Newsletter November, 2000


"Where are the other nine?"

Lk 17:11-19, Col 2:9-10

Jesus, on His way to Jerusalem, healed ten lepers(one of them was a Samaritan) of their disease. Their disease made them isolated, lonely, and pitiful with no one but their own kind for company. When they met Jesus, they called out to Him at a distance, "Have pity on us!" Jesus took pity on them, saying, "Go, show yourselves to the priests." As they obeyed and went, they were cleansed.

There were ten that were cleansed and got to live a new life. Only one, a Samaritan whom the Jews looked down on, came back praising God in a loud voice and threw himself at Jesus' feet and thanked Him. No wonder Jesus asked, "Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?"(v. 17) In saying this, Jesus expressed His disappointment over the nine that did not return to show their gratitude. Perhaps, the nine were in a hurry to go home to be united with their family and to celebrate with their friends and relatives. Perhaps, they had long forgotten what Jesus had done for them. We need to ask ourselves if we indeed have become so occupied with our own affairs that our thoughts are no longer on our Lord Jesus. The Samaritan knew how to show his gratitude; he returned first to Jesus' feet to offer sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving.(Ps 107:2, Heb 13:15) What was offered by the Samaritan was much better than those made on the basis of observing the Law. The Samaritan was greatly blessed as a result, because Jesus said to him, "your faith has made you well."(v. 19) Just like in Lk 7:50, Jesus said to the sinful woman who poured perfume on His feet, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."

It is true that the other nine received healing and were declared clean by the priest. The Samaritan received much more when Jesus, the Son of God, declared that he was saved. All ten lepers were healed because of God's grace. But the one who returned with a thankful heart was bestowed a special blessing. Since he was mindful of the Lord and what was important to Him, ("…Was no one found to return and give praise to God?" v.18), he had become before the Lord a special fragrance.

It is always easy to find fault with others: we may naturally stand on the side feeling regret for the nine who did not return and wish we would never be like them. Most of us have tasted the goodness of God's grace and have been cleansed by the Blood of Jesus. Surely we must give Him glory, and offer to Him our praise and thanksgiving. However, are we not often blinded spiritually by things that offer us some immediate benefit or gratification? Do we not often forsake our spiritual blessing for the satisfaction of gaining some momentary benefits? May the Lord have mercy on us and help us see, through the teaching of the anointing, how abundant and how precious God's grace is towards those who belong to Him. Do not forget that the Lord has blessed us in the past. We must continue to offer thanksgiving and praise for the present blessing and future promises. In doing so we will emit the fragrance of thanksgiving. On the contrary, the grace that is not met with thanksgiving will emit a bad odor. A heart that is not thankful is a warm bed for a multitude of sins.

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ always fill our heart.


"The Right Call" 

Responding to His call to love Him with all 

The intricacy of baseball is a relatively new discovery for me, but one that has been fast, furious, and incredibly extensive. Admittedly, in the pass three to four years, I have become something of a fanatic. Armed with radio headphones, score pad, pencils, and binoculars, I scored the games and tracked the teams. I even went to Atlanta to watch the sixth game of the National League Championship Series and flew back the next day. This fanaticism was not just for the hometown team, but also became a love for the game of baseball itself. From this was born my "pie in the sky" idea of someday umpiring a baseball game.

This past spring, I decided not to wait for someday and became an umpire for a local baseball little league, knowing I would love the involvement with the kids and the game. For the three weeks before the season started, you could not find me anywhere without my 2000 Major League Baseball Rules and league rule book. I would read and reread it, ask questions, and watch other umpires in action. Then, the day came for me to pick up my gear. It was comical because I could not even carry it all - a mask that looked like it would slide right off my head; the chest protector, orange with dirt from the previous year; a stiff-bristled home-plate brush; a brand new score clicker; and of course, the infamous blue shirt. I was ready, excited, and totally nervous!

Having watched and scored hundreds of baseball games, umpiring had always looked so easy. My first game? All of a sudden, standing on the field, responsible for everything that was taking place, I felt lost. Everything was happening at once, and I was in charge of having the birds-eye view. Imagine two opposing bleachers full of parents cheering their kids on, wanting nothing but their children to do well and look good; coaches yelling instructions to the kids from the dugout because they want to win the games; and kids barely the height of my waist running around everywhere. And each time a call needed to be made, all eyes were on me!

In the midst of all those people with their own interests at heart, I was the authority on the field, the objective one, the one who was supposed to make the right call in a split second. What I remember the most was the kid running hard, trying to beat a throw, sliding into second base. Through the cloud of dirt, I saw the face of a seven-year-old kid who desperately wanted to hear that he was safe. Nothing was harder than upholding what was right when parents were incredulous at my call; coaches stopped that game to argue; and kids gave me a long, crestfallen look before hanging their head as they were retired to the dugout. There was a constant tension between seeing the play, making the call, and hearing the response of all who felt they knew better. And, of course, there were always those who just wanted to see if they could bend the rules or sway the umpire because of their own biases. For the sake of my responsibility, the authority given to me, and what I knew to be right, I had to steel myself against all that was being hurled at me, both verbally and emotionally.

When I reflect on all that I experienced and learned through umpiring, ironically my thoughts center not on myself, the umpire; but on the players, parents, and coaches. I think most about how we respond to God umpiring us. Sometimes in life, we act like the seven-year-old kid sliding into second base. We don't know if we made it or not, and even if we know we're out, all we want to hear is that we are safe. After training and playing hard, we want the payoff, even if we have not trained or played hard enough to receive it yet. Our desire should be for consistent achievements and lasting results rather than a moment's gratification. We also act like the parents and coaches, wanting no other call than the one that serves our purpose, thinking we know best or see the situation most clearly. Our pride and own motivation cause us to question God's call in our lives, despite His authority and omniscience. But our view is a limited one, while His is eternal.

Even more than an umpire just upholding " the rules", God makes the call because He loves us, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose" (Rom. 8:28). As Christians, we are called according to His purpose, and knowing the awesome reality of God's love for us evokes a response of love for Him. That love drives us to continue striving to trust with our minds and hearts that God will be faithful in His promise of good to us. If we give our situation, struggles, desires ... our whole selves to God, He will always make the right call!

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight" (Prov. 3:5-6)

Notes Of Thanks 

Thank you so much for sharing the story. Sometimes trivial things deserve our thinking and evaluation, only by which can we cherish more about our existence. Sometimes even crying is a gift, for which we can understand more about our lives. (Carolyn N.J.)

x x x x x x

He who enjoys much is thankful for little. Since we receive mercies constantly, gratitude to God should be habitual. Bless God for what we have, and trust Him for what we need.