Sunday, September 21, 2008

My Mum, An Inspiration for Life

Several years ago this piece won a contest in the Thomasville Times. Mum recently had a few bad days in the hospital and as she is approaching her 81st birthday I thought this would be a good time to share (for some who haven't heard) what she means to me.

My Mother had a bad start in life. Born to an unwed teen, there was no well-furnished nursery, no loving parents, no doting grandparents to welcome the tiny waif.

Even though she remembers little of those early years, Mother knows from the account of others that she was badly abused until at age two, an older couple became foster parents and eventually adopted her. Even then she didn't have a fun-filled childhood. Mostly she had a great deal of hard work--scrubbing, wallpapering, and carrying coal.

Maybe that's why she is such a super special Mom. She wanted her seven children to have the things she always dreamed of. She lavished on us the love she had been deprived of and taught us the lessons she had learned.

The first lesson was in kindness. "Be ye kind one to another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, even as God, for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." Ephesians 4:32. How often we heard those words. She would say the verse over and over until each of us could quote it by heart as soon as we could talk.

The second lesson was in priorities. If one of us children accidentally spilled or broke something she always said, "Don't worry about that. Just so YOU'RE all right!" Things have never been important to Mother; people always are.

And because people are so important to her, she consistently demonstrates generosity. Her motto has always been, "Give away as much as you can!" She has an inexhaustible supply of love which prompts her to do whatever she can to alleviate another's burden. She gives whatever she has--home baked goodies, money, things she buys and keeps in a "give-away" drawer, or time to listen. I have never known another living soul more generous.

My mother is the best mother in the world for me. If she had had the opportunity for formal education, I might never have learned true wisdom. If she had been a wealthy woman, I might never have learned happiness and contentment. If she had been an eloquent, sought after speaker, I might never have learned how to talk to God.

Even though Mother didn't have the most auspicious beginning, her life has certainly had a great impact on all who meet her. I am always proud to introduce this wonderful woman as "My Mother."

P.S. Mum has a great sense of humor as well. Sometime I'll have to share some of our funny experiences!!!!!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Praise Report

We are so thankful that God has provided a house for Charley and Darlene to move into!!! We've been praying for about four months and it is working out!! Maybe Dar will tell us all about it soon because I know it is a wonderful tribute to God's loving care.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

A Church Plant that Should Have Failed

My father, Rev. George Bowen, was an amazing man. His mind was constantly meditating on scriptures as is evidenced by the hundreds of sermon outlines I found everywhere after he passed away. Little slips of paper tucked in his pocket would have nuggets of truth carefully printed in tiny writing starting at the very top of the page. (He didn't believe in wasting anything!!)

He had an interesting twist on the birth of the church. Here it is just as he wrote it:

A Church Plant that Should Have Failed
by Rev. George E. Bowen

Several hundred years ago a church was planted in a large city. By today's standards, there are several reasons why this church should not have survived.

The poverty of the founder: The man who started the church was single, had no wife or children, and was extremely poor; so poor, in fact, that he was homeless. He had no "money people" to back him. He had no building in which to have services, most meetings were held out doors.

Uneducated congregation: The leader gathered only a few people about him to mentor and they were also poor and uneducated. They had no formal education and were a rough class of people. They could not afford to support a pastor.

Suicide of charter member: This person had been with the church plant from the beginning. He was the treasurer and had possibly misspent some of the meager funds they had. After turning on the leader he killed himself. This was no doubt a serious blow to the little group.

Poor attendance at initial gathering: Of the thousands who lived in the city and had heard the leader speak, only 120 people came to the first organized meeting in a borrowed room. As far as numbers went, the meeting was unsuccessful.

Past performance of keynote speaker: The key note speaker had been a personal friend of the leader. At one time he was known to have used bad language and even told others that he wanted no part of the church.

You realize, of course, that this is about the first church, the church Christ "planted" in Jerusalem. Jesus, the lowly Galilean, was the founder and his disciples had not been to any theological seminary or university. Although Jesus had fed the crowds by the thousands, had healed the sick, given sight to the blind, and raised the dead to life, only a small group gathered in the Upper Room. Of the twelve disciples, Judas had killed himself, and Peter had denied knowing Christ.

This church, that by today's standards should not have survived, DID survive and is still a functioning body today with millions of members. Why? What caused the church to survive in spite of the overwhelming odds? There is only one answer. The Holy Spirit.

Before the Spirit came, the church could be likened to the creation of Adam before life was breather into him. He had eyes but could not see, ears, but could not hear, mouth but could not speak. He was an empty shell without feeling, without warmth. If the breath of life had not been breathed into Adam, he would have deteriorated and gone back to dust.

If the Holy Spirit had not come on the day of Pentecost the church would never have come to life. But the Spirit came!! The Spirit gave life!! The Spirit made the difference!@!

Even as He was needed then to bring life, He is needed today to bring a fresh wind to our tired, worn out programs. Are we inviting Him to breathe on us, to teach us, to show us the individualized blueprint He has for each congregation? He has not changed and will cause our churches to grow and flourish if we will let Him.

Come, Holy Spirit, I need Thee. Come, sweet Spirit, I pray.
Come in Thy strength and Thy power. Come in Thine own gentle way.

Monday, September 1, 2008

A Visit to a Hindu Temple

For many years I had no personal understanding of worship. As a preacher's kid I was in church all my growing up years. As a traveling musician and then a peacher's wife I was in church any time the doors were open!!!

But when it came to worship, I was a spectator. As still as a statue, I did only what I was told to do. I was timid and shy always wondering what people thought of me. I was very uncomfortable lifting one hand, let alone both, to praise God and never showed any emotion.

All of that changed the day Mark and I visited a Hindu Temple with some Indian friends of ours. They are dear friends and we had gone to an Indian restaurant and then they asked if we would like to visit their temple.

As we entered the temple we passed through a small room where we saw a large pile of shoes. We were asked to leave our shoes there before entering the next room where the gods were. We did so, and then walked into a larger room which had thirteen plastic gods in a semi circle. I really don't remember much about the gods. What I DO remember and what changed my concept of worship forever, was the fervancy I saw as the worshippers BOWED TO THE FLOOR, placed money or flowers in the hands of the gods and prayed with eyes closed and HANDS LIFTED. The devotion and fervor I saw immediately put me to shame.

I thought, "If these people can worship PLASTIC gods, why can't I worship the TRUE and LIVING God with this kind of fervancy and give Him the PRAISE HE DESERVES? What is WRONG WITH ME??????"

What would these worshippers think if they walked into my church and saw me standing, singing the hymn with no expression, no conviction, no real indication that I thought much of MY God at all? How would they ever begin to understand the great awesome power, the perfect wisdom, the unbelievable love of the LIVING GOD if they don't see passionate worship from me?

My worship has changed forever. I close my eyes, focus on God and attempt to give Him the PRAISE HE DESERVES. If a Hindu worshiper can bow to a god who doesn't see, doesn't hear, is nothing more than a piece of plastic, and can give the deepest passionate devotion I have ever seen, SURELY I CAN WORHIP THE TRUE LIVING GOD WITH ALL THAT IS IN ME!!!

AND I WILL DO SO no matter where I am or who is around me. I WILL WORSHIP!!!

Now I LOVE to WORSHIP my GOD!!! Nothing brings me more delight that lifting my hands and praising HIM!!!!!

If you, like me, have always been afraid to worhip, why don't you practice right now. (If you're afraid someone will see you, close the door!!!) Click on the links below, listen to the music, close your eyes, and lift your hands to heaven. PRAISE HIM for WHO HE IS and you will be BLESSED!!!!!!