Friday, October 28, 2005

The Measure of a Life

This week, Rosa Parks died in her sleep, a courageous woman who brought attention to many inequalities. In 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, a white bus driver demanded Ms. Parks vacate her seat on a bus for a white passenger. She refused. To give in, she would have violated her conscience.

Ms. Park’s passing reminded me of Abraham Lincoln’s life and final days. Carl Sandburg author of Abraham Lincoln, the Prairie Years and the War Years, recounts from historical documents the last hours of Lincoln’s life.

On Good Friday 1865, Mr. Lincoln, wife Mary and two friends attended a play at Ford’s Theater. An assassin entered their private box and mortally wounded the President by firing a one-shot brass derringer propelling a lead ball less than a half inch in diameter. Charles A. Leal, a 23-year-old assistant surgeon, gave immediate aid. Through mouth to mouth resuscitation and other measures, Mr. Lincoln breathed.

Unconscious, the President was carried onto 10th street. Across from Ford Theatre, a man standing in a doorway with a lighted candle beckoned the entourage into his home. The President was placed in a rented room upon a plain walnut bed, padded by a “cornhusk mattress resting on rope lacings.”

His condition steadily worsened through the night. Dawn found Mr. Lincoln surrounded by three devoted doctors. As his pulse slowed, breathing became more labored, and the end drew near. Surgeon General Barnes had his finger on Mr. Lincoln’s carotid artery. Dr. Taft’s large palm lay across the President’s chest. The young Charles Leal never seated himself, but stood by the President all night, most often holding his right hand, keeping his index finger on his pulse.

Later, Leal explained that just before departing this earth, recognition and reason sometimes returns to those who have been unconscious for hours. Leal said he determined to “hold his right hand firmly within my grasp to let him know in his blindness that he was in touch with humanity and had a friend.”

Rosa Parks and President Abraham Lincoln lived with adversity before and after they acted for justice and freedom. Ms. Parks was arrested because she defied an unjust law, but in later years was honored for her courage. President Lincoln, a key figure in slavery abolishment, reaped both love and slander.

On September 22, 1862 Abraham Lincoln signed a Proclamation saying that on January 1st of 1863 all slaves would be “forever free.” Godly changes in society rarely come without a price. Solomon said, “If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done” (Ecclesiastes 11:4 NLT). Passivity is the “act” of doing nothing.

A woodsmen proverb says, “A tree is best measured when down.” When life is gone, these questions are often voiced: “What was wrong?” “How did they die?” The better question, the better measure of a life is “How did they live?”

You may contact Cathy Messecar at

Saturday, October 22, 2005

God's Promises

Bad news or good news, which would you rather receive? Most prefer good news. Because of a government clerical error, my friend Paula received a notice from the Internal Revenue Service saying their business owed $36,000 in back taxes. The misunderstanding was resolved, but Paula’s initial reaction was over-the-top hyperventilation. She did feel faint.

Unlike Paula, the Israelites sometimes got unwelcome news because of their disobedience. Often, news about the future came from one of God’s prophets. God made promises to the obedient and disobedient, but the promises varied in degrees of blessing and meted-out justice.

God’s prophecies often arrived amid similes.

On more than one occasion God sent messages through Jeremiah. For several generations, some clans in Israel worshiped idols, and did detestable things such as sacrificing their morals and children. God described them as having traveling feet that walked away from God. They trusted in their own strength.

God characterized these strays as “stunted shrubs in the desert with no hope for the future” (Jeremiah 17:5 NLT). That’s the dry, crusty land where reptiles grow thick skin to survive.

However, God compared a faithful follower to a tree “planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream” (17:8). This tree is portrayed as green and fruit-bearing even in droughts. The tree is personified as not having fears or worries (17:8 NIV). What a portrait.

For me, crop plenty and crop failure is easy to picture. Years ago, I had a fine garden—organic fertilizer, plenty of rainfall, and the perfect amount of sunny days—that produced hefty tomatoes. So many fruits ripened, we set up saw horses and put a sheet of plywood on top to hold the bounty. A good crop from healthy plants.

But this spring my three spindly tomato plants got a late start due to cold mornings. After too much shade and lack of moisture, nibbling worms also bit into the harvest. In July, we picked half a dozen pitiable runts. A bad crop from shriveled vines.

Throughout Jeremiah’s life he delivered prophecies of horror and hope. Although he delivered plenty of bad news, he was privileged to broadcast the very best news: a Savior for all. God pledged: “I will fulfill the gracious promise I made to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah . . . I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line” (33: 14. 15).

Most of us, if we’re honest, are a mixture of good and bad, in need of divine nourishment from above. Writer Mary Connealy pens that concept in the words beneath her signature: “Standing on his promises, falling on his grace.”

In her slogan, Mary captures the human drama of deliverance. Brokenness can be healed. Good News has arrived in Jesus. By relying on him, we are “standing on his promises, falling on his grace.”

You may contact Cathy at

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Wars and Rumors of Wars

I firmly believe if God allowed mothers' prayers to rule the world, wars would cease.

Or if the love of God ruled in the world, women wouldn't have to plead for wars to end.

Friday, October 14, 2005

News from India reader about Pakistan

Terrible Scenes (First hand information from the quake hit areas)

I am on the wayback to homeland from the land of devastation. Terrible scenes I have seen. Both my body and mind are so upset. I am unable to describe, but feeling.... Is it the shadow of the hell. There are still having earthquakes.

I brought some bundles of food packets and old clothes. I thought I can distribute them one by one. But I couldn't. Before that, the hungry people jumped over it, took the packets grabbing and ate it like anything. Really I was not feeling well, because of the journey, climate and heavy rain. When I saw the people eating food packets, I forgot my illness and I could not control my tears.

Just two ago relief works started at more than 10 villages. Defence people taking control of it. There are many more villages yet to start relief works. Those areas are at the elevation of 8300 to 9000 feet. The smelling of the dead bodies, no helps for the injured people, rest of the people are attacked by the diseases, starvation, and creatures and insects all around.

In a village there are few believers of Jesus Christ. (99% of the entire area is muslims. They are having so much influence with the terrorist groups. So ours (Salem Voice Ministries: is a hidden ministry for teaching the redeeming love of Jesus Christ. I cannot say the details, because of the security reasons of our believers as well as ministers). By God's grace nobody died from the believers. But most of them injured and lost everything. Our volunteers are doing best sevice as much as they can. It is quiet natural that they face neglection from others, even at the need of relief. Prayer supports from the children of our Lord is badly...... badly....... very badly needed. I cannot express more words. Act as the Holy ! Spirit speaks.

Yours in the love of Messiah Yeshua

Pastor Paul Ciniraj
Salem Voice Ministries.

Friday, October 07, 2005

To complain or not...

Do everything without complaining or arguing. Philippians 2:14

“Ain’t it Awful.” Those were the words printed across the top of the chart my daughter Sheryle brought home from Sunday school when she was 10. That day, her Bible teacher emphasized not complaining.

Sheryle attached the chart to the front of the fridge. Vertically, the grid had each family member’s name, and horizontally, the days of the week. She said she would monitor the family. If anyone complained, she’d say “Ain’t it awful” and place a mark by the name of the offender.

I smiled, thinking how much the children needed this lesson. Later Sunday afternoon, I dropped a bowl of cookie dough. Guess who whined? Me.

My daughter, the self-appointed president of the complaint department, said, “Ain’t it awful,” and I received the first black mark on the chart.

Aggravations may arrive in bunches. They often cluster into a single hour, clamoring for attention. Glitches in paper work, a hangnail, or a flat tire. All can seem monstrous.

When frustrations mount, it’s tempting to tattle to someone and gripe about the latest mishaps. Resist complaining because grumbling is contagious. The story of 12 scouts who explored the land of Canaan is in Numbers chapter 14: when the twelve men returned to their families, ten complained about giant warriors in the land. They in turn “made the whole community grumble“(vs. 36).

Griping focuses on what is wrong, instead of on what is going right, the blessings from God. Charles Hodge says, “The really happy man is one who enjoys the scenery when on a detour.” This past week my can opener disappeared. I literally opened cans with a stout knife and metal meat mallet. Do not try this at home. The good about that situation: I had food. I had tools, and I didn’t even nick a finger.

In that same week while driving in heavy traffic, a fire ant assaulted my sandaled toes. I endured his stinging complaint for nearly a mile before it was safe enough to eliminate the problem. A blessing to focus on: one less fire ant in the world. Sorry, fire ant lovers.

So many times in preaching, teaching and writing, problems are identified, but solutions are not offered. The apostle Paul offered remedies to tetchy problems. When he wrote his letter to the Philippians he was in a Roman prison. Early in his correspondence he said, “Do everything without complaining or arguing.” Paul was under guard, confined, restricted, incarcerated, but again and again, at least eight times, he encouraged the Philippians to rejoice.

Near the end of Paul’s letter, he gives the antidote to complaining: “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (4:8). He also gave credit to God for enabling him to say, “I have learned to be content in all circumstances” (4:11).

I taped another “Ain’t it awful” chart on my refrigerator — a reminder to think about the good in life, even if detour signs go up this week.

You may contact Cathy Messecar at