Dear Family and Friends,
In February Stefanie and I went to Cambodia to share the love of Jesus with some of the poorest people in that country. Our team provided free medical, dental, and eyeglass care while Gospel workers shared the Good News of Jesus Christ. This is such a good model as hundred of people come to get their physical needs met, and they also had their spiritual needs met. Many of these people have never been to a doctor or dentist and have suffered for years, hoping that someone can relieve some of their suffering. The clinic days are long and full with a wide variety of ailments, some that I have never encountered in USA. Our team, knowing that we are only in each village for one day, work long and hard, hoping to see everyone who comes and rarely turning patients away.
The third day of clinic was exceptionally difficult with many sad cases. Our team was exhausted and had a two-hour bus ride back to our hotel. We had two buses. Many of the providers and translators were just relaxing and others were deep in conversation. Stefanie and I were in the same bus, but not sitting together. The ride was bumpy, and the bus driver swerved back and forth and frequently honked the horn. It was not late, but it was already dark as the sun sets around 6-7 pm. I was near the front of the bus, but was not looking out the front window. I felt the bus jerk to the side, heard a long sounding of the horn and then felt and heard an awful thud. The bus driver kept on driving. Then I heard someone next to me, yell to the bus driver to stop. Then another yelled: “We hit two girls on a bike.” My heart sank. The bus driver kept on driving. Our team leader ordered him to stop, and then the bus came to a quick stop. The driver jumped out of the bus and ran off into the darkness.
Our team leader pointed to me and Andrew: “Go check on the two girls.” I grabbed my stethoscope and began running down the dark, dirt road. I tried to stay with Andrew, but he was faster. The person next to me said that the bus driver was as far on the left side of the road as he could to avoid hitting the girls, but the girls lost control of their bike and turned right into the front of the bus. The bus had driven some distance before stopping. I began to pray that God would watch over those two girls. I was afraid of what awaited both of us. We ran past the bike with two pairs of slippers next to it. We began to look for the girls. I found a little girl about 5-6 years old with blood coming out of her mouth and blood on her arms and legs. She was sitting. That was such a welcome sight for me. I wave Andrew on, telling him that I would check out this girl. She was moving all extremities, and her pupils were equal and reactive to light and the girl was alert. Where was all of this blood coming from? I had her open her mouth and found the source, a large cut to her lip. That was the only source of bleeding I could find. My heart was rejoicing as she would recover easily from this injury and may need only a few stitches. Expecting to find two dead girls, this was a great relief. Andrew came up to me. “Rich, I can’t find the other girl.” By then a translator showed up at the scene. The translator was able to calm down the growing crowd and ask about the other girl. Andrew held up the two pairs of slippers. Then to our surprise the other girl was found walking among the crowd. Andrew checked her out and was totally unharmed, with not even a scratch or bruise.
The police came by, and we learned through a translator, found out that normally the driver does not stop when involved in an accident. The police said that in his career he has never seen a driver stop and especially not stop to help. He asked why we stopped and why we came back to help. We told him that we came to serve and care for people in Cambodia. He said that most people don’t stop if you hurt or killed someone, because people may take revenge. “Aren’t you afraid?” We responded: “We want to serve God more than fear man.” Several of the translators talked with him. He was impressed. I wanted him to not be impressed with us, but with God whom we serve.
We took the two girls to the nearest hospital, where the younger girls was admitted for observation. Every day we had someone from the team along with a translator to visit her. The girl’s mother was present and was very pleased that we cared and supported her. I learned later that the driver of the other bus went to search for the other bus driver and found him. That driver was hiding and very scared. I went to church with that other bus driver and he shared with the people at church how he had been a friend of this other driver and previously tried to share about Jesus, but the other driver had always resisted. After the accident that driver was scared and now wanted to know about Jesus. He decided that night to follow Jesus and trust Jesus with his life and soul. God used this accident to show His strength to not only save the lives of those two girls, but to also save the soul of this bus driver.
Which is the greater miracle? Protecting two girls’ lives as their bikes hit a bus traveling 40 miles per hour or “delivering us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son?” (Colossians 1: 13). Yes, God still perform miracles. Be not so amazed about the miracle, but the Source of those miracles. “For God so loved that world that He sent his only Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). Jesus died on the cross to pay for the penalty of our sins. The “innocent” dying for the “guilty.” In this incident, God used a bus accident to save one bus driver. About 30 years ago, He saved me. God wants to save you also. You may ask: “What must I do to be saved?” Only two things are required. Repentance of your sins (admitting that you are a sinner and turning from your wrong and to God) and faith (trusting in Jesus’ death and shed blood as your only means to have your sins forgiven). Jesus’ burial and resurrection shows that God has power over sin and death. At Christmas time we celebrate Jesus’ birth. Jesus did not come into this world to just give us an example of a life to live, but to give up His innocent life to pay for our sins. What is holding you back from getting right with God? Jesus has made it possible have your sins forgiven and to have heaven your final destination. If you feel God drawing you- don’t put it off. We are not guaranteed another day like those two girls or the bus driver.
Now for the “Up Close and Personal” beginning with the youngest first:
Jairus (9 years old) When the boys turn 9 years old, I take them on an overnight backpacking trip as a time to encourage boys to grow into manhood. I choose a trip that would be challenging and push them to their limit. Well for Jairus, it would be to a lake I had never been before called Silver Lakes. It was 5 & 1/2 miles long and gained 3500 vertical feet in elevation. Jairus had no idea what it would be like, but he was confident that he could do it. We signed in at the trailhead, and then he started up the trail at a breakneck pace. I had trouble keeping up with him, but after about a 1/4 of a mile, he slowed to a more reasonable pace. It turned out to be a very challenging hike but also very picturesque. There were areas where we had to cross steep rock slides. Initially, Jairus was scared as he looked down the steep slope. I told him, “If you think you will fall down, then you will fall down.” He repeated it several times to me as I approached a steep area. At times he wanted to give up or have me take things out of his backpack. Part of this experience is to push us to our limit and teach us perseverance. I tried to encourage him by saying, “Jairus, remember ‘What goes up, must.... ’Jairus’ answer made me smile: “must not complain.” What a wonderful time! We also caught about 7 trout. Speaking of fish Jairus had a goldfish and a small goldfish bowl. He named this fish Aoto after The Fish Out of Water. The fish seemed to be thriving, but then it got white spots called “ick.” Jairus got a book about fish and tried all of these home remedies. One was quite fascinating. He built a carbon dioxide generator, and it was bubbling into the aquarium. I ended up buying some ick medicine also. He changed the water regularly. He did everything he knew to cure Aoto, but to no avail. Aoto died. I’m not certain where Aoto ended up, but Jairus was quite sad. (Someone said Aoto got a formal fish flush +_+) After recovery from his grief, Jairus began getting more library books about aquariums, and Jairus already purchased a 10 ten gallon aquarium and is strategizing what accessory he will purchase next including what fish he wants in the aquarium. Jairus said that ick is caused by stress, so he is determined to have his fish live a stress-free life. Not certain what kind of stress a fish can have, but Jairus will give that fish a laid back life. Whatever fish finally gets the privilege so being his pet, it will get the best treatment and plenty of attention. Jairus is also learning to play the cello. He used to have Kristi as his teacher and then he had an online teacher who played with YoYo Ma. That teacher plays well but did not know how to teach a young beginner like Jairus. Currently he has Miss Packman who is a perfect teacher for Jairus. Jairus is motivated and Kristi is his tutor. This is a good combination and he is advancing. He has a little cello that is making big music, and it is a joy to see him excited. Once he advances more, he can hopefully play with the rest of the family during worship service at our church. When Jairus was younger, his hair was long and wispy and wild. He looked like a little “mad-scientist”. His outward appearance has changed but there is something still wild about him. He is so easily distracted that he has difficulty sticking with a task. Despite this, he is a quick learner and his memory is a trapdoor. If you need ideas, just ask Jairus--his imagination will come up with ideas that you would never dream of. There may not be many people named “Jairus,” but the world needs people like him. Who knows? He may invent something that will forever change this world.
Lily (11 years old) is growing up. She used to have this little girl look about her. Maybe partially because she is our youngest daughter: I always thought of her as little, young, and cute. I used to say to the children, “I’m going to put you in a box so you stop growing up.” Well it is too late for that. Lily is teaching Jairus. There is something so special to see one child teaching or helping another. There is a bond forming, and one child is passing on all of his or her wisdom to a younger sibling. Each member of our family chose one of the missionaries that our church supports; we are supposed to write, pray, and correspond with them. Lily was the first to write to her missionary family. She takes her responsibilities seriously. She is reading through the Bible and keeping up with all of us. She is also working on Scripture memory. I am reminded of this verse written to young Timothy, “Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.” Lily may be young but is quite mature in many areas. She is my faithful breakfast helper. I usually make Sunday morning breakfast, and Lily helps me to get it made and served on time, so that we won’t be late for church. She is a hard worker, and I rarely hear her complain. When I am outside, she is always asking how she can help. I decided to find something that she can do to help our family. In the winter, we use a woodstove to heat our home. We are always short of kindling. I had built a jig to cut up large branches, but I had yet to build a jig to cut up small branches for kindling. Lily, Jairus and I built this new jig. Lily and Jairus placed this on the side of the woodshed and made their kindling-making shop-nails to hang their saw, cedar boughs on the floor, and place to hang their string. Lily and Jairus go around and collect small branches and cut them put for kindling so our kindling supply is always full.
Noelle (13 years old) just became our 7th teenager. When the children were growing up, “teenagers” were synonymous with rebellion. I remember hearing them say, “I never want to be a teenager.” I believe all of us have some “rebellious teenager” in us, resisting God and authorities in our lives. Noelle has a tender heart toward God and desire to submit and please those in authority in her life. When you know you have your child’s heart, then you are able to more freely give additional freedoms, but when you don’t have their heart, the tendency is to micro-manage everything. There is wild and adventuresome spirit in Noelle, but it is tempered with a growing heart of submission and self-control. Noelle is fearless; we all saw this first-hand as she went through the high-ropes course at our church’s family camp this summer. Next to the end of the course, you have to walk on a tight cable and grab onto widely spaced hanging ropes. She was swinging from one side to the other and even fell off (held by her tether) but continued to struggle to the end without giving up. I tried that same course and that part scared me half to death. I even questioned my sanity. What am I doing up here? Why did I ever do this? And how do I get down without killing myself or embarrassing myself? I have yet to muster up enough courage to try it again. Noelle also loves swimming in the river at family camp. The water was cold, but that didn’t stop her from repeatedly jumping off a log jam, swimming around, and doing it again. She convinced me, so we were both doing this until it was time to leave and were too cold to continue. Noelle and I recently took an oil painting class together. This was Noelle’s first time and she really has great artistic skill. We had such a nice time together. The teacher spent extra time with Noelle since she was the only beginner. Noelle is a quick learner. It is nice to do something together, and I am looking forward to future painting times. After the class we headed off to the newest drive through in Poulsbo: Sonic. When it first opened up, there were police directing traffic and you had to wait almost an hour just to pull into the drive-in slot. Well, the novelty wore off and now there are plenty of open slots. Special one-on-one times-- I will treasure them as I know that they will not always be there. Noelle is a strong hiker and she did well at backpacking when our family went in August. She was the best fisherman there, catching not only the largest but the most fish. She said that she could see the fish bite her bait. I enjoy fishing but get just as much pleasure seeing others catch fish.
Aaron (15 years old) got to do a lot of fun things this year. When the girls turn 15, I take them out on a special date and give them a “purity” ring. For Jonathan, Lori and I took him out when he was about 20 years old. Well, it is not only important for daughters to have purity, but also for sons. I decided that at 15 years or there about to take our sons out. Instead of a fancy restaurant, I wanted to take Aaron on a hard backpacking trip. I decided that “Wagonwheel Lake” would be the perfect hike. It was short- just under 3 miles, but steep with 3300 vertical feet gain. It pushed both of us and the worse part is that we left our hiking poles at home. On a steep hike these really help out. We pitched our tent overlooking the lake. One of the most fun parts of the trip was hiking up the ridge to “Cub Peak” where you get a 360 degree view of the surrounding peaks. There was a cache there made out of PVC tubing with a piece of paper in it. We did not have a pencil or pen so Aaron etched our names and date. You could hardly read it, but then Aaron took a wild flower and rubbed it over the paper so you could easily see our names. What a wonderful idea! Aaron is a big help with yard work, especially heavy work like fixing the road and splitting firewood. We often work together as it goes faster, builds teamwork, and gives us a sense of accomplishment. We still enjoy a rootbeer celebration at the corner gas station. He has been making some extra cash through mowing our neighbor’s yard. He enjoys the riding lawnmower. He is busy with school, but he always finds time for his soccer practice and games. It is fun to watch his games. We definitely had the loudest cheering section. Unfortunately, they didn’t win any games :(, but everyone on the team had great attitudes :).
Kristi (17 years old) has a tender heart toward God and His ways. I remember once our family was on the road and we stopped at fast-food restaurant. We don’t often do that since it is not a efficient way to feed 10 to 11 hungry mouths. Well, this day was the exception. We all got our food and an empty cup for some pop. I was thirsty so I drank my cup and refilled it again. Kristi privately said that I really shouldn’t refill my cup. I looked and there was no sign saying “free refills”. She was right and now I felt bad. What should I do? Should I rationalize, justify my actions or make things right? Well, I asked to speak with the manager. I told him the situation and my willingness to make things right. He said that I would not have to pay for it. Now I can finish my rootbeer without guilt. Thank you Kristi for helping me walk that straight line- I need that. Kristi used to teach Jairus cello, but since he has his own teacher, Kristi tutors Jairus and this always is a great to build lasting bonds. God has gifted Kristi with creativity in art and music. I have a Father’s Day card that includes multiple hand-drawn pictures done in oil pastels. It hangs in my office at work and gets regular compliments. It reminds me of her heart, makes me smile, and brightens up my day. Kristi plays the cello and its rich tone is so moving and soothing. Recently at church Stefanie (on the harp) and Kristi (on the cello) played “What Child is This?” Much of what Kristi played was improvised. I am the only one in our family who doesn’t play any instrument, but I certainly enjoy listening to good music. The children say I play the “Pants,” an instrument I bought while in Cambodia. Such unique tones and not too difficult to play. You don’t have to travel to Cambodia to hear them because I can play them (a set) for you. Maybe one day I can play at church :) Kristi had this great idea of helping Emma and the Hopkins get to know us better and began the makings of a manual titled: “How To Be a Tanaka.” Emma and the Hopkins got to know Jonathan, but Emma and the Hopkins haven’t had opportunity to get to know the rest of the Tanaka family. Kristi got everyone a page to describe them self and Lori and I got to describe how we met, our engagement and wedding and early years.
Bethany (19 years old) is maturing so much this past year. She is co-leading Bible lessons for younger children at church. Bethany normally prefers safety and security over the unknown. She is trusting in God and was preparing her heart to travel to Cambodia with myself in 2016. Circumstances are such that her trip to Cambodia would not be 2016, but likely 2017. I tried to remind Bethany that God’s timing is perfect and as God says in Romans 8:28: “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God...” I told her that the “good” may not necessarily be improvement of our situation but may be inward “good’ God is changing in our heart. “For God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”(1 Samuel 16:7) Still disappointments are still difficult and painful. One benefit is that one more year can provide so much more opportunities to learn more Khmer. Bethany is actually very gifted in language and music. She is an auditory learner- more so than any of our other children. I would not be surprised if she is fluent in one year if God would lead her to someone who could teach her the language. I enjoy seeing Bethany interact with a deaf couple at our church. All three of them are smiling and using many hand gestures. Names and faces don’t come naturally to many of us. If I am trying to remember people’s names, Bethany often comes to my rescue and not only knows their names and how they looks, but often what they were wearing and minute details about them. God has made her people-oriented rather than task-oriented. She has genuine love and compassion, especially for those that are sad or hurting.
Stefanie (21 years old) was used mightily in Cambodia. She and Marion Thompson worked the eye-glass clinic and with just two Americans and two translators, they saw more patients per person than any other team members. No complaints came from them even though as the line for glasses was so long. One day they had to turn away patients, but they felt so bad that they decided the next day to see everyone who came. God blessed their faithfulness as they saw even more those days than any of the other days. She was such a hit among the translators; quiet Stefanie was leading all of the games. Days were long as we worked hard in the clinic and stayed up late playing games with the translators and building friendships. We had fun times together-- including riding on a TukTuk (motorcycle driven buggy) and going to night market and Angkor Wat together. Stefanie turned out to be a harder bargainer than me and often walked away with deals half of what I paid for the exact same thing. It was fun to watch her go back on forth with a merchant. One thing great about that way of buying and selling is that both walk away happy-almost like you grow closer through that interaction. Often we were so tired at night that we could hardly say goodnight before falling asleep. God used difficulties to strengthen Stefanie’s faith and to become bolder in sharing God’s love with those around. Before the trip Stefanie wanted to make her own eye chart and have Bible verses on the back of the eye chart to give to each patient. She worked long into the night for many days- copying, cutting and folding. When we arrived she showed it to one of the doctors, and he said that the Bible verses didn’t make sense. She had cut and pasted from what she thought was a reputable source, but I guess not. Instead of allowing this disappointment to ruin her trip, she just accepted this and moved on. I was impressed as I don’t think I could have done that. Stefanie, that attitude will serve you well as there will be disappointments in life. Back in the States, Stefanie also shines in her own way. One of the most soothing instruments around is the harp, and Stefanie has been taking lessons. Truly wonderful music comes off of her harp! She came to my office and played in the waiting room and the music filled the atrium. She received many compliments from patients and staff as it was a blessing to all. She was also able to play for our Auntie, who died just two weeks later. Stefanie is still learning to drive. The long time is partially my fault for being too busy and partially her fault for being too busy. It will be nice to have another driver. This year Stefanie again volunteered to be a speaker host at a local homeschool conference. This can often be challenging as you are responsible to help the speaker in any way they want or need. This year her speaker had many stressful things going on the home front, and Stefanie was there to help her. This year Stefanie wanted me to take her fishing on her birthday. I gladly accepted. We left early, hoping to catch the early bite, but we did not even get a nibble. Well, it was fun just to spend time together. We’ll go out again- so you fish better watch out!
Jonathan (almost 23 years old) is getting married this year on New Years Eve to a very sweet young lady, Emma Hopkins. Jonathan became best friends with Emma’s brother after serving at NCFIC (National Center for Family Integrated Churches) back in 2012. That friendship led to visits to Texas and Jonathan even lived with the Hopkins while doing an law internship. Somewhere along those years, Emma must have caught Jonathan’s interest. That led Jonathan to ask Mr. Hopkins to court Emma. “Long story short: Jonathan is now engaged...” Jonathan and Emma came up for a visit this summer and we all had a great time. We are all excited for both of them. Jonathan will be finishing up law school at Liberty. Jonathan is coming home Christmas Eve for a short visit, the last visit as a single man. I see God providence in bringing Jonathan and Emma together. God clearly brought them together. More doors opened than closed, but still Jonathan still needed to walk through them. I am glad he did. May God bless their wedding and their marriage as they serve Him together.
Amy (24 years old) is active in so many areas that it is difficult for me to imagine one person can handle it all. One thing I commend her on is that she still finds time for her siblings, her mother and me as she comes to my office almost once a week. This gives us the commute time to talk, and we have lunch together. And if the weather permits, we enjoy a walk along a path around the building. I know that I will not always have that time, so we make the most of them. God has blessed her with a lot of girl friends and she does a good job in keeping in touch with them. She even keeps in touch with many of the female Cambodian translators. She keeps busy serving families that we know. This fall Amy and a good friend of hers flew to North Carolina for a conference on the Holiness of God. She said she heard many great messages. She also saw Jonathan and Emma, the Hopkins family, and several of her friends. Then she flew up to Chicago to help and be with “Grandma Saka” (Lori’s mother). Amy is our computer repair person. She said that she is self-taught and knows where to look for answers. Amy is always the mastermind behind special celebration for Lori and I. This past winter 2014 in Leavenworth, we stayed in a log cabin. Jonathan was there and we had special dishes, glassware, special dinner and dessert and balloons and games at a “parent’s party.” It really was special. Amy may have organized it, but everyone helped out. Amy is still teaching an online writing class, teaching piano, helping our neighbor with bookkeeping and payroll, and playing piano for the choir. Amy loves to go have coffee at Starbucks, so if you want to talk with her, treat her to a latte and enjoy the conversation. It will always be worth every penny.
Lori (52) is my bride of 27 years. This year we went to Vancouver, BC to celebrate our 27th anniversary. For our honeymoon we landed in Seattle, went to Pikes Place Market, drove over to Crescent Lake, and stayed in the quaintest cabin there. Then we hopped over to Victoria, BC and Vancouver, BC. Vancouver’s Stanley park is really nice. During our honeymoon, we rented a tandem bike and rode around the park, which is almost a peninsula. We enjoyed nice weather. Lori wanted to steer the tandem to prove to me that she can, as for years I said that on our honeymoon she almost steered us into an old couple. This time she did great at steering! Somethings do get better with time. Marriage I am learning is like that. It takes time, work, tears, prayers, confession, forgiveness, grace and mercy. We went to a marriage conference in Olympia this year. It really was helpful. God’s design for marriage is always the best! He blesses obedience and disciplines us when we fail to obey His commands. My love for Lori grows and matures every year. This year we had more people over to our house than any previous year. Hospitality is such an important way to really get to know someone. What a neat way to show God’s love! Lori organizes our 4th of July party. It runs so smoothly because of Lori’s organizational skills. The minutest details have been taken care of. All I need to do is to focus on those activities that I have been assigned. I'm excited because Lori and I both have been accepted on the Global Health Outreach team to Cambodia. For two weeks we will be serving some of the poorest people in the world. Not certain what responsibility Lori will be doing, but with Lori’s skills she will be a great asset. I know that God will give both of us greater and greater faith to trust Him as reach out to the people of Cambodia. Working together, serving together, being stretched together will bring God glory and I believe strengthen our marriage.
Rich (56 years old) used to be a runner and subscribe to Runner’s World, a monthly magazine devoted to running and running races. I really didn’t have the speed of a sprinter but I had endurance and perseverance and stubbornness. Every race I began, I finished. On my first marathon, an 80+ grandma lady passed me up and I couldn’t keep up with her. About the only one waiting for me at the finish line was my Dad, cheering me on across the finish line at 4 hours 20 minutes. I don’t run very many races any more, but I do love a game of soccer or tackle football at church’s men’s retreat. This year for Father’s Day the children arranged for a picnic at a park in Gig Harbor and invited other church families. There was a soccer field and we arrived early so Aaron and I were kicking the soccer ball back and forth. He played goalie. He egged me on to kick it past him. Every kick he stopped so I tried harder and harder and then I pulled a groin muscle. That put me out of commission that whole day, so I just watched from the sidelines, wishing I could be out there. Our family lives near Kitsap Memorial State Park which has a great soccer field-one of our favorite things to do is play soccer as a family. That is a huge advantage of having a large family; you already have enough for two teams. Life is not just about fun and games, although that is great fun. As a father and husband, one of my greatest responsibilities is to train up each child in the way they should go and to bring them up in the fear and instruction of the Lord, teaching them to obey everything Jesus has commanded, I race home each workday to make it home for dinner. It is so nice to hear about everyone’s day around a delicious meal. After dinner we usually have time to review the recent sermons, read a portion of the Bible, and discuss it and its relevance to our daily lives. Our church’s Wednesday night class is going through the whole Bible, and we are almost through the Old Testament, currently finishing up Daniel. This has deepens our reverence and love for God’s Word. Looking over the past year, definitely the highlight of this year was serving in Cambodia with Stefanie. I also have a desire to share the love of God and His Good News of how to be made right with God, with neighbors and those around. For the first time in my life, I went down to downtown Seattle to the Union Gospel Mission and listen, pray with, talk, and hear the stories of homeless people. People that I would have crossed the street to avoid, we went right up to and began conversations. I bought a couple sandwiches for some that were hungry and gave my headband to someone who needed it more than me. God opened my eyes to a whole world that I ignored and most of the world rejects, but God loved so much that He died for them also. This coming year I hopefully want to begin as a family an international college student ministry with students attending Olympic College. Pray that God would lead and direct as I feel He has placed this on my heart. Another burden I have is for the young men in our church who don’t have a father actively leading their home and speaking into their lives. I was able to take one young man on a backpacking trip along with Aaron. It was so nice and natural, and I believe we all benefitted from this time together. I am hoping to have an even larger backpacking group this coming summer. It is difficult to schedule as most of them work, but I will take whoever is able. Here is some random advice: If you are ever here for breakfast I will fix you some “prizes” and if it is a hot summer day then I’ll fix you some “flip flops” to drink. Don’t worry- you won’t be disappointed.
If you are like Charlie Brown and don’t know what Christmas is all about, Linus got it right: ”for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11) “A Savior?” you may ask, “What do I need a savior for?” When you break any law and are caught and found guilty, there is punishment. What happens when you sin against a holy (sinless) God? In God’s economy, the punishment for sin is someone’s (or something’s) blood or life If you are like Charlie Brown and don’t know what Christmas is all about, Linus got it right: ”for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11) “A Savior?” you may ask, “What do I need a savior for?” When you break any law and are caught and found guilty, there is punishment. What happens when you sin against a holy (sinless) God? In God’s economy, the punishment for sin is someone’s (or something’s) blood or life. “Without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” (Hebrews 9:22) That is why in the Old Testament, there were animal sacrifices, to appease God’s wrath and to point them to the Ultimate Lamb of God, Jesus. Mark 10:45 says, "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." The Bible says that Jesus was tempted in all things as we are, but without sin. He alone was the sinless sacrifice to pay for our sins. Because we have sin, our shed blood could never pay for other peoples’ sin and can’t pay for even our own. Sin is like a debt; someone has to pay for it as it can’t just be forgiven. If the lender actually forgives a debt, then actually that lender paid for the debt. Jesus paid the debt we owed, the innocent dying for the guilty. Why do we need a savior? it is because we are guilty and awaiting punishment, hell. Hell is a real place and only those who acknowledge that they are a guilty sinner, desire to turn from their sinful ways, and trust in Jesus’ death on the cross as their only means to have our sins forgiven, can escape the punishment of sin and allowed into heaven to be with God forever. As Jesus rose from the dead, so shall we who have chosen to follow Jesus. (1 Cor. 15: 53-57) “For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true:
“Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”i
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
May this Christmas be extra special as you repent of your sins and place your trust in Jesus who wants to be your Savior. If you have questions or would like to learn more about being a follower of Jesus, please contact me. It would be my honor to help you make this most important decision: that determines the destiny of your soul.
Merry Christmas! From our family to yours,
Rich (for Lori, Amy, Jonathan & Emma, Stefanie, Bethany, Kristi, Aaron, Noelle, Lily and Jairus.
Rich’s website: teamtanaka.com
Amy’s website: attuneup.com