Sunday, August 12, 2018

KISII REPORT? LOG CHURCH SERMON? YOU DECIDE

Today we had a missionary speaker in our Log Church, so I did not have an actual sermon. Nevertheless, I did have a few words. Here they are:
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Today, since we are going to be casting our eyes to other lands, I thought that I would take a few minutes and talk about Kisii. Although I have written into our prayers a prayer for them every Sunday, I have not spoken a lot in church about the situation in that land. There are a couple of reasons why I have not:

The first is that this is not something that I am assuming that everyone is interested in. It is a calling that the Lord has given to me, personally. The story of how the Lord called me to this involves the Log Church of Tripoli, and I have been very grateful when others have contributed money, clothing and school supplies, but it was God’s calling to me, and I do not want to make assumptions about others. God can also call others to this task if he so desires, and I am grateful when he does.

The story of how I first became involved with the church and orphanage in Kenya is a long one, and I wrote about it quite a lot on my blog page (this one), but the short of it is that, in the end, I simply could not turn my back on the orphans. God’s calling to me for this particular task came to me one day when I was preparing a sermon for a Sunday many months ago. The story I was dealing with was the very familiar one of the feeding to the 5000.

As you remember the story, when the evening came the disciples told Jesus to send the crowds away because the people were hungry.

“Let them go find food,” The disciples told Jesus.

Do you remember what Jesus told the disciples? “You feed them,” he said.

I realized that I was like the disciples. When it came right down to it, I had to admit that I did not want any part in the feeding of the orphans. The church was using my sermons that I placed on my blog page as part of their teachings, and I was happy to have that involvement in the lives of those people, but when it came to providing food—that I thought I would leave to someone else to do.
 
I was acting just like those disciples on the mountainside. “Send them away,” I had been saying in so many words. 
Jesus said to me, “You feed them!”

That was my calling. But just as in the story of the 5000, I had not much to give. In the story, all that the disciples had at their disposal was the lunch provided by a small boy—five small loaves of barley bread and two little fish—that was all. But in the hands of Jesus, this small lunch fed a multitude.

This is why I have not been making appeals for money for the orphans. I do appreciate those, just like the small boy, who give what they have to help, but I have not been making passionate petitions for funds. I am giving whatever becomes available, even small lunches, and giving it into the hands of the Lord. He is the one who is feeding the children—not me.

(Link to song on youtube by Keith Green) - A Billion Starving People - Keith Green

That is one of the reasons that I have not spoken much about Kisii. The other is this:

In our Sunday services, my concern is for you. That is why I work very hard to bring you teachings from the Word of God. I am concerned for each of your lives.

There is not much that I can do to help you in your physical lives, but God has placed me here to “keep watch over your souls,” as it says in the book of Hebrews. That is my concern on Sunday mornings.

I want each of you to grow in your Christian lives and to realize that your relationship to God should not only be one of the many aspects of your life —it should not even be the most important aspect of your life—it should be the only thing in your life.

All other things that we have in our lives are like cheap toys and trinkets that we buy at the dollar store. We use them for a couple of weeks until they are broken. They all just eventually end up in the landfill.

I want each of you to realize how rich you are in Christ, and to grow in him. That is my concern and my desire.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

THE BRIDGE AND THE FENCE POST

To very many people, the things that this world has to offer have become so important that they give almost no thought at all to eternity. The entire sum of their thinking and planning concerns how they can extract the most pleasure and enjoyment out of the few years that they have alive on this earth.

But this perspective can change. One of the ways Jesus explained it is that it is like a new birth. When we were first born into this world and begin this life, most of our desires are conditioned to be for the world. We like the clothes, the cars, the electronic gadgets, and almost any other thing that the world has to offer. We save our money so that we can buy these things that we think will make us happy.

However, after we have been reborn into the kingdom of God, our desires begin to change.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

KISII REPORT #10

WHY I AM INVOLVED

Like it or not, to most of the people in the world, if you are an American, you have money—a lot of money. At least this has been my experience with people in most of the countries where I have worked. I suppose this is not true in some of the wealthier countries of Europe, Asia and elsewhere, but since the greatest portion by far of my work has been in financially strapped places, this is the perception of Americans that I have usually encountered.

In some sense this is of course true. Financially speaking, I believe that Vivian and I live below the poverty line here in the US, but we are still far, far wealthier than most of the people in the world.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

PREACHING IN SPANISH

To learn a second language well was for me a much more difficult task than I had first thought it would be. When my family and I packed up our bags and headed for language school in Costa Rica many years ago, I thought that after eight months of having no other responsibilities other than learning a language, I would leave the school speaking Spanish better than I did English. My wife Vivian I think was a bit more realistic.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

KISII REPORT #9

Here is a neat little story—well, maybe not so little since it began when Vivian was a small girl, but I will leave a lot out so that the story is not so long. I came into the picture 42 years ago, when on our way home from the Rockies on our honeymoon, Vivian told me that we had to stop in at Union Center, South Dakota.

Not really knowing the importance of it all, but wanting to please my new bride; that is what we did. The result was that I became friends with a group of the finest people you would ever want to meet. Ranchers—most of them, or in businesses very closely associated with ranches. These are the high prairies and it is cattle country.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

A SOLITARY PLACE


The Gospel of Mark is the shortest and fastest-moving of all the gospels. The author does not elaborate a great deal on each of Jesus’ episodes or on the disciples’ lives, but simply and quickly moves from one event to the next, often using the word immediately to connect two incidents.

It perhaps should not be surprising that Mark should write in this way, because he wrote his gospel from accounts given to him by the Apostle Peter (as it is commonly thought), with whom he traveled on his preaching circuit. Peter himself was a man who was usually very economical with his words and was, as we know from the descriptions of his activities, a man who quickly moved from one event to the next.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

KISII REPORT #8

I have written and spoken before about the very obvious physical needs of the orphans of the Log Church of Kenya:
 - Food is almost on a day-by-day basis, with some days the children having nothing to eat.
 -  Tattered clothing and broken plastic sandals for shoes, if any clothing or shoes at all.
 - Sleep for some of the children is on a dirt floor covered only with a thin cloth.
 
These are the things that were immediately apparent to me when I visited there.

As I have said to people on various occasions, “I lived in a village in rural India 45 years ago, and the living conditions  for the orphans of the Log Church are more rudimentary today than the children in my Indian village 45 years ago.”

Sunday, July 15, 2018

PAUL'S SECOND LETTER TO TIMOTHY

Here is some of what Paul said in one of his letters to his younger friend Timothy, as we have recorded for us in the book of Second Timothy: 

You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

And the things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also. Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.

No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier. And also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules. The hard-working farmer ought to be the first to receive his share of the crops. (2:1-6 NAS) 

…Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine…

But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry…I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness. (4:2-3, 5, 7-8 NAS) 

Paul the Scrapper

These words are almost standard fare for the Apostle Paul: Words of admonishment, words of advice, explanations of clear doctrine.

Paul was a fighter. He fought his whole life.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

SEVEN LESSONS IN GREATNESS


The gospel writer Mark talks about a time when James and John, the sons of Zebedee, said something that caused the other disciples to feel “indignant” toward them.

Indignant is a rather intense word. Some synonyms are outraged, incensed, angry and resentful.  What was it that these two brothers could have said to cause their friends and partners to feel this way?

The reason was because James and John had come to Jesus with a request. They approached him and said this: “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you” (Mark 10:35 NAS).

Thursday, July 5, 2018

KISII REPORT #7

I have mentioned before the highland malaria of Kisii. Historically, this was an area of Kenya that was free from the illness. But with the increased travel between the eastern coastlines and the western highlands in the beginning of the 20th century, the mosquito-borne parasite made its way to the area.

For many years, malaria was treated in Kenya by Chloroquine, which reduced significantly the spread of the disease. However, the parasite that causes the disease eventually developed a resistance to this medication. Largely because of this resistance, there was a re-emergence of malaria in the 1980’s.

Unfortunately, this emergence came about the same time that other health epidemics arose in Africa, epidemics such as HIV-AIDS, Zika and Ebola. This has all put a large strain on the already fragile health care system of Africa, which has reportedly been decreasing in quality in the past 25 years.

I asked Pastor Joel what drugs are now used by doctors to cure the malaria, and he sent me an extensive list of different ones that they try: Artemether/Lumefantrine, Coartem, Malarone, Plaquenil, Doxycycline, Mefloquine…25 in all. Nothing works great, but they at least give the doctors a choice of options to try, that is, if the drugs are available.

There are also several drugs that can be taken as prophylactics, or prevention medications, but they do not actually prevent malaria from beginning in the body. Once the person has been infected, in the initial stage of malaria, it first affects the liver. It is from the liver that it eventually spreads to the blood stream. At least this is my understanding.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

WEARINESS

The Apostle Paul wrote in one of his letters, “Do not grow weary of doing good” (2 Thessalonians 3:13 NAS).

When one is facing extreme difficulties and is already weary of the effort, these are words that seem almost too easy to say.

It seems it is a bit like saying to a sad person, “Be happy.”

We cannot simply generate happiness, just as we cannot simply deny that we are weary. There must be reasons for a person to feel happy. In much the same way, for one to not be weary when he feels fatigued, something also has to be done. 

Weariness of a Different Color

Certainly in happiness, it is sometimes a matter of outlook. We become unhappy when we allow ourselves to focus on what is not going right and ignore or diminish the blessings that we have.

Can such a positive outlook in the same way enable us to overcome weariness?

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

KISII REPORT #6

The single observation that affected me most when I visited the Log Church of Kenya last year and met the orphans, was to see their gratitude over the most simple of gifts. I still hold in my mind the image of two little boys who each received one pencil and two color crayons, holding them up in the air and so thankful that they had their own things to draw with! Their smiles were so broad, and their huge eyes almost laughing with joy, it seemed like with all the smiles and the eyes, there was very little room left for face.

The needs continue there, and if I wished, I could write every day and tell you about some new problem that has arisen—malaria being the latest. But instead I want to share a letter written to me by Pastor Joel. It does not show a complaining people who are engrossed in self-pity, but a thankful people who are joyful in the gifts of God!