“Heaven is For Real” the Movie


I wrote a whole post about this movie after Mark and I watched it about a month ago but did it on my new tablet and promptly lost everything.  So I’m going to do it again from the desktop.

Have you seen this movie?  If you haven’t, I strongly suggest that you do.  It is fabulous and deeply moving in every way.

Here is the official plot summary:

  • Based on the #1 New York Times best-selling book of the same name, HEAVEN IS FOR REAL brings to the screen the true story of a small-town father who must find the courage and conviction to share his son’s extraordinary, life-changing experience with the world. The film stars Academy Award® nominee and Emmy® award winning actor Greg Kinnear as Todd Burpo and co-stars Kelly Reilly as Sonja Burpo, the real-life couple whose son Colton (newcomer Connor Corum) claims to have visited Heaven during a near death experience. Colton recounts the details of his amazing journey with childlike innocence and speaks matter-of-factly about things that happened before his birth … things he couldn’t possibly know. Todd and his family are then challenged to examine the meaning from this remarkable event.

    Written by Sony Pictures Publicity

The little boy they cast to play the part of Colton was superb, along with the rest of the cast.

I has watched it once before Mark and I watched it together and it got me thinking about my own experience.  It saddened me greatly to realize how far away from my connection to God that I have allowed the world and the enemy to take me.  Just a short time ago, no more than 3 or 4 years, I would have told you it was impossible but here I am.  I don’t pray for the first hour of each day, or read daily in the Bible, or walk around the house praying in tongues.  The only time it seems that I do pray these days is when requested to or someone I know is in need.  I have determined to strive hard this year to correct that situation.  After that, I also realized how much Mark has changed over the last few years as well.

We’ve both been through a lot and, in reality, it’s not surprising to find some bitterness has set into both of us.  Just seeing it in writing really pounds the point home.

Anyway, when we were watching this movie I kept glancing over at Mark through my tears and wondered if it was affecting him as much as it had me.  I was pretty sure it was.  Afterwards I asked if it made him remember more clearly his experience.

He said that whomever did the cinematography for the scene where Colton tells his dad about entering their church and seeing the angels in Heaven did a spot on job.


I asked what he meant ’cause I thought he didn’t see any angels.  Mark said that he didn’t see the actual angels forms but he saw the lights just exactly as they had depicted them.  I found that not only awesome but also reassuring ’cause I only saw the light as well.

So take it from two “near-deather’s” this is the inspirational movie of the decade to see.

I’m sure I had more to say about it in the first post I did right after viewing it but I don’t remember 😦

Love and blessings to you all, my friends,

P.S.  Check out also Akiane Kramarik’s (another near-deather mentioned in the movie) painting of Jesus.  To see more on her Pinterest page click on the link:


Fw: Jesus ‘censored’ from Niagara Falls crossing; From Mom




‘Are you that uncomfortable typing the name of Christ?’

Published: 20 hours ago

author-imageby JOE KOVACSEmail Archive

Joe Kovacs, author of the forthcoming book (out July 17), “The Divine Secret: The Awesome and Untold Truth About Your Phenomenal Destiny”, as well as the No. 1 best-seller “Shocked by the Bible: The Most Astonishing Facts You’ve Never Been Told,” is executive news editor for WND.More ↓


Nik Wallenda crossing Niagara FallsNik Wallenda crossing Niagara Falls

SARASOTA, Fla. – Despite Nik Wallenda’s frequent mentions of God the Father and Jesus during his high-wire crossing of Niagara Falls Friday night, an ABC News blog documenting virtually every moment of the achievement makes no mention of his verbal thanks to the Creator.

Wallenda, 33, the great grandson of legendary tightrope walker Karl Wallenda, walked across Niagara Falls on a high wire, as hundreds watched on TV at a block party in his Florida hometown of Sarasota, Fla., and millions of others tuned in for ABC television coverage.

Wallenda was fitted with a microphone during his tension-filled, 25-minute saunter at 200 feet high, and he could be heard praising God numerous times as he walked the length of four football fields from New York to Canada.

“Praise you, Father God. Praise you, Jesus!” Wallenda said on one occasion.

Not only were his comments audible, but on closed-caption TV sets broadcasting the event at restaurants, each of his words glorifying God were visible.

“Oh, my gosh, it’s an unbelievable view,” Wallenda continued. “You know I am so blessed to be in the position I am to be the first person in the world to be right here.”

His remarks provided a continuous theme of inspiration, as he said, “This is what dreams are made of, people. Pursue your dreams. Never give up. Mine might seem strange, but anybody that’s dealing with any battle – focus on that other side.”

But during the event itself and on an ABC News blog chronicling the astounding event, reporters did not mention Wallenda’s frequent shout-outs to God, and some viewers are taking issue with the omission.

“Not mentioned by the news media, Wallenda prayed throughout the walk, and we could hear him,” says Christian writer Jim Bramlett.

One commenter told ABC News, “How come this blog leaves out the part about him praising Jesus? All the details are complete, except this is noticeably left out. Are you that uncomfortable typing the name of Christ?”

Another wondered, “Why could any (just one) of your ‘correspondents’ not acknowledge Mr. Wallenda’s faith in Jesus and God, throughout his walk??? What is up with that? Really. This wasn’t a stunt. it was a challenge faced by a non-fundamentalist Christian. Why can’t media acknowledge that? Ask Nik about it. I bet he would like answering the question.”

The closest thing to matters of faith cited by ABC’s blog was noting at 10:08 p.m., “The Wallenda family prays together moments before he gets on the wire.”

Later at 10:56 p.m. once the crossing was complete, ABC’s blog noted: “Nik says, “It hasn’t sunk in yet. I’m grinning from ear to ear. This is something I’ve played over and over in my mind for the past 20 years. It’s surreal. I’m really blessed to be here.”

Before the walk took place, Wallenda was asked how he could be so calm, and he answered it was thanks to prayer, saying “I am the righteousness of God in Christ,” an allusion to 2 Corinthians 5:21.

Despite the apparent omissions by journalists, Bramlett was thrilled with the broadcast, saying, “God used this sensational event to get His name proclaimed across the Earth and for people to see a man trusting in Him doing the seemingly impossible.”

Video coverage from ABC News of the crossing can be seen by clicking image below:

Nik Wallenda crossing Niagara Falls


Saturday’s Thought From Francis de Sales

This Week’s Sermon From The Ranch; Doing What’s Right

(Each Sunday, This Day’s Thought is blessed to share Eric Elder’s sermons from his wonderful ministry, “The Ranch“)
The Ranch: A Place of Healing and Restoration
Doing What’s Right

Lesson 30 from Romans: Lessons In Renewing Your Mind

 By Eric Elder


As we continue to look at ways to renew your mind, I’d like to look with you today at the way you view those in authority over you, whether they’re a boss, a parent, or even a government authority.  If you view authority with contempt, distrust, and disrespect, you’ll often find that same contempt, distrust and disrespect coming back to you.  But if you view authority with God‘s perspective, trusting that even ungodly authorities can have a place in God’s plan in the world, then you can have much more peace of mind in the midst of struggles.


I remember working for a boss for whom I didn’t have much respect.  He often asked me to do things that seemed pretty pointless.  We were friendly towards each other, but neither of us had much trust or respect for the other.


One day he asked me to fill out a survey that the company said was voluntary and anonymous.  But my boss required that each of us that worked for him fill it out, and because I was out of town at the time, I was going to have to fax my survey to him, making it clear that it came from me.  When I voiced these objections to him, he still said he wanted to see my survey by the next morning.  I was furious.  While it may not have seemed like a big deal to him, I was afraid if I gave my honest responses on the survey, it could jeopardize my future standing in the company.  And if I didn’t answer honestly, I was afraid I was jeopardizing my own standards of integrity.  So I was just going to refuse to turn it in.


But as the day went on, God began to work on my heart, and the biblical view of authority came to my mind.


The Apostle Paul wrote about this to the Christians living in Rome.  And from what I know about the way the Romans treated Christians at the time, I’m sure the Roman Christians had more difficult struggles with their bosses than being asked to fill out inane surveys!  They obviously had it way worse than me, and yet here’s what Paul said:


“Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor” (Romans 13:1-7).


Paul encouraged the Roman Christians to “do what’s right.”  He knew that if Christians could respect those in authority over them, benefits would abound all around, both to those they serve, and to themselves.


Any parent knows that when a child is obedient and respectful, the child can often ask for most anything and the parent is happy to oblige.  Yet when a child is disobedient and disrespectful, the parent is often unwilling to give in to any type of request, for fear that the child might abuse whatever is given to them.  When a child shows respect and honor to a parent, that same respect and honor often returns back to them.


Going back to my earlier story with my own boss, I remember finally coming to the conclusion that it was more important to respect and honor my boss-even though I disagreed with him-because God had called me to respect and honor those in authority over me.  My boss wasn’t asking me to do anything immoral or illegal.  I just disagreed with him.  After expressing that disagreement, he still persisted in what he wanted me to do, so I knew what I had to do.


I filled out the survey honestly and faxed it to him the next morning.  My heart felt at peace for I knew I had done what was right, even if it cost me something down the road. To my amazement, my relationship with my boss changed starting that very day. I don’t know if it was something that changed within me, or something that changed within him-or a combination of the two-but over the few months, he became my biggest supporter and my strongest advocate for every project took on.  He knew he could count on me to do what he asked me to do, and because of this trust, he gave me greater leeway in how I carried out my project than he had ever given me before.


Like a horse that was finally broken, I felt I could now be useful to him in all kinds of ways.


This doesn’t mean that those in authority over us are always right, just as any parent knows full well!  Any parent can and will make mistakes, and the same goes for bosses and governments.  But just because those in authority over us don’t do the right thing doesn’t mean that we can’t do the right thing.  As Paul said, “he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.”


Even men in the Bible like Joseph, Nehemiah and Daniel found ways to serve those in authority over them even though those over them were often ungodly and did the wrong things.


Joseph was sold as a slave in Egypt, yet he still treated his masters with respect and honor, doing what was right, and earning a place of respect and honor in their households, their prisons, and eventually in service to the king himself, being placed second in command over all the land.


Nehemiah was captured and put into the service of an ungodly king, yet he became the king’s cupbearer, a trusted position to ensure that no one poisoned the king’s wine.  When Nehemiah needed time and money to go rebuild the walls around Jerusalem, the king honored his request, because Nehemiah had honored the king.

Daniel was taken as a slave to Babylon, yet he served the king with integrity of heart and attitude, earning the king’s respect and becoming one of his top officials.


I’m sure each of these men wanted to rebel against the authorities God had put over them at many points in their lives.  And on some occasions, they did have to disobey the ungodly and immoral commands of those in authority over them, rightly claiming that God had a higher authority in each of those instances.  When Potiphar’s wife asked Joseph to go to bed with her, Joseph refused, and when Nebuchadnezzar’s officials asked Daniel and his friends to bow down and worship the king, they refused. In both cases, Joseph and Daniel paid a significant price for their insubordination, but they were willing to do so because they realized that in some cases, it was more important to submit to the authority of God than the authority of men.  So there do seem to be times when God’s authority trumps earthly authorities.  But those times are much fewer than most of us might like to admit.

The principle remains:  when we submit to those in authority over us, whether it’s the authorities on earth, or the Authority in heaven, we’ll have peace of mind, because we’ll know we’ve done what’s right.

If you’re wrestling in your mind with something that someone in authority has asked you to do, bring it to God.  Ask Him to help you to know what the right thing is to do.  Paul says that those in authority over you will commend you if you do what’s right.

Do what’s right, and God will reward you.  Those in authority over you will commend you, you’ll be freed from fear, and your conscience will be clear.  As Paul concluded:

“…submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor” (Romans 13:4b-7).

Will you pray with me?

Father, thank You for reminding us of the importance of submitting to those in authority over us.  Lord, give us Your wisdom as we weigh how to do that to the best of our ability, not only to avoid punishment, but because of conscience.  Help us to renew our minds in the way we think about those in authority over us, changing our hearts and minds and even our relationships with others as we do.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Joshua 1:9 T-ShirtP.S. Our friend Jeanette is still offering T-Shirts for those who would like one as a reminder to pray for my wife Lana, who has been recently diagnosed with breast cancer.  The T-Shirts have a verse on the front from the book of Joshua that says, “Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your GOD will be with you wherever you go.”  Jeanette created these shirts as a way to gather prayer and to bless our ministry.   She would be glad to send you one for a donation of any size to our ministry, anywhere in the world.  We sincerely need and appreciate your prayers, and your gifts also help us in a very practical way to continue taking the message of Christ all around the world.  To make a donation and get a T-Shirt, just visit:

Make A Donation


You can keep up with Lana’s updates on her blog at:
Lana’s Blog


Questions for Reflection

1.  Read Romans 13:1-7.  Why do you think Paul wanted the Christians in Rome to respect those in authority over them?  What possible benefits could result from this type of submission?

2.  In what areas of your life could you benefit from putting Paul’s words into action?

3.  How could changing the way you view those in authority over you bring you more peace of mind?

4. How could changing the way you interact with those in authority over you bring about a change in your relationships with them?


To read more from this series, Romans: Lessons In Renewing Your Mind,please visit:

The Romans Study


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A Few Wednesday Thoughts On “Desiring to Be Godly”


I have felt guilty of late about my inconsistency regarding my prayer time.  I used to pray for one hour at the beginning of each day.  Used to being the key phrase here.

I have been telling myself that I need to get back on track again.

I’ve been telling myself that this blog is my ministry and I am doing what God wants me to do with my spiritual poetry.

I have been thinking that this Lenten Journey I’m doing daily is good for me to correct my course.

This morning, after dropping Sara off at school, I was flipping through the radio stations on the way home and caught a Christian channel that I had not found before (Divine intervention ?) and began listening to a Bible teaching by a man that I think his last name was Graham (short-term memory lapse there on his name for sure).

He was talking about the Disciples and how God used their personalities as accentuation to their preaching rather than deterrent.  For instance, Peter was emotional, just blurting things out; Paul was a lawyer and therefore concise; John was all love; etc.

He spoke about the word “desire” and how is was used in a particular Scripture phrase “who would desire to be Godly” (or something close to that – again s.t.m. loss).  He focused hard on what that word was saying and I was considering it a profound message that I was receiving by “stumbling” onto it at that precise moment.

What I understood him to be saying was this; people who “desire” to be Godly are those who try every day to do what is right.  In a given circumstance, they stop to ask themselves “what would God say about me doing this?”; or “God wouldn’t like me doing that!”.  Do we hold God with reverence in our hearts?  That’s basically what he was asking.  Do we consider what is righteous in our decision-making?  Do we get offended for His sake?  When others talk negatively about Him, what is our reaction?  Or do we just sit back and say nothing for fear of being “persecuted”?

At the same time I think he was saying that although we “desire” to be Godly, He knows that we will fail because we are not God; we are fallible human beings; all the “desire” in the world is not going to make us perfect in our walks.  And that made me think about how “God looks at the heart of a man”.

If He looks at our hearts, if He sees our “desire” to be Godly, if He hears our prayers and judges our thoughts and actions, if He knows that we are doing the very best humanly possible, what more would He ask for?  If we repent of our sins with true remorse in our hearts, I think He considers that, don’t you?

Then Mr. Graham began talking about how we are told numerous times in the Bible the Christians will suffer hardship and persecutions.  He said if we are not suffering through something, if everything is hunky dory all the time, then we are not true in our Christian walk and are what the Bible calls “impostors”, we are the ones that Christ will say to us “I know you not”.  “Those the Lord loves he chastens” I believe was one quote he used as illustration of his point. If we don’t go through hardship, how is God going to stretch and grow us into the people that He wants us to become?

What do you think about my conclusions, my reasoning’s of his teaching today?  I wish I could play it for you to hear yourself 🙂  ’cause my memory problems may have ’caused some misquoting here but I think you get my drift.

Just wanted to throw out some food for thought to you as God did for me this morning.

Have a blessed and prosperous day in the Lord,

Teresa Marie (Terri)

I Have A Question, What Do You Think?

(image source: google.com/images)


I wondered what you would think of this situation and what my first reaction was, right or wrong?

A local young man in his mid-twenties was reported to be a “very nice guy” by all of his neighbors.  You know, the kind who would give you the shirt off of his back.  And that’s what got him killed.

(We will call him Jim, real name withheld in respect for his loved ones.)

Jim met a young lady who was “reportedly” going through rehab and had no place to stay.  In his generosity, he allowed her to come and live at his house.

After a short period of time, this woman brought two other “friends” needing help into Jim’s house.

Once these two men got their hooks into this woman, Jim told her they had to get out.  They refused to leave his house.  A couple of altercations broke out and the police were called repeatedly.

They told the men to leave, which they did for about a minute and then came right back.

Subsequently, these three people took this poor young man, divorced father of two small boys and beat him severely with ball bats, and hand tools.  Then they took him out in the country (not far from where I live at all) and continued to beat him to death, at some point using a pick axe on him!!  Then they tried to bury him in a ditch but didn’t do a very good job of it because he was discovered a few days later.

These three people were found within a week and arrested for his murder.  A short time later, it was discovered that the suspected leader of the assault had just been released from prison a year earlier than he should have been due to a “technical” error on the part of the prison.

Of course, the family is suing the prison for wrongful death resulting from their error.  Which I think is the right thing to do.  I do not advocate lawsuits in the general but I do when it is something of this magnitude and there’s no question of who is at fault.

Now, here is where my question comes in.  The noon news report was on while I was typing my last poem and I heard something that made me jump up and go see what they were talking about.

This “ringleader” died last night in prison.  It was reported that he was found in his cell and taken to the hospital with a collapsed lung and pronounced dead on arrival.  My first reaction was “yeah, you got what you deserved didn’t you?!”  Then I started to feel guilty that I had said that.

Mark called me not long after that and I told him about the news and he said that he had seen that report before he left for work this morning.  Then he said, “yeah, he got what he deserved!  Somebody in prison collapsed his lung for him, you can bet on it!!”

That got me to thinking, is that the Christian way for us to think?  I know it’s only human to do so but should we be above that?  Or, was that God exacting his judgement on this man for this heinous act that they committed.  In all honesty, I didn’t go into depth with the details because it was just to gruesome to me to have to repeat them.

What do you think?  Would you have reacted the same way?  I have family members who knew this young man in H.S. and said that he was genuinely a very nice kid even back them and how nice his whole family was.  He was trying to do the Christian thing in helping this woman out and it got him viciously, brutally, beaten to death.  They were without mercy but I know that I’m not supposed to act in kind.  There is the human dilemma, huh?




Angel Of Christmas Joy

image source: dreamies.de

The angel of
our Christmas joy
watches over every
girl and boy

Each mother, daughter
father and son
Since the day
it first begun

She sprinkles down
the Christmas snow
giving us a  
winter wonderland aglow

With every single
and unique snowflake
floats a blessing
us to take

A Christmas gift
sent from above
by the Father
of all love!

Teresa Marie  12/26/11 ©



This Week’s Sermon From The Ranch – On Bended Knee

(Each Sunday, This Day’s Thought is blessed to share Eric Elder’s sermons from his wonderful ministry, “The Ranch”)

The Ranch: A Place of Healing and Restoration

On Bended Knee

Featuring an excerpt from the upcoming book, Saint Nicholas: The Believer”

By Eric Elder
The Ranch


Back in the 1970’s, a catalog company called Miles Kimball created a figurine that depicted a modern-looking Santa Claus, kneeling and worshipping the baby Jesus in the manger.  Some people adore this image, while others loathe it, thinking that it’s sacrilegious to mix Santa with Jesus.

But the truth is that the image of Saint Nick bending his knee to worship Jesus is closer to reality than most people might think.  Not that Santa Claus was really there in Bethlehem when Jesus was born, but the real-life Saint Nicholas, upon whom our modern-day Santa is based, really did go to Bethlehem during his lifetime, back in the late 3rd and early 4th centuries after Christ‘s birth.  Nicholas’ visit to Bethlehem was one of the highlights of his life and a touchstone for his faith.  (By the way, and not to confuse you with more Christmas stories, but a “touchstone” in the Bible was called an “ebeneezer,” which served as a physical reminder of a place where God did something memorable in someone’s life.  Hence the name of another famous Christmas character, Ebeneezer Scrooge, from Charles Dickens‘ story, A Christmas Carol.)

The reason I’m giving you this historical background about the life of Saint Nicholas is because I’d like to share with you another chapter of a new Christmas book my wife and I are writing based on the life of the original Saint Nicholas.  I hope it encourages you to take some time this holiday season to “bend your knee” to the same Lord and Savior to whom Nicholas bent his.

The story picks up as Nicholas first arrives at the place of Christ’s birth, a dug-out cave in the side of a hill in Bethlehem that was once used as a stable for animals. Nicholas has been brought to this place by three young children who make their living by guiding pilgrims in the Holy Land to the Christian holy places.

With that introduction, here’s chapter 12 of our book-in-progress called, “Saint Nicholas: The Believer.”

Night had almost fallen when the four travelers finally arrived at their destination.  The young boy Dmetri had led the others through the city of Bethlehem until they reached the spot where generations of pilgrims had previously come to pay homage to their Lord at the place where He was born.  It was a small cave, cut into the hillside, where animals could have been easily kept from wandering off.

There were no signs to mark the spot.  There were no monuments or buildings to indicate that this was the place where the Creator of the universe had unveiled His plan for its salvation.  It was still dangerous anywhere in the Roman Empire to tell others you were a Christian, even though laws against it were so far only sporadically enforced.

But that didn’t stop those who were true Christ followers from coming to honor the One in whom they had put their trust. Although Christ Himself taught His followers that they were to respect their earthly rulers, both Caesar and the Christians knew what the Christians would do if they were forced to chose between bending their knee in worship of Caesar, or bending their knee in worship of Christ.  So the standoff between the Christians and the Roman Empire continued.

The only indication that this was indeed a holy site was the well-worn path up the hill that made its way into and out of the cave.  Tens of thousands of pilgrims had already made the trek to this site in the previous 250 years since Jesus had died.  It was well-known to the believers in Bethlehem as the place of Christ’s birth, for it had been shown to pilgrims from one generation to the next going back to the days of Christ Himself.

As Dmetri led the other three along the path, Nicholas laughed, a bit to himself, and a bit out loud.  The others turned to see what caused such an emotion.  Nicholas had even surprised himself!  Here he was, finally at the place where he had wanted to come for so long, and he was laughing.

In response to their inquisitive looks, Nicholas said, “I was just thinking of the wise men who came to Bethlehem to see Jesus.  They could have walked up this very hill.  How regal they must have looked, riding on their camels and bringing their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  For a moment, I pictured myself as one of those kings, dressed in splendor and riding high atop a camel myself.  Then I stepped in some sheep dung on the path.  The smell brought me back to the reality I’m nothing at all like those kings who visited Jesus!”

“But,” said Ruthie, “didn’t you tell us that the angels spoke to the shepherds first about the baby Jesus, and that they were the first ones to visit Him after He was born?  So smelling like sheep dung may not make you like a king, but it makes you even more like those who God brought to the manger first!”

“Well said, Ruthie,” Nicholas replied.  “You’re absolutely right.”

Ruthie smiled at her insight.  Then her face produced another thoughtful look.  “But maybe we should still be like the wise men, and bring a gift with us before we go in.  But what could we bring?”  The thought seemed to overtake her, as if she was truly concerned that they had nothing to give to the King of all kings.  He wasn’t there, of course, to even receive any gifts, but still, she had been captivated by the stories that Nicholas had been telling them about Jesus along the road.  She felt she should bring Him some kind of gift.

“Look!” she said, pointing to a place on the hill a short distance away.  She darted off the path.  Within a few minutes she had returned with four small, delicate, golden flowers, one for each of them.  “They look like gold to me!”

She smiled from ear to ear now, giving the other three their gifts that they could bring to Jesus.  Nicholas smiled, too, thinking to himself, What difference does it make really whether it’s gold from a mine or gold from a flower, when everything we have comes from Him anyway?  

With their gifts in hand, they reached the entrance to the cave and stepped in.

Nothing could have prepared Nicholas for the strong emotion that overtook him as he entered the cave.

On the ground in front of him was a makeshift wooden manger, the type of feeding trough for animals that Jesus could have been lain in on the night of his birth.  The manger had apparently been placed in the cave as a simple reminder of what had taken place on that spot.  But as simple as it was, the affect on Nicholas was profound.  His emotions welled-up inside him and he began to weep.  What started as a trickle soon turned into a flood.

One minute he had been laughing about sheep dung and watching Ruthie pick flowers on the hill, and the next minute, he found himself on his knees, weeping uncontrollably at the thought of what had taken place on this very spot.

He thought about all that he had ever heard about Jesus:  how He had healed the sick, walked on water, and raised the dead.  He thought about the words of life that Jesus had spoken while here on earth, words that still echoed all these years later, yet had the weight of authority as if spoken by the very Author of life itself.  He thought about his own parents who had devoted their lives to serving this man called Jesus, and who had given up their lives in doing so, just as Jesus had given up His life for them and for us all.

The thoughts so flooded his mind that Nicholas couldn’t help but sob with deep, heartfelt tears.  The tears seemed to come from within his very soul.  Nicholas also felt another stirring deep within his soul, a stirring like he had never felt in his life.  It was a sensation that seemed to call for some kind of response, some kind of action on his part, but what?  It was a feeling that was totally unfamiliar, yet it seemed unmistakably clear that there was some step he was now supposed to take, as if a door were opening in front of him that he knew he should walk through, but how?

As if in answer to his question, Nicholas remembered the golden flower in his hand.  He knew exactly what he was supposed to do.  And he wanted more than anything to do it.

He took the flower and laid it gently in the wooden manger.  It wasn’t just a golden flower anymore.  It was a symbol of his very life, offered up in service to his King.

Nicholas knelt there for several minutes, engulfed in this experience that he knew, even then, would affect him for the rest of his life.  He was oblivious to everything else that was going on around him. All he knew was that he wanted to serve this King, this Man who was fully human in every sense of the word, yet clearly divine at the same time, the very essence of God Himself.

Nicholas had no idea how long he held this position.  It could have been minutes.  It could have been hours.  All he knew was that he wanted to stay in this position for the rest of his life–humbled before God and worshipping His presence.  From that moment on, whether he stood up and ran or slowed down and walked, sat down and rested or laid down to sleep, he wanted to do everything on bended knee, with a heart that was bent towards serving his king.

As if slowly waking up from a dream, Nicholas began to notice his surroundings again.  He saw Dmetri and Samuel kneeling on his right, and Ruthie doing the same on his left.  Having watched Nicholas slip down to his knees, they had followed suit.  Now they looked at each other, and at Nicholas and the manger in front of them.

The waves of emotion that had washed over Nicholas were now washing over them as well.  They couldn’t help but imagine what he was experiencing, knowing how devoted a follower he was of Jesus, and what it had cost his parents to follow Him.  Each of the children, in their own way, began to feel the same love and devotion well up in their own hearts.

They had watched Nicholas lay his flower in the manger, and now they wanted to do the same thing.  If Jesus had meant so much to Nicholas, then they wanted to follow Him as well.  They had never in their lives experienced the kind of love that Nicholas had shown to them in the past three days.  Yet they also realized that the love that Nicholas showed them didn’t come from Nicholas alone, but from the God whom Nicholas served.  If this was the effect that Jesus had on His followers, they thought, then they wanted to follow Him, too.  

On bended knees, each of the three children lay their golden flowers in the manger, too, and with the flowers, their hearts.

If Nicholas had any doubts about his faith prior to this, they were all washed away now.  Nicholas had become, in the truest sense of the word, a Believer.  

And within minutes of giving his whole heart and life to Christ, he was already inspiring others to do the same.

Although this story is fictionalized to show what it might have been like when the real-life Saint Nicholas first visited Bethlehem, the truth is that Nicholas was so touched by his visit to the Holy Land that he decided to stay for several more years.  He took up residence just a few miles away from the place where Jesus was born.  Nicholas then returned to the Turkish city of Myra on the other side of the Mediterranean Sea where he lived out the rest of his life as the Bishop of Myra.  

Nicholas was already such an important figure in the life of the church during his lifetime that when Emperor Constantine’s mother eventually visited the Holy Land, she not only had a church built over the spot where Jesus was born, but also over the spot where Nicholas had lived.  Both locations still have churches standing on them today:  the Church of the Nativity, where Christ was born, and the Church of Saint Nicholas, where the believer Nicholas lived.

When I visited Bethlehem in 2009, I, too, was incredibly moved when I saw the spot where Jesus was born.  Even though the church that stands there today had been destroyed and rebuilt many times over the centuries, it remains the undisputed location that was first shown to Constantine’s mother in the 4th century as the birthplace of Christ, and likely was shown to the pilgrims before that for the years between His lifetime and hers.  

Knowing that the Son of God, the Creator of the universe, first touched ground within walking distance of this spot was awe-inspiring to me, too.  It caused me to bend my knee in humble adoration, for no one has impacted my life on earth more than Jesus, and no one will impact my life eternally more than Him.  My desire to bend down and touch the ground was not out of reverence for the “spot” on the ground where He was born, but for Who He is and all that He means to me in my life.

Just like Nicholas, my life has been so impacted by Christ that I’ve dedicated the rest of it to serving Him, too, with my whole heart and in whatever way I can.  One day, the Bible says, every knee shall bow in the presence of Christ.

“Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place
   and gave Him the name that is above every name,
 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
   in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
   to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).

As for me, I’d rather not wait for that day.  I’d rather do it now, bending my knee to Him, willingly and wholeheartedly, with the rest of my days still ahead of me to serve Him.  I know that He loves me and will always guide me, direct me, and lead me in ways that are absolutely the best for me–regardless of how they might look to me at the time.  Faith like this is not blind.  It’s faith in the One whom I have already seen in my heart and who has already done so much for me, dying on my behalf, and giving me a new life in return.

As Christmas comes this week, I’d like to encourage you to take a few minutes, even right now, to “bend your knee” to this King of kings, this Lord of lords, who has come to earth and has given up His life for you.  Take some time to worship and adore Him.  Offer Him the gift of your life this Christmas, completely and wholeheartedly surrendered to Him.  Like Nicholas of old and many other believers both past and present, let’s come to Him this Christmas to worship and adore Him.  In the words of the famous Christmas song:

“O come all ye faithful
Joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem.
Come and behold Him,
Born the King of angels;
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.”  

Will you pray with me?  

Father, thank You for coming to earth as a Man, and giving Your life to us in the form of Jesus.  Thank You for the model He was to show us how to live our lives, and the sacrifice He made so we could live forever.  Help us to worship Him this Christmas season in a special way, on bended knee and with hearts that are bent towards You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Tenderly CD Cover

P.S.  I’ve posted a special version of “O Come All Ye Faithful” on our website called simply “Faithful.”  The song is from our new CD that we’ve helped record and produce called “Tenderly,” featuring thirteen songs played  “tenderly” on the grand piano by Marilyn Byrnes, some of which have a hint of Christmas, and others of which will simply provide you with a quiet sanctuary in the midst of life.  If you’d like to get the whole CD, whether on CD or as downloadable MP3’s, I’d be glad to send you a copy, anywhere in the world, for a donation of any size to our ministry this month.  Use the links below to listen to the song “Faithful” or to make a donation and get the CD.

Listen to the song, “Faithful”

Make a Donation and Get a CD

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This Day’s Thought – 2011 Favorite Christian Quotes (1)

This Day's Thought


I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.


Our little time of suffering is not worthy of our first night’s welcome home to Heaven.



That the Potter should die for His clay is a stupendous miracle.



Loving relationships are a family’s best protection against the challenges of the world.



What other people think of me is becoming less and less important; what they think of Jesus because of me is critical.



We can never replace a friend. When a man is fortunate enough to have several, he finds they are all different. No one has a double in friendship.



The miracles of Jesus were the ordinary works of his Father, wrought small and swift that we might take them in.



A religion that is small enough for our understanding would not be big enough for our needs.



I prayed for faith and thought it would strike me like lightening. But faith did not come. One day I read, “Now faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” I had closed my Bible and prayed for faith. I now began to study my Bible and faith has been growing ever since.



A friend is one who sees through you and still enjoys the view.



The early morning hours have gold in their mouth.



Others may argue your beliefs, but they can’t refuse your love.



I looked at God and He looked at me, and we were one forever.



How desperately difficult it is to be honest with oneself. It is much easier to be honest with other people.



Make me a captive Lord, then I shall be truly free.



Heaven is full of answers to prayers for which no one ever bothered to ask.



God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains; it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.



I have more trouble with D. L. Moody than with any other man I ever met.



Peace is seeing a sunrise or a sunset and knowing whom to thank.



There is not enough darkness in all the world to put out the light of even one small candle.



Most commit the same mistake with God that they do with their friends: they do all the talking.



Just as there comes a warm sunbeam into every cottage window, so comes a love – born of God’s care for every separate need.



All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen.



To the world you may be just one person, but to one person you may be the world.



Our real blessings often appear to us in the shapes of pains, losses, and disappointments;

but let us have patience, and we soon shall see them in their proper figures.



This Day’s Thought From Wednesday & Thursday


This Day's Thought

Prayer Requests

All His glory and beauty come from within, and there He delights to dwell.  His visits there are frequent, His conversation sweet, His comforts refreshing:  His peace passing all understanding.

Thomas Kempis

This Day's Verse

Then, knowing what lies ahead for you, you won’t become bored with being a Christian, nor become spiritually dull and indifferent, but you will be anxious to follow the example of those who receive all that God has promised them because of their strong faith and patience.

Hebrews 6:12
The Living Bible 


This Day's Thought

Prayer Requests

Three-hundred million years from now, the only thing that will matter is whether you’re in Heaven or in Hell.

Mark Cahill

This Day's Verse

“And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.”

Ezekiel 36:27
The New International Version 

This Day's Smile

There is no impact without contact.  Evangelism is a contact sport.

Douglas M. Cecil

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