Sunday, December 31, 2017

OUT WITH THE OLD—IN WITH THE NEW

THE STAFF OF JACOB

Age often obligates a man to use the aid of a cane as he walks. His footsteps are not quite so sure as they once were, and the extra support and steadiness of a staff offers him more security in his steps.

In Biblical times, the use of walking sticks was especially common because the staffs were not only for walking, but also used as a tool of shepherds and others.

Concerning walking canes, there is one particular verse in the book of Hebrews which, for some reason, has long been intriguing to me. It simply reads like this:

By faith Jacob, as he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff. (Hebrews 11:21 NAS) 

In that chapter of Hebrews we read of many men and women who had learned to walk by faith in God. About some of these, the writer of Hebrews has quite a lot to say. However, for Jacob, who has one of the most extensive biographies of anyone in the Old Testament, the writer has given only this single verse.

So much could have been written about Jacob. In his life, we have many examples of experiences from which to draw, both good and bad. Jacob’s journey to a life of faith had many ups and downs, many advances and many retreats. His life was not one of steady and continual improvements.  It is interesting to me that of all the things that the writer of Hebrews could have said about Jacob, what he mentions is that Jacob worshiped, “leaning on the top of his staff.” 

The Importance of Jacob’s Staff
Why was this significant? For a man about so much could have been written, the writer of Hebrews dedicates only one sentence. And, in that sentence, he has Jacob leaning on the top of his staff, as if for some reason that were unusual or important in some way.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

WHAT TWO MOMS DID

You are probably familiar with the biblical story of the baby Moses—how he was put in a basket soon after he was born and placed in the reeds of the Nile River, then later to be found by daughter of the Pharaoh.

But this post is not about Moses or about the princess. It is about the mother of Moses, a woman by the name of Jochebed.

Don’t worry if you did not know her name. It is not even mentioned in the story, and not many mothers in these days would give their little girls this name. I don’t think little Jochebed would make it through middle school. We only learn the name of the mother of Moses later in two of the several listings of genealogies of the Hebrew people (Exodus 6:20; Numbers 26:59).

Usually when we hear the story of Moses, we do not speak too much about Jochebed, but there are several reasons why we should give her some attention. When we consider the story this time, try to imagine what it must have been like for this mother of Moses.

Here is some background for the story of this woman. 

Sunday, December 17, 2017

SOJOURNERS – THE LIFE OF ABRAHAM

Abraham Lifts His Head

In the days when my family and I were preparing for our first overseas move from our home in Wisconsin, I identified with Abraham more than any other Bible character. Like Abraham and his family, that time in our lives was one of sojourning for us.

As we readied ourselves for our future work abroad, we were first required to attend language school in Costa Rica. While living in that Central American country for some eight months, we grew to feel comfortable there, but because we knew we were not in what was to be our home, I myself could not come to the point where I felt completely settled in that country.

Even before that time, while we were still in the US, we needed to travel extensively. We stayed in many different homes and for many nights had different hosts. We often spent long weeks living out of our suitcases. This is often the case in the life of a missionary.

After our language school was completed in Costa Rica, we made our eventual move to Venezuela, where we were to settle and begin our first extensive assignment. However, even after arriving to our new hometown in that country, we could not immediately find a permanent rental house. For some months, we stayed in a house temporarily with a month-by-month rental agreement until we could finally find and settle into the house that would become our permanent house. 

Settling In

Since those early days of our work, our family has gone through several international moves. In my nature, I am a person who prefers to simply find a place and settle in—to make myself at home. However, this has not been the life that the Lord has given me. Through the course of my life, besides in my home country of the United States, I have lived in seven different countries in five separate regions of the world. This is not a description of a life where I have been allowed to “settle in.” On the contrary, in its own way, each move has been unsettling.

The life of a sojourner has its own special challenges, especially for ones like our family who would prefer to settle down and grow deep roots. Sojourning can be disheartening—wondering when you will once again be able to allow yourself to feel completely at home. It was for Abraham, and so it has been at times for us.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

THE LOG CHURCH - KISII, KENYA (part 1 - BEGIN HERE)

As you can see, this is part 1 of a 4 part video. Please begin with this video and go through the sequence. Each video is probably about 2 or 3 minutes long, The blog page placed a limit on the length of each video, so I had to break it up into smalleer segments



THE LOG CHURCH - KISII, KENYA (part 2)

As you can see, this is part 2 of a 4 part video. Please begin at part 1. Each video is probably about 2 or 3 minutes long, The blog page placed a limit on the length of each video, so I had to break it up into smalleer segments


THE LOG CHURCH - KISII, KENYA (part 3)

As you can see, this is part 3 of a 4 part video. Please begin at part 1. Each video is probably about 2 or 3 minutes long, The blog page placed a limit on the length of each video, so I had to break it up into smalleer segments



THE LOG CHURCH - KISII, KENYA (part 4)

As you can see, this is the last segment of a 4 part video. Please begin at part 1. Each video is probably about 2 or 3 minutes long, The blog page placed a limit on the length of each video, so I had to break it up into smalleer segments


Sunday, December 3, 2017

HOW TO WALK BY FAITH

This was the final sermon at the Log Church of Kisii, Kenya. This was also the sermon today at the Log Church of Tripoli, Wisconsin. The Bible Conference at the church in Kenya was centered around our walk of faith. This sermon could be considered as an introduction to the subject, but here I used it as a conclusion.
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HOW TO WALK BY FAITH
“…For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).

These are the words of the Apostle Paul in describing the Christian life. We often hear about “living a life of faith” and “walking by faith,” and we are fond of calling ourselves, “people of faith.” These are all very pious sounding words, but sometimes we do not really understand what it means to walk by faith.

On the other hand, walking by faith is often misrepresented and ridiculed. Christians are sometimes accused of having a “blind faith” and placing hope on something that, deep down, they fear does not really exist.

Mark Twain, for all his wit and writing ability, did great damage in mischaracterizing the life of faith with the much quoted statement of one of his characters: “Faith is believing what you know ain’t so.” (Pudd’nhead Wilson). Also in our culture, it is common to refer to a “pie in the sky” type of faith, which ridicules the life of faith by implying that Christians are placing all of their hope in some future promises of heaven that do not actually exist.

Both of these references have their elements of humor, and if we do not take them too seriously, we can laugh at them. But unfortunately, they have also mischaracterized what actually is a walk of faith. 

Two Walks
But if these characterizations of faith are not true, then what does it mean to walk by faith? The Apostle Paul is quoted as saying “We walk by faith, not by sight.” Just what does this mean? What is it to walk in faith? Is it true that those of us who practice walking by faith, walk in blind trust, without sight and without any evidence whatsoever?

Paul also said that we look not to the things that are seen, but to those things that are unseen (2 Corinthians 4:18). What did he mean?

If it might help in your understanding, here is how I would compare a life of walking by faith in contrast with a life of walking by sight alone: 

Walking by Sight
Walking by sight can be likened to what a man or woman may do when they stand in a doorway of a room. They do not immediately enter, but only stand in such a way so that they can see all that the room contains. They are able to simply stand in the doorway without making any real commitment to enter. Finally, when they become satisfied that they know sufficiently what is in the room, they may choose whether or not to go inside. Their commitment to act only follows their sight. It does not go before.

This is walking by sight. In this world, this seems to be a reasonable way of conducting ourselves. There is much in the world that is not trustworthy, so we must be cautious in making commitments.

However, when it comes to matters of eternity, living in this manner is not the walk that God tells us we should be doing.