Welcome to the May 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.
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, May 2000
May 1, 2000
Spring The weather was gorgeous on Saturday. The sun was shining; the temperature was warm. It was the perfect day to begin caring for our lawn. Bruce spent the day mowing and trimming. Around the neighborhood, others were priming lawn mowers, planting flowers and pruning bushes.
I remember, at our house in California, that we had a fruitless mulberry tree. These trees grew at an incredibly fast rate, several feet a year. It was necessary to prune them regularly, or they would damage the house. The first few times, Bruce simply cut off a foot or two, just enough to keep it away from the roofline. The tree became a threat within a month. Eventually Bruce cut more off the tree. Others in our neighborhood even cut their trees to the truck. They always grew back fuller, stronger and more beautiful than ever. Pruning is quite helpful to the life of a tree, plant or bush. Rose bushes grow better with pruning. If you cut the dead flower from a bulb, the bulb grows stronger. Even grass grows thicker and fuller with proper care and cutting. At times we are afraid that pruning will kill the plant. However, as long as the roots and trunk remain intact, the plant will be healthy. The branches we cut away are just dead weight, taking energy from the rest of the plant.
Read John 15:1-8
God wants us to be strong, full and beautiful in His garden. He carefully prunes our branches – taking away those things that threaten others and our own relationship with Him. Is God speaking to you today about something in your life? Don’t hold on to it. Let Him cut it away. Those branches are dead weight, taking energies that would be used more productively elsewhere. Remain in His love, bear His fruit, and show the world that you are one of His. Thanks be to God.
May Day Yesterday was May Day. This is not a day I have really celebrated, but since May 1st is May Day, I thought I would write about. I sat on the web, scanning websites for information, and I realized why it is not a holiday that I have never celebrated. There is nothing Christian about the day. As a matter of fact, it is the only pagan holiday that was not usurped by the church. During the seventh century in Puritan England, the holiday was banned in Parliament for a time. Before this time, the day was celebrated as a rite of fertility. Later, the emphasis was placed more on the coming of spring.
In 1889 in Russia, those who had power and money oppressed the working man and lower classes. May 1st became a holiday for the working man; parades were held and men spoke of justice. This day is still recognized around the world as a day for the common man. Some activists around the world have rallied to make it an international holiday. In London yesterday, an anti-Capitalism group held an event to protest. A thousand or more people gathered. They destroyed a McDonald’s and some people were hurt. Their reaction against the wrongdoing in the world was one of violence and anger. People were arrested.
Read Romans 12:2-3
Along our Christian walk, we begin to notice things about the world, which disagree with our understanding of how God created us to be. We see hatred, falsehood, oppression, immorality and other evils. We must be careful in how we react against these things. If we meet anger with anger, we are conforming to the ways of the world and not living according to the promise of God. Jesus tells us that we must love our enemies. I fail to live up to this command daily.
As we see the things in this world which disturb our soul, we need to remember that we have been transformed. We are not more righteous than another, but should be reminded of our own failures. This day, as we work and play in the world, let us remember to react according to God’s Will. When we meet anger, respond in love and mercy, just as God responds to us.
Storyteller Susan Klein is a storyteller from Martha’s Vineyard. She is visiting our school this week, telling stories from all over the world to our children. She has the ability to take any story from a book and put it to life, so that the audience feels like they are experiencing the story first hand. She uses voices and body language, coupled with just the right words, which allows the children’s imaginations to take them to places they’ve never been.
Human beings have told stories since the beginning of time. We have a need to understand the things around us, and many things in God’s creation are unexplainable. One story Susan told was about the Milky Way, taken from a desert tribe in Africa. It told of an inexperienced hunter who went to find a skin for his girl. He got lost, nearly eaten by a hyena. During the night his girl, in a desperate attempt to bring him home, flung hot embers in the sky. Those glowing bits flew to where the hunter stood, surprising the hyena and giving him a path to follow home.
We tell stories to ease our fears. Many stories take the monsters from our imaginations and bring them to life. The end of the story brings transformation or death to those monsters, so that we feel safe from harm.
There are many stories, but there are even more ways to tell them. In our library at home, we have at least 6 different versions of Cinderella. There are also a few stories, which are Cinderella stories, but have different titles and characters. We can often trace these stories to the original author, however even those authors have taken from an earlier tradition of storytelling. We can trace many stories to the Bible. Take for instance the story of Joseph, a real rags-to-riches story. The plot is different, but the story the same. Joseph was unloved by his family, sent away to his death. He suffered in justices, but eventually found a place of honour.
One of my favourite hymns is called, “I love to tell the story.” The chorus is, “I love to tell the story, I’ll sing this them in glory, And tell the old, old story of Jesus and His love.”
Read Psalm 71:13-18
We have a story to tell, of Jesus Christ and all he did for us. Our story is an age-old story, one that has been told for generations, but there are a million or more different versions. Each person has his or her own story -- the story of his or her Life in Jesus Christ. Go tell your story, of Jesus and His love.
Names There is a fun letter cruising the Internet that contains a name game. You create your ‘Star Wars Name’ by putting together two letters from one name, two from another and two more from others. The silly concoction that occurs for me when I play this game is Hopmahial. There is no purpose for it all, just a fun thing to do.
We spend much time considering the names for our children. Bruce and I had decided that he would choose the boy’s name and I would choose the girl’s name. When I was pregnant with Victoria, I was absolutely certain that she was a boy, so I didn’t bother. In my final week of pregnancy, Bruce said, “Honey, what if it is a girl? Please choose a name.” So, out of the blue, I said, “Oh, all right… Victoria.” She was born, and the name stuck. It is the name we gave her. England once had a queen named Victoria. She was a beloved queen, one who was highly regarded in life and after her death. Victoria has found it to be rather embarrassing to live here in England with that name. There are monuments and buildings, streets and gardens named in honour of Victoria – the queen, of course. We do not always call her by her formal name. She is also called Vicki, Sweetie or Honeybunch. If I’m angry with her for some reason, her name is lengthened. First I call, “Vicki.” Then, “Victoria.” I add the middle name if there is no response. If I make it to our last name, watch out!
Our earthly names are important, however they can be easily changed. We call each other by nicknames, some are fun and others are mean. When women marry, they usually change their surname to be that of their husband, since marriage is a joining of two people in every way. Performers often have their names legally changed to fit their image. Writers use pen names; some writers have hundreds of names.
A wise woman once told me, “Know your calling better than your own name. Your Mama and Daddy gave you the name Peggy, but your calling is what God has named you. It is written on your heart and is the name that matters.”
Read 1 John 3:1
We are called children of God. We have each been given a specific calling – a purpose in His Kingdom. Do you know your name?
Details The last few days have been a pleasure for me. Susan Klein, the storyteller from Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, has been performing for the children at our school. As chairperson for the Artist/Author Workshop committee for the PTSA, it was my responsibility to make sure everything was prepared for her visit. I had help. The staff and administration gave me the necessary support for planning each detail, but it was up to me to coordinate the trip to make it stress free for all involved.
I tend to be rather obsessive when planning such an event. I go over every detail several times before the day arrives; to be sure everything is perfect. I find that preparation is the key to a successful project. When Susan arrived on Tuesday, everything was ready and the week went smoothly. As it happened, it was good that I had everything in place early because a household emergency meant I had other things to deal with at a time I would have been in the school finalizing the details.
For a number of years, about three, the disciples had followed Jesus all over the region. They learned from Him and watched as He performed incredible miracles. They were nearly inseparable. They had grown to rely upon Jesus in many ways, not only for spiritual filling, but also for meeting their physical needs. No matter where they went, Jesus knew where they could get food and water. They could not imagine life without Him.
In John 13, Jesus told His disciples that He was going away. Peter insisted that he would go wherever Jesus went, even if he had to die. Jesus said no. They were upset and confused at these words of Jesus. He offered them great comfort.
Read John 14:1-4
There are many things in this life that provide opportunities for us to be upset and confused. We do not know what tomorrow will bring. We should not worry about tomorrow, for our Lord Jesus Christ has all the details under control. We will be with Him someday. Come Lord Jesus, soon. Praise be to God.
Lilacs It is lilac season. The early lilacs are in bloom; the late lilacs are beginning to bud. All over the countryside of England there are long rows of lilac bushes bursting out in purple flowers. There is a lovely bush on the path we take as we walk to school. The other day, I was prayer walking on my way to pick up the children. As I neared the bush, a gentle breeze blew, bringing with it the fragrant aroma of the lilacs. I had to stop and enjoy the flavour for just a moment. That smell brought back fond memories of the past – the lilac bush at the home where I grew up, taking lilacs to my teachers at school and the stick in the yard of our home in California.
We moved into that home in the late summer. Time and weather meant we did not even consider the landscaping until early spring. One day, Bruce and I wandered around the yard, discussing what sort of flowers or bushes we should put in the beds. We came across a stick in the corner of the yard, seemingly unimportant. We thought about cutting it off, but decided instead to give it a chance. Later that year, we discovered it was a white lilac bush, a rare thing in California. When it was time for us to move from California, we shared cuttings with several of our friends. What was once simply a stick in the yard turned out to be a gift from God. That gift was shared and now the sweet smell and beauty of white lilac grace many homes around town.
When the breeze blew and the smell of lilac permeated the air the other day, I was reminded of sacrifice in the Old Testament. The smell of burning flesh and the incense smelled sweet to our Father in heaven. We hear in the New Testament that the prayers of the saints are like the incense burned in the Temple.
Read Ephesians 5:1-2
Just as the gentle breeze blew the fragrant aroma of lilac to my nose, the Holy Spirit takes the aroma of our spiritual sacrifice to the Father. Jesus offered Himself as the final atoning sacrifice, giving Himself into death for our life. Now, as we live that life in Him, our prayers and worship are like incense before the altar of God. As the odor reaches Him, He savours the smell and remembers His promises. Share the gift you have received, the gift of God’s Word, that others might raise their hearts and voices to God. Then heaven will smell like springtime in England, sweet and fragrant to our Father.
Out-of-the-way We went shopping in Calais, France yesterday. Taxes on things like wine and cigarettes are very high in England, so British tour groups plan excursions to Calais for cheap shopping. One of the places we stopped is the Cite Europe, a large suburban shopping mall near the entrance to the Chunnel. Located very nearby is the Duty Free Shop, a final stop on these trips for last minute purchases. The rules about duty free shopping have recently changed. To buy in the Duty Free shop, you were given a ticket that showed you were eligible and defined the limitations. Now there are no limits, so they no longer use the ticket.
At one time, a road ran from the mall to the shop, making it easy for the tour groups to go from one to the other on their way home. Unfortunately, people began to abuse the new system, going in to the store when they were not eligible to do so. The road was closed and now the buses are directed on a new path, which is six miles long.
In the Old Testament, we hear of the story of the Hebrews in the desert. They were brought out of Egypt into freedom. As they neared the Promised Land, the LORD told Moses to send scouts from each tribe, to search the land and people. When they returned they reported to Moses that the land was good, but the enemy was powerful. Caleb said they should go take the land for themselves. The others were afraid so spread rumours in the encampment about the land. The people grumbled, wishing they had died in Egypt or the desert rather than at the sword of an enemy.
God became angry because they did not trust Him to provide the strength and might to defeat the enemy. He told Moses that He would cut down the entire nation for this disobedience. Moses pleaded for mercy.
Read Numbers 14:17-23
This story reminds me that we are forgiven when we transgress against the Lord, but the path we are forced to take becomes more difficult if we do not trust in Him.
Unity In America, there seems to be a church on every street corner. Each church has a different label. There is Roman Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopal, Pentecostal, Quaker, and Moravian. This is just a small list of the hundreds of denominations around America. In some denominations, there are several different types. I have a book called Handbook of Denominations in the United States. This book lists eleven different types of Lutheran church. Around the world there are hundreds.
The differences between one church and another are often geographic. Sometimes the differences are cultural. Occasionally the differences are based upon doctrinal belief. I remember one episode of Cheers the TV show; the differences between one Lutheran and another were played out in a joke. Woody and Kelly had been recently married when they came into the bar quite upset. Everyone asked what was wrong. They said, “We have to get a divorce, our religious differences are too great.” Someone, probably Carla, said, “Aren’t you both Lutheran?” They told the crew that one was Missouri Synod and the other Evangelical Lutheran Church in American. This was meant as a joke, however there are often walls between people of different faiths based on the labels, which define our beliefs.
Since we have so many choices in America, finding a church is difficult in England for many. We have the military chapel, which provides a variety of worship opportunities, but even that is limited. Nearly every village has an Anglican Church. There are Baptist, Methodist and Roman Catholic Churches. The larger towns have a few other choices. Around the country there are some mission churches.
We have been actively involved with the military chapel program. We are also active in the local church, which provides wonderful opportunity for prayer, worship and study. Last night, these two worlds met at a Spirit-filled praise and worship service. The band and youth from one of our Anglican churches were invited to lead a service last evening at the chapel. We were unified by the power of God’s Holy Spirit, even though our differences are many.
Read Ephesians 4:11
At the end of the service, our chaplain said, “The word on the street is that the church is dead in England. It isn’t here.” Each person left the chapel filled and uplifted. The walls that divide us may not have fallen down, but the Holy Spirit punched a few holes in those walls last night. Thanks be to God.
Schedules These past few weeks have been very busy for me. One thing after another has eaten away my time, leaving very little room for rest and quiet time with my Lord. Late nights and early mornings at the computer, then days filled with meetings and other commitments have meant physical, emotional and spiritual exhaustion. We allow ourselves to get caught up in too many things at once. I often go a week without any commitments, and then I’m lulled into a false sense of time and space. So, I agree to become involved in a new project. Meanwhile, previously planned events get finalized and suddenly I am in the midst of week filled from morning to night with activity. I enjoy doing what I do. However, it can be overwhelming at times.
I was feeling overwhelmed this morning. I awoke early, as usual, to accomplish the things that need to be done before the children awake for school. I had a prayer meeting to attend and work at the school to be done today. I was tired. I was unsure how I could get through this day.
Read 2 Corinthians 7:5-7
As I searched for scriptures, I found this writing from Paul. Paul, a great man of God who seemed to be able to do everything, was writing to his brethren in Corinth telling them that he was tired. There was some animosity between Corinth and Paul. His writings often seem harsh to the listeners. However, he speaks the Truth of how to live according to the promise of God. When we do not like the teachings presented, we often react against the messenger. Paul was receiving those blows. He reacted as any man might react in such a situation.
God is always faithful. He provides the comfort we need at those times when we are physically, emotionally and spiritually exhausted. My schedule was turned upside down today when school was delayed for two hours due to fog. God gave me a moment of rest at a time when I felt I could not rest. Thanks be to God.
Morning I awoke this morning praising God. There was a song in my heart and on my lips. I felt as though I just left an awesome service of worship and I didn’t want it to end. As I came out of that state between sleep and wakefulness, I began to pray for some friends and thank God for His blessings. It was the most incredible way to wake up.
There have been moments in recent days when I’ve felt lonely, scared and confused. Real life troubles seem to linger in our minds, and though we look toward the Lord for our strength, we still feel the affects of the world in our lives. We get tired and overwhelmed. God is always faithful. He provides the comfort we need and brings us into remembrance of His promises. Last night, by the power of God’s Holy Spirit, I worshipped Him. It was not by my power; I was at rest in Him.
Read Psalm 30:1-12
Morning is a wonderful time for praise and prayer. As you arise each day, spend some time with the Lord, not only asking for your daily needs, but in thankfulness and praise for His blessings. Today is a new day! Thanks be to God.
Dancing Zilvitis, a Lithuanian Folk Music Ensemble, came to our school this week to perform for the children. Their forty-five minute programme was filled with music and dance from their native land. We watched a performance last night, and though we could not understand the language spoken, we could understand the language of music.
The dance was similar to square dancing. Each dance had specific costumes and there were certain actions in the dance that made the purpose of the dance clear. Several dances were obviously courtship rituals. You could see the young girls and young men flirting, choosing and finally pairing up at the end of the dance. The wedding dances had a dancer in a special costume, with a white headdress. They performed certain rituals, which are still tradition in today’s weddings, such as the throwing of rice for fertility. One dance acted out the stealing of the bride and groom by the unmarried members of the opposite sex. In the end the bride and groom were reunited. The girls performed a harvest dance.
Dance and music have long played a role in worship. The Psalms are a collection of hymns from the days of David and beyond. There are some things that just can’t be said in words, but are powerful messages in music. As in last night’s performance, though I did not know the language or anything about the ensemble, I easily understood the messages of the dance.
We live in a day when so much seems to be wrong with the world. People look at the evil and pain around the world and sometimes wonder if God has abandoned us. There are many people who do not believe in the existence of the Almighty God. After all, if He does exist, why would He allow so much hatred, violence, hunger, and destruction? There are no easy answers to that question.
Read Jeremiah 31:10-14
Those of us who believe – by the power of God’s Holy Spirit, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ – have hope in the promises of God. We do not have to wait until the morning to dance and rejoice, for Jesus Christ has brought us new life and the fulfillment of the promises. Thanks be to God! Rejoice!
Rocky’s Readers The children have been participating in a reading program at our school. Since the beginning of April they have been working toward several goals to receive rewards for their efforts. Each child who completes the program receives three rewards, with the first reward achieved at the halfway point. With a month left to the program, twenty percent of the participants have already completed the program and many more have made the halfway point. Today we begin awarding free books to all those children.
There are some that disagree with the concept of reward programs. Some questions arise as to the motivation of the students, their methods of completing the task, and the outcome. Are they getting anything out of the reading? I believe that the children do get something out of the program. First of all, the reward is free books. These children are working hard toward the goals so they can have more to read.
Not all the rewards are tangible. To gain greater participation in the program, the principal has agreed to shave all the hair off his head. The children had to reach the halfway point last week for this to occur. They worked diligently, and next week, our principal goes hairless. I have noticed that even the children who love to read have had an increased interest in reading. They are gaining a reward they do not even consider, since each book gives them a little more knowledge and experience.
Adults were welcome to participate in this program, so Bruce and I have been striving toward our own goal. There have been days when there have been other things to do rather than read. However, we have encouraged each other to enjoy the task at hand, reminding each other that to receive the reward we must complete the task. We all have made the first plateau.
Read Hebrews 10:35-39
Just as the rewards for the reading program are not always tangible, so it is as we walk with Jesus Christ. As a matter of fact, it is not an easy life to live. However, when we walk boldly in faith, we will be richly rewarded. Do God’s Will today. You have been blessed to be a blessing, and you will receive more blessings in return. Thanks be to God.
Mission The small village of Mildenhall, England and area villages have several different churches. There is a Methodist Church, Baptist Church, Roman Catholic Church and several from the Church of England. For the last two years, members of these congregations have gathered in prayer and planning for a millennial mission event which will be kicked off in an ecumenical worship and praise service tomorrow morning. Celebrate 2000 is an opportunity for Christians around Mildenhall to gather in the unity of the Holy Spirit and to share the Word with those who have not heard of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The focus of the mission is evangelism. We, as a church, have been called out to make disciples of all nations. Too often we as God’s Church prefer to hide within the walls of our own churches rather than share Jesus Christ with the world. This does not necessarily mean door to door evangelism. The truly successful way to share God’s Word is to share with those you already know and love – your family, friends, neighbors and co-workers.
In the past few months, the local churches have each provided training to their members on friendship evangelism. Home study groups have been meeting to edify each member and give them the courage and boldness to invite their friends to the mission events. Each member of the congregation has been encouraged to pray God’s Will.
Prayer has been an important part of the planning. Each month a group of intercessors, led there by the power of God’s Holy Spirit, have met for prayer. They have sought God’s advice on each detail of this event and have asked Him to soften the hearts of the unbelievers in our community. As one unit, the congregations have gathered and spoken aloud the words of intercession that has released the power of God’s Spirit upon our community.
The Holy Spirit has been doing a mighty work in our villages, gathering His children into fellowship with one another. In the days to come, we are confident that He will continue to bless this community and hearts that were once lost will be drawn into His life. As we begin Celebrate 2000, please join us in prayer in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Thank you.
Read 2 Thessalonians 3:1-5
Kite Derby The Cub Scouts held their kite derby yesterday afternoon. The boys each had to make their own kite and fly it in the Derby to earn their badge. The kites were judged according to appearance and performance. Each prize was predetermined, so the winners truly earned their awards. Zack’s kite won two awards – ‘Most comical’ because it was made out of the funny papers, and ‘First in the air.’ Bruce and Zack did a very good job, and the kite did fly momentarily.
Judging the appearance is easier than the flying. The kites just lay before the judges and they chose the best for each category. The performance awards were more difficult. The participants had to design a kite that would work, choose the right materials, and put them together properly. Then, they needed to know how to fly a kite. And most of all, good kite flying relies upon windy weather.
It is windy in England all the time – or nearly all the time. It was not very windy yesterday. The lightest kites were lifted easily into the air on the light breeze that was blowing, but the heavier kites took far more effort to get catch the breeze. It was such a joy to watch the kites fly, seeing the boys succeed at their task and have fun in the process. One of the greatest challenges of the day was choosing the right moment to try to send the kites into the air. They needed the wind and so they had to patiently wait for the proper moment to set the kite in the air.
Read John 3:5-8
We need the wind of God to fly high in His Kingdom. His timing is always right; His ways are always good. God’s Spirit lifts from the ways of the world those who do not yet know our Lord Jesus Christ, like the wind lifts a kite. For those of us who know Jesus as our personal Saviour, wisdom comes like gentle breezes to lift us higher for His Glory. We do not know when, where or how the Spirit will come at us, we just have to wait patiently for the proper moment. God is good. All the time. Thanks be to God. Amen.
Audacity The Celebrate 2000 Mission Event began yesterday with an incredible service of worship and praise. The Saltmine Theatre Company presented several dramas, ‘almost Biblical stories’ presented so that we can apply the concepts to our own lives. In one sketch, they took the story of Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46-52) and brought it to life. Bart was a cheeky little blind fellow, who spent his days begging. One day he heard that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. He called out to Jesus, “Have mercy on me!” The crowd rebuked him, but he called even more. Jesus heard Bartimaeus over the roar of the crowd and told him to come. Jesus asked, “What do you want me to do?”
Doesn’t that seem like a silly question? John Marshal the evangelist spoke about silly questions. We see a guy with a sling on his arm, and we ask, “Did you hurt your arm?” Someone tells us they just came from a funeral and we say, “Did he die?” Jesus stood before a blind man and said, “What do you want me to do?” Jesus knew Bart wanted healing, but he asked the question to begin a relationship. Jesus could have healed Bartimaeus instantly, but called him to come. Jesus could have healed without being asked, however He opened up a relationship by asking the question. He wanted Bart to respond. Jesus said, “Your faith has healed you.” This is the visible sort of faith that James talks about in the epistle. It is a response to the call of God. The story was presented by the Theatre Company and John Marshall in a way that any person sitting in the congregation would understand that they should respond to the call from God in their own lives.
The Saltmine Team’s main purpose is to go out into the places that are filled with people who are not normally active in church. Audacity is the name of the band that has been leading the worship. They are normally a performance band, going in to colleges and prisons, sharing the Word of our Lord in song. The word ‘audacity’ is defined as a willingness to take risks, boldness. It would be very easy for them to keep their ministry within the church. However, they have been called out, into the world, to present the message of God’s love to the lost and lonely.
Read Acts 4:31
We have been called by God to share the Gospel message with the world. We won’t all be used in a ministry like The Saltmine team. For some, our evangelism will be simply to our family and neighbors. No matter where we are led, by the Power of God’s Holy Spirit, we are to speak the word of God boldly. Be audacious, take the risk, and share the Word. Thanks be to God.
Forgiveness We've been to visit many castles here in England. I was quite surprised at the appearance of the first castle we visited. It was a castle built during early days of Norman rule, when William the Conqueror came to rule the British Isle. The castle keep, the main building in the complex is nothing more than a large stone box, four or five levels in height. The building was designed for defense rather than comfort. The castles we think about from the Disney movies have hundreds of comfortable private rooms. Norman castles had one large hall on each level, with a few small rooms built into the fifteen-foot deep walls. The top level was the king's private apartment. The next level was for the day to day working of the castle. This is where the people would meet with the king.
One of the castles we visited had a large wooden table, which acted as a desk for the king. Here he would receive visitors, his subjects who came to pay debts or petition for their needs. The society was one where the king owned everything. Many people were considered slaves. If you were a freeman, you had to pay rent on the land you used to farm. A person could not even kill a deer in the forest without permission from the king.
In the 18th chapter of the Gospel according to St. Matthew, we find the story about the unmerciful servant. A servant goes before his king unable to pay his debt. The servant falls upon in his knees and begs for patience with a promise to pay. The king has mercy on his servant and grants him more time to collect the funds necessary. On his way out the door, the servant finds another servant that owes him money. He does not have mercy, but rather sends the debtor to prison. The king learns of the unmerciful servant's actions and sends him to jail.
We are forgiven with the same measure we forgive. Jesus Christ died on the cross so that you might be forgiven the greatest debt, that of sin against your Father in heaven, your Creator. When someone hurts you, are you able to truly forgive, even forget that which they did against you? Or do you speak the words of forgiveness, continuing to hold on to the hurts, resurrecting them occasionally for some self-purpose?
Read Isaiah 43:25
It is hard to forget. Today, walk in the ways of your Lord. Forgive the sins against you, and remember them no more. If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour, you have walked before the table of your King and received His mercy. Will you now go out and be merciful?
Hair The Rocky’s Reader program at school has been such a success. The children have read thousands of books, and are receiving their rewards for effort. In one day, we gave away 300 free books, and will continue to give them away until the end of school. This has been one of the most pleasant tasks I have had at the school. The children have shown joy and excitement so readily. They have not been greedy about the books, and they have been thankful for the gift.
Yesterday, they got the greatest reward. The principal had the hair shaved off his head. We had a lovely spring day, with the sun shining and temperatures in the 70’s. We put a chair on the hill near the playground at school in a place where all would get a good view of the proceedings. The students, teachers and staff came out to watch - one thousand people sat on this hill, ‘out for hair.’ Our principal didn’t have much hair anyway. He does have a lovely beard. His barber had such fun with the crowd, asking if they want more hair. She played with the cutter, questioning the children with each pass, “Do you want more?” Someone in the crowd yelled, “We want the beard!” This comment sent the whole mob screaming, “Beard, beard, beard!”
Our principal was such a good sport. While he did not have it shaved off, he did have it trimmed very close to the skin. He gave them much more than he had originally intended. We played on the joke a bit - touching his head for good luck, wearing sunglasses to avoid the glare, and giving him a hat to keep from burning. The children will never forget this extra bit of school spirit, and our principal will be loved all the more.
This event was all in fun, and our principal came to the shaver voluntarily. There are many times we get caught up in events that are not by choice. We are at the wrong place at the wrong time and fall victim to the cruelty of man. Jesus fell prey to the affects of mob rule during His trial. One or two men of the temple instigated the shouts for crucifixion, and the crowd joined in. Jesus gave them everything.
Read Matthew 5:38-48
We do face persecution in our walk with Christ Jesus. We are called to live as Christ lived, going the extra mile, giving beyond that which is expected. Jesus could have walked away from death, but He gave His life that you might live. Go and do likewise for your enemy, by the power of God’s Holy Spirit, in the name of Jesus our Lord, for the Glory of God the Father. Amen.
Debt The thing we love most about living here in England is the opportunity to travel and see so many wonderful places. The thing we dislike about that is how much it costs. Most of the castles, stately homes, museums and other landmarks charge a fee for entrance. While there we end up purchasing some souvenir to remember our visit. We need gas, food and sometimes lodging. So, we end up using the credit card.
We also have opportunities to purchase things which would be difficult to find or far more expensive in the US. We have bought several lovely pieces of antique furniture, some ancient coins (our earliest is a Roman denarius), and of course English china and ceramics. So, we end up using the credit card.
Since we are so close to the European mainland, we’ve taken the opportunity to travel over there a few times. We’ve been to France as a family, and I have been to Germany and Belgium as well. Each of these trips meant the opportunity to purchase things that would not be available for us in the states. So, we end up using the credit card.
We do pay much toward the debt, but over the years since we have been here, we have managed to pile up somewhat of a hefty credit card bill. It always seems as though just as we get close to paying it off, something comes up and we use it again. I would not trade these opportunities, so we will continue to use the credit card.
Debts need to be paid. We will continue to plod on, paying the bills as they come, paying more than we spend so that we will eventually be debt free again. Our debts are not overwhelming, however there are some debts that seem impossible to overcome. The national debt of America is in the trillions. The debt we owe to American servicemen who have laid down their lives for their country is one that can never be paid. Banks around the world have loaned money to third world countries for many years, and they are finding it impossible to repay those loans. Recently, the Bank of England forgave one third of the debt owed to them by these countries. There are charities whose sole purpose is to collect funds to help pay these debts.
Read Romans 13:8-10
Our Christian walk shows in every aspect of our life. While it would be better if we did not obtain a great amount of debt in our lives, a responsible Christian will pay that debt in a timely manner. As for our relationships with each other, there is no debt except the one of love.
Coincidence I sent an email today, to the wrong person. When I received a reply questioning the email, I thought I’d really messed up. It was a mistake that opened the door to a dialogue that answered many questions between myself and the person who received it. It was not a mistake. Together we were able to work out a few issues, which confused and upset us, and we realized that our differences were not as vast as we had originally thought.
There are many times in my life when things have happened and my initial reaction was that I had messed up. I’ve said the wrong words or opened the wrong door. I look back upon my own life, and that which God has called me to do, and I think, “What if…?” What if I had followed God’s call to service twenty years ago? What if I had done this, that or the other thing? Where would I be today?
Perhaps God did call me to service two decades before I answered; however He has used every moment in those twenty years to build me into the servant I have become. I have lived through experiences that will help me to be a much better servant for my Lord. The same is true of each of us. We look upon certain times of our lives and say, “What if?” We regret failed opportunities and are embarrassed by foolish mistakes. Yet, God is faithful in all things, working through us, even in our imperfection, for His Perfect Will.
Read Ephesians 3:7-13
There are no coincidences. Perhaps we do not see the opportunity as readily as I did this morning
Overwhelmed Do you ever just feel overwhelmed by it all? Do you feel overwhelmed by the hectic schedules, the endless laundry, the inch of dust on the furniture? Do you feel overwhelmed by the people who cross your path whose sole purpose seems to be to cause you grief and hardship?
There are some days when I am just tired. I am not physically tired or sick. I am not emotionally tired. I am not even spiritually tired. I am fed up. I am fed up with hatred in the world. I am fed up with confusion. I am fed up with sickness and hurt.
I just want to be with my Lord.
Read Psalm 70
There are days when I’m overwhelmed by it all. It is at those moments I cry out to the Lord my God in praise. Is today one of those days for you? Pray this Psalm and find rest in the hope of His presence. Thanks be to God.
Miraculous The Celebrate 2000 Mission Event has drawn to a close after a week of Spirit-filled events. Last night we had the final service of Worship and Praise. The Saltmine Team led the worship again, with Audacity sharing their gift of music. The Theatre Company shared a few more compelling sketches, to draw us deeper into our relationship with Jesus Christ. John Marshall spoke about “Missing the Miraculous.”
John began his message with a joke. There was a man who loved to walk his dog. While they were walking, the man would throw a stick and his dog would chase it. One day, they were near the river, and had come by a place where the river was quite calm. The man threw the stick into the river. The dog ran to the edge, and then proceeded to walk across the water to retrieve the stick. The man was amazed! When the dog returned, the man did it again. A second time the dog stopped at the edge, walked across the water and retrieved the stick. The next day, the man got a friend to go along on the walk. When they came to the place of calm in the river, the man said, “Watch this.” Then he threw the stick, the dog walked on water and returned bearing the stick. The man said, “What do you think of that?” The friend said, “Your dog can’t swim.”
The friend missed the miraculous. How many times do things happen in our lives that we think are merely coincidence? Or we see the negative aspects of such a thing rather than seeing the hand of God? We may never know how many lives have been touched by the music, drama and messages brought to us by the Saltmine Team. There were not a thousand people standing up to commit their lives to Jesus Christ at last night’s service. Yet, the Holy Spirit has been strong this week, and the atmosphere of our village is changed. The Christian community has joined together for several years now in prayer and planning, bound together in unity by the power of God. Hearts were changed this week, of this there is no doubt, but even moreso, the world is seeing the Church of God working together despite differences.
Read John 7:37-43
Someone is bound to miss the miraculous. As for me, I know that Jesus is the Christ, the Saviour of the world. He lived in flesh so that I could see how to live. He died so that I could be redeemed. He rose from the dead so that I can have life. He ascended into heaven to reign as my King. And He lives in me, so that I might do the miraculous.
Someone is bound to miss the Christ. Don’t let it be you.
Senseless Why do people do the things they do? Why do people act as they do? So many things in this world are senseless acts of aggression.
When I was a child, we lived in Pennsylvania. On warm summer nights we would enjoy sitting outside watching the fireflies blink their way across our paths. A firefly is a flying insect that has a chemical in its tail that lights up in the night. The light used as a form of communication between the bugs. I loved the fireflies, they were beautiful and a source for amusement many summer evenings. We would run around the yard, watching for bugs to light up to see if we could catch them. We would catch a few and keep them in jars to watch as they crawled around on the leaves that we gave them to eat. We would use our tennis rackets to hit them to the ground and watch, as they lay there stunned for a moment, blinking helplessly. We would catch a bunch in our hands, throw them to the ground and then smash them, so their little lights looked like a pretty city for a brief moment.
As I look back upon those days, I see that those games were sick and twisted. Now, as an adult, I see that human beings play the same sort of games with other human beings. The games seem harmless at first, just like catching the fireflies to simply look at them. We do not know how these things get started or out of control. It may begin with a simple joke or small white lie, but eventually friendships are destroyed and people are hurt.
Why do these things happen? There seems to be many reasons - misunderstandings, pride, fear, bigotry, hatred, jealousy, anger and immorality. It seems to be about power and control. The games continue because we have difficulty knowing how to deal with such senseless destruction. The victims fight back, often out of anger. It becomes a vicious circle, with no apparent beginning or end.
Jesus taught us how to deal with such things. It is a hard lesson for us to learn. We need to forgive. We need to fight the hatred and anger with love and patience. We need to speak the truth with courage and conviction then let it go.
Read John 8:2-9
Jesus spoke the truth. They were convicted by His words. We speak the truth. Our words are not always presented in accordance with the example given us by Jesus Christ. Condemnation comes from God, the Holy Spirit and the Word. Let the truth speak for itself, then move on.
Read John 8:10-11
It is time to stop the endless circles of senseless games. Forgive by the power of God’s Holy Spirit, in the name of Jesus your Lord, for the Glory of God your heavenly Father.
Practice We are drawing to the close of another school year. It is time for final exams and recitals, opportunities for the children to display the knowledge and progress, which they have achieved over the past nine months. We attended a show last week given by Vicki’s Jazzercise group. Since September, these children have met weekly to practice their dance and have fun. The practice showed during the performance as they demonstrated their own personal talent as well as their cooperation as a group.
During these past months, the Jazzercise coach has spent hours with the children teaching them the moves and routines. They practiced it over and over again, sometimes just a move until the group was in sync, sometimes the routine to be sure that they are remembering the whole. It seems repetitive during the practice, but the end result was a well-tuned performance in every respect.
In the classrooms, teachers are reviewing the work they have taught the children all year. The students are drilling math facts and spelling words, so that when the final test is taken, they will be well prepared with the knowledge necessary to succeed. It seems repetitive, but as we review these facts over and over again, they become ingrained in our minds, easily accessible the moment we need to retrieve them. I remember when I was a student, sighing each time the teacher said, “Let’s practice our multiplication tables.” We think, “Why do we have to do this again and again? We know this.”
There are times during our Christian walk when it seems God is repeating the same lessons over and over again. We think, “Why do I have to go through this again? I know this.” Yet, God does this so that when the time comes for us when we really need to remember the lesson, it will be so much a part of us that we will live it with assurance.
Read Numbers 9:15-23
Israel wandered in the desert for many years. God had a purpose for those wanderings. It was repetitive, the manner which God led His children. They learned lessons in patience, as well as in being prepared. They learned to watch for His command and to be obedient. They were learning how to live in complete submission to God’s Will each moment, so that when they faced the enemy, they would know God’s voice in their life.
God does the same thing with us, repeating the lessons until they are such a part of our existence that they come easily during the tests and battles we face on our journey. The next time God says, “Do this,” and you want to think, “Again?” remember that God knows just what He is doing. You are His beloved child and hear His voice. Be obedient. You will be blessed. Thanks be to God.
Clay Clay is a type of soil. Clay is fine-grained earthy material, which are pliable when wet. When the clay dries, it becomes hard and can be used for a multitude of purposes. When the clay is fired in a kiln, it becomes even stronger. A coating of glaze is added to give the object more strength, as well as to cover the pores to make it retain liquid.
Clay has been used for thousands of years for many practical things - tiles for floors or roofs, bowls, coins and pots. Pure clay is white and has been used for many centuries to create fine china. Porcelain is more difficult to handle. The method was first discovered in China, but other countries have since found ways to create beautiful china and porcelain objects. China looks so delicate, and yet it is strong.
We take trips to Stoke-on-Trent on a regular basis to buy English Bone China from factories like Spode, Royal Dalton and Wedgwood. In the factory outlet shops, there are stacks of dishes, boxes of cups, all just tossed on counters without care or concern for the objects. Some break, but those breaks are most often due to weaknesses in production, rather than wear.
Clay pots are so popular these days. People keep them filled with flowers of every kind, budding with life and colour. We don’t often pay attention to the clay pot, particularly when it is filled with a beautiful flower. Many of my own clay pots have had cracks and chips. These imperfections do not matter, as the pot still held the flower.
The Bible refers to God as a potter and we as the vessels, which He has molded to carry His Life.
Read 2 Corinthians 4:7-11
In this life, we as Christians are often beaten and attacked for our stand on truth and life. No matter how difficult the situations we face, we must always remember that which we were created to hold. We were created to glorify God the Father. We do that by being the vessel, which shares the truth of His life with the world. We will get chipped and cracked in the process, but we will not be destroyed. Those moments when the world thinks its getting the better of us, are the moments when God is doing His greatest works. I’ve often referred to myself as a cracked pot. It is my prayer that this cracked pot will always shine the light of truth and life to the world.
Betrayal The week of Jesus’ passion was filled with circumstances, which shock and amaze us. Palm Sunday, Jesus road victoriously into the city of Jerusalem to shouts of acclamation. He was loved and adored by all. Throughout the week Jesus did many things - He loved his disciples, He shared the Word of God with the people and put the temple leaders in their place. He shocked and amazed the people of Jerusalem.
There were many that were disturbed by all Jesus said and did. It went against everything that they knew and understood about God. It went against their own agendas - their lust for power and their understanding of their gifts. Jesus loved those that the priests thought He should hate. He did things that went against the rules they called the Law. He honoured the poor and suffering and He knocked the lofty down from their pedestals.
The plan of God included the death of Jesus. The events of the week seem shocking to us, yet Jesus knew how the story would end. He spoke often of his suffering and His death, though they did not understand His words. As events unfolded on the night of the Passover, it was Jesus’ friend, the one come to be known as He right hand man, who betrayed Him. In the Garden, Judas approached Jesus and kissed Him so that the soldiers would know whom to arrest. Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss.
We hear this story and we hate Judas. There’s a line in a song by the British Christian band called Audacity that says, “There’s a man on a Roman cross, betrayed by a best friend’s kiss.” What happened to Judas? Did he receive eternal life? I know the answer I would like to that question, my own flesh would like to know he’s rotting in hell. After all, he betrayed my Lord Jesus. However, is that truly what happened to Judas? Can we know the state of his heart? Matthew 27:3 tells us the Judas was filled with remorse. In verse 4, he confessed that he is a sinner. What would Jesus do? Is He not the Lord of forgiveness?
We face similar betrayal in our walk with the Lord Jesus. At times, people are not in control of their own actions, oppressed or even possessed by the enemy. Judas himself was merely a vessel used by Satan to accomplish a task. Luke 22:3 says, “Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve.” Jesus never said life walking with Him would be easy.
Read Romans 8:12-17
We will walk in His sufferings, face the same betrayal with a kiss. When you do, remember that we worship the God of Mercy and Forgiveness. After all, we too betray our Lord with a kiss each time we act according to our flesh rather than His Spirit. We are God’s children, inheritors of His Kingdom. We will share in His sufferings, and we will share in His glory. Thanks be to God, in the name of Jesus, for His mercy on me, a sinner in need of forgiveness. My prayer this day is that I will glorify God in my suffering by forgiving those who are like Judas in my life.
Air Fete Suffolk, England is a country shire in England, with few large towns. The population in our area is heavily connected to the air bases, with several tiny English villages scattered around. The roads are tiny, there’s little parking or conveniences. The only fast food for miles, besides the “chippies,” is KFC.
This weekend more than 200,000 people, who are coming for our air show, will assault this sleepy little English shire. Air Fete 2000 is two days of constant performances by air teams from all over the world. We will see shows from the Red Arrows, Blue Eagles, Frecce Tricolori, Royal Jordanian, Patrouille Suiss, and Partouille France aerial demonstration teams. There will also be demonstrations by individual aircraft.
For the past several months, but particularly the last few days, many people have been preparing everything for the air show. Flightline supervisors have been taking care of all the safety procedures to ensure that the aircraft are protected. The local constabulary and base police forces have planned traffic patterns. The cars and coaches will arrive in a timely and safe manner because hundreds of directional signs have been put in place around the county. Those who will sell food, drink and souvenirs have been ordering supplies, preparing booths, and contacting workers. Bruce has been gathering an army of men and women to handle the awesome task of parking and admissions to the show.
Air shows are great fun, a chance to watch amazing technological marvels such as the B-2 and Harrier jet strut their stuff. For many of the British citizens who look forward to this day, it is a chance to see old friends and to remember the military members who have served during wartime in England. This is Memorial Day weekend in the United States, and we will remember those whom died serving their countries during times of war. In a country like England, where bombs fell and people died on their own doorsteps, there is a real thankfulness for the work of the military.
While being great fun, we cannot forget that air shows can be dangerous. The potential for disaster is great with that many people on the ground, on the roads and in the air. However, we have not forgotten the most important preparation for this event. Intercessors have been in prayer for months, asking for God’s hand on this event for protection.
Read Psalms 127:1-2
Many people have put a great deal of time and work into making Air Fete 2000 a fun and successful event. We ask today that you join us in prayer to keep it safe and enjoyable for all. Thanks be to God.
Feeling What is a feeling? This word can be defined in so many different ways that it is often difficult to understand the meaning of a sentence. Just the other day, a friend said to me, “Trust your feelings.” So often, though, it is said that emotions can stand in the way of a proper understanding. If we love someone, it is difficult to see his or her faults. If we are hurt or angry, it is difficult to see goodness. Emotions block truth.
However, feeling can also be defined as awareness. A mother knows when her child is sick. Physical signs often bring about the awareness; the mother sees the child acting different, feels a fever, or hears a difference in voice. A farmer is aware of an impending storm; he feels the difference in the air pressure, or the temperature. When a mother is aware of sickness or a farmer aware of the storm, they are able to do whatever is necessary for health or safety. There are times when this awareness is unexplainable. A mother just knows.
The term ‘gut reaction’ can be used to describe this type of feeling. There are times I feel as though I should be someplace or do something. When I follow this gut feeling, I find that there is someone there who needs my help or even just a kind word. There have been many times I’ve known the feeling came from God’s Holy Spirit, leading me into a situation where He is able to use me as His vessel for change. Intercessors have a feeling they should pray for someone, so they do. They later find that the person they were praying for needed that prayer at that moment.
At times we have a gut reaction to someone we meet. We have a feeling about him or her, yet often do not know why we have that feeling. In time, events and actions unfold to show our reaction to be true or untrue. It is possible that this reaction comes from the Holy Spirit and we should be aware of the possibility so that we will be obedient to God’s Will in the situation. However we must also be sure the reaction is not based on our own emotions, but on the power of God’s Holy Spirit.
Read 2 Corinthians 1:8-11
My friend’s advice - “Trust your feelings” - was about a gut reaction to a situation. It was about the guidance of God’s Holy Spirit in my life. As events unfolded, I found that the gut reaction proved correct. The next time you have a gut reaction to a person or event, test it to be sure it is not from your own emotions. Then trust in God and know that He is leading you in some direction by the power of His Holy Spirit.
Pilots In spite of the weather, Air Fete 2000 is going very well. The controllers halted the flying several times due to passing storms, but every pilot had the opportunity to demonstrate the capabilities of his or her aircraft.
As the planes began arriving this week, one pilot was overheard as saying, “I brought in THE bomber.” There are several different bombers that are here this week - B-1, B-2 and B-52 - all of which have reputations for being incredible flying machines. This pilot has the confidence that his plane is the best. One of the most exciting moments of the air show was the B-2 demonstration. One hundred thousand people stood mesmerized as this bat-like plane performed for the public for first time in England. The plane seemed to float in the air like a kite, and as it flew away from the crowd it just disappeared. Wide-eyed with awe, I could not help but wonder how something so graceful and beautiful could be so destructive. I also thought about the pilot. Was this THE bomber he brought to the show? A pilot would need to have that type of confidence to fly an airplane such as this.
Eight hours of flying was scheduled yesterday, with many planes demonstrating the specific tasks they were designed to accomplish. A C-130 did an in-air refueling of a MH-53 helicopter. A Harrier Jet performed its unusual abilities to fly like an airplane and a helicopter. I particularly enjoy the shows put on by the demonstration teams. We were able to watch as the Swiss flew perfect formations and did daring stunts with their six-member team. It is necessary for these pilots to be bound together as one unit - a team of men in sync. They know each other. They know the routines. They know the exact moment when every twist and turn must occur. They have to work together as a team, or disaster might occur. One stunt which always stops my heart is when two planes fly toward one another at high speeds, then right in the middle of the flightline, they turn on their sides, just missing each other. It would only take a split second mistake for disaster to strike. There is no room for pilot arrogance. Teamwork is vital
Read Colossians 3:12-14
Many Christians are like the B-2 pilot saying, “I brought THE gospel to the world.” To them, any difference in thought and practice is false. They wear an arrogance that is seen by the world as judgment. Often the judgment is based on insignificant details. There are false teachers in the world, teaching a false gospel. We, as the church, must fight such twisting of the truth. However, Paul shows us in his letter to the Colossians how we should fight. We must be like the flying demonstration team; knowing each other, knowing the routines and working together for God’s glory. We must be bound together by the love of Christ Jesus, unified for the sole purpose of glorifying God.
Memorial Day There is a scene from the movie Forest Gump, where Forest is in Vietnam. Things have gone very wrong, and people are dying. Forest runs out of the danger zone, but when he reaches safety, he realizes that his friend has not followed behind. So, he goes back into the battle to find his friend. He had no concern for his own life as he dragged wounded out of the fire. He finally finds his friend, who is injured and would rather have died on the battlefield than to live the rest of his life as an invalid. His friend was not grateful for the sacrifice Forest made, and spent years angry and spiteful, hating the life he had to live and Forest for causing him to live it.
On the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service, we see film clips about real American heroes. These men and women went beyond the call of duty; they risked their own lives for the lives of their friends. There is a story of one pilot who was on his last flight before being sent back to the states. On his way back to the base, he saw that the other pilots in his squadron needed help. He went right back into the battle, saved several planes and died in the process. He had done his share, but went the extra mile to save lives. He sacrificed everything so that others might have life.
How much would you be willing to sacrifice for a friend, a family member, a neighbor, or even an enemy? Would you be willing to lay down your life to save a friend?
Read John 15:9-17
Jesus Christ had a short-lived, but incredible ministry. In those few short years, He taught the people about love and God, He healed the sick and raised the dead. Lives were changed by His presence. He did more than His share to make the world a better place. Yet it was not enough. He went to the front lines of the battlefield with Satan and He suffered death so that we will have life. Are you thankful for the work of Jesus Christ on the cross? Or are you like Forest Gump’s friend, angry that he didn’t just let you die?
Today is Memorial Day in the United States. It is a day set aside to remember those who died in the line of duty. Today, I am thankful to all those who gave their lives for their country. I am even more thankful to Jesus Christ for the sacrifice He made for me. It is my prayer that I will have the courage to do the same for my friends. Thanks be to God.
TDY This acronym means temporary duty and it is what we call a military business trip. Our men and women go TDY often around here, there’s always someone deploying to some country to support some cause, from peace keeping to relief to war. It is the most difficult aspect of our life, since TDYs can often come up without notice and last an indefinite period of time. On those occasions when we know where they are, and they actually have services such as mail and phone, those of us left behind do whatever we can to make their stay easier. We send packages filled with goodies to brighten their day. We speak to them on the phone, letting them know that we are here, keeping the home fires burning as best we can, so when they return our lives will return to normal as soon possible.
It is often difficult to gage whether to send a care package. On one occasion, they were completing the mission quickly and efficiently. There was no date set to come home, but based on many factors, I thought they’d be home by a certain date. Someone asked if there was enough time to send a care package to the guys. I told her no, but the wife decided to send the package anyway. A few days later, they returned home, and that box traveled around the word a month or two before returning home.
The Israelites were brought out of Egypt, out of bondage on their way to freedom and prosperity. God had promised them a land flowing with milk and honey. Along the way, they became impatient for their moment of arrival and began to question everything about God’s will and plan. They were hungry and tired, and they wondered if it would have been better to stay yoked to Egypt rather than to die in the wilderness. In their hearts they went their own way, against God, rather than listening to Moses who knew what needed to be done to reach the Promised Land.
These stories have little in common, though both show what happens to those who act against one who has knowledge and understanding of the situation. Moses knew the will of God, and shared that information with the Israelites. They did not trust his knowledge, but rather grumbled at their circumstances. When we do not hear the Word of God and act accordingly, we end up wandering in the wilderness for a period of time. However, God is not only about punishment and discipline, He is always there with a promise for His children who are obedient.
Read Leviticus 26:9-13
Obedience to God’s commands brings great blessings. These verses from Leviticus speak of the old covenant between God and the Israelites. His dwelling place was the temple, their wilderness was the Sinai and their yoke was slavery. But these verses also speak about the new covenant, the one instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ. God’s dwelling place is now within us; our wilderness is life without Him. He sets us free from the yoke of sin. His command is simple. We are to love the Lord with our whole selves, and our neighbor as ourselves. We are to submit to His Word completely. When we do so, we will be blessed. Thanks be to God.
Mystery We watched the movie “The Firm” last night. Tom Cruise plays a man named Mitch who is a lawyer hired by a firm, which requires its people to be fiercely loyal. Mitch discovers that some of the associates are dying under questionable circumstances and then the FBI approach him for assistance. Mitch is a brand new lawyer, understands the oath he has taken to guard the confidentiality of his clients, and does everything he can to put a stop to the illegalities without breaking his vow.
He discovers accidentally that his firm is overbilling its clients, a federal offense since the bills were sent through the US Postal Service. As the movie progresses, Mitch discovers more and more about the firm and his clients, so that at the very end, he has everything he needs to protect himself and begin a new life. As in all good mysteries, the plot builds up from beginning to end, adding pieces to the puzzle until everything becomes clear.
Our walk with Christ is something like a mystery movie. We don’t have any answers in the beginning, but as we pray and study the scriptures, pieces are brought together by the power of God’s Holy Spirit, so that one day we will have a complete and glorious understanding of God.
Read Ephesians 1:3-10
For two thousand years, Christians and non-Christians alike have sought the meaning of God’s mysteries in the scriptures and nature. In this age, as has been since the death and resurrection of Jesus, there are disagreements between His children about the meanings of many passages. However, the day will come when all our questions will be answered and everything will be brought together into one beautiful picture with our Lord Jesus Christ as the sole authority over all of God’s creation. Today, do not worry about the disagreements, but know that you are a beloved child of the King, inheritor of the greatest Kingdom ever known. Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again. In that you have eternal life. Thanks be to God.