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Newsletters

Family Tree

Posted on by Ken Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

I remember writing a newsletter a few years ago about how much I enjoy working with genealogy. I should add it’s the kind of ‘enjoy’ that’s similar to playing golf. For most people, playing golf frustrates more than satisfies. You play and you’re still way over par and yet you keep going back for more. We keep going back because there’s some mechanism in our brains that lets us forget the 10 bad shots we made and remember the one great shot. Well, genealogy’s like that. You run into these brick walls and just can’t find any way around them. It’s frustrating, but for some strange reason you keep going back and playing genealogy. You know in your wee little brain somewhere you’ve exhausted every avenue of discovery, but you keep trying, hoping and dreaming of finding something that surprises you.

I was going over some family notes the other day, using the internet again, trying to get past one of those brick walls. Some say the definition of crazy is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Well, that may be true except, of course, when it comes to genealogy. You just keep doing the same thing over and over and just maybe, unexpectedly, something shows up you can use. I do feel a little self-conscious whenever Jane looks over at me sitting at the computer and I have the usual ‘Family-Tree Maker’ software up and I’m sitting at my desk staring at the screen. It’s kind of like I’m waiting for some inspiration to come and send me off on this journey to the ‘Neverland’ of genealogy. She just shakes her head and knows that no amount of logic or persuasion can get me to give up looking for that one little bit of information that will lead me to ‘striking gold’ in the family tree.

Recently, there I sat, staring at the computer screen. It occurred to me why hadn’t I just simply asked my grandfather about his family? It would have been so simple to ask him. His name alone should have caused me to ask something about the family. I mean, why Blanchard Rufus? ‘How did you get tagged with that name Grandpa?’ Why didn’t I ask him just one question in all the years? I spent almost 21 years of my life in his life and not one question about his mom and dad. As I sat there, it dawned on me why I had not asked anything about his parents. They did not exist! Now, I know very obviously, he did have a mother and father, but when you’re all consumed with yourself (just the way it is when you’re young, and sometimes as an adult), centered entirely on yourself, you can’t think about the reality of anything older than your Grandma and Grandpa. That’s as old as old can be for kids. You mean my grandparents had parents? You mean Blanchard Rufus was two years old once? Go figure!

Now you think I’m kidding, don’t you? I’m not. All I remember is some 70-year old bald man. As a child, it just didn’t cross my mind that anything went beyond what was in my world at that moment in time. Kids have a crippling disadvantage at life. You see, kids only live in the moment. They are either: happy and therefore loud, or sad and therefore loud. They have no interest in the past and little interest in the future. That’s our present problem. You see, we are children of God…we’re just like kids! Our interest and vision is too narrow and it only consists of our needs for the moment. We want what we want right now! We take very little time to think about the big picture. We don’t care about what happened before and what will happen in the future. ‘Hey God! Just give me what I want now.’

It would be much better if we were full grown but it seems we aren’t. However, there’s a hope in the heart of God for us. He waits for us as we continue to come into a perfect (the Greek meaning is mature) believer. In the natural world, as we mature, something changes about our vision. When I was a child, I was around the greatest source of information about my family-my grandparents, but I was oblivious to it! I could have cared less. I was so unaware of anything other than my own little life-circle that it could not enter my mind that there was anything to care about. Today, I could kick myself for being so careless. Now, I sit and stare at that computer screen and think about how much I could have filled in the blanks if only it had crossed my mind that John had William, and William begat James Alfred and James Alfred was the father of Blanchard.

Now I have thousands of questions but it’s too late. All my interest came too late for me to take advantage of it. For the most part, it seems to parallel our interest in the Gospel. It took me 35 years to get interested enough in the Love of God for me to start searching it out and how it might affect the present and my future. I was born again at 16 years old but I wasted half my life never thinking about it much. Just didn’t cross my mind to pay attention to the fact that our Father left us a letter to encourage us, to direct us in our life. It’s a love letter about how much He cares about us, takes an interest in us. It’s a message of how much He thinks about us, even when we don’t think much about Him.

Now, we all find ourselves at the cross-roads of the secular and spiritual. Today, we live in the ‘super-bowl’ of struggles between those two world-views. And in the middle of that, we very seldom check the owner’s manual (Bible) on how to keep this ‘world’ running. There’s a rich past to look at and to gather before it’s too late, before it all passes away. We’re at the cross-roads of being child-like and mature. We can continue to be relatively unaware of the world around us and only think in terms of ‘where’s mine’. We can continue to perceive the world as it affects each of us individually, or we can look past this moment to our family history, actually to what Family we are a part of (the family of God).

Today, I’m sorry for having been so consumed with my own life as a child, my own way, not thinking about my grandfather’s life and family. Wish I’d taken more interest in things past and things future. It would be a great joy to have taken just a moment to consider the lives of my grandfather, his wife and children and family ties, rather than only thinking about myself. I still have a couple keepsakes and some wonderful memories of our time together but I’m missing the most interesting keepsake: knowing about him personally and how he thought, things he found interesting and the things he found valuable.

Perhaps you’re just like I was at 16, born again but just standing around scratching your head trying to figure out ‘what’s next’. I don’t mean necessarily getting into the genealogy thing, but how ‘bout the suggestion to get as much information as you can about the Father? Many times we live only for the moment. We measure our lives by what is happening only in that particular moment in time. We ignore the future even thought there is a day common for all of us. If everything we believe is true about Dad, as we mature in His message, as we grow up in Him, we will want to know more about how he thinks, who He is, what He is interested in, what He found valuable and not just that He exists. After all you don’t want to get caught just sitting staring at the screen and not have a clue about your ‘Family-tree’ when the thing crashes for the last time! We have such a rich family history and future to be learned about now.

Game Boy

Posted on by Ken Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

‘By the words of the Lord, the heavens were made; and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.’ (Psalm 33:6)

I read a short story the other day about a ‘game-boy in paradise’. I had never thought of such an expression before and it took me by surprise how much it fit into so much of our daily lives somehow. The story was about a father and son who had taken a tour to Alaska. They were on a train headed back from the ‘wilderness’ to catch a plane to the lower states. As they traveled, each tugged at the single camera they had with them. Riding in a glass topped coach, they could see wonderful, beautiful scenes of the Alaskan landscape. Each was trying to capture, with that single camera, their view out the window of some of the most terrific scenery in the world. While trying to traverse from one side of the car to another and get the best shots as quickly as he could, the father stumbled over a young boy, sitting in an aisle playing with a game-boy of all things. While that might not have seemed so rare in any other environment, playing a game-boy in the middle of some of the most beautiful sights imaginable seems very odd indeed. The boy’s head was down and seemingly he couldn’t have cared less about all that was glorious all around him. That this little boy would be oblivious to his surroundings and the grandeur of that place, concentrating on a pocket game was deemed strange to the father as he stumbled up the aisle to get another snapshot.

It got me to thinking about how much of the human experience is so very much like that. The glory of God is declared all round and we find some way to spend most of our time playing ‘game-boy’. Have you noticed how much of the time we do not talk about, do not consider our relationship with, do not think about, do not subject our daily lives to the Creator of the universe, even though that Creator directly entered into the world and interrupted all creation to place this opportunity for each of us to spend time with, learn from and find the splendor of His world? I mean we have so many things, do so many things, waste time with so many things. Yet! What if it’s actually true that God wants to uniquely spend time with you?

Jane and I have had the pleasure of raising three daughters. From our perspective, we were intimately close to each. We gave each life, provided for them (in every way that our limited brains could provide). We cared for, hoped for, sacrificed for, hurt for, cried for, and imagined for each. At some level, Jane and I lived to protect and provide for each one. They were the center of our little universe. It was a given, we could not help ourselves. From the first moment of their birth, at their first breath, we were captured by an unconditional and irrational love for our girls. Our desire was to meet their every need. Now in human terms, I’m certain we made some mistakes. Some mistakes, because we did not perceive every situation that they would have to deal with and secondly, because we are these little human things ourselves, weak vessels of creation. Simply, we, being human, are incomplete in some ways. Said another way, we look at the world around us through the eyes of self! While motivated to do everything correctly raising our three daughters, I’m sure we missed the mark without meaning to do so. So, I’ve ‘fessed up’ to our weaknesses.

Now, as for their part in this story, they like all kids were programmed not to notice our love! I say that with a smile, because it seems so universal for children not to notice the love, the sacrifice, the dreams of the parent for the child. Yes, they played a lot of game-boy around us. (I don’t mean that literally but figuratively) and I don’t mean that it’s wrong for them to do that, it’s just a natural thing for kids to be like that. They didn’t see how much we cared and how much we loved. They didn’t know we were trying our best to do what was best for them. You know, they just thought we were ‘laying down the law’ just because we could. I know I missed that with my dad and mom times along the way and I’m pretty convinced that you were probably like that also. It seems so easy to not see how much we mean to them and mistakenly believe that they were just ‘having their own way’ with us.

With the successful launch of the Hubble telescope, the vastness of the known universe is some thirty million plus light years away. (The known universe is only what we can see; we don’t have a telescope that can see the vastness of the entire universe.) One single light year is the amount of time it takes a single beam of light to travel in one year’s time. Light travels at 186,000 miles per second. Light travels at 5.88 trillion miles each year. A single beam of light can travel around the earth 7 times in one second. Do the math! That means we can see out to 30 million light years away and we still can’t see the end of it! It’s huge, meaning He is huge! (Thanks to Louie Giglio and his Indescribable DVD for those facts)

The creation looks us in the face and declares ‘God’. The Pleiades mentioned in the book of Job (Job 9:8) has been discovered by modern telescopes to be 490 million miles away from earth. Yet God declared them to Job and has taken the time to name each star in the vast universe. The Bible says in Romans that the starry heaven should make obvious His hand. We have to work hard to imagine that the balance that exists between the stars, planets and this miniscule earth, moon and sun could have occurred without Divine intervention. We miss the grandeur of where we are because we prefer to ignore our obligation to Him and we concern ourselves with other things. We play game-boy in the middle of paradise. Not noticing what is obvious in our daily lives about the Love of God and His offer to us to be a companion to us, a lamp unto our feet to us, an unconditional love for us.

We do not have to do evil things to look the other way, just simply busy and wish ourselves away from the center of this creation, the Creator. We can do like we did as children, not notice that someone is taking care of us, rooting for us, hoping the best for us. We can not notice those things even when they are right before our very eyes if we would open them and look. It’s like flashing lights on a dark night, kind of hard to miss unless we try hard. Our daily grind can wear away the tenderness offered by God to each of us. The busy-ness can cause us to forget to look around us and see the hand of God in our daily experience. The search for things can distract us away from the search for meaning and purpose in our marriages, our work and our relationships with others.

The most recent space discovery, one of the furthest from earth, is of a galaxy called ‘X Structure’. Right in the middle of that galaxy is a center black space that is 31 million light years from earth. The shape of that black space is in the form of a Christian cross. Go figure! Stop playing that game-boy and look up, the heavens declare there is a God and the furthest thing from earth still bears the image of the Cross of Christ. ‘When I consider the heavens, the work of thy hands, the moon and the stars, which thou has ordained; what is man that thou are mindful of him…’ (Psalm 8: 3-4)

Two Sides of a Coin

Posted on by Ken Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

Coin Side 1: ‘Fess Up’

Ok, it’s time to say it. I’ve been approached by folks lately that are fixated on “where are we” in the biblical timetable. Things are moving so fast. We have two distinct groups of thought. Many cheering us on along the path we have chosen to take and just about as many trying to pull back on the reigns and slow this thing down. It’s so like the days of the Prophets, who had bad news to deliver in an environment where most folks just wanted to be left alone. Well, here’s my take. And, in spite of the tenor of the content, I can say everything and still keep a smile on my face. It’s not good news on the surface but, as most novels go, it ends up ok.

Let me first say this one specific and necessary thing: It is positively, necessarily, and obligated that we choose Him. That is the one true and unique fact of this life on planet earth. Now I know many disagree and many are even now working actively to get us away from that fact, but regardless, it does not change the fact. The following is my explanation of why.

The planet was created by the hand of God and the creature (that’s you) was created by the very breath of God. He made that creature totally dependent upon Himself. He, at that same time, made the creature independent with the choice of whether that creature would actually depend on Him or not. So we are left with one huge dilemma: we need Him without exception and yet, we are obligated to have to choose Him in order to have the very thing we need. Problem! For me there are only two things going on in the earth, those that seek Him and those that are trying to deny Him. This is a ‘me or He’ choice. There is one Need that’s contrasted by a million ways that the creature comes up with to try and separate himself from God. Not smart to do, but that is exactly the free choice God has given to us. And, the world is running as hard and fast as it can to do just that.

Now, assuming that is the case, here’s the rub. You see, the creation is not neutral. God, in order to make the need part, the NEED part, put a caveat in the mix. Here’s the caveat: Choosing against Him, no matter how many diverse ways we come up with to do it, ALWAYS leads to calamity in our lives, our country and the world as a whole. That’s where I believe we’re at! We see trouble, and the potential for more trouble, because the creature continues this journey by choosing his own way. Because of the caveat, every time we choose against Him we become as blind. Israel, even His chosen, became blinded as they continued to reject His every call. And Paul teaches that, without Christ, we will be as those that stumble and fall. As we (meaning our culture, our world) distance ourselves further from the Love of God, as we get further away from Him, we look more and more like someone drunk on his own rebellion. That’s not because we are silly just by ourselves, it’s because God in His Wisdom has put the caveat in. It’s impossible not to stumble and be as blind men when we choose against Him, No Exceptions! It’s not like we can get smart enough to avoid the blindness; no it’s a blindness guaranteed by the very rejection! The world has decided that what we lack is logic, but logic will not work. OK, we need more reason, more education, but both have been proclaimed and expanded and both have failed to provide a true remedy. We just need more communication and discussion is the cry today. Yes, that’s the grand solution to the earth’s problems. Or, maybe our peace will be found in the banks and the insurance companies. This is where I think my grandfather would have said, “Hogwash!” It’s us just putting more confidence in our ‘head stuff’ rather than the heart of God. We just simply will not learn that, apart from God, we are nothing! Nothing! That’s not a word that means we are something, but something with just a little less of Him. No, nothing means nothing, zip, nada. Oh, we are a million things for sure, but the sum total of the million things is still zero. But, the world will not get over it. It labors full time to say there is no God, we need no One! Why do we do that? How do good and normal people seem to be able to do it so easily?

Jesus occasionally dropped the answer in his conversation. I don’t think it’s easily recognizable because we usually see the symptoms of our independence, but not the cause itself. The cause of all the trouble we see and dread has a basket full of ‘independent’ tricks for us to choose from, but really there is only one cause for all this stuff. Jesus called it ‘the spirit of anti-Christ’. It is powerful enough that it lets very reasonable, very logical men and women act totally unreasonable and not logical at all. It’s so clever it does not necessarily take evil or crazy folks for its expression, but takes everyday people and their everyday activities to accomplish its rebellion against the Love of God. It, this spirit, works full time against the Truth, cheers the Lie, applauds the bad and makes heroes out of our elite rebels in our culture. It’s this spirit that makes it possible for us, sometimes the best of the creatures, to call evil good and good evil. Makes no sense, but we do it without a conscience, and sometimes wrapped in the flag of our great love for humanity. This spirit of anti-Christ works in people, people that would never purposely choose for it to do so, but because it blinds us to the Truth we sometimes unknowingly partnership with its purpose.

Bottom line: I believe the Gentiles will reject this Gospel just like Israel rejected their King, our Saviour. The world system will continue to do to Him today what they did to Him 2000 years ago. They killed the King of Glory. We are in the process of doing the same thing right now! I’m reminded of a vignette we’ve played on the station for over 20 years. You know the one: the aliens from Zebulon Alpha 04. They wanted to know if anything special ever happened on the earth. Finally, in the interview with their human contacts, they get to the point that the humans tell those Zebulon fellas that ‘God once visited the earth.’ Their response was ‘did you welcome Him as King, hold a parade for Him, name buildings after Him, throw a party for Him, roll out the red carpet for Him, worship Him?’ The human finally tells them, ‘No, we killed Him!’ It sounds amazing and impossible, doesn’t it? But that’s exactly what they did. It’s exactly what many are trying to do again today!

Other Side Of The Same Coin: ‘Applause from Heaven’

Well I’m left with only one thing to say: Hope! Just because those that choose against Him are without Hope does not mean that you are without Hope. This coin has two sides to it. Whenever one is present the other is present also. This side is about a Kingdom that challenges the lies of the other side of the coin. It’s Kingdom again kingdom. God’s Word and Spirit are active and reliable in the middle of what’s going on with side one. To hear the information above does not have to overwhelm or discourage us. We do not give up just because the secular world chooses to run from God. Just because the creature chooses against Creator, does not mean that the New Creatures are subject to the same fate as the rebellious. We are instructed not to grow weary just because we see these thing happening. The Kingdom of God runs parallel to the rejection. As it increases, so does the evidence of the Love of God in the earth.

The calamity we see around us, and around the world, proves the caveat that without God it is impossible to experience Faith, Hope, Love, Peace, Joy, etc. A world without the Love of God looks like the one we see the signs of more and more each day. The further the world distances itself from Him the more the world accumulates trouble to itself. Ours is not to fret, God has seen the beginning and the end and is not wringing hands with worry. Good News: the Love of God preserves those that choose to trust and live in it. It does that in the middle of this mess we see day to day. Jesus told us very directly to FEAR NOT. He did that with all the tenderness that Tenderness can muster, with all the Love and caring that Love can Love. It was not said with an arrogant heart, He said that with loving cheer to keep our hearts from fear even in a time such as this.

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