Monthly Archives: November 2015

Times and Seasons

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.”  – Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NIV)

This past couple of years, and especially this past month, has seemed like we, the Mix family, were shooting a video to be used to illustrate this Scripture passage. It seems like our lives have been a blur of changes and traveling and trying to keep up.

It started last April when we got our first chance to start having visits with our granddaughter Elizabeth in foster care 300 miles from here in Berks County, PA. Then the next week Gay’s Mom, Grandma Sherry died… three days before Holy Week. She had lived with us for five years and became an integral part of our family. She had been so excited for the chance to eventually meet and hold her great-granddaughter.

Throughout that time of grieving and mourning, we were also beginning to understand that there was a chance that Elizabeth might be able to come live with us through a foster care program called “kinship care” and with that in mind we continued monthly, then weekly, visits in Reading, PA. In the Fall we realized we would need to hire a lawyer in Berks County to help us navigate the legal roller coaster involved with trying to get Elizabeth, but how on earth could we afford such a thing? That week we received a reimbursement for $1,000 we had been overcharged in co-pays and such with our insurance! Then, with the lawyer’s help, in November, we went to court and were granted physical custody following a transition period of a few weeks. Finally, on December 19th, Elizabeth “came home” to her new home.

Meanwhile, the caseworker who had done our home study that spring noticed that Joshua had an empty bunk in his room. Thus it was that this year, on Easter weekend, we became foster parents to David, a teen who needed a home and a family. Last month the McKean County Court granted us permanent guardianship. As Gay worded it: “We are now parents of a bouncing baby 17 year old!”

Which brings me to this past month of October. My Dad was lifeflighted to Hamot Hospital from where he was living in Potter County at the  tail end of September with an aortic dissection. While we initially thought he wouldn’t make it through the night, he did. In fact, over the next two weeks he  got better and I got to see him and talk with him and just spend time with him 10 of those 13 days. I hadn’t had a chance to live with my Dad since I was 11 years old, so this was such a gift. AND my children got to know Grandpa Don better and he just soaked in their loving. The night before he was to be discharged, he died quietly and peacefully in his sleep. And amidst the grief, we celebrated that he was ready for death and we had been given the gift of time during that last couple of weeks.

As we step into November, we anticipate one more major change: the adoption of Elizabeth as our daughter is probably going to be around Thanksgiving or early December. We appreciate your continued prayers.

In the middle of all these ups and downs, the mourning and the dancing, the anxieties and the expectations, the weeping and the laughing, we have sensed God’s presence with us through it all. Every time we unexpectedly  needed something extra, God has provided through His people: a check in a card, a reservation with extra “points” someone had with a hotel, a baby blanket (or quilt!), extra diapers, and even food!

In the book of Romans, Paul describes how we as Christians live out this Old Testament passage from Ecclesiastes: “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.(Romans 12:15, NIV)

As we continue on in this journey of life, we thank God for YOU, our friends and our family, for walking with us, rejoicing with us, and mourning with us. Praise God! And Thank You!

(This originally appeared in the monthly newsletter of the Clarks Mills United Methodist Church).

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Seeing Things As God Sees Them

“Get away from me, Satan! … You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.” (Jesus to Peter when Peter tries to talk Jesus out of the cross, from Mark 8:33, NLT)

In August, I preached on this passage of Scripture where Jesus asks the disciples who they think he is. In Mark 8:29, Peter nails it with “You are the Messiah.” The next verse shows that Jesus immediately told them not to tell anyone else about it. Then, in what seems like a change of subject, we read that Jesus begins to teach them that the Son of Man has to actually suffer and face death. The disciples, who have heard him confirm that he IS the Messiah, are upset because they’ve been taught all about the Messiah all their lives: The Messiah is supposed to come and destroy Israel’s enemies. The Messiah reigns as conqueror! The Messiah can’t die at the hands of the Romans… It’s not supposed to work that way!

So when Peter tries to reprimand Jesus (Yes… it says “reprimand”), Jesus denounces him. He actually uses the word “Satan” to describe Peter because the word “Satan” is not just a name, it’s also means “accuser” or “opponent” in Greek. Peter has set himself against Jesus and is tempting Jesus to be the human idea of a Messiah… There’s no reason to suffer or face death on a cross. Peter is opposing Jesus and trying to get Jesus to do things the way everyone expects him to.

My point that day, which apparently threw some folks off, was that we, like Jesus, need to see things GOD’S way, not just the way our traditions have taught us. Far too often we in the church are like Peter and the disciples who have trouble seeing things the way God sees them.

To illustrate that, I tried to talk about how people have become concerned that Christianity’s numbers of worshipers and members have fallen since the 1950s. Simply put, there are less people in the pews. My contention that day was that those falling numbers don’t really tell us the spiritual story the way God sees it. You see, back in the ‘50s, it was a socially acceptable and expected thing that people who were worth anything, of course would go to church. Even non-Christians went to church because it was expected and people thought less of them if they didn’t attend. So Christianity’s numbers were much bigger.  Now-a-days however, if they don’t really want to go to church, there really isn’t a social expectation that they will go. You go because you want to. I tried to suggest that going to church because you want to, because you love Jesus Christ and want to worship him, is a much better reason to attend. And so the statistical numbers that say Christianity is fading aren’t real. Yes, we have fewer people in the pews, but hopefully they are people who are really Christians, not just people who were shamed into attending church. In fact, we’re better when we’re NOT shaming people into church worship services.

Seeing church attendance as something you HAVE TO do is seeing things the way the world sees (or at least saw) it back 60 some years ago. But there is a better way… seeing things from God’s perspective. God wants people in church because they love him and WANT TO worship him. That’s why there are texts like these, clear back in the Old Testament: “You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.”  (David to God, from Psalm 51:16-17, NLT).

Let’s make sure we look at things from God’s point-of-view, whether it’s about church attendance, responding to God when he wants us to do something different than the way we planned, or anything else that comes our way.

(This devotional article first appeared in the newsletter of the Clarks Mills United Methodist Church)

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