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Anguish and Forgiveness

To plumb the depths of a person and there find pristine virtue and untarnished valor is rare, seldom sighted among us, notable because of its infrequent reality. To detect its presence in a lighted eye neath the furrow of sincere brow, to catch a drift of telling word and its corroborating moves–moves that signal not only the philosophy, but the exhibition of this thing called forgiveness, is an almost unknown factor in our jaded society. I mean real forgiveness, gut-wrenching forgiveness, ghastly forgiveness. Forgiveness that stops the world, that snaps to attention the heads of men and women across the globe. It matters not our divergence, our cut, our color or our class…for when we see it and hear it and know it, we understand that we are seeing, hearing and knowing God. It’s that rare.

The Nickel Mines Amish did it. They showed us Forgiveness. Awful forgiveness, anguished forgiveness, bloody forgiveness.

Recall that just over a year ago these Amish people–a religious group who lived in Nickel Mines, Pa. on farms without electricity and other modern conveniences had their lives splintered into untold agony when a person who lived in the area, their milkman, Charles Roberts, burst into a one-room schoolhouse, and shot ten young girls. Five of them died. Unbelievably, during these atrocious actions, one of the girls, 13-year-old Marian Fisher, offered to be killed first, thinking perhaps the others would be saved. The most telling of all is that within hours of the murders, these beautiful Amish people–the families of the slain children–not only spoke of forgiving Charles Roberts, but visited his wife and children and gave them food and money.

Picture and the following from the Pittsburg Post Gazette

Horrified strangers worldwide sent $4.3 million to the Nickel Mines Amish settlement in Bart, Lancaster County. But the Amish, who have no insurance, used the gifts for more than medical bills.

They gave shares to local emergency services that came to their aid and, in a move that caught the world’s imagination, to the widow and children of the man who murdered their daughters.

“It certainly means a lot for us to spend some time with the families,” Miller said after their meeting together on the anniversary of the shooting. “There’s no other place we would have rather been this morning.”

Also attending were community members, state troopers and officials from Virginia Tech, where a gunman killed 32 students and faculty members in April, Miller said.

Though grateful for all the help and sympathy it has received, the Amish community is hoping to be left alone as much as possible Tuesday during the actual anniversary of the shootings.

The New Hope Amish School, which replaced the one torn down after the attack, was closed Monday and will remain shut Tuesday.

Read more here.

Now consider this–also from the Pittsburg Post Gazette

Not everyone affirms the Amish response.

Rabbi Alvin Berkun, rabbi emeritus of Tree of Life Congregation, Squirrel Hill, and president of the Rabbinical Assembly, the international organization of Conservative Rabbis, applauds the Amish care for Amy Roberts, but not their forgiveness of Charles Roberts.

“In Judaism, there are some strings attached. I have to say I’m sorry for what I did, I have to resolve not to repeat that pattern of behavior again and I have to ask those I harmed to forgive me,” he said.

“Letting somebody off the hook even though they are dead doesn’t sit well with me. Society can’t function when you just wipe the slate clean constantly. He did a horrendous, horrendous thing and he did absolutely nothing to repent.”

This post was difficult for me to put together, and I truly can say as I finish here, that from the skin of my body to my inward parts, I am shaken, and at this moment physically tremble. I knew when I broached the subject it would be difficult. For in trying to be honest with myself, I wonder…I truly wonder…could I forgive such an assault on my family as did the Amish in Nickel Springs? Am I that Godly? If I’m not, why not? Is such forgiveness indeed Godliness?

What about you? Do you have it within you to exhibit such a sterling quality? Have you been challenged in your resolve to forgive those who wrong you? Ever had to extend forgiveness when it really hurt, when it caused anguish? Do you perhaps agree with Rabbi Berkun that forgiveness in this instance is misplaced?

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My devotional blog is here.

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A Snip of Solitude

Mimosa Blossom, originally uploaded by Shirley Buxton.

I had dressed, eased through my bedroom door, softly turned the lock on the front door, and walked into a glorious August morning in the community of Catalina, just north of Tucson. It was shortly past dawn. We were house guests of the Bob Allen family, at whose church on Wednesday evening, Jerry had preached. Now, though, the household lay asleep, and I, fully awake, stood surveying their magnificent gardens.

Around the corner of the house, I came upon a folded lawn chair, tugged it open, and sat. And sat. Tender air ruffled soft leaves of scores of plants, fountains and waterfalls played, and the tiny creek bubbled and bounced. Dozens of birds fluttered around me, the ground was abuzz with activity, and from somewhere in the trees over my head, I picked up the cottony coo of a grey dove. Butterflies flitted, bright yellow flags of morning.

Mexican Pot Fountain

For more than an hour, I didn’t move, but drew in wide draughts of solitude. I pondered, philosophized, and gazed. Such a stance was a wild divergence from that of last week when I was in Santa Maria, and lay as juxtaposition to the remainder of the day, for when the others were up and about, we would experience a day chock full of brilliant activities.

I’m of the mind that solitude is as necessary for the id and for the soul as is food for the body and exercise for the muscle. Quiet reflection refines. It replenishes the spirit, lends insight, and sorts through our maze of daily issues. Silent moments expand our vision, tune our ear, and search our souls.

Give such a gift to yourself. From busyness, sculpt a warm nook where for an hour or so you can hunker down and suck in deep swallows of reflection and of soul-awareness.

Allen's Front Garden

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Pentecostal Camp Meeting in Santa Maria–Finale

Well, I told you I’d get back on Friday if I could tear myself away. Sorry, but I was so tied up–bound almost–by joy, excitement, grinning, laughter, eating and drinking with God, my family , and with my friends, that I didn’t even approach my computer, not even to rub my hand over its white smooth cover. 😦

Friday–everything about it–was better than Thursday, which, please recall, had neared perfection. The first thing that made it better was that Steve, my eldest, arrived. Now all of my children were together with Jerry and me in Santa Maria, along with assorted and various grandchildren, and several great-grandchildren tucked in the mix! Talk about wonder and glory and joy! I’ve had it the last few days.

DSC_0029

Steve talks with his dad here. Many of you will recognize the other gentleman to be Sam White, who for scores of years pastored a church in Bellflower, Ca.

Camp consisted of lots of this:

Settling Their Decision

…and a birthday party for Thane who turned four.

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View Shirley Buxton’s map

Taken in (See more photos here)

…but most important of all, lots of this. I’ve brought over a video from YouTube that you may want to watch, as this shows a typical Pentecostal conference/campmeeting worship service. This is not a video from our camp meeting, as I don’t have one available, but the feeling, the energy, the dynamics were the same. Take a look and a listen. The video was taken at one of our conferences in Stockton, California–sponsored by Christian Life Center, pastored by Nathaniel Haney. Landmark is the name of the conference.

Early in the service on Friday night and other nights, there were a bunch of mine with hands raised (Rebecca) men dancing in the aisle, Andrew, Michael, Joel and Kyle, on the far right (Shawnna’s nephew). Take a look at two little ones who are following in the steps of their parents and grandparents. (Thane–4 years old Ethan–not quite 2)

Rebecca Worshipping

My Boys!

 

 

 

My Grandbabies Worshipping

The preaching was dynamic. Scott Graham, the evening speaker was absolutely powerful

 

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Camp Meeting in Santa Maria Part II

We have devised–Rebecca and I–a plan so that we can all be dressed on time, without bumping into each other too much in the motor home. The plan for yesterday was that I would have the bathroom just before dinner, we would serve dinner between 4 and 4:30, then the bathroom would be Nathaniel’s, then Rebecca’s, and finally Jerry’s. Worked out well, although we changed about a bit. Anyway, a little after 6:30, Jerry and I walked over to the tent for the first service. Nathaniel joined us a little later. “Where’s your mom?”

“She couldn’t find the motor home key, but she found it, and she’ll be here later,” he whispered back to me.

It was a great service, with phenomenal music, wonderful worship and a dynamic sermon. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings or make you feel left out if you’re persuaded otherwise, but I’m so glad I am a Pentecostal. It’s marvelous to have been taught the joys of freely, and with passion worshipping my God. It comes natural to me, for with such I have been surrounded all my life. It’s not at all awkward or strange feeling–rather deeply satisfying. Recall that on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Ghost was poured out, and when the plan of salvation for this dispensation was proclaimed, the demonstration of those on whom the Holy Ghost had settled, was of such a nature that the onlookers thought them drunk! Read about it in the second chapter of Acts. On second thought, I’m going to print it out for you. 🙂

And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.

2And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.

3And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.

4And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

5And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.

6Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.

7And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?

8And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?

9Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia,

10Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes,

11Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.

12And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this?

13Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.

14But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:

15For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.

16But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;

17And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:

18And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:

It’s a few minutes after ten now, and I don’t want to miss too much, so its off to the big tent for me. Stay tuned. I’ll keep you posted about the 2007 camp meeting in Santa Maria.

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My devotional blog is here.

 

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Loren Hedger is Dead

A text message on my phone yesterday gave me this information.

Chances are you have never heard of Loren Hedger, although he lived a long and rich life. I met him in September of 1955 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where I had enrolled as a student at Apostolic College. I was young. Tender young, for to be exact, I had graduated from high school in May, and had just turned 17 in July.

He was a minister of the gospel, and was one of my instructors. Now, these more than 50 years later, I vividly recall his appearance, his concepts, and most importantly his godly ways. Through the years, Jerry and I have had some contact with him, and in Tulsa, some time ago before his beloved wife, Gladys, succumbed to cancer, we visited again with him–spent several hours talking, reminiscing, and sharing a delightful meal.

Loren Hedger was a handsome man, tall and dark-haired with a readily available smile. His demeanor was soft and tender, but one should not have been fooled by that, for, inwardly he was strong, principled and incorruptible.

Loren came out of such a church denomination as did Martin Luther, and immediately he set to studying the Bible–closely, intently, with a grasping mind and with fervor. During the early days following his conversion, as he was yet holding a secular job, he was so hungry for God and for an understanding of Him that he spent many long nights with God’s Word. Vividly, do I recall his telling of becoming so sleepy, and yet so passionate about his study, that, to help keep him wakeful and stimulated, he would prepare a pan of icy-cold water and place his bare feet there.

This godly passion was apparent in any dealings with this superior man. I would not be surprised to learn that such intense love for God’s Word was transferred to scores of young people who were privileged to “sit at the feet” of Loren Hedger.

I’m using this space today, not only to honor Loren Hedger, but to acknowledge those people who have contributed both to my secular education and to my understanding of The Spirit. I especially want to honor those who, with passion, have told me of life, of God and His principles. I’d like to hear from you also. Is there a teacher or two who has profoundly affected your life? Would you like to name them and give them honor?

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My devotional blog is here.

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Of Time and Men

DSC_0033, originally uploaded by Shirley Buxton.

Because of recent circumstances in my life, again I have been reminded of the unpredictability and fleeting nature of our days. Encompassed in those few and simple words is a larger, yes, massive truth; the understanding that at the moment this life ends, our fate is sealed. For with certainty, there will come the final Judgment Day at which time we will stand before God–all of us, everyone, no exception–and there we will give account of our lives here on earth.

I’ve linked here an active World Clock, which by the second ticks off significant developments across our sphere; births, deaths, oil production and the like. To watch these moment -by-moment changes is captivating.

To watch these moment-by-moment changes, though, startles my mind, and turns me again to the understanding of the responsibilities I have, not only for my own soul–which, understand is eternal–but for those with whom I come into contact.

Every word spoken then, may be crucial. Each encounter with a stranger, a friend, or a colleague may be of eternal significance. The selection of songs for worship time, the text chosen for a Bible study, the strength of a hand on a shoulder, a greeting card mailed, the response to a phone call–all these may be of final consequence.

“For we are strangers before thee, and sojourners, as were all our fathers: our days on the earth are as a shadow, and there is none abiding.” 1 Chr. 29:15

“My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle, and are spent without hope. ” Job 7:6

“Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” James 4:14

The link for the World Clock is here.

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My devotional is here.