Victims Forgive a Mass Murderer in the USA

Courage surprises us when we stumble on it unexpectedly. Compassion and love wash over us like a refreshing breeze in August, when we find them where we anticipated searing hate and vengeance.

On October 3, 2006, heavily-armed Charles Carl Roberts, 32, commandeered the one-room Amish schoolhouse at Nickel Mines, a farming community in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, about 60 miles west of Philadelphia.

The Amish are descendants of Swiss-German settlers from the Alsace-Lorraine region. Their Christian denomination places importance on the Gospel message of forgiveness. The Amish forbid the use of electricity in their homes, will not drive automobiles or tractors for fieldwork, and follow a strict dress code.

Roberts, who was not Amish, let the boys and adults in the school leave. Some speculate he planned to sexually molest the 10 girls he kept prisoner, but the police arrived too quickly for him to put his plan into action.

He shot all the girls, whose ages ranged from 6 to 13, killing five of them. Then he killed himself. He said he was mad at God, according to the surviving girls. He even asked them to pray for him.

But something astonishing happening before the carnage, according to Rita Rhoads, a midwife. Thirteen-year old Marian Fisher asked the killer to shoot her first, apparently hoping to let the younger girls survive.

Her 11-year old sister Barbie told the story to her grandfather who related it to Rhoads. Barbie appealed to the shooter to shoot her next. The younger sister survived. Continue reading

Try Time Travel For a Powerful Life

God has given humans the ability to travel into the past or a possible future. Our mind flies forward to see things that are going to happen; that friend we are going to see gives us joy even before he arrives. That rendezvous with the grouch- of-the-week makes us tremble, even before it happens.

A real key in a powerful life is to see what God wants to do before we get there. We don’t always know the specifics but we always know God has this future in his hands. Try to see it the way He wants it to be.

If you want to rip all the joy out of life today, imagine all the bad things that can happen in the future. Corrie Ten Boom once said, ““Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.”

At times the future scares me, because I feel inadequate for what I imagine might happen. I also get excited about the future when I see a ton of good things that might await me. What’s the difference?

Most people say that imaginary things aren’t real, but I’m not one of them. It’s crazy the effect they have on our lives. When I see a bear hiding in the darkness near the road I’m traveling on, I’m scared to death whether there is a bear there are not. I tremble, my heart beats faster, my peace is gone.

The bear may be imaginary, but he’s changed my life.

Time Travelers Sink Millions

Twelve spies traipsed off into the Promised Land. Millions of people had been exploring this Promised Land in their imagination, but they hadn’t been imagining a lot of problems. It’s not wrong to think of future problems. It’s just wrong to think about them and not count on God’s help.

Now the time had come to take hold of their promise. The spies walked through the land, their heads swiveled right and left. “Wow, look at that city! Look at how fertile this land is. But look at how strong those people are. They’re big. They are mean. I feel like a grasshopper standing alongside them.”

And they begin to travel to the future and see themselves stomped into the ground in any battle they might have with these people. Ten of them painted such a negative picture of the future that millions of people began to howl in defeat.

Before one single arrow had been fired!  Continue reading

Revenge On the Password Fairy

Am I the only one who has more passwords than good sense?

Everybody or everything demands a password or a code. And woe be unto you if you’ve forgotten your password. You jump through a labyrinth of hoops to get a new password, which you’ll probably forget just as soon as you get off the site.

And the password fairies turn up their nose at a password you can remember. Ever get a message like this, “Would you like Google to generate a password for you?” zxy93@#314xxxza43ooonb43xx#$.

“Put this password in a safe place where it can’t be stolen. No, idiot, not on your computer. Don’t you know that Russians and Nigerians can send little bugs into your computer which crawl around and steal your password? It could be the end of your life as you know it. Memorize it!”

“Memorize it!” you want shout back at the password fairy. “Do you have any idea of the advanced state of decomposition of my brain? Do you realize that I have nine hundred jillion other passwords in there … somewhere? If I could just remember them.”

If you don’t do it, though, the Russians or the Nigerians will hack your computer and you’ll be sorry. I wonder what it was that the Russians and Nigerians did to make a living before Internet.

Passwords! (Scream, scream, scream).

God Has a Password?

So, suspicious little bells ding when you find this in the Message paraphrase of Psalm 100:4 :

Enter with the password: ‘Thank you!’

    Make yourselves at home, talking praise.

    Thank him. Worship him.”

I know Eugene Peterson speaks metaphorically here in his paraphrase of Psalm 100, but not another password please! And to get into God’s presence no less. You know what, though? I think I can remember this password. “Thank you!” Continue reading

A Thousand-Generational Blessing for Your Family

I had a new thought recently as I was praying for my family. Lots of people like to say that you may be cursed for the sins of your fathers all the way to the third and fourth generation.

“You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments. (Exodus 20:5-7, NIV)

Now, I don’t know about the curses thing. I think we’re guilty of seeing what we want (to have something new and cool to preach?) But, why do we focus on the negative?

I’d say that this verse promises that the moment I put my faith in Christ, an atom bomb of blessings explodes in my life and all the curses are blown away. Look what He says, “…showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.”

When I give my life to Christ, the devil’s curse is broken and Christ promises a thousand years of blessing in my family.

Now, I know that sociologically, families pass on traits—good and bad. And we still must deal with this heritage in our life. But, in Christ, we’re no longer a prisoner! We can grow into something better.

Blessings — for Your Great, Great, Great, etc Grandkids
Continue reading

God’s Joy–Your Safe Place Against Catastrophie

I’ve played a lot of baseball in my life and probably watched as much as I played. One of the funniest things I ever saw was a game between Paraloma, the village where I grew up, and Graves Chapel. Graves Chapel wasn’t even a village, just an area where enough people lived to have a baseball team.

Not a very good baseball team, mind you, but a team nonetheless.

This particular day Paraloma was putting a whipping on them that even Mr. Clean couldn’t wash off (excuse me for getting a bit over the top). Late in the game Graves Chapel substituted a young guy for their third baseman. The replacement evidently hadn’t played much.

Not long afterwards a Paraloma player on second base took off trying to steal third. The catcher whipped it down to the third baseman who planted himself on the bag and waited for the runner to come so he could tag him out.

The baserunner saw that he was going to be out by a mile so he slowed and walked submissively towards where the green third baseman waited. The defender stretched out his glove to make the tag when suddenly the docile baserunner came alive and slid under his tag.

Safe!

The crowd exploded in laughter. I think even the sheepish young man’s own team was laughing. His coach took him out after that.

Safe! If you’re on the base, you’re safe. They can’t get you out.

Are You Safe?

Listen to this:

“Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe.” (Philippians 3:1, NKJV) The NIV and several other versions say it’s a “safeguard.”

It’s amazing, isn’t it? Rejoicing in the Lord makes us “safe!” It’s a safeguard. Continue reading