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Scrapbooks and Curious George by Angie Fuller

Our 12-year-old son made an out-of-the-blue observation over a bowl of cereal one recent morning. “The Bible is sort of like a scrapbook,” he said through a mouthful of Cinnamon Chex. I nodded in agreement but asked him to explain what he meant (after swallowing!). “’Cause everybody plays a part in the whole story,” he stated matter-of-factly. End of conversation. But my thoughts were triggered, as his obviously had been, and I finished my own cereal mulling over this analogy.

When I create scrapbooks for our children, my work focuses on recording specific events or seasons of their lives. But as I capture milestones, portray their characteristics, and chronicle events that shaped them, my ultimate goal for these books is simply to tell the “story” of each of our children. The finished product may not hold every detail of their lives, but it will show what is important to remember about their growth, their gifts, and all for which they can be grateful.

Like my scrapbooking work sessions, my reading of God’s Word usually focuses on specific stories or passages. Although there is nothing wrong with analyzing and learning from short excerpts, it’s easy for me to lose sight of the Bible as a whole. Just as one photo of my son playing with Legos doesn’t fully capture his creativity or love of invention, one biblical passage usually doesn’t entirely characterize God. So, when I see “snapshots” of Noah, Rahab, Daniel, or Timothy; or examine poems in the Psalms; or visualize the Israelites wandering in the desert; the angels singing to the shepherds; or Paul writing letters from prison… I need to determine how these details fit in the larger story of God. The finished product may not hold every detail of God’s love and history as we understand it, but the Bible shows what is necessary for us to remember about God’s desire to redeem us and to help us live in love.

Thinking about God’s “big book of love” reminds me of another day almost 10 years ago. When I peeked into our then three-year-old daughter’s bedroom during her afternoon “quiet time,” I found her paging through our large, hardbound anthology of Curious George stories. “This is my Bible,” she announced. “I’m praying for the lady who died.” While running errands that morning, we’d encountered a funeral procession – which of course triggered many questions from the two preschoolers buckled in car seats behind me. Some I could answer (“where are they going?” “why is there a policeman?”); some I could not (“who died?” “why?”). Now, several hours later, she found herself thinking about that line of cars carrying a sad family to a cemetery. Where did she turn? To a big book of stories in her room that served as a temporary substitute for a Bible. A paperback wouldn’t have sufficed – she needed a grand, important-looking substitute that stood out from all the others. She knew there was something special about God’s book. And while I’m certain she recognized neither Curious George nor the man with the yellow hat are biblical figures, she clearly knew God’s book is where we should turn for comfort.

I am grateful that our children help me put things in perspective and remind me of simple truths. I need to treasure God’s Word and go to it first no matter my circumstances or emotions. It reveals how God cares about both the details and the big picture of my life. I will find unconditional love written within and between the lines of every page of God’s Holy Scrapbook.

at Wednesday, April 18, 2018
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2BC Liberty and Thailand’s Upland Holistic Development Project by Bill Gossett

“Life gets noisy. Sit for a moment in the eye of the storm. Close your eyes. Feel and hear yourself breathe. Take absolute confidence in one thing-God’s got this! This moment, this day, this life — God’s got this!”        — d365 daily devotional 2017

Hiking through the tropical jungle mountains of northern Thailand, it was as if my soul had been seized. The visions of the mountain village people and the landscapes I carry in my heart are a blessing and a responsibility. We happened upon an old man on an isolated mountainside tending to a small patch of crops. We asked him what village he was from and how he had managed to arrive here. With the help of our leader, guide, and translator, Bunsak Thongi, who we affectionately refer to as “Tui,” we found that the old man had made a dangerous trek with his family across the Myanmar-Thailand border in fear for their lives. He had connected with another mountain village tribe called the Karen, not too far away from where we stood. He and his family had settled in with them and were somewhat safe for now. The old man was weathered, wrinkled, and slight of build, but as he told his story, you could see his eyes dance. We could feel that his experiences had strengthened him and aided him in his spirit of perseverance. This was merely “one moment.” There were many more moments of my Thailand experience when God said, “Bill, stop and listen, live this moment.” My wife, Becky, will most likely tell you I am not a good listener, but I became one in “that moment”.

“Quiet me, O Lord. Calm my mind. Still my hands. Remove any worries from my heart. I want to give you my full attention. Slow me down so that I can hear your voice and see you at work in my life today.”        
—  prayer from d365 daily devotional 2016

I have never met this couple; their names are Rick and Ellen Burnette. I am told that they are the couple that began UHDP Thailand in 1996. After seeing the physical results of their many years of work, it sends a shiver up my spine. Only gifted, visionary genius that has been compelled by God could produce results with the immense impact that has come from UHDP.  It appears that they may be a proponent of one of my favorite sayings, “if it’s not impossible, it’s not worth doing.” Tui, who is now the Director of UHDP and has worked closely with the Burnettes, explains that all of the vast acreage surrounding the UHDP facility was a barren, hillside landscape. It had been ravaged by years of slash-and-burn farming methods. These farming methods had become standard practice for the entire northern Thailand mountain jungle region. What you see now on the UHDP acreage is a bountiful jungle paradise of banana trees, honey bee farms, indigenous vegetable gardens, indigenous fruit plants and trees, catfish catch water farm ponds, and frog farm condos. Yes, frog condos.  Frog is a part of the standard diet, and I will say it is quite tasty. Soooo, frog condos, you say? Yes, a very clever way to raise frogs in numbers in conjunction with the environment. Just stack 4 or 5 old car tires on top of each other around the catfish catch water pond. Fill the tires with water and cover the top of the tires with web fencing. The frogs seemed extremely happy and cannot escape. I am not able to relate to you all the other agricultural and livestock techniques that Mr. Burnette and Tui have introduced to the region. Through UHDP, these new practices are now being employed by the mountain tribes in the region, and it has improved the lives of the hill tribes dramatically.  Helping the hill tribes learn practices that provide a sustainable food future, WOW. I can hear God’s voice and see him at work in my life.

“So, take the safe route. Or…you can follow God’s impulses. He says, ‘Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it.’ Time slips. Days pass. Years fade. Life ends. And what we came to do must be done while there is time.”                 — Max Lucado, 2015

The next phase for Tui and UHDP is the process of expanding into Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, Bangladesh, and China. UHDP’s efforts are to support/share knowledge and bring resources to the table that will help these areas become an effective multi-national NGO/Ministry. UHDP has named its effort the “Cross Borders Ministry Program Vision 2030 UHDP.” We at 2BC Liberty should pray about our congregational and individual involvement with God’s work in this place that seems so far away. Moving forward, there will be many opportunities to become involved. One opportunity that is available to us now is our participation in the UHDP Prayer Cycling event Oct. 7-13.  2BC is sending a missions team to Chiang Mai, Thailand, to participate in this event. If you are interested in participating, please contact me at bill@americacrownwrestling.comBy the way, I am going. “What we came to do must be done while there is time.”

Please Be Blessed,

Bill

Photos courtesy of Bill Gossett

Learn more about the UHDP at uhdp.org.

 

 

 

 

at Monday, April 16, 2018
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An Interesting Story from 2BC History by Andrew Nash

This November, I’ll be able to take a deep breath. For the last year or so, I’ve been part of a team writing the 2BC 175th anniversary book.

There’s a story that the book committee and I loved, but it simply didn’t have a home in the narrative flow. It merited one sentence in the previous history books but is pretty fascinating nonetheless. All the credit goes to Eleanor Speaker for the research listed:

After the resignation of World War I hero Dr. George Washington Sadler as pastor in 1939, a subcommittee was organized to make contacts and recommendations for the next pastor. This subcommittee traveled to South Carolina to hear sermons by a pair of ministers who “were considered to be outstanding,” per the Liberty Tribune. They quickly fell for the style of 32-year-old James P. Wesberry, Bamberg, S.C.

They made a recommendation, and the church voted 125-3 to issue the call by the next Sunday.

There’s a catch, though, found on the front page of the Sept. 28, 1939, Liberty Tribune: “… the committee has been unable to contact him at this time.” The committee didn’t actually talk to Wesberry when they heard him speak. Or, as the Tribune put it bluntly, “the recipient of the call was unaware he was being considered as he was not one of the many who had made application and had made no effort to be considered.”

By late October, Wesberry would visit Liberty to meet the church and to speak on “Jesus, the Center of Life and Activity.” The Tribune said, “his voice is not strong but carries well, is well modulated and immediately puts hearers at ease.” At any rate, Wesberry asked for a couple weeks to decide.

Two weeks later, Wesberry asked for yet another week. Two weeks later, the Liberty Advance reported that the church had voted to release him from the call.

While pastors have declined the call in church history, it is strange in modern times to consider how public the process was and how the committee’s lack of direct communication with Wesberry made front-page news.

I hope this whets your appetite for the book this November. Our committee has a lot of work between now and then, but I’m sure you’ll be pleased with the finished product.

at Wednesday, April 11, 2018
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