Collision of Visions (Part 2)

When atoms collide they often release extra energy as a light wave.

colliding atoms

I think the same thing must be true of colliding visions.

The collision of Heart Working Women and Gramma’s House created greater light and clearer vision for women’s ministry in Central Western Pennsylvania.

Joy was ready to seek non-profit incorporation for Heart Working Women  when she arrived in Purchase Line last November, and I was eager to pass on the In His Hand by-laws for her use.  The IHH by-laws, I thought, would be a helpful guide since they had already passed legal examination in the incorporation process.  I had only one request: I asked her to keep Ken Sande’s Peacemaker Pledge in her final document.  A light wave released and we saw the mighty hand of God.  Joy rejoiced in my request because she is a Certified Instructor for Ken Sande’s Relational Wisdom ministry.

We realized that we shared a passion to see believers live in the provision of Christ’s high priestly prayer in John 17.  The vision God gave me focused more on the outward expression of Christian unity.  I imagined what would happen if the world could see that we are one as the Son and the Father are one.  The vision God gave Joy focused more on the inward expression of Christian unity.  She imagined what would happen if wounded and weary saints would seek to be one with the Father and Son.  I see the body as a whole relating to the world; she sees the individual cells that make up the body relating to each other.  I see our skin; she sees our internal organs.  We both see our one Lord, one faith, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in us all.

And it is to that one God and Father in us all that we pray for a place and a name in our community.

The building that recently housed Tony’s Small Engine Repair (245 Franklin Street) in Clymer is for sale for $150,000.

tb street view

Tony’s Small Engine Repair, 245 Franklin Street in Clymer

It is spacious and open to easily accommodate any ministry we envision together.  tb show room The front has plenty of room for the things that Heart Working Women might imagine doing together at Gramma’s House

like cooking, crafting , sewing,

and teaching, learning, growing.

tb front room

There is room for a shared kitchen,

a Wi-Fi café,

a tea room,

 

 

with little nooks for bookshelves

tb shelves

and secluded conversation.

 

 

But there is so much more! 

Above is a family-sized apartment,

tb apartmenttb sink and stove

and in the back there is a large garage with an added storage area

where hard-working men can gather

to imagine how the Lord wants to use them to bless the community as well. tb garage The possibilities are limited only by the scope of our constantly colliding imaginations.

tb office

Tony’s office

The colliding visions of Heart Working Women and Gramma’s House give us clear direction for ministry now.  We are reaching out to women especially, learning how deepening relationships brings us closer to the unity of the body of Christ.  We do not need any particular building to continue the work He has laid before us.  But if the Lord wants us to have a building as a tangible expression of that unity, we can trust Him to speak to His people to make it so.

We ask only that you listen for His call and imagine!

Imagine a place where congregations connect, and network, and serve together with a power we don’t have whenever we work apart.

Imagine a place where the visions of the believers in our community constantly collide to release ever more and more light into the surrounding darkness.

Imagine a place where young people discover the wonders of the lost art of homemaking and learn the blessings shouldering God ordained responsibility.

Imagine a place where lonely, hurting people just drop in and find Jesus through His people waiting to show His love in great ways and small.

Imagine a place where our neighbors know they will find the church with her apron on, serving her Lord throughout the week in the routine activities of daily life.

If you think this idea is so crazy that you dismiss it, I understand.  If you think this idea is crazy but you are still willing to pray for us, we thank God for every faithful intercessor.  If you think this idea is crazy, but you still want to be updated, let us know here at Grammas’ Guide, at the Heart Working Women website, or find me and/or Joy on Facebook.

And if by His grace, you recognize God speaking in our visions, hopes, and dreams, join us in the glorious quest to restore hearts and homes, with or without a building dedicated to that purpose.

For the vision is yet for an appointed time;
But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie.
Though it tarries, wait for it;
Because it will surely come,
It will not tarry.

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Ultimate Obedience

Black and White Hands

After two years of avoidance, I have returned to blogging. My impetus is the result of a CT scan which shows the metastatic breast cancer that I have been battling for 14 years has expanded in my liver and started its deadly assault on my lungs.  This wasn’t a surprise, but it’s a long story that I don’t plan to tell now. I am writing again simply to capture the vision that invaded my dreams decades ago and refuses to die. I don’t have that option:  I am going to die, (probably sooner rather than later), so I will spend the last days of my life writing about a vision that existed long before me and will live on long after my body decomposes in the earth.

The vision at its foundation is simply John 17, and the Lord’s repeated statement that we may be one as the Father and Son are one.  He doesn’t ask God to make us one; He simply states that they may be made one as if it is the assured outcome and the purpose of everything He does ask.  The first time I seriously considered those words nearly forty years ago, I believed that Christ’s prayer had been answered in the affirmative. No other option made sense to me, and it still doesn’t.  When the Son asked the Father to keep the disciples through His name, to keep them from the evil one, and to sanctify them in truth, did the Father say “no”?  Of course not! And being kept and sanctified means that we may be one. So what’s the problem?  Obviously, it’s us!  Obviously, we have chosen for one reason or another not to enter a spiritual reality that Christ provided as His final blessing on the disciples during His last hours in mortal flesh.

The church was born in the heart of that reality.  On the day of Pentecost they were all gathered in one place and in one accord and we know what happened.  Through the early days the believers broke bread daily and had all things in common.  We know from the New Testament, that it didn’t take long for the newly converted to take their eyes off of Christ and begin to focus on other things like the law, or their leaders, or who wasn’t getting their fair share of food distributions. Tragically, history tells us that the Lord’s plan for His disciples to be one as the Father and the Son are one has often been lost in bickering, battles, and bloodshed among believers.

The experience of universal Christian unity was lost within a relatively short period of time. Segregation by doctrine, denomination, and different cultures became normal in a body of believers called to be one as the Father and the Son are one. Knowledge of universal Christian unity faded from the church.  Many if not most Christians believe that John 17 is a promise for life after death.  But that just doesn’t make sense.  Read the prayer.  The purpose of our perfect unity in Christ serves to protect us from the evil one as we are sent into the world.  It provides evidence to the world that the Father sent the Son, and that He loves us as He loves His Son.  Neither will be necessary in the world to come.

We have lost the precious knowledge of Christ’s plan, provision, and power in unity.  But lost knowledge can be rediscovered. In my lifetime, in my small circle of experience, I have seen God bring down walls between Catholic and Protestant, between Methodist, Baptist, and Brethren.  And whatever He is doing around me, He is doing throughout the world. The burden I have carried nearly four decades convinces me that the time has come for the knowledge of Christ’s provision for unity among His disciples to be rediscovered and experienced once more.

Just read John 17 carefully. Think about the cross looming just ahead. Think about Christ’s last minutes with His disciples. Think of Him praying for the work they have been given. Think what might happen if all who claim His name actually believed that His repeated statement is spiritual reality.

Praise God for our blind spots

If the whole body were an eye…

 

 

All my life I have despised my blind spots! I can’t tell you how often I’ve ranted and railed at the God of the universe telling Him blind spots are a very, very bad thing for Him to allow in His children. Why, O Lord, why do you show my blind spots to everyone in the world but me? What kind of a sense does it make?

This morning in the wee hours, God finally answered my decades-old question. I now see His purpose, His plan, and His providential provision in my blind spots.  I still hate them.  I want them all to be removed, but I finally understand their use in the kingdom of God.

My epiphany came as two seemingly unrelated events converged in my life. The first one is the ongoing debate between N.T. Wright and John Piper on Paul’s perspective of justification. The second is my initial attempt to serve as a Critique Partner for a fellow author.

But before I describe the convergence of doctrinal debate with manuscript critique, I must step back to clarify the truth—or rather the lack thereof—in my repeated rant toward God. It is true that I have cried out “Why do you permit everyone but me to see my blind spots?” in the kind of Davidic hyperbole that fits so well in a lament.  However, it is not true that God shows my blind spots to everyone.  He does not show anyone’s blind spots to everyone.  If He did, we could have no false teaching in the church, no congregation would follow a leader who strays, and each of us would be corrected immediately whenever we step out of line.

Perhaps I should instead cry out, “Why, O Lord, why don’t you show everyone my blind spots so I never have to worry or wonder whether I’ve got something right?” Fortunately, this time I don’t have to spend decades waiting for the answer because it’s the same for both questions: Our blind spots are God’s tools to refine our relationships with each other and with Him.

I begin with the premise that all human beings (with the single exception of the Incarnate Lord Himself) have blind spots throughout our lives, and we must acknowledge that fact before they can be removed.  Our blind spots remind us that we are totally dependent members of His body. No one, not Peter, not Paul, not John the beloved had or has a corner on the Truth. Together we have the mind of Christ, but alone we are just neurons randomly firing across synapses.

1 Corinthians 12 tells us plainly how gross we become when we choose to live in isolation with our blind spots rather than seek the unity Christ provided through His intercession in John 17.  Imagine what it would be like if someday your foot suddenly says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of your body.” And then your ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of your body.”  Next your eye says to the hand, “I have no need of you”; and your head says to the feet, “I have no need of you.”

There is a reason we find disembodied body parts horrifying, and we should keep that image in mind whenever we feel inclined to distance ourselves from other members in the body of Christ.

That brings me back to the Wright/Piper debate on justification, but that is the subject of my next post.

Prayer requests for In His Hand

This post is made up entirely of prayer requests for the work of In His Hand.
  • I need wisdom and guidance as I work on a prayer project for the ministry in our community.  As most of you know, I am really quite good at imagining God-sized projects. I am not so good at working out the practical steps along the way. I need to stay focused, and I especially need to conquer in my life-long battle with procrastination.  I welcome your quick inquires about my progress via email (or even via comment on the blog, if you dare!).  During my time with Campus Life (late 70s, early 80s) I heard Ron Hutchcraft say “Accountability is the key to Christian growth.” It was true then; it’s true now.  And being accountable to you will help me to move forward with a project that has no external deadlines or pressure. Unfortunately (for a chronic procrastinator) I am free to work at my own pace.
  • Please ask God to prosper my work on the website too.  Yesterday I realized how the Lord brought me to a place where I am even contemplating building a website without professional assistance.  It is an unexpected blessing from my adventure in cyberspace.  The things I was told I must do to publish held no appeal until I thought how I could use the knowledge I gained to promote In His Hand rather than my novel.  It’s both a comfort and an encouragement to know that when I was forced into the wilderness of the World Wide Web, God already had a plan for me to use the experience for ministry.
  • Once the website is up and running, and we begin to build a network of people who are interested in a plan for natural, God-glorifying healthcare, we will quickly need a new board of directors. Those of us who hold the positions now are ready to relinquish them at a moment’s notice. With the possible exception of Eric, we were all out of our comfort zones.  We did what we had to do to make the vision of In His Hand legal under our federal bureaucracy, but now we need people who know how to carry that vision into really.   Ask the Lord to raise up leaders for In His Hand. (Be sure to let me know if anyone comes to mind for the task, or if you are willing to volunteer, just tell me.)
  • And speaking of our federal bureaucracy—thanks to the 2006 Pension Protection Act, In His Hand lost its tax-exempt status.  We had no employees and no income, so we didn’t realize that we still had to file with the IRS.   Since the IRS didn’t notify us until it was too late to correct our oversight, we had to reapply. We are now waiting to hear that we have been reinstated.  Pray that our re-application is approved quickly and without further complications.

That’s it for now.  Once again, as I did so many times during my thirty months in Texas, I thank my God at every remembrance of you all. It is an immeasurable blessing to know I can turn to you whenever I need prayer support.

Grammas’ Guide to Talking to God Together

For the past several weeks I’ve neglected Grammas’ Guide to the Universe while I explored cyberspace.  I’ve learned about blogging, using social media, and building websites, and soon I will use that knowledge to promote In His Hand Ministries. But today I am compelled to write.

My cancer treatments in Texas from January 2009 to July 2011 held many valuable lessons, some I understand well, some I still wonder about. But one lesson was unmistakably clear. God called me to write, and I am only at peace when I do what He called me to do.

My burden today tells me that God wants me to write about prayer until He lifts that burden. Writing, however, is no more than a tool to accomplish a far greater goal. God isn’t just calling me to write about prayer, He is calling me to pray with you. He is calling all His children to talk to Him together.

I am primarily addressing my family, friends, neighbors—the women and men who already support In His Hand Ministries, the people I can meet face to face throughout the week to seek the Lord’s direction for His work in our community.  But I made a wonderful discovery in cyberspace: God uses Twitter to connect intercessors around the world. That means that so friends I can only meet electronically are welcome to continue reading.

Building In His Hand’s website gave me a much-needed review of our six ministries. Together Gramma’s House, Wisdom Walk, Hurt Not the Earth, First Love, Perfect in One, and Mountain by Mountain weave a tapestry to cover our lives. On paper IHH succeeds in describing a community where the church is faithful in all things.

But it’s a long, long way from describing our ministries to seeing them manifest in reality.

Our vision is totally audacious:

  • In His Hand envisions the local church working together in the unity of our faith to show the world the love of God for His children. We see all our routine activities of daily living transformed by that love so that even eating and drinking glorify God.

Our mission is absolutely colossal:

  • In His Hand exists to promote the spiritual well-being and physical health of everyone in the local community by aiding individuals, families, and voluntary associations to develop, establish, and network any resource, business, ministry, or cooperative organization that contributes to that goal.

I feel overwhelmed by the scope of the ministry until I remember that our Lord specializes in the impossible.  The impossible is simply His normal part in each assignment He gives. Our part is to obey, do the possible, and trust Him for all else. And our trust begins in prayer.

This post is an open invitation for you to join Grammas’ Guide to Talking to God Together. If you look at the menu under “Talking with God” you will see that I’ve already started collecting resources for a community adventure in prayer. I will add create a page just for books, links, videos etc. that you want to recommend as well.

My the next post will offer specific requests so we can immediately begin to pray in one accord. If there is anything you want me to add, tell me, and I’ll be happy to do it.

I look forward to watching the Lord move among in power and love as we learn to take every opportunity to meet together at His throne of grace.

 

 

Watching #shadowyconservativegroups trend is #myguiltypleasure

My philosophy of government has been libertarian since 1992 when I first read Leonard E. Read’s The Elements of Libertarian Leadership. So on May 30, when I saw #shadowyconservativegroups flash by in my Twitter home stream with libertarian sentiments attached, I was intrigued.  I typed the hashtag into TweetChat, and I watched it trend with guilty pleasure until only retweets filled the screen.

The pleasure comes because so many individuals seem to understand that personal responsibility and limited government are required elements of liberty. The guilt comes because I know that tweeting against the way President Obama and Congress are expanding socialism in our country is not the way to recover our lost liberties.

I wrote about why I think libertarian-atheist is an oxymoron during my short association with examiner.com. Sometime soon, I will post the gist of those articles here on Grammas’ Guide. But for now I will start with the a priori statement: Liberty—spiritual, emotional, political—is totally dependent on our Creator. We will have civil liberty only when Christians realize that our collective goal cannot be to reform the government. It must be to radically obey God.

Of course if we are obedient to our high calling in Jesus Christ, we can be sure that hearts will be transformed. And since everyone in government has a heart, we might even see our government transformed as well. But that’s just an agreeable consequence of our faithfulness. It is not a primary goal for the Christian.

For thirty-five years I’ve been convinced that the secret to seeing the Church triumphant is distilled for us in our Lord’s high priestly prayer in John 17.

I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.

He made provision for our unity, and that unity is His means for displaying His glory. God wants our unity to be a witness to the world that the Father sent the Son and loves us as He loves His Son. How it must break the heart of God to see His children still caught in the same trap that divided the Corinthians into Paulites, Apolloites, and Cephasites. (1 Corinthians 1:10-13) If we want to live in liberty, we must learn to come together by His Spirit. We must stop dividing His body and destroying our witness because of our political philosophies, pet doctrines, or worship styles.  

I will probably smile guiltily again whenever I see conservatives  playing hashtags games on Twitter.  But I will also pray with Christ that we will be one as He is one with His Father.  I will pray that Christian conservatives & Christian liberals, Christian independents & Christian party loyalists, Christian libertarians & Christian socialists will all join our Lord in His prayer that we will be made perfect in one.

When that happens we can be certain that, no matter what is going on in Washington, the Lord will keep us in perfect peace because our minds will be fixed on Him. (Isaiah 26:3)

Tweet at the throne of grace, for the glory of God in cyberspace

I’ve lost count of the many saints from the past and present who contributed to my spiritual growth. I’m glad that the Lord keeps meticulous records, and I hope that somewhere in eternity He will bring them all to my mind, so that I may thank each one face to face.

Certainly A.W. Tozer is first at the top of my list because The Knowledge of the Holy showed me the face of God.  Paul Brand and Phillip Yancey come second because Fearfully and Wonderfully Made and In His Image provided deep lessons about the body of Christ.  K.P. Yohannan enlarged my heart for missions with The Road to Reality and his other books.

However, prayer is the subject most near and dear to my heart, because it is in communion with God that we truly learn of His character, His compassion for His children, and His concern for the lost and dying world. I have a vast collection of books on prayer, and each author contributed something precious to my communication with the Lord. But the works of two authors, Andrew Murray and E.M. Bounds, especially revealed the riches available for me at the throne of grace.

Andrew Murray alone inspired the #AMHTI page in Grammas’ Guide just because his Helps to Intercession is a useful tool. On that page you can find all thirty-one entries appropriately shortened to fit in a tweet, with a link to the full text.  I also posted his introduction to “Helps”.

Grammas’ Twitter Intercession Project (TIP) will begin each day of the month with the appropriately numbered tweet, and follow wherever the Spirit of the Lord leads. If you believe in the power of united prayer, join me in intercession for our world, our nation, our families, and ourselves. Just follow the instructions on Grammas’ #AMHTI page, and in one accord we can all tweet at the throne of grace for the glory of God in cyberspace.

Praise the Lord that prayer is not limited to Twitter or the WorldWideWeb. Our Father hears His children crying out to Him throughout all the material and spiritual realms. If you don’t have a profile on Twitter, and if you seldom use the internet, you can still be part of this TIP. Just get a copy of Helps to Intercession and pray.

And someday perhaps the Lord will show us the fruit of this labor of love.