Wednesday, June 27, 2012
I'm writing this from Vaasa, Finland, my grandfather's birthplace. I'm here not as a tourist, but a grandchild. My son David and I are here to learn more about my grandparents' world, which will help us see ourselves as part of the long chain that God is weaving with our family.
It took us about 30 hours of travel and waiting time to get from the west coast of the US to Finland. As I watched folks in the airports, especially ones traveling with small children, I found myself thinking that my grandparents had made a trip of about the same length the other direction: from Finland to Seattle, also on the west coast of the US. But they were on boats and trains with three small children (my mom was six years old, and had two smaller brothers at the time). It must have taken several months at least.
It's an interesting mental shift to see my mom and uncles, whom I only knew as adults with children of their own, as small children of young parents. It's often hard for people to think of their parents as ever having been young. A few years ago, I was having dinner with my same-age niece's family, when mention was made of a college friend of ours. Their daughter-in-law's face showed her struggle visualizing us grandparents as college kids.
God created each of us a baby, then a child, and to grow up to in turn have children and grandchildren. Each of us is the product of both are parents' lives and our own choices. The world's image of our family name is built up from our ancestors' lives, our own, and our descendents'. Our choices affect not only ourselves, but our children and their children. If my grandparents had not come to Seattle from Finland and Sweden, I, the person I am, would not exist. Had my grandparents not raised their children in the knowledge of the Lord, I would have made different choices.
When my kids were babies, I found it comforting to realize that every adult in the world is a baby who survived; that we are the result of this unbroken chain of ancestors who survived. Looking around here at Finland brings gratitude to God for the DNA that He blended to make me and my children; that we did not create ourselves but are a small part of a large and blessed family.
Monday, June 25, 2012
1 Kings 18:21 (NLT)
21 Then Elijah stood in front of them and said, “How much longer will you waver, hobbling between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him! But if Baal is God, then follow him!” But the people were completely silent.
This past Sunday we spent some time In 1 Kings, exploring the journeys of Elijah. Watching him rely full on God, and challenge those around Him to do the same. Let us continue that journey in our life groups. Discovering what we can learn about Elijah, from Elijah, and what journey of faith God may be encouraging us toward.
1. Read 1 Kings 17:1 together as a group. What must this have been like for Ahab? What must this have been like for Elijah?
2. This pronouncement was made due to the nation’s failure to follow God? In what areas do you think these people may have compromised?
3. How are these areas similar or different to ways that the people of God compromise today?
4. Read 1 Kings 18:20-40, What are the initial things that stand out to you in this story?
5. How do you think Elijah was feeling when this was all over? When was a time that you experienced a spiritual success, how did you respond?
6. At this point, you would think that Elijah could stand up to anything. He has faced King Ahab, the prophets of Baal, the Wilderness, Death of a child, Starvation, and God has pulled him through all of it. What an amazing feeling… Until 1 Kings 19:1-4, read this together.
7. What? One threat and the man wants to die. What do you think is happening here, why did he react this way?
8. What is your kryptonite? What are those things in life that control you? What are those things, when everything is good, can you pull you straight down and away from God? Take some time to share together and then pray for one another.
Friday, June 22, 2012
Around 1984 I became the Director of Youth at Sunland Baptist Church. It was the beginning of summer and we did a "kick off" beach trip. I will never forget the two junior high boys who showed up for that first trip. They had these insecure, frustrated, doubtful looks on their faces. When they realized that they were the only ones they asked me the key question!
"Are we still going?"
They were asking me much more than one simple question. They were asking me if they had value, if they were important, if they were going to be embarrassed if they brought friends to future events, and if this youth ministry was gong to succeed! My answer was simple... "Of course we are going!" Karen, Chris, Jennifer, two boys, and myself jumped into my VW Van and headed for Santa Monica Pier.
We swam, played, boogie boarded, ate lunch, and had a great day. By summers end we were taking 35 people to the beach. It all began by making two youth feel tremendously special. It was having an awesome time with those God sent, and trusting Him to send more.
Years ago I heard an Amway Triple Diamond distributor tell about driving into the country to do a meeting for a young distributor. When he arrived there was one middle aged man in the room to hear the presentation. He gave his presentation, the man signed up, and eventually became the single largest producing leg of his business. I remember Bob Crisp saying, "Don't ever do a bad meeting!" You never know who is sitting there listening.
If that is true for Amway, how much more important is it for the Kingdom of God. You have no idea what God is doing, or what the people coming to your house need! Say your prayers and work through the notes with one, or twelve. You won't know what God is doing until eternity!
Have a great week,