How We Talk

How we talk says a lot about who we are.  Listening to a persons words can inform us of their nationality, ethnicity, or where they grew up.  Looks can be deceiving, but our verbal articulation is almost impossible to change.  By appearance, Miles Brown looks like your average Rock County native, but when he begins talking, you immediately can tell that he’s not from around here.  His speech gives him away.

There are roughly 6,500 spoken languages in the world today and even more dialects.  Even in the same language, there are variances of terminology, lingo, and slang that give clues to our background or heritage.  When I am far from home, I am always surprised when people ask if I’m from Minnesota.  I was not aware of a Minnesotan accent, but apparently there is one.

The way one speaks also gives us a good idea of the mood they are in or their attitude.  Our chitchat can be confident, timid, sweet, sarcastic, or downright snarky.  Our words express our feelings and beliefs.

As Christians, the world around us should also be able to recognize us by our words.  Sadly, that isn’t always the case.  As I searched the concordance of my Bible to find some good scriptural support for the things I planned on saying to you in this article, the Holy Spirit had a few things to say to me too.  I can testify that the Word of God is sharper than any two edged sword.  Here are a few of the words that the Holy Spirit pierced me with.  Maybe you need to hear them as well.

  • Ephesians 4:29 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
  • Matthew 12:36-37 “But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.  For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”
  • Luke 6:45 “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”
  • Proverbs 13:3 “Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin.”
  • James 1:26 “Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.”
  • James 3:6-10 “The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body.  It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell… It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.  With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness.  Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing.  My brothers and sisters, this should not be.”
  • Psalm 19:14 “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”

Lord, keep your arm around my shoulder, and your hand over my mouth!  Forgive me for the careless and hurtful things I have said.  Cleanse my tongue, so that those who hear my words would recognize You.

Erin Jacobsma

 


Forever Changed

Have you ever had an experience, good or bad, that you were certain would change your attitude or behavior forever? And maybe the experience did bring about lasting transformation, but maybe it didn’t.

I can think of many in my life, here are just a few examples. When you’re playing baseball with some friends, don’t ever stand too close to a teammate who is swinging a bat.  And when you’re operating a torch designed to cut steel, don’t ever run the flame over top of your hand.  There is no point in ever drinking so much alcohol that it impairs your ability to function or causes you to vomit.  After attending our Marriage Encounter weekend I was sure I would always love Vicki like Jesus loves his bride, the church. Or after attending several Promise Keepers I was confident I would always make time for my kids. And then after returning from a mission trip to Haiti, I was sure I would never complain again.

This past Wednesday night, our Young Emerging Leaders lesson with the 7th-12th grader focused on “The Meaning of the Cross” and in particular why Jesus had to die on the cross and how it changes everything for us. This lesson was a follow-up to the previous lesson which focused on how Jesus was crucified. Well, before each YEL meeting begins the leaders gather to discuss our approach to how we are going to teach the lesson. And while we were having our discussion, one of the leaders noted that “the kids in my group say they already know how and why Jesus had to die on the cross.”

When reflecting on her comment, feelings of both happiness and curiosity immediately emerged in my heart and mind. I was blessed to hear that the kids in her group had a clear understanding of how and why Jesus died on the cross, and yet I was curious about whether or not Jesus’ death has actually resulted in a changed life—forever.

One of our focus points of our lesson made this claim: Trusting in what Jesus did on the cross produces changed lives.  I wondered if that is true for our youth. I wondered if it was true for me; does trusting in Jesus produce a changed life?

In I Peter 1:13-22, Peter suggests Jesus’ death on the cross should result in the following transformation of our lives. “13So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control….14So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. 15But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy.  16For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.” So you must live in reverent fear of him during your time here as “temporary residents.” 18For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value. 19It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. 20God chose him as your ransom long before the world began, but now in these last days he has been revealed for your sake….22You were cleansed from your sins when you obeyed the truth, so now you must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters. Love each other deeply with all your heart.”

So how about it, has your trust in what Jesus accomplished on the cross changed your life forever? More action? Growing self-control? Increasing obedience? Less backsliding? Deeper reverence? A Jesus kind of love?…

Forever changed, Mike Altena

 


Bad Call

A few weeks ago Vicki and I traveled to Montevideo to watch a first round tournament game of boy’s basketball between the Thunderhawks and the Benson Braves.  Some dear friends of ours have a son, Travis, who is a senior and we were excited to watch him play.

Montevideo got off to a good start with the Thunderhawks scoring a few quick baskets.  Then about two minutes into the game one of the referees called a foul on one of the Thunderhawk players while he was attempting to rebound a Benson shot.  The Montevideo coach was livid; apparently from his perspective the ref had completely blown the call.  A great injustice had taken place against his player and he wanted the ref to know it.

The game resumed with the Montevideo coach harassing the ref as he passed him by.  After the two teams had made a couple of trips up and down the floor, our friend’s son, Travis, was charged and found guilty of committing a foul while a Benson player was attempting a short shot near the basket.  Travis appeared to be disturbed by the judgment, but not nearly as distressed as was the Montevideo coach.  And once again the coach felt it was his responsibility to inform the refs that they had committed another injustice against one of his players.

And then, just four minutes into the game, the ref called another foul on the Montevideo team, and you got it, the coach became enraged and began petitioning the refs to dismiss the charges.  Meanwhile, Travis was still processing his resentment over the injustice against him a few minutes earlier so he thought the break in the action would be a good time for him to express his feelings to another ref about their job performance.  Apparently, while processing Travis’s comments, the referee felt he had crossed the line when sharing his feelings, and so he discerned that Travis deserved a technical foul.

Then after receiving the technical foul, Travis immediately thought to himself, well that’s not fair, and so then without thinking, he again expressed his feelings to the ref that the technical foul was not warranted but rather “that is bull@#$%!”  And yep you know it, the referee felt even more disrespected so he gave Travis his second technical foul.  And with that, Travis was on his way to the locker room for a nice long warm shower.

As you can imagine, in the 90 seconds while all of this was unfolding, the Montevideo fans are silent until they discover with great dismay that one of their star players has just been ejected.  And so while a Benson player is shooting the six free throws, and while the Montevideo fans begin to express their chants of outrage, I began to reflect on how people react when they feel they are unjustly mistreated.  Again it was a reminder that anxiety often makes people stupid.

On the way home my thoughts drifted to the injustice on the night of Jesus’ arrest, mock trial, mocking, beating and crucifixion.  Was it really fair that Jesus was despised and rejected by mankind?  Was it fair that he took up our pain and bore our suffering?  Was it fair that Jesus was pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities (Isaiah 53)?  Doesn’t it make you want to petition the Father and tell him what a “bad call” it was to make his Son become sin for us so that we could become the righteousness of God?

No of course not!  In his wisdom, God knew the only way to overcome the injustice of our sin was grace!  Thank God for that call!  And may it be so with you and me that we would have the wisdom to know when to confront injustice, when to extend grace, and always to remain self-differentiated.

Grace to you and peace, Mike Altena

 


A Heart of Stewardship

In consistory meeting the other night the deacons and I got into a discussion about tithes, offerings, and stewardship in general.  I asked them, “If an attender of ARC engages you in a discussion about giving to church, how would you explain what you believe and what the Bible teaches?”  We had a good conversation about that topic, and one of my favorite stories in the Bible came to mind regarding offerings to God and tithing in general.  The story involves Abraham and Melchizedek.

After Abraham’s nephew Lot was taken captive in an epic struggle between nine small kingdoms (Gen. 14), in which five kingdoms battled the other four, Abraham gathered his hired men and some allies and set off to rescue Lot.  He asked God to make him successful in this pursuit, and God did.  Afterwards, Abraham was confronted by two kings, the King of Salem and the King of Sodom.  The King of Salem, named Melchizedek and called the “priest of God Most High,” blessed Abraham.  Abraham gave him a tenth of the plunder he had gained while rescuing Lot and defeating his captors.  There are earlier examples of people giving offerings to God, but I believe this is the first time a tithe, or 10%, was mentioned.

As a side note, when the King of Sodom asked Abraham for some of the plunder, or at least to trade goods, Abraham refused.  He knew this king was evil, and he didn’t want to enrich him or receive any goods from his hand.  There is an important stewardship principle in that decision.  It matters not only how we use our resources, but from where the resources are obtained.  It seems there is such a thing as dirty money.

Getting back to Melchizedek, the book of Hebrews tells us much more insight explaining who this mysterious character really was.  Chapter seven includes these phrases:

  • His name means “King of Righteousness” and “King of Peace”
  • Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life
  • Melchizedek the priest was before, and greater than, the Levitical priesthood

From that description I think it was safe to say that Melchizedek had some sort of divine, or at least angelic, identity…maybe something like the three visitors to Abraham and Sarah in Genesis 18.  Hebrews goes on to explain that Jesus is also a high priest in the order of Melchizedek.  He was clearly one of the most mysterious characters in the Bible, but my point for today is that when Abraham gave him a tithe it wasn’t based on Old Testament Law, tradition, or duty.  Melchizedek was long before the law was given to Moses.  Without being commanded to tithe, Abraham gave by faith out of the gratitude of his heart.

As the deacons and I continue to learn and converse this year we are considering how we can help more people catch a vision for giving faithfully and sacrificially to God.  We believe this is important, but we also recognize that stewardship involves more than just giving a certain percentage of our income.  We are still reading the book, “How Much is Enough?” in which Arthur Simon writes, “Tithing may imply that the other 90 percent is off-limits to stewardship, and that if God gets 10 percent, the rest is ours.  The point is that God should get it all.  All of it – and all of life – belongs to God.  We have simply been entrusted to use everything in the best, most loving, and wisest way possible for the purposes of God.”

Like Abraham we are called to devote all of our time/treasures/talents to God.  That is really the heart of stewardship.  And like Abraham we give our tithes and offerings by faith out of the gratitude of our hearts.

Cory Grimm

 


Don’t Forget to Remember!

It was 28 years ago that I started my first job at the Luverne Dairy Queen.  Growing up on a dairy farm and having a particular fondness for ice cream, I was certain it would be a good fit.  My boss was a no-nonsense old gal who I grew to love dearly, but her initial demeanor was similar to that of a drill sergeant.  She showed me around the restaurant in her stern, matter-of-fact way defining her rules and expectations as we went.  As a customer came through the doors, we made our way to the front counter where she instructed me to take his order.  When he decided what his taste buds were craving, I picked up a pen and paper to record his choices.  Before the ink made contact with the parchment, my boss’s hand was on top of mine.  She quietly said, “If you can’t remember an order for one person, we are going to have a problem here.”  And she was right!  There was really no reason that I couldn’t remember a list of three items for a few minutes while the particulars of his meal were being assembled.  It became a challenge to see how many orders my coworkers and I could remember without writing them down.

But that was then, and this is now.  The older I get, the more forgetful I seem to become.  A pen and paper or my smartphone have become my lifeline to remembering.  Making a mental note of something is no longer adequate.  Whether it’s aging brain cells or mental laziness I’m not sure, but we all seem to struggle with some degree of forgetfulness and pass it off as a valid excuse.  When my son was in elementary school he would often throw out the rationalization: “I just forgot”.  To which I usually responded, “You didn’t try to remember.”

Maybe forgetfulness has been around since the beginning of time.  When reading the Genesis story about Eve and the serpent in the Garden of Eden I have often wondered why Eve twisted God’s words about his instructions concerning the trees that were forbidden.  Perhaps it was a bit of exaggeration, but maybe she hadn’t paid close enough attention to remember the details in the first place.

Apparently God knew that people would have a hard time with their memory.  He commanded the Israelites to remember the Sabbath, to remember that they were once slaves in Egypt, and to remember the wonders he had done.  In Deuteronomy 8, Moses also warns the Israelites concerning their forgetfulness.  “10When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you.  11Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws, and his decrees that I am giving you this day.  12Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, 13and when your herds and flocks increase and all you have is multiplied, 14then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.”

We ARE a forgetful people.  We forget the gifts, the blessings, the lessons learned.  We forget the grace, the mercy, the love.  We forget the Creator, the Sustainer, the Gift Giver.  Or do we even try to remember?

The words of a song by Natalie Grant recently grabbed my attention.  She sings, “When did I forget that You’ve always been the King of the world?  I try to take life back right out of the hands of the King of the world.”  Is that you?  Have you forgotten who has always been the King of the world?  Has God been asking you to remember?  Do you need a reminder?  I know I have!  May it never be said of us that we have forgotten what the Lord has done for us.

Don’t forget to remember!

Erin Jacobsma

 


Sharing Everything

A little over 5 years ago, Josh and I purchased a small farm outside of Luverne. While I was excited to move out of the city limits for the first time in my life, I was also hesitant of this new lifestyle. As our friends and family followed us to our new home, with moving trailers in tow, Josh asked me if I was ready for country life. I replied with an uncertain “yes” and without missing a beat he said “Good, cause our address is never going to change!” Needless to say this farm boy, who had been trapped in town for over 11 years, was excited! We had finally bought the farm and all the joys (and critters!) that come with it.

Now after making the farm our home for the last 5 years, I can only faintly remember what it was like to live in town. Actually, it would take a considerable amount of convincing to get this town kid back within the city limits! As a family we have found much joy on this simple piece of land. We’ve spent countless hours training cattle for the county fair; many driving lessons; bonfires under a starlit sky; the sweet aroma of cattle and hogs (I still think it just plain stinks!); and most of all, time spent together. I think of our conversation from moving day sometimes and it always brings a smile to my face.

I’ve been reading through the book of Acts the last couple weeks and the memory of moving day entered my mind as I read. Pondering the words Luke wrote of how the Christian faith spread throughout the land, a common theme emerged as I read the first few chapters. Verse after verse speaks of how the believers were together. The believers fellowshipped, broke bread, and prayed together (2:42). Daily they met together, ate together and worshiped together (vs.46-47). What a beautiful picture of unity. As I read through chapter 4, I continued to see this same pattern, but I stopped to ponder these next verses a little longer than the others. “32All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had…34there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.”

Much like Christ, the apostles and their community not only took special care of each other; they sacrificed all they had for one another. As Jesus left this earth for His throne in heaven he instructed the apostles to wait for the gift His Father would be sending and that they would be His witness to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:4 & 8). The apostles obeyed His final instructions and they are the example we should follow. Would I be willing to sell my home, change my address, for the good of someone else? How about you, are you willing to sell it all and have it given to anyone who has a need?

My husband will be relieved to know I have not heard God ask me to sell the farm and give it all to those in need – at least not yet.  I don’t believe God asks each of us to sell everything we have, but I do believe His desire for our life is we would be willing, if we were asked. The footnote in my Bible for these verses says “The spiritual unity and generosity of these early believers attracted others to them. This organizational structure is not a biblical command, but it offers vital principles for us to follow.” Indeed it does. It does leave me to wonder how I’ve been doing with sharing the generosity of Christ with the sojourners along my journey. How about you?

Becky Ossefoort

 


Mission Where You Are

As we continue to journey together, presently walking through the Tangible Kingdom Primer as a church, I hope and pray that it opens all of our eyes to the calling God has on each of our lives to GROW and that we recognize each of us may be at a different stages in being missional.  Some of us are just warming up to the idea of taking baby steps in building relationships and extending a helping hand, others have been practicing this very thing within the walls of ARC for years, others are actively going out on mission within their circle of influence and still others have the courage to extend themselves wherever they see a need for God’s love in the community, nation and world.  Wherever you are in this, I assure you that God is smiling down on you!  Yet, if you feel safe in your endeavors, start praying to see an opportunity to stretch!  Take the next step, don’t be satisfied with where you are at.  I have learned over the years that if I am not growing, I am falling away.  There is no staying the same!  Not if you want to grow in any aspect of your life, but especially when we are called to grow God’s kingdom!

Look at the areas of being missional below.  First, recognize where you are at, then look at the others and ask God to show you how you can take steps to grow in being missional for Him.

  • Receiving and learning how to love like Jesus (attending services on Sunday, joining the choir, Bible studies, or life groups, attending retreats, etc.)
  • Reaching out to show Christ’s love within the walls of ARC (sending cards, giving words of encouragement, teaching, leading a life group, singing with a praise team, serving coffee, etc.)
  • Reaching out to show Christ’s love in your circle of influence (giving words of encouragement, inviting others to join you at church, at a Christian concert, Bible study or life group.)
  • Reaching out to show Christ’s love in your daily walk (having eyes to see those in need and taking the time to stop to show love in the midst of your busy day.)
  • Intentionally placing yourself in the midst of the lost and broken within the walls of ARC (teaching youth, joining prayer team, simply watching for those hurting and offering a hug or sending a card, visit the shut in, etc.)
  • Intentionally placing yourself in the midst of the lost and broken in your community (help at Atlas, Redeemed Remnants, deliver meals, sign up to do prison ministry, visit those in the nursing home and go beyond the ones you usually visit with.)
  • Mentor by inviting others to join you as you go on mission or humbly give testimony to the great things God is doing through your life and obedience.
  • Intentionally placing yourself in the midst of the lost and broken in our nation and world (mission trips, watching for people who are hurting as you travel, you never know when you can touch the life of the very person God puts in the seat next to you on a plain or bus!)

These are just to get you started!  With God, anything is possible!  Talk with Him today and be willing to let Him lead you on the amazing, fulfilling journey of being missional!

Blessings, Cheryl Fey

 

 


How Much is Enough?

The Deacons and I are studying the book, “How Much is Enough?” this year to renew and expand our understanding of biblical stewardship.  Here is one excerpt:

“Loevi Keidel, missionary to the Congo, returned to the States on his first furlough in 1955.  He noticed that the new status symbols were a black-and-white television and wall-to-wall carpeting in the living room.  On the second furlough, it was color TV and automatic washers and dryers.  On the third, dishwashers and stereo sound systems.  On the fourth, recreation vehicles and backyard swimming pools.  On the fifth, video cameras, satellite dishes, and personal computers.”

Just think of how many more things could be added to that list today!  If we are typical American consumers, new items on the market become our desires, desires become needs, and needs become rights.  In other words, it only takes a few years from when we first hear about something to the time when we feel we deserve it, we can’t imagine life without it, and we would be embarrassed not to have it.  So how much is enough?  Will we ever have all the stuff that will make us happy?

When you start talking about these issues of materialism and all the time we now spend on our phones in the fantasy worlds of social media, it is easy to sound like the cranky old guy who always insists life was better back in the good old days.  After all, what is the alternative?  Should we just become Amish and shun all technological advances, preferring to lock in a lifestyle of the past forever and declare it holy?  Should we just jump off the cultural train that is accelerating into the unknown future and watch everyone else pass by?

I think we can all probably admit that we are a little bit entitled and even addicted to material things and the idea that more stuff will make us happier.  We probably wouldn’t say that we believe that, but the reality of our lives backs it up.  We also might be willing to admit that the time, energy, and resources we devote to stuff is hurting our relationship with God.  Would you agree?  But I don’t think the answer is going to be debating endlessly about which items we actually do or do not need…or how much time is appropriate in a day for “face time.”  What we need is a grander vision of what will actually give us fulfillment and peace!

In “How Much is Enough?” the author points us back to the early church:

“The starting place for Christians was not the question: What do I need to give up to follow Jesus?  The starting place – for them and for us – was the good news of Jesus… who offered both Jews and Gentiles a new identity as children of God.  Their new status gave them a transcendent purpose – that of living to the glory of God.”

If our main goal in life is to make ourselves happy, we will try to use the stuff of this world to fill that void, and the stuff will become our idol.  If our main goal in life is to glorify God in all that we do, the stuff of this world will take its proper place and become tools we can use to further the kingdom.  Again, don’t start by analyzing the stuff and trying to manage your addiction.  Start by setting your eyes on Christ and understanding the powerful and exciting calling He has for your life, and everything else will settle into its proper place.

Cory Grimm

 


Enjoy or Tolerate

Several weeks ago I offered to help some friends with a painting project at their house.  As I was getting my brushes and rollers and ladder in place and preparing to apply some pigment to those barren walls, the homeowner asked me a question.  “Do you actually enjoy painting or do you just tolerate it?”

I guess I had never really thought about it that way before.  As my mind raced through the many painting projects I have been a part of, I could confidently say yes.  Yes, I do enjoy painting.  I enjoy seeing the transformation from dull and drab to bright and sunny; from gaudy to warm and inviting.  I get a kick out of smothering unwanted stains and blemishes with a fresh coat of primer.  I relish in the tedious task of “cutting in” making crisp edges with my brush and also covering large areas with the liquid blanket in my roller.  I love the smell of a freshly painted room.  I have many fond memories of painting parties with family and friends over the years and I love seeing a job completed.

But for all the things I love about painting, there are other things that I don’t necessarily care for.  I don’t particularly like the sore muscles that seem to appear the day after.  I don’t enjoy cleaning brushes and pans, and I certainly don’t like cleaning rollers (they usually end up in the garbage).  I don’t care for spilled paint or drips that I didn’t catch before they dried.  And I don’t like getting to the bottom of the gallon when I am not quite done!  However, the things that I don’t like are just as much a part of the painting project as the things that I do enjoy.

Paul tells us in Colossians 3:23 to “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than people.” (NLT)  This brings me back to my friend’s question.  Do I enjoy or do I tolerate?  Ultimately, it doesn’t matter.  What’s important is my willingness.  Am I willing to do the necessary tasks that I don’t care for along with the responsibilities that I do enjoy or do I do them half heartedly or maybe even a bit begrudgingly?  Do I give 100% on both the important assignments and the menial duties?

“How you do one thing is how you do everything.”  These words has been tumbling around in my head since October when I heard them at a women’s conference.  I have found them challenging and also convicting.  When I’ve been tempted to say “that’s good enough” I question my commitment and motives.  When I’ve been inclined to cut corners on small things, my conscience has gone into overdrive.

How about you?  Do you perform your responsibilities as if Jesus was signing your paycheck or do you skim along doing only as much as you can get by with?  Do you work with the same gusto when someone else is watching as you do when you are the last person at work?  Are you willing to go above and beyond the responsibilities of your job description, or do you tend to keep score when you pick up someone else’s slack?  My prayer is that we could all say that we willing work for the Lord and give 100% in all that we do.

By the way, there have been several assignments “advertised” in the Archive for the last couple months with little to no interest from anyone to undertake them.  I pray that soon, someone might be willing.

Erin Jacobsma

 


The Gift of Sight

I was scanning through the birthday card aisle awhile back and stopped when I came across a cute card with an old lady in a hospital gown on it that said “My mind says I’m in my twenties. My body says ‘Yeah, You Wish!’” I chuckled to myself, but then recalled my own age and the relentless ache in my knee. An older friend of mine recently purchased his first pair of reading glasses and was amazed how clear print really could be when reading. In fact, his comment to me was, “Wow, these glasses really speed up reading and make things clearer!” Yes, it’s true, my husband and I are not in our twenties anymore. For many of us we take these physical gifts for granted until one day we wake up and our body requires a careful stretch before movement or an extra arm adjustment to read the morning paper.

I’ve worn glasses since the fourth grade so I had to snicker a bit when Josh was explaining how great his new glasses were. The clarity one finds when putting on the new spectacles is really pretty exciting. I wonder if this excitement of new found sight is true of our spiritual lives too. Both Josh and I grew up knowing our Savior mostly due to the families we were born into. We never questioned who Jesus was or why our family participated in different ministries. We were given the lens of the Gospel early on and accepted it into our hearts as adolescents. I would say this is probably true of most of you reading this little article, but what about the others?

The others? What do you mean, Becky? I simply mean the others – those who do not sit among us in the church pews; whose lives may lay in ruin; the folks who seek peace from the world never finding it. Simply put, those who do not know Jesus to be their Savior. For many, the lens of the Gospel has never been offered to them, others have denied the need for it. So what does that have to do with us? Everything! We have the gift of sight, and Jesus instructs His servants to share it with others!

All this talk about sight reminds me of Paul. After all, he was blind and then had the gift of sight restored – in more ways than one! Still known as Saul, he was traveling down a road one day minding his own business when suddenly a bright light and voice appeared to him and just like that he was blind. After his physical sight was restored he received the gift of the Holy Spirit and began his ministry. In Acts 26 Paul reflects on the day his life changed forever with King Agrippa sharing the words Jesus spoke to him on the road, “Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of me. I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.”

Equipped with the power of the Holy Spirit, Paul obeyed Jesus’ instructions and shared the Good News with everyone he encountered. As he showed the light of Jesus to others, hearts were transformed and eyes were opened to know their Creator and lives were restored. We have been given the same instructions, and like Paul, the same Holy Spirit that worked through him works in us.

Becky Ossefoort