The section of our Decrees entitled “Christian Virtues” has a history of its own. There is value in understanding how our current version arrived to where it is now.
Before the recent election transpired, I happened across a newspaper article reporting the predictions of several well-known present-day evangelists. Each evangelist had a special “word from the Lord” that the former president would defy the polls and enjoy a resounding triumph to be elected for another term. That stirred my curiosity, so I decided to search if other “prophets” had come forth and echoed the same prophecy. I’m sure my search was incomplete, but I was amazed at how often that prediction was confirmed at the mouths of other popular ministers.
It had begun to snow again overnight, which wasn’t too surprising since it was mid-November in Alberta. It made conversation, though, and so when I handed the room key to the clerk, I mentioned how it was beginning to get white outside again. The clerk responded with the current prediction of 15 centimeters, which caused us to do mental math. She was more skilled than I and soon complained, “Oh no, not six inches again!”
Many years ago, I wrestled with this question. I distinctly remember asking an older bishop why we as a church have standards. I will never forget his answer, “We have church standards because we have found that if you want to have a plain church, you need to have a written discipline.” In other words, the ultimate goal he had for the church was that it remains plain and separated. His experience was we would not maintain that separation without a written standard.
Traveling down the freeway, I saw it again. The bumper sticker on the luxury motor home said, “We’re spending our children’s inheritance.” Would we have seen this forty or fifty years ago? I think not. What has changed?
My mind went to the Sunday morning devotional. Brother Merlin’s (all names changed for confidentiality) chosen Scripture centered around Proverbs 23:23. Buy the truth, and sell it not; also, wisdom, and instruction, and understanding. Buy the truth? How does one do that? Sell it not; how could one sell the truth?
“So why can’t we go to Bro Tim and say that his eyes should be opened so he can receive his sight? They certainly could have done that in Jesus’ day! Is there something wrong with our faith, that we are unable to heal people like the disciples did when Jesus was here?”
I sat and pondered the statements made by the young man across the table. He was sharing his heart. His questions are valid. These questions make their rounds in our circles, and they deserve an answer.
There are some facts we know of about miracles:
Things happen. People make choices. Sometimes the choices are really, really, bad (or good). Events come together and accumulate. Current events turn into history. Someone has to tell the story.
What happens on the part of onlookers and talkers is what we want to think about in this article. Many times, what people do with what they see and hear - what we do and say with what we hear - may be as bad as the bad choice made in the first place. Or it may be a good choice- and be redemptive. This is a critical point.
One night after summer Bible School, we met a traveler passing through. Afterward, he came to stay a few days, just to talk. When Moshe came to our house, we were introduced to a new philosophy on worldviews.
Moshe was raised in a conservative Jewish setting. He said he always felt a kinship to Mennonites because he considered himself at the same setting in the Jewish spectrum of beliefs as Mennonites are in Christian doctrine.
The greatest “project” or “venture” a married couple can embark on is bringing children into the world and raising them to maturity. All other ventures, whether it be in business or hobby, pale in comparison both to the cost of investment and yield for time and eternity.
Our discussion began when my seat mate commented that he had observed my wife across the aisle. In observing her modest attire, he had questions about our identity. This opened the door for me to feel free to ask him questions about his faith. He seemed happy to inform me that he was a devout Catholic.