Saturday, October 27, 2007

Musings from Hartley

Idle Thoughts

Have you ever sat in a church, waiting for the service to begin, and felt the Spirit of promise gently wrap itself around you, filling you with anticipation of that which is to come, a promise to be fulfilled, never failing?

Have you ever stood at a historic site and considered the things that had happened there, when suddenly the Spirit warms your soul, as you muse over in your mind the sacrifice those Saints had made in that far gone day?

Or seen an old friend who greats you with "The Lord told me," and to your surprise you find a confirming burning of the bosom? Or heard a stranger, a person you never met before, tell you of your life, gently and kindly, as if he were a lifelong acquaintance?

Have you ever found a place in your life where all your dreams, all you have worked for were gone, even those called to minister to you forgot you or fled away. Then an Angel came and took you out into a universe where never man has been? Where you are shown God's perfect creation as never before imagined, a comfort unimaginable at that time?

Have you ever seen the heavens open, heard the voice of the Father, been taken to the gates of Hell and seen the sorrow there? Shown the hearts and minds of the people in a church in the city destined to be called holy. Told your ministry was unacceptable as it might cause rifts of jealousy, anger and disbelief?

"Social skill," "mending the Church," intense and determined men, sometimes forgetting, or ignoring their assault on tender wounds of their brothers' past experiences. Assigning schedules, peoples, according to their wisdom; self will, determination and "spirit within." Any question met with a barrage of intense hostility, the gentle feeling hoped for—gone. Talking of Christ's Church, soon you are accused of attacking their forbears and aunts, uncles and cousins in surrounding communities.

Where did that come from?

If ministry is there, I am missing it. I need ministry. I would love to attend a meeting where all were humble, loving, engaged in the holiest of ventures. Where that Holy Spirit would greet one at the door and usher one in—before song, prayer or sermon, with that Holy Spirit of promise. Without counsel, without assertion of men, then I would know I am in the one true church
of Jesus Christ. Don't ask me for tithing, ask me for all.

Hartley Stanbridge

Thursday, October 25, 2007

An Unbelievable True story

On my recent trip to Las Vegas I was delighted to be with my daughter and her husband and their five kids. I tried to put aside my regret they didn’t live closer and enjoyed the moment. They do live in a different world. No, not because it’s Las Vegas, but rather because of the frantic pace of their lives. Work, home-schooling, parenting and most important, evangelism, are all on their daily schedule.

Several nights (and sometimes days) a week Doug takes Bible in hand, grabs the ever necessary tracts and with brothers from the group they proceed to the hot spot venues, the strip (Las Vegas Blvd. South) in front of the fountains at the Bellagio Hotel, downtown to the Fremont Street Experience, on to an art fair, or anywhere that people gather. They fortify their efforts with prayer and fasting to prepare to meet those who have yielded to the temptations of “sin city.”

My son-in-law is an ideal representative of Christ. He is an imposing 6’5” and probably 245 lbs. with an emerging black beard surrounding a constant smile. He is highly intelligent, a good speaker, and an enthusiastic believer. He is always eager to go one-on-one with either the non-believer or the visitor who left his conscience at his home town airport.

My last night there he mentioned that he would be accompanied that evening by a man with an interesting story. I am grateful he shared it with me and I shall share it with you.

We shall call him Frank since that’s his name. He had a job with a major supplier of neon signs in a city which uses more of that product than any other. For twenty plus years he had been installing naked ladies and beer signs all over the valley in bars, gambling halls and clubs. He was sick of it. Further, he found the explicit signage incompatible with his evangelistic efforts. Frank went to the boss and said as much and requested the opportunity to stay with the company but not to be involved with the more tawdry installations. The headman reminded him that their was no preference given in the work assignments and denied his request. Whereupon, he quit!

He then went home and informed his wife and family that he no longer worked there or anywhere and they would have to make some life style adjustments. Having heard his mounting complaints previously, they made the plans that are necessary when such things happen. She took another job, the kids cut back on expensive plans, and Frank went to work looking for employment.

He soon found another position but at a vastly reduced pay and a great deal more physical demand. It did have a decent benefit package though so he went ahead and endured the pain of a taxing job. Not too long after, his boss called him in to the office. Given his past experience with management he wasn’t looking forward to the meeting. Once there the owner mentioned that he had observed that the work had become very difficult for Frank. He then asked what he would rather be doing. Frank smilingly replied that he would be happiest if he were a full time evangelist.

The boss then stunned him by saying he thought that might be a very good idea. He then offered to create the opportunity for him to do just that. He told him he would continue to pay his salary, furnish his health insurance and other benefits and Frank could spend his requisite number of hours preaching the gospel wherever he felt needed. He explained that he belonged to a group of Christian business men and that others in the group would pitch in and bring his wages up to what he had made previously. He also explained that with the pressures of running his business he just didn’t have the time to fulfill his heart felt obligation to the Lord. He and the others had discussed it and felt that Frank was the ideal man to share the knowledge of Jesus Christ for them.

To say Frank was overjoyed would be a massive understatement. I met him that evening before he and Doug went out. We shared our mutual love of the Savior and anecdotes from the street and encounters they had. At first exposure I was overjoyed to find this degree of recognition of the importance of street evangelism in a city with the reputation of Las Vegas. The pool of main line Christians (ME, BAP, LU, RC, etc.) is disproportionately small compared to the size of the city. The primary faith, surprisingly to many, is LDS. The usual cadre of bike born missionaries is as common as school crossing guards and just as obvious.

As I drove to Tucson the next day I had plenty of time to ruminate on this remarkable story. Being the self-appointed church skeptic, I tried to figure out what could possibly be wrong with the whole thing. The only problem I could discern was for the men who financed the program. It has a taste of indulgences. Past history has a record of many men who have paid others to “go” in their stead. Although most prominent in the military, it has also been in the church. Variance from doctrine could easily be purchased by members of the Roman Catholic Church at different times in their history. I don’t know if the the practice remains today or not. Although this is not exactly the same it does have some characteristic similarities. Past that, I find the story uplifting, and since I met one of the principals, I know it to be true. Praise God!

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Monday, October 22, 2007

Peace at Last

I rigidly maintained that I would not concern myself with a posting while I was on my “Grandpa” run. I confess that it became impossible.

I called Jan from the car in Texas somewhere and she asked was I anxious to get there. I then told her that I was “there". She realized that my meaning was about being free on the open road without cares and observing God’s universe flying by at 65 mph. To me the trip is the goal. I love my home, my wife, my mutts, my friends, and of course, my own computer. But sometimes a new perspective is called for.

I don’t travel in what some would call luxury. Later that night, I pulled off in the desert past Tucumcari, NM, found an isolated spot and readied myself for the remainder of the night. I have a wonderful bed in my rig and after 13 hours of continuous travel I was definitely ready for it.

Before settling down for the night I took the time to view the sky (about 2 am.) Clear of surrounding light and lacking even a sliver of a moon I was treated to an awesome display. One cannot help feeling insignificant in relation to the view in the heavens. I pondered the power, might and majesty of God who could create and keep this all going.

I extended my arm and made an "okay" configuration joining my thumb and forefinger. Within that tiny circle held against the sky were complete solar systems of activity of unlimited number. Surrounded by stars and other solar bodies my earthbound mind could not begin to contemplate how many.

I then jumped into my bed and spent the rest of my waking minutes thinking about our puny efforts to glorify the Creator of the whole milieu and wondering how we could make any substantial change in it. Viewing my own life and the activities of the church through this prism is indeed humbling. Once projected against this backdrop of majesty and power one wonders how God can be such a force in one insignificant life.

I reviewed the many testimonies I have personally, and those which others have shared, and marveled at a creator who verifies His presence daily in our lives. That retrospection reveals a God of unimaginable power—and love. The immensity of the scene revealed the power, and dwelling on events demonstrated the love.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon