Food for Thought

We find that life can get spiritually dry at times. We spend a lot of our time in ministry activities doing what you’d expect missionaries to do…ministering to others. It takes some extra effort to find spiritual refreshment for ourselves. Often that’s a challenge because often there’s no other outlet or I should say “inlet” other than ourselves, our Bible and the Holy Spirit. One would think that should be enough, right? Is it enough for you?

Well…that’s a tough one to answer. My head says that should be enough but my experience says otherwise. Faulty experience on top of my faulty head, no doubt. It’s for this reason that many of us enjoy attending conferences and seminars and special speakers, etc. We really don’t get that kind of opportunity very often. I have never met any of the “high profile” American speakers down here. I suppose they don’t speak Spanish and wouldn’t think to come down here to speak in my living room.

When we’re in the U.S. where we have a chance to receive some good preaching input, generally I am the one doing the speaking so that pretty much nixes the “good preaching input” idea. Preaching is a bit of a stretch for me but I generally enjoy it at least as a teacher who likes having a classroom to address. However, that doesn’t really fit the description of receiving spiritual input and food from someone else! So…the springs of refreshment are generally few and far between all year round…most every year.

Once a year we have a conference here with a special speaker who usually comes from afar and this is usually quite refreshing. Conference is next week and we’re looking forward to that for reason of spiritual refreshment along with the “food, fun & fellowship” that generally rounds out the common fare of Conference for our enjoyment.

Today I happened upon a source of some great messages on iTunes University (on iTunes). These are free and I greedily consumed three consecutive messages by one of my favorites, Ravi Zacharias. He gave these messages at Seattle Pacific University chapel sessions during the 1983-1984 school year. That doesn’t sound to me as dated as it really is now, but in typical Ravi Z. fashion, his timeless content never fails to provoke some serious thinking.

After listening to Ravi’s “Is There Not A Cause,” “Is There Not a Cost,” and “Is There Not a Correspondence,” I stumbled across another chapel sermon from 1997-1998 entitled “Cultural Confrontation: Wrestling with Rebellious Stories” and delivered by a Jewish rabbi and author, Chaim Potok. It may seem unusual for a Christian college to host an unbelieving Jewish man to give a chapel message. While his “tradition” is not in agreement with Christianity in the areas that are most important, he has a grasp of humanity that is not to be overlooked. My father-in-law used one of Potok’s books as required reading at Moody Bible Institute for much the same reason I suspect. Potok has some deep understanding of world view and of how people really interact with what we truly believe in our heart of hearts. I can appreciate that.

So, this evening (now night since I was pleasantly interrupted for the past two hours by a refreshing phone call from a very good friend from the U.S. who keeps up with my spiritual accountability without telling me that’s what he’s doing…and is always a blessing to chat with), I wanted to share a funny story Potok told about when he published his third book, My Name is Asher Lev.

Potok went to Miami, FL for the formal publication of that book (which would have been around 1972) and after some formalities and a brief ceremony at a local bookstore, he went to the beach. Later his mother appeared and told him that people had heard he was around somewhere and were wanting him to autograph his book but not to worry…she signed them for him!

Since he was not yet a famous author this surprised him and he didn’t really believe his mother was telling the truth. He figured that she just wanted him to feel good about his career choice as a story writer since it was not accepted by anyone in his family or those associated with his religious traditions. It amused him that she would make this up but knew she meant well.

Years went by and he happened to mention this story about his mother signing books for him and after the lecture a little old lady came up to him with a copy of My Name is Asher Lev. She opened it up and there it was signed, “Molly Potok (mother of the author, Chaim Potok).” He was astounded to find that the story was true! The lady then asked him if he would sign underneath his mother’s signature as follows: “Chaim Potok (son of Molly Potok, the mother of Chaim Potok).”

In case you didn’t think names and relationships aren’t all that important.

Sincerely,

Alan McManus (son of the father and mother of Alan McManus)

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