For anyone who reads this blog and doesn’t do Facebook or does Facebook but isn’t one of my FB friends (for whatever reason I can’t imagine) or who does Facebook, and IS one of my FB friends, but you never see my FB posts (for whatever reason I CAN imagine)…discovered this wonderful song and want to share it with you (from one of our favorite Christian musicians):
I guess I’m sort of living proof of this, although I’m not THAT old. You know, eternity and heaven are rather important and yet somewhat obscured from our vision and understanding. I’m guessing that in our present state with minds and hearts affected by our sinful nature, that we couldn’t understand these truths that are just a breath ahead of each of us in Christ. We can only imagine much of it. I imagine that even though believers are and will be one in Christ and with the Father and Spirit, we’ll still be living in greater and greater knowledge and understanding throughout eternity. Our infinite God will lead us to infinite new understandings and infinite new reasons to glorify and worship Him.
If that’s close to the truth, I think we do well to continue seeking to learn and to exercise our minds through each passing day and year of our lives in anticipation of an eternity of learning.
As you know I am on a path of study toward an MDiv Pastoral Ministries via Moody Theological Seminary that will take me about 5 years to complete. It has been a good start as I’ve just completed the third class and 3 more credit hours for a running total of 9 hours completed now. That’s 10% of the program. So, that’s reason to celebrate learning and to thank you and to thank God for providing for the funds for me to be able to afford to study. There has been great value in helping me grow personally, spiritually, and vocationally. These classes are helping me become more effective in ministry as the learning is not just of books and papers, but of relationship and discipleship and being more prepared to teach others the faithful word that has been entrusted to me, so that they can in turn teach others (2 Timothy 2:2).
Thanks for your prayers and for your gifts toward the Timothy Scholarship through our home church, Bethel Baptist Church in Parkersburg, WV. I am truly blessed.
Oh and if you’re interested in knowing this, I’ve earned A’s in all three classes so far. I may not do that well in all of them, but I hope that is evidence of serious study and effort regardless of the outcome in the grades. This last class was focused on learning how to use Logos, how to locate and use online research techniques, methods, and resources, as well as how to use Turabian grammar rules for citations and bibliographies in the writing of papers.
I have to admit that for the most part the subject of this class represent strong points for me, as I am comfortable with writing (as you know). In my undergrad studies way back in the 80’s I took a couple of semesters of journalism classes and wrote articles for our campus newspaper, and I also won the freshman term paper award while writing it for Dr. Cornelius who was well-known at Bryan College for being a stickler for details and correctness. I only missed 6 points in this entire class out of nearly 1,500! :) I doubt I’ll be able to say that again over the rest of my graduate studies, so I might as well toot my horn a little right now while I can still savor the current success!
Hermeneutics starts next Tuesday!
I see the posts are rather sparse these days. There are some things to post. I just need to get to it. This week will be my off-week between seminary classes and hopefully, I’ll make time to catch up on a few posts. I found this really cool picture and I think I’ll try it as a background. It might be a little too busy, but it’s cool. I’ll post the full pic here so you can see it completely.
Since we had to go by the market for some witch doctor herbs (not really “witch doctor” but herbs for sure), so that Bethie could take a tea and herbal bath to help with her allergies, we passed by a lady sitting near the entrance selling an assortment of things.
This plant caught our attention, so I decided that instead of some dead roses, I’d get this living lovely for my living lovely.
“What is it?” you might ask. Well, that’s a secret I’m not ready to reveal. That’s because all I know is it’s a flowering plant. And it’s this color…I’m not really sure about what color that is either because I no longer have a box of 64 or 128 crayons to compare it to. So, without further miserable commentary, here it is…
If you know what it is, feel free to share it in the commentary. And if you can guess correctly what color this flower is, you will also win my generous admiration and rich appreciation…all this for FREE!
Dayton alerted me with extreme concern that there was a large moth on the table. I think he’d have passed out had it touched him. It looks really cool.
I placed a kitchen strainer over it, slid a firm piece of paper under it, then a clipboard under that, and walked it outside. I had Dayton hold the clipboard (under extended protest) while I went in to get the camera. All is well now. The world has been saved. There was no appreciation visibly offered. Forgiveness may be an issue.
I’m not sure I’ve ever thought about the etymology of the word “hospitality” but obviously, it relates to “hospital,” “hospice,” and the adjective form “hospitable.” I think since we’ve been missionaries, hospitality is a word we’ve come to explore in practice more than we ever would have before we were missionaries. We’ve often been dependent on the hospitality of others through our lifestyle of traveling. We’ve also learned to live with an open door to guests who are traveling themselves. We’ve provided meals and showers and beds to hundreds of people in our years here in Mexico.
Case in point, one of our Camino co-workers and my former supervisor (when I was our area team leader the past 2 years) was traveling recently and needed a place to stay for a couple nights. That’s a pretty normal type of hospitality to offer as we’ve done that many times in our 10 years in Mexico. A family that we know by God’s providence who serve with the mission agency Pioneers, recently needed help as the parents needed to be at a conference in the USA but couldn’t take their four kids. So, we took two of the boys, and an IMB missionary family near here took the girl and the youngest boy. Cameron and Dayton had a blast as the boys were close in age and it gave them a rare treat of having overnight guests…for 9 nights in a row! The parents got back Saturday, and we kept them and the other two kids too for the past two nights. They’re now on their way back to the mountains of Puebla to a new work their just beginning to develop in a small town. To go to a small grocery store means a 2 hour drive one-way even though it’s only about 30 miles away.
They just left about an hour ago. We’re praying for their 200 mile, 7 hour drive back to the town where they’ll be working at an Intercultural University branch teaching English and developing relationships with the students, the families, the staff, and the few believers in the area.
These rural areas can be very resistant to the Gospel, especially any organized type of church work, so to bring the Gospel and to help with the infant church plant that is there without any trained workers, they’ll need to sow seeds of friendship and develop relationships and earn the trust of the community before they’ll have any chance of a more visible ministry there. If you want to know what ministry to indigenous peoples are typically like, this seems like a good example. Weekend warriors need not apply. This kind of work takes years, sometimes generations. Most of us from the USA have no patience for this kind of outreach, and our American minds that are wrapped around “efficiency” and “the most bang for the buck” typically find this type of ministry to fall short of our ideals and demands for “God’s work.” If that’s our thinking, we fail to realize that we can probably trace the roots of the Gospel that made their way to our time and place in this world back to generational missions that created the foundation of the Gospel upon which we live today. Mission fields across the globe that have seen a measure of “success” typically achieved that success after generational missions. It doesn’t easily fit within our paradigm of technologically-time and formula-based missions, but just like most things in this world, that which springs up quickly, dies out quickly, and that which is slowly and carefully cultivated tends to yield the best results.
So what does all that have to do with “hospitality”? I have no idea. I was up til 1 a.m the last two nights working on a course assignment, and my tired mind is wandering as I type. Sorry.
So, finding the trail of thought again, we’ve rarely had guests for 11 consecutive nights, although some years ago when summer work teams were more common, I’m sure we’ve had guests for even longer stretches. But speaking of “stretches” that’s a good word to use. It is stretching. Hospitality stretches one’s strength, one’s patience, one’s resources, one’s experience. And those are good things to stretch. We need that kind of stretching because it is above all a spiritual stretching.
That is why we’re commanded (not suggested) to practice hospitality. It is even a requirement for the character of elders (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:8), but more than that, all believers are commanded to practice hospitality (1 Peter 4:9; Romans 12:13; Hebrews 13:2). It’s not always an easy thing to do, but what do we expect with spiritual disciplines? They’re rarely easy, and we have to work at them. Sometimes practicing hospitality just sort of happens because people just show up at the door. In those cases, the easy part is finding the opportunities to offer hospitality. The hard part, if it is hard, is to practice it, to do it well, and to do so without grumbling or complaining.
1 Peter 4:9
New International Version
Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.
New Living Translation
Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay.
English Standard Version
Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.
OK. We have the Word. “Offer,” “show,” “cheerfully share,” “hospitality,” “home,” “meal,” “place to stay,” “without grumbling.” Let’s practice it.
We’ll be traveling this summer and we’ll be needing some hospitality. We’ll be sure to offer you a stretching experience in practicing hospitality! We thank you in advance. And as always, our home here is open to you any time.
As we say in Mexico:
“Mi casa es tu casa.” (My house is your house.)