV).

As our bodies age, we lose various abilities. Eyesight dims, teeth have to be replaced, joints become stiff and painful, and our memory develops lapses. We add eyeglasses, dentures, write down things to remember, and add elastic knee braces to help us walk. After more mobility loss, we use additional devices such as walkers and motorized chairs to get us around. As Garfield once said, “It takes longer and longer to put myself together in the mornings!”

What do we gain? As we walk through life with Jesus, we learn that He never leaves us and always works for our good, even when we don’t understand life situations that we pass thorough. He is going to walk with us all the way home, carrying us over some rough places, and always holding our hand. We learn to value and lean on the Holy Spirit, and His anointing in our lives and ministry.

On Sunday March 8, before we knew that COVID-19 was present in Springfield, Maranatha was still having chapel with a congregation present. Kevin Donaldson, a long-time friend, was the guest speaker.  Kevin worked with me in 1990s, editing and writing missions material. Later Kevin and his wife Lucy served in India, then returned to Springfield to assist in various facets of missions, especially those related to India. Kevin now serves in leadership in the A/G Foreign Missions office. His sermon in chapel spoke directly to one facet we older believers deal with: after years of ministry, our health situations handicap us to the point that we can no longer minister as we once did. We can still pray and counsel those who ask our help; but that seems insignificant beside our past ministry. Kevin pointed out that when Jacob was 130 years old, (none of us here have reached that point yet!) his son Joseph, now ranked second to Pharaoh, moved his father’s whole family to Egypt to escape the famine in Canaan. Joseph took his father to the palace and introduced him to Pharaoh (Gen. 47:7,8). Those verses record that Jacob “blessed” Pharaoh at the beginning and again at the end of their meeting. To be blessed, Pharaoh likely had to kneel before Jacob, the patriarch of God’s people. So here we have the ruler of a major world empire receiving a blessing from the elder of God’s people. Kevin reminded us that being old does not rob us of the anointing to bless others! I’m trying to incorporate that into my thinking. I know that listening to a recorded song or sermon where the singer or speaker is anointed carries the capability to bring the presence of the Holy Spirit into our homes. I congratulate those of you who, during these stay-at-home days, have used the internet to post songs, devotions, and inspirational items to help us keep our thoughts on what we have gained during this time.

There is much more to this topic, but I’m out of space. Let me know your thoughts.

Personal notes: Monday, May 25, marks 64 yeas since Nelson and I vowed to blend our lives together and serve in ministry. As I walked down the aisle to meet him at the altar, he sang, “I Love You Truly” and did it beautifully. I stopped about midway and replied with “Whither Thou Goest, I Will Go.” It wasn’t always easy, but by God’s grace, we kept those vows, and yesterday I cried at his grave because he has gone on ahead of me. But some day, we will be together again in the presence of our Loving Lord.

In everyday life here, the lizards are playing on the patio and the birds call from the trees. It’s now after 4 p.m. I’ve missed my chance to get outside today as rain has started. Thank you for your prayers, e-mails, snail mail, and comments on FB. I hope we can visit again soon!  Peace, jwb

God Rescues Hagar a Second Time

Sunday Chronicles #195. 5/17/20

God Rescues Hagar a Second Time

Another one of those Sunday afternoons in Springfield, MO with the clouds and sun playing hide-and-seek! We’ve had bouts of torrential rain throughout the week and the ground is squishy. Forecasters are promising several dry days in the coming week. I hope they are on target!

Last week we looked in on Hagar, an Egyptian maid to Sarai, Abraham’s wife. God had promised Abraham and Sarai a son, but years went by and Sarai remained barren. She decided that perhaps she should “help” God fulfill His promise, so she gave her maid to serve as a surrogate mother and carry a child for her. After Hagar became pregnant with Abraham‘s child, she took  a “better-than-thou” attitude toward Sarai. Sarai reacted by being harsh with Hagar, who then ran away into the desert. The “God Who Sees Me” came to her there and told her to return to Abraham‘s household and submit to Sarai. Hagar followed God’s instructions, and the two women lived in an uneasy truce. Thirteen years went by, then when Sarai was 90 years old, God fulfilled His promise that Sarai would give Abraham a son! Abraham named this son Isaac which means “he laughs.” Now “Sarah” (see Gen. 17:15 for name change) said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me… who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age” (Gen. 21:6,7 NIV).

Sarah and Hagar’s truce came to an end when Isaac was 3 years old. Abraham had thrown a celebration to mark the weaning of Isaac. Hagar and Ismael, now a teenager, were present. Ismael was either playing with Isaac or teasing him (translations vary) and Sarah became enraged. She told Abraham, “Get rid of this salve woman and her son. No child of this slave is going to share inheritance with my son Isaac!” (Gen 21:10 MSG) Abraham was reluctant; Ishmael was his son, too, and he loved him, but God told him to do as Sarah said.

Gen. 21:14-16 tells the story: “Abraham got up early the next morning, got food together and a canteen of water…put them on Hagar’s back and sent her away with the child. She wandered into the desert… When the water was gone, she left the child under a shrub, and went off…she said, ‘I can’t watch my child die.’ ..and she broke into sobs.” But “the God Who Sees Me” spoke to her from heaven, told her to go get the boy and hold him tight, that He was going to make great nations from him. Then God opened Hagar’s eyes and she saw a well of water.  She filled her canteen and gave Ismael a drink. God continued to watch over Ishmael as he grew up in the wilderness, and he became the father of the Arab nations. Gen. 25:9 records that Ismael and Isaac buried Abraham after his death. Hagar is not mentioned again in Scripture. She is unique in that God appeared to her twice, a slave and non-Israelite Old Testament woman. One lesson for me in this story is that when God makes a promise, He will fulfill it in His time. He is all-powerful and all-knowing, and does not need my assistance or advice. If He wants me to take part, He will let me know!

Personal Notes: One morning last week a small lizard was sitting in the middle of my living room. I don’t know how he got in, but I panicked. I am aware that for the most part lizards are harmless and even helpful because they eat harmful insects, but they remind me too much of snakes and I can’t comfortably share a room with one! I tried to catch this one with a grabber, but he ran under my big chair. I closed the door to other rooms; then he came out from under the chair and promptly went under the closed door to my bedroom; I could just imagine his getting into my bed in the middle of the night and my having a heart attack trying to get out! I called for one of the workers to come and help me catch him, but no one came right away. They probably had more urgent problems, While I waited, the lizard came out of the bedroom into the living room again. I managed to use my grabber and herd him out the front door… then the guy came to help! He put down two lizard traps. The whole episode took about 3 hours of prime time out of my day…and I don’t have that kind of time left. I hope this lizard informed his family and friends that I’m not a welcoming hostess! I’ve heard that several people here are having problems with lizards, so I guess I’m not special!

Thanks for your prayers, cards, e-mails, comments, and visits when possible. They make shut-in life more bearable. As you come to my mind, I pray for you. Let me know if you have a special need you’d like prayer for.  Peace, jwb

“The God Who Sees Me”

Sunday Chronicles. #195. 5/10/2020. Mother’s Day

“The God Who Sees Me!”

A fabulous spring day in Springfield, MO; God’s special gift to mothers! With rain in the forecast every day for the next week, today the awesomely beautiful sunshine highlights colorful spring flowers, against a background of green grass and trees. God the Creator does love color! People who have visited heaven in visions say they saw many more colors there than we see here.

We’ve passed through another week of dealing with life in changing and challenging situations. Do we go out or stay in? Wear a face mask or not? Are businesses and other venues opening too soon? Is it safe for more people to go back to work or will that bring another outbreak of the virus? To these and similar questions, we get as many negative answers from experts as positive. Sorting through answers in my mind led me to think about a woman in the Bible that I have not given much consideration to: Hagar. You may remember that she was an Egyptian slave, working in Abraham’s household as maid to his wife Sarai. In years past God had promised Abraham that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the night sky. Yet Abraham and Sarai had reached old age and were still childless; like many couples dealing with infertility, they were seeking answers. In their culture, it was considered a wife’s duty to give her husband sons, so Sarai suggested a plan commonly used at that time: if a wife did not become pregnant, she gave her maid to her husband as a surrogate to conceive and carry a child for her; but that child would legally belong to the husband and wife and be their heir. The surrogate mother would have no right to the child.

Abraham went along with Sarai’s plan, and Hagar conceived. As soon as she knew she was with child, she became hateful toward Sarai. Sarai responded by abusing Hagar, and that caused Hagar to run away. Gen. 16:7 records that the angel of the Lord “found Hagar near a spring in the desert.” He questioned her about where she was going. Hagar answered, “I’m running away from my mistress Sarai.” The angel then instructed Hagar to go back to Sarai and submit to her. He also told her that the child she was carrying was a son and that she should name him “Ishmael, {God hears} for the Lord has heard of your misery.” Hagar responded, “You are the God who sees me…I have now seen the One who sees me!” (16:13)

Since Hagar was originally from Egypt, I don’t know what her religious beliefs were, but she had likely been with Abraham’s household at least 10 years, possibly longer. During that time, she must have heard stories about the great God in heaven, but she may have thought that God would not be mindful of an Egyptian slave! Here she is in a situation she didn’t choose but was forced upon her: pregnant, friendless, no one to protect or care for her, sitting in the hot desert sand near a spring. Who comes to her aid? “The God who sees me!” Others may not care what happens to her, but God has HIs eyes on her!

Maybe you’ve hit bottom a few times and felt like no one knew or cared about you or your needs; I have, and every time the ”God who sees me” has sent help. Sometimes help came from a friend who didn’t know about my situation but responded to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. At other times help came from people or sources that I never knew. In these uncertain times, Hagar’s story brings a message: God sees YOU!  Beyond that, He CARES for you no matter how unimportant you feel. Your situation may look dark now, but God sees in the darkness! Stay close to Him and “be sheltered in the arms of God.”

Personal Note: Thanks for the Mother’s Day greetings on e-mail, FB, phone calls, cards in the mail, however they came: I appreciate them all! I continue the struggle to walk outside each day if weather permits. The spring air is refreshing! Between walks, I sit on the patio, listen to the birds, and watch for lizards. A few small lizards have come around, but they keep their distance, so I try to be polite and not scold. I’m trying an over-the-counter med that may help the stiffness/pain in my knees, wrists, elbows, shoulders, neck, and hands. I seem to be getting older and slower! Imagine that! Please ask God that as long as He wants me here to help me keep functioning. Otherwise, I’m ready to check out those extra colors in Heaven!  Peace, jwb