Thursday, April 8, 2021

Hallead Day Inn, Abacos

Today, we had a wonderful visit with former missionary colleagues, Ron and Denise Hamme, from Thailand whom we hadn't seen since 2006!  It was good to catch up and to think they are just an island (or a 40 minute boat ride) away.  It was a great encouragement to also learn that Ron had, historically, provided some pastoral and preaching services to the congregation with which we are working AND that he and Denise have been praying for the island and for the provision of pastoral/preaching services to it.

Later today we visited the home of  friend here who has provided a warm welcome and a lot of encouragement and support.  She, her husband, and three sons are living in their second rental home since the storm. (They were here for the duration.)  Their permanent home is still under reconstruction.  

The family has lived here since 2015. They stayed through the storm and have not left since. But rebuilding is slow due, primarily, to a paucity of workers

Some of their neighbors houses did not fare as well as you can see below.

Many houses or lots remain untouched, even though Samaritan's Purse and the Great Guana Cay Foundation were active in clearing debris for months, offering

discounted rates for debris removal, in some cases even free, if the financial circumstances warranted that.

Many second homeowners, not living on the island and therefore not being fully aware of their particular home’s situation, refused the offer of carting the refuse away for a measly $1000.  They are now faced with estimates of $5000 or more and so they have not moved forward.

We took the risk of entering one of the neighboring houses to take note of damages which are not discernible from the outside…

You can see where the vacuum created by the 200+ mph winds, lifted sections of the floor. And yet some bottles and jars of shells sit unmoved on kitchen shelves in the next room.

We share this only as a means of demonstrating that relief work is disparate and takes years in these situations.  It is easy to see why, at times, discouragement sets in, and the initial joy that “we are alive!” is later replaced by a feeling of helplessness and discouragement. 

We believe that our distinctly Christian, pastoral presence here, in listening, praying, helping clean out the house in which we are staying, helps to address some of that. It’s one small thing we can do for the Kingdom in this part of the world. 

We are confident of God’s ability to do more than we could ask or imagine.  AND we carry with us the good news which is so needed

“You are not forgotten!”

Would you pray with us?

Glen and Carol

 

Friday, March 19, 2021

On Calling...


 The question has long lingered in my head - "what constitutes a calling?" 

Are we all called? 

In what way?  

To what are we called?

How are we called?

It seems obvious that it is reasonable to consider at least two types of calling, like there are two types of revelation.  General revelation refers to God's revelation of himself in nature, in life in general, that which is available to all.  And Special revelation is God's revelation of himself through scripture.  the Bible.org website puts it this way:

God's Word, the Bible, is the final form of special revelation. It must be remembered that it is through general revelation that one is without excuse for not believing in God, but it is only through specific revelation that man can be saved.

I would suggest that there are also differing types of calling including, similarly, General and Special (or specific). General calling is that which is laid upon every believer and include: faith, obedience, growth in righteousness (sanctification), and evangelistic outreach.  I've included this last not as a specific office of evangelist but in the general mandate of Matthew 28:19-20 "as you go into all the world, be making disciples".  It is not a direct command to go, but it is a command to be making disciples as we go, wherever we go, because we are going.

Special calling is that which is specific to particular individuals - to serve as preachers, pastors, teachers, administrators, evangelists, etc.  This is the particular calling that is laid upon particular individuals.

We often neglect the myriad of believers in the Old and New Testaments whose names are lost to history but not to the Lord.  Those who were never called to more public, more official, more celebrated forms of ministry.  These are the members of our congregations - the stay at homes moms, the custodial fathers, gardeners and plumbers, the first responders, and others who do the day to day activities which keep us going, provide for our needs, not in any officially recognized ministerial or ordained fashion, but in a quiet and faith-filled way.

These are the ones who are there "when the church doors are open" the ones who pray with their friends in the field, in their offices, in their homes, who visit others in the hospital and pray for them without anyone else knowing.  A general calling of God to a life of faith and obedience. In the general sense, every believer is called to ministry, to the "good works which God prepared in advance for us to do." (Ephesians 2:10)

And then there are those specifically called to a particular ministry, who are asked to lay aside their everyday pursuits and to be more fully engaged in a specific function of ministry - our preachers, our evangelists, our missionaries.  It is not always full-time. In fact may, more often, be part-time, tent making, post retirement, on the weekends, etc.  But these are those to whom God has reached out in a particular and specific way.

The two types of calling should not be seen in an hierarchical, competitive, or even qualitatively different manner  The simple difference is that all believers are called, some according to General means to ordinary tasks  and some by Special means to a particular task.

We might further divide this sense of calling to periodic and lifelong. Some are called to do a work for a limited amount of time and others to a lifetime.

What is clear is that each and every one of the elect those whom God "calls by name" to be a part of His church are in fact called - all to faithfulness and obedience, some to specific tasks, some for a period of time and others to a lifetime of a specific activity.

The questions we ought to be asking are: "Am I in a position to hear God's call if it comes?"  and "Am I busy being obedient as I await a particular call that may never come?" So that whether we are called to a particular tasks or simply to abide in faith we are indeed the called people of God, thankful for the wondrous works he has done in our lives.

Are you, like me, waiting, hoping, for a particular call? Let us learn first and foremost to be faithful where we are, as we are, how we are. In God's Sovereignty and Providence if it is to be a specific call, it must be Him who calls. For we are His people, the sheep of His pasture. Abiding in Him in either case is where we find perfect peace and contentment.


 



 

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Quiet...

It's quieter in the house than it has been in a long time.

Carol is home today and busy with her interests. I've been through my morning email routine, paid bills, begun work on the sermon, done my filing, balanced the check book, and otherwise planned out the rest of my day. But it's still quieter in the house than it has been in a long time.

There's something about waiting, perhaps. Waiting for a phone call, or an email, one in particular that will bring good news, or even news that more waiting is in store. But I don't think that's it.  We've waited before.  Life is something of a waiting game, in lines, for tax returns, for the children to call or to get a promotion...And ultimately for justice to pour down, Jesus to return, Vindication to come! But it's still quieter in the house than it has been in a long time.

Dogs have a way of weaving their presence into our lives. Even if they are just lying there resting, we know they're there.  They may be outside playing, or inside eating and drinking.  They may be pacing or barking. But we know they are there.  And it's quieter in the house than it has been in a long time.

We usually are not without a dog or two.  We've had to place them before when we were preparing for a move. Whiskers had to be relocated when we moved to Kenya.  We spent a whole year there without a dog but four children ages 9 months to 8 years and the general noise and busyness of Nairobi seemed to compensate somehow.  

We needed to rehome Samson when we moved to Thailand. It was a wonderful placement. And it wasn't too long before we had a dog in Thailand...and then another...and another.  One we had to rehome because we were going to be away from Thailand for 3 months and who greeted us at the airport when we returned? The very puppy we had sent on its way...Yes!  Dogs have a way of finding love and finding their people.

And now as we prepare for what we hope will be the development of a new ministry and time away for extended periods, we have rehomed Boomer and Xena.  They're both in wonderful settings. 

But it's still quieter in the house than it has been in a long time...



Saturday, March 13, 2021

The Final Word!

In this last chapter of Tozer's The Size of the Soul he quickly summarizes "What Easter is About." Briefly stated Jesus, the Savior of those who alone will enter eternal joy and peace with God Almighty, is raised from the dead. Period. Full stop. 

God demonstrates His complete sovereignty over all of existence, even that which itself seems to indicate the end of existence itself - death, the price we pay for our sins. Nothing is more simple. Nothing is more astounding. Nothing else needs be said. Jesus, in being physically raised from the dead, validated everything God had said, directed, commanded, suggested, intimated, and otherwise promised.  The believer no longer need fear anything.

The greatest pain, the greatest stress, the greatest challenge anyone can ever face is only temporary, just a passing event preparing us for that glorious eternity promised to those (and only those) who profess faith in Jesus efficacious, meritorious, sacrificial life, death, and resurrection.

Easter is the culmination of God's creative, redemptive, sustaining activity.  From the very beginnings in the Garden of Eden God intended for us to live is perfect harmony with one another, with all of creation and with Him.  Remember the Tree of Life was standing in the Garden of Eden and no prohibition was made regarding access to that Tree.  In Jesus who hung on a tree our we given access to life eternal yet again.

So, as we await the consummation of history, we are delivered from fear because we know the power we possess and the greater power He possesses.  We are enabled to free ourselves from sin by the power he provides through His Holy Spirit. We have the confidence that he loves us and that he will bring to completion on the Day of the Lord, the good work He has begun in us.  And that makes all the difference in how we will live.




Questions

What Easter is About                              Chapter 43


1.  Of what significance is the “Easter Event” to me personally?

 

2.  Of what significance is it to the world in particular?

 

3.  How will the fact that all Christ is and all he has accomplished is available for me now impact the rest of my life?

 

4.  How will what I have experienced here in Ghana this year impact the rest of my life?

 

5.  What is God saying to me about this?   


 

 

 

Saturday, March 6, 2021

And wait it did...

A few days past I wrote the following:

It will have to wait until tomorrow, but Chapter 42 is so contemporary and timely that it is as if Tozer were living amongst us, watching us, even condemning our "cancel culture" itself, and yet he passed the way of all mortal flesh almost 58 years ago...

Just a brief quote to make my point:

"It can only be a cause for deep regret that the fear of offending has silenced the voices of so many men of discernment and put Bible Christianity at the mercy of the undiscerning..."



 Well, a day turned into two and two to three...but here goes nonetheless...

We are full steam ahead into a cultural reality that denies self guilt and instead applies that guilt to anyone with whom one might disagree.  We accuse others (even the dead who aren't able to defend themselves) of the guilt we feel they possess under a differing set of social circumstances without regard for the evil we ourselves may be guilty of.  Case in point...

There was a movement to "cancel" Dr. Suess due to what was perceived as a prejudice in some of his writings.  Without regard for the fact that the books themselves were something of a tongue in cheek lesson pushing the standards toward less prejudice, the thought was to condemn outright.  Further conversation tempered the situation.  But it is these knee jerk reactions, stemming from our own ignorance, prejudice, hatred and self righteousness that drive the cancel culture movement.

The thought that we are above the prejudices of our predecessors ignores the reality that social mores, cultural perceptions, personal opinions change over time.  And the culture tends to want to always decide for itself what is acceptable and what is not.  To say somethings are just always wrong is to appeal to an eternal morality, a standard to which all people should or even must adhere.  

And even as this is done there is a rejection of absolutes in our post modern culture.  We do what is right in our own eyes.  Each of us must decide what "our truth" is...unless it denies someone else's truth.  This is a paradigm that cannot stand. We can't have it both ways.

We cannot insist that our individual standards of equality, tolerance, and justice are absolute and yet deny absolutes.

My sense is that so many people are jumping on the cancel culture for one reason (and I'll l be kind here) - ignorance.  (I was tempted to use the word stupidity, since we should know better.) We are ignorant of the borkenness of our individuality or how each of us are inconsistent in our own ways, or how we can be so good at some things and failures at other things.

Many of our predecessors were wonderful planners, military geniuses, business giants, compassionate care givers, and yet had their demons.  JUST. LIKE. US.

In our arrogance and ignorance, we want to be the ones to stand up for other peoples "rights", perjoratively assuming they want us to stand up for their "rights." An injustice toward one is an injustice toward all. We might do far better to spend our time examining just how we, as individuals, might be more just, more compassionate, more egalitarian and focus our attention on resolving our personal character disparities.

There is, when all is said and done, one standard, by which we all will eventually be judged and it goes something like this:

- inasmuch as you have done it  unto the least of these "my brethren" you have done it unto me; (whether you approve of them or not)

- by their fruits you shall know them (our actions belie our true character)

- you shall love the Lord your God and your neighbor as yourself (how do we show love)

Neither George Washington ((with his ties to slavery), nor Martin Luther King Jr. (with his pension toward adultery), nor the Dali Lama (with his aristocratic lifestyle impoverishing the masses), is beyond rebuke or reproach. There is but One and He, Jesus Christ.

If but each of the discontented, self-appointed judges who tear down statues, establish independent states, hurl scurrilously spurious accusations, attempting to cancel a reality they are too ignorant to process in a healthy way, would but sit quietly before the Lord and simply ask, "what must I do to be saved?" we would see the light of a new day dawning, when speaking the truth in love would prevail, and hatred would turn away.  

It equally amazes me that more non-Christians will quote the "judge not" passage than any other, while at the same time judging the Christian at which that is hurled.  That passage culminates in addressing the one who is judging the other:

You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and 
then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.
[Matthew 7:5]

So too, it is sad to note that so many self-proclaimed Christians sit quietly by the sidelines, fearful of speaking a peaceable truth for fear of being cancelled, as if the cause of Christ could be cancelled. Stand up and speak the truth in love, and be prepared to be rejected by the world. 

Still other self-proclaimed Christians shout their anger and vitriol in the name of Christ trying to force a Christian standard on a reprobate culture...Stand up but speak the truth in love.

So where does all of this lead me?  Amidst all of this I find myself declaring, with Paul:

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.

I pray that I might become more like Him - fearless, candid, just, and gracious, yet NEVER compromising the truth for He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Period.



Friday, March 5, 2021

Questions

 Divine Love Is Neither Blind or Dumb      Chapter 42

 

1.  In what ways do I find Christians resentful of constructive criticism?

 

 2.  In what ways has my criticism of other Christians been too harsh?

 

3.  In what ways have I silenced myself for fear of offending and thereby enabled heresy or sin to advance?

 

4.  In what ways is God calling me to speak prophetically in my current position?

 

5.  What is God saying to me about this?  


Monday, March 1, 2021

It will have to wait...


It will have to wait until tomorrow, but Chapter 42 is so contemporary and timely that it is as if Tozer were living amongst us, watching us, even condemning our "cancel culture" itself, and yet he passed the way of all mortal flesh almost 58 years ago...

Just a brief quote to make my point:

"It can only be a cause for deep regret that the fear of offending has silenced the voices of so many men of discernment and put Bible Christianity as the mercy of the undiscerning..."

Friday, February 26, 2021

Questions

 Strength from the Indwelling Spirit       Chapter 41


1.  In what ways has fatigue been a sign that I have been working in my own strength?

 

2.  In what ways has the Spirit of the Lord refreshed me or kept me from fatigue?

 

3.  In what ways do I find rest in the Spirit?

 

4.  How does my spiritual life reflect the truths I am learning this year?

 

5.  What is God saying to me about this?   

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Busy doing nothing...

We live in a world that believes busy is better; where too many people waste their lives making a living and never make a life. Having sat at the bed of many a dying person, I've never once heard someone say they wished they had spent more time at their place of employment, more time working, more time being busy.

And yet we chastise those who sit on their porch in rocking chairs watching the traffic go by.  We hasten to condemn those who sit by the sea and watch the ocean liners come and go from port or just fish from the dock. We judge those with little ambition to become the best, the most, the first...those who are content.

I'm struck by this week's Tozer reading that reminds us of the peace Jesus had, the unhurriedness of his life.  At the same time I'm hearing from people that they didn't have enough time to attend a Bible Study, they had deadlines to meet, employers to please...

And I am thankful for my early retirement. It has meant living more simply and adjusting our lives to that.  Sometimes I feel like I am not busy doing Kingdom work.  But as I reflect on that I experience great peace in knowing that there is joy in simply being still and knowing that He is Lord. That in itself is Kingdom work.

I feel bad for those who are still so driven by worry about COVID19, whose lives are governed by deadlines, whose identity is found in what they do rather than who they are in Him, who don't see the wonderful opportunities afforded them in the simpler life of prayer and contemplation, in quietness and contentment.

So many fear they wouldn't be able to survive on less. So many worry that disaster may come and they might be unprepared.  So many lack the peace that allows them to be still and KNOW that the Lord is God.  We fail to realize that He would sometimes rather sit with us in the hospital during our COVID19 experience, or our cancer surgery/treatment, or embrace us as we grieve, than to save us from that experience or take a back seat to our own selfish pursuit of life.

All of our anxiety around this COVID19 issue seems to emanate from our inability to be still, to purposefully do nothing to enjoy being stuck, alone, with out thoughts...

We really need to take far more seriously Jesus' encouragement to cast all our cares on him because he cares for us.  Seriously, so what if we get COVID?  So what if we experience the debilitating life of terminal cancer?  So what if we suffer financial ruin?  So what if we lose a loved one? So what? We are promised an eternal life of glory.  This momentary fragment of life we now live is but a hint of the joyful life to come.  It is in the very experiences of this life, which challenge us most, that we find the most grace, if we will but be still and know that He is Lord and that He works ALL things together for the good of those of us who love Him.

Peace... Be still...



Hallead Day Inn, Abacos

Today, we had a wonderful visit with former missionary colleagues, Ron and Denise Hamme, from Thailand whom we hadn't seen since 2006!...