When's the last time you've felt excited about giving an offering at church - I mean really excited? If you've been reading this column for the past month, you might remember that when I was in Nigeria, I wrote about how excited the Nigerians got about "offering time!" with the dancing and music accompanying the bringing of their gifts, spending at least an hour of their service giving their monetary offerings.
I write this as I sit in the mission house after my first day of teaching at Christ the King Lutheran Seminary in Uruk Uso, Nigeria. By mission house, I mean the home built for the American missionaries our church body used to send here to work among the Nigerians sharing the Gospel. That started 78 years ago.
Wow! That's all I can say. I'm writing this on Sunday night after experiencing something I won't be able to adequately convey in words. A couple of days ago, I wrote to you from our secure hotel in Lagos, Nigeria, the big city of 20 million, home of Nigeria's biggest airport - the one I flew into. Today, I write from a world as far from that as Lagos is from Covington.
Have you ever thought about foreign mission work? Could you do it? Last week, I wrote about redeeming the time - making the most of every moment of every day. So how's this for redeeming the time? As you read this, God willing, I'm in Nigeria teaching at our Lutheran Seminary there.
Last week, we started talking about depression by looking at the prophet Elijah in 1 Kings 19. If you missed that, you can find it under "sermons" at www.abidinggrace.com. We looked at noticing the signs of depression and seeing the dangers of those tell-tale signs, from focusing on feelings instead of facts, to taking responsibility for things you're not responsible for, to withdrawing to "be alone." We focused a lot on the problem of depression. This week, let's see the solution.
Ten years ago, I was installed as the pastor of Abiding Grace. Now, it doesn't seem like it was that long ago, but I guess the calendar doesn't lie. So, when we come to milestones like this, it makes sense to think again about what we're doing and to ask if it is what we hoped for. Is this working out?
This Sunday was Pentecost in the Church year - the day we mark what happened in Acts 2. If you aren't familiar - open up your Bible and read the story. Pentecost was really the kick-start to the New Testament Church - with miracles all over the place - the sound that filled the city, the flames of fire, the speaking in all those languages! Can you imagine being there? And it wasn't just the miracles; it was the message. The disciples were reaching so many different people in so many different languages. And the message, they had changed lives. Three thousand ...