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May 18 22

Who needs peacemakers in wartime?

by davesandel

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

            (click here to listen to or read today’s scriptures)

Who needs peacemakers in wartime?

That was the headline of a Plough Magazine article, published a few days after Russia invaded Ukraine. Plough is the publishing house of the Bruderhof, which means a “place of brothers.”

The folks here are Anabaptists, who have been committed to non-violence for several hundred years. So as the author asks, what do they do in wartime?

It is now urgent that we pour ourselves into the task of becoming peacemakers, of fashioning peace out of war. A peacemaker will tell the truth: he or she will be bold in naming evil. However, words alone do not make peace. Peace is not a virtue that can be signaled. It must be built by actions of love.

This is not a new problem.

There arose no little dissension and debate with Paul and Barnabas about whether the Greek converts should be circumcised.

They put the question to higher authorities, to the Apostles in Jerusalem. Many words were said, especially by Paul and Peter, and a compromise was hammered out. As with most compromises, no one was completely satisfied. But the agreement gradually became the “new normal.”

One way to think of compromise is as a way to spread suffering across everyone equally. Every ego must be downgraded, just a bit. Jesus talked about this as pruning, which he himself underwent:

My Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and every branch that does, he prunes so that it bears more fruit.

That sounds like suffering to me. And Jesus passed that lifestyle on, he spread it around. Learn to live humbly with each other, he said, by learning to live with me.

Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you, unless you remain in me. I am the vine, and you are the branches.

Most organizations thrive when its members “follow center,” when they are dutiful and obedient. In my two years as a “Moonie,” I heard that every day. All of us were members of small cell groups. Each group had a leader, and we were taught to do anything that person told us to do. Could be a fascist army, could be a Ukrainian army, could be an orchestra or a football team. Even the cells in my body thrive when they act like the cell groups in the Moonies.

And at least when Jesus is the leader, things go well.

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.

Countless examples from history and sociology beg to differ. But Jesus requires us to lay down our egos to “remain in him,” and that just doesn’t happen much. Even when we want to, we don’t know how. The Plough article has two suggestions:

We should be humble in realizing that we do not understand peace.

This re-asserts God’s insistence that we turn to him for better definitions, instead of fabricating them ourselves. We need groanings of prayer more than diligent reading, as Bonaventure said.

Jesus’ love is unconditional. He directs actions of love and compassion first to the poor, the helpless and the weak, but demands the same even for our enemies. This is the hardest, and arguably the most important part of being a peacemaker. We do not pretend not to have enemies, but we know what Jesus tells us to do for them.

I’ve always had a fairly short fuse, except when I pray unceasingly for my enemies. I imagine that’s true of many peacemakers. They are rarely passive, and often their skin hardens as they live in a hard world. Pushing back is always too easy and often exactly what happens, at least to me. I become judgmental and stop listening.

Except, as I said, when I pray unceasingly for my enemies. Make the words come out. Again and again.

Remain in me, as I remain in you.

(Acts 15, Psalm 122, John 15)

(posted at www.davesandel.net)

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May 17 22

Suffering will always be provided

by davesandel

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

            (click here to listen to or read today’s scriptures)

Suffering will always be provided

It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God.

Lystra, Derbe, Antioch, Iconium, Pisidia, Pamphylia, Perga, Attalia. Paul and Barnabas walked, slept, preached, healed, were beaten, and walked some more. The stories of their travels and the churches they began would fill books. DO fill books. Not unlike great athletes, they left everything they had everywhere they went with everyone they met.

We had dinner with friends last night and talked about our childhoods, about childbirth, about churches we cared for and churches we didn’t. We talked about religion and politics and Italy and Texas, and we talked about camping in a tepee and spending just the right amount of time with cowboys. We talked about the Moonies. Margaret and Charlie have both taken classes in OLLI (Lifelong Learning):  classes about Scotland, musicals, Old San Antonio, and the Opera in Austin. We turned over shovel after shovel of conversational sand, and found no little gold in our turning.

Your kingdom is a kingdom for all ages, and your dominion endures through all generations. May my mouth speak the praise of the Lord, and may all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.

I’m reading The Penguin History of the World, and we talked a little about this. I’ve gotten to the part where Julius Caesar crosses the Rubicon and stabs the Roman republic in its heart. Julius himself will soon be stabbed as well.

In another book I’m reading, The Burnt-Out Case, Graham Greene begins by describing his man Querry’s ten day trip down the Congo River in the summer. “I feel discomfort, therefore I am alive,” he wrote in his mostly empty journal. The steamboat stopped at a riverside seminary housed in a single red brick building, where the captain had once taught Greek. There they spent the night. After supper the passenger retired to his room.

The Superior looked in Querry’s jug to see whether it was full. “You will find the water very brown,” he said, “but it is quite clean.” He lifted the lid of a soap dish to assure himself that the soap had not been forgotten. A brand new orange tablet lay there. “Lifebuoy,” the Superior said proudly.

“I haven’t used Lifebuoy since I was a child,” the passenger said. The Superior spoke again. “Many people say it is good for prickly heat. But I never suffer from that.”

And suddenly the passenger found himself unable any longer not to speak. He said, “Nor I. I suffer from nothing. I no longer know what suffering is. I have come to an end of all that too. Like all the rest. To the end of everything.”

The Superior turned away from him, without curiosity. “Oh, well, you know, suffering is something which will always be provided when it is required. Sleep well. I will call you at five.”

At the end of the steamboat’s river road there is a leper colony, which Querry visits. He and the doctor form a friendship. Day after day he watches the doctor work.

Doctor Colin ran his fingers over the diseased skin and made his notes almost mechanically. The notes had small value, but his fingers, he knew, gave the patients comfort: they realized they were not untouchable. Now that a cure had been found for the physical disease, he had always to remember that leprosy remained a psychological problem.

Which was not simple. Nothing psychological was ever simple. Still, Graham Greene knew enough to seek darkness rather than clarity. Clarity never lasted, and darkness did. And in the meantime, babies were born and mothers fed them, whether they had leprosy or not. And that was simple enough.

A baby began to cry and immediately like dogs, all the babies around the dispensary started to howl together. “Henri,” Doctor Colin called, and his young African aide rapped out a phrase in his native tongue: “Babies to the breast!” And instantaneously, peace returned.

Today like every day will bring other conversation and various explorations, usually leaning somehow into faith. Our respective journeys take us every which way, and then at last we “arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” Babies cry for milk and apples. Sea waves crash all along the shore. Along with T. S. Eliot, the wise poet, my mind listens for the stillness between the waves. That silence is more eloquent than all the rest.

Jesus said to his disciples, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.

(Acts 14, Psalm 145, Luke 24, John 14)

(posted at www.davesandel.net)

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May 16 22

I see you have the faith to be healed

by davesandel

Monday, May 16, 2022

            (click here to listen to or read today’s scriptures)

I see you have the faith to be healed

Lame from birth, a crippled man listened to Paul speaking. Paul looked intently at him and saw that he had the faith to be healed. Paul called out in a loud voice, “Stand up straight on your feet!”

Why did Bonaventure say, “Seek God through the groanings of prayer, not through diligent reading?” Why did Paul use the same powerful verb three times in six sentences:

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for the redemption of our bodies … And the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through groans that words cannot express.

Bonaventure also said, “Seek desire, not understanding. Seek to make God your spouse, not your teacher.” Paul knew nothing of the crippled man’s family or life. He simply loved him. He saw through the old clothes and stubby crutches and unshaven face and … what?

He saw that he had the faith to be healed.

What?!

The Greek villagers knew this guy, known him for years. Born here, never walked a step in his life. Never did a lick of work either. This guy belongs at the back of the room.

Not any more. This healed man is standing tall. Healing like this means the gods have come to town.

And the priest of Zeus brought oxen and garlands to the gates, for together with the people he intended to offer sacrifice.

Paul and Barnabas were gone home by then, having happily watched the man jump to his feet. But vainglory (which means spiritual pride) was crouching at their door like a roaring lion. Vainglory was lapping at their feet, inviting them back into the worshipping crowd. Vainglory would most likely prevent God healing through them ever again.

They had to get back to their groaning!

Paul and Barnabas knew many Hebrew stories, including the one about when Joseph met his brothers in Egypt and said to them, “Am I in the place of God?” They knew the story of King Saul too, who pretty much decided that he was in the place of God. Someone ran and told them they were about to be anointed as gods themselves. And they were frightened, they were angry, they were in a big hurry to stop all this.

They tore their garments and rushed into the crowd, shouting, “Men, why are you doing this? We are of the same nature as you, and we proclaim to you that you should turn from these idols to the living God, who made heaven and earth and sea and all that is in them.”

Not to us, O Lord, but to your name be the glory, because of your mercy, because of your truth.

And you know what happens next? It’s not in today’s lectionary, but in the very next verse … “They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead.” Bonaventure makes it sound like we have a choice to groan; Paul didn’t have any choice at all. “The Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” The villagers weren’t about to give up their worship of Zeus. They left Paul for dead. “But after the disciples gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city.”

Wow! Seek God with groanings of prayer, not through diligent reading. And the Spirit helps us in our weakness. There’s no way to “believe this.” I can only live it.

(Acts 14, Psalm 115, John 14)

(posted at www.davesandel.net)

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May 15 22

Like talking till midnight in our college dorm

by davesandel

Fifth Sunday of Easter, May 15, 2022

            (click here to listen to or read today’s scriptures)

Like talking till midnight in our college dorm

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The former heaven and the former earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. I saw the holy city, a new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

Rather than using our limited energy on one overnight road trip in the 95 degree sun, to Kerrville, the Hill Country, and the Sculpture Prayer Garden of the Coming King, Margaret and I took time for two dates this weekend, and two meals of outstanding Texas barbeque.

We put together a puzzle, watched PBS shows on historic homes, women and Rte 66, and Gruene, Texas, courtesy of the Daytripper. We read devotions and listened to a cogent summary of Franciscan theology from Richard Rohr.

Behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race. He will dwell with them and they will be his people and God himself will always be with them as their God.

Saturday morning we made it to Miles’ last soccer class this year, and fulfilling Jasper’s desire for a “family” outing with all of us. We kicked our own ball around while Miles played soccer with his nine classmates. Then the Tomitas went off to host a lemonade stand, and we drove south, to the Barton Creek Farmers’ Market, where we found wonderful and exotic foods and skin creams and even some brand new young carrots, complete with their green tops.

After kind of getting lost out by the airport and the Meanwhile Brewing Company, where hundreds of people were getting ready for a free concert, we gave up on finding our favorite food truck from 2021, called “Distant Relatives,” and headed toward not-quite-downtown to a new place, called, “Rollin Smoke:”

The best thing about this place: if you cannot decide what you want, just get a playboy and you get a piece of everything from their delicious menu. – from a patron’s review

And that’s what I did, got the Playboy sandwich, among a few other things. Margaret got another half pound of moist brisket (last night from Rudy’s and today from Rollin Smoke), and we headed home. The better part of valor. Food and naps.

But then, after reading today’s devotion, we settled into a long conversation about life and our marriage and God and “alternative orthodoxies” regarding Jesus and the church. Such a highlight of two good days together.

I felt like we were sitting in a college dorm, exploring ideas too deep for our minds but too enticing to ignore. It was a wonderful hour or so, just like it would have been at Valpo, or Murray State, or Lincoln Christian Seminary many years ago, when we would have had much more energy, but much less experience with life.

And yes, there is another Appendix that came to mind. This one is Appendix Nine from Richard Rohr’s The Naked Now, which he titles The Shining Word ‘And’:

  1. And teaches us to say yes
  2. And allows us to be both-and
  3. And keeps us from either-or
  4. And teaches us to be patient and long-suffering
  5. And is willing to wait for insight and integration
  6. And keeps us from dualistic thinking
  7. And does not divide the field of the moment
  8. And helps us to live in the always imperfect now
  9. And keeps us inclusive and compassionate toward everything
  10. And demands that our contemplation become action
  11. And insists that our action is also contemplative
  12. And heals our racism, sexism, heterosexism, and classism
  13. And keeps us from the false choice of liberal or conservative
  14. And allows us to critique both sides of things
  15. And allows us to enjoy both sides of things
  16. And is far beyond any one nation or political party
  17. And helps us face and accept our own dark side
  18. And allows us to ask for forgiveness and to apologize
  19. And is the mystery of paradox in all things
  20. And is the way of mercy
  21. And make daily, practical love possible
  22. And does not trust love if it is not also justice
  23. And does not trust justice if it is not also love
  24. And is far beyond my religion versus your religion
  25. And allows us to be both distinct and yet united
  26. And is the very Mystery of Trinity

The One who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.”

(Acts 14, Psalm 145, Revelation 21, John 13)

(posted at www.davesandel.net)

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May 14 22

God is good and God is humble

by davesandel

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Feast of Saint Matthias, Apostle

            (click here to listen to or read today’s scriptures)

God is good and God is humble

From the rising to the setting of the sun is the name of the Lord to be praised. High above all nations is the Lord; above the heavens is his glory.

Andi gave me a small book by John Burke called What’s After Life?

It was impossibly bright; it was like a million welders’ lamps all blazing at once. And right in the middle of my amazement came a prosaic thought, “I’m glad I don’t have physical eyes at this moment. This light would destroy the retina in a split second.”

No. Not a light. This was a MAN made out of light. HE would be too bright to look at. A command formed itself in my mind. “Stand up!” I got to my feet and then came the stupendous certainty: You are in the presence of THE Son of God …

And here we are, enjoying our Saturday morning, quite as completely in the presence of THE Son of God as the man who nearly died, but entirely unaware. It’s me, O Lord. I am unaware. I am aware of my sore night muscles and my breakfast hunger, of the sleep still hanging from my eyes. I am aware of our plans for the day.

But even in my unawareness, I pray my prayer, the Lord’s Prayer, and thank Jesus for the day. I want to catch the wave. I want to be ready, waiting on the shore when the wave comes.

Jesus said, “Remain in my love. Keep my commandments, just as I have kept the Father’s commandments. And this is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

Jesus will be dying in a few hours, laying down his life for his friends. They have no idea. But they love him as best they can in their unawareness. I do the same. It’s later, when rubber hits the road, that I will become aware of Jesus right here inside me. When I choose sacrifice, when I give what otherwise is “rightfully” mine to another one of God’s sons and daughters, when I die for my friend, Jesus wrestles me to the ground and whispers in my ear, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have remained in my love.”

That’s what I imagine, anyway. What I hope for. Still, it’s God’s world and God’s rules and God knows me better than I know myself. He’s in charge of Kairos time.

Listening yesterday to a short talk from Richard Rohr that my friend Steve sent me, I heard a few wise words from St. Francis’ scholar friend Bonaventure. Bonaventure said that if I seek God I should:

    1. Ask for grace, not instruction
    2. Ask for desire, not understanding
    3. Ask for the groanings of prayer, not diligence in reading
    4. Ask God to be my spouse, not my teacher
    5. Ask for darkness, not for clarity

Bonaventure said that God is good, and God is humble. In God’s humility he will teach me to be his humble companion, and in that humble relationship I will learn all I can learn about loving and being loved.

It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give you.

(Acts 1, Psalm 113, John 15)

(posted at www.davesandel.net)

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May 13 22

A joyful mind

by davesandel

Friday, May 13, 2022

            (click here to listen to or read today’s scriptures)

A joyful mind

Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me.

Jesus’ own heart is troubled. He watches his disciples out of tear-filled eyes. Nothing he can do will change the plan of his Father. And everything is coming to a head tonight.

In my Father’s house are many mansions. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?

Jesus has put so much into his disciples’ lives. Their spirituality, their way of seeing themselves and their Creator in the world, changed so much in the three years they’ve spent together. In a moment he will promise them “even greater things” as the Holy Spirit comes to them. But now he is leaving. Jesus has much more he would like to say.

Richard Rohr’s The Naked Now ends with several appendices. Appendix Nine, “The Joyful Mind,” sounds to me a lot like Jesus:

What might a joyful mind be?

  1. When your mind does not need to be right
  2. When you no longer need to compare yourself with others
  3. When you no longer need to compete – not even in your own head
  4. When your mind can be creative, but without anyone needing to know
  5. When you can live in contentment with whatever the moment offers
  6. When you do not need to analyze or judge things in or out, positive or negative
  7. When your mind does not need to be in charge, but can serve the moment with gracious and affirming information
  8. When your mind follows the intelligent lead of your heart
  9. When your mind is curious and interested, not suspicious and interrogating
  10. When you do not need to humiliate, critique or defeat those who have hurt you – even in your mind, when you do not brood over injuries
  11. When your mind does not need to create a self-justifying story
  12. When your mind does not need the future to be better than today
  13. When your mind can let go of obsessive or negative thoughts
  14. When your mind can think well of itself, but without needing to
  15. When your mind can accept yourself as you are, warts and all
  16. When your mind can surrender to what is
  17. When your mind does not divide and always condemn one side or group
  18. When your mind can find truth on both sides
  19. When your mind fills in the gaps with the benefit of the doubt for both friend and enemy
  20. When your mind can critique and also detach from the critique
  21. When your mind can wait, listen, and learn
  22. When your mind can live satisfied without resolution or closure

If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be. I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

(Acts 13, Psalm 2, John 14)

(posted at www.davesandel.net)

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May 12 22

There is nothing here to take for granted

by davesandel

Thursday, May 12, 2022

            (click here to listen to or read today’s scriptures)

There is nothing here to take for granted

My faithfulness and my mercy shall be with him, and through my name shall his horn be exalted. He shall say of me, “You are my father, my God, the Rock, my savior.” Forever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.

Yesterday we visited chapel at Austin Classical School. Miles’ class recited their memory passage in front of the whole Mustang group of students. Then we took Jasper to watch the backhoe in HEB’s parking lot, and he was within three feet of the big yellow machine. His eyes couldn’t get open wide enough. We got yogurt and sweet corn to add to our Italian lunch, and asparagus for later.

Back home Margaret made polenta while Jasper and I hit the pool for the first time in 2022. The water was cool and clean, and Jasper’s water wings worked great. “I’m sinking,” he kept shouting between laughs. Then after a little more practice, “I’m swimming!” He has a good kick, and soon he’ll have some arm movements to go with it. Those water wings make it hard to swing your arms.

Next week we’ll go to Port Aransas to swim in a pool and in the Gulf of Mexico. On the beach we might mostly play in the surf and make sand castles in the salt water. The courage of little people has its limits, and so does the courage of their parents. How careful should we all be? I have no answers. What matters, I think, is gradually moving limits out and having fun and avoiding calamity as you do it.

All the while we play, there are wars. Not just rumors of wars, but wars. While we are here throwing balls across the pool and eating strawberries, yesterday a gas line from Russia to Europe through Ukraine was cut off. I skipped the article, but I read the headline. Many people are being injured and killed every day in deadly violence. How do our personal puzzle pieces fit into the whole jigsaw, if not awkwardly?

God chose our ancestors, and when he had destroyed seven nations in Canaan, he gave our ancestors their land. Then he provided judges up to Samuel the prophet. Our ancestors asked for a king, and God gave them Saul, then David. From David’s descendants God brought to Israel a savior, Jesus, about whom John said, “I am not worthy even to untie his sandals.”

I do have confidence in this, that we will see the goodness of God in the land of the living. This is not a promise only for those who suffer, but for all of us. It’s a promise not only for the moment, while we might be laughing and others crying out in anger and pain, but when those tables are turned, a promise for all time in all places.

Whoever receives the one I send receives me. And whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.

I run in the path of false guilt far too much, and I must not waste away while we are safe from suffering. There is life to be lived in whatever way it is given to us today. At the chapel service Miss Foshea led the crowd of 100 young students (Pre-K through grade two) in reading the verse they read EVERY day:

THIS IS THE DAY THAT THE LORD HAS MADE. LET US REJOICE AND BE GLAD IN IT!

(Acts 13, Psalm 89, Revelation 1, John 13)

(posted at www.davesandel.net)

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May 11 22

Spiritual words from Bob Jones over us

by davesandel

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

            (click here to listen to or read today’s scriptures)

Spiritual words from Bob Jones over us

May God have pity on us and bless us; may he let us face shine upon us. So may your way be known upon earth; among all nations, your salvation. O God, let all the nations praise you!

In the early 1990’s Margaret and I led a small group for Vineyard Christian Fellowship in Urbana. One weekend a famous Arkansas prophet named Bob Jones (nothing to do with the university of the same name) visited our church and spoke with the small group leaders. He spent a few minutes with each couple or individual who led a group and in his unusual way, felt our fingertips for spiritual evidence of various gifts God gave us to share with those in our small group pastorate.

Recently we looked at the transcript of what he told Margaret and me. Thirty-five years later, we both still shiver a little, feel some goosebumps, appreciate God’s touch through Bob Jones – whose reputation preceded him, who never said exactly what was expected, who loved us, and who loved God.

The italicized annotations are comments from Margaret, then and now …

From Bob Jones

to Margaret and David Sandel

Early 1990’s, Vineyard Christian Fellowship, Urbana, Illinois

The room is crowded with a huge group of people.  Each person or couple is chosen by the pastor in the order that they should come up for the prophetic blessing, while the rest of us listen and witness it.

(I found myself agreeing with what Bob Jones said, knowing what I knew of the people he spoke to.  I also seemed to get some of the blessing poured on them: in my head I was saying, “Me too!”)

We were last or nearly last.

First to Margaret:

Can you feel where it’s touchin’?

No. (Confused about what I was supposed to be feeling.)

Hallelujah! Can you feel it yet?

No.

You can feel the tremblin’ can’t ya? All over.

That’s what He’s doing.

The trembling is when He begins to work his divine nature in you. So He’s really workin’ on your case. And the trembling … and even … you oughta feel like a warmth comin’ at different times, especially probably early in the morning. The Lord is workin’ His nature in you, in that He’s beginning to get your brain, which is really bright, and use your brain that you would know the right words to speak to people in counsel, that you could show the right way to people, people that can’t take the walk anymore, you can restore them back to the right walk again.

And so you’re in a strong time of testing of faith, and things are really changing in your life, honey. I mean your priorities, your thinkin’, everything is changing. And the end result of that will be one that can believe, and receive, one that don’t have to sweat it in the mind anymore, but can believe it in the heart.

And so, there is pressure on you, there’s pressure put on you at different times. And … I’m gonna lay my hands on your head just like an access point (in his strong rural Arkansas accent, we heard an ESSCESS POINT) on your head, to where the enemy can really come and pressure you at different times. So I want to lay my hand on that and seal that access point.

I seal that access point in Jesus’ name. I command that you no longer pressure our sister. I also command now, that you take your hand off her ear … there it comes! For we replace one voice with another. Got that, hon? We replace the enemy’s thoughts with the revelation of the Lord. (at this point the spirit was really evident in his movements and broken speech.) Hallelujah! In Jesus’ name … thank you, Lo–! Thank you Lord. Hallelujah! In Je-, in Jesus’ name, hallelujah! Now let the voice raise up and proclaim the word of the Lord in counsel. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

So, you’ve been doin’ it to the best of your ability; I see you doin’ things to the best of your ability. Now that ear’s going to open, and the living Word will begin to come. So you’ve been doin’ a good job on that, but there also been the enemy bringin’ accusations when you do it.

Then to David, and to both of us:

Hallelujah! You feel where the flow’s comin’? Yeah, pastoral.

You’ve got the intercession, you’ve got the anointing, you’ve got everything else, but you’re sweatin’ it in your mind tryin’ to figure out how to do it.

Quit that!

You’ve got the anointing to do it, do it! You don’t have to know how to do it; all you gotta know is the One that assigns you, and you have not been havin’ any trouble at all gettin’ that. So don’t try to figure this thing out, faith it out.

The anointing’s good in you, that intercession is getting’ right through! The power’s on you beautiful, the compassion is right. The Lord set the one that you just beautifully complement one another’s ministries.

So quit sweatin’ there, you all are too smart!

See, there’s a beautiful anointing on him, look at them lips. The power’s all over him. So all you gotta do is show up, be on time, and be empty headed! And the Lord will move.

Margaret said: “You’d better pray for an anointing on him to be on time!” Laughter.

There’s a good anointing on him, it’s real. That pastoral callin’ is real. That ability to get hold of the Lord, that’s all real. So you will find that God is faithful in his callin’, and all you gotta do is look to Him. So you be faithful to Him, he’ll be faithful to the callin’ He’s put in you.

So you rest.

In a private time I (Margaret) got to ask him a question, so I asked for confirmation of my filling/gifting.  I asked him for the meaning of colors, which I saw when praying for others.

When asking for the Holy Spirit’s filling to do ministry, I was confused.  I had grown up in a belief system that didn’t allow for speaking in tongues.  This was beginning to be so much more than that.  Previous to this day with Bob Jones, I went to a place where I was alone and I began to be rather demanding of an answer from God as to how He moved in and among us.  This was very intimate, and I felt the spirit come over me and from that time on I would see colors when praying for someone with my eyes closed.  I had figured out that red (since you are observing not with your closed eyes but  instead with your spirit, it was kind of like looking at a car back up or brake lights in the night) – that red was the Holy Spirit being present there so you could SEE Him.  Other colors came to give context when praying for people, like “green was a new season in their life.” The messages were always hopeful and positive.

 That day when I asked Bob Jones about the colors, instead of giving me a list of meanings or guide sheet he went into a personal ecstatic moment, looking up and talking about the beauty of the throne of God.  After our conversation I continued to learn by experience, settling for confirmation instead of instruction. 

Colors are rare for me now, perhaps because I often pray with my eyes open, perhaps the colors were “training wheels,” or maybe I’m not as open.  There is always a conflict, because in the Vineyard I was trained when praying one on one to observe the person and look for signs of God’s moving on or in them.

 

 Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me believes not only in me but also in the one who sent me. I came into the world as light, so that everyone who believes in me might not remain in darkness.

Acts 12, Psalm 67, John 8, John 12)

(posted at www.davesandel.net)

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May 10 22

Who encourages the encourager?

by davesandel

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

            (click here to listen to or read today’s scriptures)

Who encourages the encourager?

They sent Barnabas to go to Antioch.

I’ve always wanted to hang out with this Barnabas guy, to be mentored by a man who loves everyone he meets and vice versa. The Encourager, they called him. He never met a stranger, they said.

When he arrived and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced and encouraged them all to remain faithful to the Lord in firmness of heart, for he was a good man, filled with the Holy Spirit and faith.

But I also wonder how Barnabas spent his alone time. I think he was very busy, talking to one person after another who wanted to know him better because he wanted to know them. As the lights flicker out and the moon rises in the sky, at last the people leave, then Barnabas might sit under the stars and be silent. In the morning, as Jesus did, Barnabas might go to a quiet place and pray.

Except in the stories of Jesus, the Bible doesn’t talk much about these quiet times. But Barnabas the Encourager needed them too. I need them, and so do you. I am silent and still, but not as much as I would like.

For a whole year Saul and Barnabas met with the Church and taught a large number of people

Perhaps Barnabas was an extravert, as am I. Extraverts spread their enthusiasm and relational energy far and wide, and then they look for more. They get energy from all that rubbing on each other (so to speak). Or … Barnabas might have been a high-functioning introvert, as is Margaret. She is regularly the life of our Sunday School class, but she might not talk to anyone afterward for 24 hours. She is drained and needs to recover.

To the rest of us, Margaret and David probably look a lot alike. Barnabas, I think would have probed us a bit more deeply in his conversation, in his prayer, in his tentative invitations. But who probed Barnabas? Probably not Saul, who seemed to be completely single-minded and not particularly relational. Maybe Timothy, their young friend? Or perhaps Barnabas gave up his ghosts to God, in prayerful dialogues and visions. Barnabas needed a mentor too, a spiritual companion, a prayer partner, a spiritual friend.

I wonder who did his laundry. Did Barnabas get his own groceries, cook his own meals? When his sandals broke, who mended them?  The giver of all good things needed also to be given to. The encourager needed encouragement. Was he able to ask for what he needed? Those around him might not have been listening for that, since he usually listened to them.

When Rich Strike (watch the overhead video) went and won the Kentucky Derby Saturday as the longest shot in the race (80-1), his trainer Eric Reed wept and laughed and didn’t try to be anybody but himself, a “charmingly rumpled Kentuckian.” That’s how I think of Barnabas, as a charmingly rumpled Antiochian, smoothing the way for his ascerbic, brilliant friend Saul. Against the longest odds, Barnabas and his gang begin to change the world.

And it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians.

(Acts 11, Psalm 87, John 10)

(posted at www.davesandel.net)

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May 9 22

Train up a child

by davesandel

Monday, May 9, 2022

            (click here to listen to or read today’s scriptures)

Train up a child

Jesus was talking about the Pharisees, to the Pharisees. ”Whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber. But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The sheep follow him because they recognize his voice, but they will not follow a stranger.”

I was a little child, living on a dairy farm. My dad Roland would like nothing more than a firstborn son excited about becoming a dairy farmer. He gave up his promising accounting career to buy dairy cattle and partner-up with his own dad and younger brother, near where they all were born in Lincoln, Illinois.

Dad decided his call, career and purpose was to farm and farm some more, as he had grown up doing before traveling to the Philippines with the Army Signal Corps in World War II. Using the GI Bill he graduated with high grades from the University of Illinois’ prestigious accounting school. He married Angelina Brummer, a school teacher who graduated along with Dad in 1948 from the U of I. She also came from Lincoln, but together they set off for Lawrenceville in southern Illinois. Dad began his career with Wabash Valley Farm Supply (FS). Mom got pregnant with me, came back to Lincoln to have the baby, and Grandpa Sandel had a talk with Dad.

“Maybe you’d like to do some farming before you get too far along down south,” he might have said. “I can help you out.” So Dad thought about that for a year or so, and then Mom and Dad decided to come back home.

I am the gate for the sheep. Whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out and find good pasture. A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.

Surely they were both happy to return home. But Dad’s ideas about my education were so different from Mom’s. Her father Herman read his daughter Charles and Mary Lamb’s Tales from Shakespeare before she went to school. Dad’s father William woke him up to help milk before he went to school. Both Mom and Dad were first born children. Dad’s younger brother Merlie was a strong-willed boy who gave Dad a run for his money as they both worked hard as farm kids – milking cows, planting corn, weeding beans, cutting weeds. His two sisters became nurses.

Mom’s sister Mary Lou became something of a missionary and a scholar, exploring every corner of her world, and both girls became schoolteachers. Mom taught me to read when I was four.My dad and his brother both left the army and navy to eventually buy Holstein dairy cows, rent land, and milk them twice a day, every day.

In our Sunday School class yesterday our teacher asked us to discuss how and by whom we were “guided” as children. I described the friction between Mom and Dad, especially when they pushed their own goals for us three kids. Both of our parents were highly intelligent, both rose above standards set for them by their own parents, but Dad wanted me to farm and Mom wanted me to read. I did both, but it was always easier to stay inside where it was warm when the weather was cold outside.

I appreciate so many parts of their “guidance,” but perhaps what I appreciate the most is how they guided me out of their embrace. I hated it when they fought over me, over my activities, my chores, my responsibilities.

And so I kind of just went my own way. It was easy to become a mediator, a peacemaker, a counselor, and eventually a Christian therapist and pastor. Seeing both sides has been my job ever since I can remember.

As the deer pants for living waters, so my soul longs for you, O God. Where shall I go and behold the face of God?

(Acts 11, Psalm 42, John 10)

(posted at www.davesandel.net)

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