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December 2009 entries

Someday He Will Wipe Away Our Tears

As I was enjoying a pleasant breakfast at Huddle House this morning my phone began to ring. It was my wife, Marilyn, who told me of some very sad news. One of the most positive, funny, and deeply committed Christians we knew had been in a serious car accident. Later I was to find out that wasn't exactly correct. It was not a car accident, but she was hit while walking across a downtown street. Her brother had called and asked that someone come to the hospital. Instead of heading home as I had planned I headed to the hospital. There I found the family gathered in a counseling room waiting to hear news from the emergency surgery that was going on somewhere nearby. Within the hour news came from that same operating room that she had not survived.  

Susan was a regular reader of this blog. She was often the first one to post a comment. It was often very complimentary and insightful. She was a student of the Word and a a great believer in prayer. She was a loving wife and mother of two. To say that she will be missed doesn't even begin to describe the void she will leave in this world. 

If it were not for the promise of heaven this life would be too painful for us to endure. Paul says that would do not grieve like those who do not have hope, but we do grieve. We grieve and we pray. We grieve and we anxiously await the day when there will be no more death. We wait for the day when there will be more more widows or grieving husbands. Until then we thank God for allowing people like Susan to brighten our days with their quick wit and smile; even if only in our memories. And someday we will all meet and rejoice at the feet of Jesus where He will wipe away our tears.       


Healthy Transitions of Life

There is a transition to life that I have never heard anyone discuss before. Not really. I have heard adults say things like, "Christmas is for kids." I have also heard the response, "I don't really need anything" given by an adult when asked what they might like for Christmas. Those phrases hint at a greater truth. When it comes to getting and receiving gifts it is a natural and healthy thing to move from joy in getting to the pleasure in giving. Luke repeats the words of Jesus that are somehow absent from the Gospels and writes, "He said "It is more blessed to give than to receive." Acts 20:35 These words were spoken in the context of "helping the weak."  

When we are young, that is to say weak, and unable to provide for ourselves it is a great thing to get gifts. They are things we could never provide for ourselves and indicate love and selflessness on the part of our gift-giver. As we grow older we begin to accumulate stuff and are more able to work and provide some things for ourselves. The things we lack, or more aptly want, are usually just beyond our ability to save for in the short term. That is why teens seem to ask for more expensive gifts than toddlers and school kids. There is even a period of time when we are disenchanted with gifts all-together. We are old enough to afford the simple luxuries of life and those we cannot are more than our friends and family are willing, or able, to pay. Thankfully, this is about the time many young adults start families. Now their focus slowly turns from receiving to giving. Their joy comes from the responses of their children when they open their presents. The pride they feel when they know they have been able to provide happiness to their kids rivals the joy they had as children when they opened their own gifts. This also explains the pain a parent feels when they are not able to provide gifts for their own children because of unemployment, divorce, or illness.

This transition in life is natural and healthy. If an adult is stuck in the period of life where they get their jollies from gifts being heaped upon them from others, then they have not matured to the point of being "blessed." I just returned from a children's home in our city where kids spend long days without their parents. Some of whom may never wake up on Christmas morning to a Christmas tree overflowing with gifts with their names on the tags. They may never blink as a loving and giving mother and father snap their picture as they open each one. Imagine if each one of us who have been blessed reached out to someone less fortunate this year. Maybe you can purchase some toys for the children in a family whose soul bread winner got laid off or terminated this year. How about making a donation to a community kitchen or shelter for the homeless. Think of the joy you would give to someone in front of you at the grocery store if you were able to pay their bill or even pick up their tab at a restaurant. I know some who read this will not be able to help someone financially. So what about spending some time with you know that is sick or disabled? Maybe you can invite someone to your home for dinner who lives alone?

I am going to be out and about for the holidays and I don't know when I'm going to be able to blog again soon. I am going to "tweet" since I can do that on the run. If you are interested you can search on "Twitter" for Ken Duggan. There are several of you who already do that and others who maybe weren't aware that you could. Either way have a blessed and Merry Christmas!!!!   


A Great Way to End a Series

At the conclusion of the last message in the series “Better Together” the Lord impressed upon me to allocate as much time for prayer as for speaking. The message was to examine the important role that prayer plays in the role of a healthy Christian family. I decided if people wanted to pray that I would not cajole or plead for them to come forward. If this entreaty to prayer was truly from the Spirit of God then He would deal with the convicting and the drawing forward to prayer. I wanted nothing to do with the messy results of a hyped call to come forward just to satisfy my ego as a preacher. All I wanted to do was to allow people to pour their hearts out to God for their family and then for myself to fervently pray on behalf of our congregation. The results were astonishing. Without even asking people to neither bow for prayer nor close their eyes people began to stream into the aisles. There was such weeping at the altar one could imagine you were at a funeral.

 

I detect an overall desire to connect with God. I believe people are not satisfied with a faith that only resides in their heads, but one that travels into the deepest recesses of the heart as well. I have decided pride many times is the sin that so often keeps us from truly getting in touch with God. If we weep before another in deep regret over our sins or over the plight of our families we may be afraid that others might judge us or they might begin to guess what is wrong. In reality, their guesses are rarely as bad as the truth about our sins. In the attempt to "save face" before others we miss having a meaningful audience with God.    

Notable Births

The birth of a child is often reason for rejoicing in the life a young couple. While it is always news for the family and friends; some births make news world-wide.

 

According to ABC News on July 4, 2008 a 72 year old woman gave birth to twins in Mumbai, India. That hasn’t happened since Abraham and Sara.  

 

The Dionne quintuplets (5 babies), born May 28, 1934, were the first quintuplets known to survive their infancy. They are the only female identical set of five ever recorded

 

The McCaughey septuplets (7 babies), born November 19, 1997, are a set of septuplets  born to Kenny and Bobbi McCaughey in Des Moines Iowa.

The siblings are the world's first set of septuplets to survive infancy. They were born nine weeks prematurely in Des Moines to Kenny and Bobbi McCaughey (pronounced "McCoy"), residents of the nearby town of Carlisle. The septuplets have one older sister, Mikayla Marie (born January 3, 1996).

  • Kenneth (Kenny) Robert: 3 lb. 4oz.
  • Alexis May: 2 lb. 11oz.
  • Natalie Sue: 2 lb. 10oz.
  • Kelsey Ann: 2 lb. 5oz.
  • Nathan Roy: 3 lb. 3oz.
  • Brandon James: 2 lb. 14oz.
  • Joel Steven: 2 lb. 15oz

On January 26, 2009, the Suleman octuplets (8 babies) were born in Bellflower, California. One week after birth, the Suleman octuplets became the longest-living octuplets in known history. The children's names are Noah Angel, Maliyah Angel, Isaiah Angel, Nariyah Angel, Jonah Angel, Jeremiah Angel, Makai Angel, and Josiah Angel.

 

It’s not always the number of babies that makes their births news-worthy. Sometimes it is a matter of sheer mass. Big babies make big news.

Just this September 21st Muhammad Akbar Risuddin was born. He was 24.4 inches long and weighed in at 19.2 pounds. Reports are he has a strong appetite and a very tired momma. Akbar is not the biggest baby on record. No that honor goes to a baby born in Ohio in 1879 that weighed 23.8 pounds. I think his last name was Bunyan.

 

About 2,000 years ago there was a miraculous birth in a small town in Israel. It was not news-worthy because of the size of the baby. He wasn’t born with many brothers and sisters. No this was a single birth, but what a birth it was. Jesus was born in a manger to a young virgin named Mary. His birth changed the world. His death changed my life. His resurrection changed my destiny. Do you know Him?