Clear Direction

Pastor Clifford Stewart, of Louisville, Kentucky, sent his parents a microwave oven for Christmas one year. This is how he recalls the event.

“They were excited to join the instant generation. When my dad unpacked the microwave and plugged it in, within seconds, it transformed my parents’ smiles into frowns. Even after reading the directions, they couldn’t make it work. Two days later, my mom was playing Bridge with a friend and confessed her inability to even get the microwave to boil water. Her friend asked her, ‘What seems to be the problem?’ My mom responded, ‘The problem is that only my son knows how to work it. What I need is for my son to come along with the microwave.'”

When God gave us the gift of salvation, he didn’t send a complicated booklet to give us directions to figure everything out. He sent us his Son. Life is complicated. We have the Bible as our manual. But even that is not enough, because until you know the Author, it is difficult to understand the Book.

But God left nothing to chance. For your salvation, there is no assembly required – for one simple reason. God has given us his Son.

Trust Him Anyway

Helen Roseveare, a British missionary in Conga, survived the uprising that resulted from the invasion of the Mau-Mau revolutionaries. This godly, gracious lady was raped, assaulted, and humiliated. But she never abandoned her faith.

While recovering from the horrible attack, Helen and the Lord grew closer together than they had ever been. She wrote a statement in the form of a question that every person needs to ask himself, from God’s perspective. “Can you thank me for trusting you with this experience, even if I never tell you why?”

Golfer Bernhard Langer had one putt that would decide the Ryder Cup winner, between Europe and the United States. He missed the putt. But he told a reporter afterwards, “If I had made that putt, it wouldn’t have made God love me more. And by missing it, it didn’t make God love me less.”

God’s love is perfect, whether our shots go in or not. It’s one thing to trust him when you miss a putt. But when you go through a truly horrific experience, listen for God’s voice. “Can you thank me for trusting you with this experience, even if I never tell you why?”

The Rushmore Report: Dolly Parton’s Brush with Suicide

Dolly Parton, one of country music’s greatest stars, shares in her new memoir how she contemplated suicide, but believes God intervened to stop her. Her new memoir, Dolly on Dolly: Interviews and Encounters with Dolly Parton, reveals much about Parton’s life that had not been made public. In the book, she confesses that she went through a horrible period in which she considered taking her own life.

Parton confesses that in the midst of her depression, she began binge-eating and she cheated on her husband. Her life seemed to be falling apart, and one night she was so depressed that she took out the gun she kept for protection, pondering whether to use it to kill herself.

“I looked at it a long time. Then, just as I picked it up, just to hold it and look at it for a moment, our little dog, Popeye, came running up the stairs,” Parton recalled. “The tap-tap of his paws jolted me back to reality. I suddenly froze. I put the gun down.”

Instead of taking her own life, Parton turned to prayer. “I kinda believe Popeye was a spiritual messenger from God,” said the music icon. “I don’t think I’d have done it, killed myself, but I can’t say for sure. Now that I’ve gone through that terrible moment, I can certainly understand the possibilities even for someone solid like me if the pain gets bad enough.”

That dark experience showed Parton that “a belief in God is essential. You have to believe in something bigger than yourself. We grew up believing that through God all things are possible. I think I believed that so much that I made it happen.”

Parton, now 71, has a strong relationship with her husband of 51 years, Carl Dean. She is still touring and playing music.

The Rushmore Report: Selena Gomez Talks about Her Faith

Pop star Selena Gomez is not afraid to share her Christian faith. Recently, she did a radio interview in which she discussed her attendance at Hillsong Church and her relationship with Pastor Carl Lentz. Charisma News reports on Gomez’ interview with “Elvis Duran and the Morning Show” in which she said, “I haven’t really been all over the place lately, and that’s kind of intentional.”

Gomez continued, “I think it’s important to balance out where I am, and I’ve been doing this for a really long time, and my sanity has meant everything to me, and a lot of that is my faith. I took 90 days off, I went away, I was very vocal about it because to me, where I get my confidence is my vulnerability. I can’t sit there and pretend that everything is good, because I’ve done that for years, and it doesn’t really work for me.”

Gomez is not only a regular attendee at Hillsong; she has also led worship at the megachurch. On her recent album, she even wrote a worship song called “Nobody,” which she performed at a Los Angeles concert, along with Hillsong Young & Free.

Gomez also said of her time at HIllsong and interacting with Lentz, “I feel very refreshed. He’s the best.”

She ended the interview by inviting Duran and his colleagues to visit Hillsong anytime.

The Rushmore Report: The World’s Oldest Person – ‘The Secret to Longevity’

Her name is Violet Mosse-Brown. She lies in Jamaica. And at 117 years of age, she is the world’s oldest person. Born on March 10, 1900, Violet has revealed the key to longevity. Also known as “Aunt V,” Mosse-Brown has shared the one key to a long life. And what she says has nothing to do with diet or exercise. But still active, living with her 97-year-old son, Violet is sure of one thing.

The secret to a long and happy life, says Violet, is a strong Christian faith and serving God. Christian Broadcasting News reports her story. Violet is amazed to think back over the changes she has seen in the world throughout her lifetime. But she gives God the credit for everything good in the world and in her own life.

“Thank God for what he has given to me,” she says. “This is what God has given me, so I have to take it – long life.” “I’ve done nearly everything at the church. I spent all my time in the church.”

Mosse-Brown was raised in a Christian home and was baptized at the age of 13 – 104 years ago – at Trittonville Baptist Church in the Duanvale district of Trelawny Parish, Jamaica.

About the Author

Vernonic Neffinger is editor for Christian Headlines.

Comfort vs Wisdom

I used to make the mistake of trying to fix everything. I felt the need to share my wisdom, whether it was wanted or not. Then I discovered that people would rather have a part of my heart than a piece of my mind. People want comfort, not answers. We have plenty of critics; we need encouragers.

When Robert Fulton showed off his new invention, the steamboat, the critics cried, “It’ll never start! It’ll never start!”

Once it started, they shouted, “It’ll never stop! It’ll never stop!”

It is easier to criticize than to comfort.

A football coach was having a bad year. It got so bad that he confided in his wife, “I feel like my dog is my only friend, but a man needs at least two friends.”

So his wife bought him another dog.

Pooh bear was walking along the river bank. Eeyore, his stuffed donkey friend, suddenly appeared floating downstream, about to drown.

Pooh said, “You look like you’re drowning!”

Eeyore asked Pooh if he could save him.

Pooh hesitated, then pulled him out of the water.

“Thanks,” said Eeyore.

“No problem,” said Pooh bear. “You should have said something sooner!”

Pooh offered his wisdom. But Eeyore, like us, needed comfort. I love the old song, Rescue the Perishing. I’m sure you have a lot of wisdom. But your drowning friends need rescuing. They need comfort.

God said it like this: “Comfort my people, says your God” (Isaiah 40:1).

One Word for God

We were in high school. Mary was completely normal in every way but one. Mary was blind. She often asked me to describe what things looked like: clouds, flowers, and the sunset. I could never do it in less than ten minutes. Clouds, flowers, and the sunset are too awesome to describe with just a few words, to someone who has never seen them.

So how would you describe God for someone who have never seen him? The old prophet Isaiah took on this task. Read his words. “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts. The whole world is full of his glory.”

In the Hebrew language, repetition performed the role of our modern highlighter. Repetition stood for emphasis. No verse ever describes God as “strong, strong, strong” or as “wise, wise, wise.” The only description given three times was “holy.”

The Hebrew word is qadosh, meaning “cut off, separate.” In other words, Isaiah is saying that God is unique. He is like no other. And he calls us to holiness, as well.

Sure, you’re smart, beautiful, and funny. But are you holy?

“Be holy because I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16).

 

Facing Opposition

There once lived a man named Nehemiah. He built a wall of Biblical proportions. In fact, you can read about it in the Bible in the book that bears his name. In 52 days, Nehemiah built a massive wall to protect Jerusalem against enemy attack.

But he built more than a wall. Nehemiah built the nation’s self-esteem, beauty, and pride. But at every step, he faced opposition. And from his experience, we learn two valuable truths that apply only to people who try to do something bigger than themselves.

First, we learn to expect opposition. The only person who faces no opposition is the person sitting still. Expect criticism, but don’t take it personally. Remember, you will be criticized for doing anything, so make sure you are doing the right thing.

The second truth is that you must keep on track. Keep working as though it all depends on you. And keep praying as though it all depends on God. Don’t give up, and don’t get discouraged.

Jerry Falwell was right when he said, “You can define the greatness of a man by what it takes to discourage him.”

The First Roller Coaster

On June 16, 1884, the first roller coaster opened in New York City’s Coney Island Amusement Park. It was LaMarcus Adna Thompson’s “Switchback Railway,” opening 133 years ago today.

This was the first roller coaster designed as an amusement park ride in America. It was designed by Mr. Thompson in 1881 and constructed in 1884. It appears Thompson based his design, at least in part, on the Mauch Chunk Switchback Railway which was a coal-mining train that had started carrying passengers as a thrill ride in 1827.

For five cents, riders would climb a tower to board the large bench-like car and were pushed off to coast 600 feet down the track to another level. The car went just over six miles per hour. At the top of the other tower the vehicle was switched to a return track or “switched back” (hence the name).

This track design was soon replaced with an oval complete-circuit ride designed by Charles Alcoke and called the Serpentine Railway. In 1885, Phillip Hinkle developed a lift system which appeared in his ride called Gravity Pleasure. The Gravity Pleasure also featured cars in which passengers could face forward instead of in the awkward bench-like seats of the first two roller coasters.

Now, I’m not a fan of roller coasters. It’s not because I’m afraid of heights. I’m afraid of falling.

But roller coasters are a good example of the Christian life. Life ends where it started – with God. There are lots of crazy, unexpected turns, and there are often moments of sudden darkness, followed by light. Life is full of ups and downs. And once aboard the roller coaster of life, we are no longer in control.

That’s the other reason I don’t like roller coasters.

Save One Child

Nicholas Winton was a young stockbroker in London. The year was 1939. Hitler’s armies were ravaging Czechoslovakia, tearing families apart. Parents were marched to concentration camps, and the children were abandoned.

Winton got wind of their plight and resolved to help them. He used his vacation to travel to Prague where he met parents who were willing to give their children over to his care. Over the next five months, Winton took five trips, transporting 669 children to safety.

After the war, Winton didn’t tell anyone what he had done, not even his wife. But in 1988 she discovered an old scrapbook in the attic, which told the whole story, listing every name.

She got Winton to tell her the story, and then Mrs. Winton went to work. Unknown to her husband, she contacted the rescued children, now in their 70s and 80s. And on a fall morning of 2009, she gave her husband the biggest surprise any 100-year-old man has received since the days of Sarah and Abraham.

The 22 survivors showed up at his house to say “Thank you.” And they presented him with cards from their 7,000 descendants.

The Bible is right when it says, “It is good to give thanks” (Psalm 92:1).