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cake, June 6th

6 Jun

priscilla’s 6 June b day

6 Jun
as a little girl
with her Matthew Bible study present
at ny botanical gardens ( with me )
with her friend, Matteo

Above are some images from Priscilla’s birthday ( more will follow )

file:///var/mobile/Library/SMS/Attachments/00/00/FA4062C8-9ED1-439A-AC11-56BF5524B911/IMG_2988.HEIC

file:///var/mobile/Library/SMS/Attachments/99/09/E9440C20-FFEC-4237-A40B-0C039F84A53A/IMG_2989.HEIC

remembrance, Joey

31 May

Joey always wanted to be a soldier, a Green Beret. When we adopted him in his 14th year, we heard his desire to graduate high school; enlist as soon as possible and grow into a USA army officer.


But we talked him into trying college, Houghton College in Upstate New York, for a year. He met his wife, Rachel, there; marries at 20 and they separated at 21.
Called up to a formation exercise while station at Fort Bragg, NC, Joey drove in the 5 am deep darkness of 10 May 1996, took a turn on a curve road by a creek in a borrowed car, overturned into the creek’s waters and drowned.
He was almost 22.


He never fought in a conflict for his country; he owned a home in North Carolina that was two weeks from foreclosure; nor did he have many male army friends. He was truly alone.


When I met with Joey’s commanding officer, it was to pick up his body. I was in North Carolina with his mother Priscilla, my wife, and Rachel, the wife he was separated from. His commander told me, ‘Corporal Johansen was just young and angry. He would have grown out of it in time.’
Time, the one gift that might assist in Joey’s life, I could not give him. I gave him what I thought would heal, at least help in healing, of his physical hurts, his sexual abuse, his life addictions and pains.
A car; ( a prime condition Cutlass Supreme ) and a home; a leather jacket and a college education; a wedding and 3 adoring younger sisters ( one of them, Deirdra, named her second son ‘Johansen’ in Hero’s middle name ).

Hero Johansen.


When I reached the Funeral Home to retrieve Joey’s body to return to his NYC home, I was alone with his Commander. Priscilla and Rachel did not go with us as they were unsure what Joey’s body would look like.
They were hurting.

So was I. Unsure of the damages.


The Funeral Director greeted us. A woman of about 30, she lead us to Joey’s room. Before I entered, she paused and said ‘You can go in by yourself first if you like, to have a private, personal moment.’

I paused. The Commander nodded agreeing with her suggestion. Moving toward the closed door, I stopped and turned to the Director, and asked,

‘Pardon, but have have never met a woman Funeral Director before. How did you come to this profession?’

She smiled, ‘I know it is unusual. Three years ago by baby girl, Sara, died suddenly, unexpectedly. I could find no peace. Not in church or in counselling; not with friends or family. The worship at my church was beautiful but loud. I couldn’t sit still. I needed quiet. I started attending a Roman Catholic service, the Mass. I found the quiet helpful. Peaceful. And I felt God speaking to me one day in church,

“‘ Now you can help others to rest.’“


‘And so I opened this Funeral home. A home for the hurting….can I tell you something? I never do this, but I feel I need to tell you. When I was fixing your son’s body, I felt as though there was a lot of anger, hate, in him. But as I moved him, I felt his hurts, his angers, leaving him. And that he was at piece.’

I said thank you and went in alone. His body had not a scratch on him. He was knocked unconscious and drowned in the waters. He felt at rest. Peace.

Some soldiers fight in both outside and internal wars. But all struggle with the internal. All.

This Memorial Day I remember Joey. He struggled; he fought; he lost and won. But at the end, his very end, God gifted him peace, release. Healing. I had not adopted Joey; I could not give him peace. God did. Jesus did.

“And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.” 1 John 5: 11

the Lord God counsels, – thus, speak to me, my Lord from Job 38,

18 May


Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm. He said:

2 “Who is this that obscures my plans

with words without knowledge?
3 Brace yourself like a man;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.
4 “Where were you ….

We do not know how long Job suffered; or sat in ashes; or how long he suffered alone and with his friends. It could have been a week. Or longer.

Job 7:3 states, “I have been allotted months of futility, and nights of misery have been assigned to me.”

So, how long? How long did Job wait to hear from his God? In suffering? Are these metaphorical months, or actual ones? We don’t know. Except, we do know that this waiting that whatever the time was, we know it must have seemed an eternity. An eternity of suffering, an eternity of time…
And in a moment, He speaks; the Lord speaks wisdom, “Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge?”

The Lord’s plans have not been spoken in words to Job; He has spoked though in every specific moment and event, every action and pain of Job’s sitting in time’s ashes.
David, as priest and prophet, sings in Psalm 16: 7 – “I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.”


Here, the Lord’s counsel is defined. All moments, even those of sleep, has the Lord touching and speaking in and to our hearts. How do we know He speaks, counsels?

Because, as David, when we awake praise Him; sing a song to Him; feel and know Him through all he allows, places and acts in our lives. We feel him.


Out of life’s whirlwinds, He speaks, whispers, shouts and moves.

So, we pray,
“Help me not to darken your counsel, your words, movements, acts and seemingly silences, with my questions, my doubts. Help me to hold onto to all you place within and without my heart. Counsel me my Lord.”

Counsel me

a touch, before Joseph’s passing, life, from the Lord touches

3 May
from Genesis 50


22 ‘Joseph stayed in Egypt, along with all his father’s family. He lived a hundred and ten years 23 and saw the third generation of Ephraim’s children. Also the children of Makir son of Manasseh were placed at birth on Joseph’s knees.’

On Sunday 2 May the news show 60 minutes had a doctor speak about why he fought so hard and long with the American government to reveal the seriousness of the COVID 19 pandemic.
Carter Mecher stated in response to John Dickerson’s question: “Michael ( Lewis ) writes that all of you are motivated by your, your love of life. Do you agree with that characterization?

Dr. Carter Mecher: My training was in critical care medicine, so I operated ICUs. And in an ICU, what I got to see and what I got to witness was the final struggle for a lotta human beings. I got to see the last, last days, last weeks, last moments of a lot of people. And, you know, in sports they talk about, you know (emotional) – sorry. They talk about, like, you know, players leaving it all on the field. And you know when I would see these patients in the ICU, I would watch them in that struggle. And they left everything on the field, everything. And you know, my question for us is, almost 600,000 people in this country have left everything on the field. And the question is, have we?”

Joseph answers the doctor’s question.

Joseph of Genesis, betrayed and rejected by his family; enslaved and in- prisoned within a foreign people, Egyptians; rescues all. He rescues, as a trope of Christ Jesus, Egyptians and his family Israel; himself and the world; his earthy father Jacob, and his future descendants.
Joseph leaves all on his field, his world of famine. And in doing so, so rescues. How?

He rescues by touch and forgiveness you, me, all. Joseph left nothing, leaves nothing on the field.


In these days of Zoom, where we long for community; for face to face moments and experiences, where we desire to remove our masks, Joseph feels his great grand children on his body, his knees.
He feels here the enduring, eternal, everlasting arms of our Lord, the promise of a personal life with the Saviour Jesus to come, on his knees as he rests.
And he will return home.

What joy. How loved. Touched, Joseph lives.

every….

27 Apr

https://unsplash.com/photos/eMX1aIAp9Nw

I have always ( please note ‘all ways’ ) hated the global language of ‘all and every and never.’ Today, this day, after multiple silences, betrayals, rejections and overlooks, I embrace their, these, touches, these words. I embrace because all of these global negative words, even the seemingly positive ones ( I would never hurt you like … I will always be there for you ) have the inescapable promise of disappointment and overlooking, of unseeing. Yet, Jesus promises—

Revelation 7:9 ‘After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands,…’

Palm Sunday is now is everyday. A welcoming; an embracing…. a loving.

Jesus here promises that all will come; all will stand in love; all will be as one. For this to happen,

He will heal every wound

Kiss away all resentments and self pities

Gently salve all physical brokenness

He will wipe away all, every, all tears

He is the one and only, the all in all, who will always embrace and love.

Jesus is all, my all, yours. He is for, with, every one.

He heals in love.

All.

come, to me

20 Apr

Joseph, after being favoured by his father Jacob; after being beaten, robbed by his brothers in an empty well; sold as a slave; unjustly imprisoned; and made by Pharaoh the chief steward of all Egypt, Joseph has his brothers come unknowingly to him for salvation.

He devises a series of plans to bring his youngest brother Benjamin, the loved son who never never leaves his father’s side, Joseph’s only full blooded brother, to Joseph’s Egyptian side.

But plans change. Joseph changes. Hearing Judah describe how Jacob/Israel would die if the brothers return to their father without the beloved Benjamin, Joesph changes. How?

The leader, the planner and controller of Egypt and the known world, breaks down. He cries out in anguish over his plan. He cries out I need for a family. He cries out openly, vulnerable, to those who betrayed him. In this particular moment, when Joseph’ s plan to keep Benjamin close to about to come to pass, Joseph sees the big picture: Joseph sees the eternal plan of Yahweh- Joseph sees God.

At this emotional moment Joseph sees both the specific and the eternal; his brothers as they were and how the Lord intends them to be: embraced and forgiven. Loved…

from Genesis 45

‘Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still living?” But his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at his presence.’

The brothers, not yet changed as Joseph, cannot speak separated by silence, Joesph continues,

4 ‘Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt!5 And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. 6 For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping. 7 But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.’

Joseph sees and understands God’s eternal plan: deliverance, rescue. so…

8 “So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt. 9 Now hurry back to my father and say to him, ‘This is what your son Joseph says: God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; don’t delay.”

God’s eternal plan to for Joesph, for you, for me, for all to invite all betrayers, our failed lovers, to come. Personally we are to speak and invite. With the uttered ‘to me’ the specific become eternal, personal.

Joseph’s one desire to for those who have left him for dead, who placed him in forgotten years of slavery, who never, ever loved him, Joseph’s heart asks them to come close, come down. And this request, this forgiveness, is personal, open with total vulnerability, as two words repeat with come here: to me. To me….

And the brothers came and wept with Joseph. Forgiven, they can cry love.

Today, Lord, help me to ask those who do not see, those who do not love, those who have forgotten me to come close.

Help me to forgive. Come. Do not delay. Come.

worry, worries; the sower of, and the seed

16 Apr

The Parable of the Sower

His word

13 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. 2 Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. 3 Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. 9 Whoever has ears, let them hear.”

Jesus leaves words, as seeds, for the hearers’ hearts. But first they must be, must desire to hear. Those who refuse to hear; those who use silences as weapons; those who place their words within Jesus’ – these are not hearers or sowers of words, of Jesus’ seed. Alone; in very poor soil, the seed does.

But the disciples want to hear, go deeper. In private they ask for the parable’s meanings.

As one of these desiring disciples, I hear of the seed among thorns. Here is Jesus’ explanation of soil with thorns,

22 The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful.

Worries choke.

So, my worries, stop by, his breathes. They choke.

My fear of my failing, – my poor choices, my hurtful past and future actions are embedded worries about relationships with people. These worries cost me daily in my relationship with God.

My worries and concerns choke my relationship with Him, with Jesus.

how can I produce good soil?

Hear; ask; receive; sit with His word.

Be a hearer of Jesus.

come close

7 Apr

http://poemof-theday.blogspot.com/2010/04/come-to-edge-christopher-logue.html?m=1

Come to the Edge – Christopher Logue

Come to the edge.

We might fall.

Come to the edge.

It’s too high!

COME TO THE EDGE!

And they came,

And he pushed,

And they flew.

Today, and everyday, Priscilla and I spend about a morning hour in Bible study. The last question we faced today was ‘ how has the story of Joseph and his brothers moved to forgive another, others, easily? What cam make forgiveness easier? ‘

Forgiveness is hard because of: broken trust; resentments; bitterness. Memories that- which – never leave. That, what makes forgiveness difficult was the first part of the question. Why something is hard, difficult, is somewhat easy for me to listen to, to define usually. Usually.

But defining actions, principles, on how to make forgiveness easier is problematic. I find that there are no ‘cookie cutter’ one size fits all steps. But, Joseph, in Genesis 45, in hard wrung tears and cries, illustrate my forgiveness steps,

“ Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all his attendants, and he cried out, “Have everyone leave my presence!” So there was no one with Joseph when he made himself known to his brothers. 2 And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard him, and Pharaoh’s household heard about it. Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still living?” But his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at his presence. Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! 5 And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you.”

How did, does, Joseph model making an easier path to forgiveness?

First, Joseph chooses to ask his betrayers to come close to him. ( verse 4 ) He chooses who to be vulnerable with.

Next, Joseph chooses when and where to come close with his betrayers.

Fourth, and finally, Joseph defines why he can forgive.

Joseph can forgive because he ‘be came close’ to God, his betrayers and his own self and failings. He asks his brothers to come close to him, to take their steps, so he can take his. He cries only with them : his hurts and tears are only for his brothers eyes. The Egyptians no not see him in this vulnerable exposed state. He speaks to them after understanding Judah’s plea not to return without his, their loved brother Benjamin. He hears and listens. Joseph comes close to Judah’s words in the right time and place. And in doing so he, Joseph, is changed.

Forgiving, being vulnerable, allowing possible pains to come close, heals.

Today, I change. I forgive. Daily, I come close. Daily I must forgive to change.

Forgive.

risen, Easter 2021

4 Apr

Stained glass - Jesus resurrected

Question: 10,000 Jews believed 5 weeks after Jesus’ crucifixion. People who were cowards, who ran away, were now proclaiming and dying for their belief in an individual bodily resurrection. What happened?

Paul gives us the answer in his letter to the Corinthian church:

“Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared toJames, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also. For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am.” 1 Corinthians 15: 1-10

People allowed the evidence of Jesus’ resurrection to confront and reshape their understanding of the world—their conception of what was possible—that’s what happened. This would have required the overturning of their established beliefs. In the first century:

  • Gentiles/pagans believed that the soul was good; the body was corrupt. A bodily resurrection would not only have been inconceivable but intensely undesirable.
  • Jews believed in an individual and powerful messiah. The material world was good. Death was not liberation but tragic. They had a belief in a resurrection at the end of the world for all; not in the middle of history, while the rest of the world was in suffering and disease.

A bodily resurrection would have been hard to accept whatever your background. But the evidence was compelling and so they did. Jesus’ death and resurrection was of first importance and swept aside past beliefs. Ultimately, these first believers did not let their fear of death control their belief. They embraced the eternal promise of life with Jesus because they saw Him raised.

Ultimately, these first believers did not let their fear of death control their belief. They embraced the eternal promise of life with Jesus because they saw Him raised. First things first, see Him today by faith.