11.03.2008

Miracles In Gimbie

Miracles in Gimbie


Hey everybody!  Thank you for your prayers!  God has definitely been busy here lately.  The number of amazing events I've witnessed just in the past few weeks is astounding!  If you want some assurance that God is still in the miracle business, read on.


As you may know, we're working on building another building for the nursing school.  So, we needed gravel to mix with the concrete, and apparently the only way to get it was on the black market (diverting truckloads from the local road construction project.) That's what everybody else was doing.  But I wasn't too sure if that was a good idea.  So we decided to go directly to the Chinese contractors and ask if they would sell us the gravel.  That was an adventure.  A few days later, Henock (young Ethiopian accountant I work with) and Justin (SM from Walla Walla) and I drove out to where they were working on the road and tried to explain our situation to the Chinese foremen.  That seemed like it was going to be a dead end, until one guy made us understand that we would have to ask his boss at their camp 70k out of town, and wrote us an introduction letter to this mysterious Mr. Li.  A few days later Justin drove out to see Mr. Li.  He was apparently very friendly and willing to help us, except he had to have permission from the local government to use the gravel for anything other than the road construction project.  So the next day Justin and Yohannes (our well-connected HR director) went to see the mayor of Gimbie.  That was also a successful visit; the mayor agreed to tell the Chinese to give us the gravel, and what's more, he would also ask them to pave the driveway to the hospital!!

 

Another huge dilemma we've been dealing with recently is keeping the hospital stocked with medicine.  Patients frequently have to go into town to get the medicine the doctors prescribe because our pharmacy doesn't have it, which is not good.  We're going through drugs at a rapid clip, and as you can imagine, they're not cheap!  Well, Keresa, the hospital druggist (we don't have a pharmacist, which is a huge problem in itself—no pharmacist's license means we can't buy certain drugs, and we can't get discounts on others) was in Addis to purchase drugs and he needed money—about 50,000 ETB.  Which we didn't have.  I checked the cash balance and it was hovering at about 4,000.  AHI donated money a few months ago to pay for large credit pharmaceutical purchases the hospital had made, but there wasn't enough left from those funds to pay for these drugs.  Tadese, the head cashier hadn't deposited the patient receipts for about three days, but we usually make 6,000-10,000 per day, and there was no way that it would be even close to the 50,000 we needed.  But we asked Tadese to expedite his deposit anyway because it was our only chance.  We prayed frequently that morning as Tadese counted the money.  When he left to go to the bank, we asked anxiously how much he was going to deposit; 53,000 birr.  It was a miracle: there's no other explanation!  And then God worked another miracle to help us to wire the money to Keresa in Addis in time so he could pick it up before the bank closed.  Pretty amazing day!

 

So our cash balance was still basically at zero, because we had used the money to purchase drugs.  And payroll is coming up.  There were about 10 days between then and payroll, and even less working days.  Even my most optimistic calculations showed us missing payroll by a large amount.  But God wasn't going to let us down.  The hospital works closely with a group called Maternity Worldwide; basically they subsidize Labor and Delivery procedures through something called the Safe Birth Fund.  Well, we decided to calculate how much money the hospital was going to receive from the SBF for the month.  Usually we get something like 30,000-40,000 birr per month—no small sum, but not nearly enough for us to meet payroll.  You can probably guess what happened; when we totaled everything up, the SBF subsidy was over 80,000.  The biggest one-month total yet.  Incredible! 

 

(FYI, we met payroll today!)

 

In addition to all the financial excitement, there have been lots of other crazy happenings.  For example, the water situation; the water is always off and on, but lately it's been off more than it's been on.  As you can imagine, it is pretty hard to try to operate a hospital without water.  Things came to a head one day last week when Tsegaye, head of the OR informed Scott Barlow, the Matron, that he didn't have any water to sterilize instruments, they'd used all of their clean sets, and therefore he couldn't do any surgeries.  This presented a pretty serious problem, because in the event of an emergency situation, we couldn't operate.  Fortunately Mark Squires and Mamo, the plumber, had succeeded in hooking up the new water tank (remember the miracle of the water tank?:)  and it was about half full of water.  However, we couldn't use this water for the autoclave because it wasn't connected to that tank; it was connected to our tanks up on top of the hospital.  So somehow we had get water into the tanks up on top of the hospital.  Mamo was working on a solution to use an old pump to pump water from the tank out front up to the tanks, but it wasn't really working out.  Then Paul came up with the idea of forming a bucket brigade!  It wouldn't fix the problem, but it might be enough of a temporary solution to provide time to come up with something better.  So Paul and I ran around organizing the bucket brigade, drafting the voluntaries from their various jobs around the compound and gathering buckets from anywhere we could find them.  In the midst of this, Belinda, the Danish midwife, came in looking for someone to give blood for an emergency case.  Most of the volunteers had given recently, but I learned that Mark Squires, our new COO hadn't, and he had the right type of blood, so I found him and sent him down to give blood.  In the meantime, we got the buckets moving.  Three people were working filling them at the tank and handing them down about six feet to ground level, then others carried them into the lobby, up the stairs to the second floor, down the hall, and then up a ladder where two more people lifted them up and poured whatever water remained into the tanks.  It was quite an operation!  And it was also a lot of work.  All of us were pretty tuckered after about an hour and a half of this.  Fortunately by then, Mamo had been able to hook up a direct line from the tank to the OR.  But the autoclave ran for about 45 minutes thanks to the bucket brigade:)

 

That wasn't the end of our water troubles however.  Two days later, this past Friday, I found out that again we didn't have water.  Only this time we were completely out.  None of our tanks had any water.  Since Paul and Mark were both gone to Addis, I was kind of responsible to think of something. (Well, I wasn't, God was in charge, but you understand.:)  Henock thought it would be a good idea to contact the Chinese and ask if we could use one of their pumper trucks.  I also thought we should ask the mayor about what was going on (since he's good friends with Justin now, thanks to the gravel deal:) so Henock and Justin call to see about that. In case that didn't work, I figured it would be a good idea to have a backup plan, so I rounded up some of the voluntaries and some 55-gallon drums and sent them with Tinsaye in our little green truck to the river to get at least a little bit of water.  Justin got in touch with the mayor, and he told us that the water company generator was damaged, and nobody had any water.  So we decided to go talk to the Chinese.  But Tinsaye was taking the truck, and our Landcruiser was gone to Addis.  (It would really be helpful to have another vehicle around here…which is why we're hoping to buy one and get it shipped somewhere and drive it here:)  So we decided to drive the ambulance!  But we promptly figured out that the battery was dead.  So much for that idea.  Henock and Justin headed out to find the Chinese on foot, and I decided somebody should stay around the hospital in case anything else happened.  And of course it did.  First I came back to find Mulisa, the Administrative Assistant hiding in the back room from some irate lady who was yelling about something.  I finally figured out that she was an employee of the hospital who was mad that Mulisa told her she couldn't get a medical allowance from the hospital for her niece.  I solved that problem temporarily and got her to go away only to be confronted with another.  The day before, Mamo stopped the water company from shutting off our water (because apparently we were five months behind on paying our bill,) and I had sent him to pay 4,000 birr on our bill. Now he had returned with a notice that they were going to shut off the water if we didn't pay an additional 9,000 birr. So I decided to go talk with them.  About that time the green truck came back in with the guys and full barrels of water.  They started siphoning the water into our main tank and I was about to leave when Henock and Justin came driving down the driveway in the cab of a big tanker truck!  They'd found the Chinese and gotten permission to use one of their tanker trucks!!  Henock had also convinced another one of the truck drivers to bring us a truckload of water.  Mulisa and I finally got to the water company office, where I found out that they wouldn't even give me our overdue bills—apparently they give you your bill after you pay it!?  But they did agree to up to town and make copies and give them to me, and they promised not to turn off the water until Monday at least.  As I was walking back to the hospital, the tanker truck drove by with about half of our voluntaries riding on top on their way to the river!  By the time the tankers left we had almost a full tank of water, and the water had come back on so our other tanks were starting to fill as well:)


Excelsior!


10.13.2008

Changing Habits

Changing Habits

I just finished Desire of Ages! Now I'm 3/5s of the way through the
Conflict of the Ages series. I'm going kind of backwards; I started
with the Great Controversy in 2005, then read Acts of the Apostles in
06-07. Now I'm going on to Prophets and Kings, but I think I'm also
going to read GC again.

I think there are two factors that are contributing to my increased
pace and interest in this series; I have more time for discretionary
reading (i.e. not assigned reading), and there aren't a lot of "more
interesting" options, like there would be at home. I've read tons of
exciting literature in my life, and it's been a challenge to get
interested in spiritual things. I've read a lot of quality stuff as
well, but usually because I "knew it was good for me," similar to the
way some people eat salad. But if you persist with salad-eating long
enough, and especially if other, unhealthy alternatives are removed,
it's very possible to develop a taste for the stuff. And that's what
God is doing for me.

You know, as I think about it, this same process is evident in every
part of my life. God is working with me to purify and elevate my
tastes and desires. For instance, last night, we watched a very
funny, mostly quality film called The Gods Must Be Crazy II. It was
produced quite a while ago, and so has very few questionable elements
in it. But still, there were a few moments when I thought, "why did
they have to put that in," and I came away from the evening with a
slightly bitter taste in my mouth. Yes, it was 99% good, very funny,
and it even had lots of moral lessons; in fact, it was more wholesome
than a great majority of other things I've watched, but I still felt
kind of disappointed afterwards. It was sweet in the mouth and bitter
in the stomach. I think I want to try to make the same committment
that David did; "I will set no unclean thing before my eyes."

Given the times we're living in, I think it is especially important to
commit to God 100%, in everything we do, or read, or listen to, or
watch.

What do you think? God has high standards; should ours be high as
well? Has He really called us to holiness?

Excelsior

What I've Been Doing

What I've Been Doing

Hello everyone!
Yes, I'm still alive; things are just getting so busy around here that
it's getting harder and harder find time to blog and email. It's
interesting how God works things out. On Monday last week, I was kind
of depressed, because I felt like I wasn't really doing anything
important. I was trying to find things to keep myself occupied. I'm
used to being busy, independent, and productive, and it was a new
experience to have to depend on other people, to try to find things to
do, and feel like you're not really making a difference. But I talked
with God about it, and came to the realization that if I can best
serve Him by doing little odd jobs in the accounting department here,
then I'll work hard to do my best at that. That very afternoon things
picked up, and now I'm absolutely swamped, and loving it! For
example, here is a sample of some of the things I did last week.

Took minutes for Administrative committee meeting. Hired some
blockmakers to teach the volunteers how to start cranking out cement
blocks. Drew up new organizational chart for the hospital. Went to
town with Henock and purchased mattresses for the incoming volunteers
and lots of flour for the Kitchen. Went to the bank with Mulisa and
wired money to Ashebir. Wrote a check for petty cash (first time by
myself) and worked on posting some misc. cash payments. Drafted work
statements for Personnel Director regarding a nurse formerly employed
by the Hospital who is seeking employment in Australia. Wrote a blog
for the hospital. Fixed some accounts in Peachtree. Paid
blockmakers. Tried to come up with volunteer schedule. Wrote up OPD
Doctor report form for Yohannes. Wrote up volunteer questionnaire and
internet use schedule. Participated in orientation for Barlows. Got
them started on clearing out storeroom. Negotiate with their
cooks—one doesn't like the other, they don't know if they can handle
the work load. Drafted letter to gov't. concerning closure of Dongoro
clinic. Started tabulating results of volunteer questionnaire. Met
with some guys who offered to lift our water tank onto the
platform—today! Got gardeners to come up; one guy climbed the tree
overhanging the platform and chopped off a couple of branches so the
crane can get in. Helped chop some limbs down. Drafted letter to OHB
regarding their annual grant to the hospital—asking them to give us
the money allocated to us. Crane came, so I went out and helped with
that. Paid them 2,000 birr, plus 50 for the broker. That was kind of
an interesting deal because the crane operators used a crane owned by
the Chinese road construction crew, without telling them. It was sort
of a side job. Coordinated Barlows activities for Thursday and
Friday. Did a lot of computer troubleshooting. Started exploring
process necessary for filing quarterly OHB report. Found a bunch of
dept. report forms that apparently aren't being used (need to get
those into use so we can get data from the depts. about numbers of
patients seen, cases, etc. Began posting latest construction expenses.
Talked with Gadisa—apparently the hospital is out of propane, so he
wanted the okay to send our tanks to Addis to be refilled. Went back
to the house and had vespers with all the faranjis. I'm beginning to
think a significant part of my job from here on out is going to be
volunteer coordinator. Oh, and Paul came up with another title for me
as well; projects director. So those go along with accountant,
administrative assistant, and co-business manager. I am sure not
having problems finding things to do now!

God was just waiting for me to stop trying to make things happen on my
own, and let Him work them out in His time.

In a different vein; have you been following the news lately? Could
this be It? Definitely motivation for a closer study of prophecy; at
least it has been for us here.

Excelsior!

9.19.2008

(The picture is of our group, minus Anthony who was taking it. From
right to left, Paul, Luke, JH, me, David, Laura, Heather, and Meg.)

This Sabbath afternoon was the occasion of our most vigorous Sabbath
Stroll yet. After a large potluck lunch at Paul and Petra's house, we
decided to embark on our adventure. The members of our expedition
included myself and Paul, Joel Hatline (to be referred to as JH, to
avoid confusion) and Luke Pierson (American construction volunteers),
Meg, Heather, Laura, and David (British med students), and Anthony (an
Australian engineer.) We started out in the pouring rain, only to be
halted by the locked gate at the back of the hospital compound. The
guard who usually mans the gate, being much wiser than the crazy
faranjis, was inside somewhere, out of the rain. Determined not to
robbed of our Sabbath afternoon walk, Paul, JH, Luke and I hopped the
8 foot chainlink fence topped with barbed wire (sustaining a few minor
injuries) and continued on. At least for a few feet, until we
realized that the rest of the crew (those hailing from countries other
than the USA, I might add) had not followed our example. So we
graciously waited for them to go back up through the compound, out the
main gate, and then back down to where we were.

We proceeded down a steep, muddy road (it had stopped raining btw),
which turned into a trail, which turned into a meadow. By now the sun
was shining and as befitting the now exuberant spirit of the day, I
scampered down the path, practicing my mudskating skills, while the
others came along at a slightly more sedate pace. Next we came to a
small stream, which, to my slight dismay, everybody crossed without
incident (oh well, I guess we were all pretty wet, even without a swim
in the stream.) Then up a steep little hill we panted, serenaded by
the chatter of a group of excited young cowherds. Most of the people
here seem to view anybody with light skin as some sort of zoo
escapee--especially the kids. They're always excited to see a
faranji. Once up, we followed a few cowtrails around the curve of a
few more hills, dashing through the jungle, trying to chart a safe
path between the thistles and the mud. It was turning out to be a
gorgeous day!

It was at this point that I decided to climb higher up the hill we
were skirting in an effort to avoid a patch of underbrush. Because of
the steepness of the hill and my rate of ascent, and because it was
probably easier and definitely shorter to just go through the
underbrush, I was not joined by my companions. I was planning to drop
back down to meet up with them after clearing the brush, but I had not
counted on what I would find at the top of the hill. I got to the top
and was admiring the view, when I noticed two things. First, I saw a
tall hill in front of me, the tallest one around. We hadn't climbed
it before in our wanderings so it was definitely calling my name. I
was about to go back down to the group and head toward the hill with
them, but then I saw the second interesting sight; human heads bobbing
up and down beyond a row of bushes. Intrigued, I ventured over to see
what they were doing and discovered a fairly well-traveled path.
Enticed by this winding way, I stepped onto the path and was soon
skating down slick slope with the rest of the travelers.

The trail dipped into a valley below and crossed a rushing brown river
over a cool log bridge, before beginning to climb the tall hill I'd
had my eye on earlier. I was still separated from the rest of the
faranjis, but I figured the rest of the group would probably head for
the tall hill as well. So I started up. And up. And up. It was a
really steep hill! At one point I staggered through a herd of cows
and shortly after heard surprised shouts below me. "Youyouyouyou!"
Two small cowherds were apparently shocked to find that a faranji had
somehow appeared on the hillside above them (I guess they hadn't heard
my gasps as I passed them.) After a little while longer I finally
reached the top. And boy, what a view! The air was crystal clear and
I could see the hills and vallies roll for miles. I was on the side
facing the hospital and it looked surprising close (and it probably
was--as the crow flies anyway.) The side of the hill I'd been
climbing was mostly cleared, but at the top it was covered in a dense
forest. I waited for the others for a few minutes and then decided to
explore the forest. I circled through and stopped to take in the view
from the other side before coming back to look for my companions
again. They still were nowhere to be found.

By now it was about 4:45. I decided that the chances of meeting up
with the rest of the group were now probably pretty slim, so I decided
to forge on and check out another cool hill I'd sighted, to the north.
It was strangely pyramid-shaped, with a bunch of spiraling lines
circling it. It was bare except for a little patch of trees on the
top. I plotted my course to the hill from my lofty vantage point and
set off. Since I didn't have to worry about waiting for anybody else,
I ran down the slope and across the little valley. There was a few
houses and some people working out in their corn patches who I greeted
as I passed by. Then I crossed the path that I'd been following
earlier. There were still plenty of people walking back from town and
one young man accosted me as I burst onto the path. "Hey, were you
go?" "To that hill," I pointed, before continuing down into the forest
off the trail. Judging by the shouts behind me, they were definitely
not used to faranis' Sabbath walks--especially not ones who didn't
stick to the safe paths. I preferred to think that they were cheering
me on. I crossed another small stream at the bottom of the valley and
then headed up the pyramid. The sides were pretty rocky, and I think
the rocks were igneous, which might explain the curious shape of the
hill (or it might not--I'm definitely not a geologist!)

I reached the top around 5:00 and peered curiously into the gloomy
forested patch. I had to see what the forest was hiding at the very
top of this pyramid. Unfortunately, this forest patch was blanketed
with nettles. Now, I don't know if any of you have had previous
experience with nettles, but they're nasty stinging plants. And these
were african nettles--they bite even through your clothes. Now I was
really curious to see if anything special was at the top of the
pyramid, both hidden by the forest and guarded by the nettles. So I
armed myself with a stick and set about creating a path into the
center. After a few minutes of flailing, I broke through the ring of
nettles and found myself at the base of an enormous tree. It was
higher than all the others and right at the peak of the pyramid. It
was pretty cool:) But there was nothing else terribly exciting that I
could see, and since it was getting on towards sunset, I figured I'd
better head back. I whacked a path back to the outside world and got
my bearings for the return trip. The route I'd followed thus far was
two sides of a narrow triangle, with long sides and a relatively short
base, between the two hills. I could see the Hospital from where I
was at; it's set on a the side of a hill and is a pretty good
landmark.

I set off running down the side of my pyramid and circled around to
follow a ridge that was roughly in line with the Hospital. This was
probably my favorite part of the trip, running into the sunset,
following the little trail as it dropped down the ridgeline,
zigzagging through the woods, darting through bokolo (corn) fields,
and through little clusters of huts. Occasionally I would come around
a corner to see a few of the inhabitants of the huts. I can only
imagine the thoughts going through these people's heads as they hoed
their gardens or washed their clothes or whatever, peacefully whiling
away the hours, only to be abruptly startled out of their daily
routine as a crazy faranji dashed through their backyard, with a
brief, cheerful, "Fayadha!" The adults were merely startled, but the
kids were always terribly excited. Several even followed me for a
little bit. Finally the trail dropped into a valley and turned right,
following a large stream. I needed to cross the stream to continue my
line back to the Hospital, but I couldn't find any way across which
didn't involve fording the flooded stream. So, I found a decent
place, took off my shoes and socks and rolled up my pants, and waded
across. This is where I sustained my only other injury of note (the
first being when I tumbled over the fence), twisting my ankle slightly
between two rocks as I forded the river. Fortunately it wasn't
serious, and I was able to continue on without much trouble. I
climbed the hill on the other side, and thanks to the help of a
friendly farmer, found my way back onto familiar territory, coming out
onto another path, which we'd traveled down on previous Sabbath hikes.
I returned to the Hospital without incident, arriving about 6:10.

Petra and Shaunda were just heading out the door to go play for the
patients, so I changed and joined them. By now I was feeling the
effects of my vigorous excursion, and despite my large lunch, was
famished, as well as tired. We played some hymns on each of the wards
and then headed back to the house for some much-appreciated supper and
rest.

For those who were wondering about the rest of the group, they
eventually made their way up to the tall hill, arriving there about
the time I was getting to the top of the pyramid. From that point
they turned south and headed back to Gimbie (whereas I had ventured
north.) They managed to find a swamp on the way back and from what I
heard (and saw), had an exciting time; especially when the mud came
over the top of Laura's wellies (boots). :) But they all got back
safely, a little while after I did.

All in all, it was a wonderful expedition!

P.S. Thanks for the comments on the blogs. I can't actually see my
blog once it's posted (Blogger is blocked here--I email posts to my
blog and it emails me the comments); hence the lack of replies, but I
do appreciate the feedback. If you want to get in touch with me and
actually get a response, email (sonic1100atgmaildotcom) is the best
way.

Excelsior!

9.02.2008

AY Talk- Man of God

These are my notes for a talk I gave on Sabbath for the local AY
group. They are fairly rough for at least two reasons: first, since I
was speaking with a translator, I had to adjust my talk, and second, I
haven't edited my speaking notes into a proper written essay. Please
don't judge them too harshly:)
It was really cool how God gave me a topic. Friday morning I opened
my Bible up to 1 Kings 13. I hadn't read this story for at least a
year, but as I was reading it, the Holy Spirit brought all kinds of
lessons to my mind. That afternoon I sat down to compile my thoughts
and the talk virtually seemed to write itself! It was pretty neat
watching the Holy Spirit at work.
The presentation went well (until my laptop battery died and I had to
give the last third from memory) and God blessed. There were at least
80 people and they seemed to enjoy the talk. I hope it was as much of
a learning experience for them as it was for me! Thank you all for
your prayers:)

The Man of God: Miracles and Mistakes

Background
Israel has been split in two. A man named Jeroboam rebelled against
King Solomon's son, Rehoboam. He took 10 of the 12 tribes of Israel
and they started their own nation.

Things seemed to be going pretty well for Jeroboam. After all, he had
10 of the 12 tribes with him. That's a pretty large majority. But
there was one thing that troubled him. The Temple was in Jerusalem,
in the land of Judah. Rehoboam had control over Jerusalem. Jeroboam
didn't want his people going to the Temple in Jerusalem--they might
want to return to Rehoboam.

So he came up with a plan. He would build two golden calves in his
territory and let the people worship them. Then they wouldn't go to
the Temple of God where they might think about deserting him. Do you
think God was happy about this? Do you think He liked the idea of his
people worshiping idols; golden statues that couldn't think or feel?

Let's pick up the story in verse 1 of chapter 13. (read through verse 3)

Man of God is sent by God to Jeroboam with a message: "You're going
the wrong way! You're worshiping false gods, and even worse--you're
teaching the people to do likewise. This is an abomination!"
This message is a warning. God was merciful--He didn't kill the
rebellious king and his people right away, He wanted to give them a
chance to repent. He even worked a miracle to try to get their
attention; the altar cracked in half and all the ashes fell onto the
ground.

But instead of being grateful for God's mercy and repenting, King
Jeroboam reacts in anger. He calls for his guards to seize the man of
God. King Jeroboam had no respect for God's messenger. It is clear
what he thought of the message of mercy. But God still didn't strike
the king dead for his arrogance. The king was worshiping false gods;
he was even leading the people to follow his example in worshiping
idols. Then he reacted with anger when God gave him a chance to
repent. But God was still patient with him.

Now God tries even harder to get the king's attention. As Jeroboam
gestures furiously at the prophet, singling him out for certain death,
God causes the king's hand to wither. Finally, He has Jeroboam's
attention. "Please ask God to heal me," he says to the Man of God.
Notice that Jeroboam did not acknowledge his sin. He did not ask for
forgiveness for leading the people of Israel astray. He was concerned
only about his own welfare. But God listened to the prayer of the Man
of God and healed Jeroboam's hand.

What happens next? King Jeroboam invites the Man of God over to his
house for food and offers to give him gifts. What is he doing? He's
trying to buy him off! To bribe him! Jeroboam thinks God can be
bought. Can God be bribed? Jeroboam still isn't listening to God.
First he tried to silence God's messenger by force, now he's trying to
pay him to be quiet.

The prophet might have been tempted by the king's offer. I imagine
King Jeroboam could have given him some pretty nice gifts; good food,
horses, clothes, money... If I was him, I might have been tempted.
But God in His wisdom had given the Man of God advance warning. He
had given the prophet a special message designed to keep him safe.
The Lord had told him "You shall eat no bread, nor drink water, nor
return by the way you came." And that's what he did.

Wow! What do you think of this guy? He's bold huh? First he travels
into occupied territory and boldly tells the enemy king that he's
sinning against God (in the presence of all his soldiers), then he
stares down the angry king and waits for God to save his life, and now
he even refuses the king's gifts! This is truly a man of God!

But the Bible does not record only the nice things. The Bible tells
the truth. And the truth is even brave men of God can make mistakes
and turn their backs on Him.

There was another prophet who lived nearby. But he was a false
prophet. He had not followed God, and Satan used him to bring down
the Man of God. He heard about what had happened and. . .

Read 14-19

And just like that, the Man of God fell. Satan is tricky, isn't he!
But he uses the same tricks over and over. By looking carefully at
the principles of this story, we can resist Satan. Just like God gave
the prophet a message that was intended to keep him safe, He has given
us a message to keep us safe.

So what principles of resisting Satan can we find in this story?
Let's learn from the prophet's mistakes.

Wrong place - God told him to return, and judging by his command not
to stay around long enough even to get a drink, He wanted him to
return promptly. Instead, he's sitting down on the job. He is
resting under a tree. He was probably thinking, "I've gotten past the
hard part. I was faithful in delivering the message; I stood firm
when the king threatened me; I even remembered what God said about not
eating the food when the king was being nice. I think I've done a
pretty good job. Surely it's okay to rest under this tree for awhile.
God probably doesn't mind me slacking off for a little while." He
was resting when he should have been moving forward.

Luke 9:62 says no one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is
fit for the Kingdom of God. If we want to successfully resist Satan,
we can't be lazy. We need to pay attention and work diligently to do
what God says.

The Man of God was in the wrong place at the wrong time by his own
choice. Sometimes God allows hard things to happen to us, but many
times we bring temptations on ourselves. Some situations we can't
avoid, but there are many things we can avoid, that God has warned us
about. We need to be careful not to put ourselves in danger by
stepping outside of God's will.

Second, he allowed himself to get in an argument with Satan's agent.
When Jesus was being tempted by the devil, He didn't try to reason; He
quoted Scripture. The devil is much smarter than we are, and if we
hang around and try to reason with him, we will fall. The Man of God
knew what the motive of the false prophet was; he shouldn't have
lingered to have a discussion.

So the first mistake the prophet made was to put himself on dangerous
ground by not diligently carrying out God's commands. The second was
hanging around to parley with the enemy.

And the third mistake was allowing himself to be persuaded to directly
contradict God's instructions. The false prophet directly
contradicted what God had told the Man of God. God hadn't given him
confusing commands. It wasn't hard to understand "Do not eat or drink
anything while you are there." But by putting himself on dangerous
ground, the Man of God had lowered his defenses and now he could not
withstand even the blatant attacks of the Enemy.

You probably know what happens next. The Man of God succumbed to the
temptation and on his way home, after eating with the false prophet;
he was killed by a lion.

You know, this is very similar to another story in the Bible. Do you
know what it is? Does this sound familiar? There was another tree,
which another person was tempted to linger by. She stayed to try to
reason with the Enemy, and then was persuaded to disregard a plain
command of God. This was the very first deception on Earth; when Eve
was tempted to eat the fruit from the Tree of Good and Evil.

And you know what? Satan hasn't changed his tactics. He used the
same tricks with the Man of God. And he uses the same tricks today;
that's why studying this story is helpful to us.

We can learn about the nature of God from this story. Exodus 34:6
says He is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in
love. And that is the case in this story. God repeatedly shows mercy
to the wicked king Jeroboam, even healing him when the Man of God
prayed for him. God doesn't want anybody to die. He wants us to turn
from our sins and live.

There are also many lessons in this story for our church. God has
called us to give a message to the world. It is not an easy message.
Sometimes there will be scary situations. But God wants us to witness
for Him no matter how scary things may seem. Satan will try many
different ways to keep you from giving God's message. He will try
intimidation. He will try to bribe you with nice things. Money, land,
excellent food, cars, all the luxuries of the world . . .

God wants to keep us safe from the traps of Satan. That's one reason
why this story is in the Bible; so we can learn from it. When Satan
tempts us, we can remember the principles of resisting that the Man of
God didn't use. Don't put yourself outside of God's protection by
neglecting to be diligent in doing what He says; don't linger to
reason with the Enemy, and when confronted with something that is
plainly counter to God's commands, run away!

God has called us to be Men and Women of God today. He has provided
clear directions. And He has promised to protect us from the roaring
lion. May we be faithful to Him.


Excelsior!

8.28.2008

As I was eating my peanut-butter and guava sauce-covered plank and
drinking tea with fresh squeezed lemon and wild honey this morning, I
suddenly realized what day it was. Thursday, August 28--the first day
of classes at Southern. Wow. For the past three years this was one of
the biggest days of the year. And if I really want to get nostalgic,
this is the first time I haven't been starting school now for 10
years. That's slightly discomforting. I guess it's because after all
these years, I had the routine pretty much figured out. Move into
your room. Get your books. Meet up with old friends. Figure out
where your classes were.

This time, I have no relevant points of reference. I don't know
what's going to happen. I don't see old friends everywhere. I don't
recognize my surroundings. I don't have my comfortable old room 1318,
A-wing, Talge Hall. My roommate is thousands of miles away. My
family is even further away.

But my God is here.

Many of you are probably starting school today. It's stressful--I
know, and I'm praying for you. Many of you are not; perhaps you have
settled into a comfortable routine, perhaps you're in the same
situation I'm in. But wherever you are,


God.
Is.
Here.


Excelsior

8.25.2008

Re: The Beginning

Well, I've made it! Shaunda Helm and I arrived at Gimbie Adventist
Hospital at 11:00 p.m. local time (4:00 p.m. EST) Wednesday, after
quite the journey. Let me give you a brief update on what's been
happening so far. 

Our adventures started before we even got to Africa. First, while
checking in at Dulles, I was a bit worried because my bags were all
pretty heavy. I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to bring the bee
hive foundations that I'd stuffed in my bags at the last minute. Sure
enough, after hoisting the bags on the scale, each one was about 7-8
lbs overweight. Fortunately, God had led us to a merciful ticket
agent, who allowed me to take the bags without any hassle at all. And
that was just the beginning of how God was watching out for us!

About an hour and a half after leaving Dulles airport at 9:00 p.m.
Monday, our pilot told us that they'd been having a few glitches and
that we were going to have to return to the airport. Nobody was very
happy to hear about the delay. But after experiencing a rather bumpy
landing and then being promptly surrounded by a convoy of fire trucks
and ambulances, we managed to swallow our complaints. Prayers at
work?
After a night in the terminal, we left Tuesday morning. I was
fortunate to meet two very gracious Ethiopian gentlemen while on the
plane who kindly told me a little bit about their country and helped
me start learning some Amharic words. One man even showed me some
Ethiopian coins, insisting that I keep them. Almost everybody I've
met so far has been very friendly.

We finally arrived in Addis Ababa at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday morning.
After collecting our bags and changing some money, Shaunda and I got
in the (rather long) queue to go through Customs. I'd heard stories
of other people having some pretty intense experiences getting
through, and I was praying pretty hard as we approached the front of
the line. Here again, we saw God's hand at work as one of the
officials came up to me and asked if I had anything to declare. I
told him I had changed some money in the airport and that I also had a
laptop with me. "Okay," he said motioning, "Go through." I somewhat
incredulously gathered my bags and walked past the long line of
people. Shaunda quickly explained that she was with me, and he let
her through as well. I kept expecting somebody to yell for us to
stop, but nobody did. What an answer to prayer!

Now we just had to find Ashebir, the person sent to meet us. We
didn't see anybody with signs and after looking around for a few
minutes, I decided to find a phone and call one of the numbers Paul
had given me. Using the coins that my friendly seatmate had given me,
I was able to get a hold of Ashebir. He and Gemeda, the Business
Manager for Gimbie and Laura, an incoming medical student from the UK
had been about to leave because they heard that we weren't going to
arrive until later. Another thing to add to the praise list

We spent a little time figuring out how to pack everything in the Land
Cruiser and then we were off! Driving through Addis is really an
experience. There are beggars everywhere; sitting on the sidewalks,
sprawled in the middle of traffic roundabouts, sleeping on the
medians. . . Many of them are children. Sad stuff:(

Heading out of town, the traffic soon thinned out. The road itself
was pretty nice for a lot of the way; apparently a contracting company
from South Korea recently finished constructing one of the nicest
highways in the country from Addis to Ambo, a distance of about 120
km. There were still plenty of obstacles however. In addition to all
of the people bringing stuff in to sell in Addis, there were lots of
donkeys, cows, goats, and sheep. They all seemed pretty unfazed by
our hurtling Land Cruiser, which led to a lot of honking and swerving
and screeching of brakes. Auto horns are put to good use here; a
double honk is the equivalent of saying, "Hey, I'm coming." In fact,
it's one of the few road rules that is actually followed.

The scenery is beautiful one you get out into the country. Everything
is very green (unless it's mud, in which case it's red) and there are
lots of eucalyptus trees and shrubs and other foliage. I want to
describe a few of the most commonly appearing sights along the road.
One is a few cows off grazing along the side in the care of a six or
seven-year old child who will frequently jump up and shout "Faranji!"
as soon as he or she sees you. Another is some women bent over under
huge bundles of sticks they're carrying to the market. Another are
the piles of logs and dirt randomly piled on the (nonexistent)
shoulders of the road. I guess the dirt is for repairing the road and
the logs are waiting to be sold to trucks coming along. We even saw a
few monkeys.

We made pretty good time to Ambo, arriving around 12:30 p.m. Ashebir
needed to repair something in the suspension for the Land Cruiser, so
we stopped at a really nice hotel and had lunch. We had injera and
some awesome shiro. For those who have never had the privilege of
eating this delectable food, injera is a type of thin, sour pancake
made from fermented teff (endemic grain) dough which serves as a plate
and, when torn into pieces, as a spoon and fork also. Shiro is the
sauce that goes on top of it, generally incorporating lentils, onions,
spices, etc. It's wonderful stuff! Then we went out to shay, a kind
of really sweet tea, served in a little thimble cup. Finally we met
up with Ashebir and continued on our way.

From Ambo to Nkempte, a distance of about 180 km, the road is not so
good. Ashebir was trying to make up for lost time, so we careered
along at quite a good clip. He's pretty good and we missed most of
the major caverns in the road, but we hit enough that just as we
entered Nkempte (after about 5 more hours), we had to stop and change
a flat. This must be a fairly frequent occurrence, as Ashebir carries
two spares with him.

The next section of road is pretty good (at least it's paved most of
the way), so we were able to travel the remaining 120 km in about 2
hours. We saw a hyena during this section. The seating arrangements
were Ashebir, me, and Gameda in the front and Laura and Shaunda in the
back seat, holding back a cascade of blankets and luggage. The
luggage area was completely jammed full of stuff and there was a few
more bags of oranges and guavas, propane tanks, and some more blankets
strapped on top. I had a really hard time staying awake during these
last two hours, but since it was virtually impossible to rest my head
in one place for longer than twenty seconds, I had the interesting
experience of mini-dreams every time I closed my eyes

We finally got to the hospital just before 11:00 p.m. It sure was
nice to see Paul and Petra's smiling faces! They gave us a very warm
welcome and after unloading everything, invited us down to their
house, where after giving them some of the things I'd brought over for
them (and showing off the bee foundations) we fell asleep.

The next morning Paul kindly woke me up at 9:00 so I could start
getting used to the new schedule. He gave me a tour and a little
orientation and then I started right in. My first task was updating
the hospital's price list. Inflation is about 15.9% so far this year,
and that's really eating into the hospital's profits. I became a
little bit more familiar with the hospital as I worked my way through
the departments trying to figure out what the current rates were for
things. (This is proving to be a bigger task than I anticipated as
I'm not quite finished yet, 3 days later.)

The next day, Petra and I went running at 6:00. It was just getting
light and there weren't very many people around, which is good,
because they're not used to seeing anybody running for exercise, and
farenges to boot. The mud was pretty sticky; Petra encouraged me by
saying that it was like having built-in leg weights! Boy, if I keep
running with the weights and the altitude will really get me in good
shape. (Andrew will never be able to keep up;).
Later that day, Shaunda and Petra and I went out to Dongoro clinic.
It was really neat to see how one of the outpost clinics operated.
The nurse there, Ngadaye, was pretty overwhelmed with all the
patients, so we brought along another nurse to help out for the
afternoon. They are set up in a little round hut and the patients
come up to her table and tell her what's wrong. She does a little
examination and then gives them a prescription or refers them to
Gimbie. They then take the prescription over to the cashier and pay
for their pills or injection or test or whatever. Often they don't
have enough money to pay for the $2 or $3 dollars worth of meds so she
tries to prescribe something cheaper. Then they come back and she
dispenses the meds and explains how to take them. It was pretty crazy
as she often had eight or nine people clustered around her. I tried
to act as crowd control and just help wherever I could.
After the clinic closed, Shaunda and I counted the money brought in
over the previous two days and compared it with the patient receipts.
Then I returned the money and receipts to Gimbie. We also bought a
new lock ($1.13) and put it on the door to cut down on the loss of
drugs. Petra found a good deal on some musi faringi (sweet little
bananas) and a jackfruit (a huge thing, about the size of two
basketballs and weighing around 25 lbs!) so we managed to fit them
into the Land Cruiser, along with all 10 of us

Sabbath was very welcome! Friday night, Paul encouraged us to take
showers because the water is often off on the weekends. Warm water is
quite scarce, so showers are usually quite short. Fortunately we've
had water and electricity pretty consistently so far.
Paul and I headed off to pull together something for the Sabbath
School lesson, which was about the Apostle Peter. The
English-speakers have our own Sabbath School, and we had a really neat
discussion. About 10:40 we headed over to church and were treated
with an amazing performance by the children's choir. They sang
several songs, first in decently recognizable English, and then in
Oromifa. It was powerful! When they sing, they really sing! They
were ably led by an eleven or twelve-year-old choir director

Petra sang with the A choir (I guess they have B and C choir too) for
several songs and Shaunda accompanied them on the piano. They sang
hymns that I recognize (ex: Crown Him) but in Oromifa and they were
pretty good too. Next AY choir sang a song based on Matthew 24. The
guitar player accompanying them was grandly out of tune, but nobody
seemed to notice. Then Fromsa, the head gardener for the hospital
preached a sermon. The church kindly provides an interpreter, so it
was possible to follow the sermon.

We had potluck at Paul and Petra's house for lunch, along with all of
the British (and one Canadian) medical students, Linda and Amber
(visiting midwives from the US), and Becky (the matron, also
American). The food is generally fantastic here. I'm going to post
another blog just about the food, but probably on the hospital blog.
The highlight of the meal was the sugar cane.

Afterwards, Paul, Petra, Laura, Becky, and I headed out for a hike.
We went down the hill and toured the hospital garden (needs some
attention), and then hopped the chain link fence and went exploring.
We climbed a couple hills, forded two streams, fought stinging nettles
and a few biting ants, clambered up trees, picked some berries (which
I succeeded in turning into mush by the time we returned), found
evidence of African Porcupines, as well as some lovely flowers, and
met a few of the locals, before heading back. The evening we spent in
good conversation and a quick game of 7-Up before heading to bed.

That's pretty much what's happened so far. Shaunda's got her hands
full figuring out how to help manage the outer clinics; starting
today, I'm going to be in charge of the finances for the clinics, the
nursing school and the upcoming construction project. Henock, (the
accountant I work with) and I are going to take inventory for the rest
of the week first, before I really get started on that.

It's incredibly busy and it's going to be a huge task just to keep the
hospital's head above water. But God is here; He's done miracles to
get us this far, and He's got lots more in store, I'm sure. Keep us
in your prayers!

Excelsior


--
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing
of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and
perfect will of God.
Romans 12:2

The Beginning

--
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing
of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and
perfect will of God.
Romans 12:2

8.18.2008

African Epoch


Well, the day has come.  I'm leaving in a few hours for the mountains of Abyssinia.   I ask for your prayers as I take on a new adventure.  God is leading; I know He will take care of my future.  He's going to teach me how to 'sing the song of the Lord in a foreign land.' 

Thank you for all of your support, calls, encouraging emails, and prayers.  I'm sorry I didn't have time to respond to everybody, but you all will be close to my heart.  

As the icon of American radio famously says, "Stand by for news!"

Excelsior

8.07.2008

Darkness Before Dawn

What follows is my summary of the thesis of Richard Swenson's book, Hurtling Toward Oblivion. Quite convincing, I might add.

The exponential growth of profusion (more of everything) through irreversible progress has a dark side: the accompanying explosion of negatives, which,when they reach critical mass, will bring about the collapse of the world system with commensurately exponential speed.

The final events will be rapid ones. . .


Excelsiorr

7.09.2008

Lakeview? Or Lost...

Well, I'm here at Camp Cherokee for another terrific summer. Things are exciting and busy, as always. For example, today I spent four hours driving boats, (complete with an injured camper waterfront drill), I tried to convince my cabin that resting during rest period was a good idea, tried to teach them how to clean a bathhouse properly (we got a perfect score, so either they learned well or I did too much;), dealt with a homesick camper (literally sick:( , and was recently subject to a frightening Indian raid, wherein the whole of camp was carried off by fierce-looking painted savages to the Teepees for the evening program. In between all that I've been busy taking trips to the ER (no more appendix--and hopefully I'll be able to keep the rest of my apparently non-vital organs), and trying to finish up the details to be able to go over to Ethiopia in a month. I've still got to mail things off to get my visa, figure out my insurance, and decide what to take with me; minor details like that.


Unfortunately, despite the awe-inspiring surroundings, despite the amazing, bountiful spiritual feast of camp meeting, despite the morning and evening chapel programs here at camp, the staff worships, our daily cabin devotions, and my own personal worship time (not as much of a priority as it should be), I'm not feeling alive in Christ. Somehow during the day, between my attempts to instill good behavior in my campers, the few witnessing moments I catch, and fights I stop, the relentless striving to be a competent staff member, the advice I give, I'm losing the little bit of the Lifewater I managed to scoop up in the morning. Dr. Clouzet shared a thought from an article by John Ortberg that I just recently recalled. It goes something like this, "One of the best things you can do to improve your spiritual life is to ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life."


I'll let you ponder that and take from it what you will.


This is what it means for me. If I don't have time for God, then I'm just a walking, talking exhibit from the wax museum, labeled Christian. I might look real, even act fairly nice, but it's just a sham.


God, I've lost You somewhere among the orderly chaos of my own pursuit of excellence. Help me to slow down and listen.


Excelsior.

6.13.2008

A Thought

They say it takes rain to appreciate the sun.
Well, it takes pain to appreciate none.


Excelsior

6.03.2008

Summer School

Pictures are coming, I promise!

Some things I've learned during a two-week, 4,000 mile roadtrip with Timothy, Temple, Shama, and Brian, and then two weeks at my grandparents' farm with Ivan, in no particular order . . .

1. God can find the best camping spots ever!
2. A better appreciation for the song, "The Happy Farmer."
3. How to prune blueberry bushes
4. I'm not cut out to be a goat doctor
5. How to build a fence across a stream cut down into a gully
6. How to weld without a welder (it involves a torch with a heating tip and a lot of time)
7. Human flight is possible--it's just the landing that hurts (Sorry Brian)
8. Just how much you can fit in a Ford Taurus!
9. How to amuse yourself in airports (surreptitiously hide non-transportable items in the bushes without getting arrested, flip pennies into cups, long for a hackey sack)
10. That I really like the Psalms of Ascent (120-135)
11. Grandparents are one of the best ideas God ever had (I'm so glad I got to spend some time with all of mine!)
12. Chickens are lots of fun--it's like Christmas every day, trying to find their presents scattered around the barn
13. How to train goats that it's not a good idea to try to run through electric fences
14. That I have the most fun when I'm helping other people
15. How to eat Injera and Wot (now I'm really looking forward to Ethiopia!)
16. What fun it is to meet familiar people in strange places (Your eyes sure got big Kelsey:)
17. How to do a backflip (Thanks for your encouragement Nana!)
18. What it's like to drive 46 miles on a dirt road through the desert (and how to hang on when a jungle-trained driver is behind the wheel!)
19. Not to spray Dr. Brauner's Peppermint Oil Soap in your eyes (Seems pretty self-explanatory, don't you think?)
20. That haircuts are much more exciting when it's your hair stylist's first time
21. Living rooms are meant to have hammocks hung in them
22. How to pack a car like never before! (see number 8)
23. Pea soup and grapes and carrots are lovely breakfast food if your Grandma can't remember anything else to make
24. That it's much easier to catch goats with someone to help you
25. How to explore the inner workings of a medical clinic without getting kicked out (Stride boldly down the hallway and don't hang around to talk with anybody official-looking)
26. How to get in to an exclusive restaurant just to look at the decorations (same as above, only with the addition of a determined Grammie)
27. How to drive a truck and trailer with aplomb (I had more practice after I left Montana, I promise:)
28. Roadtrips are more exciting if you have adventurous compatriots and manage to avoid planning every moment (Thanks for your advice Timothy)
29. That Wafflehouse tastes really good at 11:00 at night (and that some waitresses aren't sure where Maryland is!)
30. How to scale trees and then descend with the greatest of ease (have your friends belay you:)
31. That Adult Sabbath School is very different than Primary
32. Waking up to NPR at 5:30 in the morning is slightly obnoxious (I sympathize for you guys at OA!)
33. That there is still a lot of snow in some parts of the country (over 6 feet in the Blue Mountains south of Walla Walla, WA), and that Crocs are wonderful snow-storage spaces, (although this action may have unexpected consequences when the Crocs are otherwise occupied!)
34. Driving long distances is much improved by the addition of odd rituals:)
35. It can sometimes take longer to get from Y to Z than from J to Z
36. Beware of opening your mouth when known mischief-makers ask you too
37. A day just isn't complete without singing three hymns and having worship
38. It's handy to have a tractor around when you get stuck
39. To pay more attention to the special little things that God does for me (I call these mini miracles "angel kisses" :)
40. What a huge blessing Godly friends are (I realize this anew every day!)
41. Oregon has full-service gas stations (and the prices reflect the extra service!)
42. Shade is a very special treat (Ps. 121:5), whether you find it during a hike in the Grand Canyon or after pounding fence posts on a hot and humid Maryland farm
43. It's nice to to have your labor appreciated (and goats and dogs sure are appreciative when they've been fed!)
44. Desert sand makes for soft landings while slacklining--as long as you avoid the cactus spines!
45. How to get ketchup out of a bottle without making a big mess (Thanks Kravigs!)
46. Following hunches while driving can make for beautiful excursions and terrible detours (I don't advise doing it when it's dark, on roads that aren't on the map, and while driving a Uhaul truck pulling a horse trailer--you might have to try to execute a 25-point turn on a little dirt road and end up getting temporarily stuck in a ditch!)
47. Some tricks for getting optimum gas mileage (go slower than the speed limit and make friends with big trucks)
48. If you want to really get to know somebody, either drive across the country with them or build a fence with them or trim goat hooves with them (Common points between the three are lots of time together and sharing lots of pleasant and some stressful situations)
49. A little bit of sand goes a long ways (especially when used as a seasoning!)
50. And I've learned that it's possible to be homesick for a place you've never been too. Being separated from people I love makes me long for our eternal Home more than ever.

Wow, all that and more (I didn't want to take all of your time!) and it's only been a month! I wonder what God has in store for the rest of the summer:)

Excelsior!

5.11.2008

Montana or Bust

Enroute to Trout Creek, Montana on the world's coolest roadtrip, with some of the most amazing people ever: Temple Bragg, Shama Eller, Timothy George, and Brian Glass. Map of our route.

4.27.2008

While Rome Burns*


Ivan and I have just feasted on a sumptuous meal of tender Broiled Gluten with Lime Garlic Sauce. MMMmmm good. It took quite a while (2 and a half hours) to proceed from start to finish, but the end result was definitely worth it! For those who are interested, here's the recipe, thanks to Mr. Marsh.

1 cup pre-seasoned gluten flour (season with Mckay's Chicken seasoning)
2/3 cup cold water
1/3 cup peanut butter (chop into dry mix before adding water)

Knead until formed into one dough ball, squish into oven-suitable container (caution, this mixture is akin to Flubber!), and bake for about 2o minutes at 350 until firm. Remove from oven and cut several slits in the dough. Then cover with your favorite salsa (Lime and Garlic in this case) and return to the oven for another 45 minutes or so. Wait eagerly and then carefully remove from the oven. Serve however you like (we had sandwiches) Delicious!

Now, back to those pesky books!

Excelsior!

*For those confused by the title, see my Distractions post:)

4.21.2008

Revolutionary

http://jeddaka.deviantart.com/art/Sword-42041021


I found something very profound and I want to share it with you. This is a selection from Sandra's blog.

Interpretations. Is Bible all about interpretations? You mean when I read it and explain the idea it presents in simpler words its already my interpretation and wrong?
This week, I learned that to say "I believe", or "I think this is how it is" really works. Among my friends my interpretation doesn't count. So no longer do I even say these words, because what I believe will not change the world. It might change my actions, my character if I truly cling to what I believe in the Bible, but my spoken word of my faith will not proof that that's what necessarily Bible is speaking.
How did Jesus defend His truth? "I believe..."???? No. Rather here are the texts that He used in His confrontational situations:
Lu 4:4 And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.
Lu 4:8 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve
.Lu 4:10 For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee:
Lu 19:46 Saying unto them, It is written, My house is the house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of thieves.
Lu 24:46 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:
John 6:31 Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat.
Jesus quoted the scriptures. God Himself abiding in His own word. He knew it, knew it in His heart, because Bible doesn't say "Jesus ran to the synagogue to get the book of Isaiah so He could read to the devil who was tempting Jesus in the wilderness".... Not at all, because He kept saying "It is written..... ".
I am convinced, time after time when I am asked certain questions and am confronted with what I say from the Bible, whether I read it to the questioner or quote it my self, that there is no way of proving the Bible but through quoting, or showing what it speaks for itself . . . There can only be one truth . . .
"There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death." Pr 16:25

Wow! Is it possible?

Thanks for the inspiration Sandra!


Excelsior

4.15.2008

Lists

In case you're interested, here are some of my latest musical and literary acquisitions :)

Music I've been listening to recently:


Books on my shelf:

Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945 by Tony Judt















Planet Narnia by Michael Ward














Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation by Bede

















A Brief History of the Paradox by Roy Sorenson















1066: The Year of Conquest by David Howarth

















Lord, Save My Church by Richard O'Ffill













Excelsior!

Helpless?

(http://a-aracnaphobic.deviantart.com/art/Rose-Petals-62466239)

She sits in silence,
Her heart hurts.
I want to save the day,
But I cannot.

My heart breaks.


She speaks in sorrow,
Of life's woes.
How can I help her now,
What can I do?

My heart aches.


There is One who was
Silent and sad.
He bore our wounds and grief.
I can tell Him.

Peace awakes

Excelsior

4.10.2008

Milestone

(http://sandradodd.com/)

Today marks a very important milestone in my life. I have successfully completed my final report for Business Communications (20 pgs), my ethanol position paper for Ethical, Social, and Legal Environment of Business (13 pgs), my semester project for Principles of Management (10 pgs), and as of 10:40 a.m., my research paper on the life and influence of the Venerable Bede for Historiography (16 pgs).

So what does this mean for you, faithful reader? Well, simply that I will have less of an excuse for not posting anything on my blog, and if you reside within zip code 37315, you will be seeing a bit more of me. And for my roommate, it means that I might finally clean up my side of the room, as well as ceasing to get up at unearthly hours :)

To everyone out there who is still toiling away at your word processors, carry on! The end is attainable.

Excelsior!

1.07.2008

Moral Dilemmas: Part Two

(viewimages.com)

I started to post another comment on my Conundrums post, but then I realized that most of you probably wouldn't see it, and it was also becoming rather lengthy, so I decided to upgrade into a new post. :)


I've been doing some more thinking (and research) on moral dilemmas (see Conundrum post for my working definition of a moral dilemma.) I listened to a very insightful seminar by Ron du Preez and I'm also in the process of listening to Samuel Pippim's 2005 GYC seminar Faithful Unto Death:Living Holy Lives in the Last Days. Also, and most informatively, I've been turning to the Bible to shed some light on this important and perplexing (to me, at least) issue. Surely God has something to say about moral dilemmas. . .

Well, He does. I haven't gotten very far yet, but I've already come across some interesting stuff. The most striking example so far is when God called Abraham to sacrifice Isaac on the mountaintop. To me, this would seem to be the ultimate moral dilemma--a message, presumably from God, apparently directly contravening one of His previous commands not to kill.

Can you imagine that occurring in a modern context?! But, as Brian G. said in a comment on my last post on this topic, "we must submit our reasoning and decisions to the Holy Spirit in small things so that in larger situations there will be no question in our mind of what God's will is." Abraham had done that. He pursued such a close relationship with God that he knew Who was speaking to him. He was able to recognize the will of God. That still didn't make it easy for him to make a decision about what to do! Chapter 13 of Patriarchs and Prophets contains a very insightful commentary on Abraham's experience, and I highly recommend it.

There are a lot of things one can learn from this story, but I think the main principle God has shown me from Abraham's experience is Follow the clearly revealed will of God. This obviously has the corollary: understand what the clearly revealed will of God is. I think almost everybody agrees and understands the first principle, but it's the second part where we run into problems. Most of us aren't willing to spend the time with God and in His Word, becoming acquainted with His will which enables us to clearly recognize His guidance in extremely tough circumstances.

I have by no means come to a conclusion on my original question about the existence of true moral dilemmas; indeed, I don't even feel like I really have a good grasp of this first insight. But I'm going to keep searching and looking to God, 'the glorious answer to all my questionings.'

Jeremiah 33:3 "Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know."

Excelsior