More Good than Bad Happened in Ferguson Yesterday (part 1)

Despite the turn of events last night, more good happened in Ferguson than bad yesterday. Of course, the good does not get as much media coverage. And what coverage it does get is not shared as quickly or thoroughly as the bad on social media. So, I dedicate this series of posts to the MANY who are striving to make Ferguson, and the rest of our nation, a better place. To those who are BEING the change they want to see.

Phil Berwick is someone I met last year. He has been helping to “repaint” the picture of Ferguson, and other areas of St. Louis, with his lovable character “Merferd.” He also moved to Ferguson this year to be more directly involved with the community there. Here are a few video clips, links, and pictures of Phil and his work.

Merferd in St. Louis

Bob’s Quality Market, a St. Louis landmark for 47 years. My first Merferd outside of the riot zone in St. Louis. I asked if I could paint what was on the poster on the far side of the building, which was a large blank white brick “canvas.” I told him that I knew he was Muslim, and I could just have Merferd saying “I love you,” without the “Jesus.” He told me, to keep Jesus name on the painting.

News channel 5 (KSDK) covered Phil and others who have moved into Ferguson and were active yesterday. You can view that video by clicking here.

And click here to see Phil painting a new Merferd during last night’s protests. As Phil explained, “You will hear [Phil and his wife, Theresa] wail during the painting. It was to drown out the cop hating soundtrack that was blasting from across the street on West Florissant Ave in Ferguson.”

Stay tuned for more posts in this series throughout the day and continue to pray for people like Phil and Theresa who are working for positive change. Also, pray that today’s events also have more positive than negative consequences.

Advertisements

Finding Peace in the Midst of Chaos – March Encourager’s Devotion

March Encourager's Devotion

Just a quick scan of news headlines can be very discouraging, even downright frightening.

Justice Department finds racial bias in Ferguson police practices

Netanyahu Says Iran Poses ‘Threat to Peace of Entire World’

Iran calls Obama’s 10-year nuclear demand ‘unacceptable’

Target to cut thousands of jobs

Get ready—Fed to cause major turmoil this month

It is hard to maintain inner peace when our world is in such chaos. Yet that is exactly what Christ came to bring us – a peace that the world will never be able to offer us (John 14:27), a peace that defies human understanding and guards our hearts and minds no matter what is going on around us (Phil. 4:7).

I remember a time when I experienced that kind of peace. I was pregnant with my first child, but had been put on 24 hour bedrest due to complications. I was fearful, worried I might be losing my baby. Lying in bed, I read Psalm 91 (NKJV):

“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. … He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge … You shall not be afraid.”

Things like this are hard to explain, but as I read that passage, I could just picture God “covering me” and I felt peace in His presence.

My father once shared a story with me about God ministering peace to his spirit when he was going through a bout with cancer. He was driving down the road worrying about life, death, and his family. He had a Christian radio station on and a song called “Silent Partner” by Jessy Dixon began to play. Dad said he started to weep as he was comforted by the idea that God was his partner during that difficult time – a partner you might not always see or hear, but you know He’s there giving you strength and seeing you through.

A few years ago, I discovered prayer labyrinths (you can see prior posts about labyrinths and an explanation of what they are here). The image for this post includes a picture of one of my favorites at Mercy Retreat Center in St. Louis, MO. When my sister passed away in 2012, I was so glad I had found these beautiful places to pray. My time there brings me peace.

I share these stories with you because they show various ways to draw closer to God and attain the peace He promises – Bible reading, Christian music, prayer walks. Other means of finding peace might be through the company of friends and family, through worship services, or through inspirational reading. I have also had art minister peace to me. We might do as Paul suggested in Philippians 4:8-9 and think on anything we can that is good, or lovely, or praiseworthy when we are bombarded with negative news images. Paul also says in Philippians that when you do the things you know are right “the God of peace will be with you.” It is interesting that Paul wrote all this while he was in prison. He had discovered how to have peace regardless of his circumstances (4:11-13).

OUR PEACE HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH WHAT’S GOING ON AROUND US.

IT HAS EVERYTHING TO DO WITH OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD.

Now, what does all this have to do with being an encourager? Well, this is a time when those around us are worried and fearful. We will only be able to encourage them if we are at peace ourselves. You cannot lead someone to a place you  cannot find yourself. So, build yourself up in the faith and then go minister to others who need peace.

MAY YOU SHINE AS LIGHTS IN A CROOKED AND PERVERSE WORLD! (Phil. 2:15)

This post is part of the Encourager’s Devotional Series.

Accompanying materials for this month’s devotions: Click here for the Bible study for March and here for the answer guide.

My First Year of Blogging – 2014 in Review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog. See what’s happened since Lisa started her blog on May 8, 2014.

Here’s an excerpt:

The busiest day of the year was October 16th with 81 views. The most popular post that day was 5 Controversial Statements about Race and Gender I’ve Really Wanted to Post on My Blog but Haven’t – Until Now.

Click here to see the complete report.

Sing Over Me

20051007-2

The first time I saw this painting (by dear Gwen Meharg), I immediately thought of my sister, Janell. This was before I even noticed the woman in the painting was pregnant. When I realized that, it was even more significant because I knew that Janell drew strength from a song by 2nd Chapter of Acts called “Sing Over Me” while she was going through a very rough patch of life – finding out the baby she carried in her womb had spina bifida and was not expected to live, let alone thrive, after birth. She made it through that difficult time with her Lord’s help and was blessed with our sweet Daniel.

Daniel far surpassed the doctor’s predictions. Though confined to a wheelchair, he participated in sports, stayed on grade level in school and brought joy to all who knew him. Janell cherished her role as his caregiver and was a wonderful mother to him and his older brother, Justin.

Unfortunately, Janell would experience other rough patches in life – the death of Daniel at age 15 in 2008, financial difficulties and the loss of her home, and then the break-up of her marriage which left her devastated. I always knew I could not fully comprehend the depths of her grief at the loss of her son, even though it was the most difficult loss in our family to that date. But it was only after Janell’s own death two years ago today that I began to see just how debilitating the loss of someone so significant to you can be.

When I was going through her things, I found the verse from Zephaniah 3:17 written on scraps of paper in several different places. I was comforted with the idea that she could envision God singing over her, even when life seemed the most bleak.

Zephaniah 3:17 (NKJV)

The Lord your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.”

We had someone sing the song “Sing Over Me” at her funeral. On that day, I was picturing the ultimate fulfillment of the song’s lyrics (see below) for my sister who took such great comfort in the image of God singing over her and being encompassed by His presence. Today, I am the one seeking that place of refuge.

Look out my heart the wind is blowing again
It´s time to batten down the broken parts
Look out my heart debris is flying around
Confusion wants to shake your solid ground

Storms may come along and winds may blow
Raging tempest will come and go
But I´ll hide in the shadow of Your wings

I´ll hide in the shadow of Your wings
And listen while You sing
I´ll hide in the shadow of Your wings
And listen while You sing over me

You can listen to the song here. I pray it will make you feel at peace no matter what storm you may be going through.

Note: The link to Gwen’s work above is for her watercolors. She also does some amazing multi-media work. You can find it here.