Tuesday, May 27, 2008

We've Got Spirit, Yes We Do!

What gives a fifteen year old kid the unabashed courage to witness to other teenagers?

These days, hearing stories of adults witnessing to their friends is rare. It’s even rarer still to hear about a group of kids that aren’t ashamed or afraid to share their faith with friends. We are blessed at First Baptist Porter to have a youth group full of kids who do just that.

Adoption of the F.A.I.T.H. witnessing program at FBC Porter has birthed a whole crop of young people ready, willing and capable of winning their friends to Christ.

“When we first started taking F.A.I.T.H., me, Johnathon, and Michael used the opinion poll on some kids at school. We questioned kids in the lunch room and even during class. It started out that we wanted to practice doing the F.A.I.T.H. outline, but then we realized it was a way we could actually witness to our friends. One kid even got saved.”
David 15

“I was riding the bus between campuses and I asked a girl if I could practice the F.A.I.T.H. outline on her. I asked her, the key question which is, in your personal opinion, what do you think it takes for a person to get to heaven? She said she didn’t believe in that and asked me to stop talking about it. A girl sitting in front of us begged me to keep talking. I went over the outline with her and she ended up praying for Jesus to come into her heart. It was easy.”
Casey 15

“The first time I witnessed to a kid at school I was nervous, but it wasn’t really hard. I used the opinion poll on my friend Tyler in Science class, and he ended up getting saved. I did it because I knew he wasn’t saved, and I didn’t want my friend to go to hell.”
Michael 15

So what is it that empowers these kids to witness?

“You will receive power when the HOLY SPIRIT comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8

Don’t feel you have the power to witness? Don’t know where to begin? Don’t worry; according to the Bible it’s simple. “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:38

David, Casey, and Michael have SPIRIT. How about you?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Graduation Exasperation!

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6

On June 6, 2008 Victoria Votaw and Alyssa Bounds will walk across the stage of the M.O Campbell Education Building, shake a few hands and accept the symbolic key to their future. The high school diploma—the apex prize of every graduating senior. To hold it in your hand is to grasp freedom!

While Victoria and Alyssa are basking in the glow that is adulthood, their parents might be experiencing a completely different set of emotions—empty nest syndrome. This is a topic very near and dear to my heart. You see in June of 2009, my own son, Patrick O’Hare, will be a graduating senior.

A whole year away, and already I find myself filled with anxiety and depression over letting go of my fledgling firstborn. I’ve even gone so far as to think up ways to keep him close to home. On our way to a college prep meeting this week, I suggested that my son consider going to the local junior college his first year. I even devised a plan for him to take night courses at U of H. He could have the whole house to himself during the day. It would be like he didn’t even live with us. He didn’t buy any of my ideas. It seems he has his heart set on attending that university to our west that people make jokes about, but also produces top notch engineers.

The feelings I’m experiencing as a parent preparing to let go of a child are anything but new. Parents have stressed over letting go since the dawn of time. Only this time it’s my child and I’m the one who has to let go. The question is how will I face this major life adjustment? The answer lies in my ability to stop fretting and turn it over to the One who’s really in control anyway. We are able to handle any challenge life throws our way, as long as we know that God is with us. In the meantime, I’ll put these Houston Baptist University brochures in Patrick’s room. Surely they have an engineering program…don’t they?

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Resolve To Reconcile

A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense. Proverbs 19:11

Seventy Four days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 forcing 110,000 Japanese-American and Japanese nationals into “War Relocation Camps.” Among the Japanese-Americans interned was the man who, on September 11, 2001, grounded all civilian aircraft traffic for the first time in U.S. history. That man, then a little boy, was United States Secretary of Transportation from 2001 to 2006, Norman Y. Mineta

Heart Mountain Internment Camp in Wyoming was more of an adventure than an incarceration to young Mineta. The story is much different for the adults who were forced from homes and universities into the barbed-wire surrounded facilities. That was the heartbreaking reality for Mineta’s immigrant father, a strong supporter of America and the American way of life.

Like Mineta’s father, none of the Japanese-Americans had been charged with a crime against the United States government. Two-thirds were born in America and more than 70 percent were U.S. citizens.

Fast forward about 50 years and see Mineta as a driving force behind the signing of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 by President Ronald Reagan. The Act is a formal apology to the wrongfully imprisoned people and provided for reparations to 80,000 survivors. Mineta has said he never felt bitterness concerning the internment, but his experience did shape his feelings about government and lead to his political career.

The Civil Liberties Act of 1988 combined with the reparation payments, showed America’s willingness to change and its desire for resolution of the problem. These steps paved the way for reconciliation with the Japanese-American people interned during WWII.

Who do you need to reconcile with? Have you done something that has caused the loss of a friendship with a close friend, a family member—a Christian brother or sister? Maybe you are the one who was wronged. You wait and you wait for that person to make the situation right, but it doesn’t seem to happen. Seek God’s help and resolve to reconcile. Ask Him to guide you in the steps to reconciliation. When we sincerely ask for God’s assistance in resolving our conflicts, we honor Him, and reveal our faith in Him.

(Sources: http://www.scholastic.com/, http://www.wikipedia.org/)

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Repress And Regret Or Forgive And Be Free

Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:12-14

Humans have a tendency to deal with unpleasant memories by repressing the memory or bottling it up inside. Regrettably that way of thinking has a propensity of coming back and biting us in the rear end. Rather than choosing to follow human nature, Eva Mozes Kor made the decision to forgive, and that choice has set her free.

Mozes Kor and identical twin sister Miriam Mozes survived the Auschwitz death camp, under the control of Dr. Josef Mengele, the “Auschwitz Angel of Death.” Mengele ordered that all twins be brought to him for use in his barbaric medical experiments. Eva willed herself to live, despite being injected with a lethal dose of bacteria. She knew that her death would result in Miriam’s murder so simultaneous autopsies could be performed.

In January of 1945 the Soviet Red Army liberated the survivors of Auschwitz. Eva and Miriam were among the few twins remaining. Having lost their entire family to the gas chamber, the Romanian born twins immigrated to Israel. Eva would later leave her sister behind to start a family of her own in the United States.

It was revealed that Miriam too had received an injection from Mengele. Her kidneys never grew. In a second attempt to save her sister, Eva donated one of her own kidneys. Nevertheless, the disease overcame Miriam and she died in 1993 in Israel.

Eva’s healing began with a trip to Germany where she met with Dr. Hans Münch who worked alongside Mengele. Unlike his colleagues, Münch wasn’t found guilty of any war crimes as it was determined he didn’t perform any experiments on his patients.

Dr. Münch admitted being present during the gassings; a fact that lead to a lifetime of depression and nightmares. Eva expected to find a monster, but instead found a likeable human being. As a result of the visit, Eva decided to write Dr. Münch a letter in which she forgave him.

In January 1995, Eva invited Dr. Münch to join her at the 50th anniversary celebration of the liberation of Auschwitz. He gladly joined her. Kor read a confession of guilt from Münch to the gathered press. She then said, “In my own name, I forgive all Nazis.”

Kor’s decision hasn’t been met with throngs of Jews wanting to join in her rally cry of forgiveness. Quite to the contrary, Kor has been maligned, with some stating that her choice to forgive, absolves the murderers and torturers who ran the camps.

Even though Kor’s decision wasn’t popular or even common, she is sure she did the right thing. “I felt as though an incredibly heavy weight of suffering had been lifted. I never thought I could be so strong.” By forgiving those who wronged her, Kor has freed herself from her victim status. She always says, however, that to forgive does not mean to forget.

I’m not suggesting that Jewish people should forgive the Nazis for the atrocities inflicted on them. If it were my decision to make, I don’t know that I could be as strong as Eva Kor. What I’m saying is that when we decide to ignore confrontation, we inhibit God’s ability to bless us through our trials. To choose reconciliation and forgiveness is to act in accordance with God’s word and God’s will for our lives. What about you? Is there a broken relationship you’ve been ignoring? Take some advice from Eva Kor—face it, forgive, and be free.

(Roman Heflik, 2005-A Holocaust Survivor’s Path To Peace, www.spiegel.de/international/)