Category: Reflections/ Messages (page 1 of 12)

Clans and Churches

There are over 800 languages in Papua New Guinea, perhaps as many as 850, depending on who is counting and how they count. And many of the languages have “dialects,” the soldiers who make up the language army. There may even be several languages (and certainly dialects) in one geographical area.

People of one language group are often comprised of clans and subclans, groups that trace their descents to common ancestors. Each clan will have one or more leaders responsible for interacting with outsiders or forming alliances with other clans and groups. Some clans are large and some are quite small.

Clans have certain geographical boundaries and there is often fighting, or at least hard feelings, if the boundaries are not respected. There are usually stories, passed down through legend and tradition that tell where and when the boundaries were established. They may be marked by rivers, creeks, ravines, swamps, ridges, or special trees.

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An Empty Feeling

My wife, Joice, and I have just had an unusual blessing: the visit of our two Aussie grandsons, their spouses and two great grandchildren—one whom we had never met before.

Wes, our oldest grandson, his wife Heidi and their boys, Archie and Chase, stayed two weeks and although we saw them often, we wish it could have been longer. Now back in Australia, they leave this week to begin a new neighborhood outreach in a new town.

Let me tell you a bit about them: Wes is tall, lean, sometime shaven and a “fair dinkum” (meaning authentic) Aussie, although he was born in Papua New Guinea. He is a graphic artist and lettering connoisseur, making his living with another friend through their online business. He is fairly quiet, thoughtful and resourceful, committed to God and His kingdom. He is athletic and loves to fish. In Texas he was also courageous, driving the car that accompanied the duplex where they were staying.

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On Work

 

A recent issue (2015) of the small journal of The Institute for Faith and Learning at Baylor University is entitled “Work”. In the introduction, Robert B. Kruschwitz, the journal editor, summarizes the contributions, all which extoll the positive benefits of work. Some of the themes that stood out as important seemed to be: 1) pleasure in a job, rather than focusing on the salary or prestige it provides; 2) an over reliance on technologies and their use, rather than on environmental issues; 3) underemployment and no employment, representing the poor in our society, with references to the poverty gospel, contrasted with the prosperity gospel; 4) the dignity of work and workers; and 5) offering whatever kind of work that we do as a gift to God.

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Random Thoughts on Heaven and Rewards

My thoughts for this study started out with the question, “How many heavens are there?” but it soon diverged quite widely (and wildly) into the matter of what heaven will like for us and if we will be rewarded for the work we do while here on earth.

We probably all like stories of heaven and there are innumerable books and movies about it. Two more receant and popular books have pursued the theme: 1) Heaven is for real: A little boy’s astounding story of his trip to heaven and back (HIFAR Ministries, 2010) and 2) The boy who came back from heaven: A remarkable account of miracles, angels, and life beyond this world (Tyndale, 2010). Books like this sell, but both books turn out to be false and we should not be surprised.[1] Heaven is not transparent until we are resurrected and in God’s presence.

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A Son Talks Back to His Father

The book of Proverbs is replete with advice and comments from a father to his “sons” (or daughters). A mother’s guidance to her daughter would be somewhat different than the father’s, but it would help her. In what follows, the “father” speaking in Proverbs wants to help his son and is warning him about potential dangerous friends and difficult situations.

But what if the son or daughter doesn’t want to heed the advice of their parents? Perhaps the son is convinced that his father is out of step with current times and that obeying him is going to take a lot of the joy out of life.

In the following dialogue, the responses by the son are imaginary and from the point of view of a disobedient one. The father’s instructions come directly from chapters and their verses in the book of Proverbs.

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