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Friday, October 28, 2011

MAKING A CONNECTION

Here I am, sitting in terminal 1, at Heathrow, International Airport. I have a 4hr layover on my way to Ireland.
Big sigh, but then, I thought this was the perfect opportunity to give you some news, via my new ipad.
This is the first stage of a rather hectic next month of travel and meetings. My first point of entry will be Cork, Ireland.
I am the guest speaker at a national youth conference. I will also be speaking at Donnybrook church in Cork, and at a church in Belfast.
Afterwards, I will be speaking in Scotland, before heading back to Kiev, Ukraine.
Whilst in Cork, I will facilitate a symposium for the preparation of a practical work manual on the New Covenant. Yay! This is a long overdue manual to bring into practical view the great truth of the grace of God.

Since I have a few hours of contemplation, I have to ask myself two questions about this youth conference I have been invited to speak at.
Either I am one awesome conference speaker, able to take the Word of God and make it relevant to a generation, who are old enough to be my grandchildren.
Or, people feel sorry for me because I live in E. Europe and they want to humor me with a kind engagement to preach to young kids.
Think about it for a moment. In approximately 20 days from now I will be turning 59 years old. What are they thinking inviting a near 60 year old to speak to youth?

To give you an example of my 'dorkiness,' I am trying to connect to the 'free Wi-Fi' at the airport. I want to be able to read any emails that have come in or just talk to Noline, who is at home for the first part of this trip. She will make sure the health of my German Shepherd, remains in pristine condition. He gets so sad when he sees me heading out the door with suitcase in hand.
So, to connect, I go to the settings, click on 'free Wi-Fi' and it pops up, 'can't connect to the server.'
Aghh!! I spend the next 10 minutes looking intelligent, trying to figure out why I am not able to get any service.
In the end, I see a young lady with her notebook open, and I approach her hoping for an English speaking person.
After asking if she is connected to the internet, I get this forced courteous smile and a polite "no." And then she was back to her notebook, I realize, there you have it.
This is confirmation young people do not want to talk to old people.
Ah! I spy a 30 something male with an Apple computer. I gather both my courage and my bags and head for his seat.
I noticed he had already glanced up when I was talking to the young lady, and I am sure he was thinking, "I hope he does not come my way," he just had that look on his face.
Maybe, I'm being a little paranoid, but I am definitely feeling insecure at this moment. This is an admission, extraverts like me never readily admit too.

Well, he spoke very little English, and no, he was not connected to the Wi-fi. OK, now I slink off to my original seat and pout.
Not only can I not connect to the Wi-Fi, I cannot connect to these young men and women. What am I doing going to Cork, to this youth convention?

One more try on my Ipad to reach the Internet and a company Boingo, comes up as an alternative to the free internet connection. But at 9:50 British pounds, for the day I decided I will now resort to my 'never fail you, trusty stead. My Blackberry.' I will call my wife, hear her voice and get any relevant information.
Now that I have proved to myself, I am capable of making a call out of London to Kiev, I am feeling a little better about things. After speaking to my lovely wife, I am left again with time to reflect and ponder on this youth conference coming up.

In retrospect, I take this moment to look over my shoulder back into my teen years.
We had my grandparents living with us. Grandfather, (Pop) as he liked to be referred to, was retired at 65.
He was enjoying the benefits of a well earned rest from his many years of hard labor.
Pop had come to Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), Africa, from Britain, as a strapping young journeyman. He was a carpenter by trade.
He had jumped at the offer to get out of the cold damp weather of England, to work in the hot climate of Africa. He received a free passage for himself and his bride, plus a 10 acre tract of land to boot.

He and my grandmother, (Granny) as she liked to be called, now in retirement, sat day in and day out in their hand crafted rocking chairs on the front porch. Along with them was their faithful African Gray parrot, (Polly). She could talk the 'hind leg off a donkey.' This colloquialism, by the way is probably a mixture of English and African sentiment. It is a fun way to describe someone who talks too much. One word of advice for those ever tempted to scratch a parrots head, do it to your own peril.

My conversation with my 65+ year old grandparents ranged from zero to maybe one percent each day. We had nothing in common.
Worse yet, as a youth, I did not even think I needed, much less wanted, to sit down and listen to their life of adventure, risk and danger they had undertaken.
I did love my granny's cooking though. Her beef pot roasts and Yorkshire pudding were out of this world. She would give us kids a slice of homemade bread, and then spread it with lard (the congealed fat from the beef and pork roasts) and sprinkle on the salt. We loved it and even asked for seconds.
But talk to them, never! I could have been all the more richer if I had just taken the time to get to know them. But, when you are an invincible sixteen year old, riding a Honda 300 motorcycle, and pushing it to its limit, which by the way was only about 110mph, and being utterly cool, who wants to talk to ancients?
So here I am, ancient, now approaching my grandparents age and I am invited to talk to kids who are a second generation away from me.
Why in the world would they want to even speak to me, for goodness sakes? Fortunately, we do have one great common denominator, which does not count the years of difference between us. That common denominator is of course Jesus Christ. He is not only the bridge to salvation, but He is the unifier of all people regardless of color, age, sex and nationality.


I already have three messages written out, and this is my confidence. It does not rest on me. It is all about God.
He loves these young people and He is the one making the deposit into their lives.
I will probably wear my 'True Religion' with a black Cashmere sports jacket. This is not to look hip at 60, it is more about comfort than being a contortionist.
I use this word because there are many who feel they have to be something different than who they really are, in order to reach another generation.
They contort themselves to look and act something they are not.

I don't have to try to impress them. I just have to introduce them to the greatest king who lives today. So to answer my own question.
No, I am not the awesome speaker who can 'Wow' the crowd, and no, they are not humoring me by giving me this opportunity to speak to
young people. It is not a question about me, rather it is a question about Him. He, Jesus Christ, is the one making His appeal through us.
He is the one more interested in their lives than I will ever be. Over the next few days, if you get a chance to pray, pray for them.
Pray God gets a hold of these kids and puts a call deep into their hearts. Pray for a revelation of His awesome grace and amazing love.
I will let you know the results.