(Author’s note: I explained to a friend that I’m involved in some personal things right now and haven’t been able to use my laptop. Told him I was draining a swamp filled with alligators. He said: “Be sure you keep your hands in your pockets. Them things are always looking for a hand-out.” Arrrgh! Do I have some witty friends, or what?!! By coincidence, the alligator comentator is the gentleman about whom I’m writing the post below. I’m still thinking about Joseph. Most of what we know about him is recorded in Genesis Chapters thirty-seven through fifty. NOTHING will take the place of your own prayerful, thoughtful first-hand examination of Scripture. I’ll be sharing some of the things I’m thinking later, but in the meanwhile, I’d like to know what you think about this “Comeback Kid.” And, as always, I will be grateful for your prayers. ~dk~)
Just recently . . . by chance it seemed at the time . . . I ran across an article in the weekly newspaper published in the little town where I was born and spent my youth. The town has grown, but is still small by most standards. I can almost remember when the “Welcome” and “Come Again” signs were on the same post.
It is not an understatement to say Graham, N.C. isn’t exactly the cultural capital of the world. Not the citadel of learning or sophistication. Not by a long shot. It outranks some of its nearby neighbors (Haw River, Saxaphaw, Swepsonville, Ossippee, and Altamahaw) in a lot of categories; but you just don’t expect to find world-class restaurants, or sporting events, or remarkable talent here. At least, I haven’t known that to be the case while growing up here.
Interestingly, the article which caught my attention was about a gentleman who’d come to serve an old, old, quiet Quaker church which I used to attend occasionally (I was “religious, but not overmuch in those days.). It was here when I was much, much younger that I heard “Vonnie” Shepherd sing “Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us” one sunny summer morning in Vacation Bible School long ago. She became one of my favorite friends back then, and that song remains engraved in my mind to this moment (I mentioned that in one of my earlier “blogs.”). In fact, as I write, I’m humming that familiar, beloved tune.
Not much, though, ever happened over there at the church. Quakers are usually quiet. I like that about them…That is, not much happened, except that every once in a while some kind of scandal burst like an over-ripe boil, and one of the “Quiet Quaker” brethren went in quest of female companionship outside his home. In one or two cases, it became the “talk of the town,” and the already small, struggling congregation was made smaller and caused to struggle and suffer more. They managed to stay alive, and some still had a vision of what a Church could become. To the Church’s credit, some of the leaders felt it could be better. It should be better. And they sought, found and followed wise spiritual counsel which has led to new life, new growth, and perhaps a present and future ministry which surpasses anything they’ve seen in their first century of life.
The gentleman whom they have called, Mark Ryman, has come in and allowed himself to be used by the Lord to not only heal some of the brokenness and division. . . but also to reach out in love and growing confidence to the community. And to the state. And who knows where else! Among other things, he’s gotten on the Internet! And I mean he’s doing a splendid piece of work sharing Christ, encouraging his flock, reaching out to others and creating an image that even larger, more affluent, more sophisticated Churches can well adopt.
Before I launched my own endeavor, I went “online” and “checked out” a lot of sites. It wasn’t the most exciting adventure in learning in my life. Frankly, with a very few exceptions, I came away disappointed. They were either selling “stuff,” or presenting a denominational, political, philosophical, metaphysical, or other point of view. I told you about a gentleman in Texas whom I sought out, Neil Simpson. If you click on the replies he’s made, you can go to his website. Neil has been a tremendous encouragement to me personally, and his site is a wide-ranging one that addresses a lot of current events, relevant topics, and does some devotional studies from a consistently Christian perspective. He provides a lot of useful, accurate information and I visit his site frequently.
After I read the newspaper article, I called Mark Ryman to offer encouragement for my new “Friend” for the bold, intelligent steps he’s taking. I also visited his site and encourage you to take a look as well. You’ll get some fresh insights which may give you ideas for your own study of Scripture and Church outreach ministry. You’ll also gain some good information from his messages and studies. His name is Mark. His Church website is www.grahamfriends.org. His blog is: www.MarkRyman.com/blog/.
One other reason I’m suggesting that you visit is that he has just posted his comments on Genesis 39 and Joseph’s visit to Egypt, Officer Potiphar, and the Dungeon. When I saw he was at that site a day or two before I was ready to write my own remarks, I asked him to either post that on my site, or tell you how to get to that information, as well as his notes on how to study Scripture. I don’t believe you’ll be disappointed.
I’m still “visiting with Joseph” as we speak. He just got ambushed by a “femme fatale” and is in jail for no reason. Knowing what little I do about ancient Egyptian justice, Joe is probably lucky to be alive! It is simply remarkable to me that he went through all he did and still managed to be one of the best examples I know of “God’s Comeback Kids.” Let that be an example to me. And to my friends who take time to think.
In my studying, thinking and praying I’ve come to conclude that ADVERSITY IS NOT YOUR ENEMY.
His servant, your friend and fellow student ~donkimrey~