God Had Me On His Mind When Jesus Was On The Cross

Blog - God Had you on his mind

FROM THE CHURCH HOUSE TO THE STATE HOUSE

Some years ago, in fact, it was during April 2004, God had orchestrated an event in my life that motivated me to volunteer as an Ombudsman for the state of Maryland.  As I look back on this time, I now realize this was just another god-centered means in preparing me to become an international missionary in His service.  For it was while performing in this occupation I learned to communicate with adults with personalities that had limited cognitive skills and attention deficit disorders who had been placed in a semi-institutionalized facility by their family members.

Blog-God had you on his mind State Capitol Bldg

FROM THE STATE HOUSE TO THE OUT HOUSE

These facilities in most cases were private homes or apartment complexes located in regular neighborhoods and licensed by the state.  A private dwelling with multi-purpose rooms and numerous bedrooms could operate their facility as a co-ed unit.  Home owners received rents from their tenants and in return provided housekeeping duties, catered meals, entertainment and in some instances transportation which was required by state law.

The state assigned an Ombudsman to each of these facilities as a mediator to investigate resident complaints, grievances, provide private consultations, reinforce rights and privileges and recommend appropriate strategies necessary in order to resolve any conflicts between parties.  (The institution of the Ombudsman was first created in Sweden more than 200 years ago.  Ombudsmen normally perform duties as an intermediary between the constituent and its facility, owner or organization.)

Blog - God had you Large House

FROM THE OUT HOUSES TO THE LANDLORD’S HOME

The spiritual lessons I learned did not come from the adult residents themselves who lived in the neighborhood home where I was assigned, but from the home owners, their employees who cooked or did housecleaning, the family members who visited the residents and the local entertainers who provided recreation.

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FROM THE LANDLORD’S HOME  INTO THE TENANT’S HEART

Now that we have gone full circle in our introductions, allow me to introduce you to Jane (not her real name) who resided in the very first home I was assigned to.  Jane eventually became one of my favorite tenants whom I got to visit twice monthly.  I used the term “eventually” because my very first visit to this home was kind of weird.  Practically all of the residence were in the early stages of Alzheimer Disease.  Just a few were experiencing limited cognitive skills and/or attention deficit disorders.  In addition, the entire household  exhibited a hostel atmosphere and were not at all enthusiastic about my being there.  (Most landlords see Ombudsmen as spies for the State.)

Needless to say, my first day did not go very well and I began to doubt my ‘honorable’ intentions to volunteer to serve in this capacity.  I envisioned I was on a road to encounter demons.  But later, while reading my bible, I came upon these verses regarding God’s calling, election and hope for my life:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and unto an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.  1 Peter 1:3-4

[Therefore]

“Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD”.  Psalm 31:24

So, in order to adhere to 1st Corinthians 15:58…“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”…I resolved to be spiritually grounded and not  be tossed back and forth by the wind and the waves of life.  So, I hastened to plead the Blood of Jesus over that house and its inhabitants every time I entered into it.

Blog - God had you on his mind senior citizen

MEET ‘JANE’

With the help of the Holy Spirit, I am glad to report that within a short time Jane and the other residents in the home came to respect and trust me.  Soon I established a good relationship with the staff by artistically posting their daily food menus on the kitchen walls with favorable comments from the residents concerning particular dishes they enjoyed eating the most.  With God’s wisdom, I endeared myself to the landlords by taking the residents on short walks around the neighborhood, or sitting with them on the patio and imitating and identifying the sounds of nature we heard.  These exercises and mind games helped to minimize their attention deficit disorders and broaden their cognitive skills and their ability to communicate with one another and their family members.

When the day’s activities also included entertainers, I encouraged them to involve more hands on events such as physically dancing with a tenant as his or her partner in addition to singing songs to them; couching chefs into allowing the tenants to actually prepare and bake certain food items instead of just listening or watching ‘how to’ demonstrations.  I even got one or two residents to allow me to transcribe a portion of their real life’s story or to compose a poem that I later framed and put on display in the residence.  My biggest accomplishment was to convince the landlord to allow dinner wine to be served and dinner guest to be invited on special occasions such as birthdays and holidays.  After all, everyone was of age (although under supervision), and many of them still had personal relationships with people outside of their immediate family members and also desired their company every once in a while.

You can imagine how twice a month, at least, I was on my knees the night before visiting my assigned Ombudsman duty asking the Lord to empower me with His strength, courage, insight, and peace as I operated in His love to carry out my beloved responsibilities for the State of Maryland.

And without fail, God always had a word for me…My child, you were on my mind when My Only Begotten Son was on the Cross.  Your future missionary assignments will always remind you that Greater is He that is within you then he that is within the world.

Scripture Lesson:  “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you (My sister).  I do not give to you as the world gives.   Do not let your heart be troubled and do not be afraid.”  John 14:27    

Click http://www.tgifmasterminds.com every Friday for a new post from the Master’s servant manager…ME!

 

 

 

God Commands That We Show Some Love

Blog God whants us to show love

Have you ever offered hospitality to a total stranger in your home?  And if you can answer ‘yes’ to that question, was that person or persons of the same ethnicity as you are?  How did you entertain them?  Did you serve them a meal?  Did you give them a place to lodge for the night? Did you provide medical assistance?  Or did you just invite them in and listened to their sorrows and needs?

Did you feel comfortable and/or safe in doing what you did because they ‘looked’ like you?  Did you interview them at your front door before you invited them in?  Did you have any idea you were living out the Holy Scripture written in 1 Peter 4:9

“Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.”

 The Greek word (“philoxenia”) is a compound word where we get “phileo” (defined compassionate love) and “stranger”.  If you felt fear and it caused you to slam the door, then you experienced what we call “xenophobia…the fear of strangers.

God has given us a road map to overcome fear that allows us to forfeit our compassion to love our neighbor as thy self.  In fact, it’s actually a two-part commandment:

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”  Matthew 22:36-40

So, now the only question that remains is just who is my neighbor and who is worthy of my compassion and generosity?  The bible says that both friends and your enemies are your neighbors.  And you should help them both, but in different ways.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I tell you:  Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (your enemies).  Matthew 5:43

Since everyone is part of God’s creation and we have pledged to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength we would be liars if we did not also love our neighbor (friend and foe).  And, yes, even though we know that everyone will not go to heaven because of the choices they make, that does not excuse us from exercising our faith and desiring that all God’s people be apostatized to come to accept him.

As for the ‘how’ part of this formula, don’t forget you can also live out this command by going to the person’s house to commune with him.  (Remember Jesus’ house visits to Zacchaeus’ house and Matthew’s house and Mary and Martha’s house? And last but not least, the Good Samaritan’s hospitable work with the wounded man on the roadside.  He took the man to an Inn.)

My final scripture before I share my personal story is found In Romans 8:10, Paul says:

“Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law.”

Poor mother and kids

See the picture of that single mother with her two little kids?  Well, that’s my story of a total stranger who, some 50 years ago, called my phone and asked, no begged, for my help.  She was desperate, despondent, and in total despair.  She told me that she had gotten my phone number from a newspaper’s ‘house for rent’ section.  In that ad I had written I would help people find reasonable houses to rent.

Lisa (not her real name) had overstayed her temporary government housing voucher which had provided her and  her two children with shelter for only three nights in a motel.  She was now sitting out on the curb of that motel along with her meager belongings with no place to go and her two hungry children sobbing.

Without hesitating, I immediately jumped in my car and went to fetch her.  Along the way, I was praying to God and I said, ‘Lord, I don’t have any empty houses at this time.  Where can I put them?  Immediately, I heard an audible voice say, “Put them in your house.  You have two extra bedrooms.”

This was not only a new personal beginning  with my relationship with the Lord, but a scary one at that. Here to fore, I had never allowed total strangers to stay in my home. I always had enough rental properties to place then in at drastically reduced rental rates.

As I approached the motel entrance, I saw an African lady with two tattered children.  Her shoulders were drooped, her head was bowed and her eyes were swollen.  She looked despicable, distraught, disillusioned and depleted.  I introduced my self, loaded her belongings in my car and said, ‘get in’.

As we drove back to my house, I was completely transformed by God.  Instead of asking my new ‘neighbor’ anything about her current condition in life, I said, “I’m going to let you out at my front door.  Here’s my key, take your things in and up to the two bedrooms on the second floor, the one in the middle of the hall and the other one on your left.  You may shower and then get something to eat out of the refrigerator.  I have to go back to work and will be home around 6:00 p.m.  If you steal anything while I am away, you will have to deal with the Lord.  I left them on my front lawn and returned to work.

Fortunately, all went well. Lisa and her children were at the house when I returned.  They had cleaned up, eaten, and were watching TV.  I eventually found them a house, some used furniture and got her registered with the city’s housing department.  She became a member of my church, got a job, enrolled in some courses, and is to this day my friend.

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I want to leave you with a scripture I find helpful when I am confronted with decisions and opportunities to offer hospitality to someone in need, especially total strangers.

Scripture Lesson:  Proverbs 3:5-6 - Trust in the Lord with all your heart He will make your paths straight - Floating Scripture Bible Verse Christian Religious

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God Sent Out A Devine Call For A Man Named Simon

Blog God calls a man named Simon
Simon says, “Show your hands!”

As a little child, my friends and I used to play a very popular game called ‘Simon Says’.  And just in case you also played this game, but have forgotten just how it went, please allow me to refresh your memory by inserting this 2:13 minute Youtube video below:

Video for youtube simon says game

I owe you an explanation here…

You may be wondering why I included this rendition of a child’s game in my blog.  Well, for me, the message analogy and the choice of the man’s name is synonymous with God’s divine purpose.  Both in the child’s game, if Simon did not audibly ‘say’ to perform a particular act, the players should not do it, or would be penalized if they did.  And also in the Bible story about a man named Simon, it is obvious by the godly principals displayed by his wife and at least one son named Rufus, that they certainly obeyed what ever godly instructions Simon gave them.

A little background on Simon’s family…

According to scripture, Simon was married to a devout godly woman, who had been, at some time in her life, a surrogate mother to the Apostle Paul.  For in Paul’s epistle to the Romans after he lays the foundations for the establishment of the church and the grounds for justification by faith, among others, he admonishes the letter recipients to salute Simon’s son Rufus, who is a man chosen in the Lord, and to also salute his mother and mine.  This is a personal reference to that born-again Jewish family which indicates that Paul was extremely close to the son Rufus and his mother (no doubt claiming her as his own). Romans 16:13

Simon had another son named Alexander, who is not included in Paul’s invitation to the people of Rome to pay homage to Simon’s wife and son Rufus.  Never the less, what is ironic is the fact that there are four other Alexanders mention in New Testament scriptures, all of whom opposed teachings on Jesus Christ, and were especially hostel to Paul.  And by the way, the definition of the Greek name Alexandros is ‘a defender of men’…not a defender of God.

So I had a little conversation with God…

I paused while composing this blog just long enough to stealthily (tongue in cheek) invite God to take a little walk with me like he did with Enoch, and exclaim to me why some biblical names remain throughout eternity and other names die out.  In other words, why did he send out a divine call for a man named Simon. Hardly anyone  names their child after those who contended with God; for example, Lucifer or Jezebel or Satan or Devil or Judas.  Yet Thomas, Saul and Delilah are still very popular names of persons who doubted the divinity of the Godhead.

The Holy Spirit nudged me and informed me that I was not ready to embark upon such a topical journey that I was suggesting, but He would share the divine relationship God wanted to have with this particular man named Simon from Cyrene.

First of all, Simon already had so many traits resembling God himself.  Simon was a loving father who had a child that was obedient and who had a serving heart for the church. Like Jesus, Simon presented the Good News and traveled to a distant synagogue in Jerusalem and may have been one of  the “men of Cyrene” who preached the word to the Greeks (Acts 11:20).  Simon was most like Jesus when Jesus became tired, weary and burdened down and Simon was obedient to the divine order of God (at the behest of an authoritative soldier) and carried the cross for our Lord up a hill called Calvary.

Therefore, let our prayer be…

Dear Heavenly Father, whose most dear and beloved Son, as He walked the way of The Cross, did accept the services of Simon of Cyrene to carry his physical burden for Him: please God, grant us each the grace gladly to bear one another’s burdens, for the love of Him who said, “As you did it to the least of these my brethren, you did it to me,” your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for evermore.  Amen

So in closing, yes, I truly do have penetrating conversations with God, but sometimes, when I pose a query that is too lofty for me or that is not in his will, I, too, must become like his Son and say…’not my will but thine be done’.

Scripture Lesson:  The Lord’s Prayer. Our Father, which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, As it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive them that trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, The power, and the glory, For ever and ever. Amen.  Matthew 6:9-13

Click http://www.tgifmasterminds.com every Friday for a new post from the Master’s servant manager…ME!