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Finding Time

I am always looking for time. That is because I am always losing it. Time that is. I think I have plenty of it, only to discover that it has gone, vanished. Turn around and where did it go? Where does time go? One person told me they are living on borrowed time. Another said they had too much time on their hands. Is that where it went, or did they just take the time and not tell me? Where do I get time? Is there a workshop some place near here where I can possibly make up time? 

One day I found the time. I confess. It was just there so I used it. I was waiting somewhere when I realized I had time—time to listen, time to learn, and time to think. It was great. Then came the quarantine pandemic. Time did not stop, but my busy calendared schedule was erased. I planned my short ventures into the outside world to have as little contact with people as possible. There is a downside to being shut in, like feeling lonely all by yourself all the time, or feeling trapped with too many close relatives at hand. I discovered the joy of my backyard. The interruption in the routine gave me the perspective to see the value of time well spent. 

Time is not consistent. When absorbed in a project, book or activity, it speeds on by us. When burdened by conflict, illness or fear, it slows almost to a halt. Some nights I barely close my eyes before the alarm starts ringing. On other nights, I hear every tick of our grandfather clock. Time flies when you are having fun, but it doesn’t when you’re not.   Psalm 90 encourages us “to number our days that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” For me this means that I am to use well the time allotted to me today. Time is a gift of grace. Apply it with wisdom.

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Spend time wisely. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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Tender Creation, part 9

Adam was in paradise; he was even able to walk with the Lord in the cool of the morning. Sin had yet to enter the picture, but what was wrong? Adam certainly didn’t have the same perspective as Enoch (as expressed in Genesis 5). As we continue looking through the creative narrative, we find that our emotions — even emotions of anger or loneliness or pleasure — are given to us by the Lord. So what do we do with this? Join Kevin Avery as he teaches from devotion 9 of Tender Creation.

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Our Missionary in Residence Update by Kevin Avery

In the 1990s, I appreciated the song by Twila Paris called Cry for the Desert. But it wasn’t until recent months that I’ve fully grasped Twila’s cry. India has been in dire straits during a second wave of COVID-19. Experts are referring to it as India’s Tsunami Pandemic. Pastors, church members and even whole fellowships have been succumbing to the grips of the virus. 

When churches in Nagpur, India, asked for my help, I was eager to assist in any way I could. For the last few weeks, I have been supporting Indian churches in areas of bereavement and spiritual care. In our first Zoom gathering, I began teaching how we can live out the literal meaning of compassion, “to suffer together.” As God’s people, we want to be an extension of the Lord’s comfort and compassion. In other words, we pray and weep with those who weep. Soon, I will continue with this teaching, helping the churches live out their “Project Compassion.” 

Though we are far away geographically from India, I am brought to tears when I think of the Indian church members extending compassion, literally putting their lives at risk. I promised the pastors we would compassionately pray for them, and this is what we’re doing. On Monday, June 7, we even held a special Zoom conference call to pray for India and Nepal. 

Although in different circumstances, our friends in Tanzania and Pakistan also need help. Throughout Asia and Africa, so many churches, families and orphans are facing economic hardships due to COVID. Starvation is the biggest threat for them. I’m not exactly sure how, but we pray we can be involved in relieving the suffering of many. As Christ has shown us, our good news needs to be interwoven with compassionate care.

In addition to praying for and serving the nations as a “resident missionary,” I am serving as a communications manager in Lausanne’s Disability Concerns. I write newsletters focusing on global disability ministry, and I help edit the “Disability in Mission” blog hosted by Joni and Friends. Also, through Facebook and Zoom, I am able to keep teaching through Tender Creation, the devotional I wrote last year. Likewise, starting this week, I will be teaching youth critical thinking skills so that they won’t be knocked over when confronted by different worldviews. In all these ways of “resident” ministry, I am privileged to serve, pray, and love. Thank you for praying for us. May God uplift you all.

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From the Grassroots of creation

In the first half of this week’s video devotional, Kevin Avery teaches from the “grassroots of creation” from Genesis 2:5-7, emphasizing the breath of God. Then, he compares Genesis 2 with the vision of the dry bones from Ezekiel 37. What the Lord is asking from us — what he is empowering us to do — is no less significant than Ezekiel speaking life to those dry bones. May we be an extension of the Lord’s breath of life this week.

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Dory the Duck

(This is the 20th anniversary of Dory the Duck.)

Over the Memorial Day weekend of 2001, an injured mallard landed in our backyard. We gave her food and water, bought a little swimming pool, and named her Dory. Over time she began to trust us and even our cat, who wanted to be out where all the excitement was taking place. The cat learned to control her instinct to chase the duck. The duck restrained her instinct to attack the cat. Eventually they learned to hunt for crickets together. The cat would catch a cricket and then proceed to play with her prey. The duck could not tolerate a cat playing with her food. She would quickly reach in and gobble up the cricket, always leaving a surprised cat staring into the grass.

The summer of 2001 was a particularly emotional and stressful time for us. We took the arrival of the duck as a sign that God wanted us to find the smile amidst it all. The church was going through the difficult discussions about changing its name from White City to Braden Park. The vote to make the change came in June and some dear friends walked away. Vacation Bible School and Youth Camp were stronger than ever, and in August our youngest daughter Dayna, and her husband Kevin, moved to the mission field in China. In July, Dory began to try to fly again, flying from one side of the yard to the other.  She loved the applause we gave her as we sat on the patio and cheered her on.  One day she flew high enough to land on the other side of the privacy fence only to meet the neighbor’s big barking dog. She flew back in an instant and decided to take a day off from flying lessons.  All that summer we benefitted from the time spent watching Dory’s healing progress.  It was a sweet gift of peace during a difficult time.

One evening she saw a flock of ducks fly over the house. As the holiday weekend approached, she began to circle out over the houses and fields, always coming home for supper. On Labor Day 2001, Dory the Duck took off and never came back. Ours was not really her home. What a special gift we were given from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Eight days later came the attacks of September 11, and a different kind of emotion flooded our world. Then we remembered how God gives us a sign of His love through it all.

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Look for God’s gift. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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Tender Creation Series

On the seventh day, the Lord intervened with rest. It is not that God ever needs to rest, but once again, the Lord’s creation illustrates what we need: shalom rest extending from his goodness and mercy. We welcome you to virtually join us as Kevin Avery continues to teach devotions from Tender Creation. May the Lord lift you up this week with a peace that surpasses human understanding.

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Faith Still Stands

Faith still stands in Tulsa’s Greenwood. This weekend marks 100 years since that Memorial Day, and the day after, in 1921 when nearly 11,000 people were burned out of their homes, businesses and churches. Organized mobs of deputized men strategically descended upon the 35 square blocks of the Greenwood area with guns and torches on the night of May 31 and through the morning of June 1. In the horrific aftermath of massive casualties and death, the church people of Greenwood did what all people of faith do—they prayed, ministered to everyone, and helped rebuild their community. Thirteen of the churches founded before that awful day rebuilt and still stand by faith to this day. Some had to relocate to rebuild. This Sunday’s Unity Faith Day is a day to recognize these churches:

Christ Temple CME Church, established 1903

Vernon AME Church, 1905

Mount Zion Baptist Church, 1909

Bethel Seventh Day Adventist Church, 1909

Wesley Chapel Church, 1910

Paradise Baptist Church, 1912

Greater Union Baptist Church, 1916

Metropolitan Baptist Church, 1917

When the mob came to First Baptist Church North (1899), they mistook it for a white church and left it unburned. Other churches surviving the flames were Pine Street Christian Church (1907), Church of the Living God (1913), Morning Star Baptist Church (1916) and The First Church of God in Christ (1920). This Sunday we will stand in faith against the generational sin of racism and bigotry. This Sunday we will stand in faith for unity in reconciliation with God and our neighbors. As Paul reminds us, For Christ’s love compels us because we are convinced that one died for all…Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come. Be sure to read the whole passage, 2 Corinthians 5:14-6:2.

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Faith still stands. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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