Friday, June 27, 2014

What an Example

My intention last Sunday was to view the segment about drones on 60 Minutes, but what ended up making an impression on me was the story titled "The Coptic Christians of Egypt." It was fascinating to say the least. While I highly recommend that you view the segment through the internet, I will give a quick summary of the points that made me think.

After supporting the military take over, Coptic Christians found themselves under attack by Muslims. Let me insert here that I had no idea there were so many Christians in Egypt. They have multiple churches and even have a pope. I remember hearing of churches being burned but I was thinking the buildings were probably small and not many of them. The pictures shown on Sunday were cathedral type buildings now burned and crumpled in the wake of the destruction done by Muslims.

What the show's producers probably thought they would find were Christians seeking revenge, instead they found people still meeting in large crowds. Still worshiping Jesus. And still getting a cross tattoo on their wrist that identified them as Coptic.

But what hit home with me the most was the attitude of the leadership of the church. They embrace the discrimination. They have always had it. They have forgiven those who destroyed their churches and killed some of their membership. They feel that if they do anything less than forgive they are not just enough to ask for justice from God.

The peace and sincerity I saw in that leader's face was refreshing. He showed no hidden agenda. He truly embraces what he spoke. What a testament. Those Christians stand strong for God, for Jesus. They're not letting destruction stop them. The persecution continues to surround them and yet they keep going forward for Jesus.

I wonder. . .in our country where we have the liberty to worship God freely, do we know our God well enough to stand this strong? Would we pick ourselves up and forgive those who try to knock us down? Or do we take our fight to the court system crying foul play?

If our liberties were to change, how would we respond? How would we look at life? Would we welcome the discrimination and the chance to stand up for our faith? Would we be the God-loving example the Egyptian Coptic Christians show themselves to be? It makes you think. Doesn't it?

I thank God we have the Coptic Christians as examples of God's love and forgiveness. May God continue to bless them for their faithfulness.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Ode to Mom

Sorry about the lapse in postings. The past several weeks have involved remembering a rough time in our lives. My mother passed away a year ago after a quick battle with bile duct cancer, a silent one that leaves its victims with less than six months to live once discovered. One thing I've learned over the years is that cancer shows no respect to any area of the body and will grow wherever it pleases.

I could deviate and talk about cancer but that would not serve the purpose I have for this post.

Mom was an amazing person. Many may not realize what she accomplished in her life time. She spoke no English when she won a language-based-scholarship to study in America. She married a man who could not afford a maid, so she had to learn to cook, clean and raise children all by herself. She taught herself to paint oils and watercolors out of her loneliness for home. Later, after being taught Chinese Brush Painting by an expert, she instructed others in all areas of painting.

She experienced a mixture of receptions while she lived in America. From those thinking all people from Mexico were poor and uneducated to those who spoke to her because she was from Mexico. On many occasions she was asked to speak about her native home. She was even invited by military base leadership to accompany visiting dignitaries because of who she was.

Through it all she kept her eyes on Jesus. Right before the process of finding out what was going on with her body she complained to God that she had no one to talk with or to share what she had to say. But there in the hospital while all the tests were being run, she greeted everyone who entered her room. Telling them that her life was in God's hands and why she knew it. She didn't preach at them. She just loved on them. When they moved her to another unit, the first unit people came to visit. When she returned to the hospital for more procedures, they came back again. While waiting for me to bring the car around at the end of her stay she heard a small voice tell her, "It is finished." Less than six weeks later she was gone.

Once I knew of her desire to reach out to others I started a blog for her. Unfortunately, I was too late to have fresh lessons posted. And even though the postings are from her written memoirs she is still reaching others for God.

If I can take away anything from her life it's this. Life may not always be easy going and pleasurable, and some of the people you meet along the way make you want to shake some sense into them. But, we shouldn't let anything stop us from going on an adventure in life and doing all that God has for us to do.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


When do you think Pentecost began? For many years I only associated Pentecost with the disciples speaking various languages when the Holy Spirit came into the upper room and filled the men with the ability to speak all kinds of dialects. Don't ask me what I was thinking, but I didn't realize that the whole event was actually named after the Jewish high holiday called the Festival of Pentecost, which I knew as the Feast of Weeks, or the Festival of Shavuot.

This week is that celebration. It occurs fifty days after Passover. The most notable one occurs in the book of Acts when over one hundred thousand people returned to the city of Jerusalem. These people would have seen Jesus crucified just fifty days earlier, but they had no idea the significance of that act until another unusual thing happened during the Pentecost.

You see the rush of wind in the upper room and its house could be heard outside and the people came running. According to A Visual Guide to Bible Events, when the room filled to capacity they moved outside, more than likely to the southern steps of the temple. Just so you know, the rabbis would frequently teach the people from that location. The steps were wide enough to accommodate many people and the apostle's voices could be heard easily.

While the other disciples spoke in tongues that got the people's attention, Peter spoke to clarify what was happening. He helps the people make a connection between what they saw in Jesus and what was promised in the scriptures. Here's an interesting fact about the feast, not only were the people giving thanks for the grain harvests but they were also recalling the giving of the law at Mount Sinai. Don't you find it interesting that on that very celebration Peter would show the people that the law and it's prophecies for Messiah had come to fruition?

And here's another interesting tidbit. Next to these steps was a large ritual bath set-up (miqva'ot) that could have been used for the baptisms that followed Peter's teaching. And while only three thousand were baptized that day, you know that the rest of the listeners went back home and shared how men from Galilee spoke the dialects of lands to which they'd never traveled.

How amazing that must of been. Today not only do we have the Bible written in almost every language, but it's also available in many forms. The first Pentecost after the resurrection of Jesus was the start of it all. . .getting the word out to the world that God loves them and wants them to join him in heaven for eternity.