Back in Place (by Carley Evans)

Took some time off here at the end of the month to spend with my daughter before she moves. Instead of a short vacation, I got sick. Nothing serious, just a bad upper respiratory infection. Still, after 6 days of sneezing, coughing, nose blowing and super headaches, I forgot what working feels like.

It’s odd when this happens — a subtle loss of a part of self.

You become a sick person, almost purposeless except for needing to get up, go to the bathroom, shower, eat, sleep, watch vapid movies or news of a hurricane, read, write notes, and somehow get to the grocery store or pharmacy for essentials. But, working a 10 hr. day disappears — albeit briefly. That role is subjugated to the role of the temporary invalid.

Going back is like waking up to sunshine after a stent of cloudy days. What a joy to be in the company of fellow workers! What a relief to be back in place!

Father God, thanks for my health. Thanks for my career! Your blessings are many, and are always the best. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

What I Have, I Give (by Carley Evans)

A man lame from birth is carried every day to the gate called Beautiful so people entering the temple complex are able to see him; and he is able to beg. Seeing John and Peter, he asks for help. Peter commands, “Look at us.” (Acts 3:4, HCSB) The lame beggar looks at Peter and John expecting a hand-out. Instead, Peter tells the man, “I don’t have silver or gold, but what I have I give you: In the Name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!” (Acts 3:6)

I can imagine the man looking at Peter with some disgust and certainly disappointment. He may know the Name of Jesus the Nazarene; he also may be thinking only of his empty stomach and his aching body. Notice he does not take Peter’s hand or even reach up for him; rather Peter takes the lame beggar by the right hand, and raises him up. “At once his feet and ankles become strong.” (Acts 3:7) When the man realizes his legs are strong, then”he jumps up, stands, and starts to walk, and he enters the temple complex with [John and Peter] — walking, leaping, and praising God.” (Acts 3:8)

Recall it is “by faith in [Jesus’] Name; His Name makes this man strong.” Peter tells the crowd gathering in the temple complex, “So the faith that comes through [Jesus] gives [this man] this perfect health in front of all of you.” (Acts 3:16)

So what does Peter give to the lame beggar? Healing? No. In a sense, Peter loans him faith. Through Peter’s belief, the man’s body is made whole. Once healed, the man finds a faith of his own, leaping and praising God for himself.

“I don’t have silver or gold, but what I have, I give you.” (Acts 3:6)

Woe to You! (by Carley Evans)

Jesus cries, “Woe to you Pharisees!”

Pharisees keep the outside sparkling clean while remaining filthy inside. Pharisees give exactly a tenth and no more. Pharisees walk in pride, always in the most prominent places. Pharisees are experts in the law, but “load people with burdens that are hard to carry.” (Luke 11:46, HCSB)

Jesus accuses, “You take away the key of knowledge! You don’t go in yourselves, and you hinder those who are going in.” (Luke 11:52)

To the crowd, Jesus gives warning: “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. There is nothing covered that won’t be uncovered, nothing hidden that won’t be made known. Therefore, whatever you say in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you whisper in an ear in private rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops.” (Luke 12:1-3)

Woe to the hypocrite.

Dearest Father God, forgive me for my hypocrisies. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Repairing the World (by Carley Evans)

Watching the film “BEE SEASON”, I hear the father character who is a professor mention Tikkun Olam — a Hebrew phrase meaning ‘repairing the world’ — to his classroom. He describes Tikkun Olam as finding the shards of the broken vessel in which God stored His essence. As the vessel broke, the universe was created in what we often hear referred to as ‘the big bang.’ Now, mankind’s job is to find these shards and so restore the world to its original condition — a place which contains all of the essence of God.

I’ve never heard this phrase — which is not surprising since I am not Jewish and do not know Hebrew.

I’ve never believed mankind is able to repair the world. Social justice, though important, is not the solution to our fundamental problem — sin.

Rather, the ultimate solution comes not from our self-efforts, but from God’s. He plans even before the foundation of this world, the manner in which He will solve its problem. He’ll leave His home — heaven — come into the world as an infant, grow into a man, preach ‘the kingdom of God is near,’ die on a cross carrying the entire weight of the world’s sin, and finally rise in glory from the grave, returning to His home to intercede for His people as long as it takes.

Repairing the world is not our task. Yet, called to love one another, we do.

Thanks God for the paradox — You only can fix the world You made, yet You expect us to participate. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

A Challenge (by Carley Evans)

Brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers in Christ — [ include yourself in this group if you confess with your mouth and believe in your heart that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior ] — I challenge you. I behoove you to see, really see Jesus in one another. Look closely at the face of your fellow believer and see the Lord.

You might find this harder than it sounds, at first. But remembering your own lowly state should help for it is pride and self-righteousness which interferes with seeing Jesus in others.

Next time you’re near a mirror, take a longer look. Do you see Jesus? You should if you call yourself a believer. But, seeing Jesus in your own face should not be an occasion for puff-up-ness. Actually being able to see Him in your own face is likely to make your knees wobbly and your heart flutter. Is that the Lord? Oh my! Give me Your strength, dear God in heaven!

When you walk away, Paul says that image of truth fades too quickly for we are seeing only a reflection of glory. Next time, hold onto His image just long enough to see Him in the next face you greet. Perhaps it is your own mother’s face. You see Jesus in her eyes, in her smile. Behold, how humbling.

Dearest Lord, keep us in humility. Strike out spiritual pride, the tendency to believe that somehow we are better than another — a false idea from Your adversary planted in our minds — an infection which not only destroys others but ourselves. Thank You for Your glorious mercies. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Who Is Going To Hell? (by Carley Evans)

People seem determined to pronounce someone as condemned to the “lake of fire.” Some Christians believe they can see inside a person’s heart by looking at the outside — God says not to judge by appearances — but He also says you can know people by the fruits they produce. So, who is going to hell anyway?

Saul knew the scriptures better than anyone of his day. He persecuted the early church body diligently, fully believing Christians were evil and ‘going to hell.’ Any Christian of that day — looking at Saul from the outside — would have certainly condemned him to the “lake of fire.” But we know, looking backwards in time, that Saul converted to Christianity and now resides in heaven with the Lord Jesus Christ, his brother and his God.

An encounter with Jesus along a road made all the difference. And yes, Saul’s appearance changed. His outside began, almost immediately, to reflect the inside transformation.

Nevertheless, God does not call us to condemn one another. Each servant of God stands because of God, because God is fully capable to make His servants stand. And those who deny Him; those who vocally state, “No, Jesus is not the Lord God” or say like a recent commenter “Jesus is a sun god”; these people are those we who call ourselves Christian should pray for. Praying for someone’s salvation is not condemning them to hell; it is inviting their soul to paradise.

Keeping God (by Carley Evans)

Driving by Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, I speak — to those in the car with me — of the blessed sacrament displayed in an antechamber to the right of the sanctuary, of how the ‘host’ is never left alone, because Jesus is believed — by many — to be present wholly in the wafer displayed in a gold circle on an intricately carved stand — this wafer having been blessed by a priest and so transformed from bread to body of Christ. And of course, as the actual body of Christ, the ‘host’ may not be left alone because God can’t be left alone in a gold circle on a stand unless the wafer is locked away in a cabinet behind the altar. Volunteers, therefore, sit with the ‘host’ usually for an hour at a time 24/7. I’ve kept watch — yes, as a non-Roman Catholic — while others, usually women, come into the antechamber and fall onto the floor before the ‘host’ to cry or pray or worship the God kept there.

If you are not Roman Catholic and have not been to high mass, then you may not realize the intricacies — the complications of the wafer and the wine becoming the actual body and blood of our Lord. The priest must wipe the chalice of all traces of the wine become blood — the wafer crumbs which are now flesh must be gathered together to be consumed by the priest. Any trace of Jesus must be taken care of, so to speak.

If in your mind, this sounds somewhat ridiculous and even a bit cannibalistic, it is!

However, today as we drive by, I also imagine — quite suddenly — how confining for God to be kept locked in a small cabinet in an antechamber of a building, even a building dedicated to Him. How disturbing to be kept for people to visit for a few minutes or a few hours. And, in my mind, I hear God say, “Sorry you guys, I gotta get outta here!”

God makes tracks! He is never confined.

Final Frontier (by Carley Evans)

“Space, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise — her ongoing mission — to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life forms, and near civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before.”

STAR TREK has been a part of our lives for a little more than 40 years!

A universe with a federation of planets existing without currency — presumably people work for the sake of the experiences work provides. Presumably people share resources or trade commodities, bartering — “I need this; you need that. I’ve got that; you’ve got this.”

Hostiles are “out there” in the far reaches — the federation just sort of runs into these warring species, and escapes or converts.

Not everyone gets along. Ambition, fear, insanity, old-age, abandonment, evil — all these exist in the STAR TREK world just as in our world. The ideal of a group of planets working together is still the ideal of one country pitted against a bunch of other countries — it just happens in outer space.

And the gods of STAR TREK are, as far as I recall, the messiah-like warrior of Klingon or some super-being like “Q” who is just so powerful as to be viewed as a god. So, in the world of the federation and the outer planets, superstition still abounds.

Did Jesus die for the universe? Or, for the earthbound? I, for one, believe Jesus died for us — for those who carry the DNA of Adam and Eve, who stepped into sin in the garden of Eden.

Nevertheless, out there in the broader universe, Jesus is of course still GOD, the creator of all.