allowed the best-behaved children and had a stringent interview process to vet the children and their families. You see, the latter states that they are attempting to make disciples, thus, they need the 'cream of the crop'. I left the conversation feeling uneasy. What kind of message is this sending to children and their families?
I mean, we simply need to take a look at the actual disciples to see that this is not at all how Jesus approached finding his gang of super cool, but also super broken friends and followers. Simon (Peter) was strong-willed and impulsive. He likely would have never passed the "behavior test". James and his brother John were known as "The Sons of Thunder" because they had such stormy personality traits. They were quick to anger and judgmental. Again, I'm not so sure these guys would have made the cut! Then we consider Thomas, he was gloomy and easily discouraged. You can see the trend here right?! Then there is Matthew, he was considered the lowest of the low, a TAX COLLECTOR *gasp*, surely he would not have even been considered. In addition to being a tax collector, Matthew was terribly self-absorbed. Finally, Judas is a man who ultimately showed he was a betrayer, liar, and thief. Yet, these are the men Christ chose to represent him while he was on the earth and afterward.
I think there is a valuable lesson here. We can choose to view people with a critical lens thinking to ourselves, "Man these people simply won't cut it!" or we can choose to support the everyday people who have an open heart and an open mind to learn how to be a disciple for Christ. We are all on this journey together. It is so much more beautiful when we can make mistakes and learn together. I think that is exactly what happened with the disciples and Jesus.
In His Name,
of loss that Mary and the disciples must have felt after the crucifixion. . .hopelessness, despair, darkness, abandonment, and profound sadness. BUT the sun always rises again. The tomb is opened. Because of Christ’s death and resurrection, we have eternity to dwell with God. Even Job’s story has a happy ending.
We lost our beloved Pastor Craig, but I thank God for his ministry, his leadership, and his inspired preaching. I pray his influence will be just as great with our fellow Christians in Oakland, Florida, and I enthusiastically look forward to the arrival of our new pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Coeur d’Alene. Good things are about to happen. Praise God!
In His Name,
their service. We even saw a man dressed in revolutionary costume carrying the flag which represented the original 13 colonies. Everyone seemed excited to be free to celebrate together that day.
The heat was keeping us from being outside more, so we decided to visit the Bird Aviation Museum at the Hayden Airport and the Museum at the Brig at Farragut State Park. Part of the display at the Bird Aviation Museum was a tribute to our military; there were exhibits of planes they used in various battles as they fought for our freedom. The Museum at the Brig surprised us because we were not aware that there once was a massive naval training base at the southeastern end of Lake Pend Oreille. This base trained over 293,000 recruits during WWII! We walked away reminded of the sacrifices that our military men and women made for the freedom of generations that followed them, and are proud of our family and friends who were part of this sacrifice.
Saturday, we watched the Post Falls Festival parade. I was thrilled to see the parade start with students from Post Falls High School proudly carrying a large version of the American flag on their shoulders. Although patriotism was not the main theme of the parade, the community cheered in support of our flag, our veterans, and our police. It was wonderful to see a community showing their thankfulness and pride for the freedoms we share as Americans. We only have these freedoms because of the sacrifices of others before us.
I’m proud to be called an American, but I am prouder yet to be called a Christian. I did not get this name because of anything that I did, but through Christ’s sacrifice. Because of His love, He gave his life to cover my sins and the sins of those He calls His own. His sacrifice has given me freedom from sin and the freedom to follow Him. This is a freedom that nobody can take away from me. And because His sacrifice was motivated by love, I am thankful and proud to be called a Christian.
John 15:12-13 NIV
12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
providing our rights as humans. The final sentence before they appended all their signatures reads, “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” With those rights, come responsibilities to God and to our fellow man.
My sister-in-law, Ioana, was born and raised in Bucharest, Romania, under a Communist system; she has shared snippets of everyday life there. As an example, her engineer father was told where he could live and how many rooms they could have in their apartment based on the size of his family. Her dad could have lost his job, his family’s apartment, and any income potential if Ioana had not been able to run from the secret police when they jumped from behind a bush upon discovering her kissing a young man from East Germany. Life there was highly restricted. For example, Ioana kept her Bible wrapped in yellowed and weathered newspaper to protect its identity from the casual observer. Romanian Orthodox services were often held in secret, as the church leaders suffered persecution from the state under Communist rule. Other books that were not government-approved reading were also wrapped in nondescript newspaper covers. The results of her high school exams determined whether she could attend college and in what fields she could study. Ioana’s father insisted she learn English at home so that she would have opportunities to one day escape from their government’s tyranny.
Life in Romania has improved since the 1989 people’s revolution, but is still beset with lack of trust that a piece of mail will make it to its destination (and, if so, unopened), with doctors who must be bribed so patients can receive chemo treatments, or with a government that will act only after bribery is offered. Ioana became my brother-in-law’s Romanian-English translator when he went to aid their country’s transition to a free-market system following collapse of the Communist government. She has since become a U.S. citizen, and has a clear sense of the opportunities and advantages she did not have growing up in Romania. Many legal immigrants will tell you similar stories of the blessings we have here that they could only dream about in their home countries.
Without a doubt, the United States has its own struggles, but our country still holds to the conviction that Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness are unalienable rights. We can choose where to live, what schools to attend, what career we wish to pursue, or what of a hundred brands of cereal we want to purchase. We certainly do not always agree with one another on specific issues, but we have a right to express our differing viewpoints. We must continue to value those rights so they will not be lost to the loudest voice in the crowd.
Chris Gray and I both love the rodeo, so we try to be at the Alaska Fairgrounds when the rodeo is in town. I love that the shows always begin with prayer, a procession of U.S. flags carried by mounted honor guard, and the singing of the National Anthem. People of all ages stand silently, hats removed, hand over heart to show their love and respect. The flag protocol and opening prayer are linked, demonstrating love of God and of country.
A friend remarked to me recently that it was important that those of us who carry this linked love of God and country in our hearts continue to hold steadfast in our beliefs and share them with the generations to come. They are important traditions to uphold, especially when under such ardent attack from a small--but loud and outspoken--group of people.
2 Timothy 1:7 says that “God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” When we are lifted on eagle’s wings to right a wrong, we must know that God has given us the power—through His love—to work to correct the error, employing self-discipline and love in the process, not acting through fear and intimidation. In our country, we are given the power to try to keep us on a good path, but we must remember to do so using His love as a guiding force.
America, America, God mend thine every flaw, Confirm thy soul in self-control, Thy liberty in law! America, America, God shed His grace on thee, and crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea!
Your friend in Christ,
Our staff is voluntold each week and with grace they share their thoughts.