The Family that Eats Together . . . A Lost Art?
Growing up, our family was fairly dysfunctional (but then, show me a fully functional family and I’ll show you a herd of clones!) Marriage and family are a crucible in which sanctification (or its rejection), is slowly ground into us. The family dinner table can be—should be—the “Daily-let-it-all-hang-out” time, where even the younger ones have equal value—and opportunity—to express themselves. It should be a pleasant experience for all.
When Donna’s and my kids were still at home, we always tried to have this daily time together. When they married and started their own families, they followed suit. One daughter—until her kids started leaving home—always had a daily sit-down-together, lovingly-prepared, home-cooked meal at least once a day. A feature of those dinners was that each person would share a ‘thumbs-up’ and a ‘thumbs-down’ experience from the day. This could lead to great rejoicing for success, or prayer for suffering.
Is Family-Dinner-Together just a pipe dream today? Have we so programmed our lives and the lives of our kids with outside activities that we are left with no time for the family to sit down as one unit and communicate—face to face across the mashed potatoes or stir-fry—without the use of handhelds and other anti-social media distractions?
My Dad was a single-minded missionary, called by God to China & Taiwan, where he ministered for 43 years. Mom must have been called too, because she never complained or lost God’s grace, enduring some of the hardest tests a mother would ever have to deal with, such as:
- Sending her four kids off to boarding school from the of age six.
- Living through 3 1/2 years of WW2 in a crowded Shanghai concentration camp alongside 2000 other captured foreigners, with her family squished into one tiny 20’ x 15’ room; prisoners behind barbed wire, guarded by soldiers.
- Dealing with advancing breast cancer without medical help, rushed to a Shanghai hospital for an emergency mastectomy on Liberation Day 1945.
- Passing into Heaven at the early age of 53, alone in London, her family spread all over the globe, and her cancer viciously re-established. In those days, cancer patients were still shunned, as if it was The Great Plague.)
Back in our early days, family meals had always been important to her. My memories, from back before the war, were of my mother insisting that we eat together. My Dad would preside at the table, ruling the roost as he sharpened his carving knife before attacking some emaciated piece of meat. (We kids knew who ran the family: Dad could wave his knife around, but Mom was the loving power behind the throne!)
Dad would dispense his form of humor in stories he told us, laughing uproariously at his own jokes. We mostly groaned. But these dinners are precious memories for us kids—to this day. There was one legendary occasion when everyone dissolved into blobs of helpless, giggling and embarrassed jelly, as he told one of his tales about an event that once happened at the table.
Mother loved fresh garden peas (always sprinkling sugar on her own portion). She also provided a jug of the hot water in which the peas had been boiled, as a hot drink. It seems that one day when we were all very young (I was so young that I had not yet even been thought about; come to think of it, maybe Mom and Dad became so jolly that night after what occurred, that I happened. Who knows?)
Anyway, back to Dad’s story. It was his favorite and was about an eminent and very proper, single lady missionary who came to dinner. She must have enjoyed the meal, because she asked for seconds, adding, “Please pass the pea-water.” Even though I wasn’t actually there, I feel like I was, because of the many tellings of the tale.
In recent years, on the rare occasions we kids got together, someone merely had to say the word, “Pea-water,” and we’d all collapse into spasms of teary-eyed belly-laughs; and then proceed to trot out all the other stories our Dad had regaled us with.
You might think this is a happily-ever-after story, but sadly, after surviving the war in such close quarters, our family very quickly dispersed all over the world. But that’s another story.
Distant though we were from each other, both geographically and relationally for the most part, we now realize that those family-together dinners, were a big part of the glue that held us together during some really hard times. Our Mother understood the art of true hospitality.
Hospitality is not something we do when friends or strangers are welcomed into our homes; remember you may be hosting an angel and not even realize it! [Heb 13:2].
Hospitality starts in the home; and it flourishes in the way we treat each other.
Two From John Wesley, Plus a Couple of Others
“What one generation tolerates, the next generation will embrace.”
“Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin, and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen; such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of heaven on Earth.”
“The humble man feels no jealousy or envy. He can praise God when others are preferred and blessed before him. He can bear to hear others praised while he is forgotten because he has received the Spirit of Jesus who did not seek His own honour.” Andrew Murray
*Government does not define marriage; God defines marriage.
*America heard from their Supreme Court, but not from THE Supreme Court
*We heard from the judges, but not from The Judge of All The Earth.
Sent by Minnesota Ron Smith
We Get Letters . . . And We Get Special Letters
The Lives of Amazonian Babies hang in the balance. Here’s a letter from longtime YWAM missionaries to the Amazon.
“Open your mouth for the speechless, for the cause of all who are appointed to die.” [Proverbs 31:8 NKJV]
The first time I found a baby abandoned to die, my heart sank. There I was, in the middle of the jungle, staring at that poor baby left there to be eaten by a jaguar or starve to death. Should I obey the laws of the tribe and just leave the baby there? Or should I challenge the powers of the tradition and fight for that little vulnerable girl appointed to die? I chose to obey the Lord and fight for life, according to Proverbs 31:8. Since then our lives have drastically changed. A few years after that, Suzuki and I were able to save the life of another girl, the beautiful Hakani. The Indians had tried to bury her alive, but she survived. We adopted her legally and God has been using her testimony to inspire the country and allow many other children to live.
Two thoughtful responses to the Sin is In article in June’s eTouch.
First from Steven Service:
Thanks so much for eTouch! You are always a breath of fresh air to me : ) I was disheartened several months ago when I was holding a discussion with friends about the cause/effect relationship between personal righteousness and entering into God’s presence. I was pushing for the tangible concept that faith is a marriage vow . . .
read the rest of Steven’s letter here
Peter Martyn writes:
Thanks for eTouch Peter, I’ve been getting it in some format since the late 1980’s.
I am as concerned as you are at the decline in morality in recent times, it’s actually probably happening faster in Western countries other than the US, which still has a substantial “Bible believing” percentage of the population.
Many Christians are in despair, but we fail to realize that it wasn’t any better in the early years of the Church. Just read Paul’s letters and you get the flavour of the permissive times it was in 1st century Roman/Greek culture.
read the rest of Peter’s letter here
Are we prepared for the days ahead? I’m not saying we’re in the last days BUT, we must get prepared as if we were.
Let’s take one day at a time.
Before we begin each day, we acknowledge the Holy Spirit who will lead us and guide us, show us how to respond and how to not react. He is the Spirit of truth and love, so we need to be completely abiding in Him and filled with Him, keeping a posture of humility and holiness, continually looking to our Lord Jesus Christ as our model.
Let’s stand confidently,
Even though many are crumbling under stress, anxiety, feeling isolated, hopeless and with much fear. In the last days men’s hearts will fail because of fear. [Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21:5-36] Do not give in to fear or make life’s decisions because of fear; instead, quieten yourself and listen to the voice of God. Relying on His love takes away all fear. [1 John 4]
Let’s not be easily offended.
No relationship is going to go to a deeper level if one or both are easily offended. Once offense comes in, if not dealt with, a bitter root will rise up and defile. Communication becomes very difficult, and motives will be misunderstood. If we have a heart that is ‘un-offendable,’ then we can have deep and solid relationships.
A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.
He who covers over an offense promotes love. [Prov 17:9]
We must learn to walk in forgiveness continually. It’s not easy but if we can’t forgive others, God can’t forgive us. [Read Matt 6:14-15 The Message]
Churches and individuals must not take on their people’s offenses, otherwise pastors and teachers in the body of Christ won’t be able to release the pure Word of God.
Jesus said that in the last days, the love of most will grow cold. [Matt 24:12]
We must love one another unconditionally, not ‘using’ one another, but encouraging one another. The only solution to the pain and bondage in the world is God’s love flowing through us, as we abide in Him. He wants to demonstrate His goodness through each one of us, to all those we come in contact with.
He is a good God. Don’t doubt His goodness when you are going through a personal shaking, but hang on to Him. He will never leave you nor forsake you. [Read Heb 13:5-6]
Get prepared daily.
No more wasting time.
Run the race with perseverance.
Love and Blessings,
Two More Camps This Year
August 2-8: Champagne, France with Paul & Genevieve Marsh
Go quickly to: http://www.intouchcamps.com
Sept 14-16: Singapore, with Worship and Waiting on God
Click here for registration info: www.singaporegathering.sg
and Finally . . . Another Lost Art?
The other day, I sat down and sort of old-fashionedly ‘texted’ a message to a friend who has rejected all forms of electronic communication. I had to resort to what is called ‘letter writing.’ This involves cursive penmanship, a very complicated procedure that once was used by everybody for the passing on of all but the most urgent news. (Someday I’ll tell you about how it always took three months for a ‘letter’ that was dropped in a mailbox in England, to reach our family in China. Three months! Think about it.
Anyway, I regressed to that old way of writing, which used to be called ‘a letter.’ It’s quite complicated because instead of just grabbing your handheld and tapping a simple message like, “u r 2 gr8,” there are a lot of steps involved: you take a thing shaped like a stick with a pointy end, through which a substance called ink oozes from a little round, rotating, orby-shaped ballbearing. Having firmly grasped this device between thumb and two or more fingers, you then draw scratchy marks on a piece of paper; these marks sometimes look like the tracks that slugs leave at night on your garden pathway, all wind-y and meander-ery.
After laboriously scrawling onto a piece of paper whatever it is you want to say, you sign it and fold that paper and shove it in an envelope, being careful to inscribe the name and address of the person to whom you are writing; add your return address (on the back is OK), stick a postage stamp in the top right corner, seal it and drop the whole thing in a mailbox—if you can find one these days. (If as often happens, your letter goes to the wrong place, it will return to you like a boomerang. After about five years).
I was horrified by my efforts at accomplishing the simple task of writing this letter. My penmanship had deserted me. The chicken scrawl on the paper bore no resemblance to what had at one time been a reasonably legible cursive handwriting. Now, even my thoughts were disconnected when I tried to put them on paper. I’ve become so used to pecking away—one-fingered, on a miniature keyboard—like a free range chicken scrabbling around for whatever they scrabble around for (insects and seeds, I guess).
I hope my friend could decipher what I was trying to communicate.
“I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.” [Not sure who said that.]
I’ve been thinking of ways to apply a ‘spiritual’ lesson to all this, but with little success (no bible chapter and verse to quote)! But maybe it has something to do with the potential that God has given us for making and maintaining good and solid relationships; or alternatively, the lessening of them.
Let’s reflect on the ease with which we can flash off a message; and by engaging more and more in that way of communication, the loss and the distancing of real, honest and caring, face-to-face contact between two of more human beings who have been given ears and eyes and the senses of smell and touch.
Anyone for Smell-a-Text?
Til next time,
P.S. I didn’t forget the fifth sense; to mention it might have been in bad taste
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