God’s Purpose in Creating Differences

A man came to speak to us at church today.  His name is Nick Vujicic and he’s an Australian.  His birthplace isn’t the most unique thing about Nick though.  He was born no arms and no legs, but amazingly this isn’t the most remarkable thing about Nick either.

Nick’s message is the most remarkable thing about Nick.  Nick’s message is that we are saved by Jesus Christ and that we have a purpose no matter how God created us.  Nick’s life has meaning and purpose that transcends his body’s limitations.  Nick believes he is a miracle and that God didn’t make a mistake when he was made the way he was.  Nick believes that he was made that way in order to reach other people, to be a living example of God’s blessings and not his own physical limits.

I listened to this man talk with conviction about his life and his faith.  I was left without any doubt that this was a man who truly believes what he says and who has examined his own soul and the purpose of God.  This man travels around the world to give his testimony and I doubt that anyone could possibly be untouched by his faith and courage.

Nick quoted Jeremiah 29:11 which says, “For I know the plans I have for you, “says the Lord.  “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.  In those days when you pray, I will listen.  If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.”

Nick related how when he was young, he wanted to give up; he wanted to surrender to his disabilities.  He talked about how he didn’t know anyone like him and how much it would have meant to him to see another armless and legless person who was healthy and happy and doing good things in the world.  Nick said there were none and he felt alone.

Nick said he was raised in a Christian family and that he was taught to pray for miracles.  He prayed and prayed for legs and arms and his prayers were never answered.  Nick believes that if you ask for a miracle and don’t receive one that you are the miracle.  He described meeting a 4 year old boy with his identical handicaps.  He also described a mother who brought her none year old son to see him who also had no arms, no legs and a little foot like he has.  Nick said it gives people hope when someone facing the same problems has faith, hope that people with different challenges can’t provide as meaningfully.

Nick feels that is part of his role, to find and inspire other people with physical handicaps that do not have any role models.  He also feels that his challenges in life aren’t any more difficult than other people with what they might think by comparison are lesser.  He spoke about people with broken families and how he felt that would be much harder to overcome than his physical limitations.  Nick’s point was that God has a purpose for us in every situation and circumstance and we need only be ready to allow Him to enter our lives, we need only spend time reading His word.

Nick spoke to us about the lies that enter into our thinking.  He talked about the fear and the guilt that we carry around with us about our sins.  He talked about how our forgiveness through Jesus Christ enables us to be confident about His grace and that He knows we are never going to be perfect.  But that so many people allow their own fears and their own self hatred to stain their lives and limit the ability of God to work in their lives for the good of others.

I can relate to the terrible impact of fear and self-loathing.  I can sometimes allow myself to slip backwards from where I began my journey with Christ.  I can sometimes feel the shadows of fear and guilt darkening the walls of my home.  I want to close my eyes to them and seclude myself in my pain.  I know that Nick had gone through some of that himself, that he had to struggle with the feeling that he should give in to them and quit trying.

Nick is about as different physically as anyone I’ve ever seen.  But Nick is about as grounded in his faith as anyone I’ve ever heard speak.  Some would say that Nick was not created as God intended, but Nick would say that he was created precisely as God intended.  Nick points out that there is no natural or external reason for him to be born the way he was, he simply was. 

This tends to fly in the face of science that would say he is deformed.  It also tends to fly in the face of many Christians who profess to know God’s will in creating people.  Both groups think they have the perfect human model in mind and yet there stood Nick.  Nick, who is so supremely secure in his knowledge of who he is and why he was created by God just as he is.  Nick, who is so secure that he is carrying out God’s purpose for his life.  Nick, so confident that his differences were created by God.

As Nick so eloquently preached today, we are not all born the same, and yet our Father’s love for us and the indelible fact that He has a purpose for our lives is common to us all.  Nick encouraged us to cast off our fears about how we were created and to embrace the miraculous gift of life and to seek God’s purpose in every breath we take.  What a guy!

For more information about Nick look at his web site, http://www.lifewithoutlimbs.org/

California Drought Pictures

I had the opportunity to visit my aunt in Paradise, California which sits on a ridge to the north and west of the Feather River and Oroville Dam.  I decided to drive down Pentz Road which runs along the east side of Paradise on my way home so I could take a look at the level of the lake.  These are the pictures I took.  The upper parking lot was full of houseboats in dry dock and the remaining boats in the water hundreds of feet below the picnic area have little space left.  These pictures remind me of the lake during the 1970’s when we experienced a severe drought.  A dry winter could leave all these boats in dry dock for the coming year.

Cameron Strang: Politics Trumps Prayer

Cameron Strang, the Florida Evangelical publisher of the Christian magazine, “Relevant”, had the opportunity of a lifetime as a Christian when he was invited to deliver the opening prayer at the Democratic Convention.  I don’t know if Mr. Strang considers himself a Pastor or just a Publisher but he said that he changed his mind about delivering the benediction because he didn’t want to be seen by his magazine readers as “picking a political side”.  I ask Mr. Strang to turn to his Bible for guidance on the issue.

In Matthew 24:14, Jesus says, “And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it…” (NLT) Jesus would surely mean that Democrats should also hear the Gospel.

Jesus above all pastors did not worry about being seen picking a political side that would offend the religious “powers that be”.  Matthew 9:10, “Later Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners.  But when the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with such scum?’”  Jesus replied, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor – sick people do”…”Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’”  Jesus did not worry about offending the Pharisees, He knew where He was needed.

Jesus went about His ministry preaching to sinners and unbelievers.  He spent much of His time with people who were considered outside of acceptable religious society.  I can’t ask Him directly but based on what the Bible says about Jesus and the kind of Pastor He was, I don’t think he would place political considerations above sharing God’s love through prayer with anyone on earth, including Democrats.

Now I am not naive enough to think that perhaps Mr. Strang could have made his decision based on things he’d rather not talk about.  Perhaps there were restrictions he had to agree to in order to give his Benediction.  Perhaps the leaders of the Democratic party said he could not mention sensitive things like abortion in his prayer.  Perhaps he agreed and then had a fit of conscience about it. 

But that isn’t what he is saying publicly, he is merely saying giving the prayer would place him on the Democratic side of the election politics.  I can’t respond to hypothetical reasons he backed out, only to what he is saying, and the reason he gave simply isn’t supported by Scripture.

Mr. Strang has in fact picked a political side by publicly accepting the invitation and then reversing his decision and declining it.  It appears that Mr. Strang chose magazine circulation over Gospel dispersion.  He says that he does want to share the Gospel, but in more private settings within the Democratic Convention.  Most Christians know Matthew 5:14 where Jesus says, “You are the light of the world – like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.  No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket.  Instead a lamp is placed on a stand where it gives light to everyone in the house.” (NLT)  It is sad that Mr. Strang chose not to let his light shine from the “hilltop”; it was a rare opportunity to be relevant.

Saturday in Eden

Saturday I engaged in a little recreational gold mining.  My cousins and I went to a small creek high up in the gold country.  We located an ideal granite boulder near a bridge in ther road where we could relax in the shade and eat nice sandwiches and enjoy the afternoon breeze of rising air as it funneled its way up the canyon.  It was one of those days when I realize that I live in California and that it is truly a special place in the world t be.  A place where scenes like this are a short ride from my front door.

Picture of the creek downstream from our boulder.

My cousin has some of the necessary gear for finding gold. We had a shovel and a gold pan and a sluice box.  We dug down into the gravel of the river trying to get down where the gold should be settled.  We even dug along the bank a little outside the creek where someone else more motivated than we are has been digging where was left a small opening in the side of the hill.

We shoveled, we panned, we sluiced, and we even played a trick on my cousin’s wife.  I brought along a small nugget I’d purchased a few years ago.  My cousin and I conspired to place it into the pan and then exclaim to his wife that we’d found the mother lode.  Of course they’ve been married a number of years and she is all too familiar with our family’s penchant for practical jokes.  So although we thought our acting was Oscar-worthy, she didn’t bite, at least not enough to make all the extreme preparation worthwhile.

I did find a small nugget however it was iron ore and not gold.  I’m convinced that it’s a small meteorite and I don’t want information that would prove otherwise.  I don’t know that I’ve ever found a piece of iron ore before so it was cool to know that at the very least I’d worked the sluice box adequately to find worthless scrap metal.  As I rubbed my hand across the gravel and the lighter stones were catching the current and being swept back into the stream I noticed the little lump sitting solidly on the bottom.  I thought that was odd so I put it into my pocket.  The picture below is of the iron and it probably bears a little explanation.  I placed the iron lump on a piece of white paper and then took a photo at close range with a flash.  This is the effect I got and in my opinion heightens my case that it’s a meteorite, ne pas?

So I am not going to retire on the proceeds of my gold panning but at the same time I found peace and beauty and fellowship that were all 24 karat.