Friday, June 19, 2009

Street Ministry - 6-18-9


Marion/Harrison Street

As I had mentioned I had a thought of Solomon (my golden retriever) pulling my little red wagon and accompanying me on my street ministry walks. To explore the feasibility of that on Tuesday, a day of steady rain, I took Solomon with me on the Middlebury Street ministry route and he did very very well. He was very well behaved and people who wouldn't have paused for a moment for me and my message, walked across the street to see Solomon. I was kind of torn about taking him with me on Marion/Harrison Street. I thought about it much of the day. My main concern was that there are a large number of pit bulls in the neighborhood and could I protect Solomon if one was loose and attacked him. I ultimately decided there were advantages to having him along and that I would depend on God for His protection. . .

It wasn't raining, so more people would be out and unlike Tuesday, I really needed to take the wagon. The wagon carries a little box of my Bible verse cards, which if I meet someone with a particular need, I am able to find an appropriate Bible verse card to share with them. . . the Word of God is the Sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17), and like any sword, it is intended and designed to be used as a weapon to defend ourselves from attacks of the enemy. I love sharing Bible verses of power to drive away fear and uplift the soul. . . I also carry Bibles to give away, various tracts, past fliers, and I usually have some daily devotionals which I buy at Goodwill to hand out to people as needed. I can't remember who, but someone also gave me a little first aid kit to carry along. . .

In my mind I thought I had figured out how I would be able to pull the wagon and lead Solomon at the same time. I went home and got him and then went to church to get the wagon and my various supplies. We loaded up and departed for Marion Street. I parked just west of Third Street, next to the Congregational Church there. Got everything unloaded and started down the sidewalk.

The first stop is always the large apartment building on the north side of Marion. It has three levels of above ground apartments and a lower level of what might be called half basement apartments. The stairs are kind of rotten and not too steady on the lower level, so I left Solomon with the wagon, on impulse not merely telling him to 'stay', but also looping his leash through the handle of the wagon.

He is a very calm dog, and he did very well with the 'stay' command when I went to leave fliers on porches Tuesday, so that I was quite confident that he would do well in staying near the wagon. I was below street level and had just hung the flier on the door knob of the apartment. I didn't have a clear view of Solomon, but as I was climbing back up the creaky old stairs, I heard the handle of the wagon hit the ground with a little bang. . .immediately followed by the sound of the wagon and Solomon taking off down the sidewalk. . .

Oh my God!!!. . .the terror in Solomon's eyes. . . It was horrible and I was totally helpless. . .he began running pell mell down the sidewalk with the wagon tied to him. . . biting at his heels. . .following him. . .in his eyes this mechanical nightmare immediately behind him, no matter what direction. . . as I frantically called him, turning coming toward me, turning again and running away. . .the wagon dragging on its side, making this horrible grinding noise. . .no matter how fast he ran, never able to shake it. . . and then from one side of Marion Street to another. The wagon careening wildly behind him. . . terrorizing him more and more. . . everything spilling out across the street and down the sidewalk. The wagon going on its side and then righting itself again as it hit the curb. Finally in the funeral home parking area he ran near a small tree and changed direction. The leash became taut around the tree and the wheels of the wagon caught and held like a land anchor. . . A Hispanic man, having watched all this from the sidewalk garage sale at his house, quickly ran and held onto the wagon (wisely rather than trying to touch Solomon in his frenzied state) until I could arrive.

It was the most horrible thing. It was really a matter of seconds until it was over. Once in motion, there was absolutely nothing I could do, but watch as the chain of events unfolded in front of my eyes. . .I felt utter helplessness. . .

A number of people from the neighborhood joined together to gather up all the wagon contents strewn the length of Solomon's 100 yard death dash. . .It is so fortunate that no cars or trucks were coming at all. I give God all the credit for watching over Solomon and protecting him. Marion street is very busy at that time of day. I was totally embarrassed and shaken. . .I effusively thanked everyone again and again. . .I knew several of the people of the neighborhood who helped pick up my stuff. . .One lady maybe trying to console me, maybe not knowing what else to say, kept repeating, "God bless you sir. . . God bless you sir. . ."



Solomon was just a wreck when I got him back to the car. He had urinated all over himself and his anal glands had let loose, I think he broke a toenail, he was spotting a little blood from his paw. . .he was a mess. . .The wagon is all banged up, undoubtedly still usable, but the sides are dented in. The paint is scraped up. The wooden side risers are all smashed and broken. . .all in all, thankfully only relatively minor lasting testimonies to my foolishness. . . My God, thankfully the only visible memorials of my poor judgment. . .




I don't know. . .LOL, I'm somewhat skeptical at this point of ever getting Solomon near to that wagon or anything that even remotely looks like a wagon for that matter. . .in my research on getting Solomon a harness, etc. to pull the wagon, I see that goats are often used to pull carts. . . Jackie's always wanted to have a goat. . .LOL. . . JUST KIDDING!!!!

Anyway, today is Jackie and I's anniversary 15th (I think?!?!). . .

Thank you God for everything You've done for me.
Thank you for watching over me. . .
Thank you for my wife. . .

I love you my Lord. . .
I love you my God. . .

Dave Stokely

Friday, June 12, 2009

Tempted or Tested. . .

In an earlier writing I explored the difference between a trial and a test. . .The differences between the two are in the attitude and thereby the perception of the one undergoing the experience.

There is indeed a difference between being tempted and being tested. A test is a measuring device, like a ruler or weight scales. You can be tested by someone else or you can and should test yourself. A test births an increase in knowledge. Tests can be constructed from virtually any raw material. They are not limited to any set form. Any life event can be viewed as a test, if you learn something about your self from it. Every test is valuable in that there is always value in gaining knowledge about yourself.

While a test is most often independent of you, think of a hurricane or the present economic crisis, millions of people are being tested at once by single causative events. A temptation on the other hand is intimately bound to you, for indeed temptation is internal. It arises from within you. You are the source of your own temptation. If the hunger, if the desire were not within you it would be impossible to be tempted. Temptations are uniquely individualistic. While people certainly may share the same desires, that which will tempt you and another will likely be very different. What is temptation to one, is nothing to another. A test is finite. It has an end. Temptation is endless as long as there is hunger. As long as that hunger is carried, temptation will never end. For victory comes not at the end of temptation, but at the end of hunger. . .

Much apparent confusion in the Bible over the concept of temptation comes from problems with translation. The words 'tempt' or 'temptation' are found some in some 69 verses in the Old and New Testaments. In many of those verses, the underlying Hebrew or Greek words could possibly have better been translated as 'tested'. There is one definitive passage that speaks of temptation:

James 1:12-15
Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. (13) Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: (14) But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. (15) Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

This speaks directly to what I am saying. It is our own hunger that is the source of our weakness. It is only through that hunger that we can be enticed and drawn away from God. God put that which was forbidden in the garden. He did not create that hunger. . . the enticement was not from within the fruit, but originated in Eve . . it was that dissatisfaction within Eve that led her into the eating of the forbidden fruit. The fruit was an inanimate object, blameless in the absence of Eve's hunger and subsequent disobedience based upon that hunger.

Proverbs 27:7
The full soul loatheth an honeycomb; but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.

When we are full. . . when we are sated in the Lord, we cannot be enticed, but when we are empty and hollow inside even that which is not good for us is appealing and we crave it. . .

Isaiah 55:1-2
Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. (2) Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.

Avoid that which feeds hunger. . .Seek that which truly satisfies. . .

In Matthew 4, where Jesus is led into the wilderness and enticed by the devil, the devil fails with his temptation, for Jesus has no hunger for those things offered. The devil had no foothold in Jesus. We learn much about the devil and what he finds enticing by that which he offers Jesus. If the devil is offering it, you can be assured that it is filled with sin.

Matthew 4:3
And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.

After 40 days of fasting, the devil first enticed Jesus with the satisfying of His physical hunger through His divine power. . . for Jesus to satisfy His physical hunger with His Spiritual power. . .to be lacking in the physical, means little when filled in the Spiritual. One of the primary purposes of a fast is to demonstrate the predominance of the Spirit over the physical. The way to end a fast is not in an orgy of eating. If so, then the fast becomes a mere tool giving excuse for continued excesses of appetite. . . the lust of the flesh. . .

Matthew 4:5-6
Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down. . .

The entire scenario is important for this enticement. Now at the highest point of the temple, in front of all those gathered there, imagine in your minds eye everyone seeing angels rescuing you, proving your invincibility. . .showing them all. . . proving yourself to them all. . .letting them see in their eyes first hand, how God honors and protects you. . . the lust of the eyes. . .

Matthew 4:8-9
Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; (9) And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.

Now the devil takes Jesus, not to a public place, but to a place with a wide view. Isolated and alone on top of a mountain, not seen, but being able to see everything Himself. Enticing Him not with the admiration of others, but with actual possession, control, in short, tempting Him with absolute power over the lives of others. . .the pride of life. . .

Good parallels between the enticements of the devil and the admonitions of John:

1 John 2:15-17 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (16) For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. (17) And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

Avoid that which increases and feeds the appetites of the flesh. . .whatever that might be. . .what ever form that might take. Success over temptation lies not in the impossible avoidance of temptation, but in being filled with other sustenance. The elimination of fleshly appetites and the fostering of the Spiritual:

Matthew 5:6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

John 6:35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

In closing, look upon those whom the Bible holds up to be mighty men. . . Noah, Moses, Joseph, David, John the Baptist. . .notice the common thread in each of them. None of these men were ambitious men. Each shied from the spotlight. Each spent time alone in their unique wilderness. . .doing right. . . devoting themselves to God. . .anonymous and apparently forgotten. Each had problems and occasionally stumbled, but each also had control over the enticements of power and public recognition. Each deferred or tried to defer themselves out of the spotlight. . .the hand of God. . . through the events of their lives propelled them, not their own machinations. . .they managed temptation through filling their hunger in God. . .

Thank you my Lord. . .
I love you my God. . .