Service Recognition Award

“The Central Pennsylvania Psychiatric Society has chosen E. Daniel Martin as the 2016 recipient of the organization’s Service Recognition Award. This award is given in recognition of your service efforts that have brought about a higher level of awareness to the mental health needs of the community. Congratulations on this outstanding achievement and honor! The Service Recognition Award will be presented at the CPPS Holiday Social and Awards Ceremony scheduled for Friday, December 2, 2016.”

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B0pZgPtAwFE1LU52VFNLUEpnZWs/view

Advertisements

Paraguay (Part 3)

paraguay-3

As most of you know, who follow my posts, the Ukunda Missionary Training School in Kenya, founded by my son Vaughn and his team has now entered its fourth year of classes. God’s blessing has been on this school in great measure. Pastors in other countries have now asked Vaughn to consider starting a similar school in their countries. Plans are presently being made by Vaughn and team to start schools in the Congo and in Tanzania within the next two years.

In the midst of this planning we learned of a facility in Paraguay which was developed to house a missionary training school. However the brother, who constructed the buildings, died before he was able to fully implement his training program. We at first, upon learning of the potential availability of this facility, had no interest in pursuing this situation in light of our other commitments .

However in prayer, God revealed to Vaughn and his team that He wanted them to start a missionary training program, considering the possibly of using this site, and utilizing the model they had developed in Kenya. He further instructed them to work with churches in Paraguay in developing a missions movement that would work with the missionaries trained in this program. The vision is to train missionaries from all over the region, Paraguay, Argentina and Bolivia in cross cultural missions and to send them out into the region and then into the uttermost parts of the world.

One might ask, “Does it make sense for you to start a missionary training school in Paraguay at this time?” When God speaks, you do not say, “Well, if makes sense and I can find a way, I will do it.” Rather you say, “God, if you say so, I will do it with my whole heart confident that you are ‘pro’ the vision and will ‘pro’vide what is needed to fulfill the vision.” In other words, by faith I must allow the word received in prayer to shape the reality of what I do, rather than allowing my sense of reality to define, limit, and shape what God said to me in prayer.

So with the prayerful confidence that God would go before us and prepare people who would respond to the vision, Don and I set off for this week in Paraguay. We were simply seeking to connect with people who would be open to hearing about the vision and who would consider sending students to the school. I knew no one in Paraguay except Eloise Gwinn the widow of Richard Gwinn the founder of the training school in Escobar, Paraguay. We had been given the names of several church leaders whom we were to meet in the Filadelfia area of the Chaco. Apart from that we were totally dependent on God-ordained encounters.

And God has ordained “heart connections’. Within minutes we have seen total strangers become friends who are open to the vision. Sometimes our approach would be as simple as saying to a stranger at a store or at our motel, “Do you speak English?” In the ensuing conversation, following an affirmative response, we would discover that they shared our Christian faith. In several cases they would then invite us to their homes for extended conversations. Finally after hours of sharing, sometimes with tears, we would exchange contact information promising to stay in touch.

Today we had a two hour conversation with a pastor in Asuncion who a number of years ago started a ministry to provide sex education lectures for public schools throughout Paraguay and other countries. They and their team have spoken from a Christian perspective to hundreds of thousands of students. This pastor and his wife are open to us sending teams to share the vision with them and other Christin leaders. They also had suggestions of persons whom they thought would be ready and even eager for training such as we are offering.

As Don and I now prepare to fly out of Asuncion at 2 am Wednesday to arrive at Dulles at 2:30 pm, our hearts are filled with joy and thankfulness to God for the God-ordained connections throughout the trip. We consider each connection a gift to be treasured. This trip further convinces us that God is in this work and will unfold each step before us as we take steps of faith to obey Him.

Paraguay (Part 2)

paraguay-2

Of all the places in the world, why would Don Hess and I choose to go on a prayer trip to Paraguay?

Paraguay a country of 6 million people, about the size of California, land-locked by Brazil, Argentina and Bolivia has welcomed immigrants from all over the world.

From our standpoint as persons of Mennonite descent, we were interested to learn that Paraguay now has about 50,000 people who are Mennonite or of Mennonite ancestry. Many of these Mennonites are German speaking. They are from German ancestors who had been invited by Catherine the Great to Russia in the late 1700’s to develop the Ukraine. They prospered greatly there for 100 years. Then following World Wars I and II, unwanted by Russia or Germany or anyone else, they found a safe haven, some in Canada, but more in Paraguay, in the undeveloped western Chaco region of Paraguay, known as the Green Hell.

This was a time of great suffering for these Russian Mennonite settlers as they struggled to eke out an existence from this inhospitable land.

Mennonites in the United States reached out to help their “Mennonite brethren.”

Don Hess in doing some family research discovered that his Grandfather Hess had been touched by God to respond to these Russian Mennonites in the process of settling in Paraguay and had contributed a sizable amount of money to their needs.

Today 70 years later these Russian Mennonites are now prospering greatly. This “green hell” is now producing food for the nations. They ship the very best quality beef to Israel and other countries. And they have schools and hospitals and industries and businesses of all types and some have risen to positions of power and influence in the land of Paraguay.

Their churches are large. On Sunday morning we attended a service in a beautiful church building in Filadelfia with 1000 German Mennonites in attendance. We met on Monday with leaders in the Mennonite Brethren Church. We learned of their hearts for mission and their active and effective mission programs throughout the country as well as their interest in doing missions in other countries.

The question still remains: Why would Don Hess and I go on a prayer trip to Paraguay?

The answer will need to wait for another post.

Paraguay (Part 1)

paraguay-1

Don Hess and I are on a prayer trip to Paraguay. We know that it is a spiritual harvest time and we are exploring possibilities for partnering with Christians in Paraguay for this great harvest. Today we are in Filadelfia in the Chaco where a Luis Palau Crusade was just completing.

This morning at breakfast we had time to talk with Evangelist Palau now age 82. (Sometimes referred to as a second Billy Graham.)

I was surprised to learn that Palau’s headquarters are in Oregon. (Palau is originally from Argentina but wife is from Oregon).

Palau plans to be in Pennsylvania this coming year at a mushroom festival. Don who has major business connections with the mushroom industry will connect with Palau again when he is in our area.

Post-Election Reflections

Post Election Reflections

Then Daniel praised the God of heaven. He said, “Praise the name of God forever and ever, for he has all wisdom and power. He controls the course of world events; he removes kings and sets up other kings. Daniel 2:19- 21

God says, “Don’t raise your fists! Don’t raise your fist in defiance at the heavens or speak with such arrogance. For no one on earth– from east or west, or even from the wilderness- should raise a defiant fist. It is God alone who judges; He decides who will rise and who will fall. Psalms 75:4-7.

Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished. Romans 13:1-2.

I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. I Timothy 2:1-3.

Let us pray that our current leaders and the newly elected leaders will create and maintain an order in the house of the State that allows God’s people to freely be the hands and feet of God to all people regardless of their immigration status, their orientation, their race or their choices. It is my observation that the Church, although it has often failed in its calling to do the above, is better equipped than the State to show sacrificial love and compassion to those in need.

Let us rise up in this hour with renewed determination to lay down our lives for the wellbeing of those God brings into our lives. “We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion– how can God’s love be in that person? Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. I John 3:16-18.

Election Day

A prayer by Joe Rigney, Assistant Professor at Bethlehem College, (with minor editing) expresses my heart.

Our Father and God,

We acknowledge that in this election you are, as it were, holding up a mirror to America. You are showing us who we are as a nation. We may not like what we see, but the two major (parties) represent us well. Lies, corruption, selfishness, unbridled ambition, shameless sexual immorality — all committed with a high hand. That’s our nation.

If you are judging our nation by showing us who we are and what we deserve, then our proper response is to embrace your judgment. We say “Amen” to your judgment, to agree with you about who we are as a people, and that begins with repentance.

And it begins with our repentance.

Judgment always begins with the household of God (1 Peter 4:17).

Sins that are celebrated without shame in the wider culture are almost always present and active in the church, even when they are hidden. Removing the log from our own eyes is the prerequisite to speck-hunting in our neighbor’s out there (Matthew 7:3–5). Heartfelt repentance for our sins is where we must start.

We are people of unclean lips, and we dwell amidst a people of unclean lips. We are humbled by the greatness of our transgressions and by the weight of our wickedness. Left to ourselves, every intention of our hearts is only evil continually. And so we confess these sins on behalf of ourselves and our nation, casting ourselves wholly on your great mercy in Christ.

Sexual Immorality

Father, our nation is awash in sexual foolishness. We have exalted our lusts and pursued them with reckless abandon. We have despised our daughters, ruined our sons, and betrayed our wives and husbands. We not only indulge dishonorable passions, but we give hearty approval to those who practice them, and malign those who refuse to join in. We are a people who glory in our shame.

This is a great evil.

Father, as your people we acknowledge our guilt in these sins. We have tolerated sexual immorality in our midst. We have hidden it, swept it under the rug, treated it as a small matter. We have justified and excused our indulgence. We have made provision for the flesh to gratify its desires. We have attempted to make peace with these sins, refusing to cut off our hand in order to pursue your holiness.

Forgive us, O God, in your great mercy.

Abortion

Father, for over forty years, our nation has sought to escape the consequences of sexual immorality by legally permitting violence against the weakest members of the human race. We have regarded unborn children as collateral damage in the sexual revolution. Our hands have shed innocent blood, and that blood cries out to you from the ground. We have waged war against our children.

This is a great evil.

Father, as your people, we acknowledge our complicity in this matter. We too have embraced the false idol of personal autonomy. We have thrown our lot in with the sexual revolutionaries. Through our own sinful indulgence, we have strengthened the culture of death. And we have grown weary in our resistance to abortion. The failures of politicians and judges have left us despairing, and so we turn our back on the silent screams.

Forgive us, O God, in your great mercy.

Racial Animosity

Father, our nation is rent apart by ethnic and racial strife. Our sad history is filled with racial superiority, animosity, and oppression of the most grievous kind. We are still reaping the bitter harvest sown by our forefathers. What’s worse, we are sowing more seeds of racial suspicion and hatred, and thereby afflicting our children with the same ugly fruit. We have despised people because of the color of their skin and the shape of their features and the language that they speak. And in despising them, we have despised you, the God who made all of us in your image.

This is a great evil.

Father, as your people, we acknowledge our guilt in these matters. We have tolerated racial divisions because the pursuit of racial harmony is hard. We have shrunk back in fear; we have failed to be peacemakers; we have allowed ourselves to be manipulated by race hustlers of all colors. We have rejected your justice and righteousness, and sought to establish our own.

Forgive us, O God, in your great mercy.

Anxiety and Fear

Father, we are an anxious and fearful people. For all of our bluster and bragging, we are so easily shaken. We are anxious about money, anxious about the future, anxious about the economy, anxious about the election, anxious about our enemies, anxious about food, anxious about health, anxious about safety, anxious about everything under the sun. We live in so much fear. And we confess that anxiety is fundamentally a form of pride. Our anxiety is our sinful and arrogant reaction to the truth that we are not ultimately in control.

This is a great evil.

Father, as your people, we too live in fear. We have baptized the worries and anxieties of the world. We have feared what they fear, and lived in dread of what they dread. And in our fear and anxiety, we have become reactionary and easily manipulated. And because our anxiety and fear feels so justified by the riskiness of life, we do not feel it to be really sinful. We do not feel the arrogance in our insecurities.

Forgive us, O God, in your great mercy.

Envy, Covetousness, and Greed

Father, our nation is shot through with envy, covetousness, and greed. We crave and crave, and demand and demand more and more. Our envy masquerades as a concern for justice. We say, “That’s not fair,” when what we really mean is “Why not me?” We have loved money and possessions and the false stability that it brings us. We have looked to our wealth to deliver us; we have served Mammon, rather than you.

This is a great evil.

Father, as your people, we too have committed covetousness, which is idolatry. We have sought to store up treasures on earth. We have tried to serve two masters. What we’ve received, we’ve hoarded for ourselves, and when we’ve not received, we have resented the blessings and success of others. We too have cloaked our envy and greed behind a façade of justice.

Forgive us, O God, in your great mercy.

Lies

Father, we are a nation with a lying tongue. We love lies. We have exchanged your truth for a lie. We are willing to lie and deceive in order to get our own way or save our own skin. What’s more, we will believe any lie, provided it reinforces our own biases. We especially love to believe lies about our enemies; we want them to be as wicked as possible, in order to justify our hatred of them.

This is a great evil.

Father, as your people, we too have loved lies. We love the convenient lie, the falsehood that gets us off the hook or allows us to indulge a sinful desire. We twist your word in order to get the result we want. We massage the truth, sanding off its rough edges and sharp points, so that it doesn’t offend us and others. We cover up the truth in order to be accepted by the world.

Forgive us, O God, in your great mercy.

Pride

Father, at the heart of our nation’s sins is the great sin of pride. We have placed ourselves and our wants and desires at the center of reality and sought to conform reality to us. We have exalted ourselves. We have insisted on our own way. In our prosperity, we have rejected you and sought to make a name for ourselves. And now in our distress, when all of our idols have failed, we find ourselves hopeless, despairing, reactive, and afraid. But still proud.

This is a great evil.

Father, as your people, we too are proud. We cloak our pride behind a mask of humility. We try to make a name for ourselves in appropriate “Christian” ways. We live to impress other people so that they see how godly we are. We look down our noses at those we deem beneath us. We pay lip-service to you, but for all practical purposes, we rely and depend on ourselves.

Forgive us, O God, in your great mercy.

Have Mercy on Us

Our sins have arisen to heaven. They are a stench in your nostrils. And so you are bringing your judgment; you are giving us over to our sins. Father, we see what you are doing, and we confess that it is good and right. Those who practice these things deserve to die.

But you are a God, merciful and gracious, abounding in steadfast love and kindness. And so we appeal to that mercy and ask for that grace through your Son Jesus.

Forgive us, O Lord, and lead us back to life in you.

Joe Rigney

-I believe God is saying this to us today

THE WORD of THE LORD For This Election Day

Isaiah 46:13.

For I am ready to Set Things Right, not in the distant future, but right now!

I am ready To Save Jerusalem and To Show My Glory to Israel.

EDM

Yellowstone (Part 3)

yellowstone-3

Reflections From Our Recent Trip to the Yellowstone

It strained my ability to be present to “this moment”when I observed my three grandsons Josiah, Justus and Jobe, ages 17, almost 13 and 10 respectively, watching a YouTube video on Minecraft one evening after a day in Yellowstone.

We were in a beautiful house in the Jackson Hole area of Wyoming, a perfect setting after a perfect day. Why would anyone want to bring Minecraft into this setting?

I admit I knew little about Minecraft and I had absolutely no interest in learning more about it. From the little I did know, I would have been happy to have had my grandsons all abandon the game and commit themselves to Bible study or something positive like that.

The next morning in our time of reflection and anticipation I brought up the topic of Minecraft.

Forcing myself to be interested and to keep my opinions to myself, I asked each of my grandsons to describe the game and to tell what appealed to them about the game.

Apparently Minecraft is like a digital 3-D sandbox in which you have certain basic tools which you can later enhance in type and effectiveness in order to create your own world with buildings and even cities, while maintaining your health and protecting yourself against enemies.

The game can be played alone or you can play with friends you know or with new friends you meet on the internet who are into the game. The game is ongoing as is construction in a sandbox. You can create your world day after day as long as someone does not destroy your creation.

Josiah gave an example from the game of being dropped into a wilderness setting and having 12 minutes to develop a protective shelter, find food and arrange for a light source to disperse the demons of the night.

The game was developed by a Swede known on line as “Notch”. The game has been wildly successful with 40 million players. Two years ago Microsoft bought the intellectual rights to the game for over 2 billion dollars.

My grandsons found differing parts of the game appealing; for Jobe it was being able to construct things; for Justus it was constructing and also learning from others on YouTube how various game issues had been addressed; for Josiah it was strategy and competing with others playing the game on line.

Seeing my grandsons’ intense interest and preoccupation with the game I proceeded to learn what spiritual values there might be to this game. Sure enough, one blogger believed “Notch” to be a Christian who had developed a game based on a world of conflict between darkness and light, between good and evil, which would predispose millions of gamers to understand the basic Christian message and even receive it. I rejoiced.

But then this same blogger expressed concern that a new game developer was now in charge and that occult themes were creeping into the game. I grieved.

Another blogger, a Christian mother, wrote that when she looked in on what her sons were doing in the game she found them being unkind to one another in the game. She concluded that the best thing was for parents to get into the game and play it with their children.

“Oh, great,” I thought, “Does this mean I need to start playing Minecraft in order to have a meaningful relationship with my grandchildren?”

“I refuse. I am not interested. I am too busy. I have more important things to do.”

But then I remembered that God took the time to become incarnate in my world because of His great love for us.

Well, I do love my grandchildren, so I will enter their world. I will learn about Minecraft and discuss their experiences and values. I will come along side them, especially should they ask me.

I will applaud them in playing their own game even as God does not control us but gives us the freedom to play our own game, though he gives us counsel and power to play it in a way which honors Him.

Maybe that is what a grandparent is: an observer, a sometimes participant, the story teller and the bridge between the generations. And the one who carries the wellbeing of both generations deep within his heart and prayers.

Yellowstone (Part 2)

yellowstone-2

Perspectives

I saw a log; they saw a canoe. I saw a picturesque setting for contemplation; they saw a place for grand adventure. I saw risk of danger of the log falling on someone’s head ; they saw possibility of challenge and excitement.

I chose to make their reality mine.

The maturing of a grandfather.

Yellowstone (Part One)

yellowstone-1

It was in January that my grandson, Josiah, age 16, said, “I would like to go to Yellowstone National Park.”

I responded, “If you read four books that I recommend and give me a report on them, I will take you.”

Before the end of the conversation his father Chauncey and my other son-in-law, Todd and his two sons, Justus, age 13 and Jobe, age 10 had all indicated their interest in reading the books and going to Yellowstone.

(The four books were: “Seven Men and the Secret of Their Greatness”, and “Everything You Wanted to Know About God But Were Afraid to Ask”, both by Eric Metaxas and “The Insanity of God” by Nik Ripken, and the biblical book of “Daniel”. )

So this past Friday morning we flew out of Baltimore for Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

I said to Josiah as the six of us were driving through Lamar Valley just yesterday, “What was it that made you say that you wanted to go to Yellowstone?

He responded, “This!”

I pondered his answer for a moment and then realized it was both simple and profound.

“This” is what we had planned for, anticipated and now were experiencing: the bears, the bison, the elk, the moose, the antelope, the big horn sheep and the fox pouncing on his prey. “This” was observing in awe the Old Faithful Geyser, the new lake created by the Madison River Canyon Earthquake of 1959, the thermal springs and swimming in sub freezing temperatures in the warm Gardener River fed by the Boiling River. “This”was hiking for seven miles and swimming in an isolated water pool in the Lamar River.

And “This” was the “present” as opposed to the past and the future.

I will admit that at times I struggled to be present. My mind kept going to the future, to things I must do; expectations I must meet. My wife, knowing the pressures I was facing had encouraged me to be present and not to detach.

But this morning at breakfast in a little mountain cafe, surrounded by mountains partly obscured by the newly falling snow, I sat with the five people I love very much and we shared about how we maintain faith in the midst of trials.

Josiah had started the conversation but we all joined in. Tears flowed as faith stories were shared.

Then I realized that “This” is it. “This” is being truly present to one another and sensing that God is present with us in that moment; And that God is placing His benediction on the present moment- “‘This’ is the day of the Lord’s favor. “

Molly’s Trip to India

molly-hess

My good friends, Don and Kathy Hess, have a 21 year old daughter, Molly, who because of a severe disability has never been able to walk or talk. However, when certain music is played, especially the song “My Redeemer Lives” by Nicole C. Mullen, a well known contemporary Christian musician, Molly shows pleasure with a smile and certain inarticulate sounds.

Early in Molly’s 18th year, God appeared to Don in a dream inviting Don to fill out a blank check for his heart’s desire. When Don awoke he filled out a check writing on it “For Molly’s Healing.”

Don still carries that check in his wallet till this day.

For Molly’s 18th birthday Don arranged for Nicole C. Mullen to come to Elizabethtown College Fine Arts Center for a concert attended by well over 500 people. It was truly a miracle that Nicole was able to come for that birthday celebration.

Now for Molly’s 21st birthday Don has arranged for Nicole C. Mullen to do a concert in Delhi, India, along with “Live Jam” a contemporary Christian band, well known in India. In addition Don has taken a team with him to minister in some of the churches of PTL-India, a large network of Christian churches directed by P. C. Alexander. PTL-India is a part of Kingdom Life Network of which New Testament Fellowship is a part.

Just two days ago Kathy and Molly and Molly’s nurse and brother Joe left for India to join Don and his team.

On Saturday evening (Saturday morning our time) Don will wheel Molly onto a stage before a large crowd of people. The stage will be shared by Nicole C. Mullen and Live Jam. They will sing and Molly will speak her message, though her voice will not be heard.

What is the message that Molly speaks to the world through this stage in India?

In a prayer meeting with Don and others before Don left for India, I felt the Holy Spirit revealed the message of Molly’s life. The circumstances of Molly’s life have placed her in an unimaginably constricted space. She can not walk or talk or blink her eyes to communicate.

In this very constricted space Molly does something truly amazing. She worships. In response to the music of Nicole C. Mullens she smiles and expresses her joy to the best of her ability. And Molly worships.

All of us have experienced constrictions and limitations in our lives, some life-long and some for a season. We have had financial limitations, relationship limitations, chronic health problems, limitations in the work place and so forth.

What do I do when I experience a chronic or an unexpected limitation in some area of my life? Historically, I have tended to Work harder or to Worry more.

But Molly teaches me that I have another option. I can Worship. When life presses in upon me, depriving me of space I once had or of space I felt entitled to, I can worship.

I can worship the Redeemer that Molly worships. I can worship Jesus Christ the Lord of the universe, who for our sakes was unimaginably constricted to become a servant of mankind and to die on a cross with no place to move, but only the voice to worship as He died, saying, “Father into thy hands I commit my spirit. “

So that is the message of Molly’s life. “In a constricted space I worship Jesus, my Living Redeemer.”

Oh, and there is one more part to this message.

Don, Molly’s earthly father, who loves his daughter beyond words, will push her wheel chair onto that stage in a stadium in India, positioning Molly so that the world may hear her message.

In a similar manner the Heavenly Father, who loves us beyond words,is positioning us so that the message God has worked out in us in the midst of our limitations may be heard by a broken world.

And this broken world, overwhelmed with worry and fruitless work, is desperately in need of this message of Hope; the message that no matter how much life has constricted us we can choose to worship the Redeemer who Has come and Will come to Save us.

Someday He will return to receive His children onto Himself. And Molly will get a new body. And Don will cash His check. And those who have learned to Worship Him here will worship Him forever in the unrestricted spaces of Heaven. Even so, Lord Jesus, come quickly.

Blessed be the name of the Lord!!!

Previous Older Entries

Past Blogs

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.