Sunday Bulletin Inserts
Browse by letter: N
By Gina Burgess
Her sister and her husband have been in China since China's doors opened up to the Western world, and after Nana's husband died, her sister told her now is the time for you to come to China. She did. In January of 1999, Nana went to China to work with an orphanage that took care of handicapped children. The Chinese do not believe any handicapped person can be useful to society, because they are broken, so many children who become handicapped or who are born that way are put in orphanages. They do this because each family can have only one child. For five and a half months, she worked with this organization in Hong Kong. She fell in love with the people and with what God wanted her to do. When she was able she went back to China for three years with the International Mission Board (IMB) of the Southern Baptists.
Now she comes home for six months then goes back for six months to teach English. Because of some health reasons, she can't stay for the IMB's required three years. This means she must raise her own funds for each trip.
'I'm grandma to about 50 kids over there and mom to 20-30 of the older ones,' Nana said. 'They are very caring people and protective of me because I'm an older person.' The Chinese people reverence the elderly.
She works mostly with high school students and they seek her out because they want to learn to speak and to read English. Her students will run errands and help carry things to her third floor apartment because the Chinese don't have an elevators in buildings with fewer than eight floors.
Her mode of transportation is a three-wheeled cycle. It is old and dilapidated.
'Everyone calls it the family car. Someone will need to take something somewhere and will ask me for the family car. It's old and ugly, which is why it hasn't been stolen,' she said. 'They (the Chinese) will lie, cheat and steal. Other than that, they are great. They'll look right at you and tell you what they think you want to hear. I'll say, 'Meet me at the bench this afternoon at two?' and they'll reply, 'Sure, sure.'
Then they may not show up until 2:30 or 3 p.m. or not show at all.' She just grins and shakes her head. 'No, they aren't all that honest. But, I just love how caring and loving they are.
'They steal bicycles like crazy, all the time. One girl just bought a brand new bicycle, she was staying with me and the very next morning, a blood curdling scream erupted from the stairs. 'What's the matter?' I called down the stairs. 'Somebody stole my bicycle!'
'I started laughing, and she said, 'That's not funny.' I said, 'Yes, you now own the record for the shortest length of time owning a bicycle. Most of them have it at least a week, sometimes for two weeks.
My three-wheeler was dilapidated, and not prestigious enough so no one stole it.'
Nana needed a dress mended so she found out that the best seamstress was a street vendor.
'I mean literally on the street. She had her sewing machine right on the street and borrowed her electricity for her steam iron from the shop right there. It was an old treadle machine, she didn't have an electric sewing machine. When I went back to get my dress she asked if she could have an American dollar as payment. All of this was through an interpreter, mind you. I said I didn't have one with me but could go get one from my apartment. She wanted it for her daughter who wanted to learn English. She called her and told her that she would have that American dollar, and they were so excited. Of course, that was way more than what it should have cost me, but it was worth it to me to have that dress fixed.
'That whole family started coming over regularly. The seamstress would come in and start cleaning up my place. One time, she took something out of the washer and carried it to the sink to start cleaning it. I had to tell her, 'No, no, I want that cleaned in the washer.'' She laughed and added, 'I just love it. They are very possessive and so bossy. They are so nice and sweet. I just love it.'
Soon the whole family was going to Nana's study so they could learn English and study from the Bible. The only one that learned English was the daughter, but the whole family heard about Jesus.
'You can't leave a Bible in the hotel rooms or laying about. The bell hop would report you and you'd wind up in prison or worse,' she said.
Most of the Chinese haven't a clue where to go buy a Bible. In the city of 13 million where she teaches English using her Bible as a text book, there are only two Protestant churches and one catholic church. They use the English Bible for practicing reading and speaking English, but for them to understand what it is saying, they really need to read it in Chinese.
'They'll read it in English and then read it in Chinese, and I'll see them light up when they understand what it's saying. There are a lot of words they don't understand. ' she said.
The government churches are sanctioned by the Chinese government and some have pastors paid by the Chinese government others have bivocational pastors. For the past two years, Nana has been working with a government church.
'Those churches are the only place where you can buy Bibles. They have Christian book stores, but you can't buy a Bible in them, only at a government church. I buy all my bibles from this one government church.
It's my biggest expense,' she explained. 'But finding it was quite a challenge.'
She knew there was a church close by, but couldn't find it. She would carefully ask everyone she met if they knew where the church was. Many would say there was a church, but did not know where it was. Several times a week she would walk to the Kodak place to get her film developed. She would have to pass three motorcycle shops to get there, and every day this one young man at one of the shops would beg her to come in and sit.
''Qing zuo, Qing zuo,' he would insist. I'd tell him I didn't speak Chinese and for two years I'd walk on by. Then one day, this is how God works, my film wasn't ready when I went to pick it up. So this young man followed me into the Kodak place begging me to 'Qing zuo'. I told him, 'You are a persistent bugger, aren't you,' and of course he couldn't understand me. But we managed with an interpreter.
'I asked him if he knew where the church was. He said, 'Yes.' I said, 'What?' All this time I'd been searching for this church, and walking right by the person who could show me where it was. Well, the next Sunday, he walked me right to it. He used to live beside it, so he knew where it was.'
In the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s the Cultural Revolution kept the doors of China closed to the Western hemisphere. Technology zoomed passed the Chinese people. All the educated people and those who were going to school were sent to the fields, Nana said. They couldn't finish their schooling and all the churches were destroyed. Every church, and every Buddhist temple were demolished except the Muslim mosques. They were intact.
This church is in such deplorable condition. It has only three walls, a concrete floor, and this is also where the pastor and his wife and children live. He does not get paid by the government. He chose not to so he would not be obligated to the government.
'Yet, they love the Lord and it's okay,' she said. 'The pastor got permission from the government for me to attend the church. That way they won't get in trouble and I won't get in trouble. Before I came home, he asked me to pray for his church. What is funny is that when I first started going to China, we were asked to pick a district and pray for it every day. Well, I chose this very district, and have been praying for it ever since. When I told him about that, he said, 'So you are the reason we are here!' I told him, 'No, God is, but I've been praying.''
She thought she would be doing discipleship training while there this last time, but God had different plans.—Anyone who has heard about the persecution of Christians in other parts of the world knows that it is a very real threat to anyone who is a Christian, and especially to anyone who wants to share the Gospel. So, Nana of Carriere, is not her real name because if it would become known in China who she is, then her life would be in dire danger. Since Nai Nai is the word for grandmother in Chinese, and so many call her Nai Nai there, her name has been changed to Nana to protect her. Therefore, there are no missionaries in China.
Second in a two part series with one week in between...
The pastor asked her if she had any studies at her apartment. She said she sure did. Then he asked to come. She was thinking that he would come and teach, but he told her that he wanted to learn. He brought about 10 people from his church.
Nana had a study night and a movie night. When they studied Genesis, she showed 'The Prince of Egypt' when they got to Moses, explaining to them that it was a cartoon, but there were many things in it that were Biblical. When they got to Esther, she showed 'One Night With The King', and at Easter time, she showed 'The Passion of the Christ'. One young man read the Left Behind books and when he brought them back to her the next day, he told her he wanted to be a Christian because he could not face being left behind.
She doesn't have a college degree, but God provides ways for her to speak at universities. One of her friends who teaches at the university had to be off for three weeks because of her husband's surgery. She asked Nana to fill in for her.
'There I was teaching this book to PhD students at University,' she laughed. 'After my friend got back the boss took us to dinner. She ordered a huge amount of food and part of it was chicken feet. They consider it a delicacy over there. Well, I've tried it and it's not bad, but I'd rather eat the things that I liked. You know, Chinese food over there is a lot different than it is over here,' she said. 'Then the boss asked me why I wasn't eating the chicken feet. I told her why and she got this puzzled look on her face and asked, 'Well, do you eat chicken feet in America?
'I said, 'Well, no.'
''Well what do you do with them?' Before I could say anything, my friend said, 'We ship them to China.' Well that satisfied her. At least we weren't wasting our chicken feet.'
Another thing Nana and her friends do in China is prayer biking.
They'll ride through the streets and pray about the different things, not talking between red lights, but at the lights, on occasion they'll chat about things. In China, they carry everything on their bicycles.
Nana said she's seen refrigerators being hauled on the back of a bicycle. Even on her three-wheeler, she's bumped into things because she was gawking at the things people were carrying on the back of their bikes. During a prayer bike ride one day, she and her friend saw a bicycle with three huge boxes tied down on the back. As they got closer, she saw in big red letters the word Tyson. She didn't think much of that since it was just part of the parade of things being hauled. As they got closer, she read underneath Tyson, 'Chicken Feet'.
'Look at that! You were right, we do ship our chicken feet to China!'
she exclaimed to her friend, 'right out of Gulfport, Mississippi.'
Another time she was asked to come to this university for the elderly.
They had all these different things for the seniors like dance and music and art.
'I asked my friend and her husband to go with me. They said they'd go.
The more people you have with you the more prestige you have,' Nana pointed out.
They invited them back for a Christmas program, and Nana was excited about that because then she could share the story of Jesus and how Americans celebrated Christmas. One of her friends found three cartons of Bibles written in Chinese. Nana was filled with caution. The situation could turn terribly dangerous if they started handing out Bibles. She asked her Chinese tutor what she thought about giving those Bibles to the seniors.
'Oh, no,' the tutor said. 'If you give it to them, then you'll be in trouble. But, if you wrap them up as a gift, then you'll be fine.
That's how I got my first Bible. It was a gift.'
'So for three weekends, we wrapped Bibles. Then we had to get them to the university. We couldn't put four of us and the three cartons of Bibles in a taxi because those are so tiny, and they have no trunks. So we hired this guy to put them on the back of his bicycle and my friend's husband climbed on top of the boxes. But, every time they came to a red light, the guy would make him get down off the boxes and walk across the intersection. Those type of bikes were for hauling stuff, not people. The guy would probably get a ticket. So he had to climb down and walk, then climb back up and ride, then get down and walk. But we finally got there.
'We couldn't give them the Bibles at the beginning because my tutor told us that these were seniors and they didn't trust each other, nor any one else. They may want a Bible, but they couldn't let anyone know they wanted one or had one.
'At the end of the program we had just enough for everyone to have one.
Then one man just ripped into his and yelled out at the top of his voice, 'It's a Bible! Get two.'
'We were able to start a study because everyone wanted to learn English and several were saved. God has protected me. The persecution is horrendous there. Several have been put in prison and beaten. One lady was beaten so badly she died, all because she gave someone a Bible.
This happens because they are too bold. If you are going to be in-your-face with it, you can expect horrendous treatment. It is a Communist country. They have rules. You must work within the system and trust God will open the doors. He really does.
'A summer team and I went to this little town square, squares are popular because that's where everyone goes to get cool. They may have air (conditioning), but they don't use it. Same way with heat. I can't tell you the times I've been eating and shivering because 'it not cold enough yet for heat.'
'This team and I were in the square singing and singing, and this one elderly lady was listening with tears streaming down her face. They have the same songs and tunes we sing. Then a police car drove up and someone said maybe we better sing something secular. They drove around behind us and sat for a while, then moved on.'
Roseland Park Baptist Church sent thousands of stockings to her at Christmas time so she could give them to her students. She handed them out with a candy cane and the candy cane story inside.
'They go to school from about 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. and there are about 60 students in one class,' she said. One young man told her years later that he first heard of Jesus from her through that Christmas stocking.
'I was walking by this facial place and heard some really sweet music.
I went in and this young man's cousin was there. She asked if I was Nana, and I said I was. So this young man has started seven on campus ministries. All from one stocking.'
Nana has pretty good living conditions, even if she is on the third floor with no elevator. She has three bedrooms and a western toilet.
It's out on the glassed-in verandah, but the shower and bathroom sink have hot running water. Her kitchen sink doesn't. She has no cabinet space and has to chop vegetables on her little dining table. She has one closet. But, there is room for her English students and her movie nights.
She has to be completely independent and raise her own funds for her six-month trips, because she can't go three years at the time. Roseland Park Baptist Church has been generous in helping her.
'I just have a problem asking for money,' she said. 'I have to raise my own money to go. I was having health problems and so I had to raise my support. Since then the church has been really good to send me and support me.
No believer should ever have to feel lonely because of the many brothers and sisters in Christ that he or she has, yet for one reason or another, it is possible to feel intensely alone at times. Perhaps a person is recently widowed. Maybe a house full of children is suddenly empty as the children move away to start their own lives. Perhaps a spouse abandons the other or emotionally checks out on the relationship. Maybe none of the other kids at school accept a lone individual who becomes an outcast. Then again, maybe society looks down on a certain person because of race, age, past experiences, etc. The world can be a lonely place. Life brings with it its share of betrayals, griefs, and losses. Friends move away or friends just change and go their own way. In a world of such flux and uncertainty, how can we be assured that we will never deal with unceasing, oppressive loneliness? Surely, even as believers, as circumstances change, we might feel lonely at times, but the issue is how do we press on and move on? How do we go from a steady agony of aloneness to a feeling of peace and security? The answer may be as God provides us brothers and sisters to encourage us, and He will always give us what we need and never more than we can handle by His grace. But even when it seems that we are on an island with no one but ourselves to keep us company, there is still hope. Even if we were isolated in a solitary prison cell because of our faith for Christ, we could have companionship. Even if the masses misjudge us and abandon us, we can still have a Friend who is closer than a brother. Whether an orphan, a widow, alone in a nursing home, or alone in a crowd of admirers, true friendship is possible through our Savior Jesus Christ. At all times and in all places and situations, He will be there for His children. Such is our privilege as a child of God. How and why is this possible?
As Christ died on the cross for us because of His great love for us, He suffered in a way that was likely far greater than any of the bodily abuse and mutilation that He had to endure: His own Father forsook Him (. The word for forsaken means just that, abandoned, left alone, left helpless, left behind, and deserted. Because the sins of the world were placed upon Christ (, God the Father could no longer look upon His Son. He had to let Him go and let Him die. Such was His good and perfect plan because He would soon raise Him from the dead in victory, having conquered sin and death so that we could be free in Him. But for the time being, Jesus suffered in a way that we cannot even begin to fathom. This was God in the flesh, and His own Father, Whom He was One with, deserted Him. There cannot be a greater feeling of being alone than Jesus felt on the cross as He was dying. This is just one of the ways in which we have a Savior Who can sympathize with what we have to face and endure (. He knew what it was to be alone. The disciples scattered as the Shepherd was struck (. Rome had no love for Him. The Jews hated Him. His brothers and sisters didn't receive Him as Messiah. He was rejected across the board, and then to top it off, He had to be rejected by the Father Himself. There is no greater loneliness than this. Indeed, our Savior understands when we feel alone.
Perhaps this is why He is so adamant that we remember that we are never left alone. In . Not only this, but God is not afar off. He, even the Father Himself, let alone Christ and the Spirit, has made His abode within our hearts (. God, Who cannot be confined and Who fills all things, has decided that those who put their faith in Christ will be His dwelling place. So God is never far away or somewhere out there for the child of God. He is always near, here, and in our hearts. We are never alone, and never will we be abandoned. The Shepherd will never leave His sheep. As . If God seems far away, maybe it is because the devil is tricking us into thinking that way. Maybe we have let our feelings begin to inform our minds that God is absent, when of course, our feelings are leading us astray. We need to think through why we might be feeling apart from God because God never leaves us. Thus, if He feels distant, it is our move to draw near. We should take some time to praise Him, to pray to Him, to hear Him as we read His Word, and to call out to Him. If we have sin, we need to deal with it because God won't hear our prayers otherwise (.
Let us not be duped by the devil into thinking that God has abandoned us or given up on us. He doesn't do that. Jonah ran from God, but even a child can understand that he could never get away from God. David said that there was no place He could run where God wasn't already there. Not even darkness could hide him from God (. God is always there, and He is in our hearts as believers. We need to take comfort in His nearness, believing Him to be close and cultivating our relationship and friendship with Him.
From the bottom of the hill... Bet you weren't expecting to see that again. Living in the Georgetown area has removed us from the Waco area by about an hour's drive. However, my doctor is still there. We have not yet made a change from the one in whose trust we have placed our health for these past five years. As a result, when I need to see the doctor I return to the Waco area, Moberly actually.
I had finished having some blood drawn for a blood test and was hungry having not eaten yet that morning. I decided breakfast at the Waco BP Food Mart would be good. So I went to Waco. That is what the locals call it. They don't say, "Going to the BP," or "Going to the Food Mart," they say they are "Going to Waco." That little slice of life at the crossroads is Waco.
Little had changed. They had someone new working at the main register for the grocery store, but the same people were still working in the restaurant and the same people were still standing around and sitting around in the same places they stood and sat almost a year ago when we left. They still used the same greetings, still talked about the same things and still looked just like always. And they all still remembered me as I did them.
They all asked how my wife and I were getting along in Georgetown. I proudly told them of the twins being born (you are aware that I am a grandfather with twins? right?) and they all asked where their cigars were. They are basically the same people regardless. That is a comfort. Any changes they make are subtle changes of wardrobe or of the vehicle they drive. They still wear the same kind of clothes, still talk the same talk and still eat the same breakfast. They never change.
The unchangeable nature of Christ is what makes Him such a comfort and source of peace. "But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He ever lives to make intercession for them."
First tee jitters. You've just stepped to the first tee. You're stiff. Your last round of golf was not a good one with the driver. You were hitting your tee shots like a radical Republican; everything was far right. But the course was one that allowed you to stray right and not be punished. Now you're on another course. Twenty yards right of the fairway you see them. They stand there silently, challenging you with their presence, warning you that beyond them is the death of your score. They are the white out-of-bounds stakes.
Deeply ingrained in your thoughts is the last rounds predominate tee shot. You make that first pass at the ball. The swing felt good. You made solid contact. Then you watch in horror as your ball takes a hard right turn and waves at those white specters of doom as it passes over them. "That's out," says a playing partner very matter-of-factly. Drat. Out-of-bounds. Penalty? Stroke and distance. That means you have to hit the tee shot again. You have to hit the tee shot again as your third stroke.
Now the pressure builds. What's the only way you can be certain to escape hitting the ball out again? Adjust your grip? Change your stance? Hit something other than the driver? How about walk away from the game and never play it again? I know, you want to keep playing. You finally decide to aim as far left as you safely can, hoping that, if you hit it straight this time, you won't be arrested for manslaughter for the death of the guy two fairways over. Such is life when you can't hit the big stick, the driver.
How about it? How many times have you teed it up in life and watched as something went horribly wrong? Then you tried to correct it and the same thing happened again. You've just gone out-of-bounds with God. You just committed a sin. You didn't want to, you didn't mean to; it just happened because things got a little out of control. There are many golf bags sitting silently in garages, closets and attics as reminders that the game is just not meant to be played by their owner. In life, there are some things we just shouldn't try. There are other facets of life for us that are fulfilling without that one area that leaves us broken and hurt in sin.
A number of years ago an old man sitting on the streets of Cortland, New York, told me the most profound truth I ever heard. "It's hard to sin if you're always involved in good works." The very essence of one of my favorite passages, and the scariest. "Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin."
As a thirty-something mom, I sometimes feel "this is my life"?!
Maybe I'll never go back to school for that master's degree or get an exciting job or travel to the British Isles to research my heritage. Some days it's hard to plan past ball practice and supper, much less career changes and years into the future.
Besides, I'm supposed to be planning for my children's futures' right? I'm supposed to be settled into whatever I'm doing for life and be content with it. Right! I still haven't decided what I want to be when I grow up!
But I have personally known many examples of women who thought they were never too old to start something new, contribute to the world and have fun.
My grandmother came from a frugal farm family. However, they were very much in favor of higher education. Although two of her siblings earned college degrees, my grandmother had no interest in being a school teacher. (One of the few careers accepted and encouraged for women in the early 1930s.)
She wanted to be a beautician, or hair stylist as we say today. Her parents told her they would be happy to pay for her college education, but not for beauty school. It wasn't respectable or dependable enough.
So my grandmother married and did what farm wives do. My mother was born, and after she was nearly a teenager, and old enough to help with meals and look after herself, my grandmother went to beauty school.
She ran a shop for many years out of her farmhouse. I remember being there while she was working when I would go to stay in the summer. She had fun and her customers loved her. She continued "doing hair" unofficially well into her seventies.
That wasn't her only late-in-life learning experience. She had given my mother piano lessons and I had taken them, but my grandmother had never learned. When she was in her sixties she decided it was her turn. She never became a virtuoso, but I think she was proud that she mastered the basics as an "old woman."
Perhaps the piano wasn't enough excitement, because she also took a course in clown school. She thought it would be fun to dress up for birthday parties or go to the nursing home to cheer people up.
(I don't know if it's in the genes, but if so, I hope I don't wait until I retire to try something new.)
Another woman, or I should say couple, who inspired me are missionaries our congregation has supported for many years. Don and Norma Burney, who had to retire a couple of years ago due to health problems, were missionaries in Japan for several decades.
They planted churches there and worked to spread the gospel. When they were in their seventies they felt called to take the gospel to Russia, and set about learning a new language and moving to a country which was culturally and politically very different.
Imagine the courage it must have taken to make such a move. Yet I struggle with whether to enroll in graduate school or apply for a job which would require my family to move out-of-state.
I believe physical life should mirror spiritual life. If I am committed to continue growing in knowledge and wisdom of the Lord, then I should not be afraid to continue to try new things which might better equip me to serve him; put me in contact with people who need to know him; or set an example of courage for someone else.
"Lord, help me not to think I'm too old, and not to wait until I am."
I woke up somewhat early this morning even for me. I got up at 4:00 and went to my dresser and, in the dark, grabbed my underwear and my flannel pants and headed for the shower. It was interesting when I grabbed my underwear for I could tell by the feel of the fabrics that the T-shirt I was grabbing was one of my older ones while the briefs were some of the new ones I had just purchased recently. I knew which article of clothing was new and which one was old just by the way they felt.
New things have that certain sensation to them. Bob Wright, whom I've known for almost fifty years, was in these past few days from the west coast. Bob was the very first full-time minister of my home church in Jeffersonville, Ohio. His sister and brother-in-law live here in Georgetown, Kentucky which affords Bob a central point from which to visit his home area in Illinois as well as Jeffersonville. While here he drove a rental car. He drove a brand new Chrysler 300.
He and I spent the morning and early afternoon together and Bob let me drive. The feel and smell of a new car is a great experience to someone like me who likes that. Truth be told, if I could afford one, the 300 is what I would be driving right now. That new one was just incredible. The ride, the handling, the sensation of comfort; all there in that new car. There was just a little over fifteen hundred miles on it. Of course, as my Dad used to tell me time and time again, you take care of a car and they'll always have that feel. It didn't happen very often, but that is one place where Dad was wrong.
New is new. That feeling of something that has never been worn, never been driven, never been played, never been seen; it's new. If you could just hang onto that new car smell, that new shirt crispness or that new golf course freshness you'd have something. But a car soon takes on its new odors of different items it carries as well as the people and their scents. After a few washings a shirt loses that crispness and actually takes on a used appearance. A new golf course loses its wonder after a few times around it. What about life?
For those of you who want something to stay new, life in Christ is your answer. "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."
Nothing more satisfying than spending the afternoon on the water with some of your friends and the kids. Ah yes, tooling around the fluid surface in a powerful craft. Watching the other boats as they make their way around the broad expanse of water. Love it. Absolutely love it. However, not everybody gets to do that. So, Sunday afternoon I had to settle for a little two person paddle boat on a dammed up creek and share our little corner of waterworld with three other craft, also two person paddle boats.
The venue for this aquatic experience was the creek at the Blue Grass Christian Camp near Lexington, Kentucky. The event was a Sunday afternoon church picnic/let's-show-the-kids-the-camp-time. Five of our young people were along for the day and enjoyed touring the camp and seeing where some of them might be able to attend this summer. They were taken through the dorms and extra cabins on the camp side as well as shown the recreational facilities they would use if they attended camp.
Then everybody went over to the Retreat Center portion of the camp which is located just over the Fayette County (Lexington area) line in Clark County. There we toured the Retreat Center and examined one of the rooms at the adjacent lodge facility. Then it was a short hop across the parking lot to the out camp locale with its straight up cabins with no electricity. Before returning to the camp side of the property everyone took a long hard look at the high ropes course and were glad that none of us were going to be involved in that.
The kids that were seeing all this were kids who have little or no church background. For the most part, what they know of the Word of God is what they have been taught as a part of our students ministry at Minorsville. Now they have another world that will be hopefully opened to them this summer; the world of fellowship with other children much like them. The camp forms the backdrop of recreation and relaxation while the camp personnel apply the necessary instruction which forms the bond of faith for those young people.
My question is this. Have you gotten so far in your faith that you have forgotten the world of wonder that young people inhabit? I hope not. I am soon to be 56 years old. I spent forty-five minutes in a paddle boat with an eleven year old that I am hoping to bring to Christ. "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it."
Newton's Third Law of Motion states that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
This can be observed in the playroom at my house when one of my sons hits or pushes the other, he gets hit or pushed back. Then Mom's Law kicks in and there is more powerful action.
Remember the Newton's cradle? That metal frame with the balls suspended from nylon string. You pull out a ball at one end, let it swing into the others, and a ball on the opposite end is bumped out into the air. Then the process reverses itself over and over until all the energy has been spent and the balls stop.
That's the Third Law of Motion in action.
Could this translate to our spiritual lives? Perhaps.
When we work hard for the Lord, Satan has to work hard too. Every time we pray and ask God to give us the strength to avoid temptation, Satan has to find a sneakier tactic to try to trap us.
Because according to ntific law, but I think it meets common sense criteria. Satan wants to undo what we do for the Lord. When we build each other up, Satan wants to tear us down. When we seek God's face through prayer and study, Satan wants to turn us the other way.
We can use this "law" in the other direction as well. When we see Satan working to undermine programs or relationships, we can redouble our efforts to bring them before the Lord and give a plea for protection and growth.
The formula is surprisingly simple. If we aren't acting for the Lord, Satan won't react to us. Let's stir him up and keep him busy!
"Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings." -
I am not good at remembering birthdays. I always forget and totally need reminders. It's ironic to me therefore how I remember the date of my father's death. I never remembered his birthday; I didn't even know when it was until I saw it on the death certificate. We were never close, I hadn't seen him in six years, and yet the one year of his death is less then a month away and I keep thinking about it. The most morbid thing I have had to do so far in my life has been to go through my father's things after his death. To fly down and meet his third wife for the first time, go through his apartment that I had never been in or seen, to go through boxes of random stuff and figure out what was ok to trash and what should be kept or sent on to family. It's been over a year since our last email conversation, three months before his death. Time is a strange thing isn't it? The dates, moments, conversations we remember and when.
This experience has helped me to better understand the open endedness of God as well as His grace. This story doesn't have a happy ending of how I got resolved with my father, or how I think he is happy or in a better place. This reflection comes from a different place – a place of faith and trust in God with the things that are to hard or complex to understand. I was not the ideal daughter nor was he the ideal father. My father committed suicide last summer and didn't leave a note, there was speculation to the fact if he really did indeed intend on killing himself. I share this and connect it to how my view of God has expanded. There are people in my life I have hurt, on purpose, and yet God shows grace and continues to love me even when I am rebelling. There are people in my life who I chose to let go of because it was too hard to love them, or took too much effort and yet God still loves me even when I am hard to love and has never let me go. There are people who I will never forget and those who I wish I could. God knows them each by name and every hair on their head.
The biggest act of faith for me is not accepting the answers it's accepting where there are none yet. It is accepting that things happen for a reason even if that reason is unknown to me, that people can love you one minute and be indifferent to you the next and you may never know why. I made a decision to attempt to give and love to the fullest of my ability after my father died because it was that very love that I held back from him in order to hurt him and prevent him from hurting me. I have given my heart since then and it has gotten a little tussled but the people in my life can never doubt what they mean to me as a result. Since this is my unique experience I can not expect for people to love the way I chose to. I can only share where I am coming from.
I think it's easier some times for people to preach a message of loving others like Jesus loved us, but it doesn't always resonate because we hear it so often or because we think, "its Jesus, I'm not Jesus give me a break!" But for every sin in the bible that God lists there is a deeper motive that comes right back to protecting us and really sparing us pain. I have learned that to withhold love and never have the opportunity to express it can hurt a lot more then risking giving it in the first place. Holding back because you think it is the best thing for you or even best for the other person can only lead to asking, "what if ?"some day. Jesus loved us completely even though he knew he would get hurt in the end. He knew he would get rejected and we would turn our backs on him, as we can still do daily, even as Christians. And yet, when we are called to love we will not always get rejected or hurt, in fact we may receive a multitude of love in return. Either way, if we give in hope as an act of faith we will never have to question and we can be assured that God will always meet our needs, sooth our wounds, and protect us in the end.
the Second Week after Easter