You are looking at my favorite Florida sunset picture out of all the ones I have taken. While I love the beauty of Florida I have discovered as I travel around, that Florida is not the only beautiful place in the world. The sunsets on the sea are not the only way God expresses His beauty. He also expresses His beauty on snow capped mountains, lush valleys and meadows as well as majestic forests. God has too much glory and beauty for little Florida to contain, so He must spread it all over the world. It is the same with people. God is just too big and glorious for Him to portray Himself in one type of people. So He expresses His beauty in different types of people all over the world.
The spring of 2003 found me driving from Texas to Tennessee. I stopped for the night in Louisiana. The next morning I stopped at a doughnut shop in Mississippi. As I walked in, all eyes were glued to me, and were staring me down. I checked my zipper. Everything seemed to be okay. I walked up to the counter and smiled at the lady at the cash register, but she only glared back at me. I wiped my face. I must not have rinsed well after shaving. I cheerfully ordered my two chocolate cream filled doughnuts. My cheerful order was not met with a cheerful smile. The lady very curtly gave me my doughnuts, made change and glared at me as I smiled back and said “Thank you!”
As I turned around, I saw all the customers were still glaring at me. I smiled back at them and they only glared back at me. That is when I finally noticed something I hadn’t before. I was the only white person in the store. Everyone else was black. My first reaction to that realization was, “You’ve got to be kidding me! Your attitude towards me is so 1964! It’s 2003 people!” I came within an eyelash of making a grand speech, about how we are all friends back in Texas, but thought better of it. My church in Texas was a multi-cultural church with several different nationalities. (Notice I did not say races and I will tell you later why.) Not only at church, but also where I worked, I had black friends, white friends, Hispanic friends, and everything in between.
Later when I shared my experience with a friend, they reminded me that I was passing through an area where there was still anger over racist crimes. They reminded me about Emmett Till, the young black boy who was killed by some white men for no good reason and the jury let them go! That has created a lot of anger in the black people.
Well I want to share something with you. What happened to Emmett Till has created a lot of anger in me too! You see, I don’t think of Emmett as just black. I think of him as human. I like to think of myself as human as well. People call what happened to him a race crime, that pits blacks against whites. But here is the thing. I am the same race as Emmett Till! While he was black and I am white I am still the same race as him- the human race! What happened to Emmett was a crime against humanity-the same humanity I am a part of. I have just as much right to share the hurt and anger of this terrible crime, because as a human I can identify with him. You see, the Bible only acknowledges one race, the human race. We all have one Father. When Cain killed Abel, it was an attack on the human race and when those men killed poor Emmett, it was an attack on the human race as well- the entire human race, and it broke the heart of the same Father whose heart was broken when Cain killed Abel.
Even though I enjoy beautiful sunsets on the beach here in Florida, I am still concerned about how pollution affects beautiful places all over the world. You see I don’t just belong to Florida. I belong to the world. Emmett Till did not just belong to black people. He belonged to humanity.
When we become narrow-minded, thinking we only belong to people in our own area, color, or even church then we are denying how great and wonderful our God is. Even in the church we debate theology thinking our way of thinking has a corner on the market, forgetting that God is too great to pour all His theology into one simple narrow minded brain. I have said it before and will repeat it now, often our camp of thought is wrong, not by what it teaches, but by what it does not teach. Some people stress justification while others stress sanctification. Fact is you need both. So to get the big picture on theology we must put all our ideas together. I may love my beach sunset pictures, but we need beautiful mountains and valleys in there as well. While I see God’s glory in the sea, many see God’s glory in the desert. My sunset picture is not a complete comprehensive picture of God’s glory and beauty, and my theology is not complete either. When we put all our pictures together we get the big picture.
Luke 15:11-31 shares the story of the prodigal son, and in that story the older brother disowns his younger brother when he calls him “This son of yours”. He would not call him brother. Problem is we all have one Father. That makes us all family. God is the father of struggling sinners. If in my pride I claim the struggling sinner is not my brother, then I have also said God is not my Father! In the end of the story the older brother finds himself outside of his Father’s house, because he refused to accept his brother.
Quaid, an elderly man from Vietnam, whose family disowned him when He became a Seventh-day Adventist, was a member of a church I preach at here in Florida. Sadly, he has passed on. At his funeral, a mother of a struggling teen shared this story with me. Her daughter, we will call Shelby was dealing with some grief in her life and was acting out. She dressed differently and liked to dye her hair bright colors. One day at church people were talking about her and she was very hurt. She started telling everyone she was never coming back, because people were treating her like she was so different. Quaid, in his classic grey suit and tie sat down on a bench outside the church, with 15 year old Shelby, in her strange clothes and hair, and he told her how his family had thought he was strange for being Seventh-day Adventist, but it did not stop him from coming to church. He talked to her about how people thought he was strange because of some of his customs from his native country, but that did not stop him from loving them. This elderly man from Vietnam, sat on a bench with a rebellious 15 year old girl, and talked to her about all the things they had in common! He shared with her how, while being different, they both shared the same problems-rejection. He told her he was not giving up coming to church just because people thought he was different, and told her not to let them keep her from church either! Years later, Shelby attends church occasionally, but according to her mother, she would not be attending at all if it wasn’t for an elderly Vietnamese, traditional Adventist elder who saw himself in a 15 year old American rebellious teenage girl. Shelby attends that church occasionally and has friends from that church that she meets for socials outside of church, but Quaid will always have a special place in her heart.
Friends we share one Father. We are family. While I live in Florida I have an interest in the whole world because the lines between states and countries are only imaginary. I am not just a part of Florida. I am a part of this world. I am not just a Seventh-day Adventist. I am a Christian and therefore I have an interest in my Methodist and Baptist brothers as well. I don’t just belong to white people. I belong to people of every color and nationality because I am a part of the human race. I am a part of God’s great big family. I am not going to let narrow minded thinking force me outside my Father’s house.
You can study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.
I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.
This week’s SS lesson is on motives, and there is nothing more frustrating and isolating than having your motives misunderstood. However, it is not an isolating occurrence. It happens to everyone. It happened to David. When he saw Goliath making fun of Israel’s God, he wanted to stand up for God, but his own brother misconstrued his motives and said, “Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the wilderness? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.” 1 Samuel 17:28 NIV What hurts more than strangers misjudging us is family misjudging us. Hurt for David too, I am sure.
Question is, how can we know other people’s motives when we don’t even know our own hearts?
The heart is deceitful above all things
and beyond cure.
Who can understand it?
“I the Lord search the heart
and examine the mind,
to reward each person according to their conduct,
according to what their deeds deserve.” Jeremiah 17:9-10 NIV
“Humans are very seldom either totally sincere or totally hypocritical. Their moods change, their motives are mixed, and they are often themselves quite mistaken as to what their motives are.” –C.S. Lewis
I am glad David did not let his family get in his way of doing what needed to be done. Even though his motives were misconstrued he continued to do what was right, which just validated the fact even more, that he was doing right for the right reasons and not to get the praise of his family, because there was no praise from his family! Likewise when people misconstrue our motives, let that be a comfort instead of a curse. We can know that we are doing right because it is right, and not for our egos, when everyone accuses us of having bad motives, but we do the right thing anyway.
Everyone loves an inside joke. When nobody else gets the joke, but you and your friend, it makes your friendship more intimate, having something between you two that nobody else understands. When you are doing right because it is right, and nobody else understands that, just consider it an inside joke between you and Jesus, and it will make your relationship with Him just that more intimate. The two of you are the only ones who need to know your motives. Its nobody else’s business!
I am writing this morning from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.
One summer, when I was ten years old, I spent a week at my Grandmother Holzkamper’s house in Gentry Arkansas. My mother came to pick me up and while we were still visiting with grandma, I smarted off to my mother. My grandmother told me something that has always stayed with me. She said, “You don’t talk that way to your mother.” After that I thought she would tell me how my mom is the boss and all but she didn’t. Instead she said, “You don’t talk that way to someone who would die for you.” Wow. I had never thought of it like that.
There are power struggles even in families. I wish this were not so. I have seen family members accusing other family members of being on ego trips and being power hungry. Husbands are to be respected, not because they are “the man” or the boss. They are to be respected because they would be the last ones off the Titanic. They would die for their families.
At the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church where I serve, we don’t call pastors “reverand.” We only revere God. Yet Paul tells wives to reverence their husbands! Paul is telling wives to have more respect for their husband than a church pastor. That is because of the self sacrifing love the husband has for His family.
I am sure many times the wife has this love also for her family. Disagreements happen. That is okay. I just hope that when family members disagree, that they continue to resepct each other and remember they are arguing with someone who would die for them. Reverence that love even while disagreeing!
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it. Ephesians 5:25
Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband. Ephesians 5::33
My family and I at my grandmother’s 100th birthday party.
In 1909 Theadore Roosevelt retired from the Presidency and was succeeded by William Howard Taft, the 27th U’S. President. In 1909 the U.S. flag proudly waved with 45 stars. John F. Kennedy would not be born for another 8 years. In 1909 the New York Yankees had not yet won the first of their 27 World Series titles and it would be another 6 years before Babe Ruth would hit his first homerun. Arkansas had half the population that it has today, and in Siloam Springs Arkansas my grandmother was born on a Sunday morning in a tent during a storm on November 7, 1909.
Last Sunday my family and I paid tribute to my Grandmother, Ruth Holzkamper and her 100th birthday! While my grandmother is responsible for five children, 16 grand children and I don’t know how many great and great great grand children, the greatest legacy she has given us is the legacy of love. My grandmother’s first husband died and she remarried. Her new husband, Robert Holzkamper (deceased), had children of his own too. Growing up I did not realize that half of my family was not all blood related. We did not hear of step children or step family members, it was all just family. I remember as a child watching my grandmother cry her heart out over the welfare of a family member only to grow up later and realize there was no blood relation between her and them. My grandmother loves to have fun. I remember her playing football with us in her 50’s. She loves to play cards and table games and the thing that amazes me is she is always learning new games! Every time I come to see her she wants to teach me a new game. Even at 100 this woman does not live in the past! I am always saying, “Grandma why don’t we just play a game we already know” and she will respond something like, “but this new game is so much fun!” And she will teach me the new game.
Grandma Ruth was raised a third generation Seventh-day Adventist Christian. A lot of her family is still Adventist today, but more importantly most of them have a relationship with Jesus in a church they are comfortable in. Growing up I always wanted a career in the ministry but Grandma always reminded me that labels don’t matter. It is what is in the heart. I remember her telling me more than once, “Be like Joseph. Leave your coat and flee if you have to.” So far I have never had to. 🙂
By the way Grandma has a brother buried in South Africa who died as a child while her parents were missionaries. Various members of my family have served and are currently serving as missionaries practically all over the world. My grandmother’s parents were married in the home of Uriah Smith, in Battle Creek Michigan before becoming missionaries.
I have learned so much from my grandmother over the years, but here I have tried to condense it into a top ten list.
Top Ten Things I Have Learned From Grandma Holzkapmer
10. Its good to be funny but don’t be silly. That’s just silly.
9. Get up early, work hard, but don’t forget to take your lemonade break on the front porch around 10:30am. Good memories, them front porch breaks.
8. You are very special but then again so is everyone else. We are all special.
7. Macaroni and cheese is so much better with lots and lots of pepper. (No hate mail from health fanatics please.)
6. Grandchildren can help themselves to the cookie jar and anything else they want anytime they want. I was so embarrassed the first time I learned this rule does not stand at everyone else’s home.
5. It’s a huge family. Some days it may be all about you. Other days it may not be about you at all. Refer to number 8.
4. You give everything you have for family, and everyone you know is family.
3. Luke and Laura made it because they had love. It just takes lots of love.
2. If you cheat in a game of Uno grandma may not catch you, but God will know. (Leaving me to assume you go to hell for cheating grandma at Uno, though it was never actually said.)
1. While we all have fun we must also remain very respectful. After all your family members would give their life for you, and you never disrespect someone who loves you so much they would give their life for you.
Happy 100th Grandma! And many many more!!!
This photo must have been taken around 1910 or so. Grandma Ruth is sitting in her mother’s lap on their front porch I assume.
I am writing again today from the beautiful Tampa Bay Area.
And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace. Luke 7:50
Jesus told the woman who had given the fragrant perfume that her faith had saved her. That faith was more than an intellectual knowledge that Jesus existed. It was even more than just believing He was going to die for her. The woman understood that Jesus was going to die for her so since He was giving all of Himself for her, she decided to show her appreciation by giving all of herself to him. That bottle of perfume cost her everything. But after Jesus gave all she could not hold anything back. She had to show her appreciation. Her faith was more than a belief it was an appreciation that worked itself out in sacrificial giving. At the tomb on Sunday morning fear kept the disciples away, but this woman’s appreciation was so strong it could not hold her back. Her thankfulness and appreciation is what gave her faith the power to reflect Christ in her own life.
Thankfulness and appreciation is what gives faith its power to help us overcome and live a Christian life. A hope of reward cannot give our faith power and neither can the fear of punishment empower our faith. Reward and fear are legalistic motivational factors that always fail. Yet we see in the life of the woman who anointed Jesus’ feet and in countless others that thankfulness and appreciation produce a faith that overcomes the world.
And it was appreciated by Christ. Back in Christ’s time people did not take baths all the time like we do, so they put on potent perfume to help them not smell so bad. The scent could last for days and with this woman emptying the whole bottle on Jesus, He carried the scent of this perfume to the cross a few days later. While people mocked Him on the cross and ridiculed Him He was tempted to believe His great sacrifice was all for nothing. Then He would press his feet into those cruel spikes to lift himself so He could grasp for air and would take in the aroma of the perfume and remembered that someone did indeed appreciate His sacrifice. True appreciation is not expressed with words only, but even more so in the life. This is true appreciation, thankfulness and faith. There are many kinds of faith and levels of faith, but appreciation and thankfulness are the substance of the only faith that saves.
This thanksgiving season I have much again to be thankful for. No hurricanes hit us this summer. With a depressed economy I still have a job and a home. I have good friends who always look out for me. I have my family and still have my parents who just celebrated their 50th anniversary.
But most of all Jesus died for me and loves me. One day a hurricane could very well hit Tampa. My apartment and job could be washed away in a flash. My family and friends could one day be gone too. Still I will continue to be thankful to the One who owes me nothing but has given me everything. Above all Lord, help us to be thankful for your great love and sacrifice.
So, please comment and let me know what you are thankful for this season.
Your Christian Servant,
Please also visit my website In Light Of the Cross.