Basics of the Christian faith…
Brett McCracken provides signs that your Christianity has become too comfortable.
— Read on www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/8-signs-your-christianity-is-too-comfortable/
“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”
– Thomas Jefferson
“I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.” – Winston Churchill
“What is absurd and monstrous about war is that men who have no personal quarrel should be trained to murder one another in cold blood.” – Aldous Huxley
“Although believers, by nature, are far from God, and children of wrath, even as others, yet it is amazing to think how nigh they are brought to him again by the blood of Jesus Christ.”
“It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, for vengeance, for desolation.” – William T. Sherman
“She (Mika Brzezinski) was bleeding badly from a facelift”
Sandrine turns 17 on May 5. It’s hard to realize that Terri and I have had the privilege of sponsoring her since 2009. 8 years! To us, sponsoring means sending an amount each month equivalent to about 1/3 of our monthly Time-Warner bill (easily the most odious line item on our budget). Less than $50. To Sandrine and her small community in Rwanda, our sponsorship is a big deal.
Sandrine is not on Facebook. Her community does not have Internet. That’s ok because they do not have electricity. That’s not so bad; they don’t have street lights. Street lights are not really missed; the community does not have paved streets. Painted rectangles on dark asphalt would not make much sense in Nyarutovu because no one has a car.
I could go on: no snow-cones, no swimming pools, no television, no strollers, no hair dryers, no disposable diapers, no smart phones, no closets, no library, no baseball,…..no grocery carts. To her community and to Sandrine herself, the almost $50 per month is a big deal.
Sometimes she sends photos of what would have gone into a grocery cart if they had them there. Items they bought with the sponsorship money: beans, rice, flour, salt. As cited in my February post, one month, we sent extra and, to our surprise, they bought a cow! The people work hard and they have each other.
In case you are curious, you can go to worldvision.org and become a sponsor. There are brief bios and photos. You may consider current age, the country the child lives in and, certainly, the specific child as you select; or, World Vision can select one for you. Once you experience how meaningful sponsorship is, if you are like me, the next time you find a hole in your sock or that the milk in the refrigerator is older than the best-by date – you take it so much more in stride – even with a grin.
Our neighbors didn’t “have a cow” … when, Terri and I bought one…..
In response to our sending a little extra to the 15-year-old, Rwandan child (and her community) we sponsor through World Vision, we received a moving, hand-written letter back expressing thanks for the gift and itemizing what they used it for:
Terri and I are not special. We are, however, delighted to have made an unexpectedly significant difference in the earthly lives of 15-year-old, Sandrine and her family. (Their neighbors don’t mind either.)
We won’t miss the dollars; hate to think we would have missed the joy.
In terms of mandates to us from God’s word, Jonathan Edwards asserts there is nothing clearer in the Bible (try 200 places in the OT) than that we give to the poor…
And we do not give for the “merit badge”, out of some vaulted nobility of our own, rather, our humble sacrifice sprouts from the power of His caring.
As shared by Rich Stearns– @RichStearns — of World Vision:
When you love the unloved and the broken, it always provokes the question to which Jesus is the answer… the question: Why do you care?”
For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
The origin of this holiday for the expression of love really isn’t romantic at all — at least not in the traditional sense. Father Frank O’Gara of Whitefriars Street Church in Dublin, Ireland, tells the real story of the man behind the holiday — St. Valentine.
“He was a Roman Priest at a time when there was an emperor called Claudius who persecuted the church at that particular time,” Father O’Gara explains. “He also had an edict that prohibited the marriage of young people. This was based on the hypothesis that unmarried soldiers fought better than married soldiers because married soldiers might be afraid of what might happen to them or their wives or families if they died.”
“I think we must bear in mind that it was a very permissive society in which Valentine lived,” says Father O’Gara. “Polygamy would have been much more popular than just one woman and one man living together. And yet some of them seemed to be attracted to Christian faith. But obviously the church thought that marriage was very sacred between one man and one woman for their life and that it was to be encouraged. And so it immediately presented the problem to the Christian church of what to do about this.”
“The idea of encouraging them to marry within the Christian church was what Valentine was about. And he secretly married them because of the edict.”
Valentine was eventually caught, imprisoned and tortured for performing marriage ceremonies against command of Emperor Claudius the second. There are legends surrounding Valentine’s actions while in prison.
“One of the men who were to judge him in line with the Roman law at the time was a man called Asterius, whose daughter was blind. He was supposed to have prayed with and healed the young girl with such astonishing effect that Asterius himself became Christian as a result.”
In the year 269 AD, Valentine was sentenced to a three part execution of a beating, stoning, and finally decapitation all because of his stand for Christian marriage. The story goes that the last words he wrote were in a note to Asterius’ daughter. He inspired today’s romantic missives by signing it, “from your Valentine.”
“What Valentine means to me as a priest,” explains Father O’Gara, “is that there comes a time where you have to lay your life upon the line for what you believe. And with the power of the Holy Spirit we can do that — even to the point of death.”
Valentine’s martyrdom has not gone unnoticed by the general public. In fact, Whitefriars Street Church is one of three churches that claim to house the remains of Valentine. Today, many people make the pilgrimage to the church to honor the courage and memory of this Christian saint.
“Valentine has come to be known as the patron saint of lovers. Before you enter into a Christian marriage you want some sense of God in your life — some great need of God in your life. And we know, particularly in the modern world, many people are meeting God through his Son, Jesus Christ.”
“If Valentine were here today, he would say to married couples that there comes a time where you’re going to have to suffer. It’s not going to be easy to maintain your commitment and your vows in marriage. Don’t be surprised if the ‘gushing’ love that you have for someone changes to something less “gushing” but maybe much more mature. And the question is, is that young person ready for that?”
“So on the day of the marriage they have to take that into context,” Father O’Gara says. “Love — human love and sexuality is wonderful, and blessed by God — but also the shadow of the cross. That’s what Valentine means to me.”
Resources for Spiritual Growth
10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
Titus 3: 1-7
3 Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. 3 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. 4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (happy Nativity!)