Monthly Archives: September 2022

Burning Hearts

Yesterday in church I was blessed to have the Holy Spirit use me to give a short encouraging word to the congregation. It followed the normal pattern for me, from when the Spirit is moving and wants to speak…..until the end. As I neared what turned out to be the end of the message my heart began a slow burn within me. When I paused to await the remainder of the message, the burning increased to such an intensity I thought I would burst into flame – a PHYSICAL BURNING as if it were on fire. And when I say ‘heart’ I mean the center of my body at the bottom of and directly beneath the breastbone. As pastor began to speak and move the service onward with more worship, I wasn’t sure the Spirit was finished. Nevertheless, I let it go, and as the program of service continued the burning ceased. In hindsight I believe it was supposed to be a time of laying-on of hands, but I will never know in this life.

I didn’t really think much more about it yesterday except when my grandson – who had been standing beside me — asked me about the experience on our drive home – he often experiences things spiritually yet doesn’t discuss it. Yet this morning, it is picking at me, and tugging at me, as a seamstress tugs and picks on a seam trying to open it. And knowing after all these years how the Holy Spirit nudges and tugs and pulls and woos me into walking with Him instead of around Him, I delved into different commentaries on the story of the Emmaus Road. Here’s what I found, centering my study around Luke 24:32.

According to Ellicott, the tense used implied a continuous burning and not a momentary state or act.

MacLaren couldn’t contain himself to looking at the one verse and expounds on the entire story, with a mini-sermon that completely ignores the ‘burning hearts’.

Benson counts the burning as a ‘glow within us, with love to God and our Divine Instructor’.

Henry says that ‘Scriptures which speak of Christ will warm the hearts of his true disciples’.

Barnes also believes that the hearts burning expression denotes ‘the deep interest and pleasure which they felt in his discourse’.

Poole counts the travelers as disciples who had not yet had the fire [of evangelism] kindled in their hearts, but once Christ departed they were alight and had to go spread the word.

Gill concludes that the words that Christ shared with them ‘caused their hearts to be warmed and glow as they became fervent in spirit and their affections were raised and fired; they found the word to be as burning fire within them, and they now knew somewhat what it was to be baptized with fire.’

Meyer transcribes the verse to read ‘Was not our heart in an extraordinarily fervent commotion?’

Bengel acknowledges that it was an ‘actual continuance of the burning sensation’.

So….which was it?

Well, having been the one having the actual experience it was, as Bengel acknowledges, an actual burning sensation. Was it a continuous burning? YES. Was my heart warmed as in an emotional experience? NO. Was I quoting Scriptures? NO – at least I don’t think so. Was I meditating on my love for God and my Divine Instructor? NO. Was it my interest and pleasure in the discourse? Given that I don’t remember what was said, a resounding NO. Do I now feel different as if I have been changed with a light to run and spread the word; a light greater than I already had? NO. Was my heart in an extraordinarily fervent commotion? NO. And, finally, was I baptized with fire? I DON’T KNOW.

Here’s what I do know: I want to be all that God has called me to be. When He uses me, I am blessed. When He uses me like He did yesterday, with a new experience, I want to know what it means, and if there is something more I need to do for Him or with Him. And, in the case of a new experience, I want to find other believers who have had similar experiences so we can compare notes and, iron sharpening iron, keep one another headed in the right direction – toward the finish line.

Here’s what I think: It was the truth of God which lit my heart on fire. What do you think?

If you’ve had a similar experience, I’d love to hear from you.

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation.” 2 Peter 1:20.

God Hates Abuse

I had opportunity to minister this week to another scarred and battle-weary survivor of domestic abuse. Before I go any further, let me share the definition of ‘domestic abuse’

Domestic abuse comprises of broad categories of behaviour including physical or sexual abuse, violent or threatening behaviour, controlling or coercive behaviour, economic abuse and psychological, emotional, or other abuse. It can be prosecuted under a range of offences and it does not matter whether the behaviour consists of a single incident or a course of conduct.

Domestic abuse is rarely a one-off incident and it is the cumulative and interlinked types of abuse that have a particularly damaging effect on the victim. The ‘domestic’ nature of the offending behaviour is an aggravating factor because of the abuse of trust involved.” [Extracted from The Crown Prosecution Service https://www.cps.gov.uk/crime-info/domestic-abuse]

So that’s pretty clear, isn’t it? Physical, psychological, emotional, controlling, threatening, violent, economic …. all methods of forcing one individual into submission and terrorizing that same individual, often times to the breaking point, and sometimes, to death.

This particular woman was a victim of psychological and emotional abuse coupled with controlling and threatening behaviors and economic barriers. Added to that, she experienced the betrayal of the church leadership who sided with her husband, claiming that she was to blame for what she was suffering because of her ‘rebellious’ behavior. In effect, church leaders did not hold her husband accountable for any of his un-Christian behavior

I am not going to go into counseling mode nor am I going to try to explain and defend all of the reasons why her forms of abuse are wrong. The issue I want to deal with is the betrayal by her church leaders — those who can quote the ‘words’ of the Bible but seriously miss the Spirit. The letter brings death, but the Spirit gives life (2 Cor 3:6) I believe God hates abuse. (Psalms 11:5, James 1:26, Ephesians 4:29, Psalms 103:6, Colossians 3:8, Romans 6:15, Galatians 5:13, Colossians 3:19, Exodus 21:15, Ephesians 6:4, Colossians 3:21, Ephesians 4:31)

Marriage is SUPPOSED to be a partnership, not a master-slave relationship. Marriage is SUPPOSED to fulfill both parties, not glorify one and denigrate the other. Marriage is SUPPOSED to be a reflection of Jesus Christ and His Bride, the church, NOT a reflection of the Pharisees and the Jews.

Yet, so many Christian leaders ignore the abuse occurring in the marriages and families in their churches and wash their hands of the abuse victim, not fully understanding the heart of God or His standards for marriage, families, and church leaders. Is it possible that these leaders have spent so much time studying the Word and working for God that they have neglected their relationship with the Lord and dulled their hearts to the heart of God? A heart which clearly points us ALL to submit and ALL to serve?

Here is an exerpt from Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers, citing 1 Corinthians 11:10 which highlights the dual roles of each spouse within the marriage — For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head.—……. What is meant, first, by the woman having “power on her head?” There have been many—some of them most fanciful—suggestions that the word for power (exousia) may have crept in instead of some other word by the mistake of some copyist; or that the word used by St. Paul may have been exiousa—“When she goes out in public;” or two words (ex ousias)—“in accordance with her nature.” All explanations, however, which require an alteration in the Greek text of the passage must be set aside, for (1) there is no MS. evidence whatever to support any other read.……. refer the “power” here to some symbol of a power which belongs to the woman herself.

If we bear in mind the Apostle’s constant use of words with a double significance, or rather with both an obvious and a subtly implied meaning, and if we also recall the reference made to a woman’s abundance of hair in 1Corinthians 11:5-6, and the further reference to a woman’s long hair in 1Corinthians 11:14-15, where the hair of the woman, given her by nature, and the wearing of a veil are used as almost identical thoughts, we may, I think, conclude that the “power” here spoken of is that long hair which is called in 1Corinthians 11:15 her “glory.” It is remarkable that Callistratus twice uses this word exousia in connection with hair to express its abundance. To the Jews the recollection of Samson’s history would have given the word “power,” when applied to hair, a remarkable significance. To thus turn aside abruptly in the middle of a long passage in which woman’s subordination is enforced, and speak suddenly and vividly of her “power,” would be eminently Pauline. In the Apostle’s writings the thought of inferiority and superiority, of ruler and server, are frequently and almost paradoxically regarded and enforced as identical. To serve because you rule; to be weak because you are in another sense strong, are thoughts strikingly combined again and again in the Epistles of St. Paul. [Emphasis mine] Thus I would imagine him here to suddenly turn aside and say, I have been speaking of your bondage and subordination, you are, because of this, to have a covering (a veil or long hair) on your head as a sign, and yet that very thing which is the symbol of your subjection to man is the sign of your beauty and “power” as a woman.”

It is clear to me that Paul understood the relationship of servant/leader just as taught by Christ when he washed the feet of the disciples. In order to lead we must serve, and by serving become leaders. At no time, on no occasion, did Jesus, Paul, or any other apostle FORCE their followers into any situation, behavior or belief. And at NO TIME should any marriage partner force or coerce the other into any situation, behavior or belief. To do so is contrary to the heart of God we see expressed in Christ Jesus.

Certainly other commentators disagree with Ellicott, and I have read them with interest but remain unconvinced because their arguments, while scholarly, lack the expressive love of Christ. I believe they have forgotten what I have just stated: Christ came to destroy the works of the enemy, not to enforce it with tyranny and oppression. (1 John 3:8)

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. John 13:34

The Healing Love of Children

I don’t remember any longing in my life stronger than a longing for a child, and I tried very hard for the first one.

I had my first miscarriage at 19, when I was in transit from one Army assignment to another.  That miscarriage was followed by two more.  

Maybe I should back up and explain why I wanted a child so desperately.  You understand, I come from a very large family — I have 5 brothers and sisters; my mother had 7 siblings, and my father had 6.  That’s a lot of kids and cousins, and all of them in need of caring, nurturing attention and love.  Unfortunately, that didn’t work out so well.  My eldest sister seemed to adopt me as her “baby-doll” and I guess my mother thought that was sufficient attention.  And, being an introvert — a keen and interested observer in all that is around me — I didn’t have the personality to demand attention from an already over-worked and under-appreciated mother.  Add that to the constant moving and uprooting from friends and family, and you have a picture of a very lonely and unloved little girl.

That little girl grew into a lonely and unloved teenager who married the first guy that asked.  Turns out, a big mistake.  He didn’t love me and he didn’t want me to love him — he loved my income that allowed him to be just as lazy as he desired.  He pretended to love me and only ‘let’ me get pregnant when I pleaded with him for someone to love.  That someone turned out to be my little girl.

After years of trying and failing, my OB/GYN put me on progesterone shots the next time I had a positive pregnancy test.  And, voila!  It worked!  I was so happy when I was pregnant, truly the most joyous time of my life was when I was carrying a child.

Of course, I deceived myself into believing that NOW he would love me.  That also proved untrue.  As I lay in a hospital bed hooked up to oxygen, he sat in a chair in the room smoking and flirting with the nurse.  I called her attention to the fact that I WAS, in fact, hooked up to oxygen and perhaps he should put out his cigarette?????  She came to her senses at that point and left the room after telling him he couldn’t smoke in my room, so he left with her.  He, it turns out, was also a bigamist — or should I say polygamist — with a string of wives around the country that he didn’t bother to divorce as he moved on to the next opportunity.  (Sigh — my daughter has many half-siblings.)

After 23 hours and 50 minutes of labor — and a warning from the doctor that at 24 hours they would perform a caesarean, my stubborn, self-willed little darling arrived, peeing all over the doctor, clearly announcing her disdain for the entire process.  She’s sort of gone through her entire life with that same attitude!  🙂  

I love my kids.  I love my grandkids.  If I hadn’t had so many miscarriages, I would have 6 kids by now!  No, make that 7 — we mustn’t forget Richard — the child I was terrorized into aborting.

I dote on my kids, probably because they are the only source of love I experienced before I found Jesus — correction, He found me!  And, I’m probably not the best example of motherhood, spoiling them and trying to make life as easy as possible for them.  But the truth is, my life has been incredibly difficult, and if it wasn’t for them I would have given up long ago.  So, I spoil them.  And love them.  And cherish them.  And weep over their difficulties.  And the joy I experienced at the birth of my first child is still with me today, every time I see my children, or even think of them.  The lights of my life still light up my every day!