A View From the Mill City Museum

Minneapolis, MN

The Washburn A Mill was state-of-the-art when it opened its doors in the 1880s. In 1965, the building closed, its facilities deemed obsolete. Then a fire nearly destroyed it in the 1990s but from those ashes rose the Mill City Museum. Wounds healed, walls fortified with loving care. Today, the mill proudly displays its scars, sharing its story with crowds of visitors so they might see beyond the broken exterior.

Whose Approval Are You Seeking?

The following came up as the verse of the day on the YouVersion Bible app.  After a long trip away from home, adapting to other’s daily rhythms and experiencing different cultures, it struck a chord with me.

“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God?  Or am I trying to please man?  If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”  Galatians 1:10

Manners and cultural expectations are taught from birth, some more explicitly defined than others.  It seems the purpose is to make friends and win favor.  However, not everyone follows the same set of rules.  Misunderstandings and problems do occur.  Bad days happen.  So which rules should we learn and follow?  Whose approval are we seeking: man’s or God’s?

In 1 Corinthians chapter 9, Paul talks about surrendering his rights and being all things to all people to save some.  Notice, in verse 19 below, he uses the word servant to describe his side of the relationship.  The word servant here means he respectfully humbled himself.  His point is not about bowing down, being fake, or people pleasing to make friends and win favor.  It is about respectfully learning and adapting to the rules of different cultures in hopes of reaching non-believers with the gospel, all while remaining faithful to Christ.

“For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them.  To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews.  To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law.”  1 Corinthians 9:19-20″

A word of caution.  There is a danger in forming relationships with non-believers, and it lies in their influence over us.  It is easy to be lulled into temptation when enjoying the company of a friend and it is our fault if we succumb to it.  The Bible warns us about such dangers.  Should we avoid relationships with non-believers?  No, for then how could we share the gospel with them.   Instead, we must be vigilant about spending time in God’s word and seeking His will through prayer to guard against being lured away by our own sin nature.   We must also examine what motivates our choices and ask ourselves, “Am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God?”

I must confess, Paul makes it sound so easy and, for some, it may be.  But for me, adapting to different rules and expectations is a struggle unto itself.   I am sure there have been opportunities to share the gospel that I let slide by me.  But I can’t dwell on my failures.  I must seek forgiveness and keep moving forward.

God Bless,
K.A. Cummins
“For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”  Ephesians 2:8-9

Wattpad Punk Out Contest Honorable Mention

Did you know Wattpad has an ambassador profile for the steampunk genre?  The new profile went live in August of 2016!  You can check out the ambassador profile here: Wattpunk.

In March, I wrote and submitted a short story, Rocket City, to their Sky Sharks contest and it received Honorable Mentions.  The contest was small, but the feedback my story received meant the world to me.  In fact, I have been so encouraged by it that I plan to expand Rocket City into a novella (maybe even into a full-length novel).

Thank you, Lord, for leading me down this path!

About Wattpad
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“Wattpad takes everything you love about storytelling, and turns it into a social, on-the-go experience. The result is a one-of-a-kind adventure in creation and discovery.

To date, more than 45 million people around the world have joined Wattpad. We’re proudly based in Toronto, Canada, but Wattpad stories transcend borders, interests, and language.” Learn more about Wattpad

Book Review: Found by Margaret Peterson Haddix

“Found” by Margaret Peterson Haddix is the first book in her New York Times Bestselling series The Missing.  It is a middle-grade science fiction story published in 2008.   A mysterious event and its cover up launch the reader on a journey to discover the truth, where adoption and family are central themes.  While intended for ages 8-12, the plot is skillfully woven in a way that all readers will find enjoyable.

SPOILER ALERT: The ending is not given away, but spoilers are included in the review below.

Thirteen years after an unscheduled plane lands with only babies on board, Jonah and his best friend, Chip, receive strange letters in the mail telling them they are among the missing.  The FBI’s involvement is revealed early into their investigation.  When Jonah learns their names are on a survivors list, he resists going further.  However, Chip, with the help of Jonah’s sister, Katherine, draws Jonah back into the fold.  In the end, a carefully orchestrated event brings the trio, 33 of the other 34 missing babies, one of the witnesses, and those responsible for what happened together for an intriguing end.

While the main plot keeps the story moving, it is the enduring theme of family and belonging that gives the story heart.  Jonah and Chip present different views into the experiences of adopted children.

Jonah is from a household where adoption is openly discussed with sensitivity and understanding.  Even though his family dynamic seems idyllic, it does not mean we are presented with an unrealistic view of a perfectly adjusted child.  On the contrary, Jonah has his own private doubts.  He struggles with the idea that his sister Katherine belongs more because she is related by blood.  The experiences of their journey release Jonah from his doubt and instill confidence in him that he is where he belongs.

By contrast, Chip had no idea he was adopted.  We are given the impression his parents are selfish and not open to discussing it.  There are several small points in the story that reveal his emotional struggle to feel wanted and valued.  Jonah does offer reassurance, but it has no impact on  Chip’s perspective.

There are several great points for opening meaningful discussion on the subjects of adoption, family, and belonging.   Jonah’s experience as an adopted child reminded me of my husband’s in some ways.  This added a dimension of personal depth for me.

Overall, I loved this story and highly recommend it.  The characters were relatable and easily drew me into their adventure.  I look forward to reading Sent, the second book in the series.

What do you think Jonah, Chip, and Katherine learned in the end?  Did they get answers or did the answers leave them with more questions?

“Found” on Amazon.

Backsliding

Last week, in Bible study, we focused on the story of Deborah, a female judge for Israel.  One of the things that really stood out to me was Israel’s backsliding.  (In case it is not a term you are familiar with, backsliding is a return to bad habits or choices.)  Take a look at this verse from Judges 2:11.

“And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and served the Baals.” Judges 2:11

Here the people of Israel have returned to their bad ways and it is not the only verse in the Bible that mentions Israel backsliding.  In fact, there are many verses about it and what happened to them each time they backslid.  This resonated with me because of my experience with backsliding in my faith walk.

As a new Christian, many years ago, I thought that people were only susceptible to backsliding if their faith was weak or their church attendance was questionable. But those are merely symptoms.  Backsliding isn’t the direct result of the strength of your faith or your church attendance.  It is the result of a lack of accountability.

“Whenever the Lord raised up judges for them, the Lord was with the judge, and he saved them from the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge.  For the Lord was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who afflicted and oppressed them.  But whenever the judge died, they turned back and were more corrupt than their fathers, going after other gods, serving them and bowing down to them.  They did not drop any of their practices or their stubborn ways.”   Judges 2:18-19

Just like the times that Israel turned back to their old ways, we too, without accountability, are at risk of giving into our sin nature – our personal addictions.

But what about the whole “judge not”?

“Judge not, that you be not judged.  For with the judgement you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.  Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” Matthew 7:1-3

Read carefully, there is a lot in that verse.  The first time I read it, I thought it was about not judging other people.  But as I have grown in my faith and studied God’s word, I realized that the verse is cautioning us about the intent and the manner in which we approach a situation. If we are going to hold each other accountable, we need to be sure it is for the right reasons and it is done with love.

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude.  It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-6

Imagine your are the Captain of the Titanic and a trusted fellow Christian is reaponsible for delivering the iceberg warning, would you want them to point out the danger in time?