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

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

“James and Orpha, Come Home!”

Where we see an abrupt summons, God has seen a precious, long-scheduled event of glory.

At the vibrating buzz, I flipped open my cellphone…

James Smucker was killed

James Smucker was killed in an accident last night
and Orpha is in ICU. They were visiting Wisconsin.

I stared. Icy fingers squeezed my heart, bent my mind, twisted my emotions. How do you process a message like that? Rereading it carefully changed nothing.

My spirit reached out to the unerring Father, petitioning for His best for Orpha. He answered with exactly that. Read it all

Flowers for Friends Afar

A brief visit to an old gravestone

Flowers in memory of these friends:

some flowers I put on James and Joan's gravestone

Flowers for their children and grandchildren who mourn James’ abrupt departure for the Land where Joan dwells.

Flowers for Orpha too. Perhaps some day you also will see this picture. Your Creator alone knows. We trust Him to do what is best for you at this time. Read it all

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Above all, love God!