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Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved; you and your household. [Acts 16.31]

In this passage we hear Paul’s response to the Philippian jailer. To fill in the story, Paul and Silas went to Philippi, preached the gospel, caused a riot, were whipped, and thrown into jail. Around midnight praising God, an earthquake happened and the doors to the jail cells opened. The jailer thought everyone left. He started to kill himself when Paul stopped him. The jailer takes Paul and Silas home, tends to their wounds, and then has church.

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We spend a lot of time wondering who we are. It is almost like there is an intentional efforts to skew our identities. And, there is. If we were to walk in who we should be this world, this life, would be dramatically different.

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People over time have looked at Christianity with a question: why a cross? Why would a loving god put anyone through that for someone else? It had to be a cross. It had to be the most horrific example of human cost, inevitable, public, painful, without repentance. The cross made a permanent marker, a line that could only be crossed once: death.

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You may have said a prayer like this: “Jesus, I accept the price you paid at the cross for my sins. I ask you to forgive me, come live with me, and let me live with you. Be with me this day and give me Your Holy Spirit. Amen.” If you meant that in the heart of your being, then you are “saved”. Now what?

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Jesus had come to be one of us, perfect in relationship with God, the Father. Jesus lived his life as example that Man could walk with God in perfect unity. Then, he traded that life to fulfill covenant promises made so that we can have that same life of unity with God, the Father. Because of what Jesus did, we can be one with the Father; if we accept it and walk in it. Many, too many, are passionate in their belief that what they are doing is right; even when it is wrong. Jesus prayed, while on the cross being mocked and ridiculed, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”[1]

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It was as if the world had gone crazy. Young men, the best and brightest, those full of hope, were thrown into a churning machine where many perished as soon as they arrived. Millions of Europe’s best hopes expired in the trenches of the battlefield. It was war at its worst. It was dubbed the “war to end all wars”. It ended out of exhaustion on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.

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My mother’s family came from central Georgia. She had six sisters and two brothers. As often as we could, my parents piled us into the family  car, a station wagon, to make the five hour trek from Charleston to Milledgeville. It was a pilgrimage of sorts; off to reconnect with family. There is nothing quite like a large family of siblings connecting with their cousins who also have a large family of siblings. Meals were usually had around long tables with benches for seats and foldout card tables for the overflow. Noise, laughter, and at least one argument was always part of our visits. I never cared for the road trip to Georgia or the even longer road trip back, but I always enjoyed my time with my cousins. These were special times, special adventures, special moments.

One special moment was a visit to Uncle Jake’s and Aunt Mildred’s farm. Even though raised in the south by two country born parents, we were pretty much city kids. The idea of having and raising pigs, having a working farm, was quite foreign to me. I recall one trip where the kids went down to see the livestock. The older kids were down there, near the wood-railed fence, looking at the pigs. I wanted to go down there with them. I don’t think I was allowed, so naturally, I tried sneaking down there to be with the big kids, anyway. I got about half way down there when a pig came out of the pen and chased me back up to the house. I tried three more time before giving up. The same pig would come out of the pen and chase me back to the house. I think I spent the rest of that visit on the porch or in the house. I was miserable.

Meals for a large family with a visiting large family were noisy and a flurry of motions in getting everything prepared and set to the table while still hot enough for everyone there. In one of those meals I recall the flurry of motion, emotions, and conversations around the table. It seemed that a torrent had descended on the kitchen and after a brief storm the kitchen was empty again. Empty except for my brother Rob and I. We sat at the table picking at our bowls of oatmeal and staring at the glasses of buttermilk. These were new experiences for us both. We sat there and were told we could not go outside unless we had eaten our food. We were having none of that. We sat and complained as little boys would do.

Our host, Uncle Jake, came into the kitchen. He smiled at us. It was like he wanted to laugh but didn’t. He seemed a very big man to me. He wore a short sleeved shirt with the sleeves rolled up just a bit, and he wore bib-overalls. He was a working man who understood hard work. I was a little boy who was at war with a bowl of oatmeal and a glass of buttermilk.

Uncle Jake sat across the table from my brother Rob and me. I wish I could remember the entire conversation. His words have been lost to years and time. He talked to us like he was one of us. Told us it was good for us. He had us try little bits, then a little more. My brother Rob may have been smarter than me. He ate his up and drank a good portion of his buttermilk then was excused to go outside and play. Uncle Jake was exceedingly patient with me. With his encouragement, I finally finished my oatmeal. He let me go without finishing the buttermilk. I complained rather sadly at how it tasted like it was bad. I remember I felt like I finally escaped when he said I could go. I do not think I even said thank you. I ran from the table as quickly as I could and joined the kids outside.

I do not remember the rest of that day or that weekend. It was so long ago and blended into other memories. What I do remember the most was my Uncle Jake taking a moment to spend time with me to ensure I got enough to eat. I remember his face and how he genuinely cared. To this day I still do not much care for buttermilk, but I do owe and credit my fondness for oatmeal to my Uncle Jake who took the time to be with his baby sister-in-law’s little boy and helped him eat his first bowl of oatmeal. There were other trips, other visits, but none that I remember more than this one. I wish I knew him better and had other memories I could pull up. But, this is a good one. I am glad he took the time with me, helping me get through a bowl of oatmeal and a glass of buttermilk.

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