Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Waorani and God's "Carvings"

Recently Katie and I saw the movie, End of the Spear. It's a very violent movie, but very worthwhile. It relates the story of how in 1956 five Christian men were speared in their effort to bring the gospel to the Waorani people (also known as the Aucas, a derogatory name for them), and how they came to hear and respond to the gospel from the wives of some of these men.
After that movie, I read Tim the children's missionary biography Nate Saint: On a Wing and a Prayer, about Nate Saint, who was one of these men who were speared. I promised Tim that after the book was finished, we could watch a video that we had purchased at a Missions Fest conference about 6 years ago. It was of Steve Saint, the son of Nate Saint, who has since gone to live with the Waorani people at their request, and who spoke at the conference.
Various times through the biography, Tim wanted to stop reading because it is a painful read even though written for children. It was the promise of watching this video that encouraged him to finish the book.
In the video, Steve Saint first read a letter from a woman who believed that missions work was wrong, that the only kindness was to let primitive tribes keep on living the "pure" life they have always lived. Steve had brought along an elderly Waorani man and translated for him his plea for the audience to send more people to other tribes who have not yet heard of God's "carvings," and whose first-hand account of the past violence of his tribe did well to refute the "purity" claimed in the woman's letter.
Steve also related how a group of nonbelievers from U of W went to visit the Waorani and hiked deep into the jungle with a number of them. One woman mentioned to Steve how she'd heard that there was somewhere nearby a very violent tribe who was prone to spearing people; where were they? He told her to ask any member of the tribe where his or her father was. She asked one, who responded that his father had been speared. Another student asked another member of the tribe. His father, too, had been speared. Another student chose another member of the tribe. She said her father, her mother...she named off about 8 members of her family who had all been speared, and pointed to the man among them who had killed them. One woman's entire family had been speared; she alone had been left alive on the condition that she marry the one who speared them; she pointed there to her husband, who was sitting next to Steve.
After all this discussion, one of the students asked with concern whether they were safe here in the jungle with all these people! When this question was translated, the tribespeople laughed. One of the Waorani women spoke passionately to the students for about two hours about their need to follow God's path. She asked if any there would like to follow His path, and one girl raised her hand. She said to her that if the students had visited them before the Waorani had learned to follow God's path, they would not have lived until morning; that since the girl would follow God's path, she knows that even though the girl would fly away in two days, she still will see her again at God's place.
You want adventure, you want meaning in life? Read missions biographies and you'll get it vicariously. Though I have not been a missionary, I have a dream that if I were, I would have adventure added to meaningful living all together--not vicariously, but firsthand. Maybe, someday...
Isaiah 6:8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?" Then I said, "Here am I. Send me!"

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Planarians and the Glory of God

Tonight Katie and I were in the car trying to get some reading done while the guys were at baseball practice. Katie was reading her Biology; I was reading When I Don't Desire God, How to Fight for Joy, by John Piper. (It's a book recommended by our youth pastor for the youth ministry leaders.)
She started talking about the planarians, the topic of the day in her book, and I laughed and read a sentence from my book. "Therefore the final goal in our hearts is the enjoyment of the glory of God, not just the seeing."
With a laugh she read a sentence from hers. "Planarians usually eat small organisms they grab with their mouth."
"And the final goal in the universe is the fullest possible display of the glory of God."
"Digestive enzymes are then secreted through the mouth, and, after the organism is broken down into small particles, a tubelike pharynx is extended out of the mouth, sucking up the small particles."
"That fullness comes to pass not only but mainly through the white-hot, joy-permeated worship of His people as they exult in the glory of His Son."
Well, we thought that was pretty funny. I could go on (we did for a bit) but you get the picture. We get our focus on the things of this world, and look what we get to focus on! Planarians' eating habits and things not much prettier. Focusing on the glory of God is always preferable, but it's not primary to our human nature.
How I wish I could manage to go through life joyfully, consistently, keeping my eyes off of the feeding habits of planarians and their ilk but looking to God instead! Still, uh...what do those creatures do? do they do it? Hmm. Yeah, that's the human condition, pondering the equivalent of after day...wonder how beneficial studying Biology really is? Don't tell Katie that's even a question.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Enjoying the Process is Like a Home

Pastor Sean has been preaching from Ecclesiastes on enjoying the process. It's something we've been thinking about and discussing among the youth ministry leadership. Today I got so much housekeeping caught up and it was delightful to be in the process of doing so. Not doing so for the last while had its good sides and bad sides. Frustration in the increasing mess around the house is one of the downsides of doing other things. Housework is always the default priority around here. However, it's so often just the default and not the main priority, and other things come first for so many other reasons. Housekeeping suffers much of the time!
Gardening comes first when the weather is good because good weather is so hard to come by until summer and if things aren't done now, they can't be so easily done later; the weeds are bigger and when soil is delivered for our garden (Kenny's truck is broken down, so it will have to wait), we need the area ready: clear of rocks, concrete post anchors, and play area chips, and spread with lime and other stuff to soften the clay below.
Hospitality comes first when there's someone who needs to come over or be encouraged or have a meal. That just makes sense, and you can't say vacuuming and going through drawers is more important; besides it has its own built-in reward of relationship-building.
Homeschooling comes first most any school day, and even though most of our known world is on Spring Break, we're trying to work through it so we can take days off when they're back in school; that in spite of Chemistry being at the absolute peak of my ability to comprehend and think. If it were an option, Spring Break would ace out Chemistry for the rest of the year.
Sickness comes first because if you don't take care of it, it can degenerate into pneumonia or something, and besides other things just aren't as important. Katie was the focus of that earlier this week, and thankfully she's much better now.
Painting comes first when I have the opportunity, the paint and tools, and the room cleared out all at the same time. So Tim's room finally got painted a week ago after being here almost 3 years. It was in dire need; he had torn off some of the baseball wallpaper strip so I took off the rest of it, and underneath was the jagged top edge of green paint that came halfway up the wall. Also there were many repairs that had to be made to the wall because of the previous owners' destructive boy who had wrecked the plaster and also pinned all sorts of posters all over the place. It was one perforated wall! It was transformed with stain-sealing primer, plaster, and a coat of paint. It's amazing the delight that comes from returning a room to the peace of neutral cream-colored paint.
So today when we treated the day like a Saturday, I went through all my clothes and weeded things out; did a sinkful of hand-wash dishes; pulled a lot of weeds and sprayed some harder ones; trimmed some awful groundcover and swept the driveway, porch and front walk; swept the kitchen and entryway; washed a bunch of laundry and folded it; and matched a bunch of accumulated socks. You know I did a bunch of more miscellaneous stuff too but that's what comes to mind. It sounds like a lot to me. I'm not even done for the day. I feel really wonderful, if a little sore. Enjoying the process is better than a day in Hawaii, I'm convinced. Okay, so I've never been there. Maybe I'd better never go.

Ecclesiastes 2:24-28 There is nothing better for a man than to eat and drink and tell himself that his labor is good. This also I have seen that it is from the hand of God. For who can eat and who can have enjoyment without Him?
For to a person who is good in His sight, He has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, while to the sinner He has given the task of gathering and collecting, so that he may give to one who is good in God's sight. This too is vanity and striving after wind.

Neighborhood Battles

Life in a cul-de-sac can have its difficulties. Our next-door neighbor from our left side called today asking us to remove our basketball hoop from the sidewalk in front of our house, because neighbor kids from our right side have been so nasty to them in their use of it. Of course they all have complaints against the other; the parents accuse the other neighbors of lying, and it's tough to be in between them. Things are escalating, too; the kids have been egging our neighbors' house and spitting at their new car, and police have been called in.
The frustrating thing is that when the children misbehave, it isn't something that their parents will address, because the parents accept no definition of wrong unless it is any perceived offense against themselves. One of the parents was even yelling unprovoked cruelties across the cul-de-sac at our neighbor in front of his own kids--what an example. Now all the kids in the neighborhood have sided with the offending kids and think our next-door neighbors are mean. Almost all. Tim tells them that our neighbors are nice.
The kids have actually lost an opportunity by their nasty behavior. Since Tim is on good terms with the offended neighbors, they spoil him at every turn of events. They've given him various little favors and at holidays bestow things like hermit crabs and posters upon him.
Because of the difficulties, the neighborhood now will have no convenient basketball hoop to play with. Also by discussing the matter with the police, their widespread air-soft pellet gun use and street placement of hockey goals have also been discovered to be illegal. I don't think any of it would have been addressed except as a result of their nastiness; now they have to contain much of their play to their back yards. My mother would say that they cut off their noses to spite their faces. I think I agree.
It all goes back to the biblical fact that you sow what you reap. They and their parents have sown the wind; they will reap the whirlwind.
Job 4:8 According to what I have seen, those who plow iniquity and those who sow trouble harvest it.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Improving Every Minute

While on the One28 ministry snow retreat, Pastor Sean delivered messages regarding Jonathan Edwards. Sean gave us all copies of JE's resolutions, and I remember one that particularly appealed to me (though perhaps I should try most with those that least suit me) was regarding trying to improve every minute to God's glory, at least that's the gist of it. And by general habit I think I do, though too often I get carried away with something trivial when there are other things that would improve the moment better.
Today, with flu in the house, homeschooling Chemistry took a back seat and other things like sleep, coughing and watching movies took its place since Chemistry takes alertness and concentration. Tonight I thought that it would be good to have at least a mental list of things that would best improve the time we're in, according to our abilities at the time, so that we could be addressing those things and not becoming slackers.
At any time prayer and Bible study would obviously be among the top items. Also serving one another, and providing for the needs of family (in my case, homeschooling, cooking, and cleaning house are central), fulfilling obligations to others (to students that might include getting school work done, though it's also an obligation to themselves), and providing for one's own needs (including exercise, which I too rarely fit in).
Once those things are done, at least in my case, I'm tired and I need to find things that can be done at a lower energy level so I can return to the more active roles. When I am tired, communicating with others, planning, reading helpful books, and doing paperwork might be what work for me; also blogging.
Anyway, the list can go on and on, and I'm sure it's different for everyone. Pretty much every minute is busy for me most days, and still I don't get everything done--but I like the challenge of that. I can see even from just a practical sense, since time is precious and seems to go by so fast, why JE resolved to use his time well. It would be wonderful to have been able to hear him talk about his ideas for improving the time; I might not even be considering some of the better things that he would be appalled at my omitting.
For example, even as I looked up this Bible text to get it right, I realized one more priority that I'm sure would have appalled JE not to have specified on my original list: sharing the gospel with unbelievers. I don't know many who do much of that, and it's sad to think I left it out of my list. That's a confession I'm ashamed to make.
Ephesians 5:15-16 Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.