It had been a quiet morning reflecting on God’s goodness. I had just finished reading the devotional in My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers for September 6.
He compared our lives to a river and how out of us will flow the rivers that will bless to the uttermost parts of the earth. Commenting about how God has nourished us to bless others, he made this statement: “God rarely allows a soul to see how great a blessing he is.”
Smiling I thought, “Oh, but He did that for my husband John – not once but several times in the past few years.”
John retired from the preaching ministry in 2005. He has Parkinson ’s disease and his voice was so low he had trouble speaking. Serving churches was a part of his multi-faceted ministry. Counseling has always been his strong suit. Working with youth energized him.
A celebration of thirty-five years of ministry was planned. Many came from former churches he served, the college where he worked and also the youth facility Teen Ranch in Marlette, MI where he mentored. Memories flooded our minds and washed over our hearts as several shared what a blessing John’s life and ministry meant to them.
Laughter came in waves and tears streamed down our faces as they shared. Precious people who God allowed to splash in the river of living water flowing from John’s life.
Many more encounters with the flow of ministry have occurred for John in the past few years. Thank you Lord for the confirmation for John to see how great a blessing he has been and he is.
Let the river continue to flow.
When picking up our book order for Shekinah Lane, I was privileged to see John still ministering. I was signing the contract for the printing of the books and needed to ask John’s opinion on the order. He had just loaded the boxes of books in the car and came back into the office.
He came in as I was signing the papers, and spoke to the young lady helping me. “Congratulations on your baby.”
She just beamed and told John her due date, the baby was a boy and everything was progressing well. He told her he would be praying for her and the baby. She delighted in his interest in her.
Not me, I was all business as usual as I discussed the printing of the book and placing it on line. Still smarting from my last encounter with a lady with a belly – when I asked her when her baby was due, she said, “He is sixteen months old.” Ouch, I won’t do that again.
So typical of John and how he showed genuine concern for people and knew how to engage them in conversation.
Song of Songs 2:10 New International Version (NIV)
10 My beloved spoke and said to me, “Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, come with me.
My beloved did not use those exact words but he made his desire known. He thought God wanted us to move to a remove part of Arkansas to work on a boy’s ranch. He wanted me to leave my comfortable life – three bedroom brick house with fenced in yard for our boys, a large church congregation that loved us and so much more. They refinished the floors in the parsonage and painted my kitchen cabinets green. Did I mention we had a three bedroom brick house?
God blessed me with a very similar house that I gave up over three years earlier when we began this journey of following the Shekinah Glory of God. We did not have a cloud by day or a fire by night, but God had led us out of our comfort zone to follow Him in ministry.
I did not want to go. Being the spiritual person I assumed myself, I agreed to pray about it. My Utmost for His Highest was and is my favorite devotional. Beginning February 10 through February 18, it seemed that Oswald Chambers had my number.
Is your imagination of God starved? Talked about idols (my house and those beautiful floors?)
Feb. 11 – is your hope in God faint and dying? Bringing every thought into captivity to begin with –
then about Feb. 16th the arise mantra kicked in.
Feb. 16 Arise from the dead – talked about when the Spirit of God comes in and says, in effect, “buck up,” we find that the initiative is inspired. Life comes after we do the bucking up.
Feb. 17th – Arise and eat – example of Elijah being depressed – arise and obey do the natural thing.
Then Feb. 18th – Rise, let us be going. Trust God absolutely and pray on the ground of his redemption.
Ok, God, I don’t understand it, I don’t like it, I don’t even think it is best for us, but you are asking me to trust you. So, I started packing.
Rise, let us be going – Matt. 26:46
Jesus speaking to his disciples who went to sleep while he was in agony in Gethsemane. They were in despair and could not lift themselves out.
Are in you despair? Maybe you didn’t have to move to Arkansas and leave your beautiful house.
Maybe your circumstances are much worse.
That relationship that has fallen apart?
The diagnosis that came out of the blue?
Your husband’s job – your promotion?
Disappointment in a child, a spouse, a parent?
We despair when we keep our eyes on the situation and take them off our faithful Father God. He will never leave us or forsake us. He will never take his eyes off of us.
Psalm 121:5-8 5The Lord watches over you – the Lord is your shade at your right hand; 6the sun will not harm you by day; nor the moon by night. 7The Lord will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life; 8the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.”
Yes, God did have his eyes on us and many more moves and adventures filled our lives with joy. We continue to celebrate the joy of the Lord in our lives.
After all, her pictures are displayed on the big screen. Pictures ranged from kindergarten to her wedding, small children, family group photos, the wedding of her oldest daughter and then the first grandchild to an intimate scene with her husband as her health was waning.
Not the theatre marquee for this saint but on the big screen in the sanctuary, the one that holds words of songs and Scripture for Sunday services. She would be embarrassed with all the focus on her as the lines of family and friends streamed past her five precious daughters, only son and loving husband. This celebration is of the life of a godly lady who lived a quiet, reverent life.
Reeda Fay was known as a woman of faith and prayer and a proclaimer of God’s truth from His word. She lived in the Shekinah Glory of God. She was of the old school, “God said it and I believe it!” Continue reading Celebration
Psalm 102:18 “Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the Lord.”
The wispy peacock feathers on the teal green background of my Bible cover brought back many memories as I prepared for communion Sunday morning in 2012 at House of Prayer Church in Blairsville, Georgia. The words Faith – Hebrews 11:1 on the cover inspired my own hall of faith recollections.
The peacock feathers reminded me of a favorite flower arrangement. A wall décor with flowers, grapes, and the peacock feathers in the background mounted on a green burlap matted frame was my first purchase from a Home Interiors party. My favorite colors of green and teal permeated the arrangement. This attempt at decorating our first home in Marietta, Georgia in 1966 and establishing some permanence in my life was short lived.
As a “military brat” I had never lived more than three years in one place. John and I married in 1965. We planned to live in our nice three-bedroom brick ranch style house for many years.
I felt guilty our house was nicer than any my parents had lived in. I also mused that we would never have sad stories to tell our children about how difficult it was in the early years of our marriage. My false guilt and regret were replaced with many adventures to share with family and friends.
My husband’s surrender to the call to full time Christian ministry initiated many moves and changes in our then idyllic life. Each time we moved I was careful to pack the peacock arrangement to prevent damage. After many U-Haul adventures it was reduced to just the peacock feathers and the flowers. Not sure what happened to the grapes or the burlap frame – could be our small boys played with the grapes and the frame was used for a bulletin board?
In our first church in 1971 at Shelby, NC where John was serving as pastor of Shelby Missionary Methodist Church, the peacock feathers coordinated perfectly with the green cabinets in my kitchen. The church board was so wonderful about remodeling the parsonage to meet our needs. They asked me if I wanted the kitchen cabinets painted and I said, “Yes, green!”
The green background on my Bible drew me back to the present communion service where my eyes fell on the word Faith in large letters and in smaller letters Hebrews 11 surrounded with peacock feathers. I always placed my Bible on my lap during communion to avoid spilling the juice. Quoting the verse from Hebrews 11:1 in my mind kept me focused on preparing myself for receiving the elements that represent the body and blood of Christ. The pianist played a medley of hymns about the blood of Christ and my mind again wandered to other services when I was privileged to participate in The Lord’s Supper.
One service was in 1966 at the First Evangelical Methodist Church in Marietta, Georgia when Dr. Neil Anderson was serving communion. He quoted the words from many hymns like “There is a Fountain Filled with Blood”; “Nothing but the Blood of Jesus: and “There is Power in the Blood.”
The pattern of serving communion in that church was for the congregation to kneel at the altar. When the altar was filled others would wait for the next time. Sometimes it would take several tables as our pastor, Rev. Frank Ray referred to each group. This gave each person time to pray and also the pastor prayed for them as he served communion.
The order of service for communion changed for us over the years. When John began his ministry he followed the traditional method of serving wafers and juice in communion cups. Depending on the size of the congregation most were served while they sat in their pews.
Then we were exposed to the pattern of serving communion by intinction (receiving a piece of consecrated bread or wafer, dipping it in wine or grape juice, and consuming it) through the United Methodist Church and the Emmaus Community. Walk to Emmaus is a unique weekend when participants receive spiritual instruction, insight and inspiration. John and I both participated in Emmaus as pilgrims and later as servants.
Our experience with the Emmaus community was very special and John decided to serve communion by intinction in his churches. The last church he served was Confidence United Methodist Church in Blairsville, Georgia. The people, though reluctant at first, responded with great awe. One lady was so overwhelmed she cried and said “I felt as if the Lord Jesus was serving me like one of the disciples at the Last Supper.”
John served communion to our family shortly after the birth of our first grandchild, Chalonda. I read the book “I’ll Love You Forever,” by Robert Munsch – a children’s book about the progression of love from parent to child and then child to parent in the aging years. We all cried and realized this would also happen in our family in time. One year John served communion to our annual family Christmas morning gathering.
Our youngest son’s wedding was another special communion celebration. Tim and his wife Shelley were married in the Susan B. Harris Chapel on the campus of Young Harris College in 1999. John conducted the wedding ceremony and then he and Dr. David Murphy, Shelley’s Dad, served communion in the intinction style. Several of our friends from Michigan attended the wedding and when they came to receive communion my heart swelled with joy to see them share this special occasion with us and at the same time celebrate our faith through the thanksgiving for the sacrifice of our Savior.
As the deacons passed out the wafers and the grape juice that morning in 2012 my thoughts returned to the service and I repeated the words I heard a precious saint say many years ago during a communion service – “Jesus saves me, Jesus saves me now.”
This simple phrase has eternal implications and serves as a reminder to me that I have nothing to do with this precious ceremony but to receive my Lord’s sacrifice of his body and blood for my sins and be grateful. Also, I am grateful for the memories of many times of participating in this expression of faith.
Now the peacock feather décor from early marriage days has returned in the form of my Bible Cover and my faith is still offering me hope. The distraction was a blessing to help me concentrate on the meaning of that verse Hebrews 11:1 – “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
The stories in Shekinah Lanedemonstrate how God has covered us with His feathers and increased our faith as we learned to dwell in his presence. We did not anticipate the adventures God would provide for us in this journey of faith. His Shekinah Glory has covered us, comforted us, and catapulted us into an exciting life of faith.
Our desire is that future generations and those who read our story will experience this Shekinah (the glory of God) – God’s indwelling and presence in their lives and follow Him.
Psalm 91 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers and under his wings you will find refuge, His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
Ephesians 2:22And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
During a recent bout with laryngitis I was reminded of the number of words a woman uses daily versus the number a man uses. Louann Brizendine who wrote The Female Brain concluded that women use 20,000 words per day while men use 7,000. More recent studies do not agree with his findings. But in my house, it is so true.
Only able to whisper for four days was frustrating enough but when your husband is hard of hearing and especially cannot hear a whisper, it was double exasperation. I wrote him notes to communicate. At one point even resorted to charades to get him to “listen” to me.
When John returned from an appointment I was waiting for him to tell me what the doctor said. He conveniently handed me a hand written note from the doctor (she is female) telling me how she changed his medications. Since I usually accompany him to visits she knew I would be interested in new information.
At lunch in a restaurant, I tried to get John to talk to me by motion with my fingers. He said, “I don’t have anything to talk about.” Do you see why I agree about the number of words a man speaks in a day? I could have talked all during lunch.
Thankfully during this quiet time, I was reminded of my recent commitment to “be positive in my attitude and speech toward my husband and family.” Since I had to either whisper, write a note or act out my desired communication, it gave me time to think instead of just react. Many times I just say what comes to my mind instead of filtering it through a desire to be positive and concerned how it will be accepted by the recipient.
Possibly my heavenly Father was helping me keep my commitment. Ok, Lord, help me think before I speak and please help me be able to converse above a whisper soon.
Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.
Ephesians 4:29 (NIV)
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
Philippians 4:8 (NIV)
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
An evaluation of my book proposal arrived. The same questions were posed, the same things I have been wrestling with for over three years – Who is your audience? Why are you writing? What is the thread that will pull the book together?
After searching my first five chapters and the questions presented by the editor I answered the questions. Who is your audience? – My family and friends mostly, really anyone who wants to follow God (although I learned that if you say anyone that means “no one”). Why write – to show how God worked in our lives. What is the one thread to pull it together? – The glory of God. Seemed simple enough to me. But it was not enough. Or it was not clear enough.
Examining my writing and trying to answer the questions, I prayed for wisdom to help me find that thread and something people who read my book can grasp for their lives.
Then the inspiration came.
I just reviewed the chapter about our time in Mississippi and the small church my husband served that needed a piano player. We prayed for a piano player and God provided five piano players.
I was one of the piano players in the Mississippi church although not much of an answer to prayer since I was very limited in ability. Although I have not played much since my husband retired from preaching ten years ago, I was impressed – no God seemed to speak directly to me,
“Go downstairs to the piano.”
Even though my piano skills are still limited, I love to play old hymns and choruses and worship the Lord. Thinking the Lord wanted me to worship and take my mind off the book for a while, I obeyed.
The hymnal was open to the chorus on the right side of the page “Oh How He Loves You and Me.” Surprisingly I picked up the song in A flat and remembered the chord inversions and arpeggios I learned years ago in an adult piano course.
After relaxing my mind I turned to the left hand page and the song was a familiar hymn “My Saviors Love.” You may know it better by the first line, “I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene.” After playing this song for a few verses, I thought, “Ok, the love of God. Yes, that’s what I am trying to convey in my writing.”
Then I noticed the scripture listed under the title of “My Saviors Love.” It showed, “The Son of God loved me and gave himself for me.” Then I observed the scripture reference Galatians 2:20. My life verse is Gal 2:20. A chill of confirmation of God’s purpose.
I always concentrated on the first part of that verse – Christ living in me – and how I determine to live by faith in the Son of God. Yes, but it seems God wants me to focus on the last part – for the first is not possible without the last. Here is the verse:
Gal. 2: 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Then I looked at the scripture under the song, “Oh How He Loves You and Me.” The verse is John 15:9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.” Another Holy Spirit chill. This is the concept used in my book introduction from John 17 where Jesus shares his high priestly prayer. Here is an excerpt:
In John 17, known as the High Priestly Prayer of Jesus, verse 23 says God loves us even as he loves Jesus. Hard to comprehend he could love us that much! Reading this chapter again recently I realize not only does God loves us as much as He loved Jesus, but Jesus shared the glory God gave him with us that we may be one so that the world may know about him. That is powerful. God gives us his Shekinah glory through Jesus.
John 17:20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message,21 that all of them may be one,Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.22 I have given them the glory that you gave me,that they may be one as we are one—23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent meand have loved themeven as you have loved me.24 “Father, I want those you have given meto be with me where I am,and to see my glory,the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.
Have I found the thread to pull the book together? I’m not sure. I do know that the purpose of the book is to share the stories of our lives and help readers know that Jesus loves them and gave himself for them. They cannot live for him until they truly comprehend how much he loves them. For the first is not possible without the last.
She reached up, grabbed him and dug her long fingernails into his arm until blood squirted out. He responded by hitting her in the jaw, knocking her out. John had taken out his seventh grade teacher at Park Street Elementary, Ms. Chapman, but she wasn’t the true target.
During recess, John’s team won at softball. As the whistle blew to return to school, he was walking back with Ms. Chapman close by. The captain of the other team pushed John: “Get out of my way you ____ (and expressed an expletive that insulted John’s mom).” Fireball John didn’t think twice about retaliating by punching the boy and Ms. Chapman unfortunately intervened at her own peril.
John observed his teacher for a few minutes to make sure she was okay. Upon awakening, she pointed to the principal’s office in exasperation. “Go.”
The principal’s office was not unfamiliar territory for John. Ms. Principal said, “What happened now John?” He told her, “I hit Ms. Chapman.” Then he told her why.
She said, “Go home you are expelled.” She noticed the blood on his arm but said it had stopped bleeding and he was ok.
When John sauntered home. His dad was there and wiped his arm off. After hearing John’s story he said, “Get in the car, we are going back to school.” John never saw his dad so angry.
Dad marched into the principal’s office with John close behind him. He told the principal “This kid has been a lot of trouble but he told me what happened and he is not a liar and I believe him. Regardless of what happened the teacher had no right to grab him and draw blood and you are not going to kick him out for the rest of the year.”
She thought for it a little bit and said “Ok, we will give him in-school suspension.” Dad agreed.
The outer office is where John stayed the rest of the school year.
That is where he developed a love of reading because that is the only thing he could do to make the time pass faster.
As a result, John failed seventh grade. He only spent seventeen days in the classroom.
Only God knew how the angry and impulsive boy would become a sensitive, compassionate man who would counsel and minister to many. John has served as a youth minister, minister and counselor and therapist on a boy’s ranch.
This incident in my husband’s life is the introduction to his life story as found in our book “Shekinah Dwellers” (coming soon). John likes to quote the scripture below to demonstrate the power of God in changing a person.
1 Corinthians 1:25-27 New International Version (NIV)
25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.
26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.
Classmates at John’s high school reunions were shocked to find out that John became a minister.
Many also confirm the stories he has shared about how he never started a fight but never failed to protect the underdog and finish many altercations.
If you have a scrapper in your family or if you have an anger problem yourself, don’t give up. God can change a heart and mold it to confirm to his image. God is in the business of changing foolish scrappers to wise servants.
COMPELtip#vibrant verbs invigorate your writing, graphics add interest, first sentence should spark interest