On September 11, 2001, Al-Qaeda attacked the United States with shocking results. Like most Americans, I can remember exactly where I was when the news came. In the weeks that followed, our nation was caught up in patriotic fervor and crying out for revenge. October 7, 2001, America struck back, attacking Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, marking the beginning of America’s longest war.
Society is changing. Actions and lifestyle choices that were once thought universally shameful are now demanding a pass of tolerance. “Intolerant!” is the label folks get who don’t give in and accept these as the new norm. Conservatives and Christians many times bear that label and are snubbed for being old-school.
Many times, as individuals we live in our own little world, only considering the present. But God tells us to be concerned where we came from and where we are going. What have we been taught and what are we passing on to the next generation?
Psalm 78:6 says “that the generation to come might know them, even the children which should arise and declare them to their children.” We are not to live just to ourselves, but realize the importance of teaching and giving the things of God that have been given us to the next generation.
“And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men (Matt 4:19). “Follow me. Not eloquent, not articulate; but a simple two-word phrase that propelled the fisherman to become fishers of men and an invitation to be a follower. These two words that reset their life from being a fisherman in the Sea of Galilee to a fisher of men. Always listening to Jesus, always following Jesus. This reset in their lifestyle no doubt had cataclysmic effects on Peter and Andrew. The next morning, they followed Jesus instead of going to the seashore.
Twenty-five years ago this past October, a man lay deathly ill in a hospital, dying from a ten year battle with cancer. A few days before, he had been told that pneumonia had set in and he was not likely to recover from it; the family had come to give their last goodbyes. His brother was keeping vigil through the night as the man slept an exhausted sleep. Suddenly, he roused and looked up at the ceiling with a smile on his face. Then his breaths slowed and stopped as the angels took him Home.
Recently I found myself in an exam room with a hearing specialist. From this visit and some recent study, I conclude the following.
There are four main parts of the human hearing system. First, is the acoustic collector. The acoustic collector includes the auricle, the most visible part of the ear. The auricle is the fleshy curved part of the ear made of tough, elastic tissue covered with a thin layer of skin. It also includes the inside ear canal and eardrum.
Tom and I had never met before, but a rainstorm was holding us hostage in an old garage. All I knew was that Tom was only visiting in the community (same as I was) and that he had come from non-Mennonite background. He was now a member in one of the Mennonite churches. Thinking we may as well fill in the time with spiritual discussion I plunged in.
“Tom, why don’t you tell me how you became a Christian?” I asked.
“Well, I was raised in a Christian home, and we always were Christians,” was his response. I waited, but it became obvious he had nothing else to share.
The subject of gifts is on many people’s minds today. Much money is spent on gifts this month. Many people hardly know what gift will be appreciated and needed by the people for whom they are buying gifts. Some will receive a gift they will cherish and hold most dear to them throughout the coming years.
In this season of gift-giving, many people overlook the most precious gifts that ever were and are still given to man. Many do not cherish these gifts but rather count them as useless.
In the weeks surrounding Christmas, we enjoy singing a wealth of hymns and carols that we usually reserve for the month of December. Even though we can sing many by heart, or perhaps because we can sing many by heart, words, and phrases rich in meaning can roll off of our tongues without touching our hearts. The lyrics to the carol “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” specifically the words of the first verse, invite a little more thought than we usually give them.
The last few months have been disruptive to tens of thousands of Americans. Hurricanes in the Southern States and Puerto Rico plus destructive wildfires in Oregon and California have caused massive losses. Homes, businesses, and infrastructure were damaged or destroyed. Even more significant is the tragic loss of life. The most recent tragedy is California’s rapidly moving wildfires that only gave minutes for people to flee- some didn’t make it out in time.