If you were 8 years old and found a $20 bill in a parking lot of Cracker Barrel, what would you do with it?
Many people have asked themselves that after they watched a CBS Sunday Morning news segment featuring Myles Eckert, a young boy whose soldier dad was killed in Iraq just five weeks after Myles was born.
The influence of a father – even one who has been gone so long – runs deep, and it prompted Myles to do something beautiful on that chilly February morning: He decided to take that $20 bill and “pay it forward.”
Watch the moving piece below (mobile users can watch it at the link).
Just two weeks ago I found myself in Nashville, TN attending the National Religious Broadcaster's Convention. It's always a good time to reconnect with some old friends and meet new ones as we strategize ways to more effectively and efficiently spread the Good News of the Gospel.
But while I was holed up in meetings at the Opryland Hotel, a team from Focus was across town at the Fellowship Bible Church hosting our latest Wait No More conference.
As I recently shared with the staff, there was a fantastic turnout. The best part was that, in response to the information presented at that gathering, 122 families initiated the process of adoption – which represents more than a quarter of the families that were in attendance!
You can read a news article and watch a video about the event online: “Prospective families learn about Tennessee adoptions, foster care.” Wait No More Program Director Katie Overstreet mentions in the video that, overall, more than 2,600 families have initiated the process to adopt children from foster care thanks to the combined efforts represented by Wait No More’s nationwide conferences.
The Lord is working mightily through this initiative, and I can’t tell you how grateful we are to see so many families reaching out to legal orphans who are longing for permanent homes.
Our next Wait No More event is scheduled for May 10 at the Istrouma Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, LA. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. You can learn more about the conference or register free online. You can watch a video about the Louisiana event online.
I've always been fascinated by the story of Peter cutting off the ear of the servant of the high priest. It's by no means a major part of the Passion, but it communicates quite a bit in just a few short sentences.
According to John's Gospel (18:10), the servant’s name was Malchus.
But that's all we know about this man, except that Jesus stepped in and miraculously healed him.
We don't know anything about his family, his background or what happened to him after that fateful Thursday night.
So, I think I'll speculate.
First, I don't think Peter was aiming for his ear. I think Peter was aiming for his throat. He wanted him dead.
Second, isn't it both telling and remarkable that Jesus would have chosen Malchus as his last healing while on earth – someone who was part of the contingent responsible for leading him to the site of his own crucifixion?
I don't think that's by chance.
That Jesus would step in and heal that man at that moment illustrates, I believe, the very nature of the Son of God.
Yes, He is about truth and justice, but He's simultaneously about grace, peace, forgiveness and making all things new. He is about making things whole and right, even the ear of an "enemy" servant.
Some have speculated that he's another example of a person who witnessed a miracle but chose not to believe. Those who hold to this line of thought cite the fact that John and the other writers are silent on his fate and that he never comes up again.
I'm not so sure.
I like to think that Malchus was so moved by the miracle, so struck by the tender touch of Jesus' hand on his face that he came to believe and eventually became a Christian, so overwhelmed was he by the evidence and totality of the experience.
I could be wrong, but I don't think so.
Shouldn't our hearts be tender to those who are swinging for us, who want to lay us low?
That's what this story tells me. And as Lent begins this week and we begin our climb to Calvary, it reminds me to be mindful of the fact that in God's economy every person matters and that "None is righteous, no, not one" (Romans 3:10).
Speaker and author Ann Kiemel comforted others with the comfort she herself received from the Lord (2 Corinthians 1:3-5). Now this woman with the soft voice and strong faith is in heaven, receiving her eternal reward.
Ann passed away Saturday after a difficult battle with cancer – but most of you know her because she so openly and bravely shared about her battle with infertility.
Through her books (she sold more than 20 million of them) and her numerous times on our broadcast, she told her story of multiple miscarriages.
In Ann’s words: “I knew I had a choice; I could make sorrow my friend or my enemy. Sorrow could make me hard and cold and bitter… or sorrow could be my best friend and teach me things I had never known before. I reached out and took sorrow’s hand…”
It’s truly a courageous woman eager to embrace all that God might have for her who is willing to humbly learn from sorrow.
Emptied of herself, God was able to bring joy to Ann’s life through the gift of adoption. Together with her husband, Will, the couple ultimately adopted four baby boys from four different moms. As she told her audiences, she couldn’t have loved those boys more had they been her own flesh and blood. After her husband died of cancer in 2000, Ann worked hard to make ends meet as a single mom with the same faith that had characterized her entire life.
I want to end today’s post with a link to one of our broadcasts featuring this tender warrior who loved the Lord deeply. In “How Can I Change?”, Ann Kiemel shares her story of finding joy in adoption after the grief of infertility. The principles Ann shares in her story will reverberate within you, no matter what your personal struggle is, so I encourage you to listen to this broadcast online.
Please join me in praying for Ann’s four sons, Taylor, Brandt, Brock and Colson, and her twin sister, Jan, who are now dealing with the pain of her passing.