Posts Tagged memory

Morning Worship: Faith plus God equals a miracle, Canales says

071717_Rev Isaac Canales_mpo_06

Rev. Isaac Canales Delivers His Sermon On “Don’t Forget To Remember” During The Sunday Morning Worship On July 16, 2017 At The Amphitheater. PAULA OSPINA / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

“In a crisis of fear, when we face a crossroad, we have to make up our minds to continue in faith, hope and trust in God, or are we going to pay more attention to the circumstances than God,” said the Rev. Isaac J. Canales at the 10:45 a.m. Sunday morning worship service in the Amphitheater. His title was “Don’t Forget to Remember,” and the Scripture reading was Numbers 13:1-16 and 32-33.

“My title is something of a Yogi Berra-ism,” Canales said.

He and his wife bought breakfast sandwiches for their flight here since there would be no mealservice, and “Mexicans and pretzels don’t mix.” As they sat and opened up their sandwiches over Kansas, Canales asked his wife if she brought the insulin. She said she thought he had brought it; it was on her checklist but she forgot to look at the list.

He was accusing her of forgetting to remember. Luckily, it was all right when they arrived and they got the medicine they needed.

God had promised the people of Israel a land flowing with milk and honey — the milk and cheese of goats and the honey and sugar from dates. But fear came upon the people as they waited to go into the promised land.

“Their fear brought a loss of memory of what God had done for them,” he said.

In Numbers, Moses sends spies into the land of Canaan and they come back with a report cautioning against taking over the land. It was a land of giants, they said, that devoured its own people, and the Israelites looked like grasshoppers in comparison.

They forgot that God had brought them out of the land of Egypt, that God opened the Red Sea for them to cross, that God gave them manna and quail in the wilderness, “without a bakery or butcher shop in sight.” God gave them water from a rock, shade by day and fire by night.

“When we face crises, we are tempted to despair, to give up on hope and we turn to the solutions of our own mind and heart and we forget how strong God is,” he said. “We tend to look at the size of the giants rather than God.”

Fear results in a loss of courage and perspective. The spies started to think on their own, instead of thinking with God on their side.

“They made the obstacle bigger than God and gave up on themselves and God,” he said. “Your God is bigger than the problem, bigger than the giants, who just cast long shadows.”

Hope and faith are necessary today, too.

“We can’t give up on God and stop praying for our president,” Canales said. “He needs prayerand God is still in charge. God is never out of control; he is always in control of everything.”

The spies saw a mighty civilization when they were in the Canaanite city of Hebron. Canales said that fear makes us lose focus. Even the names of some of the spies had fear in them. Shammua, who came from the tribe of Reuben, has a name that is translated as “puts the lie to the words of the Holy One.” Nahbi, from the tribe of Naphtali, means “hid from the words of the Holy One.” They believed the lie that they were only grasshoppers to the giants.

“It was the lie of rationalism and lack of hope,” he said. “When we are too rational and exclude the mystical hand of almighty God, when we forget that he brought us through every crisis, we try to solve the problem without faith and trust in God and Jesus through the Holy Spirit.”

We lean on things that are handmade, we trust too much in technology, he said.

“Not by might nor power but by my spirit, says the Lord,” Canales said. “God told Moses at the burning bush to take off his handmade sandals as a sign of trust that he was on holy ground.”

There were two spies whose names point to trust in God, who remembered what God had done. Caleb means dog, a sign of faithfulness, and Joshua means “the Lord is our savior.” They had faith when the others did not.

Nine years ago, Canales was given a 1 percent chance to live by his doctors. They had to remove his colon and large intestine and revive his heart 21 times. They gathered his family and said there was not much hope, except for one radical procedure they could try.

“The emergency room was packed out with people praying for their pastor. My wife said I had a 99 percent chance with God and to do the operation, and here I am,” he said. “I asked the Lord why he has given me my life and he said ‘To encourage people.’ Nothing is impossible with God if we don’t forget to remember. And God can do it again and again and again.”

Caleb and Joshua represent the minority report of faith and hope.

“We are a minority around the world,” Canales said. “But a mustard seed in the hand of God is a miracle. Caleb and Joshua are symbols that in every ‘no’ (in the world) there is a ‘yes’ from God.”

To trust in God is our hope, he said.

“Jesus is the hope for my salvation,” Canales said. “What he has done for others, he can do for you.”

Fear begins with a loss of memory and fear without faith forgets the great covenant God made with Israel to be his people. Fear makes people lose heart so that we see the Canaanites as giants.

But God made grasshoppers and a grasshopper with God is a helicopter, he said.

“When we lose perspective, we are truly alone; we are defeated before the battle starts,” Canales said. “In the face of a crisis, don’t forget to remember what God has done in the past. Faith plus God equals a miracle.”

The Rev. Robert M. Franklin, Jr., director of the Department of Religion, presided. Judith Davidson Moyers, president and CEO of Public Affairs Television Inc. and life partner of Bill Moyers, read the Scripture. The women of the Chautauqua Choir sang “Samba de las Escrituras (A Scriptural Samba),” by Ken Berg. The responsorial Psalm 91, “Be with Me Lord,” was written by Marty Hagen; Peter Steinmetz served as cantor. The offertory anthem was the world premiere of “Chautauqua Anthem” by Paul Moravec. The Motet Choir commissioned the piece in honor of Jared Jacobsen’s more than 20 years of service to Chautauqua Institution. The organ postlude was “God Among Us (La Nativité, IX),” by Olivier Messiaen. Jacobsen, organist and coordinator of worship and sacred music, directed the Chautauqua Choir. The Robert D. Campbell Memorial Chaplaincy Fund and the Lois Raynow Department of Religion Fund provide support for this week’s services.

Tags: , , ,

Amazing Grace: Settling a troubled soul – AILEEN LAWRIMORE*  

July 4, 2017 – www.Baptistnewsglobal.com

When I stepped onto her hall, I could see her slippered feet just outside the door frame of her room. In her wheelchair, she rocked heel to toe, toe to heel, back and forth and back again.

“Hey, there,” I said, crouching to her height and attempting to push her chair back so I could get into the room. (Imagine a 5’4” duck wearing jeans and a tie-dye T-shirt pushing a wheelchair backwards; you get the picture.) I managed it, then pulled a stool right up next to her chair so I could speak directly in her ear. Nonagenarian ears aren’t especially known for their acuity, you know.

She does not know me; when I began my job at her church, she was already at the point of needing care. I do know her, though — at least vicariously. Her heart is woven into the fabric of our church. I’ve heard stories that told about her love for her church family, her heart for missions, her love of worship. “Such a sweet person,” they all say. “Such a tender soul.”

That day though, she was all out of sorts. She reached for me, her brow furrowed, her gaze unfocused and skittish. In a frantic, high-pitched tone, she began explaining the reasons for her angst. Sadly, her mind had played havoc with her reality again, leaving her agitated by imagined evils. Yet regardless of the validity of her concerns, the fear she was experiencing was undeniable. She begged me to do something to right the wrongs she had described.

“I promise I’ll check on that in just a minute,” I told her, kissing her cheek and stroking her arm. “But before I do that, let’s sing a song, OK?” When she refused, saying we didn’t have enough time and that she was just too upset, I started singing anyway, hoping she would join me.

“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound ….”

That’s all it took. Recognition dawned and she began singing along, her memory as sharp as ever.

It reminded me of when I sang those words with my own Grandmama. We sang it in church, Grandmama all dressed up in her pink polyester suit, me with my ’80s hair teased to perfection. We sang it years later too, when she lived with my parents, her favorite pink suit now several sizes too large. By then, Grandmama had lost track of the decades, but she knew “I once was lost, but now I’m found.”

I remembered singing it to my tiny daughter when I was a young mother. We’d be awake, just the two of us in the wee hours of the morning, when fear would cease me. How could I possibly be worthy of this gift I hold in my arms? The song sang itself: “Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound! That saves a wretch like me.” It became her lullaby. And mine.

There in the nursing home that day, we sang all the verses, then moved on to Jesus Loves Me and other familiar favorites. Once between hymns, she squeezed my hand and, exuding absolute joy, said, “Oh honey, I love this!”

When it was time for me to go, I promised to come again and to bring a hymnal next time. She smiled, content, and said, “God bless you, honey.”

“We’ve no less days, to sing God’s praise, than when we first begun.”

*Aileen Lawrimore is pastor to children and youth at First Baptist Church of Weaverville, NC. 

 

Tags: , , ,

Why You Need to Listen to Others’ Perspectives – Ethicsdaily.com

Mitch Randall

Why You Need to Listen to Others' Perspectives | Mitch Randall, Judgment, Empathy, Listening

More than anything these days, we need more listening and understanding and less biased and unfiltered opinions, Randall writes. (Image courtesy of Ohmega1982/FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Growing up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, my dad listened to talk radio on KRMG.

On occasion, when I was not staring out the window dreaming of hitting three home runs in a World Series game, I would tune into the talking voice blaring from the speakers of my dad’s 1966 Mustang.

There was one particular voice I enjoyed much more than others: Paul Harvey, who taught me every story had a backstory and a surprise, if only we were patient enough to listen for it.

He told of kings, presidents, authors, missionaries and many other famous people who had influenced the world.

As he closed each segment, he would end it with his signature catchphrase, “And now you know the rest of the story.”

One of my mentors, Roger Olson, professor of Christian theology and ethics at Baylor University’s Truett Theological Seminary, wrote an interesting article recently about selective memory in religious history books.

He pointed out that many history books exclude “the rest of the story” when it comes to historical figures.

We baptize history in many cases, retelling it to suit our desired arguments. History, like life, is a messy endeavor doomed to be misjudged if not assessed from many different vantage points.

Even when it comes to life, we often forget there is a “rest of the story.” We like to jump to conclusions, render skewed judgments and voice opinions before truly knowing the full measure of a person or his or her story.

We have turned into a culture that does not take time to listen, ingest or walk around in someone else’s shoes.

We often jump ahead of ourselves to render the credibility of someone’s situation based upon our own preconceived ideas and limited knowledge about the circumstances.

The disciples asked Jesus one time, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9:2).

Their question reveals the cultural and religious bias the disciples possessed.

They believed the man’s predicament was brought about by his own personal sin or the sins of his parents.

Jesus tells them they misjudged the situation and the man. In other words, they did not know the rest of the story.

In a world where people have unique and personal narratives that demonstrate the worst and best of humanity, we would be wise to listen before we jump to conclusions.

We would do well to research and discover all perspectives before drawing conclusions based upon selective knowledge.

Or, as Harvey used to say, “Now that we know the rest of the story,” maybe we can be understanding and empathetic to others’ circumstances.

We will not always agree, but maybe we can speak with a little less venom. More than anything these days, we need more listening and understanding and less biased and unfiltered opinions.

Before we speak, before we judge, let’s make sure to get “the rest of the story.”

Mitch Randall is pastor of NorthHaven Church in Norman, Oklahoma. A version of this article first appeared on NorthHaven’s blog and is used with permission. You can follow him on Twitter @rmitchrandall.

Tags: , , ,