Saturday, February 21, 2009

What It Takes to be a Christian by Jaye Lewis

Hello friends,

There is no certain formula. There are no magic words. There’s no need to send money to any organization. God doesn’t need your money. He desires your heart. He’ll never shove you, scare you, or trip up your words. He cares not about the color of your skin nor the eloquence of your speech. He frowns on theatrical display, no waving coats nor scary articulations needed. My God hates that kind of stuff. Jesus called the “players” of his day, “Hypocrites.” They still are.
I didn’t understand these things, for many, many years. I believed every Preacher who transformed sermons into theatrics, more in tune to a bad Off-Broadway Play, than God’s grace. I didn’t understand what being a Christian really means.

The Saving Hour by Jaye Lewis

He came to me in my darkest hour.
Or was it the break of day?
He came to me with the sweetest power,
To take my sins away.

His burden is, so, gentle;
You see, He has sheltered me
Beneath His Saving mantle,
And loves me tenderly.

My Cross that He helped me carry,
Was a never-ending array,
Of complaints which are legendary,
Yet He changed my life in a day.

My heart belongs to Jesus,
To Yeshua, Christ the King,
The One whose grace is ceaseless.
He is my everything!

I don’t dwell on tomorrow;
I’m a struggling soul like you
With a multitude of sorrows
And Jesus to see me through.

I don’t know why He sought me,
Saving this lonely soul.
He loves me, and He bought me
Making this Christian whole.

© Jaye Lewis, 2009

So, to my friends who are not Christians, but who wonder what it means to be one, I can tell you, sincerely, that to be a Christian is to be Christ’s face to the world. Whether the world is a next door neighbor, or someone in line at the bank, we are still admonished to not just “talk” about Jesus, but to “be” Him.

It troubles me that there are those who draw near to Christ with their lips, urging those who are often destitute, to empty their pocket books, and give the little they have to them. Like the snake-oil salesmen of a century ago, they will have their chance to face the One who said we should give “to the least of these.”

I realize now that I belonged to Jesus long ago, with a simple desire to serve Him and to serve others in His name. Words mean nothing. God looks at our hearts, and He collects what is written there.

Father in heaven, we can never be truly the face of Christ, but in these days of dark uncertainty, may we be the heart of Christ to one another. Grant us the grace and the means to help our community, and especially help us help those who are most in need.

With love,
Jaye Lewis

Friday, February 20, 2009

Feeding Hearts and Little Souls

Hello friends,

When the economy begins to recover and jobs within the green industry become prevalent, I’m hoping that more jobs will come to our community. They are desperately needed. Even though our family is well taken care of, our house payment has nearly doubled; the price of food has gone up nearly 300%, and I wonder, why are we so blessed? We are mere souls on a journey, hoping to make a difference in others lives. For reasons known only to God, we are blessed with a comfortable income. We’re able to care for and even spoil our four dogs. No one goes hungry. We pay our bills. We have a very loving, safe home.

Not so, for many of our neighbors. So how do we bless them? We live in a county, in our State of Virginia, that is unique. A relationship between churches, sheriff, and other resources, most people are provided for. However, no provision has been made for people’s pets. Therefore, our local animal shelter is handing out food − not to feed people − but to feed those little souls who bless our lives – their pets.

Who can forget Hurricane Katrina, and the horrible loss of life. Yet, those who survived had to experience another horror, abandoning their pets in order to be rescued. Many people refused to abandon those little souls who loved them so unconditionally. As a result, people died along with their pets. These events will haunt our family forever.

Not this time. Our family has adopted our animal shelter’s passion to save the pets who enrich all of our lives. How can we not? How can I tuck in my little souls; how can I carefully portion their food; how can I snuggle up at night with my faithful companion, and not care about those who must abandon their pets, because they cannot afford to feed them? So, I urge those who love animals, and can afford to, to call or visit your animal shelter, and find out how you can help.

I cannot not forget that God led the animals to Adam, to see what he (Adam) would name them. After the flood, God made six covenants with the animals, as well as mankind, that he would never destroy the earth with a flood. Can I ignore the One who said our Father in Heaven knows the tiniest sparrow, and not do what I can?

For those who see this as caring for animals above humans, I cannot help but wonder if they have ever held a dog and prayed for it to be made well. So, you might say that we are feeding the hearts of those who love their pets, as well as feeding the little souls who make our lives rich. So, my friends, if this is an attractive way of giving to your neighbors, your SPCA or shelter would be the place to help you get started.

Father in heaven, may we ever be mindful that your eye is on the sparrow; that you see to the needs of the birds of the air. You, dear Jesus, referred to “the little dogs” beneath the Master’s table. My Lord and my God, You created this earth, and everything that is in it, and you placed it in our care. Help us to be mindful of that as we seek to assist our neighbors, as we are able. And, Father, thank you for our little dogs, our great big dog, and our lonesome kitty. For they give us unconditional love that we seldom deserve.

With love,
Jaye Lewis

Friday, February 13, 2009

Losing It by Jaye Lewis

Hello friends,

I’m losing my sight. I knew that I had vision problems, but I believed, rightly or wrongly, that this – losing my sight – was something that would never happen to me. Why this? Why me? My last blood profile is the envy of the community. I am a freak about taking care of myself. I don’t drink; I don’t smoke; I don’t eat sugar; I have low cholesterol – in other words, I’m a control freak about my health. But this…this impairment of my sight…for this I’m not prepared.

I sobbed in my eye doctor’s office. It was obvious to me, before she even said it. I couldn’t see as I did two years ago. Everything I could see was blurred and indistinct. You see, I’m a poet. I see through my eyes and deep into my heart. The sunrise, for me, is beatific. The sunset sets my soul on fire, as well as the sky. When I am able to view some spectacular night sky event, I am uplifted, so that I almost feel myself drawn into heaven. So, I cried at the thought that this might all end.

What did St. Paul say? “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child; but when I became [an adult], I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now, I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.” 1 Corinthians 13:12

It’s true, I only know dimly. It is like looking into the face of Jesus, after a lifetime of love for Him; trying to be obedient to the will of God; and yet, not seeing Him as He sees me. So, because of Christ, and the sacrifice that He made for me, I can surrender, even this – my sight.

So now, what do I do? Well, I continue to be a control freak about my health. That is one reason why I’m willing to go on a new diabetes program, which includes Byetta®, which I will have to inject twice a day. It is not insulin. It is a new medication, which requires me to learn HOW to do it, and those of you who have gotten to know me well, know that I HATE CHANGE!! By gosh, I’ll do it, but don’t expect me to like it. The weird thing about this is I have no problem with needles. It’s the mental gymnastics that I have a problem with. It’s like a ballet that ends with me sticking myself in the leg. So, everybody has to walk through this with me, this week-end. :o)

What has happened with my diabetes is change. Diabetes is NOT a one size fits all kind of a disease. All kinds of things affect it, your diet, your exercise, other medications, and growing old. Basically, it has come down to this for me: everything changes, and for me, today, it is my diabetes and my sight.

So now, I move on. I thank God that I have a good doctor. I praise Him for my husband whose eyes will always shine, just for me. I do not need sight to know that. I bless Him for the beautiful souls of each of my daughters, and I thank God for His faithfulness to me. God loves me, passionately. He thinks I’m funny. He knows that each sunset makes me love Him more. He knows that I will miss the stars. He knows already, that I will see the Milky Way no more, until I watch it with Him.

I share these things, because I know that someone needs to know that God loves you; that your problems are important to the only One who can bring about joyful change; and He is the only One who can drag us through that change, so that we can accept it.

I love Him, and He knows it. I see His face, in the face and heart of each new friend. I am not afraid, when someone does not believe in Him. Most people do believe. At the same time, I know I see God, through a glass dimly, but in the hereafter, face to face. I look forward to that, even as I fear that final change. Yet I trust in him, because He has brought me through so much. So, He will bring me through that, when the time comes.

I wish you could see Him, in your heart, the way I do. He is filled with affection for us. He became one of us, leading an ordinary life, until He entered His ministry. He died for us, not because we are good, but because He is good. I know that there are those who will dismiss my faith, but that’s okay. My guess is they are nursing past hurts and disappointments left unhealed. There are those who also look to mediums and spiritualists, those blind guides, who know nothing about the hereafter of which I speak. I have no more control over them, than I have over my loss of sight. So, this is what I am going to do.

I’m going to trust God, the One who saved me; the One who forgives me; the One who shows me the ludicrous in myself, so that I can laugh; and the One who has filled my life with so much joy. Did I suffer in my past? Yes I did, but I must not stay there. I can’t and I won’t. I must allow Him to carry me, often kicking and screaming, through the tough times and into a brighter tomorrow.

Thank you, my friends, for putting up with me on this blog. I know that this is not a normal blog. I have no riddles nor snappy dialogue to entertain. Nor do I have facts and figures about whatever passes for entertainment in our society. I have only this to share: my heart, and a shared journey through the time I have left.

I wish for you every happiness your heart can hold. I pray for your families, your homes, and your situation in life. May God bless and keep you. May He light your path. May He place His arms around you when you stumble, and when you fall, may He lift you in His arms and carry you.

Father, thank you for this journey, and for the one that is ahead. Help me, oh Lord, to lose myself in your arms. May I never forget all that you have brought me through. Grant me the grace to face the future, without fear. Bless each soul who reads this with all of the gifts that you have given to me. May You always go before them, and protect them from their enemies; and may they know that they are safe in your care.

With love,
Jaye Lewis

Friday, February 06, 2009

For the Love of My Country

I find it amazing, and disturbing, that there are those, in Congress and the Senate who are stalling an emergency stimulus bill, just because they can. In our family, we are okay. We can make our suddenly doubled house payment, and deal with the price of food, which has tripled. All of us have a health plan with prescription benefits, and each of us has an income, which enables us to live very well. We’re not independently wealthy. We work. We have educations. And those of us who are not retired, as I am, have jobs.

My daughters’ education was financed from loans, grants, and scholarships. Since both are disabled, neither on Medicare or Medicaid, they were given assistance by the Department of Disabilities in our state. They received medical assistance through the Free Clinic, Health Department, and the University where they attended. Their prescriptions were provided, for six years, by patient assistance programs from the drug companies who designed the medications.

They were blessed, and they still are. Although we voted straight Republican in 2000 and 2004, my daughters were given the help they needed – a hand up, if you will – by a Democratic Governor and a Democratic Congressman. Why? Why are the Democrats concerned with jobs and education, and Republicans are concerned with tax-breaks for the Oil Industry, for instance. We know what good friends they are, don’t we? It took us sliding toward another Great Depression for the price at the pump to go down.

I know there are those who come equipped with tunnel vision from the womb. I was related to them. Perhaps I was even one of those people once. But things are different, now. Just as I enlisted in the Navy, during the Vietnam War, my Country needs me now, too. I must look at the needs of my fellow citizens, as well as my own. I must put my Country first.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if those whom we elect simply served their Country? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if they were not self-serving? I believe that is the difference with President Obama. He is putting our Country and our people first. Yes, he is irascible. Yes, he seems angry. Heck, I’m angry! But look at the people he is choosing – people with actual experience. People who disagree – with him!! Isn’t that what all reasonable people do? Don’t each of us realize – or shouldn’t we – that we don’t each have the answer, and everyone else is wrong??

As a Christian, when Jesus draws up sides, at the end of the age, and he separates the sheep (those who feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, and comfort the afflicted) from the goats (those who did NOT do these things), I do not want to be on the side of the goats. Christ has told us that he doesn’t care about the show we may have displayed in Church. He doesn’t care if we warm the front pew, or we worship at home. He doesn’t care about how we wave our coat around and threaten others with hell. He cares about our hearts. And the only person who knows more about my heart than I do, is my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Can I be less than He commanded me to be? I may be a home bound, semi-invalid. I may have diabetes, which has caused my eyesight to fail. I may have neurological diseases, asthma, and a host of other complications, but that doesn’t matter. Where is my heart? Do I honor my Father in heaven, who has admonished me, that He wants obedience, not sacrifice. Or do I honor man?

I think that this is what we are seeing in President Obama. He speaks freely of his desire to honor Jesus, by obedience to His Word. After all, Jesus said that there are two Great Commandments, which encompass all of the teachings of all of the prophets from the beginning to the end of this age. And they are simple: love God; love your neighbor. That is what is missing in the Republican Party, that I used to support.

Pride is not love, and power must not forsake the least among us. After all, the Savior, who redeemed me, washed His disciple’s feet, and He called Himself “the least of these.” As my mother used to say, “if you give, and your heart is not in it, then you have missed Jesus.” I don’t ever want to miss Jesus.

Poor in spirit, as I am; sinful though I may be; unthankful, though I am, for the blessings I have received; I still know this: giving is not getting, sacrifice is not obedience, and the same Father who knows, intimately, the heart of the sparrow, knows my heart as well. My neighbor who lost her job matters. My neighbor, whose “house for sale” signs frames our corner, matters. The families who have no food, and the food banks who cannot feed them, matter.

The child who needs medicine, the parent who needs them to eat, the businesses that have closed – those small businesses that Republicans say they are fighting for – they matter. The predatory lenders, who will loan you money, on your car, or your next paycheck, if you have one; and who also charge you “loan shark” interest rates, are NOT the small businesses I’m talking about.

Wake-up, Congress! Wake-up, Senate! Wake-up Republicans! Do you think your constituency will send you back to Washington in two years or six? Abraham Lincoln was a Republican! Teddy Roosevelt was a Republican! What have you done?!!

Forgive me, friends. I see much mud in the waters. I see that we Christians have forgotten our first Love. Gandhi once said, “if Christians started acting like Jesus, all of India would come to the Cross.”

Father in heaven, I seek not to disturb those who read this, as though we Christians are better than anyone. I see the good in all who seek to give that cup of water to your little ones. I see, my Lord Christ, how much You love, the least of these. Help me now, to cast away my sins, and to turn away from the things of this world. Help me to understand that you have raised up all leaders (as you have said in Your Word), and, please Father, bless and protect our President, who seeks to serve Your least of these.

With love,
Jaye Lewis

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