This past year was one of the toughest I can remember. For the first time I have asthma and now require a daily inhaler to keep my lungs functioning. I never suffered from food poisoning until this year. Shortly after returning from Africa in August, I underwent an appendectomy without TRICARE (health insurance we had except for this past year). In November, within days from returning from Peru, I went down hard with bronchitis, possible pneumonia (both firsts) and a sinus infection that went into my eyes. Finally, with free medication, the exhaustion, chills, cough and infections are receding. It was similar for my son Bryan—he too endured a rough year battling surprising illnesses to include a scary ambulance trip to the hospital.
Psalm 111:2,3—The LORD’s works are great, studied by all who delight in them. All that He does is splendid and majestic; His righteousness endures forever.
1 Thessalonians 1:2—We always thank God for all of you, remembering you constantly in our prayers.
In my last Reveration (Asking) I shared about meeting Jeff Knight at a Founder’s Day Banquet. The following Wednesday I was standing beside the plane at the Denver airport waiting for my bag to be delivered. Next to me was an elderly gentleman who asked me what my job was (I was in uniform). I explained to him that I was responsible for Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) for the United States Army Reserves. He then shared that he once served as the Professor of Military Science (PMS) for Wheaton College. Knowing Wheaton’s admission standards for the PMS position, I asked the gentleman if he was a Christian. Indeed he was. Then I noticed that he was wearing a sweater with the Army mule emblem. I asked him if he was a West Point graduate. Indeed he was—graduating in 1952. He then shared that his wife’s brother-in-law was also a classmate of his and that his name was (are you ready!!!) Jeff Knight.
Have you ever sat on a plane and gone in circles? San Francisco airport is fogged in and so we fly around the city in a holding pattern waiting for permission to land. The airplane is sufficiently equipped for the pilot to take us to the runway we can’t see but he does not have permission. Despite the security of a Captain’s confident promise that he can fly us down when needed, fear etches the faces of folks who probably have not flown here before. Eventually we land in fog so thick even the wing is obscured!
As I walked up the road from our hotel on our way to dinner, a young man walked up to me and handed me a grasshopper he made from a palm leaf. He said, “Pura vida! Welcome to Costa Rica.” Intrigued by his friendliness, I began conversing with him and he tried to show me how to create a palm grasshopper (a humorous undertaking). The rest of the family joined us and prompted by the Lord, I invited Carlos to join us for dinner. Because Sarah and Mark are fluent in Spanish we enjoyed interacting with him at a nearby restaurant.
I just finished reading the best book I ever read concerning Biblical principles on giving wisely. The author is Jonathan Martin and the title of his book is Giving Wisely? You can find and purchase it from www.amazon.com.
Revelation 22:17—Both the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” Anyone who hears should say, “Come!” And the one who is thirsty should come. Whoever desires should take the living water as a gift.
3 John 2—Beloved, concerning all things I wish that you may prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers.
There are two kinds of ground in this world, holy and unholy ground. The former is found wherever God’s presence abides. We see this most clearly when Moses, seeing the burning bush approached to determine why it was not consumed only to be met by the voice of the Lord.
Some day I look forward to talking to Obed-edom the Gittite. After God killed Uzzah for touching His ark, (he grabbed it when the oxen transporting it stumbled), King David was afraid to bring it to Jerusalem. Instead he left it at Obed’s house.
Bryan and I watched an exciting High School football semi-final game at PGE Stadium in Portland. We were excited to cheer for the Southridge Skyhawks, the team he helped manage last year. They played superbly, won their game and will play for the state championship. I imagine it must be a pretty heady feeling to win big and feel the love and adulation of adoring fans. Unfortunately, fame and fortune are all too fleeting. The need to be noticed and to be important lasts for a while until some new hero or star emerges.
Have you ever wondered whom God notices?
Seeking favor is something we all understand. Those of us who work want to be well regarded by our boss or supervisor. Those of us who are children want the approval of our parents. Those of us with relationships want the support of our spouse, friends or peers. Everyone who cares desires favor. And the greatest favor we can obtain is from God. The question is how do we gain it?
Joseph is one of my favorite Biblical characters. He is such a great example of what it means to trust God though times and circumstances may be trying. I believe there are three key lessons we can about God from Joseph that will help us in our daily living.
Did you know that God designed a formula that no one has ever replicated? Dr. Marianne Neifert writes, “Human milk is nature's perfect design for helping your baby’s body and brain grow and develop. No formula can be made exactly the same as human milk because we do not know all the ingredients of human milk.” Of course we know it is God and not nature Who designed the perfect beverage! He also created a formula that has hidden benefits. Nursing causes the body to release a hormone called oxytocin which enables the uterus to return to its normal size after delivery. Nursing burns calories which help moms shed the extra pounds gained during pregnancy. Best of all, nursing creates a strong psychological bond which emotionally strengthens both the mother and her infant.
Zerah the Cushite marched out against Judah with a humongous army. King Asa deployed 580,000 troops but they were still vastly outnumbered. Thirty years earlier, facing similar overwhelming odds, King Rehoboam capitulated before King Shishak of Egypt and his Libyan, Sukkite and Cushite hordes. Fortunately, Asa was not like Rehoboam. Instead of surrendering, this king in faith prayed to the Lord asking for His help. His heavenly Protector responded by leading them to victory. It was after this battle that the prophet Azariah came and spoke the following words.
Felipe dresses up as a clown. Each Sunday he and his team of fellow youth workers from Iglesia Misionera Evangelica (I.M.E.), go to the poorest sections of Cerro de Pasco to minister to the children. As many as 40-60 kids come out to watch the antics of Bomba the clown, to sing and dance to Christian music and hear Bible stories. Wonderful boys and girls glow with expectant smiles. Their lungs produce hearty cheers and sweet melodies. They held on to us with forever-loving grips. In truth, they ministered to our team more than we did to them.
Russ and Marianne Lambert are the kind of couple I imagine almost everyone would want living in their neighborhood. Russ was my High School principal at Faith Academy in the Philippines. Not only did he take a personal interest in us as students, he worked to relate to us at our level—not an easy task with teenagers. Marianne, like her husband, was immensely popular and very gracious—like a den mother to a pack of—well we weren’t wolves, but you get the idea!
“What’s wrong with you?” The question stung. Bryan replied from the safety of a carpeted banister, “Hey, this is my first time and I don’t have very good balance.” “So, it’s easy,” the boy retorted. Then with a look that said, “You’re a dork!” he took off. A friend skated to Bryan who then shared what the kid had said. He was appalled at the boy’s rudeness. He went over to some of their mutual friends and reported the insult. They devised a plan to body check the smart aleck. Not a godly response—but humorous. For Bryan, the balm of supportive friends covered the sting of criticism.
As I read Scripture, I am continuously impressed with our Heavenly Father’s desire to bless us. From Genesis to Revelation runs a consistent theme—God loves to give to His children. As a parent I understand some of what God feels. I look forward to giving my children gifts. There is something profoundly special about favorably touching lives.