The (Non) Monotony of the Gospel.

When we “get” the gospel for what it really is — the power to save, the most thrilling news there could be, the declaration that God’s Son died for us and then came back to life! to be the risen Lord and supreme King of the universe, not just the entry fee for heaven but the currency for all of life — we revel in the new creation it unleashes in its wake at every turn. We never get tired of hearing it. It’s the new song that never gets old. “Play it again, play it again!” we will cry.

Jared Wilson warns preachers not to be tempted to drift from proclaiming the gospel, out of fear it will grow old or stale.
I think the same warning applies to regular Joe Christians – don’t think that you ‘got’ the gospel and can take some time to study something else for a few seasons. Don’t think you can leave the gospel lie and look at some ‘other’ aspect of God the father or the Son. And don’t pester your minister to do it either. Rather, look at those other things through the lens of the gospel, for the gospel permeates everything that the father is and does.
When we look at obedience without the gospel we get legalism. When we look at grace without the gospel, we get permissive religion. When we look at service without the gospel, we are simply another charity.
The gospel is what makes Christianity distinct from any other system of beliefs or method of thinking or religious philosophy. Our world, and we ourselves, are fundamentally broken and Jesus fixed it. We were in hot water with our creator, but Jesus has patched things up for for us. Other systems are about finding the way for you to help yourself, the gospel doesn’t even pretend that you can help yourself, it simply steps in and rescues you, no questions asked.
When we approach everything as disciples of Jesus from the stand point that we are flawed, broken and limited and He has done for us what we could never do ourselves, we see everything of God – grace, love, faith, obedience, etc – differently.
His grace is an astounding gift, undeserved.
His love is astounding in it’s depth, determination, lack of conditions, decisiveness and completeness.
Our faith is the only appropriate response, clearly insufficient but yet enough.
Our brokenness is insurmountable, yet utterly vanquished.
Our efforts at obedience are wholly inadequate, but absolutely necessary in view of what we’ve been given.
As Jared says, when we see the gospel, it makes everything new, and continues to do so, as long as we don’t give up on gazing at it.

Pardon Me While I Brag a Little

Today, Emily was called into the principal’s office. Uh oh, right? Nope, instead whe brought home this letter from the Principal:

HILLIARD STATION SIXTH GRADE SCHOOL
Hilliard City School District • Bruce P. Stephanic, Principal
February 27, 2009
Dear Parents,
I am writing this letter to thank your wonderful daughter, Emily, for being such a positive student role model at Hilliard Station Sixth Grade School. Each year, one of my main goals for our students is that they treat each other with equality and respect. Emily has demonstrated that she understands this simple act.
This morning, I received a phone call from a district bus driver. The driver explained to me that Emily, and two other Station students, have been performing a wonderful act of kindness each and every day. Each morning, these wonderful students have volunteered to escort two of our special needs students from the bus at Memorial Middle School to Station. After dismissal, their generosity continues, and they escort these students back to their waiting bus.
Imagine the joy and pride of these two young ladies to have their peers escort them! Emily’s simple act of kindness, generosity, and respect has made me very proud of her! Emily’s empathy is praise worthy and reflects the giving spirit, empathy, and generosity of you. Your excellent example has now surpassed Emily and afforded two young, ladies a wonderful experience and example of human kindness.
Have a wonderful day!
Educationally yours,
Bruce P. Stephanic Principal
BPS/ksm

I couldn’t be more proud. Every parent hopes for good news from school, straight A’s, making the varsity team, the lead in the school play or making honor role. To me, this trumps them all for she’s acting like Jesus, caring for the least. Emily’s compassion and care have always been one of her strengths and it was so encouraging to see her using it in this way.

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me … as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

Matthew 25:35-36, 40

Emily, I’m so proud of you and so encouraged to see you acting like Jesus and meeting the needs of those around you. Keep it up.

Heroes

This Sunday, Doug gave a combination sermon/communion lesson (which he likes to call a ‘Sermunion’). As he was transitioning to the communion, he read an article about a car crash from a small town Indiana paper. My first, highly spiritual, thought is “how did he hear about this?” Then he read the following:

DCSD Sgt. Brian McCullough said five men traveling behind the Bosses witnessed the crash and decided to intervene. Todd Hager, Westerville, Ohio; Brian Cunes, Cincinnati; Joe Stanwick, Columbus, Ohio; Andy Erickson, Cincinnati; and Mike Meyers, Dayton, were at the same charity bike ride event as the Bosses although they had never met.

Wait a second – Todd and Joe are members of my church and and the three of us along with Andy and Mike all went to college together back in Cincinnati.
The news story covers the overview, go read Andy’s blog for more details on what happened and the emotional effects. You might think that pulling two men from a burning truck with only minutes to spare would be perhaps uplifting or exhilarating. From Andy’s perspective, you’d be wrong:

The bottom line is that, despite our efforts, we left the scene with more questions than answers. And now, a few days later, that is the part that is difficult to live with. We felt, deep down inside, less than adequate. Why on earth would I question whether or not we should stop and help? These guys were badly injured and we were pulling on them like rubber bands to get them out of the burning truck. In tears, Todd questioned his own actions, “We had to get them out. They would have died.” The balance of our own safety, our families, vs risking our lives to get these guys out. The questions bounce around like a racquetball inside our heads – on and on and on.

It’s an amazing story that makes me proud to know these guys.

Love Never Fails

Sunday’s Columbus Dispatch had the first part of a heartbreaking story about neglected little girl named Danielle. Neglected? No, ignored. Nearly seven years old, likely never seen the sun, never hugged, never shown any affection. Still in diapers, living in a closet, surrounded by filth, roaches and a 4 foot pile of dirty diapers. Heartbreaking, anger inducing, words fail:

The police officers walked through the front door, into a cramped living room.
“I’ve been in rooms with bodies rotting there for a week and it never stunk that bad,” Holste said later. “There’s just no way to describe it. Urine and feces — dog, cat and human excrement — smeared on the walls, mashed into the carpet. Everything dank and rotting.”

Read part one Sunday about what she was like when she was found and where she was found and how, because of the lack of affection and attention, the doctors’ big hope was that she’d learn to sleep through the night and feed herself. You should also read today’s part three as well. It’s the sad story about who her mother was (her IQ is “borderline range of intellectual ability.”) and how she still doesn’t understand why her daughter was taken away. “Part of me died that day,” she says.
What I really want to point you to is yesterday’s part two, inspiring story of the family who found her and believed in her in a way that no one else did.
The lead in is the decision by Luanne Panacek, executive director of the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County to put the girl’s picture among many others as kids needing adoption.”Who, Panacek wondered, would choose an 8-year-old who was still in diapers, who didn’t know her own name and might not ever speak or let you hug her?”
Bernie and Diane were at Gameworks, looking for a girl to adopt. A older girl, but younger than their 9 year old son. Through the chaos at Gameworks that night, they caught sight of a picture of Danielle:

Diane stepped out of the chaos, into an alcove beneath the stairs. That was when she saw it. A little girl’s face on a flier, pale with sunken cheeks and dark hair chopped too short. Her brown eyes seemed to be searching for something.
Diane called Bernie over. He saw the same thing she did. “She just looked like she needed us.”

Despite learning all of Danielle’s many and serious issues, they went to meet her:

Diane walked over and spoke to her softly. Danielle didn’t seem to notice. But when Bernie bent down, Danielle turned toward him and her eyes seemed to focus.
He held out his hand. She let him pull her to her feet. Danielle’s teacher, Kevin O’Keefe, was amazed; he hadn’t seen her warm up to anyone so quickly.
Bernie led Danielle to the playground, she pulled sideways and pranced on her tiptoes. She squinted in the sunlight but let him push her gently on the swing. When it was time for them to part, Bernie swore he saw Danielle wave.
That night, he had a dream. Two giant hands slid through his bedroom ceiling, the fingers laced together. Danielle was swinging on those hands, her dark eyes wide, her thin arms reaching for him.

They brought her home Easter weekend, 2007. It was a disaster at first, she wouldn’t sleep she threw tantrum after tantrum, she couldn’t even hold a crayon. Everyone told them they were crazy, but they wouldn’t be deterred. “So what if Danielle is not everything we hoped for, Bernie and Diane answered. You can’t pre-order your own kids. You take what God gives you.” Despite months of severe challenges as her caretakers, they officially adopted her last October. They gave her the name Dani.
And they proceeded to love her, like she – literally – had never been loved before.

Bernie and Diane were told to put Dani in school with profoundly disabled children, but they insisted on different classes because they believe she can do more. They take her to occupational and physical therapy, to church and the mall and the grocery store. They have her in speech classes and horseback-riding lessons.
Once, when Dani was trying to climb onto her horse, the mother of a boy in the therapeutic class turned to Diane.
“You’re so lucky,” Diane remembers the woman saying.
“Lucky?” Diane asked.
The woman nodded. “I know my son will never stand on his own, will never be able to climb onto a horse. You have no idea what your daughter might be able to do.”

Bernie and Diane had a son, about a year older than Dani, when they adopted her. Her doctor says having someone close in age around the house s invaluable for her development. How does William feel about his older sister and the extra attention she gets?

William says Dani frightened him at first. “She did weird things.” But he always wanted someone to play with. He doesn’t care that she can’t ride bikes with him or play Monopoly. “I drive her around in my Jeep and she honks the horn,” he says. “She’s learning to match up cards and stuff.”
He couldn’t believe she had never walked a dog or licked an ice-cream cone. He taught her how to play peek-a-boo, helped her squish Play-Doh through her fingers. He showed her it was safe to walk on sand and fun to blow bubbles and OK to cry; when you hurt, someone comes. He taught her how to open a present. How to pick up Tater Tots and dunk them into ketchup.
William was used to living like an only child, but since Dani has moved in, she gets most of their parents’ attention. “She needs them more than me,” he says simply.
He gave her his old toys, his “kid movies,” his board books. He even moved out of his bedroom so she could sleep upstairs. His parents painted his old walls pink and filled the closet with cotton-candy dresses.
They moved a daybed into the laundry room for William, squeezed it between the washing machine and Dani’s rocking horse. Each night, the 10-year-old boy cuddles up with a walkie-talkie because “it’s scary down here, all alone.”
He trades his walkie-talkie for a small stuffed Dalmatian and calls down the hall, “Good night, Mom and Dad. Good night, Dani.”
Some day, he’s sure, she will answer.

Here was a girl that perhaps should have died, was rescued only to face a likely life in institutions. The folks in her life held very modest expectations for her, she would survive but little more.
But one woman took a small chance – take a picture and put it on a poster and maybe … And two simple people with simple ambitions were paying attention when God was calling and gave of themselves beyond what they expected that they could. They have been the hands of Jesus to this little girl when the rest of us would have likely clenched our fists in anger at the injustice and wept at the tragedy – but then went on home.
Because they loved her, now she’s riding a horse, playing at the beach and feeding herself. She’s learning and growing. Who knows what she may become – because they loved her.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

UPDATE (8/17): Dani’s family has a website where you can contribute to Dani’s care and send a message of support. There’s also a link to the original article in the St. Petersburg Times where you’ll find a slide show. Lastly, read the article on the response to Dani’s story and an update on how she’s doing:

The Heart Gallery of Tampa Bay, which found an adoptive family for Danielle, is receiving 2,000 hits a day on its Web site, up from the usual 500, said Carolyn Eastman of the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County. The Heart Gallery has also received 100 e-mails and 80 phone calls from people commenting on the story or inquiring about adopting a child.

Imagine if just one more child gets adopted that otherwise wouldn’t have … all because they decided to love.

God: The BIGgest Difference

This is something I’ve been meaning to post for months. This first appeared in our church newsletter this past spring, and most recently at Disciples Today (subscription required).
The day that Ryan was baptized was an amazing one at church. It was the first baptism at a church service in a long time, and it was amazing to hear a lanky 17 year old African American kid, publicly share, with tears, how much his grandma meant to him and thank her for sending him to church.
The following was written by JB, the big brother in this powerful story. JB’s putting his faith into action is an inspiration to me.

If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

James 1:26-27

One goal of the BigBrother/Big Sisters program is for every “Lil” that is matched to learn to walk a better path of life into adulthood as a result of the impact impressed upon them by their “Big.” And, as I witnessed Ryan’s appreciation, devotion, and love for our great God grow, I changed my visions for him. My goals were no longer for him to stay out of trouble and be the first in his family to graduate from high school and matriculate into college same year. But, I felt that if he were to see me living the Christian life and love him as my neighbor; then perhaps he’d desire such a life too, and by choosing to do this, any of the goals outlined by BBBS would be surpassed.
Over the past 2 years, it’s been extremely gratifying to see my vision for Ryan’s life, become his own vision for his life because of our Incredible Father. And, I know that February 19, 2006 is a day that neither of us will forget.
Ryan’s Story
God reminds us to look after widows and orphans. Ryan’s grandmother, Cassie, did just that by choosing to care for him almost from birth, since neither his mother nor father were able to. And, instead of having Ryan or his brother and sister go into state custody, Cassie fought for them and won. Yet, she knew that she could use some help.
JB’s story
After becoming a Christian (1995), I ceased my involvement in my fraternity, as a way of “cutting off” a lifestyle that fostered my own arrogance and pride – yet, the tenets of strengthening the African-American race were still well-rooted within me. One particular newsletter featured an article on the work my fraternity was doing with BBBS. I then took this as a sign that I should re-activate my membership and be apart of this cool mentoring program.
The Match & Activities
The social worker weighed my interests with Ryan’s, our talkative personalities, and looked at our addresses and realized that we were only a 5 minute drive from each other; and recommended that we become a “match.” I believe it was God’s hand working ultimately, though. I believe that God wanted Jesus to become Ryan’s Big Brother and that for that to happen, he’d wanted to use me, Courtney (my wife), the Teens, Cellinos, Rhodes, and the entire Columbus Church of Christ family.
Over the first few years, Ryan noticed how important worshiping God was to me. He also saw how Courtney and I never yelled, or cursed at each other. Conversely, I noticed that Ryan was not catching his local church bus anymore, so I asked his grandmother if he could come to our church for an outdoor service. She consented and he can probably still tell you this day what it was like over 5 years ago to have been hugged by strangers. But, now what’s cool is that he’s giving hugs and initiating conversations.
Ryan begins pursuing God
After I became a graduate student (again) and a father, and Ryan moved down the street our hang times seemed to become more. We’d talk, play basketball, I used to cut his hair, run errands for his grandmother, and some times Ryan would just randomly stop by. Over time, I felt more compelled to serve not just Ryan, but his family as well. This was reciprocated, because he now felt extremely comfortable around my family and friends.
Ryan began showing an interest in coming to church with us. He started making friends like Owen, Greg, and James. He felt that his friends at school were not genuine, but that the people at church loved him unconditionally. Ryan began to soak up God’s Word so much that he would often be able to describe key points in each sermon to us as Courtney and I would give him rides back to home. Ryan also began to attend the Teen activities that were planned.
I believe that the Teens and their activities helped Ryan feel and see the power of God’s love and helped him realize that he could one day stand up for God as a High School student. Seeing others change and get baptized made the ideal very tangible. He was having fun with kids his own age, as his grandmother wanted, but the type of fun he was having was fun as God intended it to be.
So, in January of last year, Ryan committed to learning and applying some of the principles associated with righteous living. Then this January, he began learning about Discipleship, told us that he wanted to become a true follower of Jesus’, and challenged Greg and I to be more vigilant in teaching him. Finally, there came February 19th. The day that “Lil’ Ryan” proclaimed before his grandmother, mother, and spiritual brothers and sisters that Jesus is Lord!!
To infinity and Beyond!
The bond that Ryan and I share had always been special, but now it’s eternal. Instead of just doing homework together and going on bike ride, now we’ll share our faith together and teach his friends and family that the only way to truly be on a better path in life is to be grateful for God’s love and make Jesus Lord of their lives, too.

It Wasn’t All Bad …

More from the inside cover of The Week, in their “It Wasn’t All Bad” section. Two stories out of three were blog-able.
Story one:

Two Massachusetts women whose husbands were killed in the World Trade Center on Sept. 11 are using the financial support they received afterward to assist widows of the civil war in Afghanistan. Susan Retik, 38, and Patti Quigley, 42, created Beyond the 11th, a nonprofit foundation, and have already donated $170,000 to charities helping Afghan widows. Last week, Quigley and Retik spent 6 days in Afghanistan, where they met some of the recipients of their donations. “We wanted people to understand that these widows were widows because of the same terrorists that affected our husbands,” said Quigley.

Story two:

David Davis, 16, had been bouncing around detention centers and foster homes in the Atlanta area since he was 7. He had always responded to crises with his fists, and once was suspended for bringing a knife to school. But soon after moving to the Haven Academy in 2004, he found that his teacher, Barbara Stephens, was getting through to him. “If I had to give up something, I would give up my bad behavior to live with Ms. Stephens,” he wrote in an essay. Deeply moved, Stephens and her husband decided to adopt Davis, and on Sunday they celebrated their first Mother’s day together.

Be Like Angie

Angie is one of our teen leaders, working with the teen girls. A year or two ago, we only had one girl disciple in our teen ministry. There were other teen girls, but only one had yet made the decision to follow Christ. Last year, through much prayer, faith, love and God’s working on their hearts, three more girls were baptized.
Angie reminded them that they were the begining of something new in our church. That meant that they had the chance to build the ministry that they want, to lay a strong foundation. Something for them now and for their younger siblings to look forward too. Something that will honor God and that will be fun to be a part of. Angie says that when she said that, their eyes brightened. I can imagine that the whole range of possibilities flashed through their mind. Possibilities that maybe they had longed for and dreamed about, but had perhaps didn’t think they were up to.
Since then, the girls have made plans, goals and dreams for a teen ministry that will last and honor God. They are working together, building lasting relationships and planning their own times of fellowship and sharing their faith. Angie says she tells them that she is not here to tell them what to do or how to be. Rather, she wants to know what they want to do for God with what He’s given them. If they’ll tell her where they want to go, she’ll help them get there. Two of them love to sing, and in December they performed a duet for the church. They made it a goal to connect with other teen ministries with our sister churches throughout Ohio by hosting an event here in Columbus, which they did in October. They’ve said they want to mentor the pre-teen girls and help them find their way, so they’re working that out. Recently, they decided that this year they want to make birthday cards & cookies for everyone in the church. (Angie says they’re going to do that with the pre-teens, killing two birds with one cookie, if you will.) Two of the teen girls are serving as ushers now and when you get to church they greet you with the biggest smile ever as they open the door.
Even to one, like me, outside the teen ministry, the change in these girls is obvious. They stand a little taller and smile a little bigger. They’ve been transformed, not by focused teaching and specific instruction (although I’m sure there was some of that), but because Angie believed in them, inspired them to dream their own dreams as big as their God and helped them to live them out.
Angie has proven that if you give folks vision and hope and get out of their way, they’ll do far more than what you could have thought to tell them. She’s moved to Philly this week to take a new job with HOPEworldwide. She will be very much missed (especially by those girls and their parents), but thankfully she’s left four little pieces of herself behind.
Maria and I have just taken on the role of leading a small group in our church. As I look to this new leadership role, I want to be like Angie.

“I Pray for Your Movement Every Day”

ICOCinfo published yesterday a letter from an evangelist in the “mainline” Church of Chirst named David Yasko. His roots in the COC go back to the thriving campus ministry days which gave birth to my family of churches, th International Churches of Christ. Back in the 80’s he was a youth minister in Muncie, Indiana when the church split to form what would become the Indianapolis Church of Christ (later renamed the Indianapolis International Church of Christ, but that’s another story). in one day, his church went fro, 400 to 150. He descibed a feeling of disbelef and sadness.

… disbelief that on the Sunday before the call to leave, we were brothers and sisters in Christ and the Sunday after the call to leave, we were not.
The second feeling was sadness. Sadness at seeing people who had stood up and defended the work on the campus who were told they weren’t sold out enough, and mega sadness at those in the campus group who were not asked to accompany the main group to Indianapolis. When they asked why they weren’t invited to be a part of the new movement they were told, “you didn’t have what it takes to be a disciple.” To this day I have never seen a group of people as devastated as that particular group.

It hurts my heart to hear these words. I know that, indirectly, I was a part of some of that devastation. I never went through a church split, but I’ve been surrounded by them. I was baptized in the Cincinnati COC, which only months earlier had been the ‘Gateway’ COC before being reconstructed by folks out of Boston. I wonder how many couldn’t go along with that and left. How many friendships were severed? My wife was baptized in that Indianapolis COC, born from the split David describes. Later, years after she had left for Cincinnati, it too split when their leader decided he couldn’t go along with much of the ICOC doctrine anymore. More relationships broken. Good friends of ours hurt, some left never to return. Over the years two different churches in the Columbus area were split when a ‘remnant’ was called out of each of them to go to Boston, or Cincinnati or wherever because somebody determined that there wasn’t a ‘sold out’ group of ‘true disciples’ here in Columbus. Years later we marched into town to do what somebody decided – who am I kidding – we decided no one in Columbus was doing, save the city. Foolish, arrogant people we were. It makes me shudder to think of the devastation that paved the way for my arrival here.
But David Yasko didn’t write to ICOCinfo to remind us of what we’d done.

I’m writing to tell you not to lose heart.
It’s hard when somebody you look up to, or looked up to, starts viewing you and the movement you love as an enemy. It hurts when something you sacrificed so much for is called “dead and dying” by the man who drove the dream for so many years. When the movement you worked so hard to build has its unity threatened by someone you love and trust it rattles your heart. Because you want to say, “wait a minute, we’re on the same team, aren’t we?” And you want to think the answer to that is “yes” but stuff keeps happening that seems to suggest the other alternative. …
And through it all, we are still called to be the Body of Christ. We are still called to go about the business of teaching the lost about Jesus and baptizing them into the Kingdom. We are called to be soldiers of the cross and and belong to the army of God. We are called by Paul to share in the fellowship of sufferings. We are called by Jesus to take Christ to the culture and the Word to the world. We are told to run with endurance the race that is set before us. We are told there will be defectors. We are told there will be detractors. We are told there will be those who preach with impure motives. And still we are called to be ministers of the Gospel of Christ. We are told not to look to the right or to the left, but to keep our eyes on the goal and do our best to get to the finish line still running for Jesus. To get to heaven by God’s grace and with God’s grace take as many people to heaven with us as we can.

Thank you, David. Thank you for your grace to my fellowship and your continued prayers, even after it turned it’s back on you. But mostly, thank you for reminding me that we are all on the same team, even if some don’t want to play with us anymore. I had forgotten that. When they started telling me that I was the enemy, I had begun to believe it and had begun to act as if they were mine as well.

Just Like Jesus

There are several things that I need to post in this category, things that reminded me of Jesus.
First is an entire blog of comments by volunteers helping out in New Orleans. The blog title is Katrina Relief, but I like the address better: whereisawjesus.blogspot.com It’s a collection of stories of how Jesus is being revealed through the efforts of these folks. It appears to be sponsored by the Tammany Oaks Church of Christ of Louisianna, but there’s a link to submit your story and to link your organization. One Columbus area Church of Christ, the Northland Church of Christ, and a Columbus Presbyterian church, Northside Fellowship are participating as well.


On another Katrina note, Keith Brenton posted about how his Little Rock Arkansas church has reached out to the families that have ended up there in a former retirement home, Parris Towers. The Pleasant Valley Church committed to furnish 40 of the apartments, but to date have filled over 150 with furniture. In the process, they been able to bring many to church with them. Keith writes:

The people of Parris Towers are the mission field that came to us. The local media took note of our response. No one prayed aloud on a street corner to attract attention to it; no one sent out a press release about it.

How cool is that?


We subscribe to The Week magazine, which is really good by the way. It has a regular feature on the first page titled “It Wasn’t All Bad” This story was in the November 18th issue:

When Israeli soldiers accidentally shot to death Ahmad Khatib, a 12-year-old Palestinian boy, his family didn’t vow vengeance. Instead, they donated his vital organs, which have been transplanted into six Israelis. Ahmed’s lungs, kidneys and liver went to Israelis of 7 months to 58 years; his heart now beats in the chest of Samah Gadban, a 12 year old girl. Her mother, Yusra, hopes to speak to Ahmad’s family, especially his mother. “I will ask her to receive us for a visit,” she said, “so I can hug her and kiss her and thank her.”

Now that’s a peace plan. Did I read somewhere Love never fails?


Lastly, I’ve been meaning to point you to this post from the New Wineskins blog. It’s a powerful story about two Christian men and how their faith would one day be tested. One man, when confronted with an opportunity to be like Jesus, took it, though it meant sacrificing his life long dream and his life savings for the man who had cheated him out of it, just because that man was a Christian.

More than three thousand nights have passed since that evening. Chief still owes on his debt. Oh, he paid a token payment in the form of a few wormy sheep, but he’ll never fully repay the debt. Kiplagat has not required him to. The church has grown.
Kiplagat obeyed God, and what did it get him? It cost him his life’s savings and his dream house. But, oddly, Kiplagat says it cost him nothing. He says it gained him a friend. He says God used it to strengthened the Church. He says it built his faith. He praises God and he says his temporal losses don’t matter because: “This (pinching up the skin of his forearm) doesn’t last forever.”

You really need to go read the entire thing, it’s an inspiring story of love and forgiveness.

[Speechless]

I honestly don’t know what to say. I’ve finally got my eye’s off of the trivial issues with my church organization to follow the tragedy that is the Katrina devastation.
Wow.
The chaos and anarchy of the Superdome.
Thousands living like animals in the convention center.
Dead lying in the streets.
Murders. Looting. Shooting at rescue helicopters. Even the police are on the run, reduced to defending their stations overnight instead of protecting the streets.
The national guard sent in with orders to shoot to kill.
But then there are the heroes.
Nurses and doctors refusing to leave their patients behind, carrying them down seven floors of stairs, in the dark, to evacuate them.
Dozens of offers from out of state for families to come and stay indefinitely, enroll in schools. No price tag.
Houston opening the unused Astrodome, filling it with cots. A local Papa John’s Pizza shop owner putting up $25,000 and sending in his employees to feed the ‘refugees’ as they come in.
I just watched the Mayor of San Antonio on CNN. They are preparing to accept some of those now homeless. Asked how many they are prepared to accept? As many as they send. If it’s 25,000 that need help, then that’s what we’ll take. Where will they put them? Among other things, they are busy, overnight, air conditioning a large building on a former air force base to prepare to house 7,000 or so. They are prepared to welcome the kids into their schools. How will they pay for it? The mayor and the city council have opened the city’s pocketbooks. They should get much of it back, but they aren’t waiting for those assurances to help. He said they want them to know that they are loved, and to restore some of their lost dignity. They are welcome in San Antonio.
It’s an amazing, infuriating and heartbreaking situation. Keep praying for safety, order and hope.

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