I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer inwaht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Amzanig huh? yaeh and I awlyas thought slpeling was ipmorantt!
Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
--1 Peter 5:8-9
My friend Tom has a taste for some of the beautiful things in life like great food for example. In face, he's a wonderful chef. I think I'm still wearing some of his culinary creations on my body. Tom also really appreciates nature, including plants. Actually, I've been fascinated to hear him tell of some of the incredible creations of God that live in that world of plants and flowers that I don't know much about. The last time we saw him, he told us about a flower called the Night Blooming Cyrus, which he said he's only seen bloom once. That's because they don't do much when folks are awake. In fact, they only bloom for two hours a day, and that's
from midnight till 2:00 A.M. But for those who stay up late or set their alarm, there's the splendor of a richly colored flower that measures about six inches in bloom. It's beautiful late at night.
Our word for today from the Word of God comes from 2 Corinthians 12. 2 Corinthians in many ways is Paul's most personal letter. He struggles with this chronic physical ailment here in chapter 12 that had really brought a dark cloud over his life. Listen to what he says in verses 8 and 9, for example. He says, "Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.' But He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my
power is made perfect in weakness.'" Paul says, "Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses." Look at this. First, he's pleading for it to go away, now he's grateful he's got it. His suffering has been a dark night in his life, but something happened in his night. He says, "So that
Christ's power may rest on me." Then in verse 10, he says, "That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
He's learned something about life's hard times. They can birth a beauty that could never come out if it were day. How? Your dark time strips you of a lot of the self stuff: self-reliance, self-confidence, self-promoting. And as life careens more and more out of your control, you begin to melt before God. You're no longer standing before Him in some kind of partner- ship. You are melted on your knees before Him with nothing to contribute to the answer, and there in that season of forced dependency and humility
something unexpected happens. You feel the powerful hands of Jesus picking you up, carrying you, and you experience Jesus loving you in ways
you never felt when things were good. And as you face the unimaginable with His strength taking over, you taste the power of God as you never could when the power of you was working.
There's a new beauty in Him that comes only through the night. Your pain has given you a new tenderness and a new compassion. You have a deep
peace that is known only by those who have walked through the valley with
Jesus. And there is this unexplainable radiance of one who has been tapping into the central power of God to make it through each new day.
It may be that you've been going through all of your valleys pretty much alone. There's one who wants to walk through every valley with you, if you have a personal relationship with Him. It took His death on the cross to remove the sin wall that keeps you from that relationship. It may be you don't want to go through one more valley without the one who loves you most. Why don't you tell Him "I'm yours" today? Then let me know that you want that relationship and I'll send you my booklet about it called Yours For Life.
Like that flower my friend told me about, you could suddenly develop midnight beauty - the kind that only comes when it's dark. Ron Hutchcraft
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A steam locomotive passing through Poland one night was running low on coal. The engineer said to his fireman, "We're coming to a town, let's stop and send the porter out to get more coal. Can you see the name of the town on the depot sign?"
The fireman replied, "It appears to be Danzig in the dark."
One Down, Millions to Go Abdul Rahman and Religious Freedom
March 29, 2006
Note: This commentary was delivered by Prison Fellowship President Mark Earley.
Last week, Chuck told you about Abdul Rahman, the Afghani Christian who faced death for converting from Islam. Since then, there have been positive developments in this case, which we'd like to share with you—not only because we can all use some good news, but also as a reminder of what Christians can accomplish.
As you will recall, Rahman converted to Christianity sixteen years ago while working for a Christian group that helped Afghani refugees. After he returned to Afghanistan, a custody dispute with his parents brought his conversion to the attention of the authorities. Under Islamic law, the punishment for his conversion to Christ is death.
The idea of a Christian being executed in a country where three hundred Americans had died to rid the people of an Islamic theocracy was intolerable. Chuck and others throughout the Christian community asked you to let our leaders know that "Abdul Rahman's execution must not take place."
You heard us, and our government leaders, in turn, heard you. After a shaky start, public pressure yielded results. President Bush courageously said that he was "deeply troubled" by Rahman's case and added that he expect Afghanistan to "honor the universal principle of freedom."
Afghani officials initially resisted Western pressure to free Rahman. They were worried about the kind of sentiment expressed by one Kabul resident to the BBC: "If [president] Karzai listens to them, there will be jihad."
So, instead of releasing Rahman on grounds of religious freedom, they dismissed the case on technical grounds. They cited "a lack of information and a lot of legal gaps in the case" and expressed doubts about Rahman's sanity.
"BreakPoint" listeners and readers should be happy and gratified that their efforts paid off. The events of the past week are a powerful reminder of the difference concerned listeners and readers like you can make.
Still, we shouldn't celebrate too much or too long. While Rahman's release saved his life, the grounds on which he was released still leaves the door open for similar prosecutions. As if to underscore this fact, his release was greeted by demonstrations where protesters chanted "death to Bush." There have been calls for similar protests across Afghanistan.
What's more, Rahman is hardly out of danger. His future in Afghanistan is, to put it mildly, uncertain. The Taliban may be out of power, but it's not out of business.
Then there's the status of Christians in the rest of the Islamic world. Just last week, Algeria enacted a law against "anyone urging or forcing or [even] tempting, to convert a Muslim to another religion." The law was prompted by recent mass conversions of Berbers—North Africa's native population—back to Christianity. I said "back" because Berbers, such as St. Augustine, were once Christians.
That Algeria felt free to enact such a law, even as religious freedom was in the headlines, demonstrates just how daunting the task of promoting religious freedom is. That's the bad news—the good news is that our leaders are paying attention. Now we need to make sure that our Christian brethren in the Islamic world keep ours.
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