This may be the only Happy Birthday salute that you get from someone out of the country this year. Sorry I am not there to see you on your birthday but as you know I am on mission with a team from our church in Eastern Europe.
We are working at a camp with about 100 students from around the country – many of them who have never heard nor responded to the gospel. Our mission is to try to build relationships and initiate conversations. We hope these will lead to an opportunity to tell them about our Savior Jesus and how He went to the Cross, offers forgiveness of sin, brings about reconciliation with God the Father, and gives them hope not only for this life but for the life to come.
My hope and prayer is that you will always live your life ON MISSION. You do not need to go out of the country to do this. You can do it wherever you are because wherever you are there are going to be people who need the hope of the gospel.
I hope that you have an awesome 3rd birthday. I will be praying for you as you celebrate with all the people that love you. Nona has been instructed to give you an extra big hug from Pop Pop. I will see you in a few days.
There are a handful of historical events that have happened in my lifetime that I remember exactly where I was when I heard about them…
I was in the living room of Nona’s home in Kernersville, NC (before we got married) when the US Olympic Hockey Team defeated Russia in an epic cold war victory that shocked the world.
I was coming out of a theatre in Gloucester, Massachusettes when I heard that there had been an assassination attempt on President Reagan’s life in March of 1981.
I was in my office in Raleigh, NC when I heard that the Space Shuttle Challenger had exploded in January of 1986.
I was in my office in Durham, NC when I heard that OJ Simpson had been acquitted in the “Trial of the Century” in October of 1995.
I was sitting in the parking lot in front of the post office in Durham when I first heard about the 911 attacks in September of 2001.
But the first major historical event that I remember where I was happened 50 years ago today when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin set step on the moon in July of 1969. I was at the beach with my family (and extended family) as we gathered around the television to watch “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” I had just turned 11 years old and I remember staring up at at the moon and thinking “there are people walking around up there.” It was a crazy thought.
In July of 1962 President John F. Kennedy declared that the United States would put a man on the moon before the end of the decade. It was a bold, audacious declaration that he followed up by saying:
“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”
As you grow up I hope that you will NOT be content to take the easy path. Do hard things! Make bold, audacious choices! Choices that might seem crazy to most people but, because you follow the God who makes all things possible, you are willing to take risks and be daring and act courageously.
I am looking forward to watching how the Lord uses you in the years to come as you pursue a life of faith and take the path less traveled by.
This week our church has been doing Vacation Bible School and our theme has been “The Incredible Race.” We have been talking about how there is only one race of people – the human race – and one color of people. All of us are really just varied shades of brown depending on how much melanin we have in our skin. God created us to be an incredible race of people whom He has demonstrated His love to in an incredible way – by allowing His Son Jesus to go to the cross and restore a relationship between us and God that had been devastated by sin. The idea is this – because God has shown His love to us in such an incredible way then we also ought to show love to other people – even if they are a different shade of brown – in incredible ways.
But while there is only one human race there are two spiritual races of people: those who make up the people of God and those who don’t. We get to choose which race we want to be a part of.
Interestingly, there are two races going on in Europe this week that help to illustrate this choice.
1) The Tour de France – This bike race takes place primarily in France over a period of 23 days. There are 21 legs of the race which cover about 2200 miles overall. It is a race that takes commitment, determination, and perseverance. It is a beautiful, exhausting, grueling race that bikers want to quit many times along the way but take incredible joy in crossing the finish line once it is over.
2) The Running of the Bulls – This is a race that takes place in Pamplona Spain several times during this week that is basically for idiotic people. Here is what happens: Long-horned bulls are released into the narrow streets of Pamplona and people run in front of them while while trying not to get gored by the bulls.
The Tour de France is a good illustration of what the Christian life is like: Exhilarating, exhausting, beautiful, terrifying, challenging, daring, breathtaking. It is not for the weak nor the uncommitted nor those who like the status quo. It takes perseverance and resilience and a stout heart but results in unsurpassed joy for those who endure to the end.
On the other hand…
In The Running of the Bulls people are doing the very best that they can just to stay ahead of pain, mutilation, and death. Yes there is an exhilaration to the experience, or so I am told, but the cost of running a poor race could be fatal. One of the interesting aspects of the race is all the spectators who seem to take great delight in watching the bulls claim victims along the way. Why people even want to run in this race is something I don’t understand. Like I said, it seems idiotic. But this is often the way of life that people choose. They hope to have a thrill or two along the way and survive without too many scars to show for it.
Two choices my grand-kiddos. Two races. Choose well and…
I have often asked myself the question, “Why in the world did God create mosquitos?” They are pesky little bloodsuckers that cause me lots of irritation and itching. But they are also responsible for about one million deaths worldwide each year as the vexatious culprit of malaria, dengue, zika and West Nile virus, and yellow fever. So it is a valid question. I am not sure I have a great answer to the question but there are a few things that I have recently learned that might help you the next time you try to kill one of these meddlesome varmints.
Mosquitos were a part of creation and way back in Genesis 1:31 the Bible says that “God saw everything that He had made and behold, it was very good.” In God’s perfect creation, the animals were given “every green plant for food” (verse 30). So mosquitos as well as all creatures were wholly vegetarian. There was no need for them to bite humans or animals for blood.
The need for mosquitoes to prey on humans resulted from the Fall and the curse that followed. The world changed drastically with the entrance of sin. Romans 6:23 tells us that the “wages of sin is death” and mosquitos have certainly been used by God to bring about this fatal consequence.
Did you know the male mosquito never consumes blood. It is only some females that need blood to aid them in egg production?
Did you know that female mosquitoes can lay up to 300 eggs at a time?
Did you know that there are 3500 different species of mosquitos?
Did you know that mosquitoes play an important part in various ecosystems? They are a valuable food source for fish and migratory birds. They also serve as pollinators for various plants.
Did you know that a mosquito can drink up to three times its weight in blood?
Did you know that mosquitos hibernate?
So here are my three takeaways as I rethink the question, “Why did God make mosquitos?”
There were originally good but now are being used as instruments in the hands of God to deliver the consequences of sin to a world that has forsaken Him.
The are important in helping to maintain many ecosystems and play a positive role in sustaining many species of plant and animals.
They are yet another reason why we as believers should yearn for That Day when God will restore all things and make creation good again.
In all three cases we can declare that mosquitos are formidable agents that advance the glory of God.