As I come close to the end of this year, I can look back and see the Lord has delivered me from the train wreck I was in last year. Hopefully, I have learned life lessons that will make a difference in me. I want the promptings of the Spirit’s still small voice to really matter in me.
And, now learning life lessons matters even more because there has entered another player into the Underhill Family. Theodore (Teddy) Wells Underhill came to be part of us fully on November 5th at 1:28AM. He pushed just past 7 pounds and 1 ounce, and is 21 ½ inches long. His arrival was greatly anticipated, but he took a while to enter this world. Mom (Katti), Dad (Adam), and baby Teddy are slowly adjusting to their new roles and responsibilities. Please continue to pray for them, as you can remember new parenting is sometimes an uncertain road of trial and error. But, Adam and Katti are doing a great job, and we look forward to Teddy growing in our family. Teddy is a joyous addition to Katti and Adam’s busy lives as coaches at Castle High School. The girls on the soccer and track teams are going to love him.
Cora and Pru continue to grow like weeds. I measured Cora recently, and she had grown 3 inches in the previous year. Cora is a joy, has a great laugh and is so tender hearted. Pru is 18 months now, and a little “wild woman,” which is what her family calls her on occasion. Pru is full throttle most of the time, and she is a pleasure to watch grow. Only the Lord knows what that one will end up doing in the kingdom.
The Lord gave Kyle a teaching job at the new Christian high school in town, Evansville Christian School. He is the history department, and the other teachers make up their departments as well. There are only eight teachers in the building, one for each subject taught. Kyle was privileged recently take some of the students from the school to Washington DC, which was right up his alley. It was fun to experience the event with him as he texted pictures of all the memorials he saw. Heather continues to nurture her family in a great way. She is learning about the Lord and how He is involved in her thought life. We are so proud of our seven children, and seek to cherish every minute we have with them.
Rick and I continue to walk with and wait for the Lord, watching for Him to work out how to build on our property in Boonville. The Lord gave me Habakkuk 2:3 as I wait. I have seen the vision, and will be faithful to see it through. So, as I plan for the future, the Lord has brought some interesting topics before me; calling, purpose and having less. We have all been called in Jesus, and are gifted uniquely so in Him. The Lord has given us gifts, spheres of influence and resources. I want everything I am, everything I do, and everything I have to for an audience of ONE. That has led me to do some uncluttering in my life, not just with things/possessions, but also with food, thoughts and activities. Looking at these things has led me to consider what I do with my time and what areas need attention in my life — to live an intentional promotion of the things I value most, and the removal of anything that is distracting me from this way of living. I am still trying to sort out all of this. So I make an effort to look at everything to see if it is bringing value to my life. The Lord got my attention even today because distractors were trying to creep back in. Praise be to our Father Lord Jesus for allowing me to learn life lessons even at later age. May you be challenged also with what He is teaching you.
Seed 4 Life
It continues to be my privilege to meet with many young men who want to learn to walk with Jesus, living righteously and discussing questions about life along the way.
While visiting our home, it is not unusual for young men to say they want to change the world by solving something big. I respond by telling them abortion is the scourge of my existence, but solving such things is not the focus of our time together. I tell them John the Baptist performed no miracles, lived in obscurity for 30 years, wore animal skin and lived on a diet of locust and honey. Yet, Jesus said John served God’s purpose in his generation better than any man who had lived. In other words, living a meaningful life has only to do with walking with Jesus, even if it means people only know your name long enough to behead you! I’m surprised anyone comes back for more after this discussion.
It is Easy to Lose Sight of Jesus
Clayton came from Knoxville, TN earlier this year to spend time with Donna and I in May. Clayton is finishing his degree at college to learn how to counsel others from a Christian worldview. He and I spent a lot of time in the Bible while talking about walking with God in a present tense relationship. Clayton told me it is easy to lose sight of Jesus as a companion among the many responsibilities of college and Christian education. It is interesting that college can teach us how to perform the functions of our chosen discipline without being a companion to Jesus. It is the walking with Jesus part that Seed 4 Life focuses on. That is what Clayton came here to learn about.
Young Men Will Continue to Come
Gabe came to stay with Donna and I in August. He came all the way from Orange County, CA.
Gabe recently completed his college education, and has begun working for a large US space organization (my security clearance will not allow me to tell you who exactly Gabe works for). He is getting married next month, in December, in northern California. Gabe came to see us for basically the same reason as Clayton. Gabe told me he had heard me talk at Summer Camp on the Hill years ago about a present tense relationship with Jesus. He was at our house to learn more of how that could happen.
While Gabe was with us, I spent my mornings building custom art and signs, and was home with him from 2PM until we went to sleep each night. Weekends gave us more time together. Gabe’s fiancé came to see us one Sunday as well. She, Donna and I were able to spend the morning together under a tree along the Ohio River, where we talked our way through part of John’s gospel.
On another afternoon, Gabe and I went to a park nearby. There we sat at a picnic table where we had some more very meaningful and focused conversation. Gabe told me I have no idea how many young men would come do what we are doing, if they knew there was an opportunity to do it. Gabe’s comments were a kind thank you.
A Truthful Idea, but Not Big Enough
On Gabe’s final full day with us, he and I sat down for our last lengthy conversation before he left for home the following morning. I asked Gabe what he had on his mind. Gabe wanted to talk more about hearing from God and walking in the Spirit. He said he has been taught to read his Bible if he wants to hear from God. I affirmed the idea as truthful, but perhaps not big enough. I asked Gabe to consider some verses of Scripture from John, and then I made my point.
God gave us our physical bodies to communicate with one another, and our spirit to communicate with God. Just as we have what we consider to be regular and normal interactions with other human bodies, so we should consider the Spirit of God interacting with our spirit to be normal (which is His Spirit, if we are Believers). In fact, the interaction in our spirit with God is more reliable than the interaction with others through our physical bodies. Our bodies are temporal. Our spirit lives on. The way the Scripture describes it, Jesus commands Believers to walk in the Spirit. But, the Greek records His command in the subjunctive mood, meaning it is our choice to follow the command or not. Still, Jesus speaks of the relationship to His Spirit as the normal way for a Believer to live. The way of Jesus includes the Scriptures, but also describes the Believer as hearing and obeying by the Spirit even when the Scriptures are not in front of us.
Clayton and Gabe were each very thoughtful throughout the weeks they were with Donna and I. They are likely among the brightest minds I have ever been around. Please pray with us for both of them. Clayton will complete college in 2018, and begin his career. Gabe has begun his career in Los Angeles, and is getting married in two weeks!
We each have leadership roles to fill, and we are wise to embrace the gift. Whether God has quickened your heart to the needs of one person, or given you the unquenchable desire to lead many into His presence, may we receive, even embrace, that we are each leaders.
Often on Tuesday evening I sit, talk and listen with two men you have known Jesus for a long time. They each give their time to pastor a church, and have done so for decades. I look forward to our time together as much or more as anything in life these days. It is my privilege to be invited among them.
The three of us sat on a rural hill around a campfire this fall. We welcomed God as He washed over us through conversation with one another and with Him. As I took it in, I heard the burdens of these two men to lead many more to walk with Jesus.
Recently I told someone, who is not comfortable being in front of others, about my desire to lead countless more to walk with Jesus. The idea seemed self-shining to him, who prefers a much more low profile and predictable setting than I. The objection got me thinking about leadership.
Variety is in Some Way is Reflective of The Vastness of God
Leadership is needed in every situation of life. The expressions of leadership are as varied as there are people and opportunities in each day. The variety of expression is in some way reflective of the vastness of God!
I understand why my friend was scared by my desire to lead many more people to walk with God. His first thought of leading many is the more people you lead the more visible you are. I don’t care whether I’m out front or out back. It is not a matter of position, but of mentoring others to live a meaningful life now and throughout eternity. The reluctance of my friend is centered on expression. But, may I check myself that his reluctance not be founded on my motive. If any of us approach leadership for our sake, or even for the sake of others, we are not leading for God’s sake.
Leadership for God’s Sake
John 11, Luke 10
Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus, are people Jesus loves. In the Gospels we learn that Martha hears correction from Jesus because she is busy with hospitality rather than with listening to what Jesus has to say at this moment. If we’re not wise, we will dismiss hospitality as a form of leadership. Jesus is not telling Martha that hospitality is wrong. He is simply telling her that hospitality is a welcomed expression of leadership when motivated by His purpose.
One of the rebellions expressed to Moses was by Korah and his friends. Moses and Korah agreed to meet before God and ask Him to reveal which of them were correct in their leadership. Both men asked God for the same thing. But one is leading for the sake of God, and the other is leading for the sake of oneself. Scripture records for us which man was motivated correctly.
2 Samuel 6
David was a great leader in battle, both as a youth and as a king. As king, he made wonderful selfless decisions for the Kingdom. David did not make good decisions as a father or a friend. Scripture records for us that David made a plan to bring the Ark of the Covenant back to Israel. He did the right thing, but he initially did it the wrong way. His first attempt at leading others to bring the Ark back to Israel was not for God’s sake, although David might have thought it was and it indeed looked like it to many.
The repentant thief on the cross, next to Jesus, was motivated by a desire to be with God when the man left his body on the cross. Although he was motivated by an immediate need, through expressing God’s purpose for his life, he was also expressing God’s desire for others present as well. By submitting to God, the thief was leading others to the kindness of God to serve His purpose.
Honor By Kindness to God
Recently, Donna gave weeks and months of her life to preparing for one fall day. Her planning began earlier this summer, when she told me of a 95 year-old man she wanted to take on the Honor Flight for Veterans to Washington, DC. This man, Ralph, a patient of hers at the clinic where she works, lives alone. Ralph has medical issues that are expected, but not prohibitive, at his age. He has a great memory, awareness and ability to function very well. As Donna explained to me why she wanted to take Ralph to Washington, it was obvious that God was leading her. I had never met Ralph, but he is not unfamiliar to our family. Donna had come home earlier in 2017 and told me we needed to buy Ralph bus fair. (Thanks to Donna, Ralph now travels on a bus that picks him up at his house as often as he desires, and at no expense to him.)
I told Donna we would get Ralph and her to Washington regardless of the cost. As she began the preparations, talking with him and planning for the trip, some of her coworkers showed interested in what she was doing.
A Gift to Serve
With DC Day approaching, Donna’s coworkers gave her a gift of money. They gave her more than she needed to cover the expenses for her and Ralph to travel. In fact, they gave her so much more that she started a benevolence fund at their office. She and her coworkers use the money to buy shoes, food, bus fare and more for their patients.
Saturday, October 21st, the morning of their planned trip to Washington, I woke Donna at 3:30. We picked up Ralph at 4:45AM. I dropped the two of them off at the airport at 5:30 in the morning. It was around 9:30 that evening before I was able to be with them again. Yet, Donna messaged me throughout the day, and kept me aware of how she and Ralph were doing.
My Heart Nearly Burst at The Kindness of God
The plane carrying Donna and Ralph landed back in Evansville around 8:30PM. I was eager to see her and Ralph, but people were departing very slowly from the plane. As I waited inside the airport terminal, Donna and I were exchanging text messages. Finally, Donna and Ralph appeared with Donna pushing Ralph in the wheelchair through a corridor of welcoming people. I took their picture as they walked among the thousands present to welcome soldiers like Ralph home with cheers, kisses and flags. I quickly ran along the line of people to take more pictures of the two of them. Finally, I decided to go outside where I thought I might be able to receive them.
I exited the airport, through a different door than they, and I found them making their way through another corridor of cheering crowds. I decided to move to the end of the line, and wait it out. It was there, near the end of the line, that I saw people I did not anticipate. They, too, were looking for Donna and Ralph.
As I approached, with Donna still standing behind Ralph as he was seated in the wheelchair, Donna was crying. What I didn’t know, nor expect, was that her coworkers and some of their spouses were waiting outside the airport to welcome them home. What had started out as a concern to show the kindness of God to an elderly man, a man who has served our country in the battles of the South Pacific during World War II, a man who has been wounded in combat, a man who is legally blind, a man who has out lived his spouse, some of his children and his comrades in the Army, had also led many others to the kindness of God. I stood a short distance away as my heart nearly burst, when through her tears, Donna looked her friends in the eyes and quietly said “thank you.”
2 Samuel 6
King David finally understood how to bring the Ark of the Covenant back to Israel for what God got out of it. When the Ark arrived in Jerusalem, David danced. He gave God gifts, and David gave gifts to the people. When he made it home to bless his house with gifts, David’s wife spoke to him as if he was a shameless fool for dancing in public as he did. David replied to her, “It (my dance) was before the Lord.”
Bless Donna for dancing before the Lord. Bless you, too, for leading. Dance on for God’s sake.
SOME PRAYER NEEDS:
- For Rick and I to understand how we are to build this house and barn; contractor, finances and how much of the work we should actually do ourselves
- Discernment as we, along with the ministry board, seek the Lord Jesus about each step
- Provisions to build and maintain Seed 4 Life on the new land
- For the Lord God to continue in teaching us how to listen for Him and do life
- Continuing in dependence upon Jesus, no matter where we are, or how He leads us to share His life
- And a host of other unknowns (unknown to us), but we are sure God can make you aware of
Jesus: No Other Name
Seed 4 Life • PO Box 202 • Newburgh, Indiana • 47629
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