Monday, July 23, 2012

The following is some of the story of Deacon Stephen from the bible. The references to the number 7 are amazing and although Stephen died a tragic death, he stayed true to his beliefs. This story reminds me in many ways how Stephen Reynolds lived his life.

In Bible History, Stephen was a man of "firsts." He was one of the first seven Christian deacons, and he is generally regarded as the first Christian martyr.
BibleThe seven deacons were chosen to assist The Twelve in the service of the new church in Jerusalem. The account is found in Acts 6:1-5:

"Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, the Hellenists murmured against the Hebrews because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution. And the twelve summoned the body of the disciples and said, "It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brethren, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word." And what they said pleased the whole multitude, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch."
There was no doubt as to Stephen's exceptionally good character, and the miraculous power that he had been given by God. It's interesting to note that although Stephen was "just" a deacon, he certainly had gifts and powers from God that were at least equal to that of the apostles:

"And Stephen, full of grace and power, did great wonders and signs among the people" (Acts 6:8 RSV)
As had happened with Jesus Christ Himself, Stephen soon found himself in difficulty with the local religious authorities, not because he was doing anything wrong, but because he was seen as a serious and growing threat to their misguided control over the people. They just couldn't "compete" with him:

"they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke." (Acts 6:10 RSV)
They then resorted to the "low as you can go" approach; they had him falsely accused of blasphemy - and in knowingly doing so, they themselves blasphemed the Holy Spirit, which was actually the source of Stephen's wisdom:

"Then they secretly instigated men, who said, "We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God ... and set up false witnesses who said, "This man never ceases to speak words against this holy place and the law; for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth [see Nazarene] will destroy this place, and will change the customs which Moses delivered to us." (Acts 6:11,13-14 RSV)
Stephen was arrested and brought before the Sanhedrin where more false accusations were made. While the despicable lies were being spewed at him, Stephen remained calm:

"And gazing at him, all who sat in the council saw that his face was like the face of an angel." (Acts 6:15 RSV)
Stephen was then allowed to make his "defense." By then, he probably knew full well that he was not going to get out of there alive, so he held nothing back out of concern to not offend people that he would otherwise have been gently, tactfully and systematically leading to the Truth, point by point, day by day - had time permitted. The result was one of the most direct, unpolitical, and beautifully logical historical and theological discourses in The Holy Bible. It's found in its entirety in Acts chapter 7. Every word that he spoke was the Truth, which of course only made his accusers, who were self-righteous Hypocrites, hate him all the more. His words of Truth turned them from a pack of petty liars into a raving lynch mob (Acts 7:54).
Stephen was dragged out of the city, where they began stoning him. To keep their clothes from becoming splattered with Stephen's blood during the murder, they "laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul" (Acts 7:58 RSV) - to which Saul, later known as Paul, confessed, as written in the opening paragraph.
Stephen remained strong and true to the very end, his faith never waivering:

"And as they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." And he knelt down and cried with a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." And when he had said this, he fell asleep (see What Happens When You Die?)" (Acts 7:59-60 RSV)
Stephen's last words were to ask God that his murderers be forgiven, including among them, Saul the Pharisee, who, after his later conversion, became known as the apostle Paul, and went on to become one the greatest Christians that ever lived, a man who wrote a large part of the New Testament - until he too was martyred for preaching the very same Truth for which he had Stephen martyred.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Catching up!

Wow I cannot believe it has been almost 2 months since my last post so I apologize in advance but much has changed and it has been a busy time for the Reynolds family. As I mentioned we got through Mothers Day and headed for the end of the school year. It was very emotional for Darla and me as we gave out the first Stephen Reynolds Memorial Scholarships to two very deserving students at the Willmar High School. Cameron Swenson and Samantha Williams each received $500 to further their college education.
On June 9th we had the first Stephen Reynolds Memorial Disc Golf event at Robbins Island in Willmar and it was a great success. We had almost 70 people there between the disc golfers and gallery members. We want to thank all of you who participated, helped, or sponsored the event we do appreciate your kindness. We have already planned the event for next year for June 8, 2013 and we will be announcing even more fun events for everyone. It will be bigger and better!!!
We attended the Compassionate Friends Angel of Hope ceremony on June 30th where Stephen's name was read along with many others who passed way to soon. It was nice to be surrounded by many who have walked our journey.
There was a softball game between the fireman and policeman called "Guns and Hoses" in Spicer and the proceeds are going to the Stephen Reynolds Foundation. Again the compassion of people continues to amaze us, this event was held and Darla and I had to read about it in the paper. It is just another example of the kindness of others.
We have an upcoming event on the 21st of July sponsored by Sam and Nate Esboldt. It is a "small ball" basketball tournament. There will be a silent auction as well as a lot of activities for all. That event will be held at the Esboldt house. There is information on the Stephen Reynolds Foundation Facebook page.
Our life has been blessed with many friends and family as well as strangers who have lifted us up in prayer over these past 7 months and it has meant the world to us. We could not have done any of this without your love and support as well as prayers. I returned to work as the Director of Business Development for Source One Solutions and I feel so lucky to be able to work with such wonderful people right here in Willmar. We work in the telephone industry, not wireless but still many familiar faces for  me. I already feel right at home.
Our journey continues without Stephen and there is not a day that goes by that I am not reminded of him and cannot still think of what it is going to be like living the rest of my days without him. I continue to wonder what he would think of the Minnesota Wild signing Parise and Suter and how the St. Louis Blues stack up against the wild. I think of what Stephen would think of college football going to a playoff system in 2014. I feel cheated that I will not get to have those discussions with him, but we will meet again and eternity is a long time to get caught up.
Thanks for all your love and support and I promise to do a better job at blogging!
God bless,