SARI BY DESIGN: BEAUTY… PURPOSE… HOPE

Ravi Zacharias shared a story about visiting a site known for making the highest quality wedding saris in the world. His account reminds me that God’s child can trust the Father for He has a plan for creating beauty and purpose from even heartache and sadness. Any hope perceived is based on the fact that God is trustworthy.

Ravi shared, “With such intricacy of detail I expected to see some elaborate system of machines that would boggle the mind in production. But this image could not have been further from the real scene. Each sari was made individually by a father and son team.

The father sat above the son on a platform surrounded by several spools of thread that he would gather into his fingers. The son had only one task. At a nod from his father he would move the shuttle from one side to the other and back again. This would then be repeated for hundreds of hours until a magnificent pattern began to emerge….

The son certainly had the easier task. He was only to move at the father’s nod. But making use of these efforts, the father was working to an intricate end. All along he had the design in his mind and was bringing the right threads together….

God alone can weave a pattern from the disparate threads of our lives – whether suffering, success, joy, or heartache – and fashion a magnificent design. Perhaps today if you will stop and reflect on it, you will see that the Father is seeking to weave a beautiful tapestry in your life.”

I gain hope from Ravi’s account. It reminds me that Father God is the Master Designer. It challenges me to trust my Father enough to follow His leading. Then He will accomplish a work of beauty and purpose with my life. That truly gives me reason to be hopeful!

“For we know all things work together for good to those who love the Lord, to those who are called according to His purpose.”  (Romans 8: 28)

“Let me hear Your lovingkindness in the morning; For I trust in You; Teach me the way in which I should walk; For to You I lift up my soul.”  (Psalm 142: 8)

KYLA MUELLER: STRENGTH & HOPE

If you watched the final night of National Republican Convention’s televised program last week, then you know there was a focus on “everyday Americans whose stories are filled with hope and patriotism.”

We met two Americans who are suffering huge loss and unending heart-break. Marsha and Carl Mueller of Arizona are parents of Kayla Mueller, a 26 year old humanitarian aid worker, who was murdered by terrorists of ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) in 2015.

Kayla was taken captive in 2013 while aiding Syrian refugees in Syria and Turkey. She endured brutal torture for more than 500 days until her murder. Kayla’s story moves us to tears, yet it also gives me hope.

In addition to this work in Turkey with an international aid agency, her previous causes include work in India with Tibetan refugees; in the Middle East; in Israel helping African refugees; in her own country and abroad providing free food, education, and medical care for those in need; and other causes to alleviate pain and suffering.

While working to help children at an orphanage in India, Kyla expressed, “I find God in the suffering eyes reflected in mine. If this is how You are revealed to me, this is how I will forever seek You.”

To say that Kayla’s life mattered is an understatement! She lived to make a difference, and she left this world a better place. She was described as “a devout Christian,” who lived her faith. She shared her God-given gifts wherever she went. I believe Kayla’s life gives hope to anyone who seeks to live a life with purpose.

Other captives who were released or who escaped were impacted by Kyla’s “strength and compassion.” Her concern for others was proven even to the point of giving up an escape attempt for other women’s opportunities for freedom.

After months of ongoing torture and brutality, ISIS members tried claiming she had abandoned her Christian faith in front of men prisoners, but in fact she defended it…. According to another captive, a Danish photographer, the men in the room “…were impressed by the strength that she showed in front of us. That was very clear.” Her faith was real and strong even in darkest trials unto death.

Kyla’s mother shared a letter that Kayla had written about 8 months after her captivity that had been smuggled out by another hostage. Mrs. Mueller said, “As we read it, we could see that God was holding her in His arms.”

This statement reminds me that no matter our trial — even surrounded by the enemy — God is the Source of comfort and strength for one’s soul. According to Deuteronomy 33: 27, “The eternal God is a dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms….”

Kayla explained that she “felt tenderly cradled in freefall.” As a believer in such “freefall,” Kyla found there is a foundation on which to land. That foundation is “The Solid Rock,” “Rock of Ages” — Jesus Christ Himself. During the hardest experience of her young life, she must have relied on hope in Christ for strength to endure. Then she was carried in loving arms to her eternal home to rest in peace. At last.

Kyla acknowledged, “I have been shown in darkness, light and have learned that even in prison one can be free. I am grateful….” She experienced freedom in her spirit that reflected her inner condition not her outer circumstances. Her response was gratitude. What an example for me — for all of us!

Kyla added, “None of us could have known it would be this long, but know I am also fighting from my side in the ways I am able, and I have a lot of fight left inside of me….” That resolve required strength beyond herself. Those who do not give up surely have hope.

I do not see Kyla Mueller as merely an “everyday American” but as a hero of faith. She was clearly a rare human with extraordinary courage and strength, whose story does not end with her murder. I believe hers is an eternal story that will continue forever. That is reason for hope.

I pray for Marsha and Carl Mueller to have strength until that blessed day when they will reunite with their daughter, Kyla, whose Christian faith became sight, the result of the glorious hope that was in her.

“The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”
(Deuteronomy 31: 8)

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”
(Psalm 23: 4)

“For the Lord hears the needy and does not despise His who are prisoners.”
(Psalm 69: 33)

“From my distress I called upon the Lord; The Lord answered me and set me in a large place. The Lord is for me; I will not fear; What can man do to me?”
(Psalm 118: 5 – 6)

“Do not fear for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”
(Isaiah 41: 10)

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners; To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord and the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn, to grant those who mourn in Zion, giving them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord that He may be glorified.”
(Isaiah 61: 1 – 3)

“Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You or thirsty and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in or naked and clothe You? When did we see You sick or in prison and come to You?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine even the least of them, you did it to Me.’”
(Matthew 25: 34-40)

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled nor let it be fearful.”  (John 14: 26 – 27)

“These things I have spoken to you so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
(John 16:33)

“And 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.”
(Romans 8: 28)

“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. ‘But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
(Romans 12: 10 – 16)

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”
(2 Corinthians 3: 17)

“We are afflicted in every way but not crushed; perplexed but not despairing; persecuted but not forsaken; struck down but not destroyed.”
(2 Corinthians 4: 8 – 9)

“For all things are for your sakes so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
(2 Corinthians 4: 15 – 18)

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
(Hebrews 11: 1)

“Let love of the brethren continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it. Remember the prisoners as though in prison with them and those who are ill-treated since you yourselves also are in the body.”
(Hebrews 13: 1 – 3)


“My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness… When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay… On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; All other ground is sinking sand….”
(from THE SOLID ROCK by Edward Mote)

“Rock of Ages, Cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in thee…
Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling…
While I draw this fleeting breath,
When mine eyes shall close in death… Rock of Ages, Cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in thee.”
(from ROCK OF AGES by Augustus Toplady)

FORTY-YEAR MILESTONE: WISDOM & HOPE

A forty-year birthday marks a milestone that I can hardly believe my son has reached. It does not mean that he is old or “over the hill” as some say — but perhaps it does indicate that his parents are!

How well I remember his birth as a time of joy, hope, thankfulness, and with prayers for him and his future. Having him as a son still fills me with the same feelings of joy, hope, and thankfulness. I continue to pray for him, his future, and his beautiful family with whom he is blessed.

So many prayers have been answered along his life’s journey so far. I have experienced exceeding parental pride through these 40 years. I have loved watching his gift of encouragement impact others. I have learned the value of wisdom for his life perhaps through recognizing its need in my own.

Proverbs, a book of Wisdom, is a good reference for living well. It offers wisdom for all generations — mine, my son’s, and his child’s. It offers hope that all of us need at every age of life.

Today my prayer is for my son to always know God’s  Wisdom and Hope. They are found in the Bible and can be easily instilled in the head by reading. They can only be deeply ingrained in the heart by God’s Holy Spirit. They are worth the sacrifice of time and study.

Happy birthday, my beloved son! May your life be full of Wisdom and Hope always!

“My son, do not forget my teaching,
But let your heart keep my commandments;
For length of days and years of life
And peace they will add to you.
Do not let kindness and truth leave you;
Bind them around your neck,
Write them on the tablet of your heart.
So you will find favor and good repute
In the sight of God and man.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.
Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your body and refreshment to your bones.
Honor the Lord from your wealth, and from the first of all your produce;
So your barns will be filled with plenty and your vats will overflow with new wine.
My son, do not reject the discipline of the Lord or loathe His reproof,
For whom the Lord loves He reproves,
Even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights.
How blessed is the man who finds wisdom
and the man who gains understanding.
For her profit is better than the profit of silver and her gain better than fine gold.
She is more precious than jewels; And nothing you desire compares with her.
Long life is in her right hand; In her left hand are riches and honor.
Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace.
She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, and happy are all who hold her fast.
The Lord by wisdom founded the earth, By understanding He established the heavens.
By His knowledge the deeps were broken up, and the skies drip with dew.
My son, let them not vanish from your sight;
Keep sound wisdom and discretion,
So they will be life to your soul and adornment to your neck.
Then you will walk in your way securely, and your foot will not stumble.
When you lie down, you will not be afraid; When you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.”  (Proverbs 3: 1 – 24)

PANDEMIC: HOPE OR FEAR

We all are aware that a deadly virus is spreading fear across our planet. What can we do? How shall we cope? Where can we find hope?

Many people offer ways to cope with fear, and some try to offer hope even in the midst of a pandemic. (I do not have all the answers, but I know Who does.)

That which we face right now is beyond our control, but we can choose how we react to our new world condition. So then… how do we react to the overwhelming uncertainty that is our current reality?

First each one of us needs to know without a doubt that we are God’s child. We can choose to exercise His gift of faith, and if we have prayed sincerely to accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, we can know.

When we know Him, then we can experience hope in whatever we face in life. We turn from going our own way to going His way. We learn His way by reading His Word and spending time with Him in prayer.

We need to refuse to dwell on fear and negativity. We can choose to focus on God’s Word instead. When we feel fear creeping into our minds, we can feed on Scriptures that share His hope and His promises.

We can pray for His peace and comfort in our current circumstance — whatever it is. We can choose to intentionally experience His presence knowing that He will never leave us nor forsake us according to His Word. In fact, God’s Holy Spirit is here to comfort us.  Knowing this brings hope to any circumstance.

We can acknowledge that God is in control of our lives, and nothing takes Him by surprise. We can remember that He cares for us. He loves us so much that He provided our salvation — a sacrifice not given lightly to then leave us abandoned to the ways of a world spinning out of control or to an evil randomly having its own way. We can trust God to finish what He started in the world and in our individual lives. Again, knowing this brings hope to our lives.

May we acknowledge and accept God’s providential will when we recognize it. May we pray for discernment, so we will be aware of His purposes. When we understand His will we can experience His hope.

May we study His Book — the Holy Bible — so we can trust the ending of His story. If we do this then we can look forward without fear. May we believe that His way is best and that our future includes a glorious eternity in His presence with a home Jesus Christ has prepared just for us. When we trust Him for the world to come, we can trust Him in this one. That is real hope.

Also we can care for those around us. We can share the hope that we have in Christ with others, who may be struggling with fear. If we personally know His love, then we will have enough hope to share.

We will contemplate God’s love and care whenever we feel fear overpower our faith. We will practice prayer, choose faith, meditate on the Scriptures, and intentionally respond in hope not in fear.

I do not pretend to know the details of our future lives, but I believe the Bible that says all things will be for our good and His glory. Beyond this I will leave the details to Him. Although that is sometimes easier said than done, I believe He is worthy of our faith and trust.

He alone is God. In Him alone our hope is found. Since He is still on His throne, I can sleep at night knowing that He has got this pandemic.

 

“These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.”  (1 John 5:13)

“The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the defense of my life; Whom shall I dread?”  (Psalm 27:1)

“But He [Jesus] answered and said, ‘It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.'”  (Matthew 4:4)

“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper that He may be with you forever.”  (John 14:16)

“For I am confident of this very thing that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 1:6)

“And 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.”  (Romans 8:28)

“I will lift up my eyes to the mountains from where shall my help come? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is your keeper; The LORD is your shade on your right hand. The sun will not smite you by day nor the moon by night. The LORD will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul. The LORD will guard your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever.”  (Psalm 121:1-8)

BIBLE READING: SUSPENDERS AND HOPE

I remember as a young child that if a cartoon on television showed a man’s pants falling down viewers witnessed polka dotted boxer shorts. It was embarrasing to the man and laughable to the audience.

Worse than the embarrassment of pants down, it could be downright dangerous for the man to attempt to walk with his pants around his ankles. He was sure to be unable to maneuver without falling, which only added to his funny situation and was certain to bring more laughs.

Perhaps the day could have been saved — as well as the man’s pride — if he had worn suspenders. Suspenders, while a useful invention, are not typically in one’s thoughts. In today’s blogpost they are the object of a spiritual illustration. Who would have thought?

Of course our faith has a foundation to keep us on our feet. If we fall spiritually it is not as funny as cartoon humor. Such falling is preventable, and prevention may be as simple as wearing suspenders!

What could possibly serve as spiritual suspenders? The Bible, God’s Word, keeps our Christian pants up so to speak. Today far too many are caught at times with their “pants down,” because they neglect God’s Word.

I think if we are careful to feast on God’s Word daily, then this serves as “suspenders” to hold up more than our pants. It holds us up to stand firm… to stand for that which is right and against that which is wrong. People who share our planet need to witness those who are able to stand spiritually. It is possible but not in our own strength.

How does the Bible support believers? It may be called God’s Word, the law, precepts, statutes, ordinances, or commandments, but it is not called suggestions or options. One reason to read… to study… to learn the Bible is because it is a command.

When we get serious about the Bible and fill our hearts, heads, and lives with it, then we’ll find that it has divine power to help us to stand. It is for us all to ponder, to meditate on, and to live by. If we have a daily feast on God’s Word, then we will be stronger spiritually. It is spiritual nourishment that can provide that which is needed for growth and strength of our spirits.

Where to begin? Proverbs offers a chapter for each day of our month. Psalms offers easy-to-relate-to chapters throughout this Old Testament book for our varied personal situations in life. Job is especially helpful in times of deep suffering. Read Genesis to understand the account of Creation.

The gospel of John is a good New Testament book to begin for those not used to reading it. On and on it goes; something for us all no matter where we find ourselves.

My point is we need to read it! We need to get to know the Word of God. It’s even more important to get to know the God of the Word. Let’s put on our spiritual “suspenders” daily. Doing so will help us to stand for Him and will increase our hope.

 

“But He answered and said, ‘It is written, Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’”  (Matthew 4:4)

“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; So that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”  (2 Timothy 3: 16, 17)

“For the Word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit of both joints and marrow and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”  (Hebrews 4: 12)

“But know this first of all that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, For no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”  (2 Peter 1: 20, 21)

“Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes, and I shall observe it to the end.

Give me understanding, that I may observe Your law and keep it with all my heart.

Make me walk in the path of Your commandments, for I delight in it.

Establish Your word to Your servant, as that which produces reverence for You.”  (Psalm 119: 33 – 35, 38)

“I shall delight in Your commandments, which I love.

And I shall lift up my hands to Your commandments, which I love; and I will meditate on Your statutes.

Remember the Word to Your servant, in which You have made me hope.

This is my comfort in my affliction, that Your Word has revived me.”  (Psalm 119: 47 – 50)

“I have not turned aside from Your ordinances, for You Yourself have taught me.

How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

From Your precepts I get understanding; Therefore I hate every false way.

Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

I have sworn, and I will confirm it that I will keep Your righteous ordinances.

I am exceedingly afflicted; Revive me, O Lord, according to Your Word.

O accept the freewill offerings of my mouth, O Lord, and teach me Your ordinances.”
(Psalm 119: 102 – 108)

“Those who love Your law have great peace, and nothing causes them to stumble.

I hope for Your salvation, O Lord, and do Your commandments.

My soul keeps Your testimonies, and I love them exceedingly.

I keep Your precepts and Your testimonies for all my ways are before You.

Let my cry come before You, O Lord; Give me understanding according to Your word.

Let my supplication come before You; Deliver me according to Your Word.

Let my lips utter praise for You teach me Your statutes.

Let my tongue sing of Your Word for all Your commandments are righteousness.

Let Your hand be ready to help me for I have chosen Your precepts.

I long for Your salvation, O Lord, and Your law is my delight.

Let my soul live that it may praise You, and let Your ordinances help me.

I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek Your servant for I do not forget Your commandments.”  (Psalm 119: 165 – 176)

DAUGHTER’S BIRTHDAY: HOPE AND PRAY

  • January 31, 1985, was unforgettable for me. A precious bundle of beautiful baby was delivered via C-section where a record winter snow had just covered the world outside.

She weighed “about 9 pounds,” according to an experienced doctor, who proved accurate (exactly nine pounds) according to the scales. A length of twenty-two and a half inches meant she was half an inch longer than her older brother had been four and a half years earlier.

She really was a beautiful baby, and every possible moment was spent just holding her and being awed by such a miraculous gift. Sincere promises were made to love her and to do my best to take care of her and to be there for her… always. From my heart came prayers for her physical, mental, and spiritual growth, and with hope for her future.

Today I wonder how 35 years have gone by so quickly. If I am alive another 35 years then I’ll be 100! It seems strange to ponder these thoughts of time passing and of aging, but… “c‘est la vie” (“that’s life”).

These past 35 years have been full of continuing love, joy, prayers, and special memories. I’m still thankful for the awesome gift she is and appreciative of her tender heart and gentle spirit. She’s still my “little dear” even though she now stands about four inches taller than I do (there’s a funny story about where she gets her “tall genes”).

We laugh when her actions sometimes show she is “a chip off the block.” We’ve (partially) merged my realism-leaning art appreciation with her abstract-leaning artistic talents. Together we share a meaningful special song…. She constantly broadens my horizons in many ways, and best of all she has caused my heart to grow exponentially in ways she cannot imagine.

I pray the best for her, which means God’s best. He’ll do His part; she must do hers. May she… “Trust in the Lord with all” her “heart, and…” “not lean on” her “own understanding. In all… ways acknowledge Him, and He will make” her “paths straight.”

I still pray for her, and as long as I have breath and consciousness I will still hope for her future.

Happy birthday, Little Dear!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3: 5,6)

Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair and wearing gold jewelry or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.” (1 Peter 3: 3, 4)

BIBLICAL WISDOM: HOPE & PEACE

You’ll probably agree that we earthlings live on a troubled planet and may be on the verge of even bigger trouble. Terrorists and tyrants share this planet with those of us who are peaceful law-abiding citizens. Unfortunately they don’t want to share with anyone who differs in political views, religion, or race. Therein lies the problem — with potential for worsening problems.

Are there lessons from history to prevent the most deadly and destructive effects of power-crazed tyrannical political leaders? Can we learn how to avoid repeats of history’s greatest atrocities? Shall we be hopeful regarding the state of the planet or just give in to utter hopelessness?

The attack of Pearl Harbor and WW2 was a very difficult time for America. Some have thought we can learn valuable lessons from that time and have urged us to remember its lessons.

Gordon Prang, author of Pearl Harbor: The Verdict of History, said, “Humanity cannot afford to forget the lessons of Pearl Harbor. The world is much too small, the risk is much too great, the time is much too late.”

President Franklin Roosevelt, to whom Americans looked for hope, said, “It is our obligation to the dead — it is our sacred obligation to their children and to our children — that we must never forget what we learned. And what we have  learned is this.

There is no such thing as security for any nation — or any individual in a world ruled by the principles of gangsterism.

There is no such thing as impregnable defense against powerful aggressors who sneak up in the dark and strike without warning.

We have learned that our ocean-girt hemisphere is not immune from severe attack — that we cannot measure our safety in terms of miles on any map anymore.”

I think history should be studied during times of peace and of uncertainty. Wise students are less likely to repeat the negative and more likely to follow the positive. Wisdom is a needed component while journeying through life. Believing this and knowing the Source of wisdom and accessing it are different matters.

If we all followed wisdom from above, then it would be easier to live with hearts full of hope. Even when all do not, we can still experience hope when we trust God as the Source of wisdom. Wise choices lead to righteous living, and sowing peace yields blessings to the  peacemakers. The Bible teaches wisdom to make wise choices and offers hope.

“Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom.

But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth.

This wisdom is not that which comes down from above but is earthly, natural, demonic.

For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.

And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”

(James 3: 13 – 18)

MIRACLE ON THE HUDSON: HOPE, PRAY, SURVIVE

It’s been ten years since an incident involving US Airways Flight 1549 was called “Miracle on the Hudson.”

“On January 15, 2009, US Airways Captain Chesley ‘Sully’ Sullenberger became an overnight hero when he and his crew safely ditched a commercial airliner in the freezing waters of the Hudson River after an unlucky encounter with a flock of geese. All 155 passengers and crew aboard survived….” (Conde’ Naste Traveler)

It’s been the subject of countless news stories, books, and a Clint Eastwood movie, “Sully,” starring Tom Hanks and Aaron Eckhart, and is still remembered by many of us. True stories with life-and-death drama and real-life heroes usually are memorable.

Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger and first officer Jeffrey Skiles had precious few seconds to plan and execute a safe landing of the plane. A portion of the Hudson River between Manhattan and New Jersey was quickly deemed the best choice for an emergency landing. Miraculously all on board survived (with only five serious injuries).

“What’s remarkable is how quickly everything happened, especially given the outcome. Two minutes after taking off from LaGuardia airport, the plane ran into the flock of Canada geese. The birds hit both engines, creating the near total loss of thrust…. The plane was just 2,800 feet up and nowhere near its cruising speed — meaning the pilots had, maximum, a few minutes to find a safe path to the ground.

That left the river below them, which was in fact a rather fine choice. That part of the Hudson is about 4,000 feet wide, so the pilots didn’t have to come down perfectly parallel to the waterway like they would on a 150-foot-wide runway. It’s a whole lot longer, too, so they wouldn’t have to worry about overrunning it if they came down too late. And while water’s not as smooth as a paved runway, it’s an acceptable place to touch down in a pinch.”
(Alex Davies, “Wired”)

“The NTSB concludes that the captain’s decision to ditch on the Hudson River rather than attempting to land at an airport provided the highest probability that the accident would be survivable.”

I have hope when heroes like “Sully” Sullenberger and Skiles are identified. They did their best that could be done, and lives were saved. It’s been called a miracle, and I agree. I think it was a beautiful and providential pairing: divine assistance with two people ready to participate in the miraculous during a fleeting moment in time.

Surely survivors were thankful, and they may live with more hope than before they experienced the miracle up close and personal. Considering how a seemingly ordinary event on an ordinary day with ordinary people can in seconds turn into an extraordinary need for a miracle, I’ll try to live in hope and will continue to pray.

I’ll place my hope in Sovereign God as my pilot and pray for a miracle. Then if I survive may I be faithful to abide in the Creator and Sustainer of life. If I don’t survive, then He’ll take me home, and either way it’s a win for me.

 

“The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all.”
(Psalm 103:19)

The Spirit of God has made me, and the Almighty gives me life.” (Job 33: 4)

“Yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from Whom are all things, and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by Whom are all things, and we exist through Him.”
(I Corinthians 8: 6)

He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”
(Colossians 1: 17)

EAGLES’ WINGS: HOPE TO SOAR

It gives comfort and hope to trust promises from Creator God. One such comforting and hopeful promise was proclaimed by the Prophet Isaiah of Old Testament times. I especially like Isaiah 40: 31, the verse that provides a visual for my mind’s eye.

“Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired,
they will walk and not become weary.”

(Isaiah 40: 28 – 31)

Our Great God helps the helpless, gives hope to the hopeless, and strengthens the weak. His promises give comfort as well as hope. They are true for all believers whether young, adult, or even mature Christians. His promises give hope even when we are weary. Notice I said when not if.

Eagles are majestic creatures especially in flight. I remember the first time I saw an eagle in nature. I watched in awe as it flew directly overhead. The experience was memorable, and the word that came to my mind at the time was “majestic.”

Since then my family has visited viewing sites where eagles nest during the winter. We’ve observed them in their nests on rocky cliffs, sweeping down to catch fish from a lake, and soaring majestically on air currents.

Have you considered that eagles are designed with characteristics that allow them to do what they do? They are known for their exceptional vision and keen ability to focus long distances. In fact an eagle may have the sharpest vision of any bird. Also eagles alone have the distinction of flying at the highest altitudes.

Eagles are designed with very long and large wings. Their wings are long and wide to bear their own body weight and additionally the weight of fish they catch and carry with their sharp and powerful talons.

According to scientists who studied eagles, Jon Gerrard and Gary Bortolotti, “Eagles are capable of sustained flapping flight, but they usually spend little time doing it.”

One eagle observed intensively in flight averaged less than 2 minutes per hour flapping. It’s understandable considering the large expenditure of energy required by the pectoral and supracoracoid muscles to power their huge wings. The energy needed to maintain a bird in soaring or gliding flight is much less (perhaps a 20th or even less) than the power needed for flapping. Eagles always choose to soar or glide when possible.

“That is why when eagles are flying long distances, especially on migration, they often soar on thermals until they reach a great altitude, and then use the gliding/soaring method of flying to cover the longest distance using the smallest amount of energy.”

(Journey North, University of Wisconsin – Madison)

Just like the air currents provided for eagles that allow them to soar high and majestically, our God provides that which is needed for us to soar above the mundane and negative constraints of life. We may soar into abundant living when we appropriate the gifts and provisions that God wants to give us. How much we miss when we depend on our own power and fly (or fall) in our own strength (or weakness)!

I believe God designed us to soar high like eagles. He is like the thermals on which we soar highest as we rest in Him and depend on Him. He is the power to gain new strength and not become weary. Let’s trust Him, rely on  His promises, find hope, then get ready to soar like eagles!

Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired,
they will walk and not become weary.” (Isaiah 40: 31)

PETER LEMON: HOPE AND THE MEDAL

Veterans Day is an important time to honor and celebrate our veterans’ sacrifices, honorable deeds, and acts of service. Thank you, Veterans!

Today I recommend an unforgettable book I discovered approximately 20 years ago that is worthy to be read again and again. From this powerful book we learn about ordinary humans who performed extraordinary deeds. I think reading it is a perfect way to commemorate Veterans Day.

BEYOND THE MEDAL by Peter C. Lemon is a compilation of true stories by Congressional Medal of Honor recipients in their own words. Their stories, full of hope and inspiration, are by real people whose real situations compelled them to act heroically. Their choices and actions resulted in their receiving America’s highest honor.

Lemon’s book gives us opportunity to ponder the dependency on God by so many of the recipients who credit Him with giving them strength for the task. That gives me hope that God guides and provides even in the darkest situations.

In today’s world of superficial heroes I find hope in knowing our nation has produced worthy examples to honor. BEYOND THE MEDAL offers more than 90 such heroes, of which author Peter Lemon is one. Thanks again, Veterans.