Mr. Overton – Age 109

Today, November 5, 2017 we watched an inspirational YouTube video, “109-Year-Old Veteran and His Secrets to Life Will Make You Smile”. It demonstrates many of the core personality characteristics of centenarians, and how we can remain positive and be a blessing to others… if we decide that we want to. It also demonstrates the gift of unusual and incredible genes.

Born May 11, 1906 Mr. Overton was the oldest US War veteran still living when this video was made, at age 109. He had just renewed his driver’s license (so he can drive his pickup truck), smokes several cigars a day, drinks a little whiskey, and really likes soup. Today, he is still living, is 111 years of age, and is the oldest living man in the United States.

He shares some of his secrets for living a long life in this video. They are very simple and very positive suggestions, and he says “that if you don’t follow them then that is your problem”. He also says that anyone can “follow the Overton diet” so that they, too, can live to be an older age. About smoking the cigars… his secret is to not inhale the smoke. This, he refers to, as the “healthy” way to smoke cigars.

He attends church regularly and he and his friend, a woman 18 years his junior, visit the elderly at nursing homes in the area. Regardless of his genes, he demonstrates how we can still remain a blessing to others even at an advanced age… if we want to. He says that he “might give out, but will never give up.”

Here is the link to the video.

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Jesus and the Gospels: Answers to Tough Questions – Part 2

Today, October 29, 2017 we watched a Day of Discover video, “Jesus and the Gospels: Answers to Tough Questions – Part 2”. It addressed some of the issues that can easily distract us from following the path of Jesus.

Around Christmastime, and also Easter, there seems to be a proliferation of news stories and “documentaries” that seem to want to upend what we know from the Bible and to discredit Christianity. Stories about Jesus having been married, an ossuary found that seems to belong to the family of Jesus, archeological discoveries that seemingly contradict what the Bible says, and other “newly” discovered texts claiming something other than what the Bible claims. There will always be these sorts of distractions and we need to be discerning enough to recognize them and to not be led off course.

After all, nothing in the Bible has ever been disproven and, as Christians, we are the only religion to follow Someone who has overcome death… and has who has promised that we also will overcome death, just as He did. In the video, Dr. Rikk Watts said that being “good” by helping others, loving others, being a nice person, giving to charity, and trying to keep the (10) Commandments, etc. is just not enough. When we are dead, being good is not enough (as important as it is) for us to gain eternal life. That can only be obtained by accepting and trusting, by faith, in Jesus Christ … to overcome death and to have eternal life.

In the video, Dr. Watts sums up Christianity nicely when he says “… Christianity is not a philosophy or an idea. It is a story and our response to it. We’re responding to an event. Something has happened in Jesus that’s changed our world. God came to us and we experienced Him. We don’t fully understand it… it’s bigger than us. That’s what makes it so exciting!”

Here is a link to today’s video.

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An Honest Look at Doubting

Today, October 22, 2017 we listened to an interesting discussion by the Discover the Word team of Haddon Robinson, Alice Matthews, and Mart Dehaan about how we handle our “Why” questions to God when we are (1) at a loss to understand them ourselves and, (2) wonder if even God cares.

Haddon quotes Martin Luther who said: “If we are going to be people of faith, we need to be able to crucify the question ‘Why’.” What do we suppose Luther meant by that?

The conversation starts out in a way that seems to disagree with what Luther said, but ends up understanding and agreeing with him. It turns out that there are different kinds of “Why” questions and Luther was referencing the kind of questions that bring about arrogance on our part. These kinds of questions demand of God that He explain to us exactly what He is up to in a situation such as the death of a child, multiple deaths and destruction in a natural disaster, etc. In other words, we say to God “Explain to me why you allow this to happen, and if you don’t explain it to my satisfaction, then I’m outta here!” The created takes on the role of judge and jury as it relates to the Creator, and this arrogance is what leads us to some very sour conclusions, and even doubt, as to whether our Creator cares or even exists. This is the kind of “Why” questions that Luther is talking about which he says “must be crucified”, or it will destroy us.

If we recognize this, then our faith can grow when we admit that there are things going on in the universe that we can’t explain and we just have to let it go. We should never get to the place where we demand from God that He answer us, because God has never promised us answers… but He promises Himself. Sometimes we simply need to say “there may be an answer but I don’t know what it is. Lord, I don’t know, but I trust You… I will simply leave this question with You.”

Here is a link to today’s discussion.

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Phan Thị Kim Phúc’s Journey from War to Forgiveness

Probably the most memorable photo from the Vietnam War was the image of a naked little girl running down a road in her village of Trang Bang, South Vietnam with her arms outstretched from burns she had just received from a napalm bomb attack on June 8, 1972. She is running with her brothers and cousins attempting to escape the burning of their bodies from that jelly-like substance that sticks to clothes and skin. AP photographer, Nick Ut (himself a South Vietnamese), captured that horrifying moment in a photograph for which he received a Pulitzer Prize. For those of us who watched the war on our black and white TV sets it is a photo that most of us will not ever forget.

Today, October 15, 2017 we watched a video about the story of Kim Phúc, and listened to that little girl who survived not only her burns, but a life of intense pain and disappointment, and eventually finding healing and hope in the Lord Jesus Christ. In later years she was reunited with the photographer and several of her enemy’s from that time of war. She met them face-to-face extending grace and forgiveness that only Jesus could allow. According to Kim, her mental and emotional healing began when she became a Christian on December 23, 1982.

The impact of that picture on the world and her decision to follow Jesus has allowed her to achieve goals far loftier than any that she had set for herself. Both Kim and Nick realize that this one photograph changed the world’s view of that war helping to bring it to an end. Kim, now 54 years of age, married, and with two children, always prays for her enemies and has chosen to turn her negatives into positives to show how healing can take place in the lives of the people of the world. When we look at a globe and wonder what impact one person, living a half a world away, could have on us we can look to Kim’s story and how she allowed God to work His miracles in her life.

Here is the link to today’s video.

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How God Can Use Adversity to Our Advantage

Christine Sun Kim is an American sound artist who has been deaf since birth. She was taught to believe that sound wasn’t a part of her life, that it was a hearing person’s thing. Through her art, she discovered similarities between American Sign Language (ASL) and music, and she realized that sound doesn’t have to be known solely through the ears. She says that “you don’t need to be deaf to learn ASL, nor do you have to be hearing to learn music.”

Today, October 1, 2017 we watched Christine’s TED Talk to learn how she is motivated by her hearing “disability” to learn more about sound. One of her friends says “…she is not just a disabled artist, but rather an artist with an extra ability to see things in ways that others couldn’t.” There are profound spiritual truths revealed for us in this short video, although that was not its intended purpose.

For example, Christine’s interpretation of sound is something that she challenged herself to discover, while a hearing person would take sound for granted and probably never work to interpret it for themselves. Sometimes she feels like a foreigner in a hearing world. In our spiritual lives when we are faced with a disability, usually in the form of adversity, we try to stretch further to make sense of the insensible and in the process we find growth from what God is saying to us. This is difficult to do on a regular basis without being forced to do so by the adversity. But it can be done. It can be done with a focused, intentional effort. God, through the Holy Spirit, can show us things that others might not be able to see.

All He wants us to do is ask. He will show answers to our own circumstances, and He will help us become more aware of the circumstances of others. Everyone wants to be understood. And on that day when we are faced with our own adversity and surrounded by negativity, we will be as prepared as we can be to deal with the circumstances and also be a blessing to those around us. Here are a few scriptures that can be good reminders of what God wants for us:

“I will lead the blind by a way they do not know, in paths they do not know I will lead them.”
– Isaiah 42:16

“You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.”
– Jeremiah 29:13

“When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.”
– Job 23:10

Here is a link to Christine’s TED Talk:  https://www.ted.com/talks/christine_sun_kim_the_enchanting_music_of_sign_language

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The Conversion Experience of Moses

Today, September 17, 2017 we listened to an interesting discussion by the Discover the Word team of Haddon Robinson, Alice Matthews, and Mart Dehaan about a life changing decision by Moses. It is about the most important decision we will ever make, and how we come to make that decision.

The Bible’s New Testament book of Hebrews, chapter 11, verse 24-26 talks about Moses’ experience: “By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.”

Has it ever bothered you when someone asks “when did you become a follower of Jesus Christ?” Can you define the moment, or would you consider it more of a process with no particularly defining moment? And, maybe, that moment has not yet been reached for some. It is different for all of us, and today’s question prompted some good discussion about our own experiences and the people and situations that have brought us to where we are today. It was good to learn about each other in this way.

It really doesn’t matter that you know the time or place you crossed the line from non-faith to faith. What really matters is right now if somebody asked “who are you trusting in to bring you home to God?”  that you would say “I’m trusting Jesus Christ alone to do that.” The emphasis on today’s question is not “when” you made the decision, but that you “did” make a decision. For some it is a dramatic moment and for others it is a process.

Here is a link to today’s discussion.

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A New Identity: The Gospel of Matthew, Part 5

Today, September 10, 2017 we concluded our five parts of the Day of Discovery series on the Gospel of Matthew hosted by Michael Card.

“Host Michael Card finishes his teaching on Matthew’s Gospel beginning in Chapter 26 at Gethsemane. On an insightful journey through Scripture, Michael Card offers a clear and thoughtful presentation that reveals Jesus as the promised Messiah and Savior of the world. Join us as we examine the disciples’ discovery of a new identity in Jesus.”

This part of the Gospel is the most heartrending for me because it brings out the humanness of Jesus. How He was let down by his closest friends when He needed them most. How He actually, for a moment, had reservations about God’s plan… but then submitted to it “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup be taken away from me. But I want your will, not mine.” And then there was the “whipping” of Jesus ordered by Pilate.

Michael Card adds the context from the everyday situations of those days so that our understanding of the scripture has much more meaning. Playing games in order to humiliate and torture Jesus such as outfitting him with a crown of thorns. The “whipping” was the very Roman practice of flogging until the flesh hung from the body.

Jesus did not come to fight these people, but to die for them. And to die for you and for me. It is a plan and purpose that only our God can devise so that we might have eternal salvation through the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. Sound crazy? Maybe it does… but it’s true.

Here is a link to today’s video.

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