Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Price of a Miracle - Anonymous

Sally was only eight years old when she heard Mommy and Daddy talking about her little brother, Georgi. He was very sick and they had done everything they could afford to save his life. Only a very expensive surgery could help him now . . . and that was out of the financial question. She heard Daddy say it with a whispered desperation, "Only a miracle can save him now."
Sally went to her bedroom and pulled her piggy bank from its hiding place in the closet. She shook all the change out on the floor and counted it carefully. Three times. The total had to be exactly perfect.
No chance here for mistakes. Tying the coins up in a cold-weather-kerchief, she slipped out of the apartment and made her way to the corner drug store.
She waited patiently for the pharmacist to give her attention but he was too busy talking to another man to be bothered by an eight-year-old. Sally twisted her feet to make a scuffing noise. She cleared her throat. No good. Finally she took a quarter from its hiding place and banged it on the glass counter. That did it!
"And what do you want?" the pharmacist asked in an annoyed tone of voice. "Can't it wait, I'm talking to my brother."
"Well, I want to talk to you about my brother," Sally answered back in the same annoyed tone. "He's sick and I want to buy a miracle."
"I beg your pardon," said the pharmacist.
"My Daddy says only a miracle can save him now . . . so how much does a miracle cost?"
"We don't sell miracles here, little girl. I can't help you."
"Listen, I have the money to pay for it. Just tell me how much it costs."
The well-dressed man stooped down and asked, "What kind of a miracle does you brother need?"
"I don't know," Sally answered. A tear started down her cheek. "I just know he's really sick and Mommy says he needs an operation. But my folks can't pay for it so I have my money.”
"How much do you have?" asked the well-dressed man.
"A dollar and eleven cents," Sally answered proudly. "And it's all the money I have in the world."
"Well, what a coincidence," smiled the well-dressed man. “A dollar and eleven cents - the exact price of a miracle to save a little brother.” He took her money in one hand and with the other hand he grasped her mitten and said, "Take me to where you live. I want to see your brother and meet your parents."
That well-dressed man was Dr. Carlton Armstrong, renowned surgeon specializing in solving Georgi's malady. The operation was completed without charge, and it wasn't long until Georgi was home again and doing well. Mommy and Daddy were happily talking about the chain of events that had led them to this place.
"That surgery," Mommy whispered. "It's like a miracle. I wonder how much it would have cost?"
Sally smiled to herself. She knew exactly how much a miracle dollar and eleven cents... plus the faith of a little child.
Author Unknown

Friday, December 30, 2011

Go to the Ant

“Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest” (Proverbs 6:6-9).

The tiny ant teaches us many lessons:

1) It is self-motivated and highly industrialized. The ant doesn't need another to make sure it gets its work done.

2) It collects its food in the proper seasons; it is prudent.

3) It is fond of its young, and takes care of them.

4) It has foresight for others and shows kindness.

5) It works quietly without show and until the work is done. In this, it teaches us perseverance.

6) It works in cooperation and organization with others. In union there is indeed strength.

7) It keeps its home meticulously clean.

8) It knows its job and does it.

9) The ant has initiative, that wonderful virtue of resourcefulness that knows the how and when.

God is the God of nature, and it's amazing how even the smallest creatures can teach us such great lessons. We human beings can learn diligence, how to recognize opportunities, and individual initiative from the ant. "As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me" (John 9:4). Notice the word "we". The foreseeing person is a foregoing person. Sometimes we have to forego, or sacrifice, a pleasure today so we can realize a goal tomorrow. This is true in both the spiritual and material realm.

Stephen Vincent Benet said: "The ant finds kingdoms in a foot of ground." Perhaps this says to us that, even in our small area of life, we can find our sphere of contentment! Each of us has our own job to do in our sphere, responsibilities which we can't hand over to others. Rest is a reward after we have done our job. Aldegonde, coadjutor of William of Orange, is said to have for a motto, "Repos aillerus," or "Rest elsewhere." If the farmer rested because it was cold or windy, when he should be sowing and plowing, few of us would eat.

"I like work; it fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours. I love to keep it by me: the idea of getting rid of it nearly breaks my heart" (Jerome K. Jerome, Three Men in a Boat). God does help those who help themselves but even the starving must walk to the table! Of course if they are crippled, we help them; otherwise, it's best to let others help themselves. After major surgery, the doctor forces the patient to get up and walk. If the patient lay there until s/he felt like getting up, the person would never do so. Sometimes we must force ourselves to get going in life.

Come to His Garden

"Awake, O north wind, and come, O south! Blow upon my garden that its spices may flow out" (SOS 4:16).

What a beautiful verse this is! We are special buds in His garden, "precious plants of His own planting," as one writer expresses it. A comforting thought is that He takes great care of His garden. With God's grace and pruning, it will never grow wild and fruitless. Indeed, through the current of the Holy Spirit, we may share our spices--our fruits--with others.

Awake, O north wind! The north wind must come to sweeten our fruit. We live in the south and for years we had an orange grove until four freezes in five years destroyed it. We were always grateful for a mild north wind to sweeten and color the fruit but, with the fourth freeze in five years, the trees were finally overwhelmed by too much north wind. The day we knew we at last had to face the loss of our beloved grove, I thought of that north wind, and thanked God that He eventually sends the south breezes to comfort us.

One of the connotations of this verse is separateness. "My garden," God calls us! Every exposed root is lovingly placed and each tender shoot pruned by the Gardener who has full knowledge of our environment and needs. God knows there are periods in our life when we need to be separated from the world and its demands to go into the Garden of Gethsemane with Him, for that is where He was wholly human. When I want to picture myself with Jesus, that's where in vision I go: to the Garden of Gethsemane. Here there is quiet and time for talking with Him and telling Him our sorrows that only He can possibly know. Friends may tell us they understand as we grope our way through an incredible darkness that has enveloped us suddenly, but they don't simply because they can't. But our beloved Jesus holds us close to Him and assures us that He understands.

Another sustaining connotation of this verse is the idea of security. We can be so grateful that we are already in His Garden when the north wind blows. The cold and sharp wind hurts while it whips around us, but it removes our deadness. Then slowly, in the solitariness of His Garden, His south wind of the Spirit brings forth wonderful and warm graces.

Charles Spurgeon says of this verse: "Graces unexercised are as sweet perfumes slumbering in the cups of the flowers: the wisdom of the great Husbandman overrules diverse and opposite causes to produce the one desired result, and makes both affliction and consolation draw forth the grateful odours of faith, love, patience, hope, resignation, joy, and the other fair flowers of the garden. May we know by sweet experience, what this means."

O Holy Spirit, may the north wind of grief become the south wind of joy!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

In His Wonderful Name

At the close of a battle in the days of the war, a young man was found dying on the battlefield. A soldier stopped to render him assistance, and as he moistened his lips and made his head rest easier, the dying man said, "My father is a man of large wealth in Detroit, and if I have strength I will write him a note, and he will repay you for this kindness."

And this was the letter he wrote: "Dear father, the bearer of this letter made my last moments easier, and helped me to die. Receive him and help him for Charlie's sake."

The war ended and the soldier, in tattered garments, sought out the father in Detroit. He refused to see him at first on account of his wretched appearance. "But," said the stranger, "I have a note for you in which you will be interested." He handed him the little soiled piece of paper, and when the great man's eyes fell upon the name of his son all was instantly changed. He drew his arms about the soldier, drew him close to his heart, and put at his disposal everything that wealth could make possible for him to possess. It was the name that made the difference. And thus we stand on redemption ground, before God in the name of Jesus Christ, and He speaks for us as did Paul for the Roman slave Onesimus.

HOW TO SPOT A GEEZER - Author Unknown

"Geezers" are easy to spot. This is slang for an old man.

During a sporting event during the playing of the National Anthem, they will hold their caps over their hearts and sing without embarrassment. They know the words and believe in them. They remember World War I, the Depression, World War II, Pearl Harbor, Guadalcanal, Normandy and Hitler. They remember the Atomic Age, the Korean War, the Cold War, the Jet Age and the Moon Landing and Vietnam.

If you bump into a Geezer on the sidewalk, he will apologize. Pass a Geezer on the street and he will nod, or tip his cap to a lady.

Geezers trust strangers and are courtly to women. They hold the door for the next person and always when walking, make sure the lady is on the inside for protection.

Geezers get embarrassed if someone curses in front of women and children and they don't like violence and filth on TV and in movies.

Geezers have moral courage. Geezers seldom brag unless it is about their grandchildren in Little League or music recitals.

This country needs Geezers with their decent values and common sense. We need them now more than ever. It is the Geezeers who know our great country is protected not by the so-called politicians or police, but by the young men and women in our military who are serving their country in foreign lands, just as they did, without a thought except to do a good job and the best you can and to return home to loved ones.

Each and everyone of us should thank God for Old Geezers!

Author Unknown


If I were the Devil I would gain control of the most powerful nation in the world;

I would delude their minds into thinking that they had come from man's effort, instead of God's blessings;

I would promote an attitude of loving things and using people, instead of the other way around;

I would dupe entire states into relying on gambling for their state revenue;

I would convince people that character is not an issue when it comes to leadership;

I would make it legal to take the life of unborn babies;

I would make it socially acceptable to take one's own life, and invent machines to make it convenient;

I would cheapen human life as much as possible so that the life of animals are valued more than human beings;

I would take God out of the schools, where even the mention of His name was grounds for a law suit;

I would come up with drugs that sedate the mind and target the young;

I would get sports heroes to take on the job to advertise them;

I would get control of the media, so that every night I could pollute the mind of every family, the backbone of any nation;

I would make divorce acceptable and easy, even fashionable.....If the family crumbles, so does the nation;

I would compel people to express their most depraved fantasies on canvas and movie screens, and I would call it art;

I would try to convince the people that right and wrong are determined by a few who call themselves authorities and refer to their agenda as politically correct;

I would persuade people that the church is irrelevant and out of date, and the Bible is for the naive;

I would dull the minds of Christians, and make them believe that prayer is not important, and that faithfulness and obedience are optional;

I guess I would leave things pretty much the way they are.

Paul Harvey.............Good Day!


"What do you think about the Christ?" (Matthew 22:42); "But what about you? ... Who do you say I am?" (Matthew 16:15).

We might paraphrase Philippians 4:8: "He is noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praise-worthy -- think about this Person." Freedom of thought is implied in this question about Christ. Tyrants don't want others to think, but Christ recognizes our freedom of choice when He asks us what we understand and believe about Him.

Our own character cannot be formed until we have a clear understanding of Christ's character. Christ calls Himself the Son of Man (Matthew 8:20). "But [he] made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness, being found in appearance as a man" (Philippians 2:7,8a). In Colossians 2:9 we read, "For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form." So He is also the Son of God.

It is interesting that Satan discerned Christ's divinity: "What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?" (Mark 5:7). But we earthlings are too blue-blooded to believe that Christ shed red blood to ransom us. But! "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ" (Colossians 2:8).

What do we think of Christ? Do we think of Him less -- and less of Him -- when life is not what we want it to be? We will fall in love with Him only as we study His life and His mission. Then, as we learn about Him, He becomes our Anchor in the storms rather than the scapegoat on which we lay all our troubles.

What do we think of Christ as our Friend, our Messiah, our Judge, our Shepherd and our Lamb? Do we really believe that He is all things to all of us? "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45).

Corrie and the Guard

"Forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors" (Matthew 6:12).

The August 25, 1984 issue of Insight magazine had an astounding article by Corrie ten Boom, the author of The Hiding Place, the account of her years of horror in a Nazi concentration camp. Corrie was in Munich, Germany, and had just given a talk on forgiveness in one of the churches there. It was a message these defeated people needed desperately.

Corrie told them, "When we confess our sins, God casts them into the deepest ocean, gone forever. And even though I cannot find a scripture for it, I believe God then places a sign out there that says, `No fishing allowed.'" After the talk the people silently collected their wraps and started leaving the room.

It was then that she saw a man working his way toward her. One moment she saw his overcoat and the next she saw the blue uniform and a visored cap with its skull and crossbones. Memories crashed on her heart, as she recalled her sister and her walking naked past this very man. And here he was, one of the cruelest guards at Ravensbruck, coming toward her.

He praised her message and admitted that he had been a guard at Ravensbruck. He then asked her forgiveness, never recognizing her as one of the inmates there. We weep as we read of her struggle to maintain calm in front of this man. "But forgiveness is not an emotion. l knew that too. Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart," she reasoned with herself. "And so woodenly, mechanically, I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me. And as I did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, sprang into our joined hands. And then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes." She then relates, "I had never known God's love so intensely as I did then...It was the power of God."

Builders or Wreckers

I watched them tearing a building down,
A gang of men in a busy town.
With a ho-heave-ho and lusty yell,
They swung a beam and a sidewall fell.

I asked the foreman, "Are these men skilled,
As the men you'd hire if you had to build?"
He gave me a laugh and said, "No indeed!
Just common labor is all I need.

I can easily wreck in a day or two
What builders have taken a year to do."
And I tho't to myself as I went my way,
Which of these two roles have I tried to play?

Am I a builder who works with care,
Measuring life by the rule and square?
Am I shaping my deeds by a well-made plan,
Patiently doing the best I can?
Or am I a wrecker who walks the town,
Content with the labor of tearing down?

-- Unknown

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Enough, Lord!

"He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. `I have had enough, Lord,' he said. `Take my life...'" (1 Kings 19:4 NIV).

This is a remarkable chapter in the Bible. We think of Elijah as a rugged individualist and the strong prophet of the Lord. Now here we have the eminent Elijah sinking from triumph to despair! We find that he is subject to the human emotions we all feel at times. Who of us has not said, "I have had enough of this!" But God doesn't answer this prayer; instead, He sends an angel, not once but twice, to Elijah to feed him. When Elijah is strong again, he travels on to Mt. Horeb--and then he hides in a cave! How human!

God isn't going to let him get away with that, either. "What are you doing here, Elijah, so far away from your duties? What are you doing here, Elijah, you of all My people who should have remained at your post? My past compassions to you should have strengthened and served you especially for a time such as this." God understands when we cry out in exhaustion and heartache and despair. The strain of Mount Carmel,

Jezebel's threat to kill him, and utter fatigue, simply overwhelmed Elijah. Elijah's heart withered at the thought that he had failed, so he headed for a cave, and God loved him still. Just as God brought Elijah out of the cave of his anguish, so God will bring us out of the darkness of our personal cave into His light once again (Psalm 18:28). Elijah thought his labor was useless; that it had come to nothing. Those with the highest and holiest purposes are often the very ones who experience such intense dejection and rejection.

A saint left this thought with us: "So, in the Lord's ministry, the nucleus of the Church was not found in the applauding multitudes on Olivet, but in the few faithful ones in the garden of Gethsemane." Sometimes we have to enter the cave for the contrast of light and darkness, and then come out for an even better perspective and service for our Lord.

One of the lessons I digested from this wonderful chapter is that God is very concerned about our physical welfare. He sent an angel to refresh Elijah with food and sleep, and God sends us an angel to refresh us. After our son's death I lost my appetite for a while, which is normal. When I read this particular chapter, I realized that God is telling us that He wants us to keep up our strength for He has special plans for us. Indeed, in the loving friends who come with physical and spiritual sustenance for us, God is sending His angels!

O Father, thank You for the angels You send every day to minister to us. And may we, as our hearts and bodies heal, become angels in our turn to minister to others in their needs.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


*Character is much better kept than recovered. Thomas Paine

*One can acquire everything in solitude ‑‑ except character. ‑ Stendhal in Fragments, Christianity Today, November 22, 1993 Page 37.

*Will Rogers was known for his laughter, but he also knew how to weep. One day he was entertaining at the Milton H. Berry Institute in Los Angeles, a hospital that specialized in rehabilitating polio victims and people with broken backs and other extreme physical handicaps. Of course, Rogers had everybody laughing, even patients in really bad condition; but then he suddenly left the platform and went to the rest room. Milton Berry followed him to give him a towel; and when he opened the door, he saw Will Rogers leaning against the wall, sobbing like a child. He closed the door, and in a few minutes, Rogers appeared back on the platform, as jovial as before.

*If you want to learn what a person is really like, ask three questions: What makes him laugh? What makes him angry? What makes him weep? These are fairly good tests of character that are especially appropriate for Christian leaders. I hear people saying, "We need angry leaders today!" or "The time has come to practice militant Christianity!" Perhaps, but "the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God" (James 1:20).

*What we need today is not anger but anguish, the kind of anguish that Moses displayed when he broke the two tablets of the law and then climbed the mountain to intercede for his people, or that Jesus displayed when He cleansed the temple and then wept over the city. The difference between anger and anguish is a broken heart. It's easy to get angry, especially at somebody else's sins; but it's not easy to look at sin, our own included, and weep over it.
The Integrity Crisis by Warren W. Wiersbe, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1991.

*In great matters men show themselves as they wish to be seen, in small matter, as they are.
‑‑Gamaliel Bradford, quoted in New Dictionary of Thoughts, edited by Tryon Edwards (Ferguson)

*A talent is formed in stillness, a character in the world's torrents. Goethe

*When Oscar Wilde arrived for a visit to the U.S. in 1882, he was asked by customs officials if he had anything to declare. He replied: "Only my genius." Fifteen years later, alone and broken in prison, he reflected on his life of waste and excess. "I have been a spendthrift of my genius...I forgot that every little action of the common day makes or unmakes character." Imprimis, Vol 20, #9.

*A number of years ago the Douglas Aircraft company was competing with Boeing to sell Eastern Airlines its first big jets. War hero Eddie Rickenbacker, the head of Eastern Airlines, reportedly told Donald Douglas that the specifications and claims made by Douglas's company for the DC‑8 were close to Boeing's on everything except noise suppression. Rickenbacker then gave Douglas one last chance to out‑promise Boeing on this feature. After consulting with his engineers, Douglas reported that he didn't feel he could make that promise. Rickenbacker replied, "I know you can't, I just wanted to see if you were still honest." Today in the Word, MBI, October, 1991.

*Character may be manifested in the great moments, but it is made in the small ones. Phillips Brooks.

*Character is not made in crisis‑‑it is only exhibited. Freeman.

*Be more concerned with your character than with your reputation. Your character is what you really are while your reputation is merely what others think you are. John Wooden, former coach of the UCLA Bruins basketball team, quoted in Sanctity of Life, C. Swindoll, Word, 1990.

*Character is simply long habit continued. Plutarch

*Only what we have wrought into our character during life can we take with us. Humboldt

 *Henry Wingblade used to say that Christian personality is hidden deep inside us. It is unseen, like the soup carried in a tureen high over a waiter's head. No one knows what's inside‑‑unless the waiter is bumped and he trips! Just so, people don't know what's inside us until we've been bumped. But if Christ is living inside, what spills out is the fruit of the Spirit. Carl Lundquist.

*W. Michael Blumenthal, chairman of Unisys, talks about the mistakes he made in hiring: In choosing people for top positions, you have to try to make sure they have a clear sense of what is right and wrong, a willingness to be truthful, the courage to say what they think and to do what they think is right, even if the politics militate against that. This is the quality that should really be at the top. I was too often impressed by the intelligence and substantive knowledge of an individual and did not always pay enough attention to the question of how honest, courageous and good a person the individual really was. Jerry Flint, in Forbes.

*We do not need more knowledge, we need more character! Calvin Coolidge.

*Character is what you are in the dark. D.L. Moody.

*Character is a by‑product; it is produced in the great manufacture of daily duty. Woodrow Wilson

*“The gods had given me almost everything. But I let myself be lured into long spells of senseless and sensual ease...Tired of being on the heights, I deliberately went to the depths in search for new sensation. What the paradox was to me in the sphere of thought, perversity became to me in the sphere of passion. I grew careless of the lives of others. I took pleasure where it pleased me, and passed on. I forgot that every little action of the common day makes or unmakes character, and that therefore what one has done in the secret chamber, one has some day to cry aloud from the house‑top. I ceased to be lord over myself. I was no longer the captain of my soul, and did not know it. I allowed pleasure to dominate me. I ended in horrible disgrace.” Oscar Wilde, quoted by Wm. Barclay, Letters to the Galatians and Ephesians.

*The Presidency to this day rests more on the character of the person who inhabits the office than on anything else. The Founding Fathers designed it that way. It was their idea to find a man in America with a great character and let him invest a tradition and shape a national character. They found George Washington. He did his job splendidly. When he took the Presidency, he wrote: "I walk on untrodden ground. There is scarcely any part of my conduct which may not hereafter be drawn into precedent." Hugh Sidney, political columnist, in Time.



By Newell Dwight Hillis

Nature's forces carry their atmosphere. The sun gush­es forth light unquenchable; coals throw off heat; violets are larger in influence than bulk; pomegran­ates and spices crowd the house with sweet odors. Man also has his atmosphere. He is a force-bearer and a force-producer. He journeys forward, exhaling influ­ences. Thinking of the evil emanating from a bad man, Bunyan made Apollyon's nostril's emit flames. Edward Everett insists that Daniel Webster's eyes, during his greatest speech, literally emitted sparks. If light is in man he shines; if darkness rules he shades; if his glows with love he warms; if frozen with self­ish­ness he chills; if corrupt he poisons; if pure-heart­ed he cleanses. The soul, like the sun, has its atmo­sphere, and is over against its fellows, for light, warmth and transformation. This mysterious bundle of forces called man, moving through society, exhaling blessings or blightings, gets its meaning from the capacity of others to receive its influences. Standing at the cen­ter of the universe, a thousand forces come rushing in to report themselves to the sensitive soul-centre. There is a nerve in man that runs out to every room and realm in the universe. Man dwells in a glass dome; to him the world lies open on every side. Each man stands at the centre of a great network of volun­tary influence for good. Rivers, winds, forces of fire and steam are impotent compared to those ener­gies of mind and heart that make men equal to trans­forming whole communities and even nations.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Decisiveness, Positiveness and Stubborness

"Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision!" (Joel 3:14 NKJV).

Many relationships falter on stubbornness. Graves have been dug with the words, "I'm right." I had a relative who was always right – absolutely, retroactively right, even when she wasn't there and you were! She also died at a young age, poor soul. Bless her, she spent her short, insecure life proving every nit-picking point. It would have been the end of her warped world to have been proven wrong.

Perhaps definitions are in order here:
1. decisiveness;
2. positiveness; and
3. stubbornness.
Decisiveness is the ability to come to a decision, make an effective choice and mentally resolve a conflict. The indecisive person lives in constant fear of consequences and is unable to handle his problems efficiently. The decisive person takes responsibility for his or her actions. Mr. or Ms. Indecisive points to others as the source of his/her unhappiness, too.

Positiveness is an extension of decisiveness: the person takes a firm stand on a decision and rules out mistakes and doubts. This person is often accused of being stubborn when in effect he has simply made up his mind on a conviction he feels is legitimate after he has thoroughly researched and thought out the problem. This person's convictions are firm, confident and, to him, logical. Of course if the person is strong-willed and narrow-minded and ungenerous, then he will be accused of being stubborn, justly so at times, too.

But the stubborn persons! These folks are right come high water, the Bible, the Encyclopedia, and 50 million lawyers to prove them wrong. This person resists, whether his or her reasons are valid or not. The adamant person can't stand to lose face; ergo, s/he is always right, which is ludicrous, for who can be always absolutely right? The last I checked, Jesus was/is the only perfect Person.

On the other hand, the healthily positive person is willing to listen to reason and change his/her mind. This person is willing to change thoughts and feelings if, upon reanalysis of the situation, basic convictions are not compromised. The really confident person will concede a point to common sense, whereas the obstinate person concedes nothing. This person does not possess an opinion – it possesses him/her! Unfortunately the "always-right" person dies by degrees from loneliness. After all, who wants to be proven wrong all the time?


"They were saddened, and one by one they said to him, `Surely not I?'" (Mark 14:19).

"One of you will betray me!" They could hardly believe what Jesus had just told them. Given today's climate of slander, they could have said, "It has to be Judas! We always knew he'd come to this. He hates to part with that money, and he's so sneaky!" Neither did they say, "Lord, is it he?" No, they had learned their lesson well that judging is left to God. Each immediately thought of his own heart and motives, afraid that he, not another, was less than Jesus had shared and hoped.

The story is told of the preacher in a village church who wanted to bring home in a most forceful way the lesson of evil speaking and thinking. He had his church people go through each letter of the alphabet: A brags, B lies, C steals, D drinks, etc. When they had gone through the alphabet, he told them that they forgot to tell what "I" did. If we stop at "I" and all my sins, then we can't get to "U" and your sins!

We all have our secrets and guilts. We have dipped into dishes of sin and come up with defiled hands and hearts. We betray not by grand iniquities but by degrees in the little white lies we tell, in the harsh words by which we condemn, in the acts of omission and negligence that sometimes hurt more than overt acts of commission; yes, we have all sat at the Lord's table and supper and we have asked, "Is it I, Lord, who has crucified You yet again?" Too, by being less than what His gifts can make us, we betray Him through mediocrity and indifference.

Thirty shillings is such a meager sum with which to betray our Lord. Yet daily we sell out because we don't want to admit what we are capable of doing and saying: "Even if all fall I never will" (Matthew 26:33). "Lord, is it I who chooses bitter over better and, just as wrong, better over best? Let me kneel with you in Gethsemane that I may understand what I have done!"


"Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls -- yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation" (Habakkuk 3:17,18).

I first became aware of this remarkable verse when I read Hannah Hurnard's book, Hind's Feet on High Places, a book I recommend to anyone who doubts that our Shepherd leads the way. This verse is an extraordinary statement of a spiritual fact. The word YET means that no matter what happens, we are held in our Father's heart and hands. This would cover an earthquake in California, a hurricane in Florida (I live in Central Florida and witnessed four hurricanes in six weeks!), a drought in the mid-west, a depression that makes the 1929 one pale, a personal tragedy: whatever happens to us -- "yet I will rejoice in the God of my salvation."

If we can say "Yet I will rejoice" in the midst of the worst, then we have that peace that Jesus promises to all who trust Him to keep our lives stitched together. There is another word here just as important: rejoice. Who wants to rejoice in the midst of terrible circumstances that are beyond our control? It seems unnatural and crazy, doesn't it? And yet this is what our lovely Father and Redeemer asks of us. Yet I will say yes to my Father who is the only One who knows the end from the beginning. Not only will I acquiesce, I will rejoice: "In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

If we wish to stay in a thankful mode and mood, we need to be careful of the daily paper and the TV news, too. I have a friend who has decided to wait until she has had breakfast and can face the day before she faces the daily list of cynicism and violence and hate. Of course the solution to this would be to quit getting the daily paper. It's so easy to forget that God is still in charge when the whole world is becoming outrageous and so lacking in common sense. It is essential that we walk with Jesus in these perilous times. I personally believe the fig trees will lose their blossoms very soon -- yet we will give thanks.

Circumstances Beyond Our Control

"Though my father and my mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me" (Psalm 27:10).

The first indelible memory I have is the day of my 5th birthday. My mother had come to take me “home.” I was passing out birthday cake to my little friends at the orphanage, and I was weeping. Even at that young age I knew I was safe there. It was a Catholic orphanage, and they must have done a wonderful job, because I did not want to leave them. To this very much later date, I wince when I hear criticism of the church, and especially of nuns, for they saved my life. Although I am not a Catholic now, I have the highest respect for those who offer their lives to noble causes.

When our oldest son committed suicide I decided I would like to know who my real father was (my mother was long dead, a possible suicide). The man who was my biological father had forsaken my unmarried and dysfunctional mother. Perhaps there would be a clue to my son's despondency to the point of self-destruction if I could understand the dynamics of this unusual couple. I joined a group that searches for relatives. As I listened month after month to stories of fruitless calls and trips, and the thousands of dollars and many years wasted, I knew then that I didn't need to know who my father was, for I knew who my Father was, is, and always will be, and that was all I needed to know.

Psalm 27 has been very dear to me over the years. Another verse that helped was Jeremiah 1:5: "Before I formed you in the womb I knew (chose) you, before you were born I set you apart ..." Just think of the sorrows and indecisions that could be surmounted if we all believed we are chosen! That means that our Father thinks we are special, and it’s all right for us to act like we are special, if God gets the glory and thanksgiving.

I think the faith that God knows best and has ordained to us the external circumstances of our life helps us deal with the unexpected and shocking in life. No one is excused from the fire that molds character. The child does not know what is ahead but all the opportunities and duties which result from these circumstances are made for us, not by us. They give us a mission from God Himself, if we can but view it thus.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Helping Parents Cope With Loss

The phone rang. How glad I was to hear my oldest son's voice. "Mom, I'd like to bring Debbie home for the Christmas holidays. Will that be all right?"

"Of course," I replied, thrilled. "When will you be here?"

"Friday afternoon. Mom, I feel a lot better."

"O Chuck, I'm so glad! We'll have everything ready for you and Debbie. Take care, Honey!"

As I put the phone down I felt a surge of hope. The Thanksgiving holidays had been terrible, like a nightmare for all of us, parents and five sons. Chuck came home with a hollow heart and no thanks for his life. We had a long talk the first day he was home.

"Mom, I feel so bad, and I don't know why. Do you think you can forgive me for all the trouble I've given you these past few years?"

"Oh, Chuck!" I took him in my arms and we wept together. I will never forget the gift of that afternoon. "I love you so much. I need your forgiveness, too!"

We talked for quite a while and then Chuck said quietly, "Mom, I'm so terribly unhappy." He lowered his head and mumbled, "I'm thinking about suicide."

Did I hear him say suicide? "But Chuck, there's nothing on earth that can be that bad! God loves you, son. Can you believe that?"

"I haven't any time for God." The Thanksgiving holidays went slowly, at Chuck's sick pace, for he was physically ill, as well. My heart grieved for him, but I didn't know what to do for him. The evening before he was to go back to college, he came to my room.

"Mom, I want you to take care of my stereo for me." I assumed that he didn't want to take it back until after the Christmas holidays, which were but three short weeks away.

And now this encouraging phone call! The next day I cleaned and shopped with a light heart. I decided to take a short rest and listen to some tapes. I must have fallen asleep for about an hour and it was during that fateful hour that Chuck came home a day early, came into the house and got the shotgun, went into the woods next to our house, and hid. Hours later, while we were trying to figure out why he was home, where he was, and why his car was loaded with everything he owned, we heard him scream and then shoot himself to death.

About four months later I wrote a booklet titled Grief while I was in the depths of despair. I knew that if I didn't write it while in the valley, there was no way I would be able to write it when coming out of that awful chasm of anguish.

And this is what I want to share with every parent who is trying to crawl out of the depths of despair: hope and God's love.

I would like first to explain how I view God's will. I heard many times at the funeral home, "It's God's will." As I have a loving God who gives us the good we have in our lives, I cringed every time I heard it said in such concern and love. James 1:17 tells us, "Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above..." I couldn't grasp the concept of the death of this fine and handsome young man as God's will. Surely this couldn't be a good and perfect gift! And yet I knew that these cherished friends didn't realize the stab I felt every time I heard it said.

A friend gave me an exceptional book on God's will that I believe every parent who has lost a child should read. First, let's see what God's word has to say: "THUS IT IS NOT THE WILL OF YOUR FATHER WHO IS IN HEAVEN THAT ONE OF THESE LITTLE ONES PERISH" (Matthew 18:14, NAS). When a parent comes to me with grief etched on his or her face and heart, this is the first comfort I share with them: it is not the will of God that this happened. It is my personal belief that if the parent can't accept this, then he or she may not be able to bring the good God wants out of the tragedy.

The book is The Will of God by Leslie D. Weatherhead. It was published in 1944. Dr. Weatherhead wrote the book to comfort all those who had lost a loved one in World War II. He left a legacy for us all, in that he has explained the inexplicable in a way that we can accept all that happens to us as His will, but it still leaves us a loving and worthy God to bring us through the grief.

Dr. Weatherhead explained that God's will has three parts:
1) the intentional will of God;
2) the circumstantial will of God; and
3) the ultimate will of God.

He then takes the death of Jesus and relates these three parts of God's will to this most tragic event in time. It was not God's intentional will that His Son should die. The original intent was that men should follow Jesus, not kill Him. Therefore, the discipleship of men was the intentional will. But men, through free will, chose evil and set up circumstances that sent Jesus to the cross. Jesus was compelled to either die or to run away. In those circumstances, then, the death on the cross was the Father's will.

We now come to God's ultimate will, and this is that nothing can happen which finally defeats His purposes. For an example that his readers could relate to at that time, Dr. Weatherhead tells about the father who wanted his son to become an architect (intentional will). Then his country declared war (evil circumstances) and the young man chose to join the Army. His father says to him, "I am glad you are in the Army, John." Because of the situation, it is now the father's will.

As I relate this to my son's death, I know that God's intentional will was for Chuck to live a good and productive life. But Chuck got on drugs and also someone dropped LSD on him. Chuck's brain could no longer function from the drugs. A friend said to me shortly after his death that I could accept it more readily if I could think of the brain as being an organ just like the heart or liver. The difference with the brain is that, when it gets sick, our conceptions become misconceptions. That thought helped me greatly in the days ahead.

Because of the circumstances of Chuck's own unwise choices (and we have all made foolish decisions!) and situations beyond his control, he took his own life. I believe with all my heart that God's ultimate will in this is for us to help others in their sorrow. Hence the birth of the booklet Grief.

I would like to address another problem for the families left behind when there is a suicide, and it is the tremendous guilt. We ask ourselves why didn't we do this, why did we do that; it can go on and on. Many others have touched on this, but I would like to share yet another thought, perhaps because of our four living sons. We are so ready to judge the families by the suicidal death of that child, and yet do we remember that the other children in the family are living and coping and going on to productive and good lives? I make it a point to tell every parent of a suicided child that this is the final judgment that should be made: that of the living children! I know there are those so ready to judge the family and perhaps others when this tragedy strikes, but we can go on and on, back to grandparents and great grandparents, etc., etc., etc. It is best not to conclude or exclude--only love this afflicted family.

I also make it a point to tell the parent that we are not God and we cannot be with our children every moment of every day. There are forces in their lives that we cannot control, and why would we? We presume much too much if we think that we can spare our children all pain. I know we want to! But it's an insult to God if we think we can govern every waking and sleeping moment of the life of this child who we hold so dear.

When I was in utter despair over Chuck's salvation two cherished friends, independent of each other, gave me the same verse, and I accepted that as a message from God that I was not to fret anymore about it. "Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?" (Genesis 18:25, NAS). Yes! He knows where Chuck was born and where he lived--and where and how he died, too! Oh, how I thank Him for that! "The Lord shall count when He registers the peoples, 'This one was born there'" (Psalm 87:6, NAS).

The Bible is overflowing with promises of comfort for the brokenhearted, and I discovered that ultimately it is the only consolation. People mean so well. I can remember all the platitudes I so willingly and religiously meted out. And then, when my own heart was shattered into shards--then I realized I must have added to their pain. We are all Job's comforters until we sit where Job sat! Alexander Pope said, "I never knew any man in my life who could not bear another's misfortunes perfectly like a Christian." The breaking heart needs the compassion of another human heart, not religious clichés. Perhaps they can come later--perhaps. "The world perishes not of dark but of cold. The soul in its deep distress seeks not light but warmth, not counsel but understanding" (Anonymous).

Finally, there is Revelation 21:4: "And He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away." O! "Bless the Lord, O my soul...and forget not all His benefits...who redeems your life from the pit" of awful distress! We praise and thank You, our Father!

Getting a Grip on Our Gripes

"Do everything without complaining or arguing" (Philippians 2:14).

“The dogs bark, but the caravan moves on" (Arabic Proverb). "Things cannot always go your way. Learn to accept in silence the minor aggravations, cultivate the gift of taciturnity and consume your own smoke with an extra draught of hard work, so that those about you may not be annoyed with the dust and soot of your complaints" (William Osler).

It's a long step from complainant to complaisance. The physician Dr. Edward Trudeau had tuberculosis and his approach was, "I have found that the great word is Acquiescence." Sophisticated folks have a hard time acquiescing to anything, much less everything.

Disraeli, when Prime Minister of England, was known to have an excellent memory. Someone asked him one day how he managed to remember all those names and faces. "When I meet a man whose name I cannot remember, I give myself two minutes; then if it is a hopeless case, I always say: `And how is the old complaint'?" And asking some people, "How are you?" can ruin our day. Disraeli is also quoted as having said, "Never complain and never explain." Self-justification fans just as many fires as criticisms and grievances.

A strap hanger is one who has a complaint of long-standing. The word strap has many definitions. Among many meanings, the noun means belt and the verb means beat. So we can wind up belting ourselves and beating others with complaints. If the complaint is long-standing, we then shoulder the heavy epithet of strap hanger. Proverbs 25:17 wisely teaches, "Seldom set foot in your neighbor's house--too much of you, and he will hate you." This is especially true if we go there with nothing but grievances. We'd best get a grip on our gripes!

Foresight, Hindsight, and Folly

"A man's own folly ruins his life, yet his heart rages against the Lord" (Proverbs 19:3). ("A man may ruin his chances by his own foolishness and then blame it on the Lord!" TLB)

“However nervous, depressed, and despairing may be the tone of anyone, the Lord leaves him no excuse for fretting; for there is enough in God's promise to overbalance all these natural difficulties. In the measure in which the Christian enjoys his privileges, rises above the things that are seen, hides himself in the refuge provided for him, will he be able to voice the confession of Paul, and say, `None of these things move me'." S.H.Tyng, Jr. "Look now how mortals are blaming the gods, for they say that evils come from us, but in fact they themselves have woes beyond their share because of their own follies" (Homer, The Illiad, bk.I, 32).

If we consider cause and effect, we soon come to the conclusion that it is our own lack of foresight that hindsight now blames on Providence or our neighbor. Certainly Adam must have often wished he had foregone the pleasure of that tasty fruit in the Garden, for it left a terrible aftertaste. Later Adam's oldest son fretted, "My punishment is more than I can bear" (Genesis 4:13). This was after he murdered his brother. Adam's children have fretted ever since. God's children eventually learn wisdom.

"God made man upright, but men have gone in search of many schemes" (Ecclesiastes 7:29). And when the schemes don't work out, it's so much easier to put it on another's back and heart. "When tempted, no one should say, `God is tempting me.' For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed" (James 1:13,14). We frequent folly and then fret and fume because of its effects!

Bondage to Bondage

"Say to them, `This is the nation which does not listen to the voice of the Lord, its God, or take correction. Faithfulness has disappeared; the word itself is banished from their speech'" (Jeremiah 7:28); “They have set their abominations – extremely disgusting and shamefully vile – in the house which is called by My name, to defile it” (Jeremiah 7:30, The Amplified Old Testament).

For years prophets have told us that we no longer listen to the voice of our Lord; we do not appreciate the correction we would experience if we bothered to listen to God's word. Let us read and consider the rise and fall of former great civilizations:

1. From bondage to spiritual faith;
2. From spiritual faith to great courage;
3. From courage to liberty;
4. From liberty to abundance;
5. From abundance to selfishness;
6. From selfishness to complacency;
7. From complacency to apathy;
8. From apathy to dependency;
9. From dependency right back to the bondage where it all started.

We have taken the liberty of taking God's liberty and making light and license of it. We refuse to be reformed and reclaimed, for then we would have to admit that we are not our own, but God's, and our intellectual pride forbids that.

We have journeyed rather quickly from bondage to bondage. Somewhere in between we lost our bearings. The day must come that even God Himself will no longer be able to forbear us. One of our modern prophets, Billy Graham, is reported to have said, "If Jesus doesn't come back soon, He will have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah."

"For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him..." (Romans 1:21a NIV).

Friday, December 23, 2011

Oh! My Soul is Overwhelmed!

"My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me" (Matthew 26:38).

I will never forget the moment that our youngest son walked off the elevator and he saw the grief in our eyes. We told him the awful news: his fiancé had a grave cancer. As I held this huge bear of vulnerability in my arms, I thought of this verse in which Jesus asked His beloved family to watch with Him; to enter into His grieving heart as He was to enter His time of trouble.

How much I wanted to trade places with his wonderful young lady; to spare my son who I loved more than my own life this awful sorrow in his too-young life. But God spared not His own Son and He cannot release us from the sorrows we would flee.

I am so very proud of this young man! Both young people were only 20 years old when this descended on them. They became our role models in how they handled this grief. Our son could have walked off; they were not married yet. But later on he told me that there was no way he would have done that, for he loved her so much! Oh, that we could all say that, and then follow it with actions to prove our love. My dear son, God bless you for your faithfulness and devotion!

We thank God with so-full hearts that our Ria is cured! These extraordinary young people are married and have four children who are the best grandchildren in the world. I would like to say thank you to this dear, dear young lady who has given us such joy!

PRAYER: Precious Father, we know that You watch with us as we keep the vigil at our loved one's bedside. You kneel with us and give us the courage to give courage to our loved one. We thank You, dear Father, for faith and strength!

Happy Mother's Day, Beloved Sons and Daughters!

My precious children!

How can I put into words the joy that is in my heart this Mother's Day? I must confess that so many times I have knelt in the dark of yet another day's end, begging God's forgiveness for my failures with you: my abruptness, harsh words, the ears that hear but tune out your silent pleas for understanding, the eyes that don't see the hurts of your little hearts, the omissions of simple pleasures and commissions of parental sins. I beg your forgiveness! I want to give you something this Mother's Day: a will of hope and a testament of God's love and mine.

I want to pass on to you a sustaining faith that will support you through your lives. My dear ones, I won't always be with you on the earth. You will go through crucibles of sorrows and trials. Don't allow them to defeat you! Some are tried in the furnace of affliction. Perhaps God will choose to refine you in this way because He wants to see His image restored in you. No matter what happens to you, praise, love, and thank your Saviour always. He has promised His strength to those who wait on Him. Man may fail, you may fail at times, but your loving Father will never fail you. I haven't always given you what you wanted--perhaps not even what you needed. I pray God will be the Sufficiency for my lacks, the Gentleness for my impatience, the Compassion for my misunderstandings, the Calm for my restlessness.

Dear ones, I want for you what God wants for you. He wants you to be His heroes, armed with faith, purity, and humility in a disbelieving, pleasure-seeking, vain world that has no time nor love for its gracious Creator. How sad! You have come into the world for such a time as this because God wants you to reflect His care and love to those who will cross your path of life. Fame and riches mean nothing. I beg you not to seek them! It may be that God will put you forward, but it will only be because He has a great work for you. But if He gives much He will expect much in return. Don't disappoint your beautiful Saviour! I thank you, dear precious gifts, for giving my life an eternal dimension--for giving me something to live, work, and strive for. You have inspired me and I love you deeply.

Happy Mother's Day!

December Thoughts

December 1

"Life is too short to nurse one's misery. Hurry across the lowlands, that you may spend more time on the mountaintops" (Phillips Brooks). Depression is the pits, literally. When we are crammed into our own little world because of illness or grief, we see things through the wrong end of the telescope. We need to hurry to the mountain with Jesus, and sit with Him as He tells us, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted" (Matthew 5:4). There on that blessed New Testament Sinai, He tells us that our sorrow will turn into joy, and our tears will be wiped away. Come, let us rush through the lowlands of life to His elevation!

December 2

One tree prayed to be made into a beautiful palace; a second tree prayed to be made into a ship; a third tree wanted to remain in the forest and point to God. The first tree was made into a stable where the Babe was born; the second tree was made into a small ship that was launched on the Sea of Galilee, whereon stood a young Man who told the multitudes: "I have come that [you] may have life, and have it to the full" (John 10:10b); the third tree was made into a cross that ever since has been pointing us to God. In its way, each tree's prayer was answered.

December 3

"I would not lose the hard things from my life--/The rocks o'er which I stumbled long ago,/The griefs, the fears, the failures, the mistakes,/That tried and tested faith and patience so./I need them now; they make the deep-laid wall,/The firm foundation-stones on which I raise,/To mount thereon from stair to stair,/The lofty towers of my House of Praise" (Anonymous). "O afflicted one, storm-tossed and not comforted, behold, I will set your stones in antimony, and your foundations I will lay in sapphires" (Isaiah 54:11). Dear one, I will etch the gold of My promises into your heart--remember how much I love you!

December 4

"You shall rise up before the gray-headed, and honor the aged" (Leviticus 19:32). This verse reminds us that the aged are entitled to an extra measure of respect. Courtesy and refinement will never go out of style, no matter how old man or earth becomes. When Jesus was dying He made sure His mother was taken care of: "`Dear woman, here is your son,' and to the disciple, `Here is your mother'" (John 19:26b,27a). The aged represent (or should) many years in God's, spouse's and children's service; His providential care; the fruits of grace; mature wisdom in dealing with life's problems; and nearness to eternity.

December 5

"Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things; but only one thing is needed" (Luke 10:41,42). This is the verse for the harassed wife and mother who thinks she can't drop the chores long enough to sit at Jesus' feet for a moment of reverence and affection. Keeping the house clean and meals on the table are necessary, but perhaps Jesus was telling Martha she should simplify her life; there was something more important: love. Within that word love is summed up the rest of our duties. First, we must break bread daily with the Bread of Life, Jesus, through reading His Word.

December 6

"I love you today, where you are and as you are. You do not have to be anything but what you are for me to love you. I love you now; not sometime when you are worthy, but today when you may need love most. I will not withhold my love, or withdraw it. There are no strings on my love, no price. I will not force it upon you when you are not ready. It is just there, freely offered, with both hands. Take what you want today. The more you take, the more there is. It is good if you can return love; but if you cannot today, that is all right too. Love is its own joy. Bless me by letting me love you today" (Anonymous).

December 7

"Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!" (John 6:70). The tare among the wheat...! What possible reason could Jesus have to choose His very betrayer as one of His inner circle? Was Jesus using Judas to teach us one of His more important lessons? Judas left all to become a follower, only to finally become the chief blot on humanity. To think, Jesus even washed his feet. Surely Judas was given every opportunity to repent. One wonders how Judas' heart could have been so dark and hard as to not melt at Jesus' continued love and kindness. Why did Jesus choose Judas? Why did He choose me?

December 8

"They were saddened, and one by one they said to Him,`Surely not I?'" (Mark 14:19). We all have our secrets and guilts. We have dipped into dishes of sin and come up with defiled hands and hearts. We betray not by grand iniquities but by degrees in the little white lies we tell, in the harsh words by which we condemn, in the acts of omission and apathy which hurt more than overt acts of commission. Yes, we have all sat at the Lord's table and supper and we have asked, "Is it I, Lord, who has crucified You yet again?" By being less than what His gifts can make us, we betray Him through mediocrity and indifference.

December 9

"`Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips'...Then one of the seraphim flew to me, with a burning coal in his hand...and he touched my mouth with it and said, `Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away, and your sin is forgiven" (Isaiah 6:5-7 NAS). "If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well" (James 3:2). If our lips are unclean, then it is because our heart is, for "the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart" (Matthew 12:34). Let us pray for a burning coal of grace for our lips and heart.

December 10

One of the finest books written on forgiveness is The Freedom of Forgiveness, 70 X 7, by David Augsburger. We learn about love, too: "It is an accepting love which gets its sleeves rolled up and its hands dirty in helping, serving, lifting and changing others' lives into the full freedom of forgiveness...." The author tells us that, if someone rubs us the wrong way, then love eliminates the "wrong way." "[Forgiveness] gives understanding where the enemy anticipates anger and revenge. It gives back to the other person his freedom and his future." Truly, it is God's gift to both the one who has hurt and the one who has been hurt. Thank you, Dr. Augsburger!

December 11

"There are two angels that attend unseen/Each one of us, and in great books record/Our good and evil deeds. He who writes down/The good ones, after every action closes/His volume, and ascends with it to God./The other keeps his dreadful day-book open/Till sunset, that we may repent; which doing,/The record of the action fades away,/And leaves a line of white across the page./Now if my act be good, as I believe it,/It cannot be recalled. It is already/Sealed up in heaven, as a good deed accomplished. The rest is yours." Longfellow. Are we keeping our angel very busy today?

December 12

William James told his students, "Be willing to have it so...because acceptance of what has happened is the first step in overcoming the consequences of any misfortune." No one can escape the ills of life; they are the basting threads which hold together the white robes promised to the redeemed. Our security is in absolute confidence in God: "[I] will have no fear of bad news; [my] heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord" (Psalm 112:7). "We know that God causes ALL things to work together for good..." (Romans 8:28), even that which temporarily crushes our hearts and our plans. God asks that we accept the temporary detour.

December 13

"But Lot's wife looked back and she became a pillar of salt" (Genesis 19:26). "But when Jesus said, `Remember Lot's wife,' I believe He was speaking also to those women (and men) who cling unhealthily to the good and lovely things of the past once these things are gone forever...When we refuse to move forward, giving our first attention to the future and what lies ahead in God's will for us, we solidify ourselves as surely as Lot's wife was turned into a stationary pillar of salt!" (Eugenia Price, God Speaks to Women Today). "Lord, You have assigned me my portion and my cup; You have made my lot secure" (Psalm 16:5). No matter where our lot is or what our lot is, God will maintain us.

December 14

"Then the Lord said, `Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?'" (Genesis 18:17); "I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you" (John 15:15). God reveals His will--His purposes--to His covenant people. He also allows our voices to be heard in intercession in the court of heaven. We are both sanctioned and sanctified.

December 15

"If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!" (Genesis 17:18). What a beautiful intercessory plea Abraham prayed for his child. Although the covenant blessings would be for Isaac, Abraham wanted Ishmael also to live before God for the father would always love his son. If Sarah and Abraham had waited for God to fulfill His promise to them, Abraham would not have experienced such confusion about this beloved son and what would now happen to him. But God answers: "As for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him..." (Genesis 17:20).

December 16

"Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him" (Ezekiel 1:28). The rainbow represents hope and the fulfillment of promises. The enemy of hope is despair, and this generation has plenty of that. Witness the suicide rate from young to old. Where is the middle ground wherein hope lies? What is in that person who knows without a doubt that God does care and He will take utmost pains with us? What is the rainbow in that person's life? Is it a Person, a person, an ideal, a dream? Is it all of the above? When did God set the rainbow in that person's life and make it radiant? O Friend, let us search for our rainbow today!

December 17

"As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease" (Genesis 8:22). We should be no less amazed at the orderly processes of nature as we are at its destructions such as hurricanes and earthquakes. This too reveals God's powers. Seedtime is for the wise man who wishes to remain conscientious of the ethical nuances of life. We are growing every day through the seeds planted in our hearts and minds, either through God and His Word or through others who touch our lives. The sowing decides the harvest, for there is indeed a reaping in heaven and earth.

December 18

"Did God really say...?" (Genesis 3:1). This is the question of the rebellious and those who lack faith. This question changed the whole course of history and the world. Such innuendo and done so subtlety and craftily...! The serpent also called God a liar here. The woman was so innocent and inexperienced that she was not aware of what was happening to her. She wavered in her loyalty and her love to both God and Adam. "But each one is tempted when...he is dragged away and enticed." (James 1:14). Gardens can be so inviting!

December 19

"But if it dies, it produces many seeds" (John 12:24). If the corn of wheat is kept in the granary it is dormant. This could be applied to our getting busy with life, too. To "die" may mean to sacrifice time, self and goods to a higher end, to a noble cause; to regard the higher end as more valuable and more important than our own plans; to lose self in the object to which we are consecrated. We bring forth much fruit through loss of self. "Whoever finds his life will lose it" (Matthew 10:39) in service for his or her Master, for it is whatever or whoever masters us that determines what we do with our life.

December 20

"He who answers before listening that is his folly and his shame" (Proverbs 18:13). In social relations we are too quick to form superficial judgments of others. It's a very narrow mind and heart that will not allow another to express his or her beliefs and feelings. It is hurtful and hateful and foolish to assume that we have the last word about anything at all. People and life have many fascinating facets that only the open mind and heart will find by observing and listening to others. Sometimes this means keeping quiet.

December 21

"A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped" (Mark 4:37). Sometimes a storm comes suddenly. Job knew about suddenness of sorrow: a messenger came...another messenger came...another messenger came...yet another messenger came. They all came with tragedies totally unexpected and astonishing. If we're fortunate, sorrow comes slowly, like a soft wave, so we can have time to lower our anchor and calm our hearts. But sometimes we are not so blessed. It is then that God Himself lowers our anchor into our rough waters.

December 22

"Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished" (Luke 1:45). What the Lord has said, He will do, and Mary believed this. Was Elizabeth thinking about her husband's lack of belief when he was told by the same angel Gabriel that he and his aged wife would now finally have a chid? God was about to accomplish what they had prayed for for years, and Zechariah asked, "How can I be sure of this?" (V.18). Mary asked in innocence and surprise but in acceptance, "How will this be...?" (V.34). How many times and in what manner have we questioned God about our circumstances? Our questions make a difference to Him.

December 23

"What then is this child going to be?" (Luke 1:66). Zechariah's and Elizabeth's friends and neighbors knew this child John was a special child. But then, isn't every child remarkable? Parental love asks, "What is this child going to be and do?" "...Some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work" (2 Timothy 2:20,21). Surely we want to prepare our child for noble purposes so he or she will be useful to God and to others.

December 24

"My spirit rejoices in God my Savior..." (Luke 1:47). The Magnificat is one of the most charming songs recorded in the Word. Mary struck the major chord, the keynote, of life for us all. She didn't merely resign herself to God's appointment, she rejoiced in what would prove to be not only a blessing but a sword, as well. In this testimony of God's faithfulness to His people, Mary joins Miriam (Exodus 15:21) and Hannah (1 Samuel 2:1). God blesses those who strike the major chords of belief and gratitude in their lives. The passkeys to the door of God's graces are praise and appreciation. We can use the same keys with our loved ones, as well.

December 25

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon His kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this" (Isaiah 9:6,7 KJV). Dear Friends, unto us is born this holy Savior, foretold in the Old Testament and completed in the New Testament.

December 26

"But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart" (Luke 2:19). Surely Mary meditated on the honor God gave her, as well as what must have seemed the overwhelming responsibility that now was hers. The only way she could assimilate it was to fix her thoughts on her Son. Here was a mystery filled with grace and grief, this Infant who was the "revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past" (Romans 16:25). Hebrews 3:1 counsels us to "...Fix [our] thoughts on Jesus..." Meditation gives us God's perspective on His promises and our problems.

December 27

"For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him" (John 3:17). What comfort it is to know that God sent His Son to save us, not to disapprove of us. Would that our relatives and friends did the same for us--and we did the same for them. Jesus said "Then neither do I condemn you...Go now and leave your life of sin" (John 8:11). He even wrote in the dust the sins of the Pharisees, who were so ready to judge this woman. "If You, O Lord, kept a record of sins...who could stand? But with You there is forgiveness...." (Psalm 130:3,4); "[Love] keeps no records of wrongs" (1 Corinthians 13:5).

December 28

"...He was obedient to them...And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men" (Luke 2:51,52). Jesus kept out of the public eye for thirty years. In those years He was subject to His parents and their principles. The child Jesus obeyed the commandment: "Honor your father and your mother..." (Exodus 20:12). What a lesson for our youth who want to leave home before they hardly know how to live. Because of Jesus' faithfulness and submission while on earth, we have no excuse to give out, give in or give up.

December 29

"Surely He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows..." (Isaiah 53:4). See also Matthew 8:17. In this divine chapter in the Old Testament, we meet the Man who took up all our pain. Until we kneel with the Christ, the Anointed, in the Garden of Gethsemane in a grief that defies healing and have Him hold us, we cannot truly understand what the Father and Son have done for us. Jesus was born at night and He experienced every dark night of the soul that we will ever endure, including three hours of darkness on the cross. But there will be no more darkness for He is the Light of the world: "...The glory of God gives [the city] light, and the Lamb is its lamp" (Revelation 21:23).

December 30

"You are those who have stood by me in My trials" (Luke 22:28). Tenderly our precious Friend tells this to His disciples after they have just argued over who is the superior among them. Because of His nature, He could not bear to scold or discourage them, for they were indeed His beloved friends. With us, too, it is our bits of nobility and generosity He quickly recognizes and rewards. We don't think about Jesus needing friends and affection. He turned gratefully to His faithful followers for personal emotional needs. He needs us, too.

December 31

"He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away" (Revelation 21:4). What a celestial promise this is. We cannot explain suffering; it is an offense to us, but it surely was--and still is--a worse offense to our Lamb, slain that He might lead us to serene springs of living water and to the tree of life. "There will be no more night. [We] will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give [us] light" (Revelation 22:5). We can only imagine, while clothed in mortality, what it will be like to live forever with the Lamb whose light will forever dispel darkness. We will go from mourning to morning. Thank You, God, for Your love!

Dear Jesus - 70 x 7 Again?

Me: Jesus, it's me again. Forgive me for bothering you so much, but this problem is eroding my innards. I had a terrible row with him today--again. Sometimes I really despise him. Of course, as you know, being a good Christian, I didn't tell him. Heavens, I have offices in the church, and I have to be careful of my image. . .

Jesus: Image, my all-seeing eye! That's ridiculous. I saw your heart, and it was one big spiritual aneurysm. It was only my grace that kept it from blowing bits of poison through your rotten system.

Me: O Jesus, how can you say that? Why, he started the whole thing. He always does, spending ten-dollar bills on ten-cent problems. Why does he do that?

Jesus: Never mind what he does. I'll take care of him in due time. It's you we need to patch together here. Remember that sentence your friend wrote for you, "Meekness is the lack of self-justification?"

Me: Well, yes. In fact, I have it right over my desk and I read it every day.

Jesus: It isn't doing you much good, is it? Now, for your penance I want you to repeat that sentence once every hour.

Me: But I left those "works" years ago! I thought we weren't supposed to do that penance bit. . .

Jesus: I'm the High Priest and I'm telling you, repeat that sentence twice an hour for arguing about it. Now, that card you spotted in the grocery store. . .

Me: Yes, Jesus, that was really unfair. You didn't give me any time to get my wits together to tell him off. Why, that card hit me right in my madness!

Jesus: It was supposed to. I sent my Holy Spirit down there just before you went storming into the store, and had him inspire one of the clerks to put it where I knew you couldn't miss it. You see, I know your habits, even the one of lingering in front of card racks.

Me: But Jesus, that card?! It looked really neat, though--so colorful. "GOD LOVES YOU!" Wow! Like you said, I couldn't miss it. And then when I read what it said inside, "And what's good enough for God is good enough for me!" Well, Jesus, I got your message. I bought it and put in on his desk.

Jesus: Good! You did just what I wanted you to do. You followed the promptings of my Spirit, finally.

Me: It did help. He came in and apologized after he read it. But I'm still mad at him!

Jesus: That's a good word, mad. Of course you are. You're filled with pride and selfishness.

Me: But Jesus, you just don't understand. . .

Jesus: Now don't start that canard. I died for you, lady--no, woman--no lady would act the way you did that day. As for my not understanding, nonsense. Remember, I walked that same earth, and human nature hasn't changed much, unfortunately. I got murdered by people who thought they were doing the world a favor. You only got chewed out.

Me: I got spit out!

Jesus: Well, remember – I got spit on. But anyway, see what it's done for you. It's sent you to my Word. And it's humbled you a bit. We do need to work on that. But at least you're searching and praying, and I've been rushing my Holy Spirit to you to clean up that cesspool in your heart.

Me: Mercy, Jesus! Is it that bad?

Jesus: Indeed it is. You can't see it, but I can. Speaking of mercy, do you realize it's my mercy that keeps you from doing even worse things? Have you ever thought to thank me for that?

Me: O yes, Jesus! When I look at what other people do, why, I'm so grateful I'm not that bad!

Jesus: You Pharisee, I didn't mean it that way. There but for my grace and pardon, you would be doing all manner of unrighteousness. And you certainly didn't win any celestial points with that awful outburst last week. You know, woman, if you would just keep quiet you'd stay out of a lot of trouble. To borrow back from Shakespeare who I inspired anyway, "The lady doth protest too much, methinks." And because of my dreadful experience with Pilate, I inspired Shakespeare to write this, too: "The silence of pure innocence persuades when speaking fails." Only you aren't pure innocence.

Me: But Jesus, I didn't even do what he kept saying I did. Silence surely would not have convinced him.

Jesus: Did all that yelling help? Remember when I stood before Pilate and said nothing? My friend Matthew recorded that Pilate marveled greatly at that silence, because it's so human to defend ourselves. I didn't do a thing to deserve being hung on a cross. You're far from innocent, and when you are accused wrongfully you scream inwardly and outwardly. Shock him and say nothing. He'll marvel at your silence, believe me.

Me: Well, I suppose I didn't have to make that wisecrack about his German distemper when he hit me with that "You and your Irish temper. . ."

Jesus: Yes, I should give you a permanent stiff upper lip for that one. The trouble is, even if you never said it you'd think it, and it's the thought that gives birth to the deed, always. That was one of the purposes of my Sermon on the Mount: clean up your thoughts and then you'll clean up your act.

Me: I know, Jesus, but if only he...

Jesus: Oh, there you go, with your "but if onlys" again! There are no excuses and no exceptions. You're supposed to be my portrait just as I'm the portrait of my Father. It's an affront to me when you insult one of mine, and you certainly insulted him that day. He's my child, remember?

Me: Well. . . I'm sorry, Jesus.

Jesus: Yes, I believe you. Of course sorry has several connotations, but I'm Love and I'll accept it as true repentance. Now, let's see what we can do to help you better understand forgiveness. One very important thing, it's unconditional, absolutely no strings attached.

Me: Do you mean that no matter what anyone says or does, I'm supposed to drop it all as if it never happened?

Jesus: That's it!

Me: Impossible, Jesus. . .

Jesus: True, but that's without me. With me all things are possible, and that includes a brand new heart of love, and a new mind, too: my mind. My friend Paul had lots to say about the mind. Study Romans 8:6: "To be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace." Your mind can't be at peace when it's filled with hate and resentment.

Me: Yes, Jesus. I have to admit I haven't been too peaceful since this last row.

Jesus: Of course not. But you can free both of you by forgiving him. Besides, I have promised the earth to the meek and humble, and the peacemakers I call my special children. But before you inherit the everlasting earth you need to change your character. It may shock you to hear this, but if you can't get along with him and forgive him here, you may not have a hereafter!

Me: Somehow that doesn't seem quite fair!

Jesus: But that's the way it is. Why did I die for your sins in which you persist? I did it because I love you. Why can't you forgive for the same reason? But - I have to stress that I don't love your sins, and I can't excuse them or allow you to excuse them.

Me: But Jesus, if it's someone else's fault. . .!

Jesus: Oh, there you go again! Besides, how do you know that? You may be just as much at fault as the other person. It's your reaction that tells on you. Your pride is piqued so you lash out. If you had a humble spirit and if you think about me and the sacrifice I made for all of you, these things wouldn't get your goat so much. Speaking of goat, you humans have a gift for making scapegoats of others when the fault lies within your own noisome spirit. You're acting like a goat, you know--very unruly. Read up on sheep and remember that I plan to put the sheep on my right. The goats will be out in left field.

Me: Yes, Jesus. I feel very sheepish. . .

Jesus: You should. And while we're on this subject of right- and left-handed choices, the final distinction is the sanctified and the unsanctified, not the rich and the poor, the educated and the uneducated, and all those divisions and so-called discernments you humans are so fond of inventing.

Me: Well, Jesus, I do try not to judge others. . .

Jesus: Ah, but you do! The moment you entertain an unforgiving thought you are judging. The first word you utter in anger is a judgment. Think about that. And I know what you wanted to call him, too! You can thank my Spirit that you at least had the grace not to say it. My friend Matthew recorded what I had to say about name-calling. Anyone who calls another a fool is in danger of the second death. You're to treat all with tenderness.

Me: But it's so hard to remember that in the heat of anger. . .

Jesus: If you had my mind you'd have no heat. You need the heat from my lamp, my Word, not the world's words. And don’t have the last word!!

Careful, Poison!

According to the dictionary, poison is a substance that causes injury, illness, or death; inhibits or retards reaction; has a harmful or dangerous effect. When one hears the word poison, one usually thinks of chemical substances such as arsenic, strychnine, opium, etc.

Actually we have several types of poison—that which causes injury, inhibits, cripples or is harmful to a greater or lesser degree. We have the poisons of the body, the poisons of the mind, and the poisons of the spirit.

Body poisons debilitate physical effectiveness. Mind poisons cripple constructive creativity and twist thought perception and imagination. Spirit poisons impede if not warp personal relationships with God and our fellow men and women. It is difficult to categorize here for spiritual poison can inhibit mental growth; mental poison can retard spiritual development; and physical poison, if strong enough, can stop the whole life process!

Now let’s substitute the word pollution for poison. Pollution is basically contamination by noxious substances. The body is polluted through the various oil, water and air contaminants. The mind is polluted through noxious obscenity and pornography, and through random and indiscriminate curiosity; the spirit is polluted through hates and resentments.

We have read much through the years about pollution of body and mind, and necessarily so. But I would like to discuss a polluting agent of the spirit—and this is RESENTMENT.

Resentment of itself can be a necessary defense. C.J. Fox explains it well: “There is a spirit of resistance implanted by the deity in the heart of man proportioned to the size of the wrongs he is destined to endure.” The key word here is PROPORTIONED. There are people who can take an innocent action or remark and develop it into a personal affront that requires a lifetime to avenge. There isn’t a person on earth who at sometime or other in his or her life won’t be hurt, frustrated or disappointed, but it takes character to evaluate and accept the situation for what it is and then forget it.

Actually resentment is the inability to forgive and forget. We’ve all met the poor soul to whom life is a very raw deal; the whole world is taking advantage of him or her; and on and on, until we wonder why the person clings so desperately to life. This person has enough self-pity to cover himself and any leniency and compassion he might get from others. Soon he becomes such a crashing bore that no one sticks around to hear about the terrible injustices that life has meted out to him, and the impositions of relatives, friends and strangers. Then there’s more resentment and self-pity because the person feels ignored and slighted.

Dr. Maxwell Maltz, in his book PSYCHO-CYBERNETICS, points out the dilemma of this type of personality. “The resentful person turns over his reins to other people. They are allowed to dictate how he shall feel, how he shall act.” This person is destined to be unhappy because he makes impossible demands on others and then feels put upon, angry, and bitter when others can’t live up to his ultimatums.

Resentment is too quick to sit in judgment and too reluctant to overlook the sins, intended or not, of others. The bitter person tends mentally, if not verbally, to impose a debt on the transgressor (mostly unfair) that must be paid before the wrong-doer is restored to friendship and acceptance once again. It’s a subtle and cruel form of emotional slavery, and it doesn’t take much thought to see who is hurt most.

The honey bee, when it stings, brings temporary pain to its victim, but death to itself. That’s the sum of it for us, too, when we refuse to forgive and forget: our spirit dies just a bit more until we are finally in the killing throes of bitterness and hate, and thus unable to see the good and constructive in anything or anyone.

Here’s wise advice I once read, for any who would let resentment poison the spirit: “It has been said that a man, like a tree, is best measured after he has been cut down. Please reserve judgment. Time will soften your views and diminish your anger. Remember that hate, like acid, does more damage to the vessel in which it is stored than to the object on which it is poured” (Anonymous).

Published in Healthways and Pen Woman

Bruised Reeds and Smoking Wicks

"A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench..." (Isaiah 42:3 NKJ).

Jesus didn't--and doesn't--go by our theory of survival of the fittest. He takes our bruised reed that twists in the storm and strengthens and straightens it enough so that it makes music for Him and others; He takes our dimly burning wick and tends it until it can give light for others groping in their dark night of the soul. We can take glorious comfort in this thought.

There's a German legend that tells of a baron who built his castle on the Rhine. One too-quiet and lonely day he hung wires from crag to crag and turret to turret, hoping that the winds, as they blew upon this great Aeolian harp, might make sweet music and lessen his loneliness. The baron waited patiently every day for his beautiful music. Every day the winds blew from the four corners of heaven, but no music came. Then one night a hurricane charged in, tossing the Rhine into a fury. The lightening pierced the black night and the thunder shook the land with its uproar. The winds seemed to go mad. The baron rushed to the great castle door to view the terrifying scene and suddenly he heard the sound of what seemed angels' music. As he listened with awe, he realized that his harp had come to life at last. The terrifying tempest had given it new and sacred life.

Dear grieving friend, our precious Savior has allowed a sweeping hurricane to carry off what is so dear to us! We feel our treasure being ripped from the core of our existence and, when we reach into our heart to find something to assuage the terrifying hopelessness, all we find is a hole so large we could sink in it. What is so stirring about this particular verse is God’s promise that He will never allow life's lightening bolts to devastate us completely.

This verse helped me mightily in the severe times after our son's death. It was enormously comforting to visualize this weak little reed being lifted and held ever so gently by a Man who understood every pang of grief I was feeling. I envisioned strength and courage returning as I felt Jesus lift this terribly-broken reed and whisper to me, "Dear child, don't you know that I take broken reeds and make some of them pens to write of My love, using My own sacred blood for ink? Some of these broken reeds I take and make instruments of lovely music of praise. Handel was one of those drooping reeds when I gave him inspiration and strength to write Messiah. Yet other broken reeds I make so strong that they become pillars whereon others may rest."

O friend, let Jesus take us and make of us what He will, for it is the broken reeds and smoking wicks that He loves so much!


"Thus it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish” (Matthew 18:14 NAS).

During World War II Dr. Leslie D. Weatherhead gave five talks on the will of God to his City Temple congregation in England. Fortunately for the rest of the world, they were published. Every time I hear "It's God's will," I think of this remarkable little book and how it clarified God's will for me.

Dr. Weatherhead separated God's will into three parts: 1) Intentional; 2) Circumstantial, and 3) Ultimate (ICU).

1. God's INTENTIONAL WILL is for our good. This is Adam and Eve in the Garden. When God created Adam and Eve, it was His intention that they live forever and be happy. But they sinned and were expelled from Paradise.

2. His CIRCUMSTANTIAL WILL is because of the circumstances in our lives. It is within this will that we find God's permissive will. This is Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. This is Job 42:2: "I know (faith) that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted."; It is the all of Romans 8:28, that glorious rod and staff of the grieving: "We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." I know (wisdom) I can (possibility) do (accomplishment) all things whatsoever He asks!

3. His ULTIMATE WILL is for His glory and our good. This is Christ's resurrection and our resurrection. It is us all in the New Earth.

The wonderful revelation as I read this book is that God's intentional will finally becomes His ultimate will, even as we go through the circumstances of our life. Dr. Weatherhead gives the example of the young man in London whose intention was to be an architect but, because the war changed his circumstances, he joined the Army. At the time this was the honorable course. The young man could not control the evil circumstances of Hitler and his desire to conquer the world, but he could control his reaction to them.

As I read the book I was comforted in the fact that nothing falls outside the circle of Divine Providence:

1) the knowledge of God embraces it;
2) His power is sovereign over it;
3) His mercy holds it creatively.

The key here is God's goodness. The parent does not will evil for his or her child; neither would a perfect God will evil for His children. At the time Dr. Weatherhead gave his talks, the people in England needed desperately to know that there was a living and loving God in spite of the horror going on.

We need to understand God's will and its components before we tell the person prostrate with grief that "It's God's will." As I read this incredible treatise, I viewed us as being in God's ICU unit and God taking care of us as only He can do, no matter what our circumstances.

Thank You, Father, for being our Physician in Your ICU unit!