Friday, March 31, 2006

Shawls and Prayer

Shawl and Prayer Ministry

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18 RSV

“Jeff” knitted a shawl for his wife, and while knitting and purling, he prayed for her recovery from cancer. He and his siblings learned knitting from their mother. Although he hadn't held knitting needles in years, the technique returned. He not only crafted a shawl for his wife, but he knit four more.

Local knitter Laurie Sauers embraces the ancient art, and knitted and prayed over a shawl she presented to a veteran, who has no family. She’s working on her second shawl.

In 1998, Vicky Galo, began knitting shawls and praying for women who had breast cancer. Other knitters joined in the handiwork, and the shawl-knitting ministry began. When knitters meet, needles click, prayers rise, and a variety of colors, textures and patterns are individualized.

Shawls are given for celebrations such as births, anniversaries, friendships, and professional and personal achievements. Also, they are given to prison ministries and to comfort the grieving and ill.

The knitters believe a basic human need is swaddling. Infants sense security in a snug, warm blanket. Children and adults alike are fond of wrapping a favorite blanket around themselves and settling into a comfortable spot for rest.

Most have witnessed toddlers clutching frazzled “blankies.” The condition of the frayed fabric didn't seem to matter. When my children were young, and their favorite security blanket needed washing, they’d weep by the washing machine, separation from their beloved wrappers unbearable. They remained slightly miffed until they once again clutched their warm-from-the-dryer “blankies.”

The prayer shawl ministry recognizes this basic human need, and they add the important skein of prayer. Susan Izard says there is an old saying: “Our hands are God’s hands.” She understands that “God works through us when we care for friends and strangers alike.”

Prayer-knitters believe that the mystery of God’s unconditional love unravels a bit for all involved as celebrants and the chaos-cloaked benefit from this ministry covering people in prayer and shawls. The Christian knitters aspire to “be imitators of God, as beloved children and live in love” (Ephesians 5:1).

Friday, March 24, 2006

Stolen "Grace"

Thieves broke into my parents’ home and stole electronic gadgets, jewelry, blankets and one more thing. Before they made their get-away, they took a framed print off the wall and that completed their plunder.

The print was a copy of a famous photograph, “Grace,” taken in Bovey, Minnesota, 1918, by Eric Enstrom. The familiar print hangs in homes and businesses worldwide. The subject is a bearded, older gentleman posed in prayer. On the table before him is a book, a pair of spectacles, a bowl of gruel, a knife, and a loaf of bread.

What caused burglars to steal a print depicting prayer? Who knows? But the very act has me thinking about robbing God of thanks for food. When thanks is given before a meal, it is often referred to as “saying grace,” or saying “a blessing” over the food.

From Jewish history there are examples of expressing thanksgiving to God before and after a meal. “When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you” (Deuteronomy 8:10).

Jesus broke bread and gave thanks. Praise before a meal was directed to God who bountifully “brings bread out of the earth,” says Jerusalem scholar David Bivin.

Mr. Bivin goes on to say, “One does not bless the food, nor does one even ask God to bless the food. One blesses God who provides the food.”

When a bearded, saintly old man walked into Eric Enstom’s photography studio in 1918, the photographer saw a kind face with no malice. Charles Wilden was a peddler who hoped to sell a foot-scraper to Mr. Enstrom.

Mr. Enstrom was preparing a portfolio to take to a photography convention. He said he wanted to take a photo that would “show people that even though they had to do without many things because of the war they still had much to be thankful for.”

Enstrom asked the peddler if he would pose for him. The photographer said of Wilden, “To bow his head in prayer seemed to be characteristic . . . for he struck the pose very easily and naturally.”

Hurried people sometime forego a blessing toward God, and “grace” is stolen. Lead your family in giving thanks to the “one who brings bread from the earth.”

Sunday, March 19, 2006

A Quote about Meek

In Vine's Dictionary of New Testament Words--About the word "meek": "It is equanimity of spirit that is neither elated nor cast down, simply because it is not occupied with self at all."

Friday, March 17, 2006

Jesus, Debonair?

“Blessed are the debonair for they shall inherit the earth.” When the French translated the third beatitude that is how they rendered, “Blessed are the meek.”

“Debonair” in English means pleasant manners, courteous and gracious. It is a word from Old French that means “of good disposition.”

Essential to the Christian walk is the understanding of the word “meek.” What does it really mean? The dictionary defines meek as “humble, patient, or submissive as under provocation from others” also as “overly patient; spiritless; tame.” A little wimpy for Cathy’s dictionary.

I much prefer preachers’ definition of “meek” as “power under control.” Moses fits that description—solid leader, a man who went before kings, a family man. Moses had his faults, but he was viewed as a “very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth” (Numbers 12:3). Moses was teachable.

“Meek” doesn’t mean perfect except when describing Jesus. More than anything, “meek” probably means that a person is teachable. When corrected or instructed, some give a flippant answer of “Whatever.” Besides not being courteous it belies an un-teachable spirit

My friend Jan says that one of her prayers for arrogant or self-reliant people is that “they come to the end of themselves.” That’s the door to a university of “higher” learning, where a person recognizes faults and can learn better living patterns from above.

Jesus gives the lead on what “meek” means when he said about himself, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” He then said, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle [meek] and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30).

Jesus invites those who are tired of trying to control themselves to team up and be taught. He’s not a slave driver; he’ll shoulder the load, too. He’ll get in the harness with the student.

The word “debonair” and Jesus seem not to belong in the same sentence. However, if the word means a teacher who will come alongside of a student and help them come to the end of themselves, then Jesus is debonair.

Friday, March 10, 2006


Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10

I’ve heard if the devil can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy. In a recent column, I mentioned junk mail as a time thief that adds another layer to already busy lives. Sometimes I feel like a tree landed on my home, only it descended in sheets of paper. I wish I could fast from junk mail.

Catalogs, credit card applications, political brochures—in a year’s time reams of paper were toted into our home. Perhaps, someone will invent a mailbox with a shredder. Even pricey, I might invest in one.

But junk mail isn’t the only culprit that crowds taxed schedules. Busyness is sometimes self-inflicted when overdoses of entertainment is preferred to productive work or rest. Television, telephone and computers have a place in life, but over indulgences, become addictions.

A health and science Web site reports the average household has a television on 6 hours and 47 minutes, and that 66% of families watch television and eat dinner. Annually, a staggering 260 billion hours of TV is watched by Americans.

During Lent many people of faith are fasting, but not all are fasting from food. At the first semester of seminary, a professor asks his students to fast from media for one week. Another professor/mentor recommended that a female student fast from dating for three months. The student found time to focus on studies and life direction. Then, the student quarantined herself from dating for an additional three months.

In Lauren F. Winner’s book Mudhouse Sabbath, she tells how she fasted from reading during Lent. Fasting has a purpose. In an article, Ms. Winner wrote, “We give up something for Lent to align ourselves with the heart, will, and experience of Jesus.”

Ms. Winner continues, “Fasting teaches us that we are not utterly subject to our bodily desires. And in sated and overfed America, fasting reminds us, sharply, of the poor.” Fasting is like walking a tightrope—imbalance is noticed. Denial of self may be foreign, but God calls followers to contemplation, meditation, solitude, silence and abstinence.

Lauren Winner also says about fasting, “It is a necessary tool for rousing us from our day-to-day sleepwalking.” Trudging in the trench the world has carved out? Stupored by cultural demands? Feel compelled to answer each time the planet rings your doorbell? Fast from the clamor.

Be quiet. Be still. Know God.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Blaspheming the Holy Spirit

I thought that B Shelburne answered this well and wanted to add this to my blog. So many people seem to focus on this verse that condemns instead of the verse that says, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his son into the the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him " (John 3:16, 17).

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Nuggets 10: "The Unpardonable Sin"

"I need to talk to you," she said. "In your lecture you read where Jesus said that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit can never be forgiven. I am so afraid I may have committed that sin."

This young lady was one of my brightest, most receptive students. While listening to a sermon, she said, irreverent thoughts had gone through her mind that shocked her. Now she was living under a cloud of fear. Her religious upbringing had hidden from her the love of God and set her up for this kind of false guilt.

I answered her like this: Though Jesus does speak of an unforgivable sin called blasphemy against the Spirit, by definition blasphemy is committed with the tongue. Only the most perverted, hardened heart is capable of blaspheming the Holy Spirit. Against clearest evidence, the wicked Jewish leaders accused Jesus of casting out demons by the power of the devil. Since Jesus was empowered by the Holy Spirit, these leaders were calling the Holy Spirit the prince of demons. Truth meant nothing to these men. They were incapable of remorse. When a person can feel remorse and longs to be right with God, he/she does not have the kind of heart that could commit the ultimate sin. The best evidence of all is the fruit of the Holy Spirit in your life. Had you blasphemed the Spirit, you can be sure He would not have remained in you producing the "fruit of the Spirit" and the reverence for God which we all see in you.

Matthew 12:22-37; Galatians 5:22,23


Copyright 2006 by G.B. Shelburne, III. May be freely reproduced or forwarded for non-commercial purposes provided content is unchanged and this copyright notice is included. These shepherding messages are sent to members and friends of New Beginnings Church (, to students and alumni of South Houston Bible Institute (, and to other interested persons. TO UNSUBSCRIBE, hit "Reply" and type the word "Remove" in the message area. TO SUBSCRIBE, email

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Sunday, March 05, 2006

When Jesus Becomes Real

In the Orlando Sentinel I read about a former drug addict, Glen King, who pedals a bike pulling a train of trailers. Inside the trailers, he has Bibles and devotional books. His mode of transportation is pedaling, but he doesn’t sell Bibles, he gives them away. Odd jobs allow him to supply free Bibles and devotional books. When Jesus becomes real to a person, a person does extraordinary things.

A prison guard, assigned to secure an area also acted unexpectedly after meeting Jesus. His encounter with Jesus is found in Acts16. Paul and Silas were in Philippi preaching the gospel of Jesus, his message of love and forgiveness. However, trouble began to brew.

Several businessmen owned a demon possessed slave girl. They touted her services of fortune-telling and predicting the future. Clients paid extravagant amounts to the charlatans. But when the tortured girl cried out to Paul and Silas for healing, Paul commanded the demon to come out in the name of Jesus. No longer under the spell of evil, she lost her fortune telling powers.

Of course, the vile men who used this poor girl to line their silky pockets with gold were incensed. The love of money and profit margin caused the merchants to drag Paul and Silas “into the marketplace to face the authorities” (vs. 20). The magistrates commanded they be stripped and beaten. After being “severely flogged” (23), a jailer imprisoned them in secure ankle stocks.

About midnight from their cell, Paul and Silas could be heard praying and singing hymns to God. Bruised and ripped flesh responding with praise—most unusual. Other prisoners listened. Most often they’d heard moans and curses from brutally beaten prisoners. But not this night. Paul and Silas knew the real Jesus, and they prayed and sang.

During their God-serenade, a violent earthquake loosed what man had bound. Every prison door flew open. Each prisoner’s chains fell slack. The quaking awoke the jailer, and when he saw prison doors ajar, he drew his sword to kill himself. Death was his expected sentence if he let prisoners escape. Paul cried out, “Don’t harm yourself. We are all here” (vs. 28).

The jailer shouted for torch-lights and rushed into Paul and Silas’ cell. Trembling, he fell before them, “What must I do to be saved?”
“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household” (vs. 31). On a dirty prison floor on his knees, the jailer met the real Jesus. Then the jailer did an amazing thing. He took Paul and Silas out of the prison, called for water and cloths and washed their torn bodies. The once calloused jailer, after meeting Jesus, could no longer ignore suffering. After their comfort, the jailer and his household were baptized. Jesus washed their sins and indifference away.

Former drug addict Glen King passes out Bibles, severely beaten Paul and Silas sang and prayed. A crusty jailer became a Christian nursemaid. Jesus is the source for the extraordinary life.