Poems, Personals, and Commentary

Archive for the ‘Commentary’ Category

The California Primary Election

Just voted in the California primary.
 
Okay, the candidate choices aren’t great, but there are issues to vote on as well.
 
The first few times I voted I cried with gratitude, and many times thereafter, even if it was an election for water district or some other obscure thing.
 
My parents left Hungary near the end of WWII, partly because the Russian communists were invading. For the next 40 years or so, Hungarians (including the relatives I had who did not leave) had to endure communism, not the least problem of which is there is only one political party!
 
When I first visited there in 1980, before the Berlin wall came down and countries became freer, people were still afraid of the occupying Russians. People of faith could not get good jobs, and many people worked two or three jobs to make ends meet. My relatives even told me that to talk politics or religion, you would not, for example, do that while rowing a boat on the water, because sound carries over the water. They were that paranoid.
 
Many people have fought for the right to vote. I try never to miss an election, even if it’s for the water district.

The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree

The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree

(Luke 13:5-9)

In 2006, my family moved to a single-family house from a townhouse.  One of our reasons for moving was to have a bigger garden (the townhouse garden was very small).

The new garden included a fig tree. That first summer, there was no fruit on it. I would prune it from time to time (perhaps improperly), but year after year, there was no fruit.

Last year, there were a few fruits on the tree. I was amazed! I had decided, over the years, that we had an ornamental fig (those do not bear fruit).

This year, perhaps with a warmer winter and abundant rain, it is producing many fruits! Now I want to learn the proper way of pruning and fertilizing it. There are ways to prune the tree to select the best branches for bearing fruit.

There are many lessons to learn from this:

1) Proper pruning is important: Could this mean that sometimes the discipline or correction we receive from others could be misdirected or misapplied.  I don’t question that we need discipline, but it’s something to ponder. We can pray that damage done to us will be healed. Or, we may have not received much pruning/discipline in life. That usually results in a much-reduced amount of fruit.

2) Patience is important: Like the fig tree in Scripture, we may need to wait a long time for something to bear fruit.

3) Given all else, perhaps the conditions or timing are just not right: “The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8).  Do we need to put ourselves (or allow God to put us) in conditions where we can blossom and bear fruit? In the natural world, some seeds grow only if they are first burned, frozen, or scarified (cut). Do we allow our sufferings to bring forth new life in us?

The Quiet Ones

[To tell the truth, I wrote this out of the frustration of feeling that I’m
a “nobody”.  So maybe my motives aren’t too pure. But, anyway …]


THE QUIET ONES: Don’t Ridicule Yourself

 
I am grateful for all the people, famous or not, who have influenced me for the better.  Some are famous authors, speakers, etc., and many or most are Christian.  Some are well-known within certain circles. Many of them, whom I might not know personally, have exhorted, pushed and prodded me to desire and reach for a holier and more God-honoring life.  They are an essential part of the body of Christ.

 

But today I would like to write about what I call “The Quiet Ones”. They are not “leaders” in the strict sense of the word.  They haven’t written books that thousands read.  They don’t address large audiences.  They might not, like Paul of Tarsus or Mother Teresa, be very well known.  But nevertheless, they can have a huge influence.

 

I am thinking, in particular, of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Hardly anything is known about her. Very few words of hers are recorded. As far as we know, she was not followed by huge crowds. Yet, I think, most Christians would agree that her influence on the world was tremendous, because she allowed Jesus to live in her, both physically and spiritually.

 

Her life was on one of total submission to God and total humility. I believe that it’s because of her humility, her “nobodyness” in the world’s eyes (but submitted to God), that He chose her to be Jesus’ mother.

 

The things we do know about her show her deep humility.  “Let it be done unto me” was her “Yes” to God. While it was certainly an intense joy to know she would be the Savior’s mother, think also of the courage and faith she had to have, to face the ridicule of an “unplanned pregnancy”.  She could have been stoned to death. We could also probably write volumes about her husband, Joseph, another “Quiet One”.

 

Think of her praises to God, in the company of her relative Elizabeth.  To praise God in such a situation, facing ridicule and social ostracism, she had to focus on the glorious reality of what God was doing in her.

 

Think of how she pointed to Jesus: “Do whatever He tells you”, which I believe as His first disciple, she herself practiced.

 

And think of how she stood by Jesus’ side, not only as He suffered excruciating physical pain, but the emotional pain of scorn and ridicule, and feeling abandoned by God.  And of course, her unspeakable joy when He rose from the dead …

 

Yes, I am very grateful for all the “leaders” in my life, who have pushed me to grow and stretch for God’s kingdom.  It takes great courage to put oneself in the public eye.

 

But please, if you are a “Quiet One”, don’t disparage yourself.  You may be having a greater influence than you know.

“For everyone has sinned …”

Once I was watching a documentary about the Nuremberg Trials (in which prominent Nazis were on trial for World War II war crimes). A Jewish man who was present related how he suddenly fainted during the testimony of one of the accused. When asked why he fainted, he said, “Suddenly I realized that I, too, was capable of the same horrible actions.”

We ALL need forgiveness.  We cannot do any good without God’s help.

“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” (Romans 3:23)

God Is Going to Win!

One day I went to church, soon after the Paris terrorist attacks in November, 2015.  The priest talked about the fact that many boys are kidnapped or forced into terrorist training, as young as age six.  They are taught violence and how to cause destruction.  They may be threatened with death if they don’t cooperate.  They don’t know any other life.  I don’t know if the priest implied it, or I thought it myself – “How can they not be terrorists? They don’t anything else.” The priest also offered heartfelt prayers for violence to end, for our safety, and for God to touch the terrorists.

So, I’m driving home after this, and God knows what unconscious process unfolded in me, but suddenly I kept thinking, “God is going to win! Love is going to win! Love is stronger than all the violence, hate, and destruction.”  This kept going through my mind for perhaps the rest of the day, and beyond.

I feel so sure that God, who is Love, will win in the end.

Warmth in the Cold

Warmth in the cold — how often do we take it for granted?

A fire, a heater in our home, a warm jacket, a cap that covers our head and ears, a warm scarf, socks and shoes or boots, blankets, quilts, or comforters.  And how about the warmth of a smile, a hug, a gentle voice, a forgiving or encouraging friend?

I once stayed a weekend at a cabin in Grass Valley, California.  All the heating, cooking, and hot water was produced by burning wood.  On mornings there would be a designated person who got up first and got the fire going for heating the cabin.  People took turns because it wasn’t so pleasant getting up in the cold.  Then, if you wanted to get clean in the shower, water had to be heated by burning wood.  Cooking was a lot more work, too.  In the United States and other places, we take our electric or gas heaters and ovens for granted.

So today, let’s be grateful for warmth.  And Lord, help us to offer your warmth to someone today.

OUR Father

Isn’t it amazing that we can call God OUR Father! Along with Jesus, who was sinless, we are allowed the privilege of calling His Father, OUR Father in heaven. We can walk with Jesus, looking up to the same Father!

Among my mother’s belongings, after her death, I found a little slip of paper with the following typewritten words, which inspired me to write the words above:

“Pride says ‘Look how great I am,’ and then runs ahead of God.
Despair says, ‘Look how awful I am,’ and then runs away from God.
Humility says, ‘Look at the greatness of my Father,’ and then walks with God.
Sometimes I need to ask myself, ‘Which child of God am I?’ “

Are You a Hopeless Case?

Do you feel like you’re a hopeless case? That no matter what you do, you can’t do it right? That no matter what, your circumstances will never improve? THEN REJOICE!

WHAT ?!?!?!

Yes, I said “REJOICE!” Because God delights in rescuing and healing hopeless cases. Some examples:

1) The Israelites were stuck between Pharoah’s army and the Red Sea with nowhere to escape. BUT GOD, through Moses, parted the Red Sea waters, led the Israelites through, and then let the waters return to their place, drowning Pharoah’s soldiers (Exodus 14).

2) Naaman, not even a believer at the time, and stricken with leprosy, followed the advice of a young Jewish servant girl and visited Elisha, who instructed him how to be healed, and he was (2 Kings 5:1-19).

3) When Elisha and his servant were surrounded by an enemy army, God sent an army of angels to rescue them. Elisha had to ask God to allow his servant to be able to see the army. (2 Kings 6:15-19)

6) Moses, although murdering someone in anger, eventually became the person who led the Israelites out of Egypt. (Exodus 2:11-15)

7) David, though having committed adultery and indirect murder, repented and was “a man after God’s heart.” (Acts 13:22)

8) A woman who had had five husbands, and living with a sixth man, had a deep encounter with Jesus. (John 4:1-30, 39-42)

9) Mary Magdalene who had had seven demons, was healed by Jesus (Mark 16:9)

So, pray that God will show you how to allow Him to change your heart and be willing to receive Him.

Blues assignment

[For a Music assignment, we had to write some Blues lyrics, so here are mine.
Hope you can imagine it to a blues rhythm. I was imagining myself as a young
woman again, not knowing how to deal with aggressive men.]

———————————————————————————–

[Parentheses indicate speech]

I’m leavin’ the city, gonna find me a country home,
(You know) I’m leavin’ the city, gonna find me a country home,
You know the city ain’t so pretty; it’s just got me down.

You know, it just got too crowded; people all around.
You know, it just got too crowded; people all around.
No place for a girl to breathe, and they all clownin’ around.

‘Course when I got to the country, things were just as bad.
‘Course when I got to the country, things were just as bad.
What’s a girl to do? — all the men are mad.

Well, I’m back in the city; nowhere else to go (don’t seem to be).
Well, I’m back in the city; nowhere else to go (right now).
Just ask God to take control; and I’ll be heaven bound.

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