5 years ago, a man walks into an Amish schoolhouse and shot 10 young girls.
Five of these girls passed away.
The Amish community was devastated and yet they offered up Christ-like forgiveness in the midst of tragedy.
The story did not end there.
A new article in the USA Today shares the story of Terri Roberts, the mother of the perpetrator of this heinous crime.
She has been quietly serving the victims of this crime for years. One girl in particular was left paralyzed and unable to speak. Terri Roberts visits this girl every Thursday and helps care for her, read to her, etc.
It's a beautiful story and I encourage you to read it:
Mother Cares for Son's Victims
As you let that sink in you can see more on the story at Thinking Out Loud, an awesome blog by Paul Wilkinson that you should check out.
I don't want to comment too much on the story, beyond saying that I am appalled that this televangelist would make such a flip comment.
The issue it raises in my mind, though, is what value we, as believers, put on our marriages period.
I am saddened when I see the divorce rate among Christians equaling that of non-Christians. It seems that as we imitate the world, we are also forgetting the plain words spoken by Jesus on the matter:
"Haven't you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate." "Why then," they asked, "did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?" Jesus replied, "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery."(Matthew 19:4-9)
Divorce was clearly not part of God's plan. In fact, it says that it was because their hearts were hard that Moses even spoke to the subject.
Hardened hearts should scare the HELL out of every Christian.
Divorcing a sick spouse is, in itself, sickening. And while we're thinking about it, might I add that way too much justification takes place in Christian circles, when it comes to the breakup of marriages--"I was lonely; I was bored; I was dissatisfied; He could never make me happy; she didn't meet my needs; I hated his job; she wasn't submissive; he didn't take leadership seriously..." Unless something's changed overnight, we don't live in a perfect world--we live in hopes of a perfect heaven, where Jesus meets our every need.
However, there is another issue at play here as well. While we may think we would never divorce because of illness, the enemy may gain ground in our marriages all the same. Are we even honoring our spouses? Where do we place our priorities? Are we chasing after our own pleasures or are we seeking to honor and bless the spouse (and maybe kids) that God has blessed us with?
Jesus loved extravagantly--sacrificially. He laid down His life for us out of love, yet in some marriages, it seems we forget to love as Christ loved and each seeks to get their own way.
It's a challenge to us all.
Can we love our spouses as Christ loved us? Will we put their needs and wants above our own? If both husband and wife seek to do that, then no matter what response it gains in the home, a harvest of righteousness is being sown, and there is peace in obedience.
Ultimately we are called to love though, without expecting a return!
I would love to see more Christians putting a priority on their marriages, above their own desires.
*Since this is about marriage, my wife and I wrote this piece together.
Today's Guest is Phil Callaway.
I've been enjoying Phil's articles in the Salvation Army magazine, Faith and Friends, for awhile now.
Phil Callaway is an award-winning author, speaker and daddy of three. The best-selling author of twenty-four books, Phil has been called "the funniest Canadian alive," but never by his high school teachers. He is a frequent guest on national radio and TV, and his humorous stories on family life have been featured in hundreds of magazines worldwide. But he insists that his greatest achievement was convincing his wife to marry him. Phil lives in Alberta, Canada with his high school sweetheart. They are married.
And now without further delay, on to the questions:
1. I have to ask about your new book, To Be Perfectly Honest. Why did you decide to write a book on honesty?
I've written somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 books. Only two titles have been at the suggestion of publishers. This was the second. For some reason they singled me out as a guy they could get to tell the unadulterated truth about my struggle to be 100% truthful. Or else they thought I have a problem telling the truth and this would be a good way for me to repent! They asked me to keep a diary of telling the whole truth for nothing but a year. It's been a grand adventure.
2. How hard was it to tell the truth?
3. You use humor to convey Biblical truth. Do you find people respond well to that approach?
It's funny. When I hear that question the first thing that comes to mind is that many have raked me over the coals for my use of humor to communicate the good news of Jesus Christ. One guy phoned to tell me, "We're in the last days here, this is hardly a time for laughter." I said, "Is that you Dad?" He didn't find that funny. The truth is, I can't stop laughing because the greatest punchline in all the world is that God loves the likes of me. Amazing. The vast majority, maybe 99.6 percent, have applauded the humor approach. I'm able to speak 100 times a year around the world precisely because I use humor. I'm a rather dull preacher. You wouldn't want to hear me preach. But I can tell stories so people will listen and these stories contain Scripture and very good news, the truth that God's grace is there for all of us. Much of my speaking is to secular audiences and again, it's the humor that gets me there. But when I'm there they will hear the story of my life, how I learned to stop chasing stuff that won't satisfy, the importance of leaving a legacy, and how I'd be dead without faith. I'm criticized by some believers who haven't read my books or heard me speak. They think I'm just a funny, shallow guy. But we've been through deep difficulties and the best humor is always born in adversity.
4. You write regularly in the Salvation Army mag, Faith and Friends. How did that relationship develop?
5. What do you hope people take away from your writing?
Oh, I hope they have a grin on their face when they close the book. A grin that comes from knowing that what we see around us isn't all there is. THat no matter what we're experiencing right now, God loves us, He has a plan and it's amazing. And we get eternity thrown in, so that's not a bad little bonus!
Thanks so much sir!
You're very welcome, Rick. I wish you all the best with the blog.To see past 5 Questions guests see 5 questions page under the tab above.
Today's Guest is one of my all-time favorite authors, Philip Yancey.
He is also an author I highly recommend.
Philip Yancey began his career as Editor of Campus Life Magazine. More than 15 million people have read his books since he was first published in 1977. His books have been translated into 35 languages. Philip explores the most basic questions and deepest mysteries of Christian faith and invites readers to join him on his journeys. His books have earned recognition including two Christian Book of the Year awards and 13 Gold Medallion awards.
And now without further delay, on to the questions:
1. Of all the books you have written, do you have a favorite?
Yes, Soul Survivor is my favorite, because in it I wrote about 13 of my heroes, people (some dead, some living) who shaped my faith and had a profound effect on me. I recommend that exercise to everyone: to give serious thought to people who have helped formed you--more, people you want to follow as role models. Interestingly, my own favorite books are not necessarily the best sellers. I like Soul Survivor, The Gift of Pain, and Reaching for the Invisible God, none of which topped the sales charts. A writer seldom knows what will connect most strongly with readers.
2. What do you see is the difference between mercy and grace?
The classic distinction is between grace (getting what you don't deserve) and mercy (not getting what you do deserve). There's an element of truth. We believe that as God judges our behavior, much mercy is involved, and we don't get what we deserve. Grace goes further, lavishing on us God's forgiveness and love that go well beyond modifications of justice and turn upside down the laws of the universe. In my book, I coin the word Ungrace to describe the karma-like law of the jungle that applies in finance, nature, foreign policy, and so many places. Grace cuts right across that.
3. How do you balance grace and truth when it comes to issues of sin?
It's important to me to realize that I'm not the judge, God is. If I see someone engaging in behavior I disapprove of, my instinct is to declare myself, to feel superior, to point out the flaw in the other person. When I give in to that instinct, I become the Pharisee that Paul describes do well in Romans 2-3. I'm not the judge; more, my own judgmentalism may be worse than what I'm judging--after all, Paul's sense of superiority led him to torture Christians. My job is to love people of whom I morally disapprove. I let God worry about the balancing act; I'm incapable of that. Of course, there are roles we assume--youth director, pastor, employer, parent--which require us to make difficult choices between grace and truth because the role sets us up as a kind of judge. But in every day life I must remind myself that I'm called to present God's love to the undeserving. That God loves good people isn't Good News; it's old news you can find in every religion. The radical nature of grace expresses God's love for bad people.
4. Your most recent book, What Good is God, again asks the tough questions. Do you ever hesitate in verbalizing what many are probably afraid to say or ask?
5. You have encouraged people around the world, who encourages you in your relationship with God?
My "pastors" are mostly books, by people like Eugene Peterson, Jurgen Moltmann, Henri Nouwen, Frederick Buechner. I look to them for inspiration and wisdom. My encouragers are my readers who write me or post comments on my website or on Facebook reminding me that I am not alone, that my efforts do make a difference, that we struggle together along a path, always seeing through a glass darkly, in hope of one day seeing the light face to face.Well there you go. I would encourage you to check out all of Philip Yancey's books and to visit his website: philipyancey.com Philip Yancey is on Facebook as well!
To see past 5 Questions guests see 5 questions page under the tab above.
Yeah that works. Do you ever feel like that? Work, family, just life in general can seem to pile up to the point where you feel like screaming. At times, I feel like that metal ball in a pinball machine, bouncing all around, off the sides and just when you think you may be coming to a place of rest, you get smacked hard and start the whole process over again!
Maybe that's why I have been drawn to the Psalms lately. This past year, I felt God really talking to me about letting some things go. Nothing major. More like saying no to things, cutting out some of the distractions, just setting priorities. I was in a bit of a winter season.
As much as you would like it to, life doesn't slow down. Yet in reading the Psalms, I find my heart being renewed. The Psalms are awesome because there is so much going on. David and the other psalmists express a lot of emotion. At times it's like a roller coaster in the midst of the Psalms. Up and down, lamentations and praise. Then there is something more...a word found 71 times in the Psalms.
When coming across this word in the Psalms, the reader is invited to pause and to meditate or reflect on the message. At least that is what has been happening to me. I come across Selah and I stop and re-read the passage. I reflect on what is being said. I meditate on the Word.
My life feels like the Psalms. Up and down, lamentations and praise. Yet in the midst of all of it, I feel God calling me to rest. To slow down and reflect. To pause. A friend called it a Selah moment. I like that.
No mater where you are at right now, I invite you to take a Selah moment with the King of Kings!
Psalm 46:10, "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations,I will be exalted in the earth!"
Just A Thought