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What a Week! Again and again and again…..

February 2, 2015

This morning God reminded me of a week we experienced several years ago, so much so that I went hunting for a copy of what I had written about it.

You see, this week I am facing another challenging, faith-stretching time. But that is nothing new.

On Saturday night we were awoken by the phone ringing; it’s Never a fun thing when the phone rings at that time of night.  It was our son Stephen calling from California. I answered the phone; he wanted to talk to Steve and asked him to take the phone into the other room.  (Stephen is fine)

Tomorrow Steve and I get on a plane for California on an unexpected trip with sadness, but knowing that God is loving, kind, and sovereign; we can Rest and trust in Him. His timing and provision is always perfect. Yesterday I didn’t think I would get to go, but God has provided. God brought Timothy home Exactly two weeks before He knew we would need him to help Catherine hold down the fort this week. He is so good to us, always.

We have also been experiencing an ongoing trial from God since last February that almost had us undone, but He has sustained us, kept us, strengthened us, used His people to encourage us, and provided for us. Maybe I will write about it sometime; maybe not.

This morning, when I located the long ago written article, I was amazed at the date on it – February 2, 2008 – EXACTLY 7 years ago TODAY. It made me realize, these hard things, they aren’t new; it is part of life. It is the process of being sanctified on this earth, and the adventure continues . . .

Here is the Article from all those years ago,

February 2, 2008

As I sit outside in the hospital courtyard waiting for Timothy to come out of surgery, I feel compelled to write this journal of our week (to be e-mailed later).

This has been one of the most trying weeks of my life, but knowing that God is faithful and sovereign, and that this is His plan for us, has made all the difference.

On Monday morning it began – we were finally getting a borehole (well). City water is very expensive, and we can’t afford to water the yard. Also, city water isn’t always dependable. Everyone on our street hits water between 25-30 meters. At 7 meters, we hit rock. The gray dust from the rock started to cover the yard and seep through the cracks in windows (which there are a lot of) and doors. All day Monday it continued. Tuesday around noon we had to stop drilling at 100 meters due to finances (we had planned on a 45 meter well). Still no water – only rock. Now we have one DEEP hole in our yard, no water in the well, and a HUGE mess to clean up both inside and out. We will probably lose the grass we do have and some of the plants.

Tuesday at lunch the kids and I were talking about the dry well. Stephen said we should celebrate – I agreed. God is sovereign and He knew all about this. Kimberly said we were biblical – our house is built on the rock. My desire was to “blow off” the rest of the day, get McDonald’s for lunch, etc. Instead, we did what we should – stick to the budget, make sandwhiches, and get on with the major job of cleaning up. We concentrated on God’s goodness – food to eat, a roof over our head, etc.

Wednesday morning some of the kids and I were heading out, my car window broke – it slid down in the door. The passenger side window had done the same thing a few weeks ago; Steve had got it up and taken the handle off so we wouldn’t roll it down, as it won’t roll up. We headed back home – couldn’t go anywhere until Steve got it back up (and the passenger one AGAIN as it slid down as we pulled into our driveway).

Wednesday afternoon we received our itinerary for the plane tickets to Israel – God is SO gracious in providing for us to go to the GMI missionaries conference in June. The problem was – they had Luke going on the correct flight, and the seven of us going on a different one! The bottom line is – Swiss Air would charge us about $200 a ticket to change to the correct flight. Steve decided to switch me to Luke’s flight. So, we all fly from Jo’burg to Zurich together; three hours later Luke and I continue on to Tel Aviv. The rest of the family will have a 16 hour layover and arrive in Tel Aviv at 3:30 a.m. the day the conference begins.

Wednesday afternoon we had a major blessing – we found out that God was providing some funds for us to take care of some things – Stephen’s wisdom teeth, fixing our bathroom, etc. We didn’t know then that we would need some of the funds for other things.

Wednesday night Steve and I were talking about how thankful we were for good health, a roof over our heads, food to eat.

Thursday morning my mom called from the States to tell us that our credit card company called, and we needed to call them because of potential fraudelant charges – turned out to be nothing.

Thursday evening we had some students over for dinner and to watch a soccer match – even though we didn’t feel like it with the week we were having. With God’s help, we just kept plugging along, and a good time was had by all.

This brings me up to today (Friday). Everything started out as normal – up with Luke at 6:00, breakfast with Michael at 7:00, etc., when at about 7:45 we heard a big crash and Timothy calling for help. I didn’t think too much about it; I thought he dropped something on the tile floor. He started calling calmly for me, so I handed Luke to Kimberly. As I reached the hall, I saw a lot of blood on the floor. Timothy was fairly calmly asking for help and a towel.

Timothy had been trying to scare a cat outside his bedroom window – he “tapped” the window, and it shattered. The result was two very bloody hands and cut wrists. He was dripping blood everywhere. He wrapped a towel around his wrist and applied pressure while I drove to the hospital. They wrapped both hands and arms up, and we waited for the doctor. After a LONG time, still no doctor, and Timothy said he couldn’t feel his right pinky. The nurse said the doctor was hung up at the public hospital in town and sent us to our doctor’s office. Our doctor realized Timothy’s tendon was cut on his pinky and he needed surgery – back to the hospital we went.

God graciously put a good friend in our path. She is a nutritionist and sees patients at the hospital. She stuck with me for a good portion of this morning – helping expedite things, getting me something to eat, praying with me – God is so good!

Timothy should be out of surgery soon – the doctor said he should make a full recovery – praise God!

We have had a lot of teaching times with the kids this week – what a great God we have! I am so thankful that I have kids that trust in Him as well. Timothy’s emotional state is fine, Kimberly is “holding down the fort” at home – when I called her, Luke was asleep and she was having Bible time outside with Catherine and Michael.

I’m so thankful for His provision, protection, and perfect timing.

Many Christians (espcially in Africa) would say we are not in God’s will, because He isn’t blessing us. In fact, many Africans would say we are cursed. We KNOW, however, that blessings come in all shapes and sizes. We are thankful to be serving right here.

Please continue to pray for His protection and provision for us!

Because of His GREAT love,

P.S. Timothy was released from the hospital about 9:00 p.m. We are so thankful that he should have a FULL recovery in about six weeks, and that we didn’t have to spend the night in the hospital. On the way home, the headlights went out — .

Grey Black Grey White Grey

May 22, 2014

On our journey through this world our mental and emotional conditions and experiences are wildly varied. What is wildly varied is often frightening because it is not neat and simple and so it is mysterious and unknown and that is terrifying. People prefer to forget how many options are open to them in a widely varied world. Simplicity is of great value and there is comfort in knowing there are just two worlds and two ways. People don’t want grey areas. Being black and white gives the illusion of comfort because it gives the illusion of being simple and clear and understandable and controllable. This, in turn, provides a person with the illusion of protection. A wealth of possibilities and uncertainty about the path ahead breeds dread.
Those who clarify the world for others, who divide life into two ways, black and white, good and bad, are praised as prophets and great teachers and lovers of humanity. They save people from confusion and hard choices. They offer a single choice, a right choice, a wise choice, a best choice and this choice is easy to make because any other choice is presented as wrong and evil and leading to a wretched life. To walk on the path of black and white is difficult and full of daily failure and is ultimately impossible, but the choice to do it is easy and always presented as the right choice. The black and white path is celebrated as simple and praised as right. Most believe they are helped by the black and white path.
Those who speak of our complicated existence and our many possibilities resonate with few and are a help to even fewer. But, truth is rarely simple. Truth is infinite and to say it is simple and to present it as simple is to limit it and deny its nature. And, wisdom is difficult. Wisdom must be sought and fought for and defended once it is found and then held on to every day. Wisdom does not come easy and often does not come at all. Not all simplicity is wise, nor true. Simplicity and the black and white path can be very wrong, very untrue.

Firing It Up Again

April 25, 2014

Over the last couple of years I have written a few things, but I have refrained from posting them. Over the next few weeks I will be posting some new stuff and I will be editing and re-posting some old things as well.

The Imitation of People

April 24, 2014

Imitating people who exhibit godly character is beneficial to our own walk with God. Peter, Paul and the writer of Hebrews all asked believers to follow their examples of pursuing Christ, 1 Cor. 4:16, 11:1; Phil. 3:17; 1 Thes. 1:6; 2 Thes. 3:9; Heb. 13:7; 1 Pet. 5:3.

I was considering who I know that I admire, who I look at and want to imitate as I wander through this world. My admiration has never been directed at those with large and far reaching ministries. Many people I admire would definitely be considered insignificant to the world and, sadly, they would be viewed that way by most of the church as well. But, I admire them greatly and I have no doubt that God will reward them significantly, though hardly anyone notices them in this world. They have labored in obscurity and continue to do so. They don’t have a big ministry, are not wildly successful, won’t produce any profound or lasting works, most will die on the verge of poverty and will be mourned only by their immediate family and a few close friends. And they will be forgotten within two generations of their death, but they are great people and I am thankful for knowing them.

I know older godly people who have been faithful in ministry and faithful at home, and younger people who are working at mastering their minds and their desires at a young age and are working at growing in faithfulness to God. I admire people who remain true to their convictions though it cost them dearly; people who endure hardships, suffering, difficulties, sins, and failures and still are not bitter and cynical; people who have lost their dreams and bear heavy burdens through life and yet still don’t lose hope; and people who love others when their love is not returned. So many unknown and unpopular people have been a great encouragement to me.

A Note on Culture and Cultural Churches

June 16, 2012

Most people in cultural churches – most – don’t, when you get right down to it, do a lot of particularly evil things. They just get carried away by new ideas, like dressing up on Sunday and telling people it’s all about them, or dressing up in jackboots and shooting people, or dressing up in white sheets and lynching people, or dressing up in tie-dye and playing guitars at people. Offer people a new cultural creed with a costume and their hearts and minds will follow.

Reading and Writing and Books and Books

June 12, 2012

Every year new students come into my office and my home and look at all my books. I have a lot of books. And every year I get asked the dumbest question in the world, “Have you read all those books?” I say, “Of course not, why would you think that?” They usually reply with a blank stare.

I reply with two points.  First, I say, books are for things you don’t know. If I knew everything in these books then why would I need them? All these people knew things that I don’t know and they wrote them down so that I could get at their knowledge and understanding. Books are just other people’s brains on your shelf that you have access to whenever you want. Look around, this room is full of people you can have a conversation with. I talk to and argue with these people all the time.

And, second, not every book was written to be read starting with the first page and ending on the last. Not all books are made that way, and I rarely read a book like that. It has been a long time since I carefully read through a book from beginning to end to take to heart what the author has to say. I don’t approach a book to see what the author has to say, I loot it. With me, opening a book is like breaking and entering. I steal, I plunder, I mug authors all the time. I take what I can get out of them and run away as fast as I can.

So, no, I have not read every word in every book I own. And, I will keep buying more books even though I have not read all the ones I already own because there is a lot I don’t know. A large library is evidence of how much you don’t know, not of how much you know. And you need more books. I have little time for people with enough books or who have read all the ones they own.

A Soldier in 1969

June 8, 2012

There are some memories I don’t want to lose, so I decided to start writing them down.  This one is from 1969, I was 5 1/2 years old.

On a winter night, early in 1969, I was in the back seat of our small family car with my two sisters. I was on the right side, next to the door and behind my mom, dad was driving. I was sitting up, looking over the front seat and out the windshield, it was 1969 and I didn’t have a seat belt on and we had never even heard of a car seat. My dad noticed a man hitch hiking on the side of the road, so did I.  He had a long coat on and carried a small duffel bag. It was a soldier. My dad pulled over in front of him and pointed to the back door, the one I was next to. The soldier opened the door and squeezed in the back seat with us kids. He sat next to me and I was mesmerized. His coat was light brown and he had some campaign ribbons and a few medals pinned on his chest. His hair was short and dark and he had a military cap on. He glanced down at me and smiled when he first got in. I stared at him the whole time. We gave him a short ride and I remember every word my dad said to the young soldier.

My dad said, “Howdy, you just get back?”

The soldier answered, “Yes, sir.” He was just off the plane from Vietnam.

“Where are you headed?”

“To the bus stop, sir.”

“That’s not too far, we’ll be there in a minute.”

“Thank you, sir.”

The young soldier said nothing more and after a moment my dad said, “I know it has been hard on you men, over there.”

The soldier took a deep breath and slowly turned his head toward the window. After a moment a tear poured out of the corner of his eye. We drove in silence the next few minutes and I couldn’t look away from him.

My dad pulled the car up to a diner next to the bus stop.  As we stopped my dad said, “Hold on a sec.” He dug out what little change he had in his pocket and held it out toward the soldier and said “You can get some coffee there and something to eat, they are happy to see soldiers there.”

The soldier nodded, held out his hand and the change tinkled into his palm. He said, “Thank you, sir” and stepped out, shut the door and walked toward the diner. We drove away.

I have thought of that often. At that age I was in awe of this giant soldier. He seemed like superman to me and I was stunned when he cried. I have since learned that all people are fragile and scarred, even if they are soldiers by profession. Over the years I have prayed for that soldier, who is now an old man. Perhaps I will see him again.