Thursday, January 29, 2009

What God Enjoys

From Dr. Erwin Lutzer, senior pastor of Moody Church in Chicago:

"God enjoys being believed."

Let the ramifications of that truth slowly seep down and spread through every recess of your heart, becoming a fruitful bough in all you say and do for the rest of your life.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

In Honor of Virgil Ware

We're pretty proud of our dad, retired Capt. E. Dan Jordan, proud dad and granddad that he is. Along with his being a loving father and grandfather, and being there for us all these years (even through all our crazy shenanigans), he has also lived an interesting life which includes an illustrious career as a law enforcement officer. That career is highlighted by the decade of the 1960's, the civil rights era, during which my dad and his department, the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department, shone brightly at moments through some pretty dark days. The events my dad saw firsthand, and were involved in, are part of civil rights history. The infamous day of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing, in which four little girls died and which sparked a day of violence and sorrow here in Birmingham, was one day during those days he will never forget.

My dad was just beginning to enjoy his day off when the bomb blasted through the basement of the downtown church building that Sunday morning at 10:22 a.m., September 15th, 1963. He wanted to go immediately to the site but was ordered by Sheriff Mel Bailey, along with every other available deputy and officer, into patrol cars. Rioting and violence were looming threats; reports were beginning to come in of rocks thrown, anger erupting. The day was spent patrolling the city, trying to be a presence in hopes of quelling violence before it broke out. Detective Jordan was frustrated at not being able to be on the scene of the tragedy downtown, but knew he was doing what was needed and following orders.

That evening, though, the dispatcher's voice came over the squad car radio with the request that my dad find a phone and immediately call in. A phone was found, and when Detective Jordan made the call, he was told that there had been one last, tragic death that day--a 13-year-old black male had been shot and killed while riding down Sandusky Road on the handlebars of his older brother's bike. The boy's name was Virgil Ware.

My dad was told to get to the scene and begin the investigation, and he did. The story of what happened to Virgil Ware and his brother James that sad day, and the subsequent search for the killers and the attempt to see justice done, is the story we went to hear my dad tell to a crowd of about 100 people at the downtown Birmingham Public Library yesterday. Virgil died in 1963, and retired Captain E. Dan Jordan is 80 years old now, but we were spell-bound as he told us about Virgil and James; the details of their tragedy are part of a much larger story that, as my dad said, brings hope as we witness the inauguration of the first African-American President of the United States. This helps us see, my dad said, that the deaths of those little girls that Sunday morning, and of young Virgil, were not in vain.

Several members of the Ware family were there yesterday, and a beautiful family they are. That's my dad, second from the left, and James Ware to the right of him. The little guy in the background, looking just over James's shoulder, is Virgil.

I am so very impressed at the graciousness, and the grace that's at work, in this precious family. You can read more about the Ware's story in this 2003 Time magazine article.

Monday, January 12, 2009

On Christian Charity

I don't have anything this busy day that could top what Laurie has to say at her blog about the topic of Christian charity, i.e., love. She offers some great, brief thoughts on C.S. Lewis's writing on this subject, and I highly recommend taking a minute or two to check out her post.

" 'The rule for all of us is perfectly simple. Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ you neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.' This comes as very hopeful news to one like me, who was told once by a friend, very matter-of-factly and without cruel intent, 'You’re not exactly the warmest person on the planet” – and that was after I was saved and had become a thousand times warmer than I once was!' "

Laurie on Lewis and Charity

Friday, January 9, 2009

God Knows What He's About

When God wants to drill a man,
And thrill a man, and skill a man,
When God wants to mold a man
To play the noblest part;
When He yearns with all His heart
To create so great and bold a man
That all the world might be amazed,
Watch His methods; watch His ways.

How He ruthlessly perfects
Whom He royally elects!
How He hammers him and hurts him
And with mighty blows converts him
Into trial shapes of clay
That only God understands,
While his tortured heart is crying,
And he lifts beseeching hands!
How He bends but never breaks
When his good He undertakes.
How He uses whom He chooses,
And with every purpose fuses him;
By every act induces him
To try His splendor out—
God knows what He's about!

Author Unknown

(HT: CCW Blog)

Proverbs 22:7

Debtor's prison seems an antiquated, Charles Dickensian concept in our modern, free-spending society, but maybe it still exists. We just don't do the time inside granite walls and dank-smelling dungeons.

"The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender" (Proverbs 22:7).

I'm asking the Lord for mercy and deliverance from the entrapment of debt.

(Photo by ahknight)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

My Walmart List

So I'm at Walmart (otherwise known as "Missy's Favorite Place") when the three-ring circus begins. I've tried to think of the best way to relate the adventure; to keep from writing an over-long post, I decided to list the pertinent events, hoping you'll get the flavor and feel the drama as you read.


1 need to get in and out of Walmart for a few quick items, then on to an appointment.

1 immediate encounter with friend from church.

1 episode (while talking with talkative friend from church) of cell phone ringing, ignored, ringing, ignored, ringing, ignored, ringing (same number, which I couldn't identify and that's why I ignored it), answered, to find husband on the other end asking me to look in the kitchen for his cell phone (I can't, I'm at Walmart, I have an appointment.)

1 encounter with another friend from church.

1 episode of phone calls back and forth to daughter at home to ask her to look for her dad's cell phone and then call her dad back at the number he called me from, which I can't remember each time I call my daughter, and don't have a pen to jot down.

1 sensation of uncomfortable heat beginning to emanate from my body.

1 encounter with another friend from church. I know she thinks I'm odd.

1 trip to the pen section.

1 trip to the dressing room to change out of the now-impossibly-hot, (due to my slightly worked-up state), foil-lined pullover I know better than to wear but keep wearing, and into a lighter, Walmart pull-over I need to cover the raggedy t-shirt I'm wearing and intend to pay for later when I check out.

trip to the nearby jewelry department, escorted by the lady from the dressing-room, to pay immediately for the lighter, Walmart pull-over.

1 5-minute wait (I have that appointment, remember? And I've only bought two things on my list so far) while the elderly lady ahead of me at the jewelry counter writes a check. It is a laborious process for her and I'm sympathetic, but...)

1 quick investigation of the other, regular check-out lines, which tells me there's no hope there.

1 return to the jewelry check-out lady, only to hear her say to her customer, who has finally finished writing her check, "Oh no, look dear, you skipped a check. Here, let me see your checkbook and we'll start all over..."

1 determined retreat to the grocery section, light Walmart pullover unpaid for (will I be tackled by Walmart security? I know a person who was, once...)

1 encounter with some other friends, from my former church.

3 steps toward the grocery section.

1 announcement over Walmart intercom: "Will the customer who needed a scan please return to the jewelry department?" The voice, I'm pretty sure, is that of the dressing room lady. She's found me out.

1 trip back to the jewelry department. I have three things from my list in the basket. I think steam from my ears is what's fogging up my glasses. I hope I get there before Security gets the go-ahead to tackle me.

1 question: "Was that intercom announcement for me?" 1 answer: "No." 1 more question: "Since I'm here with no other customers in front of me, can I go ahead and pay for my lighter, Walmart pullover?" 1 answer: "No."

1 trip back to the grocery section, and I'm appalled at my *ahem* dare I say murderous mindset this morning, here at Walmart. Why am I such an angry person? I am an angry person. A flood of revelation breaks through: I am an angry person, and I'm helpless to change myself. I need God's help. I need to change, for his glory, and I'm powerless to change myself.

One last episode, in the bread aisle. My list is almost done. I pass two elderly ladies; one of them, the younger one, tells the older one, "I don't know if you know this, but I just lost my husband. I sure do miss him." I toss a loaf of bread into my buggy and glance back, just to see who owns the faces that are speaking. The older elderly lady is answering her grieving friend; the wrinkled face is beaming, she reaches a gnarled hand out to touch her friend, and I hear her say, "This is what he lived for... this is what he was saved for. He's finally in heaven with Jesus."

My throat is tight even now as I remember it. I might not ever forget that lady's ancient, worn face and stooped figure, and the thrill of love in her weak voice. It's what she has lived for, it's what she was saved for. And likely, it won't be long 'til she finally wakes to see the lovely face of her Savior and King, of Jesus, in heaven. At last.

I lost the anger, though I see that I become sinfully angry and need God's help to change. It was a divine appointment, long planned. I entered the bread aisle with one outlook, and exited it at the other end with another. God planned my trip to Walmart today with a view to opening my eyes a little. I'm thankful he did.


1 appointment--the one I was fuming about because it was my agenda and my time and my plan--kept, with plenty of time to spare.

1 foil-lined pullover into the Goodwill bag!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

A Simple Tool

Now reading Mark Shaw's excellent book "The Heart of Addiction (A Biblical Perspective)." Don't think being a teetotaler makes a book like this irrelevant to your life... we are all latent pleasure-abusers, because all of us have the same sin problem. This book is about the heart of addiction... the temptation we face daily to be "lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God" (2 Timothy 3:4).

Mark says, "Here is a simple tool to use the next time you desire to do something sinful but struggle as to whether you really should do it or not. Before you commit the action, bow down on your knees, close your eyes, and pray to God saying these words: 'Lord, I am planning to do ________ right now to your glory. I am going to do this unto You, Father God, because I know it will please You.' If what you are about to do will not fit properly in the blank line above because that action cannot be done to glorify God, then you must not commit the action. Do something in place of that action that does glorify God!"

Great advice for all of us. Applied honestly to the places we plan to go, the t.v. shows we plan to watch, and the things we plan to say, we'll find ourselves making much headway in godliness. I'm working to make it a habit to remember to use this.

(Photo by Pirate Johnny)