Monday, December 30, 2013

Family and Holidays

We have 5 children, lots of spouses of children and 4 grandkids.  They all came to our home this Christmas.  This meant:
  1. Several trips to BHM airport.
  2. Finding beds for all.
  3. Preparing food for all.
  4. Having a huge pile of Christmas presents.
  5. Lots of entertaining conversation.

Last Christmas, someone broke out an old VHS tape of our kids in Houston 22 years ago.  We were shocked at the chaos of 5 children most all talking at once all the time!

The chaos is mostly gone, the residual chiefly coming from the grans.

Now we rejoice that:
  1. All are healthy.
  2. All get along in harmony.
  3. The grans are cooperative and well-behaved.
  4. All show love to one another.

We see the way G^d has provided so richly for us in so many ways.  Ps 133:1 tells us, "Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers (and sisters) dwell in unity!"

For parents, this is a tremendous gift. We are tempted to take credit when children of all ages do well, and we blame ourselves when things don't go so well.  That's why I tell new parents to memorize Ps 127.  The first few verses remind the discerning reader that  we have only a small influence on our children.  Here's the Psalm:

Psalm 127

A song of ascents. Of Solomon.

Unless the Lord builds the house,
    the builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
    the guards stand watch in vain.
In vain you rise early
    and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat—
    for he grants sleep to[a] those he loves.
Children are a heritage from the Lord,
    offspring a reward from him.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
    are children born in one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
    whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame
    when they contend with their opponents in court.

So, rejoice, morn, but keep in mind those first verses.  Don't forget, our fulfillment is from G^d by design, so don't look for fulfillment in the worng places.

Now, if I can just do that!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!!

Christmas is a favorite time for a great many people around the world.  It is one of my family's favorites.

I know that is not necessarily true for many of my students, and some of my acquaintances.

Sometimes home is not an appealing place for some of my students.

Sometimes memories of Christmases past are not so pleasant.

Sometimes Christmas expectations are impossible to meet.

It may be a tough holiday for you, but keep in mind, this holiday is NOT really about:
  • home
  • family
  • gifts
  • Santa Claus
  • food
  • trees, lights, holly and mistletoe
  • caroling
  • or even chestnuts roasting on an open fire (though I am a big fan of chestnuts).

Nope, Christmas is about...

  • The strange, unlikely, illogical arrival of G^d on this earth in the unlikely form of a helpless babe in a humble manger, in a humble village, to a humble family.
  • The birth of the Savior of the world.
  • The highest point in G^d's redemptive plan to redeem mankind from our sin, as well as that of our fathers, and forefathers.
  • The joy we ought to have at the good news of G^d's extending His grace to us.
  • The tremendous comfort we CAN experience as we comprehend the Riches Christ has gained for us.

Joy to the world, the L^rd is come... indeed.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Mary Did You Know?

A few years ago, I ran across a couple of points in "the Christmas story" that really struck me.  Technically, I guess these verses are in the preamble to the Christmas story, but that depends on where you start.  Here's the  verse that so impressed me:

"And Mary said, 'Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.' ..." Luke 1:38

Think about who Mary was and what she had just been told.

Luke 1: 30
And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.
31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus.
32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:
33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?

Here's this young, maybe 15 year-old virgin being told what could have been very bad news for a young unwed Jewish girl.

Now look back at her response to this news.

'Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; 

Mary had a great perspective on who she was.

...may it be done to me according to your word.'

 Mary had a great perspective on who she was serving. 

No wonder the Roman Church has venerated Mary!   She is certainly one of the most venerable (derived from venerate) people in all of Scripture!

May all of us be more like the Holy Mother! 


And Merry Christmas to all. 


Sunday, December 22, 2013

What we learned in Africa

This will be short, not because we didn't learn a lot, but because it can be summed up pretty well.

As a prof I learned:
  • Good students make the process so much easier!
  • Good students are everywhere, just more concentrated some places.
  • Research is easy to talk about, but hard to do.
  • Dirty Harry was right, "A man's just go to know his limitations".

As a Christian, I learned a lot more:

  • Fear Not!  Fear G^d, and nothing else.  Phil 4:6.
  • This World is not our home.  We are just passing through!
  • For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul?  Matt 16:26
  • Routine can slow spiritual growth, but change, as stressful as it is, is often the catalyst we need to hear from the G^d who speaks.
  • My own calling is to students at Unis in the USA!

Dorthy, of Wizard of Oz, was right, "There is no place like home."

In his letter to Timothy (1 Tim 4:8) we learn that physical discipline has some value, but godliness is of great value, for it holds promise not just for this life, but for the life to come.

I much prefer to get these spiritual lessons and growth over the professional benefits.

How about you?

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Shortest Day of the Year

Several months ago I wrote a blog post about the Tropic of Capricorn.  This longitude represents the southern most excursion of the sun (obviously the sun doesn't move, it's the earth's tilt that makes it happen, but it is easier to understand this way).  Today, 21 Dec, is the Winter solstice here, and the Summer solstice in the Southern Hemisphere.

Likewise, the sun is "furthermost from us", or lowest in the sky at noon.  Because of this, it is the shortest daylight period of the year.  A lot of "mosts".

One of our favorite memories is our excursion to Kiruna, Sweden, above the Arctic Circle.  Here on the Winter solstice, the sun never rises, the "definition" for the Arctic Circle (66° 33′ 44″ north of the Equator).

The good news is that the days get ever longer after today.   I like the sun, as long as it doesn't get too hot.  With the longer days, there is more opportunity to enjoy the daylight outside.  It won't be long before we have enough light for me to bicycle both to and from work in sunlight.  That's always a nice thing.

Light is used to describe Jesus the Christ.  He describes himself this way in John 8:
12 Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”

So think about that today.  The light is at its lowest for us in the Northern Hemisphere, and highest for our friends in teh Southern Hemisphere.  Either way it's a reminder.

1 Jn 1:7 says, But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

Let's all walk in the light, and I speak to myself most of all.  

Enjoy this special day.

Friday, December 20, 2013

The NSA? No Problem!

It amazes me, really, that Eric Snowden and the hoopla over spying caught so many by surprise.

Why is anyone surprised that the US government monitors some folks?  WalMart, Amazon, and scores of other companies know more about you than the NSA.

What are people doing that they are so worried about the NSA knowing?  I doubt that people's porn viewing is that big a deal to the NSA or WalMart.

If you are doing only good stuff, why wouldn't you  WANT the NSA and the local news to know about it?

And... the more prominent and wealthy you are, the greater will be everyone's interest in you.  So, more influence = less privacy.  But what's new about that?

In fact, being near Christmas, keep in mind that Santa has known about you since you were a kid.  Nothing newsworthy about that!

But here's the real issue:

The G^d of the Universe has known everything we have done, are doing, and will do.  Nothing is hidden from Him; nothing surprises Him.  So tell me again, why are we worried about the NSA?

Thursday, December 19, 2013


I have been thinking about tolerance, and intolerance for several years now.  I have come to the firm conclusion that...

Everybody is!

Intolerant, that is.

Everyone is intolerant, it just becomes fashionable from time to time to be intolerant about some particular issue.

"I'm the exception.  I am tolerant."  says you.

"Nope!"  says me.

There are lots of things that you do NOT tolerate.  Here is a list and you will find a few things you find intolerable:

  1. racism
  2. sexism
  3. smoking in closed areas
  4. child abuse
  5. animal abuse
  6. pedophilia

     7. intolerance towards things you favor.

So, enough about intolerance.  We all need to be more tolerant, but not of everything, and not just intolerant of the things we favor.  We need to tolerate a bit of intolerance in others, given our own intolerance.

I would point out that  G^d Himself tolerates a LOT from us.  Do unto others...

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


In Botswana I was invited to speak to the Botswana Long Term Athlete Development Conference, along with a bunch of mostly South African experts.  My chief qualification was that I was from out of town.

I listened carefully as my boss, Proff Jimoh Shehu (Nigerian) gave the first talk introducing the conference topics.  As I listened, I learned that I was an accidental product of  long-term athlete development, not  by design, but by circumstance.

I began to exercise as a youngster, about age 9, competing in swim meets across Georgia.  I wasn't very good, but got lots and lots of exercise.  My brothers and I were involved in school sports, and my first real success came in high school as a wrestler.

In college I was required to compete in intramural sports every semester, so I stayed plenty active.  After graduation Brenda and I married, and I had the only lull in exercise, but began competitive running in Feb of 1975 or so, and have kept at it, though much less competitively the last few years.

Because of running, and obstacles to studying biology, I accidentally discovered human biology in the form of exercise physiology.  I think exercise is very important, but discovered about 30 years ago an important Scripture.  Paul gives Timothy this advice,
"Bodily exercise is of some value, but godliness is of great value, since it holds promise not only for this life, but for the life to come."

We tend to live in the here and now, paying scant attention to the life to come.  As an exercise person, I see lots of people thinking that exercise is worth a lot more than it is.  Sure enough it yields substantial health benefits, but those benefits are really short lived-- because we are.

So here is the take-home: pay attention to exercise, but more important than that is to seek godliness.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

This is NOT my home...

Probably the MOST important thing we learned in Africa was,  "This is NOT our home."

No, the "this" isn't Botswana, or Africa, or even Alabama.  This WORLD is NOT our home!

"We are just a passin' through" indeed.

It is very easy to get comfortable in this world.  We are very comfortable in our Alabama home in Bellwood, Northport.

We were never really, really comfortable in Botswana, and even less comfortable when we traveled away from Gabs.  And that is good.

We should NOT be so very comfortable in this world.  It is NOT our home, at least to the extent we are spiritually minded.

As CS Lewis said,“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”

There once was a popular rural saying, "She's so heavenly minded that she is no earthly good."

I can see a small problem in this situation, but here's a MUCH bigger problem.

"She's so earthly minded that she is no heavenly good."

So where's your mind today?

Saturday, December 14, 2013


You know what would be a good television show?  It would be a show about friends and friendships.  You could even call it "Friends"  (copyright Phil Bishop, 13 Dec 2013).

We made some great friends during our time in Botswana.  We will truly miss them, and hope that one day we will be able to meet again.

These aren't all our friends, just a quick sampling.

Friends are great.  Friends give Blessings.  Friends illustrate the friendship we can have with the L^rd of the Universe.

What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear..  Jo­seph M. Scriv­en, 1855.

"Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends."  Jn 15:13

 But don't forget what the next verse says,

"You are My friends if you do what I command you." 

Friday, December 13, 2013


We are amazed to see how much upkeep a house requires.  In the week we have been home, we have done the following:
  1. Replaced our gas grill.
  2. Charged the car battery.
  3. Washed 2 autos.
  4.  Vacuumed one car.
  5. Repaired shorted extension cord.
  6. Blew leaves off roof.
  7. Cleaned gutters.
  8. Put up yard Christmas decorations.
  9. Put up icicle Christmas decorations.
  10. Replaced shower curtain rod that was bent.
  11. Replaced lots of light bulbs.
  12. Put up indoor Christmas decorations and tree.
  13. Partly repaired wall lamp.
  14. Put up porch swing.
  15. Repaired car fender bolt.
  16. Hauled off a bunch of fallen limbs.
  17. Trimmed limbs hanging over roof.
  18.  Cut down dead redbud tree.   

And there's still a list of stuff to do.  Just remembering and finding the tools to do these things has been challenging.

I remember a sermon once where James Dobson, or Chuck Swindoll, not sure which, said,"it is unclear whether we own our possessions, or our possessions own us."

It is easy to let the trivial displace the important.  It is easy to let the temporal displace the eternal.

Hmm, now that is indeed foolishness, isn't it?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Home Sweet Home

Dorthy, of Wizard of Oz fame, had it right. 

"There's no place like home!"

After two flight delays, we arrived in Alabama only a couple of hours late.

We were happily greeted with this:

These are 3 of our 4 grands, and we were happy to see our two daughters and their kids.

Our old house (built in the 20's) had been empty for a couple of weeks, and you could tell.  Still it was terrific to get back to our home of 28 years.

Driving on the right side of the road has been a bit difficult for me, but Brenda has adapted quickly.  I still have trouble finding the turn signal, even after driving for almost a week.  I have been twice, briefly on the wrong side of the road in parking lots, but am catching on.

We attended worship with our old congregation and it was very comfortable to be back "home" there too.

The most amazing part has been how relaxed it has been.  We are struggling with jet lag, in part due to the lack of sunshine here.  We have had more rain in one week here than in our 10.5 mos in Africa.

If it feels this good to be back home.  If it feels this good to be back in our earthly home, think how glorious it will be to get to our heavenly home!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Happy 21st Birthday

The 21st birthday in BW is a BIGGGG deal!  We had the opportunity to attend the 21st birthday celebration of one of our BOTSCRU girls way down in Otse.  It was an experience.

We assembled at UB, and took 4 cars full of students and staff down to Otse, a 45-min drive.

We arrive, and like most events, we wait... and wait...and wait.    There is an inflated bounce castle, and they are erecting a tent, an elevated platform, and setting up tables for a big outdoor bash. Maybe two hours after, the festivities begin.  There are probably 50-60 people of all ages assembled.

       There are a few formalities, and then a huge meal is served. This is followed by some speeches, and then the gifts are presented one-by-one to the birthday girl.  Then came some games for the adults.  Then came dessert.  Then came birthday cake.

       There is a special presentation where the birthday celebrant is given her "keys" that marks her as an adult, and free to make adult decisions.  It reminds me a bit of the bar and bat mitzvah, of which I have become a big fan.  At about age 13 (12 for girls), children are there own identity for good or bad.  They are beyond the stage of childhood, and they will choose what advice to take and what to ignore.  The Jews are wise to go ahead and acknowledge this and declare 13 year olds as "sons and daughters of the law", with adult privileges and adult responsibilities.

      If I could do it over, I would do this with each of our children.

      If you have children under 12, give it some consideration.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Marriage and Courtship, or the other way around?

BOTS CRU, is the Campus CRU group at U Botswana.  The young men of CRU had the idea of having a "Men's Conference" about relationships, dating, courtship, and marriage.  It sounded like a good idea at the time.

The concept was to invite male UB students to a conference where everyone could communicate clearly, fully and freely.  Over a dozen guys showed up, which was pretty much capacity for our facility and more than we have in weekly meetings, which tend to attract more women than men.

The Conference featured 3 speakers, one on dating, one on sexual purity, and one on courtship and marriage.  The talks were focussed, and so were the attendees.  After the talks there was a simple luncheon followed by a panel who fielded questions.

I was very much impressed at the interest of those young men.  They took notes during the talks, and asked question after question for over and hour.  Finally the student in charge had to call a halt, with the promise of continuing the conversation later.

This raises a few issues, I think are important:
       1) Why haven't I heard of such a thing before?  It is a simple idea, and meets a real need.
       2) Why don't we Christians take advanatges of our advantages such as:
                Opps to talk with mature people who follow G^d
                Opps to talk with trustworthy peers who are experiencing the same, things,
                Guidance from Holy Scriptures,
                Guidance from the G^d of the Universe!

And, upon reflection this applies to a LOT of things besides relationships.  Why don't we do this more often for all sorts of things?

"The person who does not read has no advantage over the person who cannot read."   Those of us who fail to take advantage of the opportunities that G^d provides have no advantage over those who do NOT have such opps.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Farewell Party ...

TIA,  remember?  This is Africa.

I went to the farewell party honoring a colleague who is retiring from UB after 20 years here (he did 20 in Nigeria before coming here).  I was being fare-welled also, as this was my last week here.

I was told to come a bit late, because it is a braai (cookout).  It was supposed to start at 1700, so I got there about 1745... to find no one.

Our farewell party had been totally forgotten by the key guy responsible. I texted my boss and a couple of other folks.  Hmm... TIA.

The braai finally started at about 2000, with food served about 2045.

 (This is a pict of Proff Onyewadume demonstrating how women dance.  ??)

Out of 15 faculty members we had 7 there, which wasn't bad considering the late hour.  We had food for about 30.  The food was good, with a nice braai taste.

There was some conversation, but no speeches, no comments, just food and a little conversation.  We gave it up at about 2300.

It seemed a bit low key and anti-climatic.  I am guessing everyone was tired from the end of the term, exams, and all the other little things that go with it.

Saying goodbye is always a bit uncomfortable.  We are looking forward to being back with our family and friends in the USA.

Farewell Botswana!!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Writing a Book II- Another Bad Idea?

I have been working more on the book that I posted about several posts back.  I have some more to say so...

You didn't really think you could get off that easy did you?

I have written 2.5 book manuscripts in my life, and have published a total of ... 1 book.  You would think I would know better.  I am not sure at all of what compels me to do this.  It is a lot of work for very small pay.

I am a teacher, that is my title, my calling, my profession.  It has always been my aim to take complex material and make it simple.  I am not always successful, but I am continually striving to make the crooked things straight, and the rough places smooth.

I am not a professional athlete, but I am a professional exerciser.  That is, I figure part of my salary goes to my workout.   I would feel pretty hypocritical to continually preach exercise, it's virtues and near necessity for health.  I would expect a piano teacher to play the piano well, and expect them to practice in order to do so.  So, I have been exercising at someone else's expense for many years, first for the US Navy and then for UGA, and now UA.

Over the years of teaching, research and trying to pay attention, I feel I might have learned a bit about exercise, and about fat (not weight) control.

So here we go again.  I started last spring (2012) and drafted the proposal and 4 chapters.  I sent it to a friend of mine who teaching writing and seems to know her stuff.  She made a few good suggestions and I submitted to two publishers.  Neither seemed at all excited.

I sent it off to the third publisher after more mods.  They came back and asked who I knew who was hihg profile to write an endoresement for the book.   Good question.

After considerable thought, a friend came to mind.  He is a physician who has published 31 books over the years. Instead of asking him to consider endorsing the book, I thought why not ask him to co-author the book.  "Two are better than one..." says Proverbs.

After some thought and prayer, he agreed.  I could immediately see that it was a good call.  He knows the ins and outs of publishing "trade" books.  In truth I had asked him about co-authoring the previous manuscript on Teaching the Bible, but his writing agent had nixed the idea.

So here we go again...  So far I have drafts of about 21- 21 chapters out of maybe 44-45 total.  It is a long road ahead.  Who knows what might happen.

But some things, you just gotta do, even if they seem like maybe not the best idea.

We shall see, we shall see.

Graduation UB Style

I taught 19 seniors last term, the last term of their time at UB.  I typically attend all three graduations each year at UA, so I really wanted to see a UB graduation and celebrate this important moment with some of my students.

The original announcement about graduation said we should be there at 0600- that's 6 A.M.!  I had to hand carry my response over to the Admin Building, so I asked, "Do we really have to be there at 0600?"

The sheepish lady smiled and said, no, 0700 would be fine.

At 0640 on 12 October (they finished the academic term last May, and Teaching Practice by end of June) we headed out for the UB stadium, only a short hike away.  We got there at 0700, and our departmental secretary saw me and directed us to the big tent near the speaker's tent.  It looked shady there, so we were happy to comply.

The graduation started pretty promptly... at 0800, as the program we had just been given showed.  Things moved along pretty rapidly, and I was a bit surprised to see the US flag as part of the flag procession.  There was a prayer and the Bots National Anthem, which I had heard once before in the previous 9 months, and there would be another singing of the anthem at the end, which made the third time.

There were a few short speeches and then one long one, and then they presented awards.  One of my students won the outstanding athlete award and another one the Outstanding PE student award.  Finally the Ph.D.'s approached the stage for hooding, my favorite part at UA.  The Masters students graduated, then there was a loooooong queue of undergrads that stretched over 200 meters around the UB track.

I searched and searched for the Education group.  Finally I found them and went over to find my students.  I was surprised at the high percentage of them I found.  A few wanted pictures, and I was happy to oblige.

Graduation is a major milestone.  These were some very good students, and I wish them well.  It seems a pity though that we spend 12 years in school, then many of us another 4 years, and then some of us another 6 years in earning the qualifications for earning a living. Then we work 25 to 40 years and retire.  This gives us a return on investment of 3.25:1 or as poor as 1.13:1.

Now our return on investment for eternal investments is infinity/xyears (~ infinite)!  Now that's a pretty good return!!

Friday, December 6, 2013

A Few of Our Favorite Things

Probably our favorite activity in Botswana was seeing the animals.  It could be in the Gabs Game Reserve, in Khama, or in Chobe.  On our last holiday in Africa, we traveled North for the third time, some 950 km to Chobe National Game Reserve.  We feel more at home with each trip, and we have made a lot of game drives in different locales during the last 8.5 months.
  1. Sable antelope
  2. Tsebe
  3. Leopard
  4. Side striped jackal
  5. Red Lechwe
  6. Meerkats
  7.  Lots of new birds including the white headed shrike and European and and Carmine bee eaters.

It is kinda funny, but sometimes out in the bush seeing animals, I almost weep.  I grew up in a rural area and spent a large part of my youth roaming the woods.  As an adult I still do that, I just get to do it in Alaska, Montana, New Mexico, Ontario, and Mongolia, as well as in Alabama.  There is something pure about being in the woods, or in the bush.  There are no commercials, no bill boards, no trash, just beauty.

Jesus drew apart to the wilderness.  He wanted to be alone with G^d the Father I guess.  Or maybe part of his motivation was the serenity and beauty of the bush compared to Jerusalem.

Thanks be to G^d for such a beautiful, complex, and interesting world with which He has surrounded  us.

Kinda makes me wonder just how cool heaven will be.  Sweet anticipation!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Ahhhh, the Start of the Semester

The start of each semester is a time of hope:
This will be the best term yet!
These students will be the best yet!
This will be the most productive term yet!

So, we started a new term at UB.  Somehow we caught the Uni off guard by starting on 6 Aug.  Who knew?
Here's the start:
  • My assigned classroom is a very nice one- Yeah!
  • The location is OK - Yeah!
  • It seated about 30 people - Yeah!  No wait, I have 174 students!!!

Not to worry, my colleague will fix everything.

He comes into my class to try to find a DIFFERENT time for the class to meet.  Not much luck there, but maybe 1300-1500 on Tuesdays would work.  We still need a classroom to meet for 174 eager, well, 174 students to meet.  So I find myself and my class with:
  • No classroom
  • No meeting day
  • No meeting time.

No Problem.  All those things will sort themselves eventually.  Sure.

Scheduling is a tough problem to solve.  There are companies that make and sell scheduling software.  Now if we could get the problem and the solution together in the same place.

African? Thanksgiving?

It is Thanksgiving day... in Africa!

Our pastor, Norman, and his wife, Gabi, invite us, the STINT team and our good friends, Ester, Bob, and Isaac over for a traditional American Thanksgiving meal.  thier Daughter is a US citizen in OH, and she introduced them to the holiday which they eagerly embraced.

I am called on to pray, so I begin with a famous Jewish prayer that says, "Blessed be the L^rd G^d, King of the Universe, who created us, sustains us, and brought us to this day."

We enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving meal complete w turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce and pumkin pie.  Wow!

Afterwards we sit around recounting the things for which we are thankful.

I give a very short version to my arrival here 2 weeks before Brenda.  I share how much I am thankful that G^d gave me such a wonderful wife, and what a Blessing she is to me and to so many.

We all have a great deal for which to be thankful, and Brenda is at the top of what is a very long list. I am also thankful to you my friends, scattered around the world.

Thanks be to G^d indeed!!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Coming Home- Another Story

An old missionary couple had been working in Africa for years and were returning to New York to retire. They had no pension; their health was broken; they felt defeated, discouraged, and afraid.
As the trip began, they discovered they were on the same ship as President Teddy Roosevelt, who was returning from one of his big-game hunting expeditions.
No one paid any attention to them. They watched the fanfare that accompanied the President's entourage, with passengers trying to catch a glimpse of the great man. As the ship moved across the ocean, the old missionary said to his wife, "Something is wrong."
"Why should we have given our lives in faithful service for God in Africa all these many years and have no one care a thing about us? Here this man comes back from a hunting trip and everybody makes much over him, but nobody gives two hoots about us."
"Dear, you shouldn't feel that way," his wife said.
He replied "I can't help it; it just doesn't seem right."
When the ship docked in New York, a band was waiting to greet the President. The mayor and other dignitaries were there. The papers were full of the President's arrival. No one noticed the missionary couple. They slipped off the ship, disappeared in the crowd, and found a cheap flat on the East Side, hoping the next day to see what they could do to make a living in the city.
That night the man's spirit broke. He said to his wife, "I can't take this; God is not treating us fairly." His wife replied, "Why don't you go in the bedroom and tell that to the Lord?"
A short time later he came out from the bedroom, but now his face was completely different. His wife asked, "Dear, what happened?"
The Lord settled it with me. I told Him how bitter I was that the President should receive this tremendous homecoming, when no one met us as we returned home. And when I finished, it seemed as though the Lord put His hand on my shoulder and simply said;
"You're not home yet."

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Where am I?

Where am I?

  • I  have only seen 1 pothole,
  • Spur Restaurant has the Vegetable platter
  • Most livestock is fenced
  • A restroom had paper towels
  • I can understand the English
  • There is rain, lakes, rivers
  • There are orchards and vineyards
  • The robots (redlights) all work
  • There are real trees
  • There are real mountains
  • Rarely does anyone blow their auto horn for little reason. 
  • Restaurants actually have the dishes listed on the menu.
  • Fruit, orchards, crops line the roads in many places.

Kinda sounds strange, doesn't it?  Can you guess where in Africa we are?

It was a bit strange being here, almost like Europe, but not quite.  We are in Cape Town, South Africa.  It amazing that two countries with a long common border can be so different, but they are.

Likewise,  two siblings, two colleagues, two neighbors can be vastly different.  And, to some extent, "vive la difference"!

For us Christians we OUGHT to be DIFFERENT in a foundational way!  So how different are you?


Monday, December 2, 2013

Moving Objects

We are getting ready for our move back to living in the USA.  I am thinking back over some of the lessons we have learned in our time here in Southern Africa.  We have come a long distance, and have driven a great many kilometers whilst here.  We are moving objects.

The late seminary prof, Howard Hendricks used to say, "A moving object can easily be directed, but inertia is hard to overcome."

His point, in context, was that we ought to be moving somewhere.  Scripture says, "As you go...".  We ought to be moving, not static.

There is little doubt that we have been changed by our time here.  The good, the challenging, the novel have all been transforming us.

Not sure this is true, but it is Scriptural, so I'll trust it, " And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit."  2 Corinth 3:18

Also, we have this command,  "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."  Rom 12:2.

And, "But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body."  Phil 3:20-21

L^rd we moved, thanks for your continuing transformation.  We haven't arrived yet.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Ode to Friendships

Being away from your family, your home, and your usual group of friends has been educational.  We were only in Sweden for 3.5 months, and it was a busy 3.5.  We have been in Bots now 7 months and it is NOT the same a Sweden, I assure you.

We have missed our friends back home more than ever.  With two exceptions, we have had very limited contact with anyone in the USA outside our families.  This has caused me to think about friendships.

I think I have historically taken friendships too much for granted. I have always been blessed with a LOT of friends, and I have noticed, too much of something diminishes its value.

Long distance friendships, like long distance relationships, are hard.  Distance is tough, not as tough as it used to be, but still a challenge.  A young friend asked me yesterday about long distance "courting" and I told him the good news was that it would really test the relationship, as though by fire.

Likewise, being gone 10.5 months is quite different from our relatively short stint in Sverige.  People are occupied with the day-to-day busyness of life in the USA.  There isn't much time, and even less energy for people across the vast ocean.  In fact, the same is true for G^d I think.  The here and now occupies most of our attention, and there is little time, energy, and interest in maintaining a long-distance relationship with G^d.

I don't think, "Absence makes the heart grow fonder."  I think it's more like "Absence is the true test of friendship", and "If we are too busy for our relationships, perhaps we ought to reassess."

Well, I am too busy to think about this right now.  Maybe later...    ;)>