Thursday, February 16, 2012

"My Three 'One' Sons"

A friend told me the following story yesterday ....
She was vacationing in Hawaii, strolling along a shop lined street with her husband when her eyes fell on a homeless person sitting leaning against a building wall.
Her eyes noted his appearance. His uncut fingernails and toenails had grown to a grotesque six inches long. His hair was long, dirty and matted ; his clothes old and smelly.
My friend whose heart is easily moved by any street/homeless person felt immediate compassion for him. "Oh... don't you feel something for that man?" she asked her husband. "NO!" was his quick retort.
They continued back to their hotel room but the vision of the man did not leave my friends' mind and she prayed. She felt God speak to her about the man and she went to her husband. "Don't you think God wants us to do something for that man?" she queried.
"Yes, He probably does !" responded her husband.
Agreed on what they could do for him, they left their hotel hoping the man was still there.
He was.
My friend approached the man, telling him how much God loved him and shared the simple gospel story/message. She told me she will never forget his eyes when he turned to look at her. In spite of his outwardly revolting appearance she looked deep past that and saw the kindness buried deep within.
She and her husband gave him what they felt God had directed them to give and told him again how much God loved him. He responded tearful and thankful.

The next day they visited a shop on that same street. They questioned the shop owner about the homeless man they had seen the day before.
To their incredulity she told them that the homeless man was the son of the actor who had played the father in My Three Sons !
***
When I got home I researched the personal life of Fred MacMurray. Who doesn't remember the TV sitcom "My Three Sons" ? (at least anyone over the age of 45 - smile)
I found out that Fred MacMurray had been married twice. He and his first wife adopted two children, a boy , Robert, and a girl. When his first wife died, he remarried and adopted twin girls.
That homeless man my friend helped was that son Robert, born in 1946.

It is the kind of story that tugs at your heart.
A child is born to a mother who either could not or would not keep him.
But he is 'chosen' by parents who want him, love him, and give him all he could possibly want - a life that other children could envy.
What happened to this boy, Robert?
Did the sorrow of losing his Mom to death add to the buried fear that his birth Mom had not 'wanted him' ? Did he never feel he had a place in the love of his step Mom ? Then when his father died in the early nineties did that completely crush his heart ?
Did he make the wrong choices ? Choosing to believe the father who adopted him and left him his worldly goods did not really love him?

My thoughts go to the parallel story that concerns all of us in a spiritual reality.
A child is born into the world of sin, vulnerable to all the pain and rejection the world offers.
Then at some point in their life they recognize and reach for the love of God.
God, with the heart of an eternal Father, picks them up and adopts them into His own family.
A Father's love covers them with promise -- all their needs met in this life and full inheritance of eternal life after death!
And yet when life does not take the path they expected, when experience disappoints, when trials and difficulties come --- instead of using the resources and promises held out to them from the hand and heart of their heavenly Father --- they allow doubt and fear to take hold and grow in a darkening soul.
And then with the passing of time they are found to be sitting on the sidelines, a sorry shell of the once favored child of God. Those passing by quickly turn their eyes away and move their feet to the other side of the street.
How very sad!
But even then.... it is not too late... God is waiting, longing for the prodigal son to come home so He can restore him to live in the abundance of His love, enjoying the joys of His Presence!
***
Perhaps you once knew God but have wandered after your own way -- or perhaps your heart is aching for a loved one who has turned away from the God that loves them.

The heart of God is always longing toward His children .... We see it so clearly portrayed in the story of the prodigal son..... "And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off , his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him!" (Luke 15:20)
In Hosea 14 God pours out His heart to His people calling them back to Him. He says.. "Oh.. return to the Lord your God .... and ... I will love them freely!" (Hosea 14 - from verses 1 and 4)

God is 'no respecter of persons' and if you are reading these words... the following words of God are spoken about YOU ! "whom I created for my glory, yes, personally formed and made each one.'" (Isaiah 43:7)
God love is for you .. and He has a personal reason/purpose for creating you!

If you have wandered from God ... reach out to God ... He is already reaching out to you ...
May your response be "Indeed, 'I' do come to you... for you are the Lord 'my' God! (Jer. 3:22) *

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Celebration of Love


Valentine’s Day -- Celebration of Love

Communion - the Memorial of God’s Love

Rom 5:8 “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Our communion bread tells the story of God’s Love.

1.

It is a round loaf – God’s love is without end.

Rom 8:39 ..”nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

2.

It is without leaven - Jesus was without sin , the Perfect Lamb

1Pe 1:19 “but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”

3.

It is made with salt – flavour

Jesus life ‘flavoured’ the world with God’s love

If we partake of Christ we become the salt this world needs

Mat 5:13 "You are the salt of the earth..”

4.

It is made with Grain – “Bread of Life” – Jesus is our Bread from Heaven

Joh 6:33 “For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world."

5.

It is made with Water – Jesus is our Water of Life

Joh 4:14 “but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life."

6.

It is made with oil - symbolic of the Holy Spirit

Rom 5:5 “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

7.

The loaf is pressed and baked , suffering – Jesus suffered for us

He was willing to suffer that He could help us in our suffering

Heb 2:18 “For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.”

8.

The loaf is pierced – as Jesus’ body was pierced for us

Joh 19:34 “But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out.”

9.

The loaf is broken - until the loaf is broken it cannot give life

1Co 11:24 “and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, "Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me."

**************************************

Happy Valentine’s Day to you, my dear reader -- may your life be filled with love of family and friends

and the greatest Love of all -- God’s love for you !!!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Who in the world is Erastus?


I know we all have a funny bone but I believe there must also be such a thing as a curious bone and mine is a little larger than most !
Sometimes I learn the most interesting things that begin with a detail that stirs up my curiosity.

One such detail grabbed me some time ago when I was reading Acts 19:22 which says ....
"So he (Paul) sent into Macedonia two of them that ministered to him, Timothy and Erastus ....."

I thought ... Timothy we all know... but who is Erastus ???
I wondered if he was mentioned anywhere else in scripture and I found another reference to him in II Tim. 4:20 where it states that Paul left him in Corinth. Erastus's name appears one more time in Romans 16:23. In this reference we are given a clue to his identity.
He was the "treasurer of the city" from which Paul was writing the letter to the Romans. The city was Corinth.

Not much to go on, but putting our gleanings together and reading between the lines we can know the following facts about Erastus...
  1. He was a Christian
  2. He was respected and valued by Paul
  3. He ministered to Paul
  4. He travelled with Paul
  5. He was a friend of Timothy and went on mission trips with him
  6. He was the treasurer of the city of Corinth
It was that last detail that gave me an idea. If Erastus was the treasurer of Corinth perhaps there would be some references to him in secular history.
And today how easy is it to pursue a trail with Google at our fingertips ever ready to guide us.

My search was enlightening.
I learned that in 1929 an archaeologist by the name of T.L.Shear found among the ruins of Corinth a paving stone. This paving stone bore an inscription that read "Erastus, Procurator and Aedile, laid this pavement at his own expense". (see photo of the paving stone above)
An 'Aedile' - latin - was someone in charge of the financial matters of a city.
The paving stone had been laid in the 50's AD which would have been the time that Paul's Erastus lived in Corinth.
What are the chances of there being two treasurers at that time named Erastus? Probably rather slim.
I did a little more digging and learned that in Rome anyone holding public office , such as treasurer would be a wealthy man and it was the wealthy men who personally paid for the public roads.

I thought about Timothy's father being Greek and perhaps also rich and/or influential. (Timothy also ministered to Paul - indicating that he had some wealth). Therefore, it made sense to me why Timothy would have been partnered with Erastus - they may well have found things they held in common besides their faith. Both holding family wealth and also perhaps both having pagan family members who did not agree with their belief in Jesus - perhaps even causing them personal opposition.
Erastus being a city official and therefore being wealthy would have been well able to minister to Paul and provide for his physical needs and comforts.

A few interesting details but my imagination flew to wondering what could have been the personal story of Erastus.
Was he married? did he have children?
How did he become a believer ?
He was a wealthy Roman in influencial places. Somehow, somewhere he heard about the followers of the new religion. Perhaps one in his own house was a believer who told him about Jesus. He was interested, the message found a receptive place in his heart. Was it a struggle for him to turn away from his Roman gods - to turn his back on what he had always been taught and believed ?
Was he ridiculed, mocked by his Roman family/friends?
Did he risk everything to follow Jesus?
What was he able to offer from his official city office that which was helpful to the church?

We know he was sincere, that his conversion was real and that it was wholehearted.
How often did he sit with Paul in deep conversation about the believers at Corinth and what was happening in the Corinthian church as well as the other churches that were being planted and growing in other cities.
He was an important person in Paul's life and therefore important to the early church and I regret that we know so little about him.
I have a list of the people I want to look up in eternity and ask them all the questions that I have about them.
Erastus is on that list!
*