On December 5, 2012, American medical doctor Dilip Joseph and two colleagues are driving back to Kabul, Afghanistan, after serving villagers that morning at a rural clinic. Suddenly a man waving an AK-47 blocks their path. More armed men jump out of hiding. For Dilip, it is the beginning of a nightmare—he’s being kidnapped by the Taliban.
So begins the description on the back of a very exciting book—a true story describing the events that forever changed the lives of Dr. Joseph and his companions.
I’ve been highly distracted for the past two weeks. Our daughters and granddaughters have been visiting, and I’ve been playing games, taking photos, cooking meals, and hugging—lots of hugging. What I haven’t been doing is writing blog posts. In fact, I totally missed last Friday, in spite of my best intentions. Instead of writing, taking time away from family that we don’t get to see nearly as often as we’d like, I thought I would cheat a bit.
The following is one of the very first posts I ever wrote for this blog. Yes, it’s listed in the archives, but if you’re like me, you rarely—if ever—hunt back through the old posts for something to read. I think my point is just as important today as it was when I wrote it almost ten years ago. I hope you agree.
“That’s all there is.”
I couldn’t believe it. Really?
I had become a believer the previous May, near the end of my freshman year in college. After spending a frustrating summer vacation back home, fending off my mother’s determined efforts to undermine my fledgling faith, I was finally back at school, eager to grow spiritually. Until two weeks prior to “accepting Jesus as my personal Savior,” I’d been a fervent atheist. I’d never even been to church. Now it seemed as if there was so much to learn about God! So I turned to the person who had answered my questions last spring.
“OK. I’m reading my Bible. I’m praying. Now what?”
And the answer came, “That’s it. That’s all there is.”
May is one of our busiest months. Everything seems to happen at once. I love to go birding, and here in Colorado, May is the peak of spring migration. It’s also the month when my garden wakes up. I can’t wait to get my fingers back into the soil, sowing seeds outdoors, setting out started seedlings, and pulling the weeds that have been sleeping all winter. At the same time, work continues, bills must be paid, clothes still get dirty, and we still get hungry.
With our schedules full, Pete and I had been communicating in sound bites. “Heading to the store, need anything?” “Can you stop at the bank for me?” “Don’t forget, tonight is our small group meeting.” We hadn’t had a real conversation in weeks. We really needed some quality time. Happily, we’d scheduled just that—back in January.
Usually I like to finish reading a book before I recommend it to someone else. Today I’m making an exception. I’ve read enough of Hearing God in Conversation: How to Recognize His Voice Everywhere, by Samuel C. Williamson, to know that I didn’t want to wait another moment to recommend it. This is a book I can recommend to every believer—and perhaps even you who doubt God’s existence.
I’ve written about this topic before; see Did You Say Something? from July, 2013 for one such post. I don’t intend to rehash what I wrote then, as I doubt I could express my thoughts much better now. This book, however, surpasses my little post in all ways. Of course, he gets to use an entire book to do so.
What if someone else made your New Year’s resolutions?
That was the question our pastor posed to us. It got an embarrassed twitter of laughter. Seems we all have something that needs changing, but we don’t want to admit it. Or maybe we do admit it—but we aren’t willing to put out the effort to deal with it. We laugh, but the question obviously hits home.
What is the gospel? I’ve been pondering this question for a while now. Is it the fact that God loves everybody? Is it loving our neighbor—being the good Samaritan? Is it the message of salvation that Jesus died on the cross for our sins? And where does repentance fit in?
While Merriam-Webster defines “gospel” as “the message concerning Christ, the kingdom of God, and salvation,” there is no single Biblical passage that clearly defines the word. However, bits and pieces appear throughout Scripture. Continue reading