When Jesus Said “No”

The daily Bible reading from the New Testament last Friday got me thinking about our current circumstances.

Jesus was asked about two tragedies that were on everyone’s minds; the first being the slaughter of some Galileans by Pilate as they were offering sacrifices in the temple, and the second was the death of eighteen upon which a tower had fallen. When asked if what had befallen them was because they were greater sinners than others, Jesus said, “No, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

He then went on to tell a parable about a fig tree that wasn’t producing fruit. When the gardener suggested it be cut down, the owner said to give it more time to be cared for and fertilized.

These verses from Luke 13 made me think about what we’re going through, because it’s only natural to wonder why things happen the way they do. Why are some stricken by a deadly virus, and others not? Why would a tornado strike in the midst of a pandemic? Is God making a statement, or do such things just happen? And knowing the love of God, how do we make sense of such?

I’m not sure we should even try to make sense of it all, because the only answer Jesus gives here is “No”, followed by a call to repentance. Apparently we are to simply trust that God knows what’s going on, live fruitful lives during what time we do have, and help others do the same.

Having said that, I am very grateful for the grace that has been shown us during this trying time of separation. I’m not aware of any in our body who have been impacted beyond financial insecurity, inconvenience, and disappointment by the restrictions placed upon us. In fact, the only calls I’ve received relative to needs have been offers to help any who might be in need.

I don’t think that means God has shown us special favor. He sends rain on the righteous and unrighteous alike. I’m just overwhelming grateful for the undeserved grace He has shown to us.

God Bless, Rick

A Letter to Jesse

When I received the news that Jesse Yangmi, our missionary in Thailand and Southeast Asia for over 45 years, and a dear friend, had an aggressive cancer that had metastasized, I sent him the following letter.


I was sorry to hear of your failing health, and want to assure you of my prayers on your behalf. Knowing of your solid relationship with Christ and years of faithful service, I do have to admit, however, that I’m hesitant to pray for your physical healing. We both are looking forward to the new body we’ll receive when we lay aside the flesh, so, like Paul, we’re hard pressed to choose whether to stay or go. But of course it’s not our choice to make, so we simply offer ourselves as living sacrifices, and trust He will use us in whatever form best serves his purposes. I must also admit that I do have to smile when I remember your telling me you hope you don’t die here because it’s too expensive.

It’s been my privilege and pleasure to be a partner in your ministry for nearly 50 years, and I treasure the times we’ve spent together. The carving of the elephants you gave us years ago still hangs in the foyer of our home, and the cookie jar Esther gave us is still on our kitchen counter. I know these things are merely symbols of our relationship, and will some day no longer be needed, but they are very meaningful to me in the present.

I do very much look forward to the day we’ll actually be together again in the presence of the One we love and serve. In the meantime, I pray His grace will make it possible for you to lie down in green pastures beside still waters as you make your journey through the valley of the shadow of death. I’m thankful you have Ati by your side, and pray our heavenly Father will comfort her, and give her strength.

Your friend and brother, Rick

I could only send such a letter because HE IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN INDEED!

God Bless, Rick

The Hand of God

During the “shelter at home” order I managed to finish an interesting book by Michael Medved entitled Gods Hand on America that tells of historical events and persons that caused Americans to see the hand of God at work. The stories detail amazing accomplishments, as well as tragedies that were narrowly avoided or courageously endured, that assured our country of God’s providential care. The book opens with a chapter about something I never knew existed.

In the 1840s, explorers in the Rocky Mountains kept hearing about a colossal cross of snow that appeared for a few months every year on an uncharted Colorado mountain. After it was finally photographed in 1873, and a painting exhibited at the Philadelphia Centennial International Exposition in 1876, it “touched the happy hordes as freshly revealed evidence that God looked with special, clearly expressed favor on the works and ways of the new nation that celebrated its first glorious century of existence.”

The “Holy Cross National Monument” was established in 1929 by presidential proclamation, but its national monument status was stripped by congress in 1950 after a rockslide took away one of the arms of the cross. I’m not sure what to make of it all, but I don’t think it wrong to look for the hand of God in both natural and unnatural events.

If you see something that encourages you and strengthens your faith, don’t be afraid to share it. And don’t worry, as long as we have eyes to see, the cross upon which we base our hopes will never disappear from sight.

God Bless, Rick