Zechariah 7:9—“The LORD of Hosts says this: Make fair decisions. Show faithful love and compassion to one another.”
It is cold outside—twelve degrees above zero. Snow is on the ground and from inside my office window it looks beautiful. It’s a matter of perspective. December can be a wonderful time of warmth for many people; a chance to be with family, to take a break from work and to enjoy each other’s company. But I could equally write that this month is a frozen, depressing period for many people; the reminder that loved ones are gone, unemployment a reality, and a feeling that few care or understand.
Skye Jethani wrote a book I highly commend to your reading. It is simply titled with. The premise of the author is that we typically find four types of Christians. The first group is comprised of those who live life under God. Their emphasis is on God’s divine will and appeasing Him through behaviors—“either in the form of rituals or morality.” The second group includes those who live life over God. Their emphasis is on applying Scripture and godly principles, which are useful for controlling the world and life. Those who live life from God characterize the third group. They are highly self-preoccupied. Under the banner of “the health and wealth gospel” these adherents see God as a divine genie that is eager to grant their desires. The fourth group is made up of those who live life for God. Life is all about staying on mission: sacrificing, achieving, serving, working to accomplish tasks (evangelism, discipleship, etc).
2 John 12—Though I have many things to write to you, I don’t want to do so with paper and ink. Instead, I hope to be with you and talk face to face so that our joy may be complete.
While attending a class on cyber security in November of 2012, I was amazed to learn that 4.8 billion people own a mobile phone which surpasses the 4.2 billion people who own a toothbrush. Fascinating! Just imagine if all of those people could connect via a twitter account—the ability to pass information instantaneously is staggering.
Matthew 14:13—When Jesus heard about it, He withdrew from there by boat to a remote place to be alone. When the crowds heard this, they followed Him on foot from the towns.
Pete and Saul left last month to visit three Segadorian missionary families working in the distant Asheninka tribe. They traveled seven hours by bus, then six hours in the back of a pick-up over a rough road, then finally three hours in a motorized canoe in drizzling rain. As Peter notes in their newsletter it was well worth the sacrifice. Why did these two men go to such lengths to visit these families? They went because they understood how important the value of encouragement is. It is not easy to get from Lima, Peru to remote jungle towns but it you want to communicate to your fellow teammates that they matter; making the effort is the right thing to do.
Okay, I admit it. There are days I just don’t feel like working out. However, if I want to have good muscle tone, a healthy heart and a strong body I have to exercise. Physical fitness doesn’t just happen. It takes consistentwork. We all know what occurs when we don’t exercise regularly. One workout (jogging, weight-lifting, aerobics class) per week, will not make me physically fit! Unfortunately, it’s be fit or be fat.
A nonfiction book that I highly recommend is Hard Faith. You can buy it off Amazon.com or purchase it directly from us. I love Hard Faith because I know the author Dan Berg and I’ve seen firsthand how he successfully overcame incredible pain and adversity with his wife. The only reason Dan is walking well today aside from the ever-present grace of God, is that he stuck to his values. He wore the robe of faith when the world suggested other attire.
Winston Churchill said, "We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give." Last week, the head of our food ministry terminated our operations. Nine people lost their jobs and The Road Home lost its office and meeting place. In one swift move, life took an unexpected detour! Why shut down a ministry which last year resulted in over 78 people putting their faith for the first time in Jesus, hundreds of families receiving food and free dental assistance plus prayer and encouragement? Better yet, why treat a ministry like a business and let the fear of lawsuits trump eternal investments? I felt like telling the owner, “When you die, you won’t stand before lawyers, you’ll stand before God, so lead accordingly!” But he was acting according to what he felt was right. He generously gave to help us move on. Rather than protest, it was nobler to pray and seek God’s leading.
Part of me is lost and I don’t like it. If I could skip this day in time or have never lived it I know I would be the worse for it but at least I would not sense this absence that came too fast and . . . heartrending and heartbreaking are too strong in meaning for what I’m feeling. Perhaps in this poignant period a more apt description is heartmissing. The good news is she is only three and a half hours away. The bad news is there are 206 miles between us.
Until she passed away, I loved to meet with Lillian for prayer. She lived in a retirement community called King City. Each of the houses were separated by brick walls and the only way to enter a home was through the garage or a gate in the front. Whoever designed her neighborhood obviously valued privacy and security. There was little sense of community. No wonder lonely Lillian so much looked forward to meeting.
Evu* lost his wife twelve years ago to breast cancer. He is still angry with God because He did not answer his prayer to take his life and spare Lori’s. Yet, Evu also readily shared that God had in many cases answered his prayers. And he clearly saw the hand of His Maker at work keeping him from death. Several years ago when a construction project at Portland airport collapsed killing three men, Evu’s life was spared because of a cell phone call from a friend that lasted so long he was not where he could have been when it rained cement. When Evu later asked his friend why he called him, the friend responded that he felt led to do so! Clearly, God has a plan for this gentleman with a special heritage. That’s not so surprising. His dad worked with Martin Luther King during the civil rights movement.
Typically, on Saturday evenings, The Road Home, a fellowship less than a year old, meets in a school in Newberg, Oregon. Aside from our primary desire to worship the Lord we want to reach our surrounding community with the gospel and raise up disciple makers. Like most churches, we sing, share, pray and teach God’s Word. Currently we are working our way through Luke’s gospel.
Seventeen teenagers endured the grueling heat, humidity and bugs of their Florida boot camp. They came from all across the country and Canada. Most of them had never met before yet they all had a common bond. The rules were strict and the discipline tough. Still they pressed onward.
When we use the word providence in reference to God we mean that He faithfully foresees and effectively preserves, provides and governs over His creation most often through secondary causes. Proverbs 20:24 says, “The very steps we take come from God; otherwise how would we know where we’re going?” (The Message)
Little Julie is ragged and dirty. Two buttons are missing from her soiled dress. Her hair is matted and she owns no brush. One shoe is missing. What were once light blue sleeves are now gray. The frail fabric is torn in many places. She can only wink with one eye, and her mouth long ago lost its vibrant expression. She’s been dragged by a dog, punched by teasing boys, and twice left outside in bone-chilling rainstorms. For any casual passerby, she is all but useless—but not to Amy. She carries Julie wherever she goes. She tells her stories, puts her to bed, and kisses her hard-plastic cheeks. Amy doesn’t see a worn-out doll. Julie is her beautiful treasure and she loves her.
Cerro de Pasco sits over 14,000 feet in elevation in the central Andes of Peru. It is a bleak place. Besides the lack of trees and barren terrain, the atmosphere around this mining town is oppressive. In the community where the engineers reside, a blue signboard welcomes the spirit recognized as lord of the mines. Pastor Marco, Felipe and two other young men of the church we visited, walked us around the central plaza one evening. They pointed out the many bars and discussed the rampant problems of alcoholism, adultery, prostitution, incest, animal sacrifices and demon-worship. They discussed the pride among the inhabitants—a “machoism” that scorns outsiders and keeps the many different churches from coming together as a united body.
Ephesians 1:22,23--And He put everything under His feet and appointed Him as head over everything for the church, which is His body, the fullness of the One who fills all things in every way.
December 25 began as a time of pagan celebration. The pagans knew that at this point in their calendar the shortest day and longest night had passed, that little by little the sun would rise higher and remain longer in the sky, bringing with it the promise of spring. The Emperor Aurelian (A.D. 270-275) capitalized upon the heathen worship of the sun and, in the year A.D. 274, officially declared December 25 as the birthday of the Unconquered Sun (dies natalis solis invicti).
We could feel the tension increase as the Willamette Star Cruise continued to struggle. What should have taken a few minutes stretched to almost half an hour. The Captain was unable to bring our boat to the dock. Jokes passed across the deck below as some from the wedding party waited to disembark. “Now you can see why I never joined the Navy.” “Hmmm, wonder what he’s been drinking.” “Must be a rookie driver.”
Tigard, Oregon—HOME! Our Plymouth Voyager rolled up 8153 miles drinking over 341 gallons of gas as we traversed 25 states, Washington D.C. and parts of Canada. We weren’t able to visit everyone we hoped to see, we got sick and at times I think our three children reached the travel saturation point. But it can be a great thing to be stretched beyond our comfort zone. God was gracious to us and we experienced an unforgettable month visiting relatives and friends and learning more about our nation and its people.