Tag Archive: Holy Spirit

The beginning of my aforementioned “fortunately…unfortunately” week was a week ago yesterday, when the computer crashed as I was starting to backup the most recent files. I only lost the recent files, which was regrettable and annoying, but not a major loss. I did not know I lost the files until I took it to the technician. The saga that ensued made the loss of files irrelevant.

I took the computer in on Monday morning. He kept saying he would call me at a particular time, but I had to call him back each time. The last time I called Monday evening he was about to install the operating system. I asked him if he would get the files off of the hard drive first. Meaning no computer for another day.

Tuesday afternoon when I called, the tech ask if I had a flash drive to copy the files to. I drove back up to the store with my external hard drive. Which is when I learned what files were missing. Or so I thought at the time. Suffice it to say, the tech was off on Wednesday which made Thursday afternoon the earliest I would possibly get my computer back.

Which was maddening. Our middle son, Cameron, let me borrow his computer in the meantime. Which helped me get online, pay bills, and so forth. But without the programs I needed, I could do little else. I was still in limbo as to whether they would be able to retrieve my files from the hard drive or not.

Trying to concentrate on writing was more difficult than usual. My mind kept wandering,  thinking of software I would have to replace or find the installation disk for. Thinking of files I was not sure were included in my last backup. And simply feeling completely out of sorts because my routine had been upended and thrown into the corner behind the waste basket.

Of course I was praying. Even so, I was not sure God, other than being with me through the Holy Spirit and his grace, could provide digital assistance. I did, however, feel the moments of comfort – letting me know God was with me, regardless. Yet the situation dragged on.

I finally got my computer back and re-installed most of the programs. Which extended the period of feeling out of sorts with no control. Hours upon hours of waiting for files to load and  updates to run. Having to restart my computer for the changes to take effect and wait for even more updates to run.

Everything seems to be loaded and running at the moment. At least until I think of some other program I no longer have and need to load again. There was one odd thing though. I was going through the file containing  what the technician retrieved from the hard drive. I figured if there was nothing in some of the files, I might as well delete them. Fortunately, I started with an insignificant file.

When I hit delete, I found myself waiting for the computer to delete thousands of files that were not supposed to be there. Which would explain why they could not find anything on the hard drive after he had transferred the files. It also leads one to think that the files are potentially retrievable. So after I sufficiently recover from last week’s episode, I’ll find someone who can possible retrieve them. I don’t want to get my hopes up and have them trampled on again any time soon.

But come to think about it, maybe God has gone digital after all.

Peace be with you.

“(JSB* – “And lo, the Lord passed by.”) “Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence.”NRSV – (“a soft murmuring sound.”*)

A week ago last Sunday, our pastor, Kenny Dickson, gave a sermon on 1 Kings 19:1-18. He relayed the story of Ahab, Jezebel, and Elijah. Concerning the above passage, he concluded that God was in the silence and it is in times of silence that we can hear the Lord the loudest. I thoroughly enjoyed his sermon, but while the lay reader was reading the scripture, verses 11 and 12 brought a thought to my mind that deserved returning to at a later time. Which would be now.

With all the disasters that have occurred in the past couple of years, the question – does God bring or cause disasters? – has come up on considerably more than one occasion. I think the two verses above not only play a significant role in Elijah’s story, but also answer the question of “where is God” when natural disasters occur. The term natural is deceptive, not duly taking into account the effect of the human race on the planet. Either way, it refers to the actions of nature over the course of time. But when disasters occur, God is not sitting on a golden throne causing the destruction of his creation to unfold.

I find it interesting that the Jewish Study Bible (JSB) begins the second half of verse 11 – after God tells Elijah to come out of the cave and “stand on the mountain before the Lord” – with “And lo, the Lord passed by.” Without this sentence, the NRSV translation seems to imply that God is not present until the “sound of sheer silence.” Conversely, the JSB translation says “There was a great and mighty wind, splitting mountains and shattering rocks by the power of the Lord…” implying that the Lord was the ultimate cause. The NRSV indicates that the great wind came “before the Lord,” intimating that the Lord was not the cause, just an observer.

On the surface, as far as the plot is concerned, the mighty wind, the earthquake, and the fire – even the sheer silence – are unnecessary. Elijah gave God the same answer to his question “Why are you here?” both before and after the four examples of nature’s force. The sheer silence immediately following the violence of the earth was a sudden, terrifying silence – not knowing what might come next. But in verse 13 we learn that Elijah did not emerge from the cave until “hearing” the sheer silence or upon hearing the soft murmuring sound.

The passage does not give any indication as to whether Elijah was coming out of the cave before the mighty display of nature or not. Certainly he would have stayed in the cave when the “storms” began, regardless. Then, as is stated, he “wrapped his face in his mantle” and walked to the cave entrance. And God asks him the same question. To which, as we have said, Elijah gives the same answer. Then the Lord tells Elijah how to proceed.

So why include verses 11-14 if not to emphasize that the mighty wind, the earthquake, and the fire were not of the Lord. But after the acts of nature – as Pastor Dickson surmised – God could be found in the sheer silence (or the soft murmuring sounds). Which is why “when Elijah heard it,” he came out of the cave – where the Lord was waiting. Quite possibly the Holy Spirit, but the Old Testament did not include the concept.

As a result of free will and “having dominion” over the earth (Gen. 1:26 & 28), the world is to a large extent – and for better or worse – in our hands. And although God created nature, it too has “mind of its own” as it were. How else could God be disappointed in us? Because we let our faith and trust in God falter, not to mention ignoring his gift of grace.

When a natural disaster occurs, it happens “before the Lord,” but the Lord is not in the disaster (he did not cause it). But after the disaster, depending on the circumstances, the Lord appears in the sheer silence or soft murmur. Which is when we come out of the cave and listen to the Lord. He helps us get over the trauma, gather together as children of God, and move on. The effect of our existence on the earth is, literally, our “cross to bear.” But the Lord is there in the resulting silence, waiting to comfort us and help us persevere.

Peace be with you.

* Jewish Study Bible

The Innovators, a Christian Acappella band, presented a harmonious and spiritual performance in the sanctuary at Christ United Methodist Church, Farmers Branch, on Wednesday, June 1st at 7 p.m. The six young men were visiting Texas from Innercity UMC in Harare, Zimbabwe. Tatenda Sithole, Michael Sithole, Knowledge Radyo, Dzago Chatsama, Marvellas Nhubu, and Leopold Chipatiso filled the sanctuary with their glorious harmonies, illustrating the presence of the Holy Spirit.

In between songs from their CD, such as The Lord’s Prayer and Never Give Up, the men took turns introducing songs and providing background stories. When they decided to bring their musical ministry to the United States, they faced several obstacles. The first obstacle was obtaining visas to leave Zimbabwe, which are difficult to come by. Each attempt required a non-refundable fee of $240 dollars (US). They were denied initially, despite letters of recommendation.

Each time they were denied, they refused to give up. They did not have money, but they had their faith that God is good and their musical talent with which to raise money. In addition to trying to get visas, the Innovators also raise money for their charity which helps to support orphans in Zimbabwe. After several attempts, the Innovators did, indeed, receive one year visas. Then they faced the task of paying for airplane travel to the states. Following many prayers and conversations with Stefany Simmons and others of the Connectional Table, the prayers were answered and the musical group was on their way to Texas.

A few of the songs were sung in the African dialect of Zimbabwe. The audience was told that “you may not understand the words, but you understand the love of God. I don’t know exactly what it means, but I was told the ‘love of God.’” Other songs included a version of Blessed Assurance in both African and English, Thank You, Lord, and Holy Spirit Fill me, Fill Me. Before the conclusion of the concert, the Innovators had the audience dancing in the aisles, singing, sharing praise and welcoming the Holy Spirit.

The tour, which began at Hamilton Prison in Bryan, with shows in College Station, Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio will end with shows in the Corpus Christi area before the group returns to Zimbabwe on June 13th. The congregation of CUMC, along with the love offering taken during the performance, sends their prayers with the Innovators as they continue to use their musical talents to praise the Lord. Thanks be to God for faith as strong as that of the Innovators.

Peace be with you.


Stefany Simmons introduces Innovators

Time of Calamity

A couple of days ago, about 10 a.m., the bottom dropped out, weather-wise. The “sky was crying,” as Stevie Ray Vaughan would sing. It also sounded as if Mother Nature might have some serious issues. Being in the middle of a storm is a little scary, no matter who you are. You may not admit it, but even the strongest among us have their moments.

When it is storming so tremendously outside that the thunder, lightning, and rain on the house is all you hear – even over the tv, radio, or heater. The sun seems to be on sick leave and the sky just gets increasingly darker. If you are having any major life problems at all – and who is not – a serious funk can be one thunder crash away. The all-consuming gloominess that appears to surround you suddenly feels tangible – shrinking around the house like plastic wrap – closing off all exits. That’s how I imagine Qohelet felt when I read certain parts of Ecclesiastes.

“Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to the skillful; but time and chance happen to them all. For no one can anticipate the time of disaster. Like fish taken in a cruel net, and like birds caught in a snare, so mortals are snared at a time of calamity, when it suddenly falls upon them.” Eccl. 9:11, 12.

Everyone has experienced times similar to those mentioned here. But, as I discuss in the book, Qohelet did not have grace and forgiveness of sins as we have. Not to say that God did not give grace to the Israelites or grace their endeavors – the Israelites simply did not see it as grace, per se. The Israelites and people of the Old Testament viewed life in more concrete terms. If life took a bad turn – family, crops, or livestock dying, for example – they must have done something to cause it.

Unfortunately for them, Jesus Christ had not been born yet. Fortunately for us, he has. Through Christ’s life and sacrifice, we not only have God’s grace, but the Holy Spirit and forgiveness of sins. Looking at Ecclesiastes in that light, we can take Qohelet’s view – which is valid even today – mix in grace, the Holy Spirit, and redemption, and ascertain our actions as Christians when we have a tendency to “hate all the toil in which we have toiled under the sun.”

Join me on the journey.

Peace be with you.

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