Does It Really Matter?

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My Favorite Color

One of our family’s favorite and totally silly movies is “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”.  I must admit that it is a rather irreverent movie, but in its own bizarre way, it does have a peculiar sense of humor.  And one of our favorite scenes is when King Arthur and his knights come to the famous bridge where the keeper of the bridge asks them to answer truthfully three questions before they can pass.

All of them are worried.  One knight goes forward and is asked, “What is your name?  What is your quest?  What is your favorite color?”  He answers them all easily and correctly and is allowed to pass.  So then brave Sir Robin goes forward with confidence and gets the same three questions.  He answers the first two easily and correctly also.  But on the third question, he says,  “Blue….no red….AHHH!!!”  And for not answering the third question correctly, he is cast down into the endless chasm.  Bizarre humor, eh?

Now, does this silly story have anything to do with real life for you and me?  Haha, not likely.  And yet, at the same time, I have seen something in this story that touches a little too close to home for me.  The choice of what is my favorite color is a little more complex than you might think.  And as I ponder this question, I see a little bit of the “dark side” lurking within me.  Let me explain.

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In my family growing up, I was the last of four children.  As is often the case, being the last child I often felt like the others got the best of everything, and then I just got what was leftover.  And one of the things I thought about often was the dishes that we used at meals.  At some while we were young, my parents picked up a complete 4-person ceramic set of dishes with each set being a different color.

In many ways this was a good idea.  Everyone knew which set was his or hers.  My oldest brother Murray got the green set, then Blake got the blue set, and my sister Lorna got the indigo red set.  That left one set for me, and guess what color it was….yellow!!  Ugh!!  (Forgive me for anyone who does like the color yellow, but when I see a yellow car I think of it as a fat banana on wheels.)

So what was I to do?  When our whole family sat down to dinner, I would inevitably get my food served on to my yellow dishes.  But…. when not everyone was at the table, or if I was eating alone, I would slip my hand deeper into the cupboard and get either the green or the blue set of dishes.  This was my subtle rebellious way of getting back at both my siblings and my parents for sticking me with the yellow dishes.  : )

Now how silly is that?  And yet for some people, colors carry along meaning with them.  Red is considered a very lucky color in the Orient.  Purple is the color in many cultures for royalty.  Black is associated with darkness and evil.  White is also a lucky color and is thought of as the color of purity.  And for me, green and blue have somehow always been associated in my mind as colors of power and strength.  Whereas yellow I had thought of as the color of wimps.  And I definitely did not want to think of myself as a wimp.

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So now I’m 50 years old.  Now I am much more sophisticated, refined and mature, right?  Haha…. well, I would like to think that I am.  But every now and then, this old “dark side” of me wants to come out and demonstrate to all that I am mighty and invincible.  I have even given myself a powerful nickname.  I say, “I am the mighty hunter Namron!”  (It sounds like the mighty hunter Nimrod from Genesis 10:8-9, but all I did was turn my name around.)  : ) But being the last born as well as being the shortest of all the brothers, I think this created part of my need to “have to win”.  I must admit that I have had a competitive spirit for most of my life.

And this competitive spirit shows up when our family plays games.  Whether it is a simple game of Uno or a strategic game like Settlers, as much as I would like to gather around the table and relax with the family to have a good time, I have this unfortunate inner desire to “beat the pants” off everyone else.  (Haha… now wouldn’t that be quite the scene.)

So when we play a game that has game tokens, I tend to reach first for the green or blue token.  But I know how much Jill loves the color blue, so I try to always let her take that one.  But then I look at the green token and I still have the thought that this is a “power” color, so if I can choose this one, then I may have a good chance on winning the game.

Oh my, how foolish this all sounds, eh?  But then that is how tricky our hearts can be, which is what we read in Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.  Who can understand it?”  And the answer to that is: Jesus knows my heart, and He is able to cure my deceitful heart when I come to Him and ask Him to forgive me of my selfish human desires.  So what should I do when our family gathers next time to play a game?  I think I’ll reach for the orange token.  : )


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God Given Friends

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Hard Road Journey – Part 5

We now begin a look into chapter three of Mark Atteberry’s book entitled “Walking With God on the Road you Never Wanted to Travel“.  We continue to study and learn together how to keep on walking forward when we find ourselves in a difficult place in life.  Often the journey is difficult and the road is long, but let us see what Atteberry’s next strategy is that can help us get through.  (If you have not read previous articles on this book, then click here to go back to “A Hard Road Journey – Part 1“.

The title of chapter three is “Travel With a Friend“, a principle that I totally agree with.  Whenever we go through tough times, often what happens is one of two things.  Either we withdraw and don’t open up to others about the difficult things that are happening in our lives (and then sometimes we wonder why “no one cares” because they do not call or visit).  Or, we approach people and are ready to talk about the tough things happening in our lives, but the people we approach are living such rapid and ragged lives themselves, it is nearly impossible for them to slow down to listen and to care for us.

The result is that for many of us, we live very lonely lives, even while we are surrounded by millions of people.  Now some godly people may offer truly genuine compassion when they tell the suffering person, “You are not alone!  God will never leave you nor abandon you.”  And they are right, God is with us at all times.  But for many of us who walk these hard road journeys, this spiritual truth and answer is just not quite satisfying in and of itself.

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I truly believe that for most people, and maybe I can be bold enough to say for all people, along with the Lord we need a real flesh-and-blood person to whom we can turn for help in times of great difficulty.  Atteberry says:

The hard roads of life are best traveled with a friend.  Even though God will be walking with you every step of the way, there’s a benefit to human companionship that cannot be denied.                                                                                                                                                          (pg. 28)

And then he says further:

And if it wasn’t good for him [Adam] to be alone in the safe haven of the Garden of Eden, how much more dangerous is it for him to be alone in a fallen world where the roads are hard and evil lurks in every shadow?”                                                                                                                     (pg. 30)

These words of Atteberry are quite wise.  And he expands on this thought of how important it is to find a friend to be with you while you walk through these dark valleys and difficult roads by giving us advise on exactly what kinds of friends we should be looking for.  Although there may be an abundance of friends who might look like good candidates of a person you might choose to have with you on this journey, not all friends are equal, and in fact some friends may actually be harmful to you.

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And so Atteberry tells us that there are four good qualities that people should have if they are to be the perfect friends for us, friends that can truly be helpful to us in our times of need.  First of all, it would be most helpful if your friend has also walked through a “wilderness experience”.  That person can empathize with us when life suddenly turns upside down for us.  Secondly, the “perfect” friend must have an intimate and daily relationship with God.  He or she can help you tap into spiritual truth and spiritual practices which will lighten the terrible load which you carry along your hard road journey.

The third quality that is so important for someone to be the perfect friend is that this hard-road companion must have a heart of compassion.  It is rather easy for people to say to others who are emotionally hurting something like, “Well, your husband isn’t suffering any more.”  That statement is true, but shows no compassion to the person who has just lost their spouse of 45+ years.

And the last good quality of a hard-road journey companion is that of loyalty.  Many friends will be there for you when you first encounter that great trial of life or experience the difficulty that turns your world upside down.  Long after all the other well-wishers have gone and are once again caught up in their busy lives, there are still some who decide to continue to stay by your side, and these are the kinds of quality friends that you need to associate with.  Then the hard-road journey you are on suddenly gets easier to walk upon and the burden gets lighter to carry.

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As I write this article, I think about a man whom we had never met before but who was there for us during a difficult period for our family.  His name is Christian.  (Pretty cool name, eh?)  At the time that I am thinking about, our first-born son Eric had been diagnosed with leukemia which caused us to leave the mission work in PNG and return to Canada.  While going through treatment, and by means of fascinating circumstances, Christian became aware of Eric’s situation.

And at that point, Eric had become a great fan of all Nintendo consoles and games and the Game Cube had just been released.  So as a surprise, and remember that Christian was a total stranger to us, he wanted to encourage Eric’s spirits, and he sent one of the first available Game Cubes to my son to help him (and us) face the hard-road journey that we were on, and would last for 33+ months of treatment.

Christian came alongside and became a hard-road companion to our family at the exact time we needed it.  Thankfully, I have been able to return the favor in recent years.  So stay tuned.  Two Saturdays from now (March 26) I will pick up this story about me and Christian.

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March 2011 Prayer & Praise

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Two Months in Papua New Guinea


Wow!!  The month of February has come and gone and we are already part way into March now.  I have been over here in PNG for five weeks, with another three weeks to go.  Praise God that Jill has been able to be with me for six of the eight weeks.  I could not have managed without all her help and support.  (And the evenings and weekends are certainly more enjoyable having one’s mate and friend with you after all the work is done.)

It is amazing to look back and see all that has been accomplished in this time.  The major work for me of course is to do the consultant check on translated books of Scripture into the languages of the people of PNG.  In the time that we were up in the highlands, I was able to help check and revise the books of Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians in the T. language, and also to finish the last eight chapters of Matthew in the W. language.

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Meanwhile, Jill has kept herself busy by helping out our mission’s data publishing department.  While in the highlands, Jill received a disk that had all the literacy materials for the M. Language.  She spent about 40 hours creating file folders and renaming the files.  A final step in this task was to create an excel worksheet to contain enough information that these books could now be more readily found.

Once in Madang, Jill was asked to teach one of the other team members working in the publishing department about scanning old files so that they could be preserved.  This was something she had done last year, so she first spent a half day doing some scanning and then writing out the instructions for others to follow.

Two languages, M. and K., have a lot of their literacy materials published in a program format that is no longer being used.  Jill’s task then was to convert this data from the old system into a pdf format which they will be able later to clean up for any future printing and/or revisions to the material.

It was quite the daunting task that they gave to her.  But now our Branch can at least start again with these three language group to be able to find out what translated and literacy materials they have and where it is in the computer.  (Way to go Jill!!)

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But now we are counting down the days till our work is done here in PNG.  Jill will be flying to Port Moresby on Sunday.  Then Monday she starts her long trip home to Canada.  Her route will take her Moresby to Brisbane to Los Angeles to Calgary.  And seeing as she crosses the international dateline, she will get to do all this on one very very long Monday.  On this one day from start to finish, it will be 29 hours for her….and still be Monday.  Go figure.

Meanwhile, I will remain behind and continue doing the consultant check on the book of Hebrews for the A. language.  We will have already started the checking by the time you read this, but we will keep going and Lord willing have it all checked and mostly revised by March 24th.  Then I too will get on a plane on the 25th and start my journey back to Canada.  It will take me a little longer than Jill seeing as I need to take hotel rests at all the stops along the way to conserve my energy and be well by the time I get back to Calgary.

In light of all this, we would like you to join us and give thanks to God for some great answers to prayer and blessings He has given to us.  And we would ask you to be praying about some important matters.  They are as follows:

Praise God…

  • that I have had very good health over the past six weeks since leaving Calgary
  • that the narcotic patch I wear daily has cut down my sharp levels of pain significantly
  • that we were able to finish checking the books of Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians in the T. language
  • that we were able to complete Matthew in the W. language which we began on our Sept/Oct trip
  • that Jill has been able to help out the Branch in some significant ways
  • for our safe, although delayed, flight from the highlands to the city of Madang
  • that the consultant checking of Hebrews in the A. language is now underway and going well

Pray to God…

  • that He will bless the checking of Hebrews which will take two weeks to do
  • that my energy would remain strong and my mind would remain sharp and clear
  • that when we hit difficult spots in Hebrews, God will give us clarity and understanding
  • that the Spirit of peace and unity and brotherly love would cover over us all
  • that Jill will have a safe and uneventful trip all the way to Calgary (March 13-14)
  • that I will manage well for the two weeks on my own after Jill has left me

It is truly wonderful to have a fellowship of Christian brothers and sisters all over the world who can spiritually hold hands with us and lift up all of these praise and prayers items to our Lord and Saviour Jesus the Messiah, and to our God and Father who is over all, and in all, and through all things.

And it is wonderful for me to be able to share my life journey with so many people around the world.  Besides the obvious ministry of Bible translation consultant checking, He has surprised me by opening up this “Armchair Ministry” of writing articles which are intended to encourage and bless many other people.  And from the feedback I am getting, this is exactly what God has been doing through me.

What can I say to you Lord, except simply, “Thank you for loving me so!”

God’s Traveling Team Pt. 2

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Who Am I?  Part 5: Which Dwarf?

In my last article, God’s Traveling Team Pt. 1, I mentioned the difficult choice I faced, to return to University, or to join the Teen Missions Fall Travel Team.  And as you now know, I believed God had led me to join the Travel Team and promote Teen Missions.  What a huge disappointment it was then to be turned back at the Canadian border and have the team broken up.  The team went back to Florida and I returned to Calgary.

I kept my hope alive though, that we would still get the team together and we would carry on where we left off.  And in fact, shortly after I got back to Calgary, the Florida office called to say they were hoping to get a new itinerary set up in British Columbia and the northwestern States right away.

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The plan that they had was to send the team back my way in about three weeks and I was to meet up with them in Vancouver, BC.  Not one to sit around and waste time, I decided that in those three weeks that I should get my Driver’s License.  Now you may think it strange for me to be almost 19 years old and still not have my license, but it’s amazing all the places you can go to with a good city transit system, or a Greyhound ticket. : )

So I got the Driver’s Manual, read it and wrote and passed the Learner’s Test in the first week.  I signed up for a two-week Driver Instructor class, took it, drove it, passed it, and by Day 22, I was the proud owner of a new Driver’s License.  Now I was ready to rejoin the TMI Travel Team.  (It turns out that being one of the youngest on the team, that they would not need me to drive, but hey, it was still worth it.)


It was so neat though, to be a part of this team.  It felt good to be wanted, and to believe that the others both valued me and even liked me as a member of their group.  We spent close to three months together on this team, the seven of us packed into the Ford Caravan van, traveling from place to place, never knowing for sure where we would be sleeping the next day, but always seeing God provide safe harbors for us to land at and be received by wonderful Christian hosts.

I do find it interesting now after more than 30 years that many of the details of the places we visited and the people we met have pretty much faded from my memory.  Actually, it was such a whirlwind tour all over the northwestern States and BC that I think I probably forgot many details even before the trip ended.  But one thing I have not forgotten all these years is the names of the seven of us on the team.

Each person was so unique, for which we came to love and appreciate them, that we soon had adopted special nicknames.  It shouldn’t take you long to guess where this story is going to head, in terms of the nicknames we gave each other, but I think you will see why we choose what we did.  There were four ladies and three guys on the team.  And the following is what happened on a regular basis.

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After our visits or presentations at a place were done, we would load up the van with all our luggage and supplies and squeeze everyone in and get ready to go.  But just as we were about to leave, Becky would suddenly sneeze.  Not once, not twice, but at least four or five times.  We never did figure out if she was allergic to leaving a place or allergic to going on the road again.  But then we would start driving, and even before we got to the Interstate, Gloria would slump over and fall asleep.  And she would sleep the entire distance, whether short or long, then wake up and say, “Are we there yet?”

Then we had quite the contrastive pair between John and Linda. It rarely mattered what the topic was, but whenever we got into a discussion about something, Linda’s face would light up about something she found interesting, but John would find some way to “shoot it down” and have a scowling look on his face.  It didn’t help that he had big black bushy eyebrows like Groucho Marx.  : ) And yet we loved them both the same.  They were equally our brother and sister in the Lord.

Now Barb was our leader and the oldest of the group, but I think she was just two years older than Greg.  We could all tell that Barb, being in her mid-twenties, was kind of hoping that her “friend” who sent occasional letters wold be her “prince in shining armor”.  So when we got to a new destination and we were able to beat her to the mailbag, we had lots of fun waving around her nicely perfumed letter.  Needless to say, Barb would turn beet red in the face, and even mentioning his name in public would cause her to immediately blush.

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On the other hand, Greg was a 3rd year scholar from Wheaton Bible College, and being a man and the second oldest of the group, you would expect him to be a little more on the serious side of life, having great words of wisdom and sophistication.  And occasionally, he was able to pull off that mannerism.  But the rest of the time, he was cracking great jokes and putting on the silliest of faces to get us all to laugh.

So that leaves just me.  And if you haven’t figured it out yet.  Here is who we traveled with for three months:  Becky = Sneezy; Gloria = Sleepy; Linda = Happy; John = Grumpy; Barb = Bashful; and Greg = Dopey.  That left only me, and the only name left for me was Doc. I was so disappointed when they first called me Doc because I always thought about him as the near-sighted bumbling and stuttering old Dwarf.

But then I was told that they thought highly of me as Doc, because as they said, he was the smartest Dwarf of the group who had all the main brainstorms for ideas and inventions.  Often they would say I was so wise and knew my Bible well, and so they did look to me as a spiritual leader, even though I was close to the youngest on the team.

So there you have it, the Teen Missions Fall Travel Team was made up of the Seven Dwarves and I was given the honor of being named Doc.  I miss those good friends and those good old days. : )

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God’s Traveling Team Pt. 1

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Who Am I?  Part 5

1979 was  an exciting year as well as a transitional year.  I had finished one year of University, and at the same time I was preparing to go on my first real missionary experience with Teen Missions International (TMI).  I was going to go to Brazil for a summer and help build a school extension and a guest house for a New Tribes Mission base up the Amazon river.  That will be the content for a future story.

What I can say is that the summer mission experience was life changing for me.  From the very beginning of the training we received in the swampy Everglades of Florida, until the summer mission project was finished, I knew that I had discovered a mission that I could believe in and put my energies into.  You can read about the Boot Camp training we received before we went to our overseas country in another article called, “Get Dirty For God“.

During the Boot Camp time, I did hear something that caught my attention.  Some of the TMI staff told all of us about a marvelous opportunity to serve the Lord after we had finished our summer mission.  What they wanted to do was to form one or two small teams that would travel all over North America to visit churches and Christian schools to do recruitment and advertise for Teen Missions.

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And so as my summer time in Brazil came to a close, I thought about my two options: go back to the university in Calgary, or travel around North America and do mission presentations.  Hmmm….tough choice, right?  Well, actually it was.  Considering that I had received enough scholarships to pay for four years of university training, the idea of giving that up and trusting God to provide enough money for me to buy my next meal was quite a staggering idea for an 18-year-old.

But I felt the leading of God’s Spirit to say yes to the idea of joining a Teen Missions Travel Team.  And part of my personal confirmation of this was the fact that at the last minute, while I was raising support donations for my summer mission work, a donation came in that nearly doubled what I needed for the summer.  (You can read that story here.)  And that was enough to carry me through part of the Fall.

And so when I came back from Brazil, I asked the leaders of TMI if I could join one of their travel teams and they said yes.  I had a few days in Florida before the training started, and I phoned back to Calgary to talk everything over with my parents.  Just like with my decision to go off with the Navy, my parents once again gave me their blessing to follow my own decision.

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The Travel Team training was conducted at a camp in New Jersey and lasted two weeks.  There were enough volunteer members that we were able to form two teams.  During this time, we learned a number of important skills for doing presentations, like short dramas, puppet skits, musical arrangements, working with stage props and becoming familiar with the TMI promotional materials.

Once we finished our training, we immediately hit the road and started driving toward our first places to do our presentations.  The other team headed toward a different state, while our team headed toward Canada where we were  going to do some presentations in Ontario and then head west across Canada.  I guess they figured I would be their personal tour guide across the country being the only Canadian on the team.  : )

We went through the state of New York and crossed the bridge at Buffalo, NY to enter Canada.  The Customs Officer there asked our leader lots of questions about what our Travel Team was going to do and I think he got nervous and started telling a whole lot more than he needed to.  So when he got to the part about how we would visit churches and they would take up an offering, immediately the Officer thought this was a form of “work” and denied the team entry into Canada.  : (

Although we tried to convince the Officer we were not coming into Canada illegally to do work, we still ended up going back to Buffalo in the middle of the night.  And what a night that was!  On that night, God showed His hand powerfully in both providing for our team and also protecting my life personally from a life threatening situation.  And that unfortunately will also have to wait until a later posting.

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Now to make a long story short, the rest of the team went back to Florida while I went back to Calgary for a few weeks until we could come up with a new plan and a new travel itinerary.  It worked out that our team was able to come back together to do a tour of schools and churches in the province of British Columbia and the states of Washington, Oregon and Idaho.  (We had a new leader this time and so getting across the border into Canada went well.  Hurrah!!)  : )

Stay tuned for many more stories about my adventures with Teen Missions.

Hypocrite! Who Me?

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A Translation Challenge in Matthew

Last week I was working with the W. language team and checking their translation of the final eight chapters of the book of Matthew.  The translation was in very good shape, so we were able to proceed at a pretty good pace.  The goal we had set to be able to check these chapters in eight days was to check an average of 55 verses each day.  On the morning that we were finishing chapter 22 and starting chapter 23, we had checked and revised 44 verses.

So when we gathered after lunch to continue doing the checking, I was feeling optimistic that we would be able to easily reach our goal, and surpass it.  But then we hit the “Woe” sections of chapter 23 of Matthew.  Seven times Jesus gave a strong warning to the Pharisees and the Scribes, two of the religious groups that existed during the times of Jesus and the New Testament.  And both groups knew all the rituals and regulations of the Jewish religion, but they only gave lip service to God rather than serve Him out of their hearts.

There is no question that these “Woe” sections of Matthew 23 are difficult to translate across different languages.  There are many concepts that are rather foreign to people who are subsistent jungle farmers.  How do we translate “Kingdom”, “temple”, “altar”, “tithing”, “proselytizing”, etc.  We did find ways to handle these difficult concepts, but there is one more term in this section that has caused us to discuss it at length.

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The term I am referring to is the word for “hypocrite”.  I have had the privilege to work with a number of Papuan languages and have checked the books of Matthew and Mark a couple of times.  And I am fascinated by the variety of ways in which different languages can handle the same term or phrase.  And this is definitely one of them.

When translating the term “hypocrite”, I have seen that it usually has to be expressed as an idiom or as a longer descriptive phrase.  For example, I have seen “hypocrite” translated like “the lying person”, “the two-mouthed person”, “the two-tongued person”, “the pretending to worship God person”, and what the W. language decided to use, “the person who lies and says, ‘I am a good person.'”

The common thread here is that a hypocrite is one who basically lies, pretending to be one thing when in fact they are the opposite.  They are people who deceive others by saying one thing, but their behavior shows that their values do not match their behavior.  As the idiom in English says, they in effect speak out of two sides of their mouth, which is very close to the Papuan idiom of being two-tongued or two-mouthed.

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In effect, these are nasty, lying, deceiving people who not only are trying to fool men into believing they are good people, but some are even thinking they are pulling the wool over God’s eyes.  And of all possible kinds of hypocrites, perhaps the worst ones of all are the religious hypocrites.  By their words and actions, they try to elevate themselves as someone better than other religious people, and in the end, they tarnish the name and reputation of God, and the true believers who worship God as He requires, out of a heart of humility and selflessness.

No wonder Jesus used such harsh language against the Pharisees and the Scribes in His day.  Not only should they have known how to properly approach God and worship Him, but these men were the religious teachers of the people.  But Jesus calls them to the carpet to challenge their hypocrisy for what it was, and as He said, they were like “white-washed tombs with nice decorations on the outside, but on the inside they were full of dead men’s bones and all kinds of ritual impurities.”

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And yet, when I really study this word and all that it implies, I need to be careful before I brand someone else with this word–hypocrite.  True, it is very obvious in Scripture that the Pharisees and the Scribes were very bad men, but am I that much different.  In degree, yes.  They were fierce and terrible opponents to Christ, and they ultimately had Jesus crucified out of pure jealousy against Him.

But in nature, I am a sinner just as much as they were.  And am I not guilty in many instances of some level of being a hypocrite.  I tell people I will pray for them, and do I follow-up on my promise to do so?  Not always.  Do I dress in my nicest clothes and put a smile on my face when I go to church, sending the message that I am well-to-do and that my life before God is all in order, when in fact I may be falling apart inside, and having doubts about God’s goodness?

We are encouraged in Scripture to make the most of every opportunity (referring to share Christ), but often I have no desire to talk to the person next to me on the airplane.  Do I turn away and pretend not to notice the poor man coming my way who is asking people for a quarter?  Can I truly call myself a “follower of Jesus”, when I act in so many ways that would be contrary to how Jesus would act?

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These are tough questions that do not have quick easy answers.  Each situation is unique.  But sadly, I think I must say that our modern and comfortable Christianity is something we wear on Sundays, and don’t do much with during the middle of the week to demonstrate we are Christ’s disciples who are carrying out His mandate to “seek and to save the lost”, and “to love our neighbor as ourselves.”

Dear Readers, I know that I, and perhaps you too, still have a lot to learn in the School of Discipleship.  Jesus has set a good example, and He is our Headmaster.  Let the school of humility, selflessness, love for others, and self-sacrifice begin.

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Some Practical Christianity

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“Open Heart, Open Home”

I’m sure you have heard the idea that we are to be “the hands and feet of Jesus”.  It sounds great, but what does it mean?  Are we to go over to India and follow in the example of Mother Teresa and minister to the poor and dying in that country?  Well, yes, maybe God is calling you to do this, and if so, you should start praying and packing.

But for most of us, even myself at this time, we will not find ourselves leaving our home country to go live in another part of the world to serve the Lord full-time.  So what is it that we are supposed to do that would qualify us as being Jesus’ hands and feet.  Of course we do have the words of Jesus Himself who told us how we can “flesh out” Christianity in practical ways.  He says in Matthew 25:35-40

‘I was hungry and you fed me, thirsty and you gave me a drink; I was a stranger and you received me in your homes, naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you took care of me, in prison and you visited me.’  The righteous will then answer him, ‘When, Lord, did we ever see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you a drink?  When did we ever see you a stranger and welcome you in our homes, or naked and clothe you?  When did we ever see you sick or in prison, and visit you?’  The King will reply, ‘I tell you, whenever you did this for one of the least important of these followers of mine, you did it for me!’

This is one of Jesus’ parables, and it begins to give us some insight into what good practical Christianity looks like.  It is showing the same kind of mercy and compassion to a fellow human being that God would show, but as is so often the case, God is asking us to do these acts of compassion on His behalf and in His name.

Now someone reading this may be saying that this is still too general of a mandate and would like to see at least one of these ideas fleshed out more specifically.  I have anticipated this possibility, and so I would like to offer a good suggestion, especially to fellow Christians who are living in North America and are living very nice modest lives, if not down right well-to-do lives when compared to most of the rest of the world.

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And here is my thought:  I would venture to say that nearly every Christian who reads this post is currently living within 100 miles of a University or College.  And in nearly every institution of higher education, there would be a certain percentage of foreign students who have come to study in our countries.

So why don’t we become proactive and invite some of them, four people, or two, or even one to join our family for a meal and “Please stay to visit with us longer”, and leave with “What date shall we set for doing this again?”  Time may be short right now, but most Universities and Colleges should be coming up to the Spring Break.  What better time to open your hearts, and open your homes when the international student has no idea what they will do or where they might go during this break.

I leave you now with an excerpt from a good book “Revolution on Our Knees:  30 Days of Prayer for Neighbors and Nations” written by good friends of mine, Dave & Kim Butts, who have an international prayer ministry called Harvest Prayer Ministries.  They offer a Scripture passage, and then a real challenge to all us who are Christians.

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“May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us, that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations. May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you. May the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you rule the peoples justly and guide the nations of the earth. May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you. Then the land will yield its harvest, and God, our God, will bless us. God will bless us, and all the ends of the earth will fear him” (Psalm 67).

Every year almost 700,000 international students flock to college campuses in the United States. They are far away from home, many for the first time, navigating a strange culture and attempting to take classes in a language different from the one that is most natural to them. Many of these students want to impact their nations in a significant way, but most are not Christians. These students are a huge untapped resource for the cause of Christ, but about 70% of them will never see the inside of a Christian home unless we reach out to them.

The reality of this situation is staggering when we consider that these potential kingdom workers already know the language, customs and layout of their own countries. Through hospitality and acts of love, our families and churches can become the hands and feet of Christ to them, bringing many into the Kingdom of Light! Then, by training them to reach their own nations for Jesus Christ, these young men and women can become incredible tools in the hands of a mighty God.

Gracious Lord, please give me a heart for the nations, for I long to see all the ends of the earth fear Your Name! Help me to see the big picture of how reaching out to one young student can change the world for Jesus! Let me be one of many in my church to seek to build relationships with young men and women from all over the world so that they might have an opportunity to see the living Christ in our homes! Teach me to stretch beyond what is comfortable to learn from and minister to these young students, so that they will see Jesus in me and know that I care about them.

–Adapted from Revolution on Our Knees: 30 Days of Prayer for Neighbors and Nations by Dave and Kim Butts.  Click on the title for more information on this resource.

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