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Friday, December 30, 2016


We all know the stories of miracles in the Bible---two loaves and fishes multiplying to feed 500 people, the pot of oil that did not run dry until the famine ended, an iron ax head that floated, and many more. We say we believe those things happened and that we serve a God who can do the impossible. But do we really believe it? Do miracles still happen today? 
Let me answer that question by passing on to you a story I read this week on Lucinda Miller's blog. She is a conservative Mennonite writer in Wisconsin. Here it is, in her exact words.

The second answered prayer I want to praise Him for happened to my brother in law, Jeff.
Recently, on a cold winter day, his three little daughters stayed at our place while their mom was gone. Jeff came by to pick them up after work. He was near the village of Tony, about 10 miles from our place, and already running late, when the gas light went on. I’ll make it, he thought.
But later, pulling out of our place with 15 miles still to drive, he started to worry a little. So cold out. And he had the girls.
“Pray we have enough gas to make it home,” he told them.
So they did. As little girls do, taking it for granted that of course God would answer.
They arrived home without trouble, and he pulled right up to their gas tank to fill the car. But when he stuck the nozzle in–glug, glug, glug. Three glugs, and gas was running out the top. The car was full.
Impossible. It took time to get gas from this tank–it was gravity-pulled. And this had been only seconds, anyway. Not enough time to fill any car from any tank.
“What does the gas gauge say?” he asked his oldest, MacKenzie.
“Oh, it’s close to full,” she said.
He looked himself, and the gauge was full up.
It couldn’t be a glitch in the gas gauge. He’d driven the car four hundred miles yesterday and knew it was empty. And there was no way anyone could have filled it in the twenty-five miles between Tony and home.
The only explanation: God.
But why?
He could have gotten them home easily enough without filling the tank.
“I think it was to show me it was really Him,” Jeff said. “I’m usually pretty skeptical about stories like that.”
He’d had a conversation only recently with a man who didn’t believe in God. “The only reason you do,” he told Jeff, “is because you were brought up that way.”
And Jeff had wondered if he was right. 

If God had answered their prayer by merely making the gas reach to get them home, they probably would have said, "Thank God we made it. That was close." But God proved He was real in a way that could not be doubted or denied by filling the tank. How can that be? The things that are impossible with men are possible with God.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Fame Is an Illusion

The most prominently displayed news item in this morning's paper was the death of Carrie Fisher. I never heard of her but learned she was famous for her role in the Star Wars movies. I never saw any of the movies and don't know the story line in any of them. I certainly don't feel like I missed something of worth. According to the article, Carrie Fisher struggled with addictions and mental illness all her life. Fame and wealth did not bring her happiness or inner peace. She was to be pitied, not envied or idolized. 
This got me to thinking. Carrie Fisher was famous but I never heard of her. How many more people are there like me in the world who never heard of her? What percentage of the world's population knew her name or what she was? Maybe not as many as she thought.
Pride was the original sin and caused the downfall of Satan. He dangled the temptation of pride in front of the first people on earth, suggesting they could be as wise as God. And they fell for it--and because of it. The consequences of that choice have reverberated through history and people today are still doing the same thing. 
We are tempted to pat ourselves on the back and think we're greater than we really are. When that happens, we should consider the true measure of our importance. How many people are there in the world who never heard of me? Do they feel like they are missing something by not knowing me? Probably not. 
Fame is an illusion. Michael Jackson said, "Success, fame, and fortune are all illusions. All there is that is real is the friendship that two can share." He would know. He had success, fame, and fortune and found all of them were hollow. He was a global superstar who became a sad figure haunted by lawsuits, paparazzi, and failed plastic surgery. He had no intimate friendship that was real and satisfying and died at the age of 50 from a drug overdose.  
The majority of the world's population never heard my name nor do they care. By the world's standards, I am not a success or famous or rich. And yet I am richer than Michael Jackson and Carrie Fisher because I share a friendship with One who is closer than a brother. That is real and satisfying. I don't need to resort to drugs and alcohol because my Friend fills all the needs of my heart. That is the greatest fortune possible and true successful living. 

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Merry Christmas

Max Lucado is one of my favorite authors. Here is a Christmas quote from him.

"He came, not as a flash of light or as an unapproachable conqueror, but as one whose first cried were heard by a peasant girl and a sleepy carpenter. God tapped humanity on its collective shoulder. "Pardon me," He said, and eternity interrupted time, divinity interrupted carnality, and heaven interrupted the earth in the form of a baby. Christianity was born in one big heavenly interruption."

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let every heart prepare Him room and heaven and nature sing!
Merry Christmas

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Security Blanket

A Charlie Brown Christmas is one of the most iconic Christmas movies ever released--there's no doubt about that!
Even though it's been viewed millions and millions of times, by people all over the world, there's a scene that often goes unnoticed. Unknown to those watching the movie, this special scene is one of the most important!
As most people know, Charlie and friends spend a majority of the movie trying to get Linus to stop clutching his blanket. But Linus refuses, despite the fact holding it causes him embarrassment, harassment and anguish. He won't let go of his safety blanket, no matter what they say. 
But that comes to an end when Linus steps on stage to recite a Bible passage, Luke 2:8-14---one that he says embodies the true meaning of Christmas.

"And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 
And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon then, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."

When he says, "Fear not," Linus releases his grip on the blanket, lets it drop to the floor, and finishes reciting the passage without it! Then he goes over to Charlie Brown and says, "That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown."
Linus was right, Luke 2:8-14 is the true meaning of Christmas. God's presence gives believers a feeling of hope when they need it most, strength when they're struggling and the power to overcome fear in times of worry.
Letting go of the blanket is a symbol of Linus' faith in God---the seemingly afraid little boy knows that He is with him every step of the way. And in that moment, he has the strength to drop his safety blanket! That scene was deliberately placed in the script to convey a message, and just like the miraculous birth of Jesus, the world missed it.