Sunday, July 29, 2012

Last Time

Two little words (last time) kept cropping up in our conversation as we headed to church that Sunday.   Last time to worship with the believers at  Eastern Gate Baptist Church   in Papua New Guinea.  Since 2004 we had called this our  church.  They actually called it Machine Gun Beach Church for there is an old machine gun right across the street right on the ocean left over from World War II.  

It was to be our "last time" with the believers and I was struggling.   Not only do I not like goodbye's but I could come up with several reasons not to go.

1. too steamy hot... 
 2. ants would be crawling all over me...
 3. usually only understand half of what the preacher says…
 4. tired from the week of packing and cleaning in the heat... 

I could go on with more reason but that’s enough to express  a heart not in a thankful mood.    We parked in the pastor yard which also housed the small church with gravel floor, thatch half walls around it.  I looked for the pot of meat I had cooked early that morning for the pot a flash I could see it sitting on our porch step where I left it as I ran back in the house to get something I forgot.  So now we have come to the pot luck empty handed.   

Oh no, add another reason…number five..shame..for not wanting to go to church.  But I put on my happy face, shook people hands, talked a little, finally went to the women side of church, my husband to the men side as they gathered for a last time service with us.  Then the singing without any instruments started and God begin to work in my anxious heart and I could not stop the tears from flowing out.  Song after song I thought my heart would burst from emotion.  It dawned on me….they really were going to miss us and  I was going to miss them, these dark skinned believers who lift their voices every Sunday to the Lord.   This was the last time we would sit in this little church across the sea.  Soon we would be heading home for a stateside ministry probably never to return. 

Recently I  was cleaning up some old drafts and came across the above and  thought I would finish this one even though I started it Sept 2011 and  it is now July 2012.  Memories flood my heart  as  I  recall those dear saints of God attending the little church there in Papua New Guinea.  Our first Sunday there was quite an eye opener. Their needs are so easy to see, more comfortable seating,, concrete or wood floor, fans to circulate the hot humid air, teaching material, an office for the pastor and their list could go for while.   Yet I never heard folks sing with such passion. You know they did not even have enough silver wear or plates at their pot lucks to give as soon as one got through eating their fork or spoon and plate  would be wash and handed to someone in need.  They were insistent we always have the first turn with a fork.  As we ate that last Sunday I just kept thinking, this will be the last time we will share a meal with them.

Now we worship in a church with  air con, comfortable chairs, carpeted floors and an abundance of silver wear among other things.  Sometimes it's hard to hear the words of a song due the loudness of the instruments.  My mind floats back to those hot sweaty Sundays , sharing forks and hearing them  sing Rock Of Ages in four part harmony and knowing their every day struggles to just provide enough food to feed their families.  People ask if we miss our ministry across the sea...YES WE DO...yes we wish we had another life to give...but  we believe God is in the "last times" as well as the  "firsts."

Through the years we've  had lots of first time.  First job, first car,  first and only marriage, first child, a last child and first and only house, .   First time and last time of hearing the gospel before I became of believer.  First overseas ministry in Bolivia, last in Papua New Guniea.  At this writing, first time to live in California...wonder WHERE His last place will be for us...hummm?

Like all believers I wait for the ultimate last time of events to happen in God's time span.  I can think of no better ending to this post then this:
  He came the first time to die; the last time He is coming again to raise the dead.

When He came the first time, they questioned whether He was King; the last  time the world
will know that He is King of kings and Lord of lords.

The first time He wore a crown of thorns; the last  time He will be wearing a crown of glory .

The first time He came in poverty; the last time He is coming in power.

The first time He had an escort of angels; the last time He will come with ten thousands of His saints.

The first time He came in meekness; He is coming again in majesty. 
 (core of message by Adrian Rogers.)

                                 Come on Lord Jesus...for the last time.

This post is linked to Tell Me A Story

Monday, July 16, 2012

One Good memory

Father's Day is here again and so many are posting wonderful memories about their Dad's on facebook and writing blogs about them.  I always go back to this post I wrote several years ago.  

Everyone has a Dad but not all of them were good ones.  My Dad did not have a good Dad and he followed after his Dad.  So few good memories are in my memory bank about him. 

I married who was a wonderful Dad and our son is a wonderful Dad and our daughter married a good Dad.  I don't live in regret over my childhood anymore, God has taught me to let Him use it, don't waste it by being angry, bitter over the face I did not have a good Dad.  I am grateful for all God has taught me through my struggles to forgive.  Besides, I have the best Dad of all in our Heavenly Father.  

Hazel over at   http//  gave  a challenge to write stories from ones past.  Stories that can be left to our children and grandchildren.
For some, that may not be a challenge but for me, it's extremely difficult.   There are some great stories on her blog site.  Some will make you laugh, shed tears,  and some are life-changing but all are usually good memories that are shared.  Every time I read those post my heart wishes I could come up with one good memory about my Dad from my childhood to share.  Then one day as I watch my son comb his three year old daughter hair a flashback happened, one I had not had in a long time.  A good was my dad combing my hair when I was about my granddaughter age.  Through the years it's the one flashback that does not cause me to tremble.  

A flashback, or involuntary recurrent memory, is a psychological phenomenon in which an individual has a sudden, usually powerful, re-experiencing of a past experience or elements of a past experience. These experiences can be happy, sad, exciting, or any other emotion one can consider.
Wikepidia encyclopedia.....
By the time I was two my mother had given birth to twin boys, 19 months younger then me so maybe Dad noticed her hand was pretty full that night.   Maybe he was sober that night. Maybe he was trying to make up for some of the abuse he inflicted on us.  These details were not answered in my flashback.  All my mind recalled is him combing my hair and I was not crying so he must have been gentle.    I am amazed how one good memory can rise above all the bad ones.  It would be so easy to dwell on the hurting ones and allow nothing good to come through but that helps no one including me.  

When my two children became teenagers they started asking me about my upbringing.  I wanted to evade the questions anything but gives words to memories.   They only knew my Dad as the broken man we took care of three years at the end of his life.  They did not know him as I did and because of Jesus living in my life, I somehow wanted to protect them from even knowing how bad things had been for me as a child.  God never wastes anything though and He gently shoved me through opened doors to share how the love of God can win the most wicked heart.  You see my Dad got saved the night before he died. (another post...I Got What I Wanted)

The love of God can turn anger and bitterness into understanding and forgiveness.  These were the things I wanted my children to learn.  These are the things I want my grandchildren to learn.  They will get hurt along the way, some may even betray their trust.  My prayer is that some of my stories, even the hurtful ones can be used to give them an understanding into the wickedness of our hearts.  "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God."  Understanding that says, "there but by the grace of God go I".    I could paint a horrible picture of my Dad and they would feel sorry for me but that is not what God wants.  I am a better person because of my understanding and the act of forgiveness.  No one owns me except the one who bought and shed His blood for my Him I owe everything.

Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain but it takes character and self-control to
be understanding and forgiving.     Dale Carnegie

“The more anger towards the past you carry in your heart, the less capable you are of loving in the present....  Barbara De Angelis

God said to Solomon in  a dream, "ask what you want Me to give you."  Solomon after looking back
at his and his father life said, "give Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, to discern between good and evil...give me wisdom. 

This dialogue in I Kings 3  between God and Solomon made a profound impact on my life as a young Christian of 35.  The more I studied it  a deep desire grew for the same thing, an understanding wise heart.    Life is a few days of trouble a wise man once said and those troubles will rule ones life unless there isan understanding of who God is, who man is, what sin is, and most important the power of redemption.    

I know there are more good memories tucked back in my memory  bank and with God's help, I am praying for more to emerge.  But for now, I will dwell on a little red headed three year old girl getting her hair brushed by her daddy.  Sweet memory.

 Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise , dwell on these things. Phil 4:8

This post is linked to Tell Me A Story