My friend Joann had a strong desire to become a concert pianist and to travel and perform as either a soloist or as a piano accompanist. While majoring in piano performance in college, she developed tendinitis in her right arm, and it became too weak to perform the solo recital that was required. She graduated with a degree in music history and literature instead.
She knew Jesus as her Savior, but she had been rebelling against Him for several years. Then through further difficult circumstances, she sensed the Lord reaching out to her, and she turned back to Him. Eventually her arm grew stronger, and her dream of traveling and performing came about. She says, “Now I could play to God’s glory instead of my own. His outstretched arm restored my spiritual life and the strength in my arm to enable me to serve Him with the gift He gave me.”
The Lord promised Moses that His outstretched arm would rescue the Israelites from bondage in Egypt (Ex. 6:6). He kept that promise even though His often-rebellious people doubted (14:30-31). God’s mighty arm is outstretched for us as well. No matter the outcome of our situation, He can be trusted to bring about His will for each of His children. We can depend on God’s strong arm.
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36
Here are some movie titles. Read through the list. When you're done, answer the question which follows: Good Guys Wear Black, Uncommon Valor, Missing in Action, Rambo: First Blood Part II, Missing in Action 2, The Beginning, P.O.W., The Escape and Dog Tags.
Now, can you tell me what these movies have in common?
I'm sure most of you guessed these movies all have the premise that American soldiers were left behind in Vietnam, but did you add that the premise of these movies may be right?
If the story of John Hartley Robertson is accurate, those movies do have a shred of truth. Robertson was a Green Beret whose helicopter was shot down while on a secret mission over Laos. It was assumed he was dead. That's why his name is on the black granite monument in Washington, D.C.
But Robertson survived the crash. He was captured, spent a year in a bamboo jail cell, and was tortured by the Viet Cong. When he was released, he married a woman who helped nurse him back to health.
Recently, another Vietnam Vet, Tom Faunce, tracked Robertson down. What happened afterwards is the subject of a documentary film, Unclaimed. In summary, the movie tells Robertson's story. It shares how Robertson, now 76 years old and with mild dementia, has forgotten how to speak English. Although he remembered he had an American wife and two children, he couldn't remember their names.
All in all, it is a sad story. Robertson has been found, but he's content with his life in Vietnam. His discovery could reunite an American family, but his children are now in their 40s and dad is no longer the man they remember from the pictures.
Robertson's story is a new one to us, but it's a familiar one to the Lord.
It's familiar because He sees that story being repeated continuously. When Adam and Eve fell into sin, humanity was held prisoner by sin, Satan and death. It was the worst kind of imprisonment because, on our own, there was never a chance of escape.
Even though we were helpless, the Lord did not forget His people. So we might be saved He came up with a plan to procure our rescue. The Gospels tell us how Jesus undertook the mission that would cost Him His life and give believers eternal forgiveness and salvation.
I rejoice to tell you that through Jesus' life, suffering, death and glorious resurrection God's mission has been successful. Now all who believe on Jesus are free. That is good news, the best news.
Sadly, too many people, like our Green Beret, don't want to be rescued. They think things are fine just the way they are. No, they don't want to be set free and be reunited with their real families; they just want to be left alone.
Maybe that's what they want, but it's not what God wants. He wants us free, and He wants us with Him. This is why Christians keep reaching out to all those who remain spiritual P.O.W.s.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, may we be the helpers of the Holy Spirit in seeking out those who are imprisoned. Then, by Your grace, may they believe and rejoice at being free. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
-Pastor Ken Klaus
I grew up in a small town. No famous people. No busy streets. Not much to do. Yet I’ve always been thankful for my quiet, uncomplicated upbringing.
One evening when my husband and I were attending a business dinner, a new acquaintance asked me where I was from. When I told her, she said, “Aren’t you embarrassed to admit it?”
Unsure whether or not she was joking, I simply said, “No.”
Although my town was sometimes belittled for its lack of sophistication, it was not lacking in things that matter. My family was part of a church community in which parents brought up children “in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4).
Jesus also grew up in a small town: Nazareth. A man named Nathanael asked, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46). Jesus proved that the answer is yes. Even though He grew up in an insignificant place, He was the most significant person in all of history.
Experience taught me and Scripture confirms that what matters is not where you grow up but how you grow up. Sometimes we feel insignificant compared to sophisticated people from prominent places. But we are significant to God, and He can make us strong in spirit and filled with His wisdom.