Welcome to the August 2002 Archive. You are welcome to read the entire archive, or find a topic on the list below that is of interest to you. Just click the link, and you will be taken directly to the day it was written. Enjoy, and may you know God's peace as you read His Word.
    You are welcome to use these writings or pass them on. All we ask is that in all things you remember the Author and give Him the glory, and remember this vessel which He has used to bring them to you. Peggy Hoppes


Topics

Thankfulness

Fellowship

Wisdom

Knowledge

Faith

Healing

Miracles

Prophecy

Discernment

Tongues

Thanksgiving

Time

Idols

Memory

Found

Forgiveness

Truth

Reconciliation

Service

Rest

Creation

Salvation

Temptation

Trust

Purpose

Destination

Words

Righteousness

Expectation

Love


A WORD FOR TODAY


When writing, I used the New International Version of the Bible. Due to copyright restrictions, I have not included quotes for the scriptures, but highly encourage you to open your own bibles to read the scripture passages for yourselves.





A WORD FOR TODAY, August 2002





August 1, 2002

Daily  On August 1, 1999 I began writing and sharing these messages of inspiration with a small group of friends. I belonged to an email discussion mailing list and the hostess was going on vacation. She asked if I would ensure that the members had mail in their boxes every day. I decided to write a brief devotional each day for this two-week commitment. At the end of the first week, I wondered how I would ever make it through to the end. By the end of the second week, I had ideas for more in mind. So I just kept writing. Today, by God’s grace, we begin the fourth year of A WORD FOR TODAY.

Many changes have occurred since those first writings. It is no longer part of another list. Many readers have come and gone throughout the three years. The website has been added and expanded with visitors from around the world. During those first days I never expected anything like this. One thing has remained the same - my love for our Lord Jesus Christ and for each of you. This would not have continued for three years without the blessing of God or without your faithful encouragement and prayer.

Read Philippians 1:3-11

Each day God shares some special message of love and He has opened the doors for me to share those messages with you. Without His mercy and grace, this would never have been possible. I am grateful for this opportunity because it has always been my desire to share the love of Christ with others.

I am also thankful to each of you, my brothers and sisters in Christ who have encouraged me and have prayed for me over the years. Paul’s words to the Philippians have long had a special place in my heart in connection with this ministry, because they speak exactly what I feel. Though many of you are strangers to me in flesh, I know you in my spirit because we are joined together through Christ our Lord. Sharing our faith and the Gospel is never easy; it is fraught with the dangers of persecution and spiritual warfare. Yet, I have never been alone. I am confident that God is with me because He has made me part of the body of Christ and we are unified by His Holy Spirit to share Jesus with the world. I pray that God will continue to bless each of you daily so that the light of Christ will shine and the kingdom of heaven will grow to the glory of God our Father. Amen.

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August 2, 2002

Parts  The scene opens with a man surrounded by a million little parts to some machine or piece of furniture. The directions are in Japanese or are simply too difficult to deal with, so he begins putting the parts together without it. Somehow he manages to create something that looks like it is supposed to look; yet there are still pieces on the floor. He shrugs his shoulders and says, “They must have given me extra pieces.” When he tries to use the piece for its purpose, it either blows up or falls apart because the pieces left behind were important to the whole.

This scenario is used often in sitcoms and other forms of media, leaving the audience laughing hysterically. This scenario also happens in many homes. How many parents have tried to put together a bike or toy on Christmas Eve, often frustrated until the early hours of Christmas with bits and pieces all over the floor. Then there are the attempts at installing multimedia units or computers. Somehow there is always a cable that just doesn’t fit, and the equipment does not work without it.

There is a trend in American Christianity that is much like this humorous scenario. But when it comes to the Church, it isn’t funny. God has created a perfect machine – the Church. It is through this fellowship of believers, which is Christ’s body, that He does the work of the Gospel. Every individual is gifted in some way to share Jesus with the world, but none are able to do the entire work on their own. One is needed to plant the seeds, another to water and another to harvest.

Unfortunately, since the Church is made of imperfect people there are many who believe it is best to go it alone – to separate from the body so that they can do the work God has commissioned to every believer. I believe this is the work of Satan, to separate the sheep from the flock to make them more vulnerable to attack. It is certainly proving true, because many who have left the church are teaching false doctrine. The truth of the Gospel of grace and the character of God is being lost to a Gospel of self and prosperity theology. God has created the perfect machine but we are still being perfected so there will be imperfections apparent while we live in this world. It is dangerous and foolish to separate ourselves from the body of Christ. It is arrogant and selfish to think we can do the work of Christ on our own. All the parts are needed to make the Church work as it has been designed to work.

Read 1 Corinthians 12:4-11

Our Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross to bring reconciliation to the world – between God and His people and between the people. When we receive faith in Christ and become a Christian, we are given the gift of the Holy Spirit and gifts that manifest His love for the common good. God does not give us gifts so we can go it on our own and do His work alone. We are not islands in this world; we are part of the body of Christ. Every blessing of God is meant to build up the body for His glory. He gives as He determines, according to His good and perfect will. We should never consider ourselves able to everything ourselves. We need each other. We need every part. Without every kind of gift, service or working the machine will not work. Do not let Satan convince you that you can go it on your own. You are a necessary part of the whole, without you the machine will not work.

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August 3, 2002

Read 1 Corinthians 12:7-11

Mission Trip  The youth group of our church left very early this morning on a two-day drive to McAllen, Texas, where they will live while serving the people of Reynosa, Mexico and McAllen. They will paint churches, share God’s Word through a VBS program for the children, do odd jobs at Comfort House, give school supplies to poverty stricken children and be witnesses to the Gospel to whomever crosses their path in the next nine days. These incredible kids will need our prayers – for safety, strength, courage and most of all wisdom.

In yesterday’s devotional, we looked at Paul’s letter to the Corinthians where he discussed the gifts of the Spirit given to God’s people. Each gift is given for the building up of the church – both in number as more people come to Christ and in the growth of Christians into maturity. Though some in today’s world have a flawed understanding the Holy Spirit’s manifestation through these gifts, He is still active in the lives of Christians in miraculous ways. We’ll look at these gifts this week as we pray for our youth and their mission.

The planning for the youth mission trip has gone on for a number of months. It all began with prayer, and prayer has continued throughout the process. It took many phone calls to find a place for them to stay and to discover the needs to be met during their visit. The people in Reynosa suffer from poverty beyond anything our kids have seen and their needs are great. They needed to know God’s will for their trip – where they could best use their gifts to the glory of God. This takes wisdom. But wisdom is more than just knowing what to do. It is about doing things for all the right reasons. Solomon knew this when he asked God for wisdom.

Read 1 Kings 3:7-9

Solomon did not simply ask for wisdom, he desired to do what was right. He asked God to give him a discerning heart so that he could rule the people to God’s glory. Because Solomon asked for this gift for all the right reasons, rather than seeking long life, wealth or the death of his enemies, God promised Solomon the wisdom he desired and so much more. God knew by his request that the desire of his heart was to do what is right and good in the eyes of God – to provide justice for the people He had chosen to be His own.

As the youth of Faith Lutheran Church travel to distant places to share their love of our Lord Jesus Christ, it is my prayer that God will give them wisdom in all they do. I pray that they will be able to discern between right and wrong and do those things that will glorify God before the people of Reynosa and McAllen. Though most of their plans have already been made, they will need to be flexible as the Holy Spirit leads them into situations that they have had no way of knowing would occur. May they have wisdom to deal with every situation with mercy and grace, providing justice to all, as they are witnesses to the love of Christ.

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August 4, 2002

Read 1 Corinthians 12:7-11

Questions  Several years ago in England, I participated in a Vacation Bible School where most of the children were not Christians. They were from a school in the neighborhood, invited by the congregation to enjoy a few days of exciting activities – singing, crafts and games – learning about Jesus and other stories from the Bible. Even the teachers joined in the fun. Some of the children and teachers had never been to church; they did not know Jesus at all.

One day while we were listening to a story, a young girl was sitting on my lap. She was a sweet little girl, very shy. She had adopted me during the week, always by my side, holding my hand. She loved being there, hearing the stories and playing the games, but she was never quite sure about what it all meant. During the story she looked at me and asked, “Who is God?” I was rather shocked by the question, because even those who did not believe at least had an idea of who people think He is. She had never heard of Him at all. I tried to explain, the best way I could for a five year old mind to understand, that God created whole the world, including her, and that He loves her so much that Jesus died for her.

During their mission trip to Mexico, our youth will face similar questions from the people they serve. One of the gifts they will need this week is knowledge. They have stepped out in faith, believing in the love of Christ and the power of God to guide their actions. While faith is the foundation of our every thought, word and deed in ministry for Christ, it is important to have this God given gift of knowledge to help us on our way.

There are two kinds of knowledge that God gives. First we need knowledge of the facts and an understanding of the Gospel so that when we are asked, “Who is Jesus?” we have an answer to give. We can have this knowledge through our study of scriptures. He has appointed teachers and preachers to help us understand. The other kind of knowledge is more miraculous. There are times when we simply know what people need without being told. These words of knowledge come from God, by the Holy Spirit, and they help us minister to the people.

Read Titus 1:1-3

Our youth may be teaching the Gospel to children who have never even heard of God. They were brought into faith by parents that love them and who wanted them to have the hope of eternal life that God gives so freely through the Gospel. We pray that all the Sunday School, Vacation Bible School and confirmation classes have passed on to them a knowledge of the Gospel so they are prepared with the answers to the questions they might face. Even more so, we pray that God will give them this gift of knowledge by the Holy Spirit that will help them to know the needs of those they meet this week. Just as Paul had been entrusted with God’s word to share the promise of eternal life, so too we have entrusted this work to our youth. This is only possible by God’s grace. He gives every good and perfect gift needed for the building up of His Church. Thanks be to God.

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August 5, 2002

Read 1 Corinthians 12:7-11

Barnabas  The writer of Acts describes Barnabas, “He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord.” (Acts 11:24) Every Christian has faith, for without this gift from God it would be impossible to believe. Faith is a confident belief in the truth, the truth given to a person by the Holy Spirit through the means of God’s grace – His Word, the sacraments and the fellowship of believers. Faith is trusting in God’s presence and power no matter how ridiculous it seems to the world.

Though every Christian has faith, some are given extraordinary faith, like Barnabas. Throughout the book of Acts, we see stories about how Barnabas did amazing things for the sake of the Gospel. In Acts 4:36-37, Barnabas sold some property he owned and gave everything to the apostles. Later in the book (Acts 11), Barnabas heard that the persecuted Christians refused to meet with a man named Saul who had an incredible conversion experience. They feared this man, but Barnabas believed God could change even a murderer like him. In one other story (Acts 15), Paul and Barnabas had a disagreement over a young man named Mark. Mark had left them sometime before, homesick and tired of missionary work. When Mark returned to continue the work, Paul did not trust him. But Barnabas had faith that God had renewed Mark’s faith. So they parted company, but not forever. Stories in the Epistles show that their relationships were restored. It was Barnabas’s incredible faith in God that made it possible for him to step out so boldly for the Gospel – giving all he had, taking a converted enemy before the leaders, encouraging a young man whose faith had wavered.

It is this extraordinary faith that led many people in the Bible to do the most unexpected things. It was by faith that Abram left his home to follow the voice of an unknown God. It was by faith that the widow of Zarephath fed Elijah and her family through a drought. It was by faith Andrew gave Jesus five loaves and two fish to feed five thousand. It was by faith a bleeding woman touched Jesus’ cloak and was healed. It was by faith a leprous man called out to Jesus to be cleansed of his disease. It was by faith a widow gave everything she had to the Lord.

Read Luke 21:1-4

During this week of mission work, our kids may face situations that will take extraordinary faith. They have the foundation they need for the work they are to do, they believe in Jesus through the faith He has given them by the power of the Holy Spirit. But the time may come when someone needs more than they think they have to give. May God grant these youth the extraordinary faith to give everything for the sake of the Gospel.

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August 6, 2002

Read 1 Corinthians 12:7-11

Dis-ease  A few weeks ago Zack came down with a stomach virus. It only lasted a day, but he suffered greatly during that time. A few days later, Vicki was sick with the same thing. I was laid up a few days later and Bruce was the final victim of the virus. We all spent at least a few hours in bed resting, the virus took all our energy. Isn’t it amazing how quickly these things spread from person to person? We find the same is true during the school year. It is inevitable that every kindergarten class will have an outbreak of chicken pox, as the disease is passed from child to child before anyone even knows it is there. In our modern society, we accept these brief moments of illness as a fact of life. We drink plenty of liquids, take some medication and a day or so later we are fine to go back to our daily grind.

We don’t think much about healing when it comes to these colds or bouts with the flu because we know that tomorrow we will be better. Sometimes I am even happy to have this chance to just lay and rest, to set aside the hustle and bustle of life for just a moment. Besides, why bother God with something so simple? There are people who are suffering far worse physical problems. Yet, do we really step forth in faith and seek healing for even the greater ills our bodies suffer?

This week the youth from our church will spend time in Comfort House, a hospice for cancer patients. They will do odd jobs, sing and share the Gospel of Christ with the patients there. In Mexico they will see that the children often suffer from the physical ailments that come from poverty such as malnutrition and dehydration. But the dis-ease that these people face, the cancer patients as well as the children, go far beyond just their bodies. In their suffering it is often difficult to see beyond the pain, to know there is a loving God who cares for them in their illness and poverty.

Read Acts 4:29-30

This scripture is part of a prayer said by the disciples in the midst of their own suffering. Those who had killed Jesus were persecuting the believers, wanting to destroy His work in this world. They felt threatened by the power Jesus exhibited and could see the disciples displaying the same power. The disciples prayed for God’s presence in their lives so that they could heal the sick of all their dis-ease. They knew the power of God for all the ills; for Jesus healed those who suffered from fevers, skin diseases, deafness, blindness and lameness. He even raised people from the dead. But He also eased their aching souls, by granting forgiveness and sharing the love of God to those who were broken and lonely.

As the youth minister to the people, both in Mexico and in the hospice, they may face people who have given up on God. In the midst of their suffering, they no longer believe that there could be something like a loving God. However, we pray that during this trip the youth will be given this gift of healing – healing for both bodies and spirits. May they be given the strength and courage to speak boldly despite the rejection they may face, so that the souls that ache might hear the Gospel and many will be healed in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.

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August 7, 2002

Read 1 Corinthians 12:7-11

Miracles  St. John writes at the end of his accounting of the life of Jesus, “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” The four gospels tell of many miraculous things that Jesus did. Besides healing their ills, He fed thousands, raised people from the dead, stopped storms, walked on water and cast out demons. He healed lepers and made the blind see. Early in His ministry people were coming great distances to bring their sick and lame to Him to be healed. They went to great lengths. One group of men made a hole in the roof of a house to lower their friend into Jesus’ presence. He did many miraculous things.

I have to admit that I’ve never been witness to the manifestation of such miraculous powers. Though I have heard stories of people who have been raised from the dead, and I believe them to be true, I have never seen it with my own eyes. Though I have heard stories of people who have been healed with just a word and a touch by one anointed in God’s power, I have never seen someone healed before my eyes. I know God answers prayers; I’ve experienced things that to me can only have happened by the hand of God. Yet, for those who do not have faith, those experiences are merely coincidence. I certainly have never been the vessel by which God has brought physical life into a dead person or sight to someone who is blind.

Read John 14:10b-14

As I read these words, I often wonder why the Church is not doing the same miraculous things Jesus did. I think there are many reasons. First of all, we have forgotten that God gives such miraculous powers. Perhaps we are afraid to ask for these things, out of fear that we will look foolish or that we will be disappointed. God has given doctors and nurses the ability to heal scientifically, so we do not look toward the supernatural for healing. When a Christian dies, why bother bringing them back into this world of sin and evil when they have gone home, where we all long to be?

Jesus said we would do miracles and even greater things. What are the greater things? He did not only heal the sick and bring life to those who had perished in flesh. He brought hope to the lost, love to the lonely and forgiveness to those who sin. By His death on the cross and resurrection into new life, He gave us all eternal life in Him. Though we should be open to the great and wonderful things Jesus can do through us for the glory of God our Father, we are still doing those greater things. By sharing the Gospel message with the lost and lonely, we bring them true life and spiritual healing.

While our kids are ministering in Mexico and Texas, I pray they will experience the miraculous powers God has promised to give to His servants. Perhaps they will see something incredible. Perhaps the miracle will seem to the world to be nothing more than a coincidence. However, I pray most of all that Jesus will do the greater things through our youth – giving hope, love and forgiveness to those who cross their path.

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August 8, 2002

Read 1 Corinthians 12:7-11

Speaking  Do you remember Cliff Claven from the television show Cheers? Cliff knew something about everything, or thought he did. No matter what topic came up in the bar, Cliff found something to say. His information was often less than true. It seemed as though sometimes he was making the stuff up as he went. It is difficult to carry on a conversation with someone like Cliff. They usually leave little room for others to share their own knowledge and ideas. We all know someone like this.

The Bible gives a great deal of advice about the words that come out of our mouths. Jesus warns that our words show the state of our heart. There are many proverbs that talk about the words of fools and the silence of the wise. Even the world agrees that it is best to think before speaking. Children are taught “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Sometimes it is just hard to keep quiet, particularly if you feel your message would help someone.

I once knew a woman who called herself a prophet. Whenever we met, she had many things to say; yet much of her information was less than true. She shared some of her writings with me, and I found these papers filled with error. She thought the words would help someone, much like Cliff Claven felt that his knowledge would expand the intellectual horizons of his friends. Instead, these prophecies would lead her readers on a road to destruction. Many misunderstand the gift of prophecy, particularly in this Church age. For some, the gift of prophecy is an open door to talk as much as they want and an excuse to say whatever is on their mind. Yet, prophecy is a gift given for a specific purpose. It is to proclaim God’s word.

Read Luke 1:67-79

God put these words in Zechariah’s mouth, a testimony of what God was going to do through John and the Messiah who would come after him. These were the first words Zechariah had uttered since the day he learned that Elizabeth would have a child. It was a song of praise and thanksgiving, but also a prophecy that proclaimed God’s Word.

During these days in Mexico and Texas, the youth may be tempted to talk a lot. They are excited about this trip, about the work they’ve been called to do. They want to share the love of Christ with everyone they meet. They are still young, have much to learn. Some of their ideas about God need to mature as they grow in faith. I pray that they understand the need to remain silent at times, keeping their own thoughts to themselves, so that God might speak His Word through them. This is the gift of prophecy that He has promised to those who believe, when God puts His Word in the mouths of His children so that others will hear the message of salvation. May God grant them this gift today and always. Thanks be to God.

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August 9, 2002

Read 1 Corinthians 12:7-11

Spirits  The topic of spirits brings up childhood memories of “Casper the Friendly Ghost” and “Scooby Doo”. We are reminded of literary classics such as “A Christmas Carol”. The whole idea of spirits from another world can be frightening for some, but these characters and stories have fascinated generations of children.

We recently went to see Scooby Doo in the movie theatre, a funny movie and amazing in how they managed to make a live action film remain true to the original feel of the cartoon series. The characters had the same voice and mannerisms, duplicating the animation far better than I ever expected. With modern technology, animation has become so realistic, using computer graphics to make creatures that seem so real, but Scooby Doo is a hand drawn cartoon, somewhat distorted by design and practicality. To see Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy and Scooby Doo in real flesh doing the things that the cartoons did, was simply remarkable.

The storyline behind Scooby Doo is that the kids at Mystery Inc. are ghost hunters. They find themselves in the most unbelievable situations, with some sort of ‘spirit’ creating havoc for their employers. They have to stop the ghost to save the business who hired them. Daphne always ended up kidnapped by the ghost and somehow Scooby and Shaggy stumbled into the truth. In the end, the ghost was never really something from another world, but a guy in a mask trying to take over or destroy the business. It was the job of the gang at Mystery Inc. to discern the spirits and solve the problem.

When Paul wrote to the Corinthians about discerning spirits, he wasn’t talking about characters like Casper or the villains in Scooby Doo. God has an enemy, and that enemy has helpers who are determined to keep people from having a relationship with Jesus Christ. Satan has been roaming for many generations, deceiving people with lies about God, twists of the truth that lead people astray. False prophets give a false Gospel to people who do not know the truth and who willingly follow this destructive path. Fortunately, God gives us the ability to discern between spirits, to know who come from God and who are from the enemy.

Read 1 John 1:1-3

We never stop growing in faith and understanding. As it has long been said, “You learn something new everyday.” While this is true for everyone, it is especially true for our young people. They are just beginning their journey of service for the Lord. They lack experience and have so much to learn about the scriptures and the Christian faith. It is easy for those young in faith to be deceived by false prophets. Even when they are the ones who are sharing the Gospel, there may be people to whom they are ministering that know more about the Bible and have strong opinions about religion. We pray that while they minister, God grants them the ability to discern the spirits that they might know those that come from God and those that are sent by the enemy to cause confusion with lies. With this gift, they will stay on the right path, sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to those who need His love and mercy.

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August 10, 2002

Read 1 Corinthians 12:7-11

Spanish  As the youth prepared for their trip to Texas and Mexico, one of the most important activities was to learn some Spanish so that they could communicate with the people to whom they were sent to minister. How can we share the Gospel of Christ if those who hear do not understand the words we say? So, the kids spent time learning some songs and key phrases in Spanish. The coloring books they were going to use were translated so that the children could read the captions. They practiced a mime skit that spoke about forgiveness without using any words.

Of all the spiritual gifts listed in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, I think the last two – tongues and interpretation – are probably the hardest to handle. There are so many conflicting ideas about the gift of tongues that it is a topic that brings heated discussion between Christians from many different backgrounds. Some believe it is a requirement as evidence of salvation, others believe it is a dead gift. Paul deals extensively with the topic in 1 Corinthians 14, comparing tongues to prophecy. He defines tongues as a sign for unbelievers, so that they will hear the Gospel.

There are different kinds of tongues. Speaking a foreign language, learned or unlearned, is just one. God gives both abilities, but one is a miraculous experience. I’ve heard stories of people who have found that they were speaking to strangers who do not speak English, but who understand perfectly the message of salvation through their words. The story of Pentecost is the most incredible example of such a gift from God. But I think that even when two people speak the same language, the gift of tongues can come into play. The kingdom of heaven and the message of salvation in Christ Jesus, are so strange to human ears that it takes the gift of God to speak the Gospel so that it will be received into the heart of an unbeliever.

We can easily reject the gift of tongues as being miraculous, particularly since this gift has been abused and misused for so long in the Church. In this modern age most evangelists leave for mission well versed in the language. Translators have made incredible progress in producing bibles for nearly every language in the world. These are in themselves gifts from God. However, God still does miraculous things in this world, including giving people the ability to speak His words in a way that is not typical of the person speaking. It is important to note that interpretation is required when tongues are spoken in a language that no one understands. God does not give a gift of tongues without giving the gift of interpretation. When tongues are spoken aloud in the presence of others, someone must understand what is being said, or it is simply not a gift from God.

Paul’s greatest concern in these verses from 1 Corinthians 14, particularly when it comes to tongues is to keep corporate worship orderly. Things were often out of control in the spiritually moved congregation in Corinth. The same things have been found in modern churches, so his words are still valid today. He warns against too many speaking in tongues and that if there is no interpreter the speaker should remain silent. He focuses on prophecy as the greater gift; because those revelations given by God through prophecy will be understood by the listeners will edify the church. But he does not dismiss tongues.

Read 1 Corinthians 14:39-40

The youth did what they could to learn the language of those to whom they were to minister. I do pray that in these days in Mexico and Texas, they’ve been able to speak – whether by learned language or miraculously – in a way that the unbelievers who hear would understand and receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Thanks be to God.

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August 11, 2002

Homecoming  The youth group and the adults are on their way home from their mission trip. They left McAllen yesterday morning and spent the night in Houston. I am looking forward to their return, to hear about their experiences and share in their joy. I have received reports over the week. Vicki has called several times and I have talked to others who have been in contact with the group. There have been a few disappointments – at first the children did not know the VBS was taking place. Their first day was very quiet, but they had plenty of children on the other days. There were a few minor health troubles, mostly due to exhaustion. The worst trouble was the sunburn they got during their day at the beach.

These negative reports are small compared to the wonderful things that happened this week. The youth grew in their faith; they found great joy in serving the people in Mexico and Texas. They felt the Holy Spirit’s presence with them. Even the youth who are at times less than cooperative were right in the middle of the action – loving, serving and sharing Jesus Christ. They formed a bond with each other, a strong bond that will hold them together as they continue God’s work here at home. It will be interesting to see them as they return today. I hear they were all touched and transformed by the hand of God.

Read Colossians 1:3-6

As I hear the reports from the mission trip, I thank God for all the wonderful things He has done with and through this small group of youth. He prepared them, in heart and spirit, not only over the past few months but also throughout their lifetimes. He drew them into His heart and gave them everything they needed to step forth in the faith that He would be with them this week. He gave them the hope to rest in His promises. He filled them with love for one another and for those to whom they were sent.

God has also touched me through you, my beloved brethren in faith. I know that you have joined us in pray for these wonderful kids, for their mission and for the lost, sick and lonely in that small corner of the world. Though they were far from home, they were never alone, for you walked with them. The faith, love and hope given to you by God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ was made manifest in fruit that was born through the lives of twelve teenagers and three adults who gave of themselves for a few days to share the Gospel. It will be some time before we hear about all the wonderful things that happened to these kids this week. We may never know all the ways God touched lives with His gifts during this mission. One thing we know for sure, God is truly faithful to His promises and He has truly blessed our kids with His love. Thanks be to God.

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August 12, 2002

Late  Summer vacation is nearly over. School begins next Monday, so we have only a week to accomplish all the things we had planned on doing this summer. We have had a busy time with vacations and summer camps. It isn’t like we have sat around doing nothing. However, there were goals we had set for ourselves, places we wanted to see and things we wanted to do. Now we have one week to accomplish too many things. Since we still have some back-to-school shopping and a few scheduled commitments, we won’t get everything done.

Whatever the reason – either that we waited too long or have simply been too busy – it is too late for us to do many of the things we wanted to do this summer. But isn’t that the way life is? We make plans to accomplish many things, set goals for ourselves, and promise to see places and people. Yet, because so many things get in the way or we simply put things off too long, we run just run out of time. Sometimes we think it is too late to do the really important things. This is particularly true with our relationships. We put off telling someone we love them or granting forgiveness for past hurts. We wait too long to visit that family member or to share the love of Christ with someone we know.

Read Mark 6:32-36

The disciples thought it was too late. They were probably very tired; they wanted to be alone with Jesus. What more could He do for them at that late hour anyway? They would get hungry and begin to complain. The disciples were ready to send them away. All too often, when we think the hour has grown too late to accomplish anything – restoring relationships or doing the things we’d planned on doing – we don’t bother. “It is too late.” Yet, Jesus showed the disciples that time is precious and we should take advantage of every moment.

In this story Jesus took five loaves of bread and two fish, blessed it and fed more than five thousand people. I am certain that during that meal, Jesus also shared Himself and the Word of God. Not only were they fed in their flesh, their bellies filled with good food, but also being in His presence was a blessing to their souls. Jesus did not put off until tomorrow what He could do today because something stood in His way. He made it happen, accomplished His work for that day, touching the lives of those people.

The things we wanted to do this summer are not really that important. A trip to Memphis to go shopping or a visit to the zoo can wait. However, we all have things in our lives that should be accomplished. He have relationships that need restoration, we have words of faith that should be shared with the lost and lonely. We have friends that are sick in body, mind and spirit who need to know God’s presence and love. There are some things that just can’t wait. Take time today to feed the bread of life to those who are hungry. Share Jesus with the world. He will help restore those broken relationships and bring life into those who are dying before it is too late. Thanks be to God.

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August 13, 2002

Television.  Zack is really looking forward to going back to school and though we’ve had a really good vacation, I have to admit I am too. Zack has had fun this summer, with camps and clinics, the trip to Pennsylvania, our adventures around town. He has played with his friends, spent time playing with his friends and he has read some books. Even with all this activity, he has spent way too much time in front of the television. He gets up in the morning and turns on the TV. He lays on the couch or the floor and stares at it for a few hours, perhaps taking a moment to eat some breakfast. When it gets too hot to play outside, he comes in to do the same thing. If it rains, he does the same thing. If he’s bored, he does the same thing.

This is pretty typical behavior for a nine-year old boy. As is the whiney “Oh, Mom” when I insist that we turn off the TV to find something else to do. However, if a friend comes over he is quick to turn it off and go. Even if he is in the middle of a favorite movie or episode, he’ll step away to have fun with his friends. There are some kids who are so hooked on the talking box that they would rather stay inside with it than spend time with other kids. “I can’t leave now, my favorite show comes on in five minutes.” There’s always another to follow. The television is more important than life itself.

That’s how it is with idols. Idols are not just statues of stone or wood, they are the created things that take all our attention. Idols are the things we put ahead of the people we love, but even more importantly, above God Himself. For some people, their idol is their job. For others it is their social life. For yet others it is some sport or hobby. For others it is an addiction such as drugs or alcohol. As we look around our modern world, it is easy to say that we don’t worship idols. Very few modern religions have such practice. However, our lives are more complicated than the lives lived thousands of years ago, our idols are more difficult to pinpoint.

Read Habakkuk 2:18-20

Yes, it will be good for Zack to be back in school so he won’t have so much time in front of the television. Yet, we all should consider what idols we are hold above life, people and most especially God. What are we looking toward for comfort? Peace? Provision? What aspects of our life are we trying to give life when there is no breath? Have our jobs, hobbies, material possessions, television, families or relationships become more important to us than God? These things did not give us life and they cannot sustain our lives. We do not have to reject these things completely; we just need to consider how much importance they have in our lives. God our Father and Creator gave us life, breath and all we have. All honor and glory belongs to Him.

The idols made of stone and wood had no voice and could not do anything to make our lives better. Our modern idols are more difficult to discern. We need our jobs to eat and shelter ourselves. Our relationships are made with living, breathing people brought together to love and serve one another. Television is a learning tool with a variety of educational programming. These things seem to have life and do make our lives better, yet they are still created by man and should never become more important than the One who gave us true life.

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August 14, 2002

Frisbee  The Frisbee is one of the simplest and most successful toys in the history of child’s play. The idea came from Bridgeport, Connecticut where college students at Yale used the metal tins from Frisbie Pie Company as toys. With the development of plastic, Ed Headrick created a plastic flying disc that flew straight and long, which was then sold by Wham-O Inc. Generations of children and adults have enjoyed tossing Frisbees on the beach or in the park. As often happens, play became sport with the invention of disc golf and other Frisbee-related sports. There are now International competitions and people who devote their lives to the sport.

Ed Headrick died in his sleep Monday. Frisbee was his life and he leaves behind an incredible legacy. Mr. Headrick was once quoted as saying, “We used to say that Frisbee is really a religion – ‘Frisbyterians,’ we'd call ourselves. When we die, we don't go to purgatory. We just land up on the roof and lay there.” I don’t know anything about Mr. Headrick’s religious belief; this quote is probably more a humorous joke than a statement of faith. He did have an unusual last request. He has asked that his body be cremated and