Eclipse 2017: “What I really need is a bathroom!”

When the answer to "Why are you so nice?" is "Jesus"

I salute the Paul Smucker family for opening up their house — fridge, pantry, bathrooms — to passers-by of The Great Exodus after yesterday’s total eclipse.

Total Eclipse 2017: Simone handing out free drinks at Paul's

“What I really need is a bathroom,” one woman confessed. So we made a new sign. “Restrooms Available!” And soon had a long line stretching all the way out our back hallway. Matt sat in the living room and directed people to our upstairs bathroom, while Mom showed people where the downstairs bathroom was as she mixed up batches of lemonade. Soon we had groups of people in our driveway chattering in Chinese, as children swung on our ancient tire swing.

Did you know Mennonites (or other Christians) were that hospitable? I’m certainly not! Oh, I would have enjoyed handing out free drinks and nibbles. But opening my house for an invasion of strangers to use the bathrooms, upstairs and down?! I. Don’t. Think. So.

I’ve got so much to learn and live yet…

But back to the story:

But still we gave them drinks and they used our bathrooms. Mom made tea until she ran out of ice, then lemonade until she ran out of lemonade powder, and finally we just handed out water and whatever odd grocery depot macaroons and brownie bites we could find.

I felt like Jacob who just happened to have some stew, and here were these desperate Esaus who were willing to give up their entire birthright for a cup of lemonade and a chance to use the bathroom. “Why are you so nice?” They asked, pressing money into our hands even though we insisted it was free.

Look, I know these people (to a certain extent). I vouch for their humanity (because that condition is a safe thing to vouch for). So don’t go thinking that I’m pedestalizing them. But I make no bones about hoisting them on high here as uneclipsed examples of loving their neighbors (perhaps even some on the road to Jericho).

With these thoughts in mind, I urge you to read the rest of Emily Smucker’s The Strangest Day of my Life. Like I said in my comment there:

Such pleasant Sonshine after the eclipse!

On My Heart to Talk About at Church

That which is most foundational and essential

Several weeks ago I was asked to speak this Sunday evening at our church. And I can talk about whatever I think I should talk about.

Mark looks at laundry machines

I have so many subjects and themes tumbling around in my head! But I’ve decided that more than anything else, I want to focus on that which is most foundational and essential. Perhaps I’ll tell you about it later.

Now for the list I compiled last week and the week before (so it’s bound to be incomplete). As you will see, I could be blogging for years to come. 😯 😀 Read it all

Presidential Election 2016: Whatever the Result

If Christ's church doesn't show Jesus, we all lose.

Maybe your man Trump will win and Hillary the Evil Empress will lose. Maybe your woman Clinton will win and Donald the Perverted Pied Piper will lose. Whatever your view of the candidates and whatever the result of the Presidential election, the state of your heart matters far more. Read it all

How Does God Choose When the Options Are Vile and Evil?

Analyzing the dilemma of the 2016 US Presidential election

We think we know that Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will be the next President of the United States. We’re sure it won’t be Bernie Sanders or Ted Cruz. And we’re certain it won’t be Jill Stein or Gary Johnson (did I get their names right even?).

Maybe it won’t be any of those. Read it all

How to Improve the Needy American Missionary

Help him see the treasure in Christ's local earthen vessels.

Mark Roth preaching at Emanuel in 2008Before I graduated from high school, I knew I wanted to return to Mexico as a missionary. Yes, return.

My parents had entered missionary service in Mexico when I was less than two months old. Our family left the field when I was almost seventeen years old. A little over five years later, my wife and I joined a pioneering missionary team (led by Dad) going to another area of northwest Mexico. Over the next ten years, Ruby and I had two stints of service totaling some five years on the field. We last left in 1991, expecting to return to service soon. (We didn’t.) The last twenty years I’ve served on our congregation’s Mexico mission board.

I tell you all that to help you understand why a title such as this would grab me by the nose: “What’s Wrong with Western Missionaries?” The author reports on a lesson learned when he put this question to a bunch of believers in some Muslim countries: “What makes a good missionary?”

Finally, with great hesitation, one of the believers looked at me and said, “I don’t know what makes a good missionary, but I can tell you…”

No, I won’t reveal the answer here. 😯 😀

I was quite enthusiastic about the article well before I was done reading it. It motivated me to write my own piece addressing the self-imposed distortion suffered by the self-sufficient missionary. I snatched some snippets from it and put them here as a preview: Read it all

The Christian Bares of Trillium Lake?

Laid bare: a lake, a mountain, and other handiwork of the Creator

Yesterday we had a family outing to Trillium Lake. (It was a birthday thing.)

Summer Bare Country
Summer Bare Country

This morning early I thought back on the other vistas of God’s creation which awaited us there. And I wondered…

  • How many of those nude legs belong to women worship team members?
  • How many of those barely covered breasts have the heart of a female Sunday School teacher beating behind them?
  • How many Christian male eyeballs tracked back for one more discreet look?
  • How many Christian men wrestled with wistful wishes, treacheous thoughts, and deadly desires?
  • How much ache in the Creator’s heart?
  • Will His heart have any revulsion in church services today?

You could read that as me looking down my nose on fellow Christians or fellow fallen humans. You could accuse me of being a Puritanical prude. You could charge me with contemptuous condemnation. You could slam me for sanctimonious something-or-other. And you’d be wrong.

I’m not blind to the beauty of forbidden fruit, OK? But in my other-world moments I look beyond eyeball-grabbing displays and feel compassion. Read it all

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Above all, love God!