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Archive for November, 2010

Kinda puts that Marble Run to shame:

Gizmodo

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Indexed

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Everything you need to know is concisely laid out in the Art of Manliness’ Holiday Gift Guide. Click; don’t balk on over there.

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Thus out of small beginnings greater things have been produced by His hand that made all things of nothing, and gives being to all things that are; and as one small candle may light a thousand, so the light here kindled hath shone to many, yea in some sort to our whole nation;  let the glorious name of Jehovah have all the praise. – William Bradford

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Thrifty or Cheap?

The LA Times story about one of the tightest wads in America.

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Examples in Extra-Awful

I hope I don’t have to make a category for this, because it makes me vomitous…

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He leaves no energy for afterwards.

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Beat this…

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What a Poetry Marathon!

“Of man’s first disobedience, and the fruit

Of that forbidden tree, whose mortal taste

Brought death into the World, and all our woe,

With loss of Eden, till one greater Man

Restore us, and regain the blissful Seat,

Sing, Heavenly Muse… .”

St. Olaf’s college is one of several who are taking on the oral reading of Milton’s Paradise Lost. It’s an epic endeavor.

(My linking code is not working right now: http://www.amazon.com/Paradise-Lost-Modern-Library-Classics/dp/0375757961/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1290459556&sr=8-2)

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Think Before You Buy

‘Tis the season…Indexed

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Planting and Reaping Humility

This post is directed to pastors but is equally applicable to all of us. They speak to How to Cultivate Humility…

  • Surround yourself with other men who will speak with brutal honesty into your life.

 

  • Encourage your wife to be supportive, but unimpressed with you.
  • Live as if at any moment you could sin and destroy your ministry.

Read fuller answers at the link: How does a pastor cultivate humility in his life?

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This post is not an example of true, good and beautiful. It is not music for the ages. It is an example of sheer creativity and giftedness.

Listening to a piece by Hauschka can be deceiving: What sounds like an ensemble of musicians and instruments is just one man, performing at one piano. His real name is Volker Bertelmann, and he hails from Dusseldorf, Germany, where he works with his “prepared piano.” He wrests disruptive sounds from the instrument’s 88 keys by outfitting the strings or mallets with objects such as ping-pong balls, aluminum foil and leather. His new album is titled Foreign Landscapes, and he recently visited NPR’s studios to demonstrate his craft.

Watch the video sets here to see Hauschka in action. I really enjoyed them:

Hauschka Gets The Most Out Of 88 Keys

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[Read Part One Here]

The Stabilizing Force of Eternity

Our previous look at our eternal home revealed a fascinating truth: there is a direct continuity between this universe and the New Heavens and Earth. But many Christians regard this and other information about eternity as esoteric or fantastic, and not really “practical.” It is instructive, however, to see that the Bible consistently links a proper understanding of eternity to the way we must think and live today.

The New Testament has six major passages that explain various aspects of the new creation (1 Cor. 15, 2 Cor. 5, 1 Th. 4-5, 2 Th. 2, 2 Pt. 3, Rev. 21-22), and five of them provide detailed applications of these truths to our lives. We are to abound in the work of the Lord (1 Cor. 15.58) stiving to please Him (2 Cor. 5.9). We are to encourage one another (1 Th. 4.18, 5.11), while remaining alert, calm, and self controlled (1 Th. 4.6,8). Peter reminds us to live spotless, blameless, and peaceful lives (2 Pt. 3.14).

These admonitions are familiar and anticipated, yet one application is noteworthy for the number of times that it occurs, and that it is somewhat unexpected.

“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable”(1 Cor. 15.58). “So then, brothers, stand firm…and establish [your hearts]” (2 Th. 2.15, 17). “take care that you [do not] lose your own stability” (2 Ptr. 3.17).

Looking forward to our eternal home ought to stabilize us now.

At first glance this seems a bit odd. How would information about what will happen in the SEEMING far distant future enable me to stand firm in the turmoil of sin-corrupted living? What is the connection between the promises of eternity and our struggles with anxious thoughts, shifting relationships, and unexpected bills? Let’s think this through.

What do we normally consider to be stabilizing influences? A reliable job, stable income, strong relationships, sufficient food, good leadership in government. Yet aren’t we quite often reminded just how shaky these can be?

This life is inherently unsteady, because we are finite-life is bigger than any of us, and sin is fatally unreliable. All too often we compound our problems by attempting to control the vicissitudes of life with sinful responses, the very thing that creates instability. Shouldn’t there be something better for us to pin our hopes on, to build our lives on?

By meditating on the way we will live for eternity we are better able to handle, even overcome, the uncertainties and instabilities of this pilgrim life. Here are three key applications of these truths.

Eternity stabilizes us in both prosperity and unexpected calamity, for eternity moves the best and worst case scenarios out of the extreme category. We can live without being controlled by fear and sorrow, or pleasures and gain. Viewing life from an eternal perspective smooths out both the highs and lows.

Eternity stabilizes us in our hopes and ambitions, for we begin to realize that we don’t have to fill our bucket list, we don’t have to chase the possessions, relationships, and power that dominate so many in this present age. God has those things for us in eternity! Why settle for temporal, fading dreams and goals when God has lasting and substantial realities laid up in store for us?

Finally, just as there is a direct continuity between this earth and the redeemed New Earth, so there is a direct continuity between your present life and your redeemed eternal life. You pick up in eternity where you left off in existence…but you leave sin behind! So you are building for eternity in what you learn and how you live today. This encourages me to “reverse engineer” life. Think about it: we will live for all eternity employing virtues and activities and promises that are so strong and stable that they will last forever! If they are that reliable, should we not begin to live that way now? Won’t those fixed values help us to navigate the turbulence of this present life?

God intends the promises of our eternal home to stabilize us in a topsy-turvy world. These truths are not distracting wastes of time; they are practical as potatoes. We on a trajectory into eternity and, as A.W. Tozer said “we do well to think of the long tomorrow.”

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Recommended Resources

Heaven by Randy Alcorn. This is a comprehensive explanation of the biblical truths of our eternal home. The first half of the book explains the biblical theology of eternity, and the second half answers all the questions we have wondered, but are afraid to ask.

Randy is the director of Eternal Perspectives Ministries, and he has put a tremendous amount of thought into how eternity ought to impact our lives. He has written several other smaller books that highlight and expand on specific aspects of eternity. Among them are The Treasure Principle and The Law of Rewards.

Joni Earekson Tada also wrote a very beneficial book, Heaven, Your Real Home. As with all her books, this is deeply thought-provoking and incredibly vivid. Her devotional based on this book is also worth reading.

Erwin Lutzer’s Your Eternal Reward: Triumph and Tears at the Judgment Seat of Christ and One Minute After You Die are also helpful, as is John MacArthur’s The Glory of Heaven.

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Today’s post is the second of two installments on Heaven for TBAP by David King of Joelton, TN. I wrote a small bit of background to this earlier, and think it fits beautifully with the concept of the forward-thinking, pilgrimesque-living sponsored on this site. Here is part 1.

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You’ve never seen a picture like this, because one has never been built. It’s a 360 degree, interactive, 80 gigapixel panorama view of London. It is compiled of almost 8,000 high resolution photos stitched together. You can pan and zoom to see an amazing degree of detail from such far distances. There is likely more than a week’s worth of viewing in this single page.

The CTL, Shift and arrow buttons will take you wherever you need to go. Please give the close-ups a chance to load properly.

London 360

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You’re Putting All Your Communication Eggs in One Historically Walled Basket. It’s all about trust.

Some other thoughts about email.

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Ryan and Christie - Plimoth - April 2008

Yesterday we, along with some JECA and FB families, enjoyed a 1/2 hour online, field trip to Plimoth Plantation. I’ve been around the block a few times, and Plimoth is one of my favorite places in the world. It’s the beginning of probably my favorite fragment of history (1600-1800), and my four trips to the village are very pleasant memories.

The moderator did a very good job, and I especially appreciated the two Pilgrim interpreters (one was a young girl). He even did a little pull on them with the comments about football and the airplane, and they plied their craft masterfully.

Anyway, I appreciate Scholastic for hosting the event, and, though I don’t know how long it will remain, you can watch a replay of the event here: Plimoth Plantation Virtual Field Trip.

Afterwards, you can go here to learn more about the special place. Visit the online shop, too, to find some very creative gift ideas. I especially love the reproductions, which they make on site (right now I’m drinking sweet tea out of my three-handled tyg). Enjoy: Plimoth Plantation Website.

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One of the JECA dads is the official voice of Nissan and makes a living voicing commercials for dozens of companies. The work is fascinating to me. I’ve always wanted to know about the superstar lady who voices this fascinating message from yesteryear.

In lieu of that dream find, I’ll feature here the B-Level stardom of the NYC subway voice: Announcing the Subway Announcement Lady

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Ask most Christians of their idea of heaven and you will typically hear something about pearly gates, streets of gold, reuniting with loved ones, and singing praises before God’s throne. So the essential picture is something like this: Heaven is one loooong church service in a place that is beautiful, even ornate, but rather cold and austere. We are mindlessly singing songs, while secretly looking forward to snatching a couple moments to talk with mom during the breaks. We don’t really do anything (heaven is, after all, a place of rest, isn’t it?), so we just exist for all eternity dreadfully bored by the monotony of singing the same worn out hymns and praise songs. But at least it’s not the alternative.

What if our picture is all wrong? What if we have swallowed a cheap imitation served up by silly songs, verses wrenched out of context, and an incomplete understanding of our God?

What if God’s eternity is located in a lush, verdant creation unsullied by the effects of sin? What if you got to explore a new material universe, learning more and ever more of God’s creative abilities, and in so doing, more of Him? What would you do and how would you live if you could let down your guard against yourself? What if you could spend all eternity pursuing your most fervent desires without your own sin weaknesses warping them into something wicked? What if these comprise major elements of eternally worshiping our sovereign Father? Is this too good to be true? Surely the Bible doesn’t teach this. Or does it?

As we look more carefully at the Scriptures, it becomes clear that there is a direct continuity between the present creation and the New Heavens and New Earth. God will purge away sin and all its effects, but the New Creation will be made of the same material as this current universe (2 Peter 3). But God doesn’t just deal with the negative and return creation to some moral tipping point. In His renovated creation righteousness will dwell supremely, permanently, and without any rivals (2 Peter 3.13).

Now just this one facet in the jewel of eternity deserves some contemplation. If God purges away all effects of sin, what does that mean? With no apologies to John Lennon, imagine a world that has no sickness, or injury, or death, so there are no hospitals, dentists, nor cemeteries. No need to fear assault, rape, or theft, so there are no police, armies, or lawyers. On New Earth the only sirens will be at hockey games!

How would things change if righteousness dwelt as an unrivaled virtue? Imagine being completely free to pursue all of your righteous desires with unfettered abandon. Imagine fervently loving God with all your heart and soul and strength and mind without being tripped up by sin, ever. Imagine always learning more and more of God and His creation, and in that growth, your love for and delight in God grows and deepens and flourishes. Imagine that growth continuing forever.

Peter tells us repeatedly that we are to be looking forward to this time. Our future home ought to be a regular source of meditation, and if we do contemplate these things it will change how we live now. That change is our next conversation.

In the meantime, stop to consider how much we have become used to sin and its effects on our lives. What will change? What else will be our “new normal” in eternity?

This is certain: for the foundation of the saints’ love to each other will be their love to the image of God which they see in them. Now most certainly the holier a man is, the more he loves the same degree of the image, so that the holiest in heaven will love that image of God they see in the least holy more than those do that are less holy, and that which makes it beyond any doubt that this superior happiness will be no damp to them is this: that their superior happiness consists in their great humility, and in their greater love to them, and to God, and Christ, whom the saints look upon as themselves. – Jonathan Edwards

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Today’s post is the first of two installments on Heaven for TBAP by David King of Joelton, TN. I wrote a small bit of background to this yesterday, and think it fits beautifully with the concept of the forward-thinking, pilgrimesque-living sponsored on this site.

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What’s Coming Up

Gustave Dore

Through the summer months at Charity Baptist, David King taught an extensive set of Sunday School lessons on the topic of Heaven. His zeal was unrivaled on a topic that I had scarcely considered past the very basics.

One of the important lessons I learned was that all Christians should be studying the concept of Heaven, because it changes the way we live here. It adds depth, color, perspective and richness to even our most mundane days. You get that? Read it again.

Well I’ve asked David to steal some snatches and do some encapsulating, and he has written two posts that will be posted here this week, the first will be Tuesday morning.

I hope that you will ready your heart for the lesson.

You can catch David on his blog, Cook in the Books, while you are waiting.

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Super-Neato Video

It’s telling that if had I entitled this post, “Changing Education Paradigms” then you would have tuned it out already. It’s also telling that this video would have had almost no play online if it had been the audio version only and not the creatively animated creature that it is.

This video is outstanding, and it could be useful to shaking up the modern norms that need shaking up. I intend to watch it a few more times before I really start commenting on it. I wouldn’t say that I agree wholly with him, but my reasons probably aren’t why the public school crowd will hate this. I’ve already committed to a good number of these changes. The public and common, private sectors have face this issue with a whole lot of momentum going in the wrong direction.

What are your thoughts?

 

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How to Serve Your Church Today

Before the Service

  • Read the passage in advance
  • Pray for the gathering
  • Greet newcomers (act like you are the host)
  • Think strategically about who you should sit with
  • Arrive Early

During the Service

  • Sing with gusto (even if you can’t sing)
  • Help with logistics (if there’s a problem, help fix it)
  • Don’t be distracted
  • Listen carefully
  • Be aware of your facial expressions (you may affect others and discourage preachers)

After the Service

  • Connect newcomers with others
  • Get newcomers information
  • Start a conversation about the sermon
  • Ask someone how they became a Christian
  • Stay late

From the 9 Marks Blog

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Best Practices for Happy Merging

Does you heart rage against those freak-shows who drive past you in the empty lane on the highway while you are patiently waiting for the lanes to merge…somewhere up there?

Let not your heart be troubled. Those freak-shows are really your blessing. So says the survey. “The studies found wait time was shorter when both lanes are used to reach the merge point and then drivers took turns entering the open lane, like teeth on a zipper.”

Merging Late Speeds Traffic

HT: Stomps

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Waking Up in Glory [Repost]

Tomorrow is the 2nd year anniversary of the death of Clair R. Hayward, my grandpa. I would have mentioned it here tomorrow, but since I’m getting such a positive pounding today of links from Challies’ recommendation, I would like to post my whole tribute again in hopes that more will be encouraged by the stature of a quiet, steady leader.

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Thursday morning my Grandpa woke up with new good legs, new strong arms, a new full voice, and newfound joys. He sees God in His glory. He’s singing again today and adjusting to his eternal home. His joy is beginning to bud and will always increase.

“But just think of stepping on shore and finding it Heaven,

of touching a hand and finding it God’s,

of breathing new air and finding it celestial,

of waking up in glory and finding it home.”

He was a wonderful, warm, generous, loving, gentle man of real, lively faith. He was a real example of “love with shoes on” in that he lived what he believed and it affected everything.

God laid him low three autumns ago with a stroke that limited his speech and slowed his body. Those days were arduous for us and him. In the hours after that first stroke, when his speech was starting to slur, he was offering me instructions for the moment and for life. I wish I could have understood all of his words. His clearest speech that day was the mandate to take care of grandma. I spent several nights with him in ICU, and he shocked the doctors and his family by surviving. He was mostly silent for the last three years, but we loved birthdays when we knew that grandpa would sing Happy Birthday along with the rest of us [singing and talking are generated in different parts of the brain]. In the waning years, as my boys were growing up, I cherished the way that he cherished them. Through his physical want, he always put on a happy, loving smile and gentle hands when my boys walked through the door. He lost his physical capabilities, but not his cheery, loving heart.

He was a teacher of the best sorts of things. He taught me how to read a map and be his navigator. From the backseat, I learned to give the best sorts of directions and location declarations. I think I traveled with grandma and him to Florida probably six times, Colorado twice and Grand Marais bunches.

He taught me how to spit like a man when I was very young sitting in the back seat of their Dodge Omni tooling down to Florida. Whenever he rolled down his window to spit, I was sure to do the same. I learned that to avoid a wet face, you had to spit hard from the back of your mouth when you were traveling 65 miles an hour.

He taught me to be faithful, steady and quiet. You always knew where he was going to be on Sunday. No questions. I always knew he would be working hard on every job he was given or that he gave himself. He was a first-rate mechanic, wise deacon, knowledgeable Sunday School teacher. He was always in his place. Grandma remembers that he only ever missed one day of work (the road was blocked both ways during a snowstorm). He was always where he should be. I knew to look for him in the barn when we arrived every Friday evening for spaghetti, Pepsi, popcorn and fudge.

One sunny Saturday, grandpa opened the barn doors and brought out the old ’73 Charger. He told me to get in. I remember the feel of the white vinyl and the stale smell of having been sitting in storage. He showed me she could still move fast. I remember holding on for dear life as we flew through the countryside. He looked over at me, saw my expression and slowed way down. He said, “We should put on our seatbelts. It would be really embarrassing if we were killed in an accident.” We did, and he was off again.

“A faithful man shall abound with blessings.”

He could be stern and calm at the same time. I found that out every time I was foolish with the motorbike, go-kart or BB gun.

One of the coolest days of my life was when, as a 12 year old, I flew from Kalamazoo to Chicago to Jacksonville all by myself. It was a ton of fun and part of the enjoyment was that on every leg of the journey, the stewardesses and the airport hosts were calling me Clair Hayward. I was using his ticket.

“No man was ever shot by a woman while he was washing dishes.” — Grandpa had this motto hanging at eye level by the kitchen sink

Some would travel the world for him. Grandma did. At 17 years old, she took a ship to England to marry him (he was stationed at Ipswich in the Air Force). Grandma was his faithful and dear wife who cared for him gently and respectfully in all his travails. She was a wonderful example of a sweet, patient helpmeet. They made a wonderful pair for 56 years.

Today was a wonderful day. Nearly 500 people gathered together and shared wonderful memories that made us roar with love. We sang heartily. We wept real sorrow. We belly-laughed. We were thankful together to have known him.

And now I live happy with my memories of him, glad that my oldest boys will remember him and that he was a man who loved his God, family and church entirely. I can unashamedly seek to emulate him and point my boys to his example and, like him, strive to be faithful to the end.

UPDATE: On 9/3/09, after four boys, Christie and I welcomed a little girl into our home. She is a sweet and precious gift. We named her Claire.

[Original post - with tribute comments]

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Model T History

My Grandma still owns the Model T that she and Grandpa bought so long ago. It’s in their barn, and I think it probably has been driven in the past 10 years a few times. She can correct me here if that’s wrong or wants to add any history in the comments (although she and her new Ford are on vacation somewhere right now).

Here is an interesting video about it’s production and durability.

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William Carey

Thanksgiving and Christmas are approaching. Before you put your holiday stupor on, you should purposefully remember to remember your missionaries. It’s generally the off-season for our concern for missions work, and we need a reminder that our dear friends are spread abroad doing beautiful work, laboring for Christ’s sake.

Here are some practical ways that you can love your missionaries:

1. Pray. Make it regular, specific, and important. This is your best work for them.

Don’t blow past this. Commit to pray for missionaries and tell them so. Tell them what hour or what day you will commit to praying. List for them the things that you pray for them about.

Pray for their kids by name, their co-laborers (or for some to come), their parents in the States. Pray for their financial burdens. Pray for the names of those they are ministering to.

I have always said that I have no idea how or why God has carried me over so many funny and hard places, and made these hordes of people submit to me, or why the Government should have given me the privilege of a Magistrate among them, except in answer to prayer made at home for me. It is all beyond my comprehension. The only way I can explain it is on the ground that I have been prayed for more than most. Pray on, dear one — the power lies that way. — Mary Slessor

2. Send them something.

Emails are great. They are encouraging and welcomed. But send your missionary something tangible, too. Add them to your Christmas card list. Send them birthday cards (send them to their kids, too). Send them a thank-you letter for sharing the Gospel.

My friends Ben and Sarah Layer are in Siedlce, Poland (population, 77,000). This is their neighborhood market.

Send the missionary something special. Special doesn’t mean rare, expensive and exotic. It means here, “hard to procure in their area.” It could be an ingredient or mix or candy. It could mean a small board game, a CD or movie, or something homemade. Be creative.

If you need ideas, ask them! Or call their sending church and ask their secretary, or find your missionaries’ mom–she knows what they would like.

It takes about 10 days to deliver a letter or package to New Zealand or Poland (by way of examples). Get it in the mail early.

3. Send them something intangible, too.

Missionaries love Amazon Gift Cards, iTunes Gift Cards, Audible.com credits, and other online gifts. Gifts from these vendors can arrive instantly and be instantly useful. This is very simple, but these are a joy to receive. Amazon especially offers such a wide range of choices (from instant downloads of music and Kindle books to books, gifts for the home, tools, and much more).

If you purchase a card in your own name, you will need to accurately copy the code when you notify the missionary of his gift.

Amazon gift cards are my preferred gift. Nothing says, “thank you for bearing the Gospel on my behalf,” like an Amazon gift card. — William Carey

Donating frequent flyer miles, restaurant gift certificates (they don’t all live in the bush, but you will have to check to make sure it will work globally) or Skype gift certificates are also often helpful.

A lot of missionaries enjoy the advantages of electronic book readers. You could offer them a lot of convenience if you sent them one of these beauties.

4. Up your support.

Christmas is a great season to receive a financial bonus. Missionaries have higher expenses during December just like you do. Cash is a simple gesture that can be used in so many ways. Sending cash through PayPal can be done with no fees to the sender or receiver. Proper protocol would usually have you send the support to their sending agency.

You can also lend support by “friending” them on Facebook. Join their ministry fan pages, visit their websites, leave comments and encouragements for them…but send money, too.

5. Encourage them in the Gospel.

Let the words that you pen and type and say to your missionary friends ring full of Gospel. Remind your missionaries that the Gospel is true and it brings new life and hope. Exhort them with your strength to maintain their strength in Christ.

Jeremy and Bonnie Ruth Farmer are on deputation to go to Cambodia. (solidjoys.com)

6. Envy them.

You know what I mean, I hope. You have your calling and they have theirs, but theirs is such a special and radical departure from your sort of normal. They have struggles you cannot know, unless you’ve been there [visiting your missionaries would make a great #7]. The support structure you enjoy to help you with your burdens, babysitting, encouragement needs, shoulders to cry on is almost always not there for missionaries.

In a way, they have forsaken everything. Their parents, friends and church home are so far away.

So why envy them? Because Scripture honors them (and their beautiful feet) so highly. Honor them for the joy that is theirs and the promises they have to claim as they go.

I cannot tell you what joy it gave me to bring the first soul to the Lord Jesus Christ. I have tasted almost all the pleasures that this world can give. I do not suppose there is one that I have not experienced, but I can tell you that those pleasures were as nothing compared to the joy that the saving of that one soul gave me. – C.T. Studd

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There are so many more ways. Some of them are things that may be better done by the local church collectively. Leave your comments. What are more ways to encourage our missionaries in this coming season?

 

 

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The Brazilian Grape Tree is a wonder in so many respects, including the stunning beauty of it.

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First Things First

We have now sunk to a depth at which the restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men.

George Orwell

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Migration

On Sunday I was in Hendersonville and saw perhaps more birds than I have ever seen in my life. It was pretty spectacular. Here is a set of Great Migration photos.

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