Prince of Peace

I thought I’d post a few times today and tomorrow about the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ and what it means to me and to some of the authors and fictional and actual characters that I have on my bookshelves. I’m going to take turns blogging and house-cleaning and see how that goes.

Don Richardson and his wife Carol were missionaries to the Sawi people of Irian Jaya. In 1962 they went to live among the Sawi, a cannabalistic and pagan people, and to translate the Bible into the Sawi language.

However, there was a big problem. The Sawi idealized violence so much that when they heard the story of Jesus’ betrayal by Judas and subsequent death, they admired Judas as the hero of the story, the man who was so clever that he could befriend Jesus and gain his trust and then betray him to his death.

Mr. Richardson was at a loss as to how to communicate to the Sawi people their need for a Savior and reshaping of their violent culture. Then, as Don and Carol were about to leave the Sawi in despair over their inability to communicate the truth of Christ’s sacrifice,something happened. The Sawi decided to make peace:

“Among the Sawi,every demonstration of friendship was suspect except one. If a man would actually give his own son to his enemies, that man could be trusted! That, and that alone, was a proof of goodwill no shadow of cynicism could discredit!

And everyone who laid his hand on the given son was bound not to work violence against those who gave him, nor to employ the waness bind for their destruction.”

After witnessing for himself the peace child ceremony in which the Sawi gave their own sons to each other as a peace bond, Mr. Richardson was able to give the Sawi good news:

“Because Myao Kodon (God) wants men to find peace with Him and with each other, He decided to choose a once-for-all tarop child good enough, and strong enough to establish peace, not just for a while, but forever! The problem was, whom should he choose? For among all human children, there was no son good enough or strong enough to be an eternal tarop.”

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

God made peace, eternal peace, between us and Him, between human beings, between the Sawi and the other tribes that they viewed as strangers and prey. And in our so sophisticated culture in which we view each other as rivals and strangers and either victors or victims, we need the peace of Jesus Christ just as much as the Sawi need it.

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility. Ephesians 2:13-14

Peace Child: An Unforgettable Story of Primitive Jungle Treachery in the 20th Century by Don Richardson is a wonderful demonstration of the efficacy of the gospel of Jesus Christ in all cultures and for all people.

Bad Religion by Ross Douthat

Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics by Ross Douthat.

New York Times columnist Ross Douthat has written a useful, compact history of the progression of Christian thought and heresy from the rise of modernism in the 1920’s (and again in the 1960’s)to the post-WW II revival of Christian neo-orthodoxy to the dissolution of church-going, especially in the mainline Protestant churches, in the 1960’s and 70’s, to the rise of evangelicalism to the present day lapse into mostly-heresy. Of course, these are trends not absolute descriptions of every Christian or every denomination.

I say it’s useful even though Douthat paints with a broad brush, and he admits that “a different set of emphases and shadings could yield a very different portrait of American Christianity at midcentury.” This caveat extends to the entire book. Douthat makes statements such as “the message of Christianity itself seemed to have suddenly lost its credibility” (in the 1970’s) or we are a nation “where gurus and therapists have filled the roles once occupied by spouses and friends.” I read these sorts of categorical statements, and at first I agree, but then I think of all sorts of exceptions and conditions and stipulations.

Maybe this book is the sort of nonfiction polemic which is best reviewed by my giving you a chapter-by-chapter summary of the major theses of Douthat’s argument, and then you can judge for yourself whether or not the book would be useful for you to read.

Part 1 of the book is history, a brief overview of the fluctuations in faith and practice of orthodox Christianity in the twentieth century and the twenty-first.

Chapter One: The Lost World. This chapter begins with the conversion to Catholicism of poet W.H. Auden and continues with Reinhold Niebuhr, Billy Graham, Archbishop Fulton Sheen, and Martin Luther King, Jr. as emblematic of the post-war return to Christianity and neoorthodoxy. Christian churches had the potential to become “the salt of the earth, a light to the nations, and a place where even modern man could find a home.”

Chapter Two: The Locust Years. The 1960’s and 70’s brought continued growth for conservative churches but but a crisis for mainline Protestant chuches and for Catholic parishes in the United States. “The culture of mainline Protestantism simply disintegrated,” and Catholics lost in terms of mass attendance, priestly and other vocations, and participation in almost every aspect of parish life. Douthat argues that political polarization, the sexual revolution, globalization and resulting religious universalism, and America’s ever-growing wealth combined to cause the decline in the credibility and eventually practice of the traditional, orthodox Christian message.

Chapter Three: Accomodation. Many churches and denominations responded to the challenges of the 60’s and 70 with an accomodationist message: “seek to forge a new Christianity more consonant with the spirit of the age, one better adapted to the trends that were undercutting orthodoxy.” The accomodationists, Catholic and Protestant, lost members, but didn’t simply disappear.

Chapter Four: Resistance. Other churches chose a different path: resistance to forces of modernism, sexual and materialistic hedonism, and moral relativism. Eventually, Catholics and Evangelicals found themselves as co-belligerents in resisting the “spirit of the age” and defending traditional Christian beliefs. As Evangelicalism grew, evangelicals re-engaged in politics and public life; Catholics moved away from adapting to the secular culture to the “tireless proselytization” and “moral arguments” of Pope John Paul II. However, the resistance wasn’t enough to stem the tide of heresy.

So, Part 2 of the book is entitled The Age of Heresy.

Chapter Five: Lost in the Gospels. Liberal, Dan Brown/Bart Ehrman/Eileen Pagels pseudo-Christian pseudo-scholarship encourages Americans to invent their own religion in which “no account of Christian origins is more authoritative than any other, ‘cafeteria’ Christianity is more intellectually serious than the orthodox attempt to grapple with the entire New Testament buffet, and the only Jesus who really matters is the one you invent for yourself.”

Chapter Six: Pray and Grow Rich. Joel Osteen, Kenneth Hagin, and others preach a Jesus who may not say crudely “name it and claim it” but who still “seems less like a savior than like a college buddy with really good stock tips, which are more or less guaranteed to pay off for any Christian bold enough to act on them.” I think Mr. Douthat goes a little off-course when he associates financial counselors like Larry Burkett and pastors such as Rick Warren, who Douthat admits have criticized the prosperity teaching of the Word-Faith movement, with that same heretical theology. It’s always tempting to tie everything into your thesis and make the chapter balance.

Chapter Seven: The God Within. “The message of Eat, Pray, Love (by Elizabeth Gilbert) is the same gospel preached by a cavalcade of contemporary gurus, teachers, and would-be holy men and women: Deepak Chopra and Eckhart Tolle, Paulo Coelho and James Redfield, Neale Donald Walsch and Marianne Williamson. It’s the insight offered by just about every spiritual authority ever given a platform in Oprah Winfrey’s media empire.” God exists, if He exists, inside our own hearts and minds and souls, a subset of Me.

Chapter Eight: The City on a Hill. Of course, it’s not just the New-Age liberals who have succumbed to heresy or to heretical tendencies. “A version of (American) exceptionalism is entirely compatible with Christian orthodoxy. . . Christianity makes room for particular loves and loyalties, but not for myths of national innocence or fantasies about building the kingdom of heaven on earth.” When Christians begin to go along with the slogan “my country, right or wrong” or worse, believe that America can do no wrong, they are in danger of placing a kingdom of this world before the kingdom of our Lord.

The final, brief section of Mr. Douthat’s book is a conclusion called The Recovery of Christianity. He suggests some possible sources and models for renewal: the emerging church movement, the neo-monastic movement, church growth in the countries of Asia, Africa, and Latin America, and societal and financial catastrophe that may vindicate and make relevant again the Christian message.

I have serious doubts that any of those four events and movements will be the catalyst that God uses for revival. However, as Mr Douthat writes, “the kind of faith that should animate such a (Christian) renaissance can be lived out Christian by Christian, congregation by congregation, day by day, without regard to whether it succeeds in changing the American way of religion as a whole.” God is responsible for revival; I am responsible to live an obedient life before Him daily.

I’ve given a broad overview of a book that has much specific food for thought, challenging, even convicting, words of warning, and a few practical ideas about “how we then should live.” Recommended for all Christians, especially those who are involved in and thinking about political and cultural engagement.

12/12/12: Themes of My Life

These are the twelve themes or ideas or motifs that God has placed in my heart, and consequently the 12 Big Ideas that appear most often here on Semicolon.

1. Books. I have a houseful of books I read lots and lots of books, probably over 100 per year. I love books; I live inside books. I write about books here at Semicolon a lot. Some of my favorite booklists (may be helpful for last minute Christmas gifts?):
Reading Out Loud: 55 Favorite Read Aloud Books from the Semicolon Homeschool.
History and Heroes: 55 Recommended Books of Biography, Autobiography, Memoir,and History
Giving Books: Dystopian and Post-Apocalyptic Fiction.
Giving Books: FOr the nieces and other girls in your life.
Nine Series for Nine Year Old Boys.
Narnia Aslant: A Narnia-Inspired Reading List.
Books for Giving (to kids who want to grow up to be . . .)
Best Spine-Tinglers
Best Journeys
Best Laughs
Best Crimes

2. Family, particularly large families. I have eight children. Five are grown-ups, and three are still growing. Actually, we’re all still growing. I don’t write as much about my children as I do about my books, privacy and all that jazz. But having a large family and seeing God through the joys and difficulties of large family life is one of the major themes of my life.

3. Community. Through family, yes, but also through the church, the neighborhood in which I live, and even through the blog-world, the experience of community is very important to me. I’m interested in community as an ideal, and I’m also interested in little communities that form around hobbies, intellectual pursuits, ethnic identities, and other kinds of people-glue. I want to know how a subculture develops around a shared interest like bicycling or collecting butterflies or playing Scrabble (Word Freak by Stefan Fatsis) or any other random interest, how those communities work and how they coalesce, what the rules are and how they resolve conflict.

4. The Bible. God’s Word has been a part of my life since I was a preschooler, and my mother read to me from the book of Genesis. I still remember how exciting and suspenseful the story of Joseph was, and how I wanted to know what would happen next. I have read the Bible numerous times, studied it alone and in groups, and still I find treasure, hope, reassurance, and life in the words of history, prophecy, poetry, gospel, and letters in the Bible. The Bible is the central book in my life, by which standard all the many, many other stories that I read stand and fall.

5. Prayer. God is still working out this theme in my life. I’m 55 years old, and I still long to know what it means to really, really pray. If God knows and has preordained everything that happens, why pray? I think part of what it means is to communicate the desires and depths of my heart in language, that God-given means of communication and organization. If I can put my inchoate feelings and thoughts into words and tell them to a God who really, really cares, then I participate in the creation of meaning somehow. I participate in God’s work on earth through prayer.

6. Language. We create community through language. God communicates with us and we with Him, mediated by language. The Word became flesh. What does that mean? We are creatures who speak a language, and that means something. One of my life’s quests is find out what it means to be a language-using creation and how to use those words to communicate truth.

7. Story-telling. One theme leads to another: from books to the Bible, to prayer, to language, to storytelling. Maybe they are all one grand motif that defines how God is working in my life.

8. History. I love family history, especially my family history, but others, too, if they have stories to tell. History is the story of how God created, how He creates in the events of our lives, and what it all means.

9. Singing and Poetry. Music, in general is nice, but singing, alone or with other people, is what I most love, what makes me feel alive. That’s why I did the 100 Hymns series: I love songs with words and poetry put to music. This theme ties into my fascination with language and words, but the melody adds another dimension.

10. Homeschooling. Education in general is a theme in my family and in my life. I pray that I will be always learning, always educating myself and others about the wonderful world where God has placed us. I believe that as a family we were called to homeschool, not because homeschooling ensures God’s blessing or favor nor because homeschooling is always better than any other way of educating young people into adulthood, but rather because it fits with the other themes and concerns of my life: the community in family, the immersion in language and story-telling, the transmission of God’s truth to another generation.

11. Evangelism and missions. I grew up in a Southern Baptist church, in GA’s and Acteens, two SBC missions organizations for girls. I am still immersed in the idea of how the gospel is spread to other people and cultures and active in supporting missions and missionaries.

12. Jesus. Last, not because he is the least of my life themes, but rather because He is the foundation. If I wrote a book, Jesus would be the underlying theme, perhaps unnamed as in the Book of Esther, but always present, always at work, always the Rock upon which everything else rests. In Him, we live and move and have our being.

You can see these themes embodied in this list of 52 things that fascinate me. Now it’s your turn. What are the themes of your life? Where has God led you to focus your energies and talents? What is it that wakes you up in the morning, draws you into study and/or action, makes you who you are?

Christmas in Rheims, France, 496 AD

A battle was fought at a place called Tolbiac, not far from the present city of Cologne. In this battle the Franks were nearly beaten, for the Alemanni were fierce and brave men and skillful fighters. When Clovis saw his soldiers driven back several times he began to lose hope, but at that moment he thought of his pious wife and of the powerful God of whom she had so often spoken. Then he raised his hands to heaven and earnestly prayed to that God.

“O God of Clotilde,” he cried, “help me in this my hour of need. If thou wilt give me victory now I will believe in thee.”

Almost immediately the course of the battle began to change in favor of the Franks. Clovis led his warriors forward once more, and this time the Alemanni fled before them in terror. The Franks gained a great victory, and they believed it was in answer to the prayer of their king.

When Clovis returned home he did not forget his promise. He told Clotilde how he had prayed to her God for help and how his prayer had been heard, and he said he was now ready to become a Christian. Clotilde was very happy on hearing this, and she arranged that her husband should be baptized in the church of Rheims on the following Christmas day.

Meanwhile Clovis issued a proclamation to his people declaring that he was a believer in Christ, and giving orders that all the images and temples of the heathen gods should be destroyed. This was immediately done, and many of the people followed his example and became Christians.

Clovis was a very earnest and fervent convert. One day the bishop of Rheims, while instructing him in the doctrines of Christianity, described the death of Christ. As the bishop proceeded Clovis became much excited, and at last jumped up from his seat and exclaimed:

“Had I been there with my brave Franks I would have avenged His wrongs.”

On Christmas day a great multitude assembled in the church at Rheims to witness the baptism of the king. A large number of his fierce warriors were baptized at the same time. The service was performed with great ceremony by the bishop of Rheims, and the title of “Most Christian King” was conferred on Clovis by the Pope. This title was ever afterwards borne by the kings of France.
~Famous Men of the Middle Ages by John H. Haaren.

Christmas in Northampton, Massachusetts, 1734

From A Faithful Narrative of the Surprising Work of God by Jonathan Edwards.

And then it was, in the latter part of December, that the spirit of God began extraordinarily to set in, and wonderfully to work amongst us; and there were, very suddenly, one after another, five or six persons, who were to all appearances savingly converted, and some of them wrought upon in a very remarkable manner.

Particularly, I was surprised with the relation of a young woman, who had been one of the greatest company-keepers in the whole town. When she came to me, I had never heard that she was become in any wise serious, but by the conversation I then had with her, it appeared to me, that what she gave an account of, was a glorious work of God’s infinite power and sovereign grace; and that God had given her a new heart, truly broken and sanctified. I could not then doubt of it, and have seen much in my acquaintance with her since to confirm it.

What a wonderful Christmas celebration, even if the Puritans didn’t celebrate Christmas!

INSPY Shortlists

The INSPY Advisory Board is pleased to announce the shortlists for the 2011 INSPY Awards.

Creative Nonfiction
Little Princes by Conor Grennan, William Morrow, January, 2011. Semicolon review here.
One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, Zondervan, January, 2011. Anne Voskamp started a list of 1000 reasons to be grateful to God. She ended up with a life full of gratitude and blessing, even in the hard times.
Passport Through Darkness by Kimberly L. Smith, David C Cook, January, 2011.
The Waiting Place by Eileen Button, Thomas Nelson, June, 2011.
The World is Bigger Now by Euna Lee & Lisa Dickey, Broadway, September, 2010. I also read this story of a journalist’s captivity in North Korea.

General Fiction
City of Tranquil Light by Bo Caldwell, Henry Holt & Co, September, 2010. Seriously good book. Semicolon review here.
The Blackberry Bush by David Housholder, Summerside Press, June, 2011.
The Reluctant Prophet by Nancy Rue, David C Cook, October, 2010.
Wolves Among Us by Ginger Garrett, David C Cook, April, 2011.
Words by Ginny Yttrup, B&H Publishing, February, 2011.

Back on Murder by J. Mark Bertrand, Bethany House, July, 2010.
Darkness Follows by Mark Dellosso, Realms, May, 2011.
Digitalis by Ronie Kendig, Barbour, January, 2011.
Over the Edge by Brandilyn Collins, B&H Publishing, May, 2011.
The Bishop by Steven James, Revell, August, 2010.

A Heart Most Worthy by Siri Mitchell, Bethany House, March, 2011.
A Hope Undaunted by Julie Lessman, Revell, September, 2010.
The Preacher’s Bride by Jody Hedlund, Bethany House, October, 2010.
Within My Heart by Tamera Alexander, Bethany House, September, 2010.
Yesterday’s Tomorrow by Catherine West, Oak Tara, March, 2011.

Speculative Fiction
Heartless by Anne Elisabeth Stengl, Bethany House, July, 2010
The Charlatan’s Boy by Jonathan Rogers, Waterbrook Press, October, 2010
The Falling Away by T. L. Hines, Thomas Nelson, September, 2010
The Resurrection by Mike Duran, Realms, February, 2011
The Skin Map by Stephen Lawhead, Thomas Nelson, August, 2010. CLIFFHANGER warning: Do not read this book unless you are prepared to wait however long it takes to have published however many books (5) Mr. Lawhead is planning to write to complete this series. The story is quite unfinished in this first volume. The second volume of a planned five book series, The Bone House, came out on September 6, 2011.

Young Adult
A Girl Named Mister by Nikki Grimes, Zondervan, August, 2010.
Losing Faith by Denise Jaden, Simon Pulse, September, 2010.
Saint Training by Elizabeth Fixmer, Zondervan, August, 2010.
The Fences Between Us by Kirby Larson, Scholastic, September, 2010. Semicolon review here.
The Truth of the Matter by Andrew Klavan, Thomas Nelson, September, 2010.

I get to be a judge in the Young Adult category, and I’m looking forward to working with fellow judges to choose winner from among the wonderful list of nominees.

Evening in the Palace of Reason by James R. Gaines

Toward the end of Johann Sebastian Bach’s life, he met Frederick the Great of Prussia. This book looks at the history of the early eighteenth century through the lives of these two men and the events that led up to their historic meeting in 1747. Bach, an honored and devout musician, was sixty-two years old at the time and only three years away from his death. Fredeick was thirty-five, in the seventh year of his reign as king of Prussia, a lover of whatever was new and fashionable and avante garde. Bach was a product of the (Lutheran) Reformation and a conservative Christian. Frederick the Great was Voltaire’s “philosopher-king”, an adept, if deceitful, diplomat and a military genius.

I found this story of how the two men’s lives intertwined and contrasted to be illuminating in its picture of the individuals and in its portrayal of the competing philosophies of the age, Reformation versus Enlightenment, Christian versus free-thinker, Baroque musical forms versus the emerging Classical style of Bach’s son Carl Phillip Emmanuel Bach. Some of the musicological details went over my head, but the basic contrast between two very different men and two very different world views was clear.

“The Enlightenment’s way of knowing a thing was to identify, separate, and classify it, the encyclopedic impulse. Bach’s way of understanding something was to get his hands on it, turn it upside down and backward, and wrestle with it until he found a way to make something new.” (p. 185)

Of the Musical Offering written by Bach for Frederick after their meeting: “All of the oddities contained in the work . . . were of a piece, and this is what they say: Beware the appearance of good fortune, Frederick, stand in awe of a fate more fearful than nay this world has to give, seek the glory that is beyond the glory of this fallen world, and know that there is a law higher than any king’s which is never changing, and by which you and every one of us will be judged. Of course that is what he (Bach) said. He had been saying it all his life.” (p. 237)

“He could thank the writings and example of the notoriously, triumphantly intemperate Martin Luther for in spiring in him not only a love of God but, perhaps more important to his music, a sense of certainty rooted in something deeper than approval or respect.” (p.241)

“A poll conducted during the controversy over his reburial (1991) found that most Germans could not say when Frederick had lived or what he had ever done.” (p.268)

Gaines ends his book by saying that the tension between faith and reason, personified in the life and work of these two men, Bach and Frederick the Great, continues unresolved to this day. I think it’s a false dichotomy. Bach wins. His music proves that we cannot, do not, live in a closed materialistic system. “Bach’s music makes no argument that the world is more than ticking clock, yet leaves no doubt of it.” (p. 273)

Poetry Friday: Poetry and Sermons of John Donne

“Despair is the damp of hell, as joy is the serenity of heaven.”
~John Donne

40 Inspirational Classics for Lent

I’ve written several times here at Semicolon about the seventeenth century poet and Anglican priest, John Donne:

A Valediction Forbidding Mourning by John Donne, 1611
Holy Sonnet X (Death Be Not Proud) by John Donne
The Sunne Rising by John Donne
Song (Go and Catch a Falling Star) by John Donne
Hymn to God, My God, in my Sickness by John Donne
The End of the Alphabet, Wit and John Donne

I strongly suggest both the poetry and the sermons of Mr. Donne for your Lenten edification.

From A Lent Sermon preached at White-hall, February 20, 1629 on Matthew 6:21, For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also:

The words admit well that inversion, “Where your Treasure is, there will your heart be also,” implies this; Where your Heart is, That is your Treasure.

Do all in the Fear of God: In all warlike preparations, remember the Lord of Hosts, and fear Him; In all treaties of peace, remember the Prince of Peace, and fear Him; In all Consultations, remember the Angle of the Great Council, and fear Him: fear God as much at Noon, as at Midnight; as much in the Glory and Splendor of his Sun-shine, as in his darkest Eclipses,: fear God as much in thy Prosperity, as in thine Adversity; as much in thy Preferment, as in thy Disgrace.

(Heaven) Where all tears shall be wiped from mine eyes; not onely tears of Compunction for my self, and tears of Compassion for others; but even tears of Joy, too: for there shall be no sudden Joy, no Joy unexperienced there. There I shall have all joys, altogether, always. There Abraham shall not be gladder of his own salvation, then of mine; nor I surer of the Everlastingness of my God, then of my Everlastingness in Him. This is that Treasure.

The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

40 Inspirational Classics for Lent

Miss Cornelia Arnolda Johanna Ten Boom was a middle-aged Dutch watchmaker and repairer when World War II brought the ethical dilemma of the twentieth century to her doorstep, “What shall we do in response to the Nazi persecution and genocide of the Jews?” Corrie and her family hid Jewish refugees in their home and were subsequently arrested. Corrie and her sister Betsie were sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp where Corrie learned the lesson that she was later to share with the world: “there is no pit so deep that He is not deeper still.”

The Hiding Place tells the story of Corrie Ten Boom and her family as they hid Jews in their home in Amsterdam and of their imprisonment in the German concentration camp, Ravensbruck. After the war was over, Corrie Ten Boom, already in her fifties, travelled the world for the next three decades, telling people about her experiences in Ravensbrueck and even more importantly about God’s provision during that time of suffering. She also wrote several books in addition to The Hiding Place, and in 1975 a movie was made also called The Hiding Place and featuring Julie Harris, Eileen Heckart, Arthur O’Connell, and Jeannette Clift in her Golden Globe nominated role as Corrie ten Boom.

Here’s just a taste of the wisdom embedded in “Tante Corrie’s” autobiographical story, a book I strongly suggest you read with an open heart and mind if you never have:

How long I lay on my bed sobbing for the one love of my life I do not know. I was afraid of what father would say. Afraid he would say, “There’ll be someone else soon,” and that forever afterwards this untruth would lie between us. “Corrie,” he began instead, “do you know what hurts so very much? It’s love. Love is the strongest force in the world, and when it is blocked that means pain. There are two things we can do when this happens. We can kill the love so that it stops hurting. But then of course part of us dies, too. Or, Corrie, we can ask God to open up another route for that love to travel. God loves Karel, even more than you do, and if you ask Him, He will give you His love for this man, a love nothing can prevent, nothing destroy. Whenever we cannot love in the old human way, God can give us the perfect way.”

I did not know that he had put into my hands the secret that would open far darker rooms than this; places where there was not, on a human level, anything to love at all. My task just then was to give up my feeling for Karel without giving up the joy and wonder that had grown with it. And so, that very hour, I whispered a prayer, “Lord, I give to You the way I feel about Karel, my thoughts about our future, everything! Give me Your way of seeing Karel instead. Help me to love him that way. That much.”

“Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.”

“Even as the angry vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. Jesus Christ had died for this man; was I going to ask for more? Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him….Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give me your forgiveness….And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives along with the command, the love itself.”

“God’s viewpoint is sometimes different from ours – so different that we could not even guess at it unless He had given us a Book which tells us such things….In the Bible I learn that God values us not for our strength or our brains but simply because He has made us.”

“You can never learn that Christ is all you need, until Christ is all you have.”

You can read more about Corrie ten Boom here.

Semicolon’s 12 Most Crucial News Stories of 2010

1. On Jan. 12 a magnitude 7.0 earthquake hit the town of Léogâne, approximately 16 miles west of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, leaving 250,000 dead. The presidential palace, the United Nations headquarters and the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption were destroyed. Around 300,000 were injured, and more than a million Haitians were left homeless; those whose homes survived slept outside for months as aftershocks continued into March. It’s been almost a year now, and Haitians are still experiencing homelessness, joblessness, and political turmoil. Pray for Haiti.

2. On April 20, 11 workers were killed and 17 others were injured when an explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit caused the unit to burn and sink, precipitating the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history.
Although the BP well was finally capped in mid-August, cleanup of the Gulf is still ongoing and scientists are beginning a yearlong study of the ocean and shore environments, seeking to identify long-term effects.

3. On March 23, 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act became law. Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi blithely remarked, “we have to pass [the health care bill] to see what’s in it.” Pro-life Democrats in the House provided the deciding votes in return for . . . nothing. Republicans are promising to try to overturn the act and rescind it in 2011.

4. Ongoing holocaust: More than 50 million American babies have been aborted since 1973. THis “story” may be the most significant and consequential of this year, or any year since ’73. How can we escape the horrific consequences of killing our own children, year in and year out? God forgive us.

5. War and persecution in Afghanistan.

6. An 8.8-magnitude earthquake on Feb. 27 released 500 times more energy than Haiti’s quake and became the fifth-strongest earthquake ever recorded. But Chileans fared better than Haitians because of better building codes.

7. The last of U.S. combat forces in Iraq left in mid-August. Some non-combat troops and Special Forces remain. “The day after the 2nd Infantry Division left, bombers and gunmen killed at least 55 Iraqis and wounded hundreds in nearly two dozen coordinated attacks across the country.”

8. On Oct. 31, attacks on a Baghdad church service left 58 dead and more than 70 wounded. Christians have been leaving and continue to flee Iraq.

9. The European Union and the International Monetary Fund bailed out Greece in May to the tune of $145 billion. Then, in November, the EU and the IMF bailed out Ireland’s economy, $130 billion. They say either Spain or Portugal or both are next.

10. WikiLeaks began releasing portions of 250,000 diplomatic cables after Thanksgiving, 2010, to select newspapers and via its own website. The head of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, has yet to be charged with treason or any other crime in the United States.

11. The Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization, held October 17-25 in Cape Town, South Africa brought together enthusiastic participants from Latin America, Africa, and Asia —and some from Europe, North America, and Australia, too. “Participants devoted much of Saturday to repentance and prayer as they responded to a call to reflect on the movement’s lack of humility, integrity, and simplicity.”

12. iPhone 4, iPad, e-Readers of all kinds, apps, Facebook, Twitter, Google, and tablets are all changing the way we communicate and the way we use technology to relate to one another and to educate and amuse ourselves. Maybe the technologies are also changing us, but it’s difficult to know how or how much.

World Magazine’s Top Ten News Stories of 2010.

Actually, these are only the stories we know about that might be significant influences on the future of our world or of God’s Kingdom. The real story may be a baby born somewhere in China or Albania or Venezuela, or a young woman born again in a tiny church near an obscure village, or two or three gathered together faithfully to pray for God’s deliverance and for revival. It’s amazing to me to think that someday in heaven, we may be able to see and hear about all those really crucial events and people that God used to bring about His will and His plan for our little planet.

God is in control.