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You will never die. And you will write. They must. For each life is a book, not to be read, but rather a story to be written. The Author starts each life story, but each life will write his or her own ending. What a dangerous liberty. How much safer it would have been to finish the story for each Adam. To script every option. It would have been simpler. It would have been safer. But it would not have been love. Love is only love if chosen. So the Author decides to give each child a pen. Lovingly, deliberately, he writes the third word, already feeling the pain.

E- m-m-a-n-u-e-l. The greatest mind in the universe imagined time. The truest judge granted Adam a choice. But it was love that gave Emmanuel, God with us. The Author would enter his own story. The Word would become flesh. He, too, would be born. He, too, would be human. He, too, would have feet and hands. He, too, would have tears and trials. And most importantly, he, too, would have a choice. Emmanuel would stand at the crossroads of life and death and make a choice.

The Author knows well the weight of that decision. He pauses as he writes the page of his own pain. He could stop. Even the Author has a choice. But how can a Creator not create? How can a Writer not write? And how can Love not love? So he chooses life, though it means death, with hope that his children will do the same. And so the Author of Life completes the story. He drives the spike in the flesh and rolls the stone over the grave.

Until then I did not know who the Christ was. James Whittaker saw a seagull and believed. James Whittaker was a member of the handpicked crew that flew the B Flying Fortress captained by Eddie Rickenbacker. Anybody who remembers October remembers the day Rickenbacker and his crew were reported lost at sea.

Somewhere over the Pacific, out of radio range, the plane ran out of fuel and crashed into the ocean. The nine men spent the next month floating in three rafts. They battled the heat, the storms, and the water. Sharks, some ten feet long, would ram their nine-foot boats. After only eight days their rations were eaten or destroyed by saltwater. It would take a miracle to survive. One morning after their daily devotions, Rickenbacker leaned his head back against the raft and pulled his hat over his eyes.

A bird landed on his head. He peered out from under his hat. Every eye was on him. He instinctively knew it was a seagull. Rickenbacker caught it, and the crew ate it. A story about a stranded crew with no hope or help in sight. A story about prayers offered and prayers answered. A story about a visitor from an unknown land traveling a great distance to give his life as a sacrifice.

A story of salvation. A story much like our own. You may have heard the Rickenbacker story before. You may have even heard it from me. You may have read it in one of my books. Coreen Schwenk did. She was engaged to the only crew member who did not survive, young Sgt. Alex Kacymareyck. As a result of a reunion of the crew, Mrs. Schwenk learned that the widow of James Whittaker lived only eighty miles from her house.

The two women met and shared their stories. After reading this story in my book In the Eye of the Storm, Mrs. Schwenk felt compelled to write to me. The real miracle, she informed me, was not a bird on the head of Eddie Rickenbacker but a change in the heart of James Whittaker. The greatest event of that day was not the rescue of a crew but the rescue of a soul. James Whittaker was an unbeliever. In fact, Mrs. Whittaker said her husband grew irritated with John Bartak, a crew member who continually read his Bible privately and aloud.

Unknown to Whittaker, the soil of his heart was being plowed. And at that moment Jim became a believer. I chuckled when I read the letter. Not at the letter; I believe every word of it. Nor at James Whittaker. I have every reason to believe his conversion was real. But I had to chuckle at. I had to chuckle at God. Who would go to such extremes to save a soul? The rest of the world is occupied with Germany and Hitler.

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Every headline is reporting the actions of Roosevelt and Churchill. The globe is locked in a battle for freedom. Oh, the lengths to which God will go to get our attention and win our affection. Whom wilt thou find to love ignoble thee, save me, save only me? For that which I took from thee I did but take, not for thy harm but that thou might seek it in my arms.

Why do they come? Who influences their choice? Note the verbs associated with Jesus in John 1. Jesus turned. If anyone is in Christ, it is because Christ has called him or her. Christ may use a sermon. He may inspire a conversation. He may speak through a song. But in every case Christ is the One who calls. Consider these examples: One evening, John Wesley entered a brief account in his journal. Did you get the picture? He went unwillingly, a stranger to a small group, listening to a two-hundred-year-old piece of literature. Pick it up. However, the voice stirred Augustine in his solitude, and he did what the voice commanded.

He picked up his Bible and read it. We should not have wild parties or get drunk. There should be no sexual sins of any kind, no fighting or jealousy. But clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ and forget about satisfying your sinful self. On impulse. The preacher spoke on the topic of crowning Christ in your heart. Jesus refused the crown of Satan in the wilderness but accepts the crown of his people when we confess him.

But then he said something that Buechner never forgot. Jesus is crowned among confession and tears and great laughter, and at that phrase great laughter, for reasons I have never satisfactorily understood, the great wall of China crumbled and Atlantis rose up out of the sea, and on Madison Avenue, at 73rd Street, tears leapt from my eyes as though I had been struck in the face. Think for a moment about your world. Remember that voice, that face, that event? For Wesley it was a reading, for Augustine the voice of a child, and for Buechner a call to laughter.

And for you? The extended hand of a bag woman? The birth of your child? The tears of the widower? The explosion of a sunset? The impassioned sermon that moved all? The dull sermon that moved none—but you?

See a Problem?

The cradle and the cross were as common as grass. What made them holy was the One laid upon them. But the One who sent them was. Amazing, the lengths to which God will go to get our attention. Is the life of the young Nazarene carpenter really worth considering? The question still lingers.

And the answer of Philip still suffices. Come and see. Come and see the rock that has withstood the winds of time. Hear his voice. The truth undaunted, grace unspotted, loyalty undeterred. Come and see the flame that tyrants and despots have not extinguished. Come and see the passion that oppression has not squelched. Come and see the hospitals and orphanages rising beside the crumbling ruins of humanism and atheism.

Come and see what Christ has done. Come and see the great drama threading through twenty centuries of history and art. Handel weeping as he composes The Messiah. Da Vinci sighing as he portrays the Last Supper. Michelangelo stepping back from the rock-carved David and bidding the stone to speak.

Can anything good come out of Nazareth? See Wilberforce fighting to free slaves in England—because he believed.

What Does the Bible Say about Hearing & Discerning God's Voice?

See Washington at prayer in Valley Forge—because he believed. See Lincoln alone with a dog-eared Bible—because he believed. Come and see the changed lives: the alcoholic now dry, the embittered now joyful, the shamed now forgiven. Come and see the marriages rebuilt, the orphans embraced, the imprisoned inspired. Journey into the jungles and hear the drums beating in praise. Sneak into the corners of communism and find believers worshiping under threat of death.

Walk on death row and witness the prisoner condemned by man yet liberated by God. Venture into the gulags and dungeons of the world and hear the songs of the saved refusing to be silent. Come and see the pierced hand of God touch the most common heart, wipe the tear from the wrinkled face, and forgive the ugliest sin. Come and see the tomb. The tomb once occupied, now vacant; the grave once sealed, now empty.

Cynics have raised their theories, doubters have raised their questions. But their musings continue to melt in the bright light of Easter morning. He avoids no seeker. He ignores no probe. He fears no search. Nathanael came. And Nathanael saw. JOHN L et me share with you the thoughts of a young missionary. What follows are phrases excerpted from his journal during his first month on the mission field.

For good! Yes, finally. To God be the glory. The people are so friendly. We cried this morning. The clouds have buried the mountains. The sky is gray. The newness is gone. We were blue all day. We could hardly think of our family and friends without weeping. The tall ceiling, the strange walls. I held my wife as she wept, and we both confessed the ugliness of the thought of spending the rest of our lives in this foreign country.

When will we find a house? How will we learn this language? Lord, forgive my sorry attitude. My commitment to be a missionary feels like a prison sentence. I remember my confusion. Why are you smiling? Perhaps the disciples had the same expectation. They only did what they were told. Jesus told them to get into the boat, so they did. They could have objected.

After all, it was evening and darkness was only minutes away. But Jesus told them to get into the boat, so they did. What was the result of their obedience? It was dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The followers got into a boat and started across the lake to Capernaum. A night on a storm-tossed sea with their Master somewhere on the shore. Something else entirely to suffer for doing right. But it happens.

And when the storm bursts, it washes away the naive assumption that if I do right, I will never suffer. Just ask the faithful couple whose crib is empty and whose womb is barren. Just ask the businessman whose honest work was rewarded with runaway inflation. Just ask the student who took a stand for the truth and got mocked, the Sunday school teacher who took a class and got tired, the husband who took a chance and forgave his wife, only to be betrayed again.

And so the winds blow. And so the boat bounces. The disciples had been on the sea for about nine hours. How many times did they search the darkness for their Master? How many times did they call out his name? Why did he take so long? Why does he take so long? I think I hear the answer in the next room. As I write, I can hear my ten- year-old daughter playing the piano. She has just begun her second year. Her teacher recently upped the ante.

No more rinkydink songs; no more nursery rhymes. Now the rhythm varies, the notes sharpen, and the key changes. It will be pleasant to the ear. But today the notes come slowly and the fingers drag and Jenna would quit if given the chance. Am I a cruel father for urging her to continue? Am I unfair in prodding her to practice? I can hear it. I can see them. Then why do I let her suffer? Because I love her. And I know that a struggle today will result in music tomorrow. Through the night he saw them.

Through the storm he saw them. And like a loving father he waited. He waited until the right time, until the right moment. He waited until he knew it was time to come, and then he came. What made it the right time?

Why was the ninth hour better than the fourth or fifth? Why does God wait until the money is gone? Why does he wait until the sickness has lingered? Why does he choose to wait until the other side of the grave to answer the prayers for healing? I only know his timing is always right. I can only say he will do what is best.

Though you hear nothing, he is speaking. Though you see nothing, he is acting. With God there are no accidents. Every incident is intended to bring us closer to him. Can I give a great example? The direct route from Egypt to Israel would take only eleven days by foot. Why did he do that? Read carefully the explanation. Remember how the LORD your God has led you in the desert for these forty years, taking away your pride and testing you, because he wanted to know what was in your heart. He took away your pride when he let you get hungry, and then he fed you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had ever seen.

This was to teach you that a person does not live by eating only bread, but by everything the LORD says. During these forty years, your clothes did not wear out, and your feet did not swell. He tested their hearts. He proved that he would provide for them.

The Pace of Modern Life

Did God want the children of Israel to reach the Promised Land? Of course. But he was more concerned that they arrive prepared than that they arrive soon. It reminds me of the often-told story of two maestros who attended a concert to hear a promising young soprano. One commented on the purity of her voice. And there are times when God, knowing that, allows us to endure the pain for the sake of the song. So what does God do while we are enduring the pain? What does he do while we are in the storm?

He prays for us. Jesus prayed. That is remarkable. When he heard their cries, he remained in prayer. Two possible answers. I think you know the correct choice. And you know what? He still prays for his disciples. So where does that leave us? While Jesus is praying and we are in the storm, what are we to do? We do what the disciples did. We row. The disciples rowed most of the night.

Much of life is spent rowing. Getting out of bed. Fixing lunches. Turning in assignments. Changing diapers. Paying bills. More struggle than strut. More wrestling than resting. When Denalyn and I went to Brazil, we thought the life of a missionary was one of daily charm and fascination. A Christian Indiana Jones. We learned otherwise. You have, too? You thought marriage was going to be a lifelong date? You thought having kids was going to be like babysitting? You thought the company who hired you wanted to hear all the ideas you had in college?

Then you learned otherwise. The honeymoon ended. Oh, there are moments of glamour, days of celebration. We have our share of feasts, but we also have our share of baloney sandwiches. And to have the first we must endure the second. As things turned out, Denalyn and I had five wonderful years in Brazil. And we learned that at the right time, God comes. In the right way, he appears. He is too wise to forget you, too loving to hurt you.

He is praying a prayer that he himself will answer. So during the meal Jesus stood up and took off his outer clothing. Taking a towel, he wrapped it around his waist. To see the hands of God massaging the toes of men is, well. The disciples should be washing his feet. Nathanael should pour the water. Andrew should carry the towel. No one does. Rather than serve, they argue over which one is the greatest Luke What disappointment their words must have brought Jesus. I brought more people to hear Jesus than anyone. The towel lies on the floor, unused.

Each disciple sees these things. Each disciple knows their purpose. But no one moves, except Jesus. As they bicker, he stands. Taking the pitcher, he pours the water into the basin. He kneels before them with the basin and sponge and begins to wash. The towel that covers his waist is also the towel that dries their feet. Must they scrub grime tonight? And the disciples. Their affections have waned; their loyalties have wavered. We want to say. Look at John, Jesus. This is the same John who told you to destroy a city. Why are you washing his feet?

And James! Skip James. He wanted the seat of honor. He and his brother wanted special treatment. Give him the towel. Let him wash his own feet. Let him learn a lesson. And while you are at it, Jesus, you might as well skip Philip. You tested him, and he flunked. You gave him the chance, and he blew it. And Peter? None of them do. When you were about to be stoned in Nazareth, did they come to your defense?

When the Pharisees took up rocks to kill you, did they volunteer to take your place? You know what they have done. You can already hear them snoring in the garden. You can hear them sneaking away from the soldiers. They make promises tonight. Look around the table, Jesus. How many will share with you the Roman whip? And when you fall under the weight of the cross, which disciple will be close enough to spring to your side and carry your burden? None of them will. Not one.

A stranger will be called because no disciple will be near. Tell them to wash yours. Because of the injustice? God on his hands and knees, his hair hanging around his face? Stop and think for a minute. Double-tongued promise-breakers.

4 Practical Ways to Discern the Voice of God

Fair-weather friends. What they said and what they did are two different things. Or maybe you were just left at the altar, or in the cold, holding the bag. Vows forgotten. Contract abandoned. He kneels before us, takes our feet in his hands, and washes them. You and I are in this story. We are at the table. And the cleansing is not just a gesture; it is a necessity. Because we cannot.

We cannot cleanse our own filth. We cannot remove our own sin. Our feet must be in his hands. To place our feet in the basin of Jesus is to place the filthiest parts of our lives into his hands. The servant of the feast saw to it that the feet were cleaned. Jesus is assuming the role of the servant. He will wash the grimiest part of your life.

If you let him. The water of the Servant comes only when we confess that we are dirty. Only when we confess that we are caked with filth, that we have walked forbidden trails and followed the wrong paths. We tend to be proud like Peter and resist. We will never be cleansed until we confess we are dirty. We will never be pure until we admit we are filthy. And we will never be able to wash the feet of those who have hurt us until we allow Jesus, the one we have hurt, to wash ours.

You see, that is the secret of forgiveness. You will never forgive anyone more than God has already forgiven you. Only by letting him wash your feet can you have strength to wash those of another. Still hard to imagine? Is it still hard to consider the thought of forgiving the one who hurt you? If so, go one more time to the room. Watch Jesus as he goes from disciple to disciple. Can you see him? Can you hear the water splash? Can you hear him shuffle on the floor to the next person? Keep that image. That means he left no one out.

Why is that important? Because that also means he washed the feet of Judas. Jesus washed the feet of his betrayer. He gave his traitor equal attention. But at this moment they are caressed by Christ. Bread is a staple. If the poor have nothing, they have bread. If the rich have everything, they still have bread. Bread is not a regional food nor a national dish. No country claims to be the exclusive source of bread. It may be in the form of a tortilla in Mexico or a bagel in New York, but bread is available everywhere. So is Christ. He is not bound by boundaries.

No country claims him. No region owns him. No nation monopolizes him. He is everywhere at the same time. Universally available. Bread is eaten daily. Some fruits are available only in season. Some drinks are made only at holidays. Not so with bread. And not so with Jesus. He should be brought to our table every day. We let him nourish our hearts, not just in certain months or on special events, but daily. Bread is served in many forms. It can be a sandwich, sweet roll, hotdog bun, croissant, or dinner roll.

Bread can meet many needs. So can Jesus. He adapts himself to meet our needs. He has a word for the lonely as well as for the popular. He has help for the physically ill and the emotionally ill. If your vision is clear, he can help you. If your vision is cloudy, he can help you. Jesus can meet each need. Can you see why Jesus called himself the Bread of Life? I can think of one other similarity. Consider how bread is made.

Think about the process. Wheat grows in the field, then it is cut down, winnowed, and ground into flour. It passes through the fire of the oven and is then distributed around the world. Only by this process does bread become bread. Each step is essential. Eliminate the plant, and you have no wheat.

Eliminate the winnowing, and you have no flour. Eliminate the fire, and you have no product. Eliminate the distribution, and you have no satisfaction. Now, consider Jesus. One of millions of boys on the planet. One of thousands in Israel. One of dozens in Nazareth. You might have thought him polite or courteous or diligent, but God on earth? Not a chance. He was just a boy. One of hundreds. Like a staff of wheat in the wheat field.

But like wheat, he was cut down. Like chaff he was pounded and beaten. And like bread he passed through the fire. Jesus experienced each part of the process of making bread: the growing, the pounding, the firing. And just as each is necessary for bread, each was also necessary for Christ to become the bread of life. The next part of the process, the distribution, Christ leaves with us. We are the distributors. Yet, for some reason we are reluctant to do so. As the following parable illustrates, we may not even know how to give the bread when someone requests it.

And you have come to the right bakery. I spoke of flour and wheat, of grain and barley. My knowledge impressed even me as I cited the measurements and recipe. We have bread for every need. I understood his silence. Once a week my workers gather, and I read to them the recipe from the cookbook of life. I knew what he wanted. And I led him to the front door of the bakery. I know of one who adds two spoons of salt rather than one. I know of another whose oven is three degrees too hot.

Both moves seem pretty risky. The carpenter did his part, however. And who knows—we may just learn to do ours. His love continues forever. Why do you tolerate us? You give us every breath we breathe, but do we thank you? You give us bodies beyond duplication, but do we praise you? We complain about the weather. We bicker about our toys. We argue over who gets which continent and who has the best gender. As if it were your fault. You fill the world with food, but we blame you for hunger. You keep the earth from tilting and the aretics from thawing, but we accuse you of unconcern. You give us blue skies, and we demand rain.

You give rain, and we demand sun. As if we knew what was best anyway. We give more applause to a brawny ball-carrier than we do to the God who made us. We sing more songs to the moon than to the Christ who saved us. We are a gnat on the tail of one elephant in a galaxy of Africas, and yet we demand that you find us a parking place when we ask. As if our opinion matters. We pollute the world you loan us. We mistreat the bodies you gave us. We ignore the Word you sent us. And we killed the Son you became.

We are spoiled babies who take and kick and pout and blaspheme. You have every reason to abandon us. I sure would! I would wash my hands of the whole mess and start over on Mars. But do you? I see the answer in the rising of the sun. I hear the answer in the crashing of the waves.

I feel the answer in the skin of a child. Father, your love never ceases. Though we spurn you, ignore you, disobey you, you will not change. Our evil cannot diminish your love. Our goodness cannot increase it. Our faith does not earn it any more than our stupidity jeopardizes it. Your love never ceases. How do we explain it? Perhaps the answer is found in yet another question. Moms: Why do you love your newborn?


God Talks To You

Why do you? For months this baby has brought you pain. She or he! Because of her you craved sardines and crackers and threw up in the morning. Who better to gain knowledge from, than a best friend? Finally, who better to remember throughout the days of your life, than a best friend? Let's all be teachers, shall we? A teacher must have motherly love with their students Means he should be a mother in the school.

He must have Moral character and honesty. He must be well prepared with his subjects. He must have a good knowledge of his subjects. Physically and mentally fit for the job. He should be active and smart in the classroom. While teaching he should use so many support materials. The support material should be prepared himself. The pupils should be joyful in the class.

A good teacher of children understands childhood in an engaging way. She understands that childhood culture is more universal than adult culture, and therefore easier to engage with any place any time. Everybody will have their own opinion on this because it is impossible to please everybody at the same time.

It is very difficult to say what a good teacher is when I am still a student and have seen my share of what a teacher should do. I think that the qualities that a teacher should maintain are the abilities to relate to their students on their on level, make learning fun and easy to understand, be nice so students will listen, make the kids look forward to entering the classroom, and above all Once we love, enjoy and appreciate the individuality of each and every child in our classroom - everything else falls into place.

A good teacher takes cognisance of the fact that they are role models for children remembering that we teach more by what we do than by what we say! This is a challenge for the best of us!!!! A good teacher is someone who can learn from his students, who can learn with them, and for them.

He also must be honest in his relationships with students, and proud enough about his own value to work, from there, on helping his students to build their own self esteem. One who has no bias, no fixed point of view, open eyes to see and explore life and learning itself, is the best teacher for he is a child too! I have been reading through this column - "What makes a good teacher? The teacher should be loving, know the children personally in order to help them with their problems.

To win their confidence should be the teacher's first aim - though strictness has to be in its place. A good teacher still remains a human being like you and me so that it is obvious that the qualities listed above are useful to keep in mind to be or become a good teacher, but they are only few of the qualities teachers need to "survive" in their everyday life.

A good teacher needs besides a lot of other important features to provide feedback and consequences to students. It makes no sense if a teacher tells a pupil to leave the class five times. Advice can only be useful if they are taken seriously. Apart from that a good teacher, of course, has to be humorous, friendly but not too friendly , and well prepared for the lessons. And it is important for a teacher to find the right way between passion for his subject and the interests of the class.

In brief, a teacher needs self-confidence and knowledge about her subject s , but the most important thing is that a teacher has to enjoy what she does! She has to be enthusiastic and she has to have a true interest in her pupils!!! A teacher should have various qualities. A teacher should be a person you can always speak to and be able to give you some advice in case you need help. Besides,he must have up-to-date knowledge of the subjects he is teaching. I want to be a guide for "my children": I want them to look to the world, ask themselves questions, see that they can do something, be surprised and curious to learn, grateful for what they have and have respect for eachother and for others There are so many things that we can do.

A good teacher is the one who: is a master in the subjects taught. One who doesn't 'teach' but instead is willing to 'learn' with the child and from the child. A good teacher is the one that has excellent end results. A good teacher never forgets what it is like to be a learner - vulnerable, anxious and dependent!

Remembering this, a good teacher looks at a student and sees "only the soul of a human being". A student is a teacher's equal - both leading each other to grow in knowledge, both learning about 'self' and not playing a power struggle for today, both smiling in satisfaction for a job well done! One who is child friendly, caring, kind hearted, humble, patient, who has the fear of God, who is always ready to give a listening ear, who is not jealous because most teachers are always jealous and envious of their students , a motherly love.

I feel there should be a rule and punishment for teachers who maltreat and call children names. Teachers are suppose to be children's best friends instead they are their worst enemies. In fact, some children refuse to go to school because of their teachers. Children are not suppose to learn with fear.

I work with a children NGO and they children complain a lot to me about their teachers. A real friend is someone who knows all about you and still he loves you. A good teacher is a good friend. A good teacher is someone who teaches us like children with love. A good teacher does not dictate what is written on the book or the curricullum.

A good teacher shows the whole wide world to the students. Today's child will be a man of tomorrow. Teachers must be a symbol of kindness and love. I think a good teacher must guide the student throughout his needs, both textual and personal.