December 12, 2016

These are the pastors of the Hong Kong Evangelical Church conference. There are 20 churches at present with RiverGrace in the works to be # 21. The photo below that are the "Tong Jyu Yam"... pastors in charge of those churches. (not all present)

I want to give a quick update this week to cover the last two weeks. They were full and busy as we were getting ready to return to the States for a holiday. Cindy was not in Hong Kong last week because she already left last Monday.

Both of us had nasty colds. I’m still coughing a bit, but feel much better than I did last Monday and Tuesday. There have been lots of colds going around Hong Kong these days.

I’m writing this edition of the Fodder on the plane. It’s about 4 hours into the 11 hour and 26 minute flight. Currently we are  just slightly northwest of Japan. We’re flying at 37,000 feet (7 miles, 11.3km) and the outside temperature is -69 Fahrenheit (-53 C.). It won’t be quite that cold in Ohio, but my sister said it is supposed to to down to about 3 F. (-16 C.) this week.

I fly to Seattle, where I pass through customs, then head to Minneapolis, and at 11:50pm arrive in Columbus, Monday night US time.. Unfortunately that means the grandkids will already be tucked into their beds so I won’t see them until morning… maybe earlier that I want to due to lack of sleep!

We have a few appointments and some personal business to attend to, but we’ll enjoy gatherings with both sides of the family and, of, course, our own family. Josh will be coming from Budapest for a few days while we’re there. He’s been working on a film in Hungary for about 3 months, and still has approximately a a half year left on that project.

Beyond that I think Nathan will have a school Christmas concert to attend, and there are some hockey games on tap as well for Daniel. .

This will be the first time that we have gone home specifically for Christmas in 41 years! The other times we’ve been in the States for Christmas… roughly every 5 years… was when we were on ‘home assignment” visiting our supporting churches.

I brought two large suitcases back with me, though both are only about half full. I hope they don’t get crushed. I was planning on bringing one larger one and a smaller one, but Cindy sent me a message this week and said she had gone shopping so I’d better bring two large ones. Hmmm. She does have trouble getting shoes that fit her here in Hong Kong. I usually have to get a few things as well, as they don’t have much selection of clothes in my sizes in Hong Kong. I usually also get my hiking/running shoes in the States as well since they’re cheaper.

We don’t have to take to much in our luggage anymore, though, as we’re pretty well stocked in both places.

That’s it for this week. I’ll still try to put the Fodder together while I’m in the States, though I can promise regularity. For sure I’ll post photos of the grandkids and activities we do, if nothing else. Blessings to you, my faithful readers and pray-ers. I wish you a wonderful holiday season filled with His joy.


The Science of Christmas

     "Miracles," said my friend. "Oh, come. Science has knocked the bottom out of all that. We know now that Nature is governed by fixed laws."

     "Didn't people always know that?" I said.

     "Good lands, no," he said. "For instance, take a story like the Virgin Birth. We know now that such a thing couldn't happen."

     "But look here," I said. "St Joseph, the husband of the Virgin Mary; if you'll read the story in the Bible you'll find that when he saw his fiancée was going to have a baby he decided to cry off the marriage. Why did he do that?"

     "Wouldn't most men?"

     "Any man would," I said, "provided he knew the laws of Nature—provided he knew that a girl doesn't ordinarily have a baby unless she's been sleeping with a man. St Joseph knew that law just as well as you do."(1)

     It's not difficult to find any number of people who have trouble with the nativity scene at the heart of the Christmas story. According to the Barna Research group even Christians are struggling with the virgin birth at the center of their own faith tradition. More than fifteen percent of Christians in the United States admit not believing in the virgin birth, a statistic readily increasing.

     Atheist campaigns across continents are also gearing up again to ask the world to admit over its primitive nativity scenes that we know it is only a myth, and to celebrate reason instead this season. The battle they propose (and the compliant perpetuate) between science and faith describes something like two opposing swordsmen sworn to fight to the death. Though it is an image supported at times by both sides of the fight, it is at best a blind spot in the minds of many and at worse a wishful delusion.

     In his 1945 essay "Religion and Science," C.S. Lewis exposed one of the most common false assumptions at the heart of the science/faith divide, particularly as it pertains to the nativity of Jesus. The assumption is that this "primitive" nativity was likewise filled with primitive thinkers devoid of any sort of knowledge of biology or natural reasoning. Here and elsewhere, Lewis saw that we hold our scientific advancements as something like demerits for prior generations, perpetuating the mentality that the only accurate thought is current thought, the only mind worth trusting is an enlightened one—of which I am conveniently a member.

     Yet Joseph knew enough about the laws of nature to at first conclude the infidelity of his fiancée. He knew that babies and pregnancies did not appear on their own and thus intended to divorce Mary quietly, until something changed his mind. The disciples, too, knew enough about the laws of physics to be completely terrified by the man walking on the water toward their boat. The crowd of mourners knew enough about death to laugh at Jesus when he insisted that the dead girl was only sleeping, and to walk away astonished when she came back to life. There were also the magi, astrologers who followed their scientific calculations to the child, Philip and Andrew who knew that the mathematics of two fish and a starving crowd were not going to divide well, Mary and Martha who knew that their brother's death was the last word, and Thomas who knew the same after he watched Jesus crucified.

     In each of these objections, I thankfully hear my own. So much so, that it would appear faith is not a turning of one's back on the fixed laws of nature or physics or mathematics, but rather, a recognition in the very face of these laws we know and trust that something from outside the law must have reached into the picture. I find each of these scenes both remarkable and reasonable precisely because of the reactions of men and women with a grasp of natural law and the same objections that any of us would have offered had we been present. It would be blind faith indeed if we were receiving a story that wanted us at the onset to fully reject the laws of natural reasoning in replacement of something else. What we receive instead is a story filled with undeniable indications which suggest that something—or Someone—has startlingly stepped into the picture.

- Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

(1) C.S. Lewis, "Religion and Science," Undeceptions (London: Geoffrey Bles, 1971), 48.

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     A couple were in a busy shopping center just before Christmas. The wife suddenly noticed that her husband was missing and as they had a lot to do, she called him on her mobile phone.

The wife said, " Where are you? You know we have lots to do."

     He said, "Do you remember the jewelers we went into about 10 years ago, and you fell in love with that diamond necklace? I could not afford it at the time and I said that one day I would get it for you?"

     Little tears started to flow down her cheek and she got all choked up…

     "Yes, I do remember that shop," she replied.

     “Well, I am in the gun shop next door to that."


"Christmas is a time when lots of people get Santa-mental."

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     Dick, my husband, and I had a hectic holiday schedule encompassing careers, teenagers, shopping, and all the required doings of the season.

     Running out of time, I got the stationer to print our signature on our Christmas cards, instead of signing each one.

     Soon we started getting cards from friends signed "The Modest Morrisons," "The Clever Clarks," and "The Successful Smiths."

     Then it hit me.

     I had mailed out a hundred cards neatly imprinted with "Happy Holidays from the Rich Armstrongs."


    Like a lot of married men, I got the "You just don't appreciate me" speech once from my wife. I promised to treat her royally for the remainder of the day. I took her to lunch at Burger King and Dairy Queen for dessert. She's never mentioned it since


    Stressing the importance of a good vocabulary, the teacher told her young charges, "Use a word ten times, and it shall be yours for life."

    From somewhere in the back of the room, came a small male voice chanting, "Amanda, Amanda, Amanda, Amanda, Amanda, Amanda, Amanda, Amanda, Amanda, Amanda."


    An English professor wrote the words, "Woman without her man is nothing" on the blackboard and directed his students to punctuate it correctly.

    The men wrote: "Woman, without her man, is nothing."

    The women wrote: "Woman! Without her, man is nothing."


     A police officer called the station on his radio. "I have an interesting case here. An old lady just attacked her husband for stepping on the floor she just mopped."

   "Have you arrested the woman?"

    "Not yet. The floor's still wet.


You Might be a Preacher if....

- You've ever dreamed you were preaching only to awaken and discover you were

- A church picnic is no picnic

- You've ever wondered why people couldn't die at more appropriate times

- It's Sunday, but Monday's coming!

- Instead of getting "ticked off," you get "grieved in your spirit."

- You've ever been tempted to take an offering at a family reunion

- You'd rather talk to people with every head bowed and every eye closed.

- You've ever wanted to "lay hands" on a deacon's neck.

- Everybody stops talking when you enter the room.

- You've ever wanted to give the sound man some feedback of your own.

- You've ever stretched the truth at a funeral.

- You'd rather negotiate with terrorists than the church organist.

- You've ever suffered anxiety attack while playing Bible Trivia Pursuit.

- You get your second wind when you say "And in conclusion..."

- The ideas you bounce off board members really do.

- You've seen more religion at a pool hall than you've seen at a Church Softball Game.

- Your Bible has more side notes than printed text.

- You've ever wanted to fire the church and form a congregation search committee.

- You jiggle all the toilet handles before you leave the church building.

     Mary was discussing the various aspects and possible outcome of an insurance policy with the clerk at the insurance agency.

     During the discussion, she asked, "Suppose I take the life insurance for my husband today for a million dollars, and tomorrow he dies? What will I get?"

     The clerk eyed her suspiciously and replied, "Probably a life sentence."

@Laugh & Lift -

My Aunt Jean found a photo of my home church, Alliance Friends Church, from the 50's. The old church is still standing and, I suppose, being used. And I suppose I am in the photo somewhere, but am not sure where. We might have been sitting in the balcony, where one time I got in trouble with some friends for shooting small paper wads below in a service. Needless to say, I had to sit with my parents for a very long time afterward!

Friend, Alani, is a fine artist in the art of decorating cakes. She has her own shop, and in these photos was part of a bakery exposition help in the Hong Kong Convention center. Pictured in the second photo are Cindy and I with Alani and her mom shirley.

My son-in-law, Ace was on security duty inside inside the stadium in the second half of the Ohio State, Michigan game (which thankfully Ohio State one in overtime. He was stationed around the goal posts. It was the largest crown ever at the stadium called the Horseshoe. Perhaps around 110,000 people attended the game.  Being the rivalry of rivalries, fans poured onto the field after their victory.