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22 women have taught me, what?

14 Nov

Mum, that ‘mothers will forget their children.’ Isaiah 49:15-16. It is not a question in the original Hebrew, but a Statement.

 

walkers, past speakers, those who sang, sing this, as sirens toward me, your voices still speak, softly

Marla

Mona Leo

Song of Songs 8:5-6 ‘Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is strong as death, jealous is fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the Lord. 7 Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, he[would be utterly despised’

Elaine

Colossians 4:5 b ‘make the most of every opportunity.’

Kathy H

I failed you, thus, for me at that time

If anyone turns a deaf ear to my instruction, even their prayers are detestable.

 

Barbara, a reflection on enduring love, even in unfaithfulness. Hosea 11:8 ‘How can I give you up, Ephraim? … My heart is changed within me; all my compassion is aroused.’

 

Priscilla, healing from Psalm 126, ‘When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy…’

 

Pepper, my dog, unconditional love, Proverbs 19: 22a ‘What a man desires is unfailing love…’

 

Home grown daughters,

Sarah,

B-Beth

Dear

Two people can accomplish more than twice as much as one; they get a better return for their labor. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But people who are alone when they fall are in real trouble. And on a cold night, two under the same blanket can gain warmth from each other. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. (Eccl. 4:9-12, NLT)

 

Susan, my sister 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (ESV) Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

 

 

Others, my adopted, ‘hand picked’ daughters

April

Alex

Lauren

Heather

Ben

Charlotte

Lydia

Michael

Sarah

http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/0402.htm

and

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to son ship. (daughter ship!!) And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

 

A short Charlie comment: blank checks means you are and I am and Priscilla is ‘all in’ with you as this is this Spirit’s leading’ and Jesus’ teaching-you are our brothers and sisters; our children.

 

From London 2014

 

 

 

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listening parts 3 and 4

17 Jul

listening 3, a prayerful community

EQ: How does God the Father listen to His people?

Ephesians 3: 14-19
‘For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.’

EP: There are five ‘yous’ in this passage. In the Greek they are all plural. They point to community; the trinity; Jesus and His disciples; His spirit with ours; His church. There is power in community. Power in a prayerful, listening community. It is the power of listening love.

talking, teaching points:
notes:

A. We listen to nature; others; our city. Listening -is by its nature about relationship; ____________________________________________________________________________________________

B. _Listening is hearing-hearing is about reflecting; thinking without assumptions or judgements. ____________________________________________________________________________________________

EP: He listens to us as unique individuals; and He listens to us all, in our community,
thoughts:
___________________________________________________________________________________________________

Small Group activity: In your group (or by yourself-though try to find a ‘community’ to do this exercise) share one verse you have read (John 17?) that spoke to your heart today. State why/how this verse spoke to you. At the end of your sharing time, praise God thankfully (Step 3 from this morning, the Garland of Praise) in small group community. (12 minutes.)

• your community’s thanksgivings:

• Whole group sharing time:

listening, part 4

Open in a prayerful reading of John 17 in still another translation, Young’s Literal Translation

EQ: How does the Holy Spirit take Jesus’ words and life into our hearts and minds? What is the work of the Spirit?

We keep our unique voice, our unique character when we listen to, by, with and in the Spirit. Yet, as Christians, we become like Christ by listening to the same word, the same heart, the same mind, by the same Spirit that worked with Him. NLT John 17:17 ‘Make them Holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth.’

Essential Question/thoughts:
EQ: What stops our hearts; our minds from listening?

• Hard hearts (Pharaoh; Aaron’s sons-Nabab and Abihu; Ananias and Sapphira;)
• Unreasoning animals, darkness of words & thoughts (Jude)

ET: How are our minds, our hearts taught to listen?

• Soften, listening hearts (Acts 2)
• Transformed minds (Saul/Paul) Romans 7; Romans 12

Romans 12 shows a path to listening,

‘Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.’ NIV

Now, let’s look at Young’s Literal Translation of these verses,

I call upon you, therefore, brethren, through the compassions of God, to present your bodies a sacrifice — living, sanctified, acceptable to God — your intelligent service;
2 and be not conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, for your proving what [is] the will of God — the good, and acceptable, and perfect.

EQ: What is a transformed mind, or in the Greek, a ‘nous? ’nous?’

Here is one scholar’s definition.
Commonly translated as ‘mind’ or ‘intellect’, the Greek word nous is a key term in the philosophies of Plato, Aristotle and Plotinus. What gives nous its special significance there is not primarily its dictionary meaning – other nouns in Greek can also signify the mind – but the value attributed to its activity and to the metaphysical status of things that are

‘noetic’ (intelligible and incorporeal) as distinct from being perceptible and corporeal.
In Plato’s later dialogues, and more systematically in Aristotle and Plotinus, nous is not only the highest activity of the human soul but also the divine and transcendent principle of cosmic order.
In its pre-philosophical usage nous is only one among a number of terms for mind. It is chiefly distinguished from these other words by its tendency to signify ‘intelligent’ activity – realizing, understanding, planning, visualizing – rather than mental processes more generally, including the emotions.(emphasis mine)
http://www.muslimphilosophy.com/ip/rep/A075

Romans 12:1-2 uses this Greek word, nous, for mind, in this phrase, ‘be transformed by the renewing of your mind.’

Evening talk/teaching notes:

• The Greeks understood that listening involved both the heart and the mind and the spirit. You listen as a ‘whole’ person.
• You can’t hear if you are not living in a ‘transformed’ moment. By this I mean the quick, present, passing moment. If you are living with assumptions and judgements before or as you listen, you can’t hear in the the moment. You are listening to someone or something else.

Review & vision casting _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

It is time to cast a vision. (step 4 in our ‘Simple way to pray’) If you really believed this scripture is true, how would the scripture change your life? Now pray for change; for transformation, the next step. For ‘nous’

Closing: We are now at the dimming, the closing of the day. Now is a time to sit silently with Him and move to private individual confession.

Closing individual activity, confession: On the basis of this scripture, what can you confess to God?

Meditation 14 part one, fruit

11 Sep

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.  Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.  Galatians 5:22-26

As I finish this blog series on fruit of the Spirit, I can’t stop thinking of a friend who recently shared how she dances Salsa. As an experienced Salsa dancer, she tries to dance with beginners who already know the basic steps. Debbie does not dance with novices. She is not dancing to teach the elemental basics. She wants to lead by example; dance with someone who plans and desires to grow. She wants to ‘keep in step’ with a generous principle: dance with all type, all levels, of Salsa dancers. But they need to know the basics first.

As a trope to end the series, the analogy of ‘salsa dancing’ to fruit of the Spirit clarifies. There is one dance, yet many aspects, many steps, to the dance’s fruit.  Joy can result.  Peace can come from a dance well done; goodness in honouring the effort of another. Dancing has to be under the self’s control, in gentleness.  This is a basic, and the only qualities in Paul’s list that are join by an ‘and’ step. Control then is gentle. It cannot be forced as a method of expression. And a good Salsa dancer may enter a competition and need to forbear in the face competition in order to grow.

But one has to first love to dance. Love is the first fruit quality mentioned because love is a first fruit.  Love is not ‘the’ fruit; it’s ‘a’ fruit. A step.  A first step. Love is part of all that follows… But there are other steps, other fruit, which follows this first step.  And as joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness follow, they all deepen love. Deeply.   And deeply coloured fruit tastes different.  Looks different.  And is different.

Real Zombies were referenced in a previous blog in this series. My point in meditation 8 is that zombies are Real. They are the flesh eating figures all around us. They can grow inside, as the real life people of ‘The Bling Ring’ and ‘The Act of Killing’ illustrate.  They are the Walking Dead, the unthinking, reacting desire controlled solely by ‘the’ flesh, by any overwhelming desire. Cain was the first Real Zombie. In Genesis 4:7, as God speaks to him: ‘If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.His was the first murderer. Others have followed in his steps. Desire needs control. Spirit control. Flesh desires… what? Simply put, more flesh.  More bling. More killing. More sex. More love. Yes, if one aspect of Spirit fruit, such as ‘love,’ is desired solely, it can also become ‘the flesh.’  Love needs self-control, peace, gentleness. All aspects of the Spirit.  And if I don’t dance steps by the Spirit, I can become a Real Zombie. Permanent. Like Cain, I walk as a zombie; not in Spirit steps.Then I can grow conceited and only dance with like minded dancers.  I can provoke others by dancing so beautifully I purpose to draw attention only to myself; I can   envy the others’ joy in their good Salsa dancing. Then I am out of step. Becoming like a zombie. A Real Zombie. A Cain.

But if the Spirit leads, I step with Him, gently, under his control. In love. I dance with Him, Spirit led. The Spirit is my, our, lead dancer. He leads. I follow. We dance.

 

meditation 13: Caravaggio, the ‘peace’ of open hands, fruit of the Spirit

2 Sep

ImageImage

Of the number of Caravaggio’s in Rome, three specific works illustrate peace, and all at a moment of a death. First, above, the Calling of St. Paul. Paul’s eyes are closed; his hands open and empty. His old self, his fleshly self, is dying. His face is peaceful; no grimace. He is open to God’s call; the Lord’s being; not his old, flesh:Saul.

Second,is the image of the deposition of Christ. Here, Jesus’ hands are open, a receiver of death, and a death on the cross. He is empty, Yet -and yet- soon all will fill with the hope of a bodily Resurrection.

Finally, there is the three piece work, It is a three piece altar work, not pictured here,’The Calling of St. Matthew’. Imagine. In the first and last panels of the Call, Matthew, in death, his left hand now opens. Initially, in the first panel, it was closed on his coins from his tax collecting. There, he was a young man, head down, not looking at Jesus’ call, Jesus’ hand beckoning him. Openly, now in peace, a receiver of eternal life. He is receiving. What? ‘(A better resurrection.’ Eternal community with the Father, Son and Spirit. ( Hebrews11:35) With open hands, Matthew, in death, has peace. Peace, a fruit of Spirit.

meditations part 2: the MACS teacher, passion and coveting

29 Aug

In ‘Silence of the Lambs’ Hannibal Lecter takes Clarice Starling to Rome:
HL: ‘First principles Clarice. Simplicity. Read Marcus Aurelius. Of each particular thing ask: what is it in itself ? What is its nature? …
He covets. That is his nature…we begin by coveting what we see every day.’
We see what we are passionate about every day. The MACS teacher sees youth that are reflections of a deep desire: young people in colleges, experiencing new life. A choice. Possible passions. Their passions though is their students and Their success; the students’ own felt successes in life. (Teachers have other passions, I am sure, but…)
…but this is what and whom the MACS teacher & staff persons choose to see everyday of their life. It is what All-all-see in the summer, at a beach, at rest, on vacation. It is passion.)
And, and …if it were the only seen thing? Then ‘we/I covet and want possession and ownership. That was me; what i was becoming. Coveting is control. Total Control. Then the simple becomes deeply simple: I would become pure passion, pure coveting itself. No balance. No boundary. One simply becomes the other. Passion becomes coveting. A good desire destroys.
Simply destroys. Simply.
It is easy to cross the line between passion and coveting. I have and still am stepping on that emotional tightrope between coveting and passion. It is my nature. When I do step over, I over eat; I buy sports jerseys for myself. I rage, rage against injustice. Anger overwhelms. And, and…if it gets real bad, i am angry. quiet and angry. All the time. My only way back is to pray. I pray the Jesus prayer ‘Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ He is a living God; He knows …
He simply knows. I know that…
Every MACS teacher I have served with loved their kids ; all of them. And they were in balance and passionate and true lovers. I failed them, sometimes well and sometime poorly. But I loved them, these MACS teachers, because of their passion. And they were and are better than I will ever be.
My UK readers and others, please understand this: they -these MACs staff and teachers- were wonders. I think of them every day. In love. With passion.

meditation 12-‘breaking’ bad fruit: idolatry & witchcraft

25 Aug

J.R.R. Tolkien in response to a critical question concerning the placing of total power in the Ring of Sauron in ‘The Lord of the Rings” stated in a letter, ‘The Ring of Sauron is only one of the various mythical ways of treating the placing of one’s life or power in some external object outside oneself which… thus exposes (the person) to capture or destruction with disastrous results to oneself.’

We all do this. Children place their desire on a toy, a ‘new best friend’ at the start of a school term, a doll, a promise, a Christmas day. Adults place their desire in a love, a person, a spouse an ideal, their work, achievement. Or ‘a diamond birthday.’ All of these are idols that we create and recreate through our walk and life. And when we create we ‘place.’ This placement is the worship: we move our internal ultimate value to external object. Our souls to rings. Or to a Ring. Such placement is a form of witchcraft. Paul in Galatians tells us that idolatry And witchcraft work together. (‘and’) How? By creating. And by recreating.Walter White in AMC’s ‘Breaking Bad’ and Lord Voldemort in J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books both place their souls in external objects. They are both worshippers and creators. Idols themselves, made by their own hands. No longer humans, but objects. Fragment and particles. Walter becomes the desire for a ‘name’ and Voldemort is the desire for life eternal. Both change their names; both want to rule in the ‘unknown’ country, the land beyond life. Both are idol worshippers. And both were or desire to be teachers.
Walter White places the black hat on his head and becomes his alias, Heisenberg, the physicist father of Quantum Mechanics, the founder of the Uncertainty principle: particles existing in multiple states and places at multiple times. Walter exists as a chemist, yet also chooses the identity of a physicist for one purpose: to create a name, an object outside himself that will live forever. His fear? Part of what all teachers fear is being forgotten, swallowed up death, or lack of remembrance. Teachers deeply fear that their students certainly won’t remember them. And without memory life loses meaning.(Jesse is such a student who desires to destroy his memories of teacher Walter) Voldemort also desires eternal life through memory. Thus, he creates horcuxes. Objects as Tom Riddle’s Diary, Maravalo’s ring and others. He creates with particles of his unstable soul. Objects that can only be created out of murder. Riddle becomes Voldemort; White becomes black, Heisenberg. Multiple selves in multiple places. In their quests for certainty they become particles of uncertainty. Objects of pure flesh warring with Spirit. Paul closes chapter 5 of Galatians with a statement on their joint fates, ‘those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.’
Idol worship, witchcraft, is bad fruit. It breaks and fragments in our hands, destroying our very self, our souls.

light in August

21 Aug

light in August

ideas, light in August
Light more light, who said that,
What is it about light in August? Isn’t there great light in August already? Why is Faulkner praying in his title for August light?
Well, by blog this week is ‘light in August’

Time for a light, fluffy entry. Summer light. Let’s start with a tease and a promise,
essential writing: Fairy tales coming true, they are happening to you… (essential writing is ‘coming’ to you very soon in this blog…By its end)

August for me is a time to do lightness. I, this ‘doing’ may entail many things, or nothing. But it always includes reflecting, lightly, about myself. So here are my reflective do (they all are really one big thought, thoughts linking together) of August 2013, in no certain order
What are my reflective dos?
Ideas, adventures, people and images that have ‘grabbed ‘me
do
Tweets: Charlie: everyday I ask Priscilla to marry me’ my friend Martin sharing his response in the presence of his wife Deborah: ‘every other day I ask my wife to divorce me’ the responses and questions are the same: both Martin and I are telling our ‘espouses’ how much we love them, in our own ways
Photos: me kissing priscilla
Images: Keats writing ‘Ode to a Nightingale’ in the Heath @ Hampstead
Gabriel Garcia Marquez: INTERVIEWER
How do things start? One of the recurring images in The Autumn of the Patriarch is the cows in the palace. Was this one of the original images?
GARCÍA MÁRQUEZ
I’ve got a photography book that I’m going to show you. I’ve said on various occasions that in the genesis of all my books there’s always an image. The first image I had of The Autumn of the Patriarch was a very old man in a very luxurious palace into which cows come and eat the curtains. But that image didn’t concretize until I saw the photograph. In Rome I went into a bookshop where I started looking at photography books, which I like to collect. I saw this photograph, and it was just perfect. I just saw that was how it was going to be. Since I’m not a big intellectual, I can find my antecedents in everyday things, in life, and not in the great masterpieces.

Food & Service: the idea of Crepes,
Fresh Sushi; Minca’s Ramen; & Gauchos in Hampstead’s staff

Words: David Mitchell on ‘medieval topos’ : ‘As the Eyjafjallajokull Volcano was spewing plumes of ash into European airspace in April, shuttering airports and stranding millions, the British novelist David Mitchell, a tall, gracious, high-spirited man of 41, was marching me across a long, flat tidal beach near his home in Ireland’s West Cork. Along the way, he told me a story about the perils of humility. “I had a short and rather valuable lesson,” Mitchell said after a morning on the beach, “one of these warnings that the universe gives you on a platter sometimes. I’d done an event in New Zealand at a very large auditorium, hundreds of people, and I was kind of pleased with it; it had gone well. A woman came up to me afterwards, a medievalist at the university there, and she said, ‘Have you heard of the humility topos?’ I said no. She explained that, in the medieval era, humility was seen as a great virtue. The humility topos was used for these abbots — you can think of a good one in Eco’s ‘Name of the Rose’ — who were actually monsters of arrogance, but were always banging on about how humble they were — ‘Just like our lord Jesus Christ. We serve him in humility’ — when they were the least humble people you can find in history. Some even became pope. And the woman looked at me and said, ‘Watch out for the humility topos.’ And then sort of disappeared in a puff of smoke.

Children’s book: ‘Fables’ by Arnold Lobel-story ‘the Lobster and the Crab’

Restaurants: the Fatty Crab on the Upper West Side (now closed)
Travels: China (haven’t been yet); Venice; any one place that’s Michael and Sarah tell me to go (but only one!)
Friends: can’t choose anyone, miss them all madly even when they are with me in my heart’s mind
Pets: Our Dalmatian, Pepper & walking with her in a white snow blinding New York blizzard and ‘seeing’ why fire-fighters have Dalmatians as their dogs
Encouragements: Tim and Kathy’s birthday card; Alex’s smile & laugh; writing
Unfinished writing work: my movie screenplay ‘Weight Losers.’ Young hip very overweight guy has a lovely girlfriend who has lost a lot of weight and she wants the same for him. She brings ‘Charles’ (or Rick Bann on????) to an all female Weight Losers meeting and….

So now, your Fairy Tale…and you have a choice. Choose one Fairy tale to live in. Reflect on ‘why’ you choose this tale for yourself now, in this time and place. Write your tale of choice and the ‘why’ or reason for your choice in my comment box. I will respond to all ‘Tales’ by 2 September. (If you just want to reflect and not receive a comment, simply state no comment.)
Prompt: You are a character in a traditional Fairy tale. (For example: Snow White) The story narrative cannot change in its ending (Snow White marries the Prince and leaves the 7 Dwarfs) and you will live in that tale 999 years. State what tale you choose and why you choose that tale and that character. How to begin…How about….. Once upon a time, for 999 years…

meditation 11: bad fruit ‘and the like’

19 Aug

‘and’; a word that combines connects and communicates multiple relationships, ideas and works. ‘Ands’ build.

Paul in his letter to Galatians describes ‘bad’ fruit as desires of the flesh. He uses multiple ‘ands’ to build the image of fleshy desires, what I am calling here bad fruit. Paul calls these desires acts:

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factionsand envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

All of the fleshly desires above work together. And they work in such a powerful manner that they become life: ‘I warn you, as I did before, that those who live…’ The people of the church in Galatia were living in the flesh ‘before’ this letter; Paul is warning them again. Why? Because the flesh and its desires are so strong. They grow as one. They act internally and externally. How? Fleshly desires grow and build together with ‘ands.’ Impurity and debauchery; idolatry and; factions and envy witchcraft; orgies, and the like.’ And the like. Like calls to like; desire call to other desires; addictions to other overwhelming desires. One desire leads to another and another and another. Each then builds into a series of connecting ‘acts.’ And theses are acts of the flesh, the body, mind and heart, the community of our self work together to infuse and become our spirit. Multiple desires multiply into acts. And these acts of thought and desire then become flesh. A feed-back circle/loop that forms spiritual life. All these desires and their acts then reform one central, controlling and transforming desire. An uber desire.The German word ‘uber’ is a cognate of the Latin word for ‘super’ and the Greek word ‘huper.’ Two languages joined together to form a word beyond a superman; a top gun; a best of the best. This German phrase is our Tower of Babel. On Tweeter @Uber describes their tweeter self as: ‘Everyone’s Private Driver.’ And/or, everyone’s idol; or their uber desire. What then is our uber desire, our driver?

It is: to become another’s desire; to be desired as a desire itself. An ultimate. As,

How many followers do you have?

In the video game ‘Star Wars Jedi Knight’ a gamer can become invincible, an uber Jedi.

As being the centre, the life of the party.

Or being the ultimate underdog, the weak defeating the strong.

The richest gal who dies with the most toys.

The prettiest boy at the party

The thinnest.

Sexiest. Uber person. Beyond human. Desire itself. Real Bad fruit.

So, bad fruit, fleshy desires? How can I live with them without their becoming my life? Can I escape the loop? Get off the roundabout?

My” How to” comes from Paul’s ‘So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.’ Slow down, Charles. Walk. Don’t react. Don’t run, dance, don’t get over excited. Don’t let the immediate thought, worry, desire control your actions. Walk. Meditate on the Word as you walk. His Spirit will be ‘gentleness and self-control’ within you. (Paul’s first and only use ‘and’ in his qualities list Spirit fruit: ‘gentleness and self-control.’ These are the only spiritual qualities Paul has working directly together.) Why are only these two qualities joined by ‘and’ when Paul has so many infinite fleshy qualities –‘and the like’ joined together?

Because I believe His gentleness works with our self-control to ‘make me great.’ (Psalm 18: 35) For it is, by the Spirit, how He stoops down into my life, that I can walk away from the flesh, my flesh. He desires great, fruit. Fruit of Him, His Spirit, His gentleness. Me. Built by and with the Spirit. Walking.

meditation 9: fruit of the spirit, goodness

6 Aug

meditation 9:  fruit of the spirit, goodness

 What is goodness? Can anyone be ‘good?’ Any act?  Any purpose?

As I look at myself, for own motives, loves, looking and coveting, speaking solely for my own heart and self, my answer is “No, not good, not me.”

I can say this because I have glimpses of goodness. From others.  Brief compelling can’t stop thinking about glimpses. My heart replays these vary rare views over and over, over and over. They are so rare; I don’t recognise them at first. Here is a recent one.

Priscilla, my wife, is goodness. Yes, at times she is angry, forgetful, and full of self. But at small, very key life moments, she rises. Her goodness empowered by the spirit shines as a new moon in a clear night sky, or a moving piece of music. She, immediately and without thought, is’ good.’ It is her first instinct.

In mid June I saw an advert for a local Proms concert. St. Jude’s church in Golders Green was to have Sir Willard White sing. Priscilla knew him over 40 years ago at a small church in NYC, The Bronx Household of Faith. She always spoke fondly of him and was excited to see that he was in the UK. I booked two of the last three tickets available and Priscilla called the church to leave a message.Can you please tell Mr White that Priscilla from the Bronx Household of Faith will be at the concert? She would love to say ‘hello.’Graciously, the church and the person Priscilla spoke to assured her that they would leave him her contact information.

We heard nothing in the week between her call and the event. Very excited that Friday, in a slight rain, we arrived to a packed house. When we picked up our tickets, Priscilla again explained to a kind steward how she knew Sir Willard. The event staff listened attentively and assured her Sir Willard would get her hand written note. Ours seats were in the first row off to the side. We went in.‘Perfect ‘was Priscilla’s response to our seats: she could see him; and he might recognise her, though people change.

Sir Willard came on; he had not changed significantly except for the greying of age in his hair. He looked well and sang with power and zeal. He opened with a number of German classical pieces that shared the subject of death. He sang, at times with real power. The interval came.  He and his accompanist left the stage.

As a little girl, Priscilla needed vanilla ice cream to cool her excitement. Returning to her, I spoke to another steward. Yes, Sir Willard would leave the stage at the end of the performance and he would ensure she could have a brief moment with him.

The second act began. My sense of the evening was that of a man singing of death in a place of risen celebration, a church. He seemed a performer, not a worshipper of anything, even his own performance. Needless to say, the evening closed. Priscilla waited and told me how he sang ‘My Wild Irish Rose’ to her in New York before she knew me. The Head steward waited with us at the exit. Sir Willard never appeared. He ducked out to avoid her, my Priscilla.

 And here, here, is where I saw goodness. Myself, I was angry Not even a ‘hello.’ He purposely avoided her, as though she was a stalker. In the Head Steward’s word to me: ‘really, he could use the fans; the work.’  Standing by the exit door till the last possible moment Priscilla said ‘Thank you.’ As we walked to our transport she said, ‘Church must have hurt him. He must be hurting deeply.’I asked her is she was hurting; wasn’t she angry? How insensitive…Priscilla said looking down, ‘You don’t know what he has been though. I have my memory of his singing for me.’How generous; how good.

 

 

Twitter: @charlesosewalt

 

Website:

www.charlesosewalt.com

 

meditation 7, kind & gentle fruit of the Spirit: “… is love, joy, peace, patience, kndness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

2 Jul

meditation: 7 His fruit, gentle kindness
I am not a kind or gentle person. I break things. The crafts I build are always ugly. Once I made a hand puppet for an education class and I was the only person whose work very one laughed at. (My best friend in the class called my puppet “Road kill.”) Years of rejection; a failed marriage; work among people in an underserved area of a global city has made me hard internally. I mask it by appearing friendly. I seem to be a happy extrovert, but I am a cynical introvert. Why? Being with people drains me. And that is the test for introverts and extroverts: if being with people gives you energy, then you are an extrovert; if you are drained, intro.
So my Lord gave me fruit, he gave me a spirit filled wife. She is kind, gentle. She listens to people; she smiles at children; Priscilla stops, stoops down and smells, sees flowers. She sees and feels. I decided to ask her to marry me when see gave me a piece of music, Frederick Delius “Florida Suite.” The “Daybreak” section of this work is me. Priscilla, in kindness, saw Charles the unfeeling, the insensitive. I still have the music. It’s nice to be seen.
There is one fruit of the Spirit with multiple vines from it. Kindness is one of these vines. Gentleness is another. For me they entwined together. I want to be kind. I want to be gentle. That’s why I choose Psalm 18: 35 “You stoop down to make me great.” as a banner for my blog. I want to be like Him; to stoop into life. I desire His Great Spirit in, with, for my life. Daybreak.
It’s ironic that this translation from the NIV is no longer used. The Hebrew word for the phrase “stoop down” is a hard translate. It can literally mean “lowliness” in Young’s Literal translation; or “gentleness” in the NAS or “your care” in the New Living. The NIV presently has it as “your help.” I prefer the image of stooping. I need stooping; Help is not enough; I can’t assist with anything. Care is inadequate; I need gentle kindness. I need a greater stooping into-into-my insides, seeing and not being disgusted, and gently reforming me into fruit. A Kind, gentle fruit.
His first miracle was to make water into wine; water into fruit. He didn’t want to at the Wedding feast of Cana, but asked by his mother, Jesus stooped into this couple’s celebration and created fruit
Stoop gently, kindly, lovingly Lord. Stoop.