Charity Begins At Home

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GOD CAN USE ANYONE, anywhere, anytime.

He might not want all of us to get P.H.D.s or move to the other side of the world, and you don’t have to be a televangelist or a best-selling author in order to live a great life (not to demean any televangelists or best-selling authors). Take Jesus for example. He spent most of his earthly life in his small hometown, and people were surprised that he even knew how to read. He wasn’t married, wasn’t very attractive, and wasn’t a stranger to sorrow. He chose ordinary working men and even social outcasts to be his companions and torchbearers.

Neither of my grandfathers had college degrees or ordinations. What they did was common but also very important. They worked patiently to provide for their families and to put food on other people’s tables in the process.

After serving in the military, my father’s father built a successful business, and today the profits help to support charities near and far. He was always generous and ready to give. His door was wide open to friends and strangers alike. (By the way, in the Bible, hospitality is listed among the special gifts of the Holy Spirit, just like prophecy and healing).

My mother’s father had a huge responsibility with more than a dozen “disciples” (his children), but he still made time every week, on his one day off, to visit the inmates of the local jail. When a drunk man interrupted a worship service at church, my grandfather decided to take him home. My grandmother washed and mended his clothes while my grandfather told him about Jesus. It was a simple thing to do. There was no fuss about it and no applause. But this dear man’s heart was changed, and many years later he sent them a letter to tell them that he had become a preacher of the good news of salvation. Continue reading “Charity Begins At Home”

His Work, His Way

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“God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.”–Ecclesiastes 3:11 NLT

THE SUICIDE AND ALCOHOLISM RATES in my neighborhood are well known facts. Teen suicide is 62% higher than the national average. Alcoholism is 510% higher. We have the highest unemployment levels in the state. One out of three females are sexually abused. The average life expectancy is forty years…

God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.–1st Corinthians 1:27-29 ESV

What is not well known is that God is doing good things here. He’s using common clay. He is personally invested in His creation, and nothing is too hard for Him. He’s working in unexpected ways, through unlikely and unassuming people. He’s doing His work His way, and unseen miracles happen all the time.

I was reminded of this today when I interviewed a certain unsung hero. (Notice all the uns in this: unexpected, unlikely, unassuming, unseen, unsung…)

“God don’t make junk,” he said.

No, Precious, He doesn’t.

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.–Ephesians 2:10 NLT

Wedding Bells

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I’M SORT OF ADDICTED to the exquisite 2014 dramatization of John’s Gospel, starring Selva Rasalingam. Watch the trailer and tell me it isn’t sublime.

I don’t love the Bible enough, but of the umpteen books I’ve read it’s the only one that I have occasionally tucked into bed with me.

The greatest thing about it is that it is prophetic as well as historical. It contains a preponderance of foretellings about future events, and it’s always right. But, also, just to study it from a literary perspective is something like walking barefoot through Eden.

When the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, their words were still alive, thanks to the fanatical scribes in the desert who treated every jot and tittle as reverently as the Levites treated the Ark of The Covenant. The dusty manuscripts were unrolled, and Job clapped his hands over his mouth. Naphtali bounded on graceful words, like a doe set free. Judah’s eyes sparkled darker than wine. The Shulamite came up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved. David panted and poetry welled up from his soul. The little hills rejoiced, skipping like lambs…

Last winter I interviewed an intrepid young man who works as a language surveyor for organizations that translate the Bible. He told me stories about his adventures among isolated tribes in the jungles of Papua New Guinea (amazing stories like this). But the most amazing thing he told me was that languages are dying fast, due to globalization, and he predicted that soon there won’t be any more need for Bible translation.

“We’re in the last leg,” he said.

The last leg of a grueling marathon.

Wow. Continue reading “Wedding Bells”