Learning for a Lifetime by Guest Writer–Sandi Fleming

Recently, Beth asked me to write about lessons I have learned from my mother. Thinking about my remarkable mother, who raised six children and has 19 grandchildren, I agreed. Old habits persist, so I called my mother and asked for permission to share what I’ve learned from her. There was a long silence on her end of the phone. When she responded, her answer encapsulated one of the most valuable lessons she taught me: “I should write about what I’ve learned from you, Sandi. I have learned so much from all my kids.”

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IT MOVED ME TO TEARS

Magic Flying Carpet
Magic Flying Carpet

Like most idealists who come to India for the first time, we initially expected to see a storybook land of maharajas, magic carpets, temples and mosques to inspire our imaginations. However, living here on the ground with the people is far different than just touching the tarmac, going to a posh hotel and chronicling a visit with photographs once or twice a year. There is a harsh reality of having three times the number of people the US census claims all squashed into one-third the land space. To get some idea of what it really is, multiply your family by three and then imagine two-thirds less living space!  Or multiply your family by nine in the same living space.  That’s mind boggling.

Continue reading IT MOVED ME TO TEARS

JUST BLOWING SAND

When I was a girl at home, we had a nice little newspaper called The Donley County Leader that often featured news from several towns in Donley County Texas. The part I liked was that it also featured poetry.

One column was called “Plowin’ Out the CORNERS” by Uncle Zeb. I never really knew who Zeb was, but we corresponded several times. Once I submitted a poem written by my mother and he thought it was great. Another time or two, I wrote him about what was going on in our “neck of the woods,” and he always answered me. Here is a copy of one article he wrote along with the poem I submitted.

Continue reading JUST BLOWING SAND

ROLE MODELS FOR OUR CHILDREN

Revised December 27, 2016

After describing the wicked behavior of two NFL players, one father noted the two bad choices (bad sportsmanship and alcoholism) he saw demonstrated and asked the question, “Which has more potential to do harm to our impressionable children who watch the NFL and look to its players as role models?”

Not one person in the discussion even mentioned the cheerleader’s costumes or the new gay NFL player, but another parent observed, “Everyone got so upset with what one player said, which was loud and unsportsmanlike, but not vulgar, yet, not one word was said about the Chevy commercial played repeatedly through the game with a vulgar profanity in it.”

As I read, my first reaction was to consider the command of God in Ephesians 4:17-18This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, 18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.” What things are highly esteemed among men? Work? Sports? Obviously work produces something useful and is generally not in vain. What about games? Do they produce anything useful? Will the Lord reward us on Judgment Day for watching the Super Bowl, the Cotton Bowl, the Rice Bowl or the Rose Bowl? We all know the answer to that.

So what about those things not done for the Lord? Hebrews 6:1 and 9:14 speak plainly. Living works are done for God and dead works are at least vain (useless) if not eternally destructive. Finally, because of the aforementioned things that are part of any football game, I pondered which category it might fall into? Can anyone truthfully say he watches the football games for God?

Dead works are just that. They are works not done for the Lord—mind you…not necessarily sin, but at best just vain or useless time spent. It is a sad day when we have to make a choice between wicked lifestyles that affect our children! Whatever happened to following Jesus’s example in learning to discern between good and evil and choosing only the good (Isa. 7:15, Heb. 1:8)?

How can spending our time in a dead work (any dead work) serve God—especially a dead work that has so many obvious evils associated with it? Both wicked choices mentioned by the first father, plus the obvious evil advertising during the game, fall into the list of sins in 1 Corinthians 6.

“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:9-10, KJV).

If those sins cause a man to be put out of the fellowship, is it OK to deliberately expose our children to either one? What should be the obvious choice in order to avoid such wickedness?

The real problem is found in 2 Cor. 5:15, Luke 9:23-26, Mark 8:35, etc. Not only parents but also all those who would be Christ’s disciples must die to self in order to live for him and the gospel!

Because of our own weaknesses and disposition toward worldliness (1 John 2:15), our children are watching and becoming part of it—emulating its evil “heroes.” The process takes place by what is called osmotic learning or osmosis. They gradually become like the people they are taught to admire (1 Cor. 15:33).

The only way to save our children from the world’s evil is to protect them (shelter them) from it. We must do our best to guide them in following the great heroes of the Bible—especially Jesus. Remember also that even though Christians have to live in the world, they should not be part of it (1 Cor. 5:9-10).

The Scripture quotations in this article are from The King James Version.

Disclaimer: Whereas I sometimes link Bible verses from BibleGateway.com or BlueLetterBible.org for the reader’s convenience, I have found there are serious issues with both programs. I neither believe nor recommend the Calvinist’ doctrines of predestination/foreordination nor the doctrines of grace only. I firmly disapprove of the denominational advertising found there.

Our Centenarian is Gone

Kuthi Muthu was with the church at Lock Street for as long as I can remember. In her younger years, she was married to leper and bore him eight children, yet she never contracted leprosy.   I can’t remember her ever being ill enough to have to go to the hospital.  She was a winner.  Unfortunately she and her husband did not rear their children in the Lord because they did not know about the church until the children had grown up.

Age 80
Age 80

As she aged and became a widow, she sometimes spoke of being cold during the rain season.  That complaint was easy to understand, because I too felt the cool dampness even in my house during the monsoons.  I gave her a sweater and hoped it would warm her.  Then one day she came saying her stomach hurt and she needed help to feel better.  We took her to the local hospital where she was admitted for a few days for observation.  The doctors there claimed she had cancer and sent her home to die.  Not willing to give up so soon, we took her to another hospital in the area where we were told the same thing, except that these claimed she was too old to treat.

After trying four more hospitals, we finally took her to an elderly lady doctor in the village who had sympathy enough to try to find out what Kuthu Muthu’s trouble might be.  The diagnosis was related to her feet and legs and she she was treated for tropical Filariasis (sometimes called elephantitis). It obviously affected her stomach too.

A younger teacher at CTTS volunteered to carry her breakfast every morning along with the prescribed tablets for treatment.  The medicine was harsh and she seemed to grow weaker and sicker quickly.  The young man continued to monitor her and give what the doctor prescribed.  One day she fainted and sustained a rather nasty bruise and cut to her head.

In all this, Kuthi Muthu never wanted to miss an assembly of the saints.  Even when she was so sick she could not walk, she asked for someone to carry her to the meetings.  Likely because she thought her time was near, she came bringing a cloth bag filled with wadded up rupees (Indian money) and requested to be able to donate that to the church one day.  Some covetous soul who heard about her gift berated her and said, “You should  have given that money to your children!”

Her children…ah, yes, those eight she bore to the leper…those eight who were not members of the Lord’s body because they had been reared in paganism…those eight who couldn’t wait to occupy her house…

Not one of them wanted to take care of her in her old age!  Mind you a son and his family had moved into her house–supposedly for that purpose, but they would not even give her a cup of tea in the mornings, nor would they feed her anything but waste food.  Students and teachers from CTTS took it upon themselves to be sure she ate three meals a day and had the medicine she needed.  We could not assume her family would allow her access to good food or medicine even if we sent it there, so this had to be part of our personal daily ministry.  It was literally a trip to find her three times a day and give her what she needed–our chance to be used by the Lord to visit the widow in her affliction…(James 1:27).Kuthi Muthu at 84

Finding Kuthi Muthu was not always easy.  She learned early to avoid the brutality at home, so she walked, and walked, and walked from morning until late at night. There were times we found her on the roof top of her four story apartment building.  She lived on the third floor, so going up one more floor by the stair was nothing to her.  Later, when someone blocked the stairs, she used the metal ladder bars outside the apartments to climb all the way up the apartment walls.  She said sitting in the summer tropical sun was better than listening to the fighting in her home (Prov. 21:19).  One day she complained about never having a chance to rest in her own house and cried about the treatment she was getting.  Someone asked her if that gave her a chance to return good for evil, and she agreed it did (Matt. 7:12; Luke 6:31).  She was willing to be defrauded (1 Cor. 6:7).

There were so many trials during those last years, but Kuthi Muthu seemed to conquor her temptations and remain strong.  We too had trials along with her and were often tempted to give up, but the journey was a blessing for all of us.  She passed from this life last month and many will miss her sweet, yet strong will to do what was right.