In an earlier blog (5/23/13) I discussed my observations of the house wrens that were nesting in a bird house attached to our deck. There was much activity by the parents but nothing yet visible. Over the subsequent weeks I began to hear chirping noises every time the parents would fly into the bird house. Finally, the chicks had hatched but still remained unseen. As more time began to pass, the chirping got louder and the frequency of visits by the parents began to decline. One afternoon I decided to stand at a distance and look into the hole and to my surprise I could see the now fully grown chicks crowded in the bird house. I knew that their departure was imminent. Sure enough two days later, I no longer saw the parents. What I did see was the head of one of the chicks sticking out of the bird house. Cautiously it looked around as it saw for the first time the world outside of that bird house. Then slowly but surely it inched its way out until it spread its wings and flew off. This pattern repeated itself with the flight of two more chicks until the bird house was empty. The Spirit began to impress upon my heart the lessons I needed to learn from this experience. What was unseen and had been waited upon with expectation was now a reality. God brought to pass for these birds a new season. They were to leave the old, comfortable, and familiar security of their bird house and fly off into a new world. This is reminiscent of the Abrahamic call in Genesis 12:1 where God told Abraham, "Leave your country, your people, and your father's household and go to the land I will show you." The fact that I observed three birds fly off reminded me of the Trinity, (Father, Son, and Spirit) at work in this situation. I was also reminded that the number three is symbolic in Scripture not only representative of the Trinity but also perfection. Moreover, there are instances in Scripture where the number three proceeds God's preparing to do something special. In the gospel of Luke, chapter 1, after the angel visits Mary he tells her that her cousin Elizabeth is also pregnant in her old age and is going to give birth. At the time Elizabeth is 6 months along in her pregnancy. (Luke 1:36) Mary goes to visit Elizabeth and Luke tells us, "Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home." (Luke 1:56) After John the Baptist's birth, his father Zechariah who had been mute for his disbelief about what the angel told him (Luke 1:18-20) suddenly was filled with the Holy Spirit and began prophesying. (Luke 1:67) John the Baptist then went on to prepare the way for the Messiah. Additionally, Jesus in all of four of the gospels speaks of His impending death and how He would rise again in three days. As predicted Jesus did rise on the third day. The Lord has impressed upon me that after all my struggles trying to use my gifts in pastoral leadership I have now seen the unseen and I am to enter a new season and leave the familiar to venture out and plant a church. Needless to say, like those new chicks cautiously looking out on a previously unseen world, I am anxiously moving forward into the unknown. I don't know what lies ahead of me any more than being able to know where those chicks flew off to. However, observing those three chicks fly off gives me a sense that God is about to do something spectacular in this new season of my life. I have mentioned in the past, one of my favorite devotional books, "Streams in the Desert." The day those chicks, took flight the meditation for that day focused on Moses and how God will move obstacles for His own. I was encouraged by some of what the meditation said, "Never dread any consequence resulting from absolute obedience to His command. Never fear the rough waters ahead, which through their proud contempt impede your progress. God is greater than the roar of raging water and the mighty waves of the sea.....Dare to trust Him! Dare to follow Him! Then discover that the forces that blocked your progress and threatened your life become at His command the very materials He uses to build your street of freedom." (F.B.Meyer) Is God calling you to a new season in your life? Then hear His words to you, "Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:9)
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Two days before Father's Day, a close friend's husband passed away unexpectedly. Needless to say many friends and family were shocked. And of course his wife of 30+ years was devastated. In times like these, the Lord has often impressed upon my heart the need to write a poem as a remembrance that will comfort the family in the days ahead. I share with you what the Spirit inspired me to write as I pray for God's peace upon the Lewis family.
A Tribute to William A. Lewis, Jr.
(October 8, 1932 - June 14, 2013)
I didn’t really know him well,
But there is one thing I can tell,
Bill was a very humble man,
And had so many loving “fans.”
He served his country on distant shores,
Fighting in the Korean and Vietnam wars,
He captured God’s beauty and majesty,
With his gift of photography.
His family he really did adore,
But more than this, he loved the Lord.
Our God, He gave Bill 80 years,
Through joy and sorrow, laughter and tears,
Until at last in mercy sown,
The Lord called Bill to come home.
To capture beauty not with machines,
But glory in visions beyond his dreams,
And loved ones left may yet grieve still,
But there’s peace in knowing God’s loving Bill.
(Rev. Sheree A. Harrington, June 17, 2013)
Monday, June 10, 2013
Lately, I have been struggling with my prayer life. It has become very routinized and somewhat stale. Routines in life often become tiring and at times boring to some degree. I have been preparing for a talk that I will be giving to a caregiver's group on June 20th. When a friend of mine asked me to speak, the counselor part of me was thinking about speaking on grief and loss issues. However my friend, knowing that I am also a pastor asked if I would speak on a topic from the pastoral perspective. She suggested the topic of prayer. Initially I resisted knowing how I was struggling but decided to honor her request. I had purchased a book awhile back entitled, "Ten Ways to Pray: A Short Guide to A Long History of Talking to God" by Dawn Duncan Harrell. I confess I just read the book through when I first bought it and didn't really apply any of what I had read to my life. Nevertheless, I decided that this book may be helpful to the folks to whom I will be speaking. In the book Ms.Harrell gives the history of ten different ways Christians have been praying through church history from very ancient forms to more contemporary. She suggests that by exploring these different forms a person's prayer life could be transformed. The idea is that we are all unique individuals who talk with God according to our needs and what best fits our personalities. A method of praying that we have been using for years because of what we were taught may not be the most helpful in communing with God. In the course of preparing I was drawn to a particular method called "Music Prayer." I have always loved music and can be moved by it especially in a church setting. I have roots in a more charismatic form of worship which draws me at times to experiencing God in a powerful way. In the appendix of her book, Dawn Duncan Harrell gives a brief step by step process of the methods of prayer that can be easily applied. I decided to try the "Music Prayer" and to my delight, I was drawn into a deeper connection to God. I should not be surprised as music is a very important part of worship in the Scriptures. In fact King David considered music such an important part of the worship experience that he put certain groups of men in charge of the temple music. (1 Chronicles 6:31-46). Many of the Psalms encourage and exhort God's people to extol the Lord with song. (Psalm 27:6; Psalm 95:2) In fact Psalm 150 which concludes the Psalter is a glorious fanfare of praise and music. Even in the New Testament after the disciples shared the final Passover meal with Jesus what we call the Last Supper, Matthew tells us, "When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives." (Matthew 26:30) In Revelation, as John is describing the fall of Babylon there is a lament, "The music of the harpists and musicians, flute players and trumpeters will never be heard in you again." (Revelation 18:22) God appears to enjoy music so much that He did not relegate it solely to humanity but also other created things like birds. Even God Himself sings over us. (Zephaniah 3:17) I encourage you to find what form of prayer draws you closer to God. You may be surprised to discover that you have the music in you too!