Thursday, January 17, 2019

Testify!


© 2019 Christy K Robinson

I grew up in conservative churches and Christian schools that taught us not to exhibit emotion in our church services, and definitely not to raise our hands in worship, sway to the music, or speak during sermons and prayers by others, except for a quiet, restrained "Amen" once in a while. As a young adult, I was church keyboardist for a congregation where the choir director joked that they were the Frozen Chosen when it came to religious expression.

Then, I began attending a large church in California, with a cosmopolitan congregation from many cultures. One of my treasured friends, Cliff, sat about two to four pews back from the stage. He is an African American who came from the Black church charismatic tradition, where frequent affirmations from the audience are actually solicited by preachers who say, "Come on!" Cliff would be listening to the sermon in our church, both ears pricked up, and when he could contain his excitement no longer, he would raise his hand, or even stand momentarily, and say in his outdoors voice that could be heard in the transepts and balcony, "Testify!" or "Come on!" or "Preach, preacher!" It wasn't disruptive. It was encouraging.

I've made no secret of my struggles with financial survival since the Great Recession (Depression) of 2007 and on. But I couple that concern with a strong faith that grows daily: God is in control, and as my loving Father, he will sustain me. His provision of manna (the Hebrew word translates as "What is that?") is just what I need each day.

It's easy to laugh about the irony of this image, but
remember, the rescue crew are on scene with the resources
to save the stranded and salvage the sinking boat.
 Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. Phil. 4:6 MSG



Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you [watchfully].  1 Peter 5:7 AMP  

"Hakuna Matata" means "no worries," according to The Lion King characters.
U.S. Coast Guard crew members help dewater a vessel
off Cape May, New Jersey, November 2017.
(Photo courtesy of the USCG)
"Whenever your heart starts to be anxious about the future, preach to your heart and say, 'Heart, who do you think you are to be afraid of the future and nullify the promise of God? No, Heart, I will not exalt myself with anxiety. I will humble myself in peace and joy as I trust this precious and great promise of God -- He cares for me.'"  --John Piper

Preach, Preacher!
TESTIFY!


 
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Christy K Robinson is author of these sites:
·       Discovering Love (inspiration)
·       Rooting for Ancestors (history and genealogy)
·       William and Mary Barrett Dyer (17th century culture and history of England and New England)

and of these books:
·       We Shall Be Changed (2010)
·       Mary Dyer Illuminated (2013)
·       Mary Dyer: For Such a Time as This (2014)
·       Effigy Hunter (2015)

 

Monday, December 31, 2018

Resolved



© 2018 Christy K Robinson

Since 2015, I've been writing about the benefits of being grateful. It's my one New Year resolution each year. Having only the one, it means I am more likely to keep my resolution.

Living a grateful life is a happier life, and less tense or fearful because I come to the place where God is in control, and not some negative force. For instance, I believe that our nation, and indeed the world, is headed for another financial crash that will be worse than the one that took us down from 2008 to the present--the one we still have not recovered from. Economists back this up in Forbes, Newsweek, LA Times, Fortune, and major news sources. For a self-employed person like me, who lives month to month teaching piano lessons and editing books, which are luxuries easily cut off in hard financial times, that's scary. Living the gig economy with no security net or pension fund, and no spousal income to fall back on, could be terrifying. In fact, two weeks ago, I got word that I'd be losing about $130 a month from my meager income, starting in January.

The gratitude attitude reminds me that God has brought me through impossible situations before. He's provided for me far beyond what I could earn or expect. He loves me, and calls me his daughter, and that places my welfare in his hands. I'm reminding myself that I must not be angry or resentful over a situation I can't control, and that I should be looking forward to the miracles, large and small, that God will perform on my behalf.

So though I know that a financial famine is coming, I'm planting my garden in the expectation and anticipation that God will show himself faithful again and again, with grace upon grace upon grace.

For out of His fullness [the superabundance of His grace and truth] we have all received grace upon grace [spiritual blessing upon spiritual blessing, favor upon favor, and gift heaped upon gift]. John 1:16 AMP 

That's something to be grateful for in advance. I know the blessings are coming just as surely as I know the crash is coming. 


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Christy K Robinson is author of these sites:
·       Discovering Love (inspiration)
·       Rooting for Ancestors (history and genealogy)
·       William and Mary Barrett Dyer (17th century culture and history of England and New England)

and of these books:
·       We Shall Be Changed (2010)
·       Mary Dyer Illuminated (2013)
·       Mary Dyer: For Such a Time as This (2014)
·       Effigy Hunter (2015)

Monday, December 24, 2018

In Jesus' name



 © 2018 Christy K Robinson 

On Christmas Eve, the parent of my piano students brought over a gift card for me, on which she wrote "Happy Holiday Christ." She's Buddhist and a first-generation Chinese immigrant, and forgot the Y on my name. But I must admit, being called a name of God does seem like a lot to live up to!   

On the other hand, my parents named me Christy because of its meaning: "anointed to royal service." Taking and living out a name that is a title of Jesus (not actually his surname!) is a great responsibility. 

Just a reminder: if you are a Christ-follower or Christian, you, too, are anointed to royal service, no matter what your birth certificate says.

So I'll enjoy the gift card and the generosity of the giver, and will take the gentle reminder from God that he has work for me to do. Not works to attain salvation or favor, but work that may be inconvenient, cost time or effort, or even hurt. That's what "service" or "ministry" means. 

Helping-serving-ministering is a gift we give every day, not just on Christmas. 



Happy holy-days, every day. 
Sincerely,
Christy

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Christy K Robinson is author of these sites:
·       Discovering Love (inspiration)
·       Rooting for Ancestors (history and genealogy)
·       William and Mary Barrett Dyer (17th century culture and history of England and New England)

and of these books:
·       We Shall Be Changed (2010)
·       Mary Dyer Illuminated (2013)
·       Mary Dyer: For Such a Time as This (2014)
·       Effigy Hunter (2015)

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

I'm a little snowflake


© 2018 Christy K Robinson

Credit: Peter Schreiber
I admit it, I'm a snowflake. Not in most things, not in politics. In fact, I can be fierce about politics! But in matters of the heart, I'm fragile and can melt under a December sun.

On my way home from a medical appointment, I heard a song on the Christian radio station I listen to on a regular basis. The lyricist was asking God to radically and suddenly change him, to be a different man, submitted to any command of God. The lyrics almost sounded militant to me.

What a contrast to my prayers, which God has answered every time. Many years ago, I asked the Lord for wisdom to understand when he was teaching me or writing on my heart and mind (as the New Covenant says in Hebrews 8:10-13). I asked that God would be gentle with me, and he has honored that. Sometimes he even uses humor.

For instance, I'm self-employed since the Great Depression of 2007-2011, to current times. (No, I intended to write Depression and not Recession.) After I lost my job at age 50, there was no employer who would take me, so I was forced to freelance and be an entrepreneur. There are no safety nets or family members to help me if I can't earn enough to pay my air conditioning bill over the Phoenix summer. But with juggling, being a total miser, and taking any job God sends my way, I've survived. Somehow, God stretches the money, or tells some lovely person to send me a check in the mail. It is truly miraculous. Part of my gratitude for those gifts is that I didn't ask or hint, and God moved that person, and the giver gets the joy of having been used by God.

Recently, I went in for a routine medical test, and the radiologist pinpointed two irregularities that required a needle biopsy to determine if they were malignant or benign. Two holes, two long needles with harpoons inside them, to tear out a piece of flesh. And the needle has to be inserted four times at each site: three for samples and one to place a titanium marker. Sheesh!! I usually drive myself to everything, because I hate to take a chunk out of someone else's day. But God moved a friend to go with me for support and encouragement. And I got the report about 28 hours later: benign. That meant I could go ahead with another very large project, near to my heart, that I've been planning and working for, for a long time.

If you're afraid that God will do a crisis on you if you submit to his will, remember that he is a Father who loves us more than any earthly father. He loves us with an everlasting love. And I will tell you from experience, if you ask him to be gentle and take it slow, or melt your snowflake an atom at a time, he will!

So go ahead and ask. He wants you to ask. Tell him you've had a hard run on your own, and now you need gentle treatment. He knows. Even when Jesus was dying on the cross and cried, "My God, why have you forsaken me?" God did not leave the Son alone. Jesus' mother and the loving disciple John were still there, at the foot of the cross.

He'll be just as careful with you and your needs.


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Christy K Robinson is author of these sites:
·       Discovering Love (inspiration)
·       Rooting for Ancestors (history and genealogy)
·       William and Mary Barrett Dyer (17th century culture and history of England and New England)

and of these books:
·       We Shall Be Changed (2010)
·       Mary Dyer Illuminated (2013)
·       Mary Dyer: For Such a Time as This (2014)
·       Effigy Hunter (2015)

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Billy Graham's influence and legacy

© 2018 Christy K Robinson

I turned on the TV at 9:00 this morning and learned that the evangelist Billy Graham had died overnight. He was 99 years old and world-renowned for his integrity. Hundreds of thousands of people gave their lives to the Lord as a result of his enthusiastic (the word origin of 'enthuse,' en theos, is for God to enter in) crusade sermons.


Billy Graham in 1964
Religion News Service
My parents and I attended a Billy Graham crusade in Phoenix in April 1964 at the ASU Sun Devil stadium. I wasn't yet in first grade, so I don't remember much. But my parents admired him immensely, and were proud that their regular donations to the ministry got them a color photo of the Graham family and a Christmas card.

I admired him for a couple of things in particular:
1. He was relentlessly interdenominational, focused on Jesus instead of denominational creeds, and he did not recommend that new believers join a particular denomination but a Bible-believing church. This meant they'd have to make decisions based on visiting, fellowship, and Bible study.
2. He was in favor of the separation of church and state as liberty of conscience, for all people to worship their god as they were called to. Though he was frequently a counselor to American presidents and world leaders, he didn't offend people of other religions or denominations.

He wrote in a July 4 devotional thought,
"On this Independence Day we should be on our knees thanking God for all He has given us. The United States is a country in which everyone has an equal opportunity. Thank God for a country where there is no caste or class to keep a man from going to the top. If a man has a will to work and study, he can go ahead regardless of his background. In addition, thank God, He has given us freedom of religion. Whatever you may believe, no one can close your church because your religion does not coincide with his. A few people meeting in a small, out-of-the-way shack, worshiping God as they believe in Him, have the same right to religious freedom as the people who worship God in the great cathedrals on the avenues of our greatest cities."
However, regarding his visits to and influence on American presidents and politics, there's this regret.

"Inside the Beltway is a different world," Graham said to biographer William Martin, author of A Prophet with Honor. "That's the reason I don't go there anymore if I can help it. I'm glad I live down here on these mountains. I don't go to Washington much, and I don't go to the Hill much. I used to have lots of friends that I'd go back and see—congressmen and senators—but for years I haven't done that. I just don't want to go. I feel God has called me to a much higher calling."
"I came close to identifying the American way of life with the kingdom of God," Graham told Christianity Today more than 10 years after Nixon resigned. "Then I realized that God had called me to a higher kingdom than America. I have tried to be faithful to my calling as a minister of the gospel."


On Nov. 19, 2004, I was invited by a friend in our church praise group to go with her and her friends to the last evangelism tour of Billy Graham before he retired. I accepted, and it was wonderful. It was held at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, and nearly every seat was filled, though the crusade ran for about a week. It was slickly produced, and I suspect not just for a Hollywood crowd, but for any city, anywhere.

The stage participants included George Beverly Shea ("How Great Thou Art"), actor Jim Caviezel, singer-songwriter Michael W. Smith, Billy's son Franklin, and several others.


The Rose Bowl sign
Unknown, Deborah Curbelo, unknown, and Christy Robinson
Billy Graham sermon
Singer-songwriter Michael W. Smith
Franklin Graham
George Beverly Shea and choir
Actor Jim Caviezel gives testimony
about acting in "The Passion of the Christ."
Thousands of people poured onto the Rose Bowl field to
accept Christ and be prayed for, while Shea sang "Just As I Am."
Billy Graham had his faults, including speaking words of anti-Semitism with Richard Nixon (he apologized when the tapes came out), and advising evangelicals to resist expanding civil and human rights for LGBT people. Some people think that back in the late 70s, he was the foot in the door for the religious right to take over the Republican Party.

But on the whole, he made the Son of God accessible and loving and full of grace, a contrast from what people had heard for hundreds of years.

His son, Franklin Graham, trained in business and not theology or ministry,
"has mocked both Islam and LGBT rights. He uses his following on social media to raise funds for "persecuted Christians," boycotts businesses that use gay couples in advertisements and blasts the separation of church and state as the godless successor to Cold War communism." https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2018/02/21/billy-graham-americas-pastor-has-died/858017001/

Regarding the revelation of Trump’s payment of $130,000 for the silence of a porn actress Trump slept with during his marriage to third wife Melania, Franklin Graham told MSNBC in January 2018,
“Now did he have an affair with this woman? I have no clue, but I believe that 70 years of age, the president is a much different person today than he was four years ago, five years ago, ten years ago, or whatever, and we just have to give the man the benefit of the doubt. He said he didn’t do it, so okay, let’s say he didn’t do it.”
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2018/01/21/franklin-graham-dismisses-trumps-alleged-affair-hes-not-president-perfect/#LmbVdx3w25LiIfGd.99
Never mind that Trump himself said he does not confess his sins. Or that innumerable lies come out of that oral sphincter. That kind of statement about Trump, coming from high-profile evangelical leaders like Franklin Graham, Jerry Fallwell, and Tony Perkins, essentially gives him (and other Christians behaving immorally) a pass on sin. Take him at his word? His corrupt word? No.

"People conceived and brought into life by God don’t make a practice of sin. How could they? God’s seed is deep within them, making them who they are. It’s not in the nature of the God-begotten to practice and parade sin. Here’s how you tell the difference between God’s children and the Devil’s children: The one who won’t practice righteous ways isn’t from God, nor is the one who won’t love brother or sister. A simple test." 1 John 3:9-10.

When her uncle Franklin Graham portrays Trump as someone who was elected President by the will of God and upholding the cause of Jesus, Billy Graham's granddaughter Jerusha Armfield says he “diminishes not only my Jesus but all he stood for and came to Earth to fight against.” Washington Times.




Though Franklin Graham has done some good humanitarian work with Samaritan's Purse, he's proven himself a bigot and a political partisan that can't pass the sniff test of John 13:34-35: “Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other." 

Billy Graham mellowed as he aged, and seemed to have compassion for sinners, though not approval of their ways. I hope that his son will similarly find humility and God's heart, rather than notoriety as a political commentator for the corrupt Right.

I know what it's like to lose both parents, and though I believe in eternal life, the grief of their loss in my world comes in waves, even years later. I pray that the Graham family finds comfort and joy in remembering the love among them, and that they take the legacy of Billy and Ruth Graham into their own lives, for generations to come.

Imagine what a thrill, what a ride, it is, to be en theos and know God is using you to effect change in this world. Billy Graham knew that enthusiasm and gave that gift to countless others.





Christy K Robinson is author of these sites:
·       Discovering Love (inspiration)
·       Rooting for Ancestors (history and genealogy)
·       William and Mary Barrett Dyer (17th century culture and history of England and New England)

and of these books:
·       We Shall Be Changed (2010)
·       Mary Dyer Illuminated (2013)
·       Mary Dyer: For Such a Time as This (2014)
·       Effigy Hunter (2015)

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