My Sinful Heart ~ NaPoWriMo (Day 17)

Andy Oldham:

This post is too profound not to share with all of you! I pray it will hit you in the heart with the same intensity it did for me! Blessings to all of you this Easter week! He is ALIVE!

Originally posted on The Sanctuary of My Heart:

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I feel Him set His eyes towards me
Offering the safety of His wings.
He holds the truth that shall set free;
My sinful heart rejects these things.

He comes to sweep this temple clean~
Create in me a house of prayer.
Wanting to purge what comes between,
My sinful heart seems not to care.

I eat the bread and drink the wine;
I sense the sin I can’t deny.
The kiss upon His cheek is mine;
My sinful heart shouts, “Crucify!”

Upon the cross, I see His tear;
His agony no one relieves.
Our eyes meet, and I see so clear;
My sinful heart weeps and believes.

Outside the tomb I sit and cry;
Emotions fill me to the brim.
He is not here! He did not die!
My sinful heart belongs to Him!

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NaPoWriMo 2014 

~ Day 17  ~

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Poetry:…

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One Delicious Memory

Chocolate Pie! Nothing Better!

Chocolate Pie!
Nothing Better!

     Simpson was my most favorite town to live in while growing up. Anderson, IN was the second but that is for another memoir. Simpson, to this day, is a quiet little town in the middle of nowhere. Located in Vernon Parish Louisiana, the population remains around five-hundred. Dad was called there to pastor one of two hopeful congregations. This particular memoir will not describe all the memories of those days lived in this delightful place. This is simply an excerpt from those pages.
Back-in-the-day as we say in 2014, pastors invited other pastors, evangelist, or guest preachers to come to their church for week-long revivals. I enjoyed them for one particular reason. Food! Yup, that’s right. The county folk love to shower the guest minister with food, and especially sweets. Now I was blessed to carry extra weight as a child—I still am. I guess it was occasions like this that added a few more pounds.
I was nine years old in the summer of 1959. The evangelist was Bill Livingston. He was a tall and slender man with a perfect head of white hair. Unlike my Dad who had little hair, his was combed to perfection with Brylcream (“a little dab’l do ya”). He had been a missionary, somewhere, I don’t know where, and was now speaking for a week in our church. Best of all he was going to stay at our house—in my room.
I sat on the front porch patiently waiting. For what you asked? Food, of course. The townspeople would gradually start bringing plates and bowls of butter beans, cornbread, and sweet potatoes. Fresh beef one day, pork chops the next. Sometimes a little venison would come as a welcome surprise. Oh my, I could not begin to describe the amount of food coming in. My job was to be the scout. Of course I created the position; it was all mine. Being the scout meant I got to greet our neighbors and receive bowls and platters of food. While they stood and talked to Dad and Reverend Livingston I continued to the kitchen with the vittles. Though not a written job description secret agent was apart of the task. We had a guest and it was my job to protect him from harm and see just what everyone brought. We sure didn’t want Reverend Livingston to get sick now did we? I was really looking for one singular dish among one particular category of food.
Sweets galore! Yum! Lemon pie (yuck). Coconut pie, well okay. Chocolate pie, where was it? There was never a chocolate pie. I was hurt. I was devastated that someone, anyone, would not bring this guest speaker a chocolate pie. Smile. Day after day I grew weary. Scouting was no longer any fun. No chocolate pie…no chocolate p…no choc….six days and disappoint arrived. I had given up hope until the last day of the revival. I just knew the neighbors were saving the best for last. Before church, during church and after church the plates arrived covered and ready for my inspection. Still, no chocolate pie. Disillusionment accompanied by dejection and annoyance set in.
That last Sunday evening I sat in church listening to the last sermon. I could only think of one thing and I knew it was not going to happen, until…well…the sermon was over. Bill Livingston began to thank everyone for such loving hospitality. The welcome was great; the responses to his messages each evening were amazing.
His last words were, “I cannot begin to tell you how incredible the food was at each night.” He went on and on about it. He made the congregation chuckle when he said he had gained ten pounds. The real laughter came with his last statement. “I need you to do me a favor please. Andy has looked at the delicious food you brought each night. He was also disappointed every single day that there was never a chocolate pie. Will someone please bake Andy a chocolate pie this week?”
The entire church broke into laughter. I was on the floor and under the pew. His words showered me more attention than I have ever had and it was no drizzle either. I was drenched in torment and pesterin’ for weeks. Oh, you ask, did anyone bring a chocolate pie? Well, of course, five of them—that week! Yes in deedy, I made myself sick on chocolate pie and I didn’t mind one little bit. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

© Copyright 2014

     One more word. I hope you enjoyed One Delicious Memory. It is written from my memoirs. This will be my last post for some time. I have so much writing I want to do and finish and just don’t seem to have the time to do so. I want to target on my memoirs. There are two writing task I feel the good Lord has given me as well. I need to focus on all of these. I must say this blogging thingy is amazing. I have met some wonderful people here and I will carry you in my heart always. Thank you for following and blessing this simple old man and for the undeserved blessings you have bestowed upon me with your comments and love. Blessings to you all!

Love,
lil’ol’me

Living With Regret?

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Have you ever done anything you regret? Oh come on, you know you have; we all have. Recently, in my memoir club we challenged each other to pick one of those regrets and write about it. I want to share that with you here.

“I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail.
And when you have turned back,
strengthen your brothers.”
Luke 22:32 (NIV)

When I think of what I regret most, my first inclination is to bring all the negative aspects of my past to surface and choose one that is the most memorable in the graveyard of dishonor. I ask myself, is it good to open old wounds and slice through the scar tissue of anguish and compunction of these unfortunate decisions? If I must walk through this byproduct of life to winnow the chaff from the wheat I will do so with a contrite heart as I have learned that to dwell on these things is to once again relive them in condemned silence. I cannot bring myself to agonize and grieve over the most indelible and disheartening of regrets so I will share just one small detail of being a sixteen year old boy. To bring this account to the forefront of today I will choose to make it an affirmation and remind myself as to the good that has come from it.

If you were to ask my family they would tell you that as a teenager I was never one to think things through before acting on impulse. Like any teenager I loved to spend money. When the opportunity to leave my first job as a chicken breader at KFC and be a stock boy at Madden Drug Store came along I jumped at it.

Two blocks from the store was a Pentecostal Bible College. Men dressed very nice and the ladies wore long dresses and piled their hair on top of their heads. I could not, for the life me, understand why a woman would wear no makeup and have such a heavy head of hair. I was about to find out.

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One of the ladies came to work with me and we hit it off pretty well including joking around with each other. One day I asked about her makeup and, why she didn’t wear any. She told me that her faith did not allow her to wear it. So, I took the opportunity to ask about her hair. She informed me that it has never been cut or even trimmed and, yes, it did become quite heavy sometimes as well as hot in the summers, and that it, too, was a part of her faith.

I was puzzled but accepted her explanation and went about stocking. One day we were behind the counter moving some things around when she bent over. I had a pair of scissors in my hand and when I saw her long hair the impulse to cut a piece of it was irresistible, so I did.
She snapped around and I handed her a lock of hair with a smile. Her eyes filled with the mercury of naked despair. Fear blended with a deep, red flushed face and merged with the anguish in her eyes.

“What have you done?” She shouted.

The grin on my face turned to confused melancholy. I couldn’t answer as I really did not believe it was that big of a deal. It was only a joke. She ran to the back of the store in tears, talked with the pharmacist and left. Several days passed before we worked together again. This separation gave me time to reflect on what I had done. I determined that I was not only stupid, but inconsiderate. I put my funny antics ahead of her personal and spiritual welfare. I had really hurt someone deeply without consideration of her faith. I felt like a jerk! I was a jerk!

When she returned to work I walked up to her and apologized to her. You know what? She hugged my neck. Tears rolled down her face. She looked me in the eyes and smiled. “I have prayed for you Andy, and I forgive you.” (Luke 22:32)

WoW! There is a profound lesson here. It is found in Christ forgiveness of Peter. He prayed for Peter. He strengthened Peter through that prayer. He taught Peter a lesson through that prayer—through that forgiveness. He taught Peter to turn back to what he had been taught and move on from that mistake and not hold on to the regret. He taught Peter to encourage others and strengthen them, “…And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

You see, this young college student did the same thing. She prayed for me. She forgave me. She strengthened me. While I am human and remember such stories as this one, I have moved on—strengthened.

Though so long ago, this regret follows my every step and has become a thorn in my side. Each time I see a Pentecostal woman with no makeup and long hair, I am reminded of my apathy for someone who did not deserve my ignorance and careless actions. For even though our faith is different we serve the same loving God.

“There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord”
(1 Corinthians 12:5).

I could go on and on about regrets and what we as Christians should or could do to handle them. I want to leave this message with you however and just ask a simple question.

Can you move on?

God has made the way for you today if you will follow His path. Turn back and when you do strengthen your brothers!

Blessings!

Grandpa, you’re just an old fuddy-duddy! – (Lauren, age 4)

Andy Oldham:

Saw this on Christian Blessing Blog! Hope you enjoy it. Please feel free to send me your stories like this as well!

Originally posted on ChristianBlessings:

Last week my two granddaughters were here for a visit. Grandkids are why we let our own children live, I think! The greatest title and job in the entire world is that of GRANDPA! (sorry ladies).

The younger, Lauren (age 4) wanted me to play Barbie with her. Now, Lauren is very insistent that some toys are boy toys and some are girl toys. So I asked her if grandpa, being a boy and all, should play with Barbies.

“Grandpa, you’re just an old fuddy-duddy, ” Lauren exclaimed.

“Lauren, what’s a fuddy-duddy?” I asked.

“I dunno”

“Then why did you call me a fuddy-duddy?”

“’cause grandma said you are.”

Well, I can’t argue with that!

So, I played with Barbies. But I got to be a prince!

Life is good, especially with the blessing of grandkids!

Shalom, Art

Alive in The Word

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Farewell MS Jane

Ken & Keli Oldham with their precious children Grace, Zeke, and Titus

Ken & Keli Oldham with their precious children Grace, Zeke, and Titus

I am taking a moment to present an important part of my family to you this morning. Ken Oldham is my nephew. His wife Keli and their three children, Grace, Zeke, and Titus are all missionaries in Egypt. Not only do they serve in Egypt but all over the Middle East.  God has not only protected them but has greatly blessed them. His grandfather, and my Dad, was a beacon for Ken’s direction in the ministry. While Dad was alive he taught so much to Ken and Keli about ministry. The result was that when Ken turned 39 he went on the Mission Field at God’s calling. The really neat thing is that it was the same age my Dad took us to British Guiana on his first missionary assignment.

One of Ken’s most recent blog post blessed me beyond measure. I had to stop and think about the legacy I was leaving for my children and grandchildren. Her name was MS Jane. She never went to Egypt. No her ministry was right here, at home. As you read Ken and Keli’s farewell letter you will begin to understand what a minister she was. Take the time to reflect on your own heart and ministry  as you read it. Remember that when we are able we all can retire from earthly toils–we NEVER retire from God’s work and His plan for our life. Let me know your thoughts.

Farewell Ms Jane

Posted: 14 Mar 2014 03:03 PM PDT

Moments ago, i learned of Ms Jane Bradford’s passing from this life to the next.  I can’t help but take a moment to reflect on our relationship.

Ms Jane was like no other.  

I am sure we met at some state event before, probably initiated by her to, no doubt, discern my proximity to the Doug and Dale Oldham whom she knew well and greatly admired.  But I remember her first greeting of me at the Ryan’s Steakhouse in Decatur at a Caleb Club lunch held there with the intent of meeting Keli and I who were candidating at the Sixth Avenue Church of God that weekend.  She was enthusiastic to meet me and eager to make sure we knew her.

I think she called me “son” in that first meeting, and apologized for it then as she would often do.  Ms Jane never married and had no children; though she claimed she used the term “son” because I was so much younger than she, there really couldn’t be a higher term of honor from her to me.

Ms Jane could scold and confront me like a mother.  For dressing inappropriately as a pastor, and pointing out how much better the more respectable pastors would dress.  For challenging risky decisions that were sure to ruffle feathers.  Or for dozens of other unique conversations we would have.  She would later admit that it would drive her nuts that I really did have a good reason for everything that I did or didn’t do and that it just wasn’t a matter of youthful carelessness that needed elder wisdom and correction.

She would always compliment me in some backhanded way; “you might become a preacher yet,” she would say after a sermon she would like, perhaps to prevent me from getting a big head.  

Ms Jane was quite the musician and passionate about the organ and hymns.  Changes in church music were always a source of discussion and controversy between her and me.  I truly loved to watch Ms Jane play the organ because it was like watching a person on a time machine–every melody seemed to transport her to another time and place, and the smile on her face told me she was home, wherever & whenever that time and place was located.

Now with these previous comments, you may think I disliked Ms Jane, which couldn’t be farther from the truth.  I loved and sincerely liked Ms Jane, though no one was really sure why. 

It wasn’t because we both loved the Church of God because we loved it for different reasons; she loved it for what it was, often lamenting over all that was lost in either the passing of friends or great preachers, and saddened over any change from the historical.  I love the Church of God for what it can be, not denying the good of the past but rather hopeful that positive changes can be made to make for an even better future.  We would talk about these different perspectives, even occasionally agreeing.

I liked Ms Jane because she was passionate in her conviction and willing to be a risk-taker.  She didn’t just believe something, she would share it I a letter to the editor, speak up in a town meeting or at city hall, or even make a homemade sandwich sign and stand at a busy intersection to get her message out there.  I didn’t often agree with her messages, but I admired her passion to take the risks to share her belief.

I liked Ms Jane because she was a servant.  She served neighbors, the church, and strangers.  She volunteered to clean bathrooms when funding for janitors was low; she was a regular in the Angel Food program, she’d fund-raise or network for any cause, and she would do whatever was asked.  She and I served together as regulars in leading a worship service for a local nursing home.  She tried so hard to relate in the children’s outreach program though she couldn’t have been more different in background to most of those kids.  She knew those kids needed Jesus, and if she could contribute, she would do it.

I liked Ms Jane because even though she disagreed with me, she respected me enough not to be disagreeable in attitude, to affirm the relationship before and after each confrontation, and to always confront me directly instead of through some manipulation, power play, or word-of-mouth gossip trail.  I never wondered where I stood with Ms Jane.

If she didn’t tell me first, she typed it first and requested a meeting–yes, Ms Jane had and used an old type-writer for her correspondence.  She had an aversion to technology and may have never sat at a computer nor held a smart phone.  Emails would be sent to the Maples and they would graciously print her a copy.  She often said that some of these new ideas that used these “gizmos” were a part of the greater things that Jesus said we would one day do in His name.

I liked Ms Jane because the honesty led to great vulnerability with me.  Because she knew I patiently loved her even in the midst of our controversies, she respected me.  She even trusted me: with feelings of hope and sadness, question and doubts, and allowed me the opportunity to serve her in times of embarrassing need.

Ms Jane couldn’t be prouder of us than when we announced the end of our pastorate to serve the Church globally.  She lamented losing her relationship with us, but she rejoiced with our opportunity to serve in Egypt.  Having traveled to Egypt, she shared several pictures with us from her journey, as well as her memories.  She prayed for us, of that I have no doubt.  She gave to us when she could and she wouldn’t let us refuse the gift no matter how much we knew she needed it.  Truth be told, at a moment when I was uncertain that she would be able to make it any longer, I confessed that we were likely to be leaving the church for Egypt–that’s right 6th Ave, outside of family, Ms Jane knew at least 6 months in advance.  

In this latest wave of difficulty, we had to keep informed from afar; we couldn’t walk these steps with her, not this time.  We had hoped to see her again this summer, hoping one more miraculous recovery would lead to a happy reunion on this side of heaven.  But it was not to be.

Ms Jane’s faith has been made sight today.

Me Jane, I’m sorry I wasn’t there to kiss you goodbye.  I look forward to our next talk, though starting the conversation will be harder because you won’t be able to criticize my clothes ;). We’ll have much to agree on one day soon.

I’m sure a gracious and loving Heavenly Father had a new organ waiting for her; He likely watched and listened with joy as He watched her sit down to play a classic hymn, just the way that it was written.  Except The Lord will not see what I used to see–that heavenly organ won’t be a time machine–the smile on Ms Jane’s face is no longer longing for another time and place. No, the smile on and Jane’s face today is because she arrived there, right where she belongs.

If you would like to contact Ken and Kelli and bless them with your prayers in this world of uncertain safety, here is their information:

http://oldham-servant.blogspot.com/

~ Or ~

http://chogmissions.org/oldham

 “Our dead are never dead to us, until we have forgotten them”

George Elliot

 

 

Farms Don’t Have Dinosaurs

I don't like what I am hearing!

I don’t like what I am hearing!

“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching,

 but having itching ears they will accumulate

 for themselves teachers to suit their own passions.”

(2 Timothy 4:3; ESV)

I heard a prodigious scream. It meant one of the children had been hurt, or was about to be. After dodging a yellow Tyrannosaurus rex flying into the hallway, I arrived in their room to discover that a death threat had, for the moment, not yet been executed; no blood was splattered on the wall. Whew! As with most siblings’ perpetual disagreements, this squabble had circumvented toddler-aged common sense and stuck its nose in the middle of a normally quiet Saturday morning.

Traditional Farm Animals

Traditional Farm Animals

~VS~

Non-Traditional Farm    Animals

Non-Traditional Farm Animals

My youngest and more traditional son was playing farm. He had his cows, horses, and chickens lined up inside the plastic-fenced corral next to the barn.  His older brother is a bit more creative and decided he would bring a colorful array of plastic dinosaurs to the farm. So, without asking or even discussing the idea, he proceeded to place the prehistoric icons right in the middle of the corral. After all, the more animals the more fun they would have, right? It would only benefit the farm.

In revisiting this nostalgic flashback, I realized that by the time I had reached their room a great battle over right and wrong had already emerged. Delaying intervention meant an even wider division between the two. Neither was willing to compromise on their definition of playfully correct. Each child blamed the other for his ignorance of how a real farm should look. It seemed that both were really angry and bitter, ready to leave and find a new farm where they are welcome, a farm where their lil’ ol’ hearts and ears could be tickled pink with affirmation of their correctness. A teaching moment had arrived, and I’d used the opportunity to teach the boys to understand that, though new ideas do break tradition, they are not necessarily wrong, and that even though it may be a better idea, you shouldn’t force it on someone without explanation or discussion. His brother wasn’t getting rid of the farm; he just wanted to add some animals.

There are times when getting two young children to understand each others point of view requires vigorous effort. Over the years I have discovered that it’s just as hard to get adults to understand each others points of view if they are unwilling to listen.

God’s people, the Jews, had become traditionalist, handing down from each generation different ideas of how to worship. They propagated oral laws to help define God’s written Law so men could better understand how to live more righteously.

The Word said to “Remember the Sabbath, to keep it holy.”  Well, just what does keeping it holy mean? The high Priest and other leaders took it upon themselves to define ways to keep it holy. One example was that if you took over 400 steps on the Sabbath you were working, and therefore, not keeping the Sabbath holy (I don’t know who took the time to count the steps but that sounds a bit like work itself).

Though they meant well, through the centuries, they created a self-righteous pattern that led them away from God.  Now these Oral Laws became the way of salvation through ones ability to not only keep God’s revealed and written Law, but the Oral and traditional law as well.

Jesus brought a new paradigm. He came bearing good news.

 “You shall love the Lord you God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”                                                                                                     (Matt.22:37-40)

 Now, to some extent these Oral Laws sound silly, but are they really? Do we not do the same with our views on the ways things should be done today? Jesus did not propose getting rid of the farm, or the Law. He simply reemphasized what the Law always said: Love your God with your total being. In other words wrap your arms, legs, heart, soul and mind around a loving God just as tight as you can and never let go. And the new law was to love your neighbor just as much as you do yourself. Notice He placed self, last.

Jesus wasn’t telling us that when disagreements arise we need to accept others’ ideas simply as a way of saying we love each other. Neither was he saying we need to see those who disagree as unloving. In society’s new world view, I believe they call it, tolerance? But then that is polemic for another post so I’ll save it.

Do nothing from factional motives [through contentiousness,

strife, selfishness, or unworthy ends] prompted by conceit ‘and’ empty arrogance.

Instead, in the true spirit of humility (lowliness of mind) let each regard the others

as better than ‘and’ superior to himself [thinking more highly of one another that you do of yourselves].                                                                                                                                                                                                                         (Philippians 2:3; Amplified Bible)

If we look at the great and foremost commandment again, we can see that Jesus brought the paradigm back to the beginning of God’s Word. Here he simply reminds us that our very heart, soul and mind should be devoted to God first. We should have a relationship so intimate in prayer and Word that we recognize His guidance over our own. We must desire to know God better. Our soul should be so thirsty for Him we become like a ball of cotton absorbing every ounce. Our mind should hunger for His Word as if we were on the verge of death by starvation.

So, what about division between church members, family and friends?  We don’t need to go back to the time before that childish farm. As Christians, it is time to evaluate ourselves and our congregations with this new example, given by Jesus. It is not a new standard, it is the very one He taught His disciples while in their presence. Are we following that standard and not compromise it away? Maybe it’s time to ask God to point out a few good and faithful saints that will pray with us on a regular basis for an old fashion revival in our congregations. Maybe it’s time to pray until it comes!

“… Whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked                                          nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.”                                              (John 16:23 NIV)

As a member of your congregation revival begins with you. Be encouraged. Stand up, and hold your head high so that those in your congregation are also encouraged.

 

“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement

give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus.”

(Romans 15:5)