Friday, March 10, 2017

On Communion

I've been thinking about the Lord's Supper lately. The church I attend serves Communion every week; others do it less often. We line up at the end of the service to take a piece from one member's homemade bread and dip it in grape juice; some churches pass around small wafers and tiny plastic cups. There are other ways of doing it and I have absolutely nothing against any of them. I wonder, though, if the Church has missed out on something greater. I believe the Lord intended much more than an occasional bit of bread and a sip of wine or juice.

Aside from the actual event described in the Gospels, I suspect the most frequently quoted verses regarding Communion are the instructions given by Paul in 1 Corinthians 11. Several key phrases stand out: "this bread," "this cup," "in remembrance of me." We're told the bread specifically symbolizes the broken body of Christ and that the wine specifically symbolizes His blood and the new covenant He purchased. We are to remember Christ's life, death, and resurrection and look forward to His return.

Over the course of time, "breaking bread" has come to mean having a meal with someone. That understanding may actually originate with the Lord's Supper; I don't know. I do know a meal is a time of food, fellowship, family, and friendship. Storytelling and getting to know one another over food that is, hopefully, a delight to all in attendance. So, what does "this bread" refer to? Is it only the leaven-free loaves shared that one day in Jerusalem? Or is it any bread, any meal? "Taste and see, for the Lord is good," admonishes the psalmist (34:8). Jesus said of Himself that He came "eating and drinking," and he often had meals with "tax collectors and sinners" (Luke 7:34, among others). May I suggest that "this bread" could be a pizza or a plate of smoked brisket with Texas toast, shared among friends? It’s worth considering.

What about the wine? The issue of Christians and alcohol has been argued, often angrily, or at least with great passion, for centuries. A friend recently summed his thoughts on the consumption of alcohol this way: "It should be used to make a good day better, never to make a bad day worse." However, that is not the subject of this article. I only wish to explore Communion. Jesus used wine; some churches today use juice. The symbolism is what matters most. Crushed grapes, fermented over time, become wine; a peaceful teacher was beaten to an unrecognizable pulp before being hanged on a Roman cross. He revealed Himself to be the Savior of humanity in a way only God expected, and it had been a long time for His plan to unfold. Wine makes one merry; the shed blood of Christ makes one right with God, putting an end to the misery of sin and uncorking the joy of salvation. Hmm... Wine is drink which makes a meal an even more cheerful gathering. A hot cup of coffee or a cold Dr Pepper, depending on the time of day, does it for me. Gatorade after an intense workout? Recuperative, replenishing, refreshing. So too is the comfort of Holy Spirit, the absolute best part of the new covenant.

"In remembrance of me" is, in my opinion, the single most important part of Jesus' and Paul's instructions for Communion. Eating and drinking are necessities for basic survival, but remembering what Christ did is absolutely essential for a robust, satisfying spiritual life. Without him, our lives have no purpose. Dust to dust, ashes to ashes. A vapor in the wind. As we remember Him, we must honor the truth in the Bible and acknowledge the presence of Holy Spirit in our lives. This can be done alone but is best accomplished in the presence of other believers. "Iron sharpens iron" (Proverbs 27:17). Don't forget to get together, encourage one another in love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24-25, paraphrased). Remember that Jesus shared His last meal with beloved friends. There was singing, foot washing, and teaching; there was celebration, service, and learning. Our gatherings should be similar as we "do all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 31). That same verse begins with eating and drinking. Interesting.

In conclusion, I believe a weekly nibble of King's Hawaiian and an ounce of Welch's are good, ceremonial reminders of what Jesus has done. He doesn't want just ceremony though; He wants our lives. He already gave us His abundant life, and He wants to be involved in every aspect of ours, to be a partner in every conversation, and to have a seat at all of our tables. So, have a cookout with your friends or go to a coffee shop on a Saturday morning. Bring your love for one another. Share stories of how Jesus has been working in your life. Discuss the Word. Eat, drink, and remember. Have Communion.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

#Geocaching with Hedwig the Owl

You know I'm into geocaching. I've blogged about it and often share snippets of my adventures with a quick tweet. However, some adventures are worth writing about in more than 140 characters. What follows is my "Found It!" log for just such an adventure, had at GC5XVDN: Hedwig the Owl (Harry Potter Geocaches #1).

So, a funny thing happened while geocaching one evening at Rice University...

I have learned to not stick my hand in a tree's bole hole without first looking. This is a little challenging when the hole is above my eye level, so I've taken to raising my phone and snapping a picture of the inside before making the plunge. This technique has spared me countless ant and spider bites and at least one encounter with a snake.

While searching near GZ tonight, I found just such a hole that would be perfect for a size small cache. I raised my phone per usual and pressed the button. There was a slight, anti-red-eye pause before the flash went off. Then, SURPRISE!!, out leapt a critter! It thumped to the ground and then flew off. I'm 90% sure it had feathers and 100% sure it startled me, for, SHOCK!!, out from my mouth leapt a four-letter word. That too thumped to the ground and then flew off. Heart racing, all I could do was laugh. The students walking by gazed at me suspiciously. "It's okay! I'm a professional!" or something. WWAVD: What Would Ace Ventura Do?

Anyway, I opted for no more surprises, read the hint, and quickly found the cache. This will be a great story, for many geo-events to come, I'm sure!

TFTC. God bless! 2 Corinthians 5:21

(oh yeah... cool statue!)

I sure love this hobby of mine!

Friday, February 3, 2017

"Bullets, pimps and purses" - the latest from @FreetheCaptives #trafficking #Houston

Super Bowl Street Outreach Update

by Julie Waters

Before we had even crossed the parking lot, we found a bullet casing laying on the ground. This was not a safe area. Luckily, we had two police officers with us. So we loaded up our arms with purses and set off to meet young women who were walking the streets.

We immediately saw three young ladies standing together. At first, they didn't want to talk to us but after they got to pick out a pretty purse, they started to open up more. One young lady said that she had come in from Arizona for the Super Bowl this weekend. Another girl was talking on the phone with her trafficker as we handed out the purses filled with hygiene products.

We walked further down the street and encountered a pimp and his two girls. How do we know that he was a pimp (aka trafficker)? Before we even said a word, he declared, "These are not h**s!" And then he started ranting and raving. He was definitely on drugs. We did manage to give purses to the two ladies, and one of them said, "It is so nice that you are doing this. God bless." So even though we couldn't do much because the pimp was right there, that woman knew that someone cared about her.

As we continued with the outreach, the thing that struck me the most were the JOHNS...the men who bought the women from the traffickers. This is what hurt me the most and made me the most angry. We stood in a very busy parking lot and watched as car after car picked up and dropped off young ladies. You would think we were watching a school drop-off. It was that busy. On a Thursday at 2pm in broad daylight! These men had no shame. They drove up in beat up trucks and $60,000 cars. They bought girls as if they were buying a drink through the drive thru at McDonald's.

As a young lady got in a car, my heart sank because I knew what she was about to have to do. When a young lady was being dropped off, she was unceremoniously discarded on the side of the road. I wanted to scream and yell. These are women!! These are not objects or playthings to be used and discarded. They are precious daughters of God! STOP it! How can you use these women like this?

My heart hurts at the many levels of depravity involved, but deep down I know that God is at work. On that very day, not far down the road, law enforcement were running operations to shut down this horrible problem. And I am so thankful for everyone who prayed yesterday after getting my newsletter with the prayer requests. Thank you for the many emails and texts letting me know that you are praying! I truly felt God's peace and saw Him work in incredible ways. Here's how:
  • The missing girl was found! I spoke to her last night! She is safe. Praise God!
  • My baby had woken up at 1am with a fever of 102.2. This was his first fever. I sent out a newsletter at 5:30am asking for prayer. When he woke up yesterday morning, the fever was gone so I was able to lead the outreach.
  • God provided the perfect law enforcement personnel to help us. We had 3 different agencies assisting us.
    • The male officer was big and burly and knew all about the streets. I learned so much from him. He definitely made us feel protected. His years of experience helped tremendously.
    • The female officer had an amazing rapport with the ladies. They warmed up to her instantly. God picked exactly the right officers to help us.
    • We also had unmarked cars patrolling the area and watching over us.
    • Without them, it would have been unsafe and ineffective.
  • It turns out that I was pretty sick too but really didn't realize it until after the outreach was over. God sustained me!
  • Every purse donated was such a blessing! We were overwhelmed by your support. For example, Denise of Kingwood collected 249 purses from her friends and network. Without the purses, the girls would not have spoken to us. Thank you for your support!