Archive | July 2014

Ballet of the Barn Swallows

Swooping, turning, diving, climbing, circling, in and out, a maze of movement and color, the barn swallows envelop the tractor as I mow the horse pasture. Constant energy, intricate designs, all apparently orchestrated by the unseen hand of God through the instinct He as imparted to them. It was over ten years ago that I realized the first part of a spiritual truth as I watched the beauty of their simulated aerial combat; loops and swirls, tight turns and weaves, crossing each other’s paths, all to capture the succulent insect dinners the mower deck urged skyward. I had recently left a job of 20 years and the steady income it represented. Future employment was uncertain. Doubts about my worth and ability to contribute to our needs flooded over me. Yet, there were the barn swallows, without care or concern, because they “birds of the air”, were being provided for by a faithful and loving Lord. I realized a couple of things then; that I was to trust the Lord to provide for Ellen and me and that, often, when God provides, He first creates a turmoil such as I was stirring up in the pasture.  Every time I’ve returned to mowing each season since then, the barn swallows have also returned to perform their beautiful ballet once more. Now I see an even deeper truth to their delicate sky born dance; many hard winters have passed, yet both they and we are here still. Again this Spring we watched with delight as mother and father daily fed their babies till they could take flight on their own. He’s met our needs just as clearly even though the last full time job I had was three years ago when I was downsized and forced to retire. Many have been instruments in God “stirring” our “pasture” for us, for which we are truly thankful. As for the future, the Lord is true to His Word, His Promises: “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not more than they?” (Mt. 6:26)

Yes, we are. Yes, we are.

This entry was posted on July 23, 2014.

The 12 Steps: Another view (The Jordan Model)

In recent years, the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous have been applied to help people successfully deal with a variety of life-damaging problems.  I believe the primary reason for the effectiveness of the Steps lies in the fact they follow the Bibical Priorities listed in scripture of  putting God first, then Self, then Others.          The Lord yput a geographic example of this flow that exists in Israel to this day, which I call “The Jordan Model”.  The Jordan, which means “descending” is the main source of fresh water in Israel.  It originates at the base of Mt. Hermann, some 3300 feet above sea level and flows freely downhill to the Sea of Galilee (each individual self) and out to form the lower Jordan (others).  Scriptures that demonstrate this priority list, include Gen. 12:1-3, John 15:5¸ II Cor 1:3-4,, John 7:37-38, Matt. 22:37-40, I Pet.4:10 and Chapters 1-3 of Jonah. The flow of the Jordan supplies what is needed for the Sea of Galilee to have its identity as well as what it needs to be “living water”; the flow into the Sea and out again assures life.  The Dead Sea further down the Jordan, proves it needs more than a source in order to be alive, it needs an outlet. How the God, Self, and Others (“Jordan  Model” relates to the 12 Steps is that Steps 1, 2, 3 and 11 put God first in our lives.  Steps 4,5,6,7,8,9, and 10 help us to choose changes (with God’s direction and strength) in our behavior that will keep the flow coming in and going out.  Steps 8,9  (“swing steps”) and 12 help us to share with others that which we have received; which is the purpose for any blessings the Lord gives us.  It also assures we stay alive in every sense of the word; Spirit, Soul and Body. Three “S-Words”, also illustrate why the 12 Steps are so effective and reflect the Truth of God’s Word: Surrender   Sacrifice and Service.  Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary says that the word SURRENDER means. . . “to yield to the power of another. . . especially voluntarily, in favor of another . . . as to surrender a right or a privilege.” This would relate directly to what Steps 1,2,3, and 11 are suggesting:  to voluntarily choose to let go of the power we think we have when we try to control people places, things and situations we can’t control.  We need to surrender to the fact that we are not God and He is! In this respect it would seem that God has control he sometimes chooses not to use, while we try to use control we never have. The word SACRIFICE has the following definition . . .”to give up a valued thing for the sake of something of greater value or having a more pressing claim.” In our current culture the view of sacrifice seems to be : “giving up something of greater value for something of lesser value”, a distortion that negatively effects both society and the Church.  The first definition, however, seems to fit the process that occurs when we take Steps 4,5,6,7,8,9 and 10. Each of these Steps helps, as AA says, “to clean house”.  We give up behaviors and attitudes we have valued highly all our lives, but which, in reality, have been hurting more than helping ourselves and others.  We then begin to learn and accept our limits, seeing ourselves neither as “god” or as “Garbage” , but (through God’s Inexaustable Grace) as worthwhile children of God.  We can now let go of being  prideful, passive, blaming, angry, controlling, aggressive, doormats, irresponsible, defensive, selfish, and so on as we begin taking on the mind and actions of Christ, choosing behaviors that enable us to both receive blessings from God and to share with others.  This, I believe, is true “sacrificial living.”  In terms of the Jordan Model, it would mean the choices I make at both ends of the Sea of Galilee to keep the “living water” flowing. The word SERVICE is interesting in light of the fact there are more than 70 different definitions stemming from the root word, serve. One of those is “…helpful, beneficial, or friendly actions or conduct, [the] act of giving assistance or advantage to another.”  This would seem to apply directly to Steps 8,9, and 12. What is so compelling about the word Service to me is that as we practice Surrender (to God) and Sacrifice (of self), we seem to produce a larger, more consistent, healthy and variety of service (to others) than we can under our own limited strength and resources.  In fact, our ability to serve has a fresh, living and lasting quality to it that never seems to run out. Some Christians have shared with me they have problems with the Twelve Steps.  Perhaps looking at them from the viewpoint of Surrender, Sacrifice and Service will help provide a more positive perception.  I see them simply as practical tools that help me live Scriptural Truth by allowing the  Holy Spirit (often referred to as “living water” in Scripture) to flow freely into and out of me. This is especially clear when I look at the life of Jesus, The Messiah, which is a perfect example of Surrender, Sacrifice and Service.  Even though He was equal to God The Father, He chose to voluntarily yield to the power of another; to surrender His rights and privileges and to demonstrate that we can surrender, too. His death on the Cross is what we usually relate to the word Sacrifice.  He gave up something of great value; his life, power and relationship with His Father, for something of greater value to Him; our redemption.  He became the “once for all sacrifice” so that the wages of sin, death, could be defeated and we could be reconciled to The Father and enjoy life with Him forever. As to service, it boggles my mind to even begin to try to comprehend the magnitude and scope of service received by human beings as a result of Jesus’ Surrender and Sacrifice; far greater than the pain and suffering represented by either.  His actions of Surrender and Sacrifice will continue to produce Service that literally is ETERNAL!!! Do I dare to follow in His Steps?     Copy and Paste this link to see the current condition of the Jordan and what happens when we pollute His blessings.

This entry was posted on July 20, 2014.