"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

The God Who Meets Me at the Place of Shame

Serving as police chaplain for many years I was in the position of hearing more than a few Christians mock "jailhouse conversions." My sentiments are just the opposite. God seems to be in the habit of doing some pretty mighty and powerful things when people are brought to a place of profound, personal shame - and jail has a way of producing that kind of shame. In fact, I might push the point even further. The power of Jesus Christ is most often seen in weak, broken people who have nothing to offer God. I am not talking about the kind of humility we ministerial professionals often profess to possess, but the genuine thing that rises from the ashes of brokenness. C.S. Lewis once wrote, "A man is never as proud as when striking an attitude of humility," and heaven knows we ministers know how to strike the attitude. This seems to me to be the meaning behind the promise that "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble." The real blessings of God's grace and the power of His manifested presence fall on that person who has been broken and humbled.

Peter is an example of a believer who had everything going for him, and then fell into deep shame and brokenness because of his own failures. Early on in Peter's life Christ Himself had commissioned Peter for kingdom service (Matthew 16:17-19). Peter had the privilege of daily walking with Christ throughout our Lord's ministry (Matthew 17:1). Peter's closeness to Christ even brought Peter to thinking of his own spiritual greatness and legacy (Matthew 18:1). But when Christ was arrested we find Peter in the courtyard of Caiaphas denying that he knew Christ (three times), cursing God (to prove he didn't know Christ), and then leaving the courtyard weeping because of his sin and shame over his conduct (John 18).

But something happened to Peter. This man who spat a curse, denying he knew Christ in order to save his own skin, eventually would die a courageous death, refusing to renounce his faith in Jesus Christ. We are told that at the end of Peter's life, under threat of death if he refused, Peter was ordered by Roman officials to deny Christ. Yet, Peter did refuse and then made the remarkable request that his tormentors crucify him upside down because he was unworthy to die in the manner of his Lord. What had happened to Peter?

Jesus met Peter at the place of his failure, brokenness and shame . . . and then empowered Him and sent Him out to minister from that very place. In other words, Peter's ministry went from powerless to powerful because Peter went from boasting to brokenness. Let me show you what I mean.

There are only two places in the Bible where the phrase "fire of coals" is used. First, in John 18:18, in Caiaphas' courtyard, when Peter denied Christ. Peter's failure to be faithful brought him great shame and brokenness, and we read that when Peter actually denied Christ he was warming his hands at "the fire of coals."

Then, after the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, Jesus meets Peter for the first time since Peter's betrayal, shame and personal brokenness. It is at this meeting, recorded in John 21:9, that we find the second and only other occasion where "fires of coals" is mentioned in the Bible. It is also interesting that this is the only time in the Bible we find Jesus making a fire. Rather than making the typical fire, Jesus makes a "fire of coals." The smell of coal is unique. It burns differently, it smells differently. Everything about the fire of coal that Jesus made reminded Peter of his denial, his failure, and his shame in Caiaphas' courtyard. But it was at this meeting with Jesus, at the second fire of coal, that Peter's life was transformed - so much so that he leaves Christ to go and become a great teacher, missionary and martyr.

There is no need for pretension in real Christianity. There is no reason we Christians have to pretend we are something when we aren't. We don't need to hide our struggles, cover our failures, or sweep away our shame. In fact, the power of God will only rest on us when we allow ourselves to feel the flush heat of shame as we recount our failures to others. Christ is in the practice of pouring out His power and grace on the weak and the humble. "But we have this treasure (Christ Jesus) in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us" (II Corinthians 4:7 NIV). God chooses to use broken vessels so the glory and power of His Son will never be diminished by man's pride in supposed abilities.

Some might object by saying, "If a believer really does sense his or her utter unworthiness, inability and failure, will there not be a "checking out" of Christian ministry. No, for Christ will separate us, as He separated Peter, from the pain of our shame by giving us His grace and power. Christ recommissioned Peter at that fire of coals by the Sea of Galilee and then Peter goes out in power to minister Christ and to eventually die a faithful death. Peter was a different man. He was broken, but met the God who meets His people at the place of our shame.

Christ revealed to Peter. . . "You can't, I can." The nets that were cast at the command of Christ in John 21 came back full of fish. The fish pulled into the net were 153 and the net was not broken (John 21:11). This account is similar to the first meeting the disciples had with Christ in Luke 5, except in that instance the nets broke and fish were not numbered. But in this last encounter with Christ, at the coal fire, the fish were numbered and the nets were not broken - 153 fish.

Why 153 fish at this last encounter with Christ?

There may be other reasons, but the letters in Hebrew for the number 153 form the acronym "I AM GOD."

God has chosen imperfect people to advance His kingdom - but we must first meet Him at the place of our shame to grasp that He is God, and without Him, we are nothing.

In His Grace,

Wade

37 comments:

Christiane said...

That live coals are present at Peter's recommissioning is strangely reminiscent of the sixth chapter of the Book of Isaiah.


Wade, you wrote this:
". Rather than making the typical fire, Jesus makes a "fire of coals." The smell of coal is unique. It burns differently, it smells differently. Everything about the fire of coal that Jesus made reminded Peter of his denial, his failure, and his shame in Caiaphas' courtyard. But it was at this meeting with Jesus, at the second fire of coal, that Peter's life was transformed - so much so that he leaves Christ to go and become a great teacher, missionary and martyr."


In Isaiah, we read:

"I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!’
6 Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding a live coal that had been taken from the altar with a pair of tongs.
7The seraph* touched my mouth with it and said: ‘Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out.’
8Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I; send me!’"

Just 'strangely reminiscent'?
Or more meaningful ?

I do not know. Love, L's

Rodney Sprayberry said...

Adding another dimension to the profound truth of God's transforming grace surrounding Peter's failure is Luke 22:31-32

"Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you Simon that your faith may not fail, And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers..."

Thy Peace said...

I can totally relate to Peter. When things do not go well according to my mind, I too have cursed God, renounced and denounced God. Later shed tears over it with remorse. And the sad thing is I have repeated this. There were periods where the understanding of God was very vague and incomprehensible and made no sense at all. But there were some periods where everything was clear and lucid. And I could see all my faults very clearly. And I could perceive God everywhere. All I can say is this nature does not seem to be constant. Like the winds it seems to come and go. Is this The Holy Spirit? I have an inkling, but not certain of the causes. On reflection, it is the cleansing that is being done in me. So the only thing I can say for certain is that I need to abide and trust in Our Lord Jesus Christ. That is it. I have no other hold on anything else. Nothing I can claim to. Nothing I have done for the kingdom of God. Others might say I have actually harmed the kingdom of God. I will leave it to God to decide on that.

For some reason this post is nagging me in my mind. Probably revealing my own actions and thoughts.

There is no need for pretension in real Christianity. There is no reason we Christians have to pretend we are something when we aren't. We don't need to hide our struggles, cover our failures, or sweep away our shame. In fact, the power of God will only rest on us when we allow ourselves to feel the flush heat of shame as we recount our failures to others. Christ is in the practice of pouring out His power and grace on the weak and the humble.

The above paragraph sums up all the failures in Christianity today. If you visit churches and people in the churches, the above is where the stumbling block is. This is the reason why God's power and grace is not being poured out.

Why? Pretension.

This is very hard to overcome. I have this to a LARGE extent. I am slowly being chipped away. Some days all this effort looks futile, for I can not see the end. Some days it does seem clear. For now my life is only of occasional glimpses of clarity, while mostly I am stumbling through life of cloudiness and darkness. Soon it will all be clear.

jasonk said...

Your post today reminded me of my own personal struggle, and the resulting brokenness. I know the Lord in a more deep and meaningful way now than I ever did before. Verses like Romans 8:28 are real to me now, whereas before they were just words on a page that I was told I had to believe.
And yet, when my Christian brothers and sisters still (years later) cast judgment on me, I have to resist the urge to feel ashamed, because I know much more deeply than they do the love and mercy and faithfulness of the Lord we serve.
Recently I watched a documentary on television about the fall of Ted Haggard. Powerful film about a broken man. In my opinion, every pastor needs to watch this film. It is very sobering. Although I wondered if the film maker was going into the project with the intention of maligning Haggard, I found myself grieving for the way he was treated by the Christian community (and still is treated). He is a man without a country--the world makes fun of him, the church won't have him, and the only place he has to go is to the Lord.

Thy Peace said...

Barbara Bradley Hagerty > Fingerprints of God > Excerpt: Chapter 1.
Many of those people were like Kathy—broken in some way, physically, emotionally, spiritually, and famished for a living, breathing God who listens and intervenes.
...
Chapter 4 looks at the triggers for spiritual experiences. Is there a certain set of circumstances, a certain personality type, a certain cocktail of internal and external stress, that erupts in a spiritual experience? I believe there is, and I believe this explains why alcoholics so often become spiritual people. While an encounter with God can happen anywhere, anytime, my research and my own life story tell me that brokenness is the best predictor of spiritual experience.

Wade Burleson said...

Interesting insights for all of you! Thanks!

Chris Ryan said...

It is the foolishness of the Gospel that we should be made strong by our weaknesses. That we should be whole by our brokenness. But thanks be to the God who saw fit to confound the wise of the world and reveal His truth to those who have ears to hear. It is because it seems so foolish that we know the strength and healing only come from God.

Rex Ray said...

Rodney,
The Scripture you referenced (Luke 22:31) is only talking about Peter in most translations. But the (NLT) says: “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat.”

I’ve never thought of the devil asking Jesus for anything as he was always pushing Jesus to sin. Therefore I like the Contemporary English Version that says:

“Jesus said, ‘Simon, listed to me! Satan has demanded the right to test each of you, as a farmer does when he separates wheat from the husks.”

Thanks for coming by the other day and sharing with Belle. Today is the first time she has ever asked me to pray with her.

John Fariss said...

This doesn't change the overall point of the article--but did they use coal in the ancient Middle East? I know they used wood (and wood-products), charcoal, and even dung, but I just don't remember coal being used anywhere except China this early. I may be wrong though. I do seem to recall reading that even in coal-rich Britain, the Romans used charcoal to fire their iron smelting furnaces.

John

Christiane said...

I was thinking about some of what is written here, particulary this from Wade:
"The power of Jesus Christ is most often seen in weak, broken people who have nothing to offer God."

And then JASON K, speaking of a film about Ted Haggard, gives this observation:
"--the world makes fun of him, the church won't have him, and the only place he has to go is to the Lord."

And that word "broken",
'This is my Body, broken for you'.
Yes, we have heard this from the One Who Is Merciful. The One we are supposed to live 'in imitation of'.


When I think about Ted Haggard, it is with sadness for all of us together. We ALL judged him.
He felt our rejection.
And, he was set apart, just when he needed his Christian Family to support him in his repentance.

Sometimes I think this:
that we, who do the 'rejecting',
may be the ones who are in the greatest need of God's Mercy.

Rex Ray said...

John Fariss,
I believe you have a valid point about the fire not burning from coal. Both NLT and Contemporary English use ‘charcoal fire’ in John 18:18 and John 21:9.

Webster: “Coal – A piece of glowing carbon or chard wood.”

The difference between a fire and fire of coals is a fire of coals is what’s left after the fire goes out but hot heat is there close to the coals (fire of coals). Flames give off heat a long way.

At Galilee, Jesus could have changed driftwood into coal, but for what purpose?

Rex Ray said...

Wade,
Instead of me talking about the picky type of material used to make fire, I thought one of the most outstanding statements of your post is your quote of Lewis:

“A man is never as proud as when striking an attitude of humility.”

It took a while to roll this over in my mind. Maybe I’m trying too hard to understand. It’s not the same as: ‘Lord give me patience and I want it right now.’

I’m trying to think of an example that reflects this kind of pride.

Could it be a pastor airing his dirty laundry from the pulpit that he’s really not ashamed of but is looking for sympathy?

Did Lewis give an example?

By your saying, “heaven knows we ministers know how to strike the attitude”, would you or someone else give an example?

Chris Ryan said...

Rex,

One of my professors always used to say, "You can be the most humble person in the world until the moment you claim it." I think that is pretty much along the linse of the Lewis quote.

Thy Peace said...

Could it be a pastor airing his dirty laundry from the pulpit that he’s really not ashamed of but is looking for sympathy?.

If a pastor using that as an example during sermon illustration, that is OK. Also, if it being done so that the audience is being made aware of pastor's failings, that is OK. If Ted Haggard had done that, then lot of his mistakes would have been corrected. Of course, the church might have kicked him out because of that too. Probably this fear is the reason, some of the pastors and members do not voice their failings. Instead of Christian love and correction, they are castigated. Hence they clam up. And this makes matters worse.

God is Alive and Well said...

Wade said:

"I was in the position of hearing more than a few Christians mock "jailhouse conversions."

While preaching in prisons (over 30 years ago) I met some of the best Christians I still have ever known.

And Yes, some were playng a game.

The first man I saw give his life to Christ said "Preacher, you never have asked me what I did", and I told him that was not my business. He responded that, in a durgg and alchohol rage, he had stabbed his girlfriend 23 times and killed her.

I have lost contact with him but I can attest that his conversion was genuine and for many years before he was finally released, he was shining where he was locked up.

grace
wtreat

Christiane said...

There is a story about humility from the Judaic tradition:

A rabbi was collecting for the poor in his village. He came to the door of a man and asked for a contribution. This man was enraged by the request and hit the rabbi in the mouth, knocking him down to the ground, and drawing blood.

The rabbi got up, wiped the blood from his mouth, and said this:
"That was for me.
Now, what do you have for the poor?"

The rabbi left this man's home with a most generous contribution.


This story reminds me of how much more Christ might be served in the Kingdom if Christians abandoned their pride.

It is said that the virtue of humility is a signature sign of a Christian, which is a gift more often received by those who remain unaware that they possess it.
Love, L's

God is Alive and Well said...

Wade, my opening sentence should have sid that I, too heard many, many skeptics about jailhouse conversions...................yet, many of them I have seen were real.
:-)

Christiane said...

Hi REX,
I left you a message on Wade's post:
"A Text Taken Out of Context Is Only a Pretext"

(2 posts ago, I think)

Love, L's

Michael Ruffin said...

Holy Gematria, Batman!

Wade Burleson said...

Michael Ruffin,

That's funny.

I, too, don't think much of gematria, but throw it in every once in a while - :)

Won't use it again for another four or five years.

Wade

P.S. For those who don't know what gematria is, it is the adding up of numbers in the original Hebrew. Some go way, way, overboard with it. In this post, I stuck one leg in the water, but quickly pulled it back. :)

Wade Burleson said...

Rex,

C.S. Lewis did not give an example of a minister striking an attitude of humility, but in my opinion, a pastor who confesses his faults from the pulpit is not striking an attitude of humility - he is actually humble.

A minister who ACTS as IF HE HAS NO FAULTS, and then strikes an attitude of humiity - that is the minister who is proud.

Blessings,

Wade

Thy Peace said...

Wiki > Gematria

Rex Ray said...

Christiane,
Thanks for the reply. You said, “Focus on what is shared among Christians, not on the difference.”

I agree what holds Christians together is stronger than what divides us. I also believe if we don’t learn from the past, we’re bound to repeat it.

That’s based on ‘a smart person learns from the mistakes of others, some have to learn from their own, but fools never learn from anyone.’

The Living Bible preface: “Bible writers often jump ahead or back up to something said before without clearly stating the reference. Some times the result for us...is that we are left far behind.”

With this thought in mind see how/why there are different interpretations of (Matthew 16:15-18 NLT):

15: Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?”
16: Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
17: Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed THIS to you. You did not learn THIS from any human being.”
18. “Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means rock), and upon THIS rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.”

Non-Catholic interpretation: Jesus the Son of God was the rock.

This Scripture is an example of ‘backing up’. When Jesus said the third “THIS”, He was referring to the first two and not Peter. Peter was not more important than what God revealed. Peter was so ignorant on another matter that six verses later, Jesus put him in a corner with a dunce cap by calling him Satan. Peter denied knowing Jesus at Calvary, and even after receiving the Holy Spirit, Paul called him a hypocrite for being afraid of men that came from James. Jesus, not Peter, fulfilled prophecy of being the “rock”: “The stone rejected by the builders has been made the honored cornerstone” (Isaiah 28:16 and Matthew 21:42)

Catholic interpretation: Peter was the Rock.
Foxe’s Book of Martyrs: In 1413, John Kemp said, “Jesus ordained St Peter to be His vicar here in earth... and He granted the same power...should succeed unto all Peter’s successors, whom we now call popes of Rome...to whom Christian men ought to obey after the laws of the Church of Rome. I thank God I never knew what the Old and New Testament was. I will know nothing but my portuese and my pontifical.”

Christiane, thanks for your concern. Yesterday was a bad day, and yes, we need Paula.

Rex Ray said...

Wade,
I hear what you are saying but I was hoping for the ‘example’ to be an event. So using what you said, I’ll try to make something up.

1. John Doe beats his wife every day but shows adoring affection in public.

2. John Doe beats his wife every day and confesses his sin every day.

3. John Brown beats his wife once a week and says it’s OK because he’s better than John Doe.

4. Doe and Brown stop beating their wives but agree to ‘you beat mine and I’ll beat yours’.

Ok, I’m not going in the right direction here. It’s easy to name faults, but connecting a fault to humility is hard.

Now, it’s easy to connect ‘an attitude of humility’ to something the minister does ‘good’.

Example: A preacher worked on a sermon for a month. “Pastor, great sermon!”

“It wasn’t me, it was the Lord.”

I think a more ‘honest’ reply would be; “Thank you” or “Glad you liked it.”


Wade, you said, “A pastor who confess his faults from the pulpit is not striking and attitude of humility – he is actually humble.”

Let’s say a preacher tells how he broke a hammer by using it as a crowbar. He took it back and the store gave him another one…saying to the congregation, ‘you all do it’. Later he tells how he was sorry and pays the store for the hammer.

Wade, was he really humble or was he proud?

Wade Burleson said...

Let’s say a preacher tells how he broke a hammer by using it as a crowbar. He took it back and the store gave him another one…saying to the congregation, ‘you all do it’. Later he tells how he was sorry and pays the store for the hammer.

I am having a hard time following you. In your illustration, the pastor is advocating what seems to be wrong - else why would he be "sorry" later? It would seem impossible for a congregation to not deal with a pastor who advocates others to "sin."

However, if the pastor is confessing his own personal sin, after experiencing brokenness over it, that seems to me to be real humility.

Wade

Michael Ruffin said...

Wade,

Thanks for appreciating my joke.

For what it's worth, I do realize that numerical symbolism plays a valid role in biblical interpretation. I've been preaching from Revelation lately and I'm seeing sevens everywhere.

Blessings to you!

Rex Ray said...

Christiane,
Another Scripture.

(Matthew 16:19 NLT) “I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.”

Non-Catholic interpretation:
“Keys of the Kingdom” was the Gospel. That’s what Christ gave the apostles and Christians to tell the world. Acceptance of the Gospel binds on earth and heaven. Anyone without “keys” to enter heaven was lost. No one had authority over anyone. Everyone was their own priest.

Catholic interpretation:
Authority was given to Peter, and James wrote of the importance of the church leaders (James 5:14-15 NLT):

“Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven.”

Jesus didn’t use the tradition of oil, but used spit and dirt. Did James believe that leader’s prayers could heal the sick and cause sins to be forgiven, or do some people take his words as such?

This week, the news told of a group that prayed for a girl in a diabetic coma until she died when medicine would have saved her.

Christiane said...

Dear REX,

Hi, it's me, L's

I am sorry to hear that your days are difficult. I know what it means to see those you love struggle, and you have my heart-felt support and prayers. There is something I thought about: if the onset of Belle's confusion was sudden, could it have been a result of combination of certain medicines? This happened to one of my aunts, and it was not caught properly for some time.

As for our discussion, I did say this:

"There is within the unfolding of Christianity, a core of unity that was protected and not destroyed. It needs to be 'discovered' again."

Rex, this does NOT have to do with 'denominational doctrinal differences';
it IS about our shared relationship in Christ the Lord.

If you think about it, what could be more important?

So I don't bring Catholic 'apologetics' into discussion here. I seek to know of the 'experiences' of Christ the Lord in the lives of the people here. That is where I find the unity among us: in their relationship to Him. And HE is a very stong bond indeed. Love, L's

Thy Peace said...

Interesting sermon from Pastor Wade today.

#25. The Sin that Leads to Death (I John 5:16-17), of the Series on I John: The Christian and Complete Joy. If you watch the video, it's titled "The Sin that Leads to Death", Part 25 of series - August 2, 2009 (1 Jn 5:16-17).

Today's sermon covers these previous posts of this blog:

A Text Taken Out of Context Is Only a Pretext.

God Calls Patriarchal Headship A Sinful Desire.

Friends With Benefits? A Lie from Hell Itself.

The Reign of God in the Rain of Eyes: The Movement of God in the Midst of Our Tears.

If you watch the video, the sermon is from 26:18 to 56:43. At 36:21 is Gen 3:16.

Future sermons series:

Sept to Nov: 1 Cor. 13 verse by verse in 12 sermons.

Jan to - : The Reign of God in the Rain of Eyes: The Movement of God in the Midst of Our Tears

Wade Burleson said...

Good night Thy Peace!

:)

That took some work to find all those links. Well done. If you get a chance, email me with a little of your story. You can remain anonymous if you wish, I am just fascinated by your insight, persistance and Christian spirit.

Blessings,

Wade

Rex Ray said...

Wade,
You said, “I am having a hard time following you.”

Well, I’m having a hard time myself, so why don’t we start over.

(Many years ago, I was acting as my father’s lawyer for breaking city building codes in Alaska. The prosecutor said, “Rex, would you repeat your lengthy statement?”
“Daddy, what did I say?”
There was more than one chuckle, but it did loosen the tension.)

You wrote:
“I am not talking about the kind of humility we ministerial professionals often profess to possess, but the genuine thing that rises from the ashes of brokenness. C.S. Lewis once wrote, "A man is never as proud as when striking an attitude of humility," and heaven knows we ministers know how to strike the attitude.

I wrote that I was hoping for an example, and with what you wrote above, I thought you could/would give a half dozen or so.

You said, “A minister who ACTS as IF HE HAS NO FAULTS, and then strikes an attitude of humility - that is the minister who is proud.”

Is that what “we ministerial professionals” do?

Do you remember the great sermon ‘Payday Someday’ by---was it Robert G. Lee? Someone complained to him that preachers were preaching HIS sermon without giving him credit. He said something like ’Fine…it’s about Jesus not about me.’ I believe that expressed real humility.

Wade Burleson said...

Rex Ray,

I agree with your assessment of Robert G. Lee.

Sorry for not giving examples, but I think we are pretty much saying the same thing.

wade

Rex Ray said...

Wade,
Been thinking about C.S. Lewis’ statement: "A man is never as proud as when striking an attitude of humility,"

I think of two athletes accomplishing the same victory: One hollers, beats his chest, and gives the ‘number one’ signal.
The other stands quietly with bowed head as if giving thanks to God.

Taking Lewis’ statement as being good, it would declare the second athlete more proud than the first. With humility, God did not communicate with Elijah with wind, earthquake, or fire, but with a still small voice. With a voice like a dove: “This is My beloved Son. I take delight in Him!”

If Lewis’s statement is taken as bad, it’s something like a preacher with his chest swelled out on the inside for admitting his faults.

I fit that scenario many years ago. On a mission trip in Mexico, I learned a church was about to loose its land as three years was about to expire to complete its building. All they had was two rows of concrete blocks when they ran out of money as most lived in cardboard shacks. I gave about a year’s tithe to buy all their materials. It wasn’t that much as the roof was tin and the floor was dirt.

Our 500 member church at the time was ‘collecting’ money to change the carpet from red to blue. As a young deacon; I was asked to pray for the offering. During the prayer, I confessed I felt like a hypocrite since I had not given anything as I had given to a needed church. I don’t know why I started crying. Maybe it was because of the goal of our church, but I know it wasn’t repentance on my part. Still crying going back to my seat, a lady I didn’t know gave me a long embrace. I was never asked to pray again.

Christiane said...

Dear REX,

From the Eastern Christian tradition, comes this teaching:


"Our Lord cries to us in the depths of our hearts,
"Awake 0 sleeper, rise up from among the dead, and Christ will illumine you".

"And you shall be as I fashioned you, a child of light capable of great compassion and love. And then I will awaken within you my Holy Spirit. You will know the profound love without limits I have for you.

And your flow of tears will witness to the melting of frozen places within you. The softening of your tear stained face will be an invitation for me to take up my abode in your heart. I will remove from you all harsh judgement"



REX, we know this: that God comes to the humble places of the Earth: a stable with a dirt floor in Nazareth long ago, or a 'cathedral' built with a tin roof and a dirt floor in a place far away.

You said, "I don’t know why I started crying."
Maybe the memory of the holy ground of that dirt-floored church overflowed in the place where 'changing the color of a carpet' was considered the way to honor God? The contrast must have been very painful. Love, L's

Rex Ray said...

Christiane,
You continue to amaze me with your insight and vast knowledge of the Bible and other writings.

I believe many would grow closer to the Lord if you were their pastor or should I say priest?

Of course if you were speaking in some Baptist churches, some seats would have to be reversed to accommodate some fundamentalist thinking.

I believe you’re right in me comparing a dirt floor to carpet.

The poor church pastor didn’t understand the check and kept it for several days before a Texas pastor got it in a bank for him.

His face flashed with fear when he learned the amount - said, “If it was known I had that much money, I would have been killed.”

Christiane said...

As the hymn tells us

"The Lord hears the Cry of the Poor. Blessed Be the Lord."

jessica said...

The smell of coal is unique. It burns differently, it smells differently. Everything about the fire of coal that Jesus made reminded Peter of his denial..

___________________
Jessica
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