Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Thirteen Days to Glory

English: Memorial (cenotaph) at The Alamo in S...
English: Memorial (cenotaph) at The Alamo in San Antonio, Texas, designed by Pompeo Coppini. It was installed between 1936 to 1940. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Siege of the Alamo lasted about thirteen days from the arrival of Santa Ana's troops in late February to March 6 when the walls were breached and the final defenders were put down. The women and children who survived were released and carried the story of valor and death to the new generation of Texans.

Texas carries their names proudly in schools, courthouses and public facilities. I have no ancestors who died there, but they were waiting on the border to cross into their new homeland when the shooting was over. My ancestor William Humphries had been in Texas when he was about 12, but his father died and his mother returned to family in Kentucky and Tennessee. William was really coming home in 1836, but Santa Ana prevented new settlers from entering the territory. He did enter and establish his land grant in Red River County and lived there to the end of his life about 1908. I carry a proud heritage.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

I Remember Mama

I Remember Mama
I Remember Mama (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
My mother did not teach me how to be old, or even get old. She didn't live long enough. She died when she was 38. I had my last child when I was 38. Mama taught me how to be alive and not sacrifice the joy when things were tough. After she began to feel the effects of disease, she made herself a long robe from a very flowing fabric, I guess it was jersey, and she called it her lounging robe for entertaining friends in the afternoon. It was a soft fuchsia, and I considered it very romantic and sophisticated. Funny I don't remember her wearing it much after she went to the trouble to make it, of course she didn't entertain friends much then either.

I remember her sister Gertrude came to visit and she made her put on makeup and talk about bridge. She thought talking about the illness was depressing everybody. Mama said the makeup was for everybody else, but she did love bridge. She didn't feel well enough to play bridge anymore, so she would deal the cards for four hands and then play them all. I never learned the game much, but I thought it was the most elegant way to waste an afternoon. 

I played solitaire, and she did too sometimes. It made me feel very grown up to play with her. I still play, on the computer. It's not as much fun as it was when I held the cards in my hand and felt their cool sophistication, but it will waste an afternoon. 

I thought my mother was very wise and knowledgeable. I wish I'd listened better or she had lived longer. There are many things I'd still like to ask her about how to be an adult and make things work.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Lent--Day Five

During those days He went out to the mountain to pray and spent all night in prayer to God. (Luke 6:12)The Apologetics Bible

I take this to mean that Jesus saw the significance of the baptism by John and the announcement that he was the Son of God. His ministry had begun. Maybe like, the reference in Mark to the driven nature of the wilderness experience, this all night prayer vigil was prompted by the Holy Spirit. 

He had some heavy stuff going on. He had begun to preach and heal and great crowds followed him. Then he had a confrontation with scribes and Pharisees over a healing he performed on the Sabbath.  Somehow that doesn't seem like an event that would prompt the all night vigil.

He had begun to select his disciples, and after this he called them to him and began to teach them in an event that is known as the Sermon in the Plain. Perhaps it was the training of the Disciples he prayed about all night. Perhaps he was looking toward  the crucifixion. There are many possibilities. 

Sometimes the Holy Spirit drives me to prayer. Sometimes I don't have a specific need. The purpose of prayer when there is no danger or urgent need is gratitude, thanks for God's providence and eternal blessing. Maybe Jesus felt that same gratitude. Maybe it was just worship.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Lent Is Coming!

Lent begins on February 10 this year. That seems early. It is early, but not quite as early as it could be. Easter is the first Sunday after the the first full moon after the vernal Equinox, and Ash Wednesday is 40 days before that. Lent is traditionally a time to reflect on the passion and death of Jesus and his resurrection on Easter Sunday. In the past I have used devotional collections to help focus my attention and prayer life during this season. For two or three years I help create a collection our church members wrote. Sometimes the writers were kids and youth, but other times it was a wider sample of the congregation. This year instead of reading a devotional pamphlet I'm going to write my own. 

I think it will be a very demanding task. I'll use the Bible text of Jesus in the Wilderness and strive to answer questions he wrestled with and find sources he found for encouragement and strength. There is the possibility I'll fail in the test. Jesus was triumphant. We'll see what happens when I do it.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Martyr=Witness

Martyr actually means "witness." I guess the meaning has become darker with time and circumstance. Now we think of a Martyr as being someone who dies because of his or her belief. Lately I've been reading and writing about people who were martyrs and some did die for  or because of their beliefs and their faith. Mostly my focus is not to venerate those who suffer because of their faith or seek praise and fanfare, but to bring my own faith and witness to a higher standard, to challenge myself to be inspired by those who gave the last full measure of devotion. 

Watchman Nee, Richard Wurmbrand, Corrie ten Boom, and Viktor Frankl did that. They did not set out to draw attacks for publicity. I hear of people, once in a while, who do things like that. Seeking public notoriety is not the way to please God or to witness to His glory. 

Now I'm reading Foxes book of Martyrs. To complain about the noise from a neighbor's car seems trivial and less than noteworthy on the scale of torture. I'm ashamed of the things I gripe about that cause me irritation, not even discomfort. People who really suffer for their faith in God the Father and Jesus deserve a better rating than the one I sometimes offer.

Proclaim God's goodness and Jesus' righteousness even though it may mean you'll be ignored or criticized. It may also mean you'll be blessed by God and extolled as a hero. Like the say goes: Just do it!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Richard Wurmbrand

Richard Wurmbrand
Richard Wurmbrand (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Richard Wurmbrand was a Romanian of Jewish descent who became a Christian. He was imprisoned on several occasions and his wife was also put in jail and tortured. When he was in solitary confinement, he composed a sermon every day and delivered it at night to maintain his sanity and keep in touch with reality.  He did not yield to political pressure or torture and eventually Romanian Christians and others paid a ransom for his release. He finally came to the United States and was convinced to work for freedom for people who were suffering persecution through the Voice of the Martyrs organization. He testified to Congress about the difficulties of those who live with torture and threats to help make the problem a priority. He died on February 17, 2001.  

Corrie ten Boom

English: Picture of Ten Boom Museum on the Bar...
English: Picture of Ten Boom Museum on the Barteljoristraat in Haarlem, the Netherlands. The house is a watch shop and museum dedicated to the memory of Corrie ten Boom and her family, who harbored war refugees during World War II. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Corrie ten Boom was born in Amsterdam and grew up in  Haarlem, the Netherlands the youngest of four children born to Casper and Cornelia ten Boom. I was inspired by the life story of Corrie and her families support of Jews during World War II. Corrie and Betsie suffered the rigors of Ravenbruck Prison Camp where Betsie died. Corrie was released due to a clerical error in December 1944.
After the war, Corrie continued many charitable activities and spoke in many countries witnessing to the power of God's love and forgiveness. She wrote several books and traveled widely. The Hiding Place  told the story of her family and the years of their service to refugees and their subsequent experiences in Ravenbruck Prison. Tramp for the Lord  chronicles some of Corrie's experiences as she spoke and traveled to share the truths she learned. It was her wish to "die in the traces." But it was not to be. She died after strokes took her ability to speak and she spent five silent years in her home in California.