Seeing the Beginning from the End

Isaiah42“Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations.” – Isaiah 42:1

The summer I was 15, God spoke this verse into my spirit and it changed my life forever. Last night, 28 years later, the same verse did it again.

The summer of 1985 I was your typical church-going teenager. We were at a summer camp at Christian Retreat in Bradenton, Florida for a week – it was actually one of two separate camps there I went to that summer. I was interested in having fun, enjoying the services, and meeting girls that would come from around the country. I was also at a place of just generally trying to figure out what life would look like in a few years after I would graduate from high school. Again, I was pretty much the typical church-going teenage male.

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Gaining a fire through the Forge…

I spent the week between Christmas and New Year’s this year pretty much in bed.  I woke up two days after Christmas with a bad bug and spent the next few days either in bed sleeping or in the bathroom being sick.  The first time I can ever remember being sick like that was when I was in the third or fourth grade and we lived in New York.  I just remember being so sick that I could barely get out of bed.  Three decades later and I can still remember how uncomfortable it was, and the delirium and strange dreams that always accompany these kinds of sicknesses.  It seems like those dreams are the strangest when you lay there watching television, so this latest time I at least made sure it didn’t come on until the intensity of the bug had passed.  Either way, it felt like an almost prophetic way to end 2011.

“I am sick, discontented, and out of humor. Poor food, hard lodging, cold weather, fatigue, nasty clothes, nasty cookery, vomit half my time, smoked out my senses – the Devil’s in it; I can’t Endure it.  Why are we sent here to starve and freeze?  What sweet felicities have I left at home: a charming wife, pretty children, good beds, good food, good cookery – all agreeable, all harmonious. Here all confusion, smoke and cold, hunger and filthiness…” – Surgeon Albigence Waldo, Valley Forge, December 14, 1777 Continue reading

Go home or keep going…

In the last six years or so, I have had the opportunity to take part twice in a winter retreat of pastors from all over the greater New York City area.  This retreat, organized by Concerts of Prayer Greater New York, brings together pastors from every denomination and is held in a quaint retreat center in the country located on the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware River.  I remember more than once sitting on a simple bench looking out over that cold, icy, winter river and, being a history-buff, thinking about what it was like for George Washington and his men to cross this same river near Trenton some 65 miles or so away.  We are all taught in school of that famous crossing that Washington made on Christmas night, 1776, and how important the capturing of the city was for the war effort.  What most never learn is, just a week later most of Washington’s troops were ready to give up and go home.  As a matter of fact, up until that famous midnight crossing and defeating of the Hessian troops, that’s what a lot of the Continental soldiers had already done.  Continue reading