The end of one year and the dawning of a new one provides an excellent opportunity to wipe the slate clean and make a fresh start. The well-known preacher Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887) said: "We have passed through one more year. One more long stage in the journey of life, with its ascents and descents and dust and mud and rocks and thorns and burdens that wear the shoulders, is done. The old year is dead. Roll it away. Let it go. God, in His providence, has brought us out of it. It is gone; . . . its evil is gone; its good remains. The evil has perished, and the good survives."
An elderly follower of Christ was talking to me about her personal journey with the Lord. At one point in her life, after a couple of terms of missionary work, she lost her enthusiasm for serving God. Although she continued to fulfill her responsibilities, she tried to flee from God. She bought a "ticket to Tarshish," to use her own words, by burying herself in reading.
Children love to hear the Bible story of Daniel in the lions' den. But that account has valuable lessons for all of us. Let's look again at the faith of an elderly man named Daniel.
"It's unsinkable!" That was the proud boast made by the builders of the Titanic, the magnificent ocean liner that on April 14, 1912, went down during its maiden voyage. Most of the 2,100 passengers were sent to their deaths.
A discouraged Christian said to me one Christmas, "Christ's coming to earth has made little difference in my life. I still have so many trials." That made me think about the difference Jesus' life has made. I reflected on these four truths:
A South American minnow-like fish is called "four eyes" because it knows how to make the best of two worlds. The Creator designed its large bulging eyes with an air lens on the upper half and a water lens on the lower half. As it cruises along the surface of the water, it is able to look at the world above and the world below.
Even Christians can miss the point of the Christmas story if they aren't careful. Halford E. Luccock warned of that danger in a thought-provoking essay. He wrote: "We can become so charmed with the story of a baby that we grow sentimental about it. It does not ask that we do anything about it; it does not demand any vital change in our way of thinking and living.
The fighting was fierce in the days before Christmas during the first World War. A German soldier emerged from his trench and tried to advance, but he was hit by gunfire and severely wounded. As he tried to crawl back to safety, he became caught in barbed wire. After his screams turned to moans, an American climbed out of his trench and inched his way to the injured man.
Julie had been married only a year when she suffered a massive stroke that left her unable to walk or talk. Her parents offered to take the responsibility for her care so that her husband Mark could be free, but he refused. For 25 years now, he has continued to love and care for Julie.