Friday, September 30, 2011

He plans to stay in difficult marriage

I'm certainly not going to name my friend in this posting.  But I do want to applaud him for his position.  He was telling me about an extremely difficult marriage situation, obviously not happy. But after hearing the whole story, he, another Catholic, took the bold stance of saying, "But I believe God wants me to stay in this marriage no matter what, and make the best of it, and try my hardest.  So that's exactly what I plan to do. If God for some reason has a purpose for living with a B**ch the rest of my life, I accept that cross.  But obviously I'll be doing a lot of praying and a lot of working at making it better."

THAT is the spirit of Jesus showing up in my friend.

Related Bible verse:  "So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate."   Matt 19:6

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Vicki Duffy overcame rape, self-cutting, drug use because of Jesus

(this blog has grown up and is now a full website.  Please go instead to

We all have heard of someone whose life is so messed up we just shake our heads, thinking there's no hope for them. Vicki Duffy had a life like that, and tried everything to get out of it. It was her last hope - praying to Jesus - that worked.

Vicki Duffy

 Vicki was born in Pennsylvania in 1968.  When Vicki was five, her mother's boyfriend raped her, then threatened to kill her mother and brother and dog if she said anything.  When Vicki was 11, she was raped by her own brother, who was thirteen, who convinced her it was her fault.  Raped twice by an Uncle at age 19.  During those years, she was abused, told she would never amount to anything, and told she was stupid. She felt deeply that indeed there was something wrong with her.  She became incredibly insecure and without any self esteem. 

By the time she was in her early 20's, she hated men (imagine that!) and led a promiscuous gay lifestyle. She was into drugs and alcohol.  She suffered from anorexia and bulemia, and had spent six stints in a mental hospital.  But the worst compulsion was self-abuse.  She cut herself with razors and burnt herself with cigarettes.  The scars, over 250 of them, are still visible.  She said "It was something I could control that nobody else could."
Scars from self-inflicted cuts visible years later

She tried to get help, and despite regularly taking 17 psychotheraputic medicines, saw no improvement that lasted for long. 

In despiration, she bought a Bible.  She opened it and in front of her was a story of a man who constantly screamed and purposefully cut himself, and in Vicki's view, evidently had mental problems. Jesus was able to heal him (see Mark 5).

Mad at Jesus for not healing her, she swore at God and challenged him to prove he was real within three weeks.  In those three weeks, she went to a revival meeting with Janny Grein and to a church in Florham Park, New Jersey.  She never felt so truly peaceful.  She knew it was real.  She said that no medication ever made her feel that alert and alive.  She made a decision to follow Christ in April 1995.

Within a year and a half, she had stopped all of the cutting and burning.  She had stopped taking the medications.  She was getting control of the eating.  And amazingly, unbelievably, she had forgiven her abusers.

By 1999 she was married to a wonderful Christian man who was able to see past all her past troubles.  She now has a son, and is still on the Christian path, openly sharing her story with others who also want to put a horrible past behind them. 

Do you have a life situation that you think is impossible to overcome?  You know what to try.  Rather, Who to try.

See Vicki Duffy's full story in this video:

My commentary:  Is God Real?  I consider this more evidence.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Random callers coincidentally 'steered' to the phone counselors who could resolve their problem

This story was told in 1999 by Deb Matthews on her site 'True Christian Stories'.  It is another example that shows that if we give a little of ourselves to others, God sometimes multiplies the goodness that happens.

Deb Matthews

One night Deb was volunteering for a nationally broadcast crusade providing telephone counseling.  She decided to do it despite her concern that people might call with a problem that she didn't know how to handle.  A number of other volunteers were doing the same thing, and were within earshot of each other.  Calls came in at random, and they were routed to whomever was next free.

As the night went on, she noticed that each of the volunteer counselors seemed to be getting only one or two types of callers.  One volunteer got a lot of calls from kids with problems.
Another volunteer got a number of calls from people with depression, including two who were suicidal.  Deb was getting a lot of calls from youth and senior citizens.

Deb also noticed that the patterns coincided exactly with the area of expertise that each volunteer counselor brought to the table.  Other counselors were noticing the same thing and made comments like, "I'm getting calls that are right up my alley!" 

To Deb, it seemed very much like this type of pairing up the needy with the helpers was not being guided by chance.  She felt as if God must be participating in this event to help those in need get what they needed, by means of the people who were selfless enough to offer their services.  She felt like she was witnessing something remarkable, and so she shared it on her website,  Check it out.  There are a couple of dozen additional stories there.

My commentary:  Is God Real?  I consider this more evidence.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Christ's love softened Muslim heart

I work in a large corporation in which we have a United Nations of people.  Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, aetheists.  We all work together every day, and it's very good for us all.  One day in April, 2011, the news carried a story that an oddball named 'Pastor' Terry Jones from Florida was planning on visiting Dearborn, Michigan (a city with a large Arabic and Muslim population).  He was infamous for having burnt a Koran. I felt very angry thinking he might try that again here in our city (I am Catholic).

Because of Jesus' influence on me, I believe that we should treat our neighbor as ourselves.  I know that I would be very upset if somebody burnt my holy book -- an outrage! 
I was planning on protesting Jones' arrival, and so I had a browser open on my computer where the title "Terry Jones Koran Burning" was visible when my colleague Houssam (a Muslim) happened to come to my desk to work with me.  He confronted me about what was on my computer, wondering whether I was sympathetic to Jones.  I told him 'not at all', but instead I was planning to protest and said that I'm sure a large number of Christians would be there besides me.  I said that Jones was the anomoly, not the norm among Christians.  Houssam expressed his suspicion about that, saying that most Christians secretly agree with Jones.  I could tell he felt pretty certain about that, the way he said it.

I urged Houssam and another colleague, Hassan, to go with me to the protest after work that day, along with four members of my family who drove in for the event.  What Houssam saw changed his mind, he later told me.  He saw that more than half of the people in attendance at the protest at the Islamic Center of America (largest mosque in the city) were white people, and that four prominent Christian leaders, including the Archbishop of the Detroit Catholic Archdiocese, were speaking. 

photo by William Archie, Detroit Free Press.
Leaders and supporters from various faiths in front of the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, MI April 21, 2011. I was also in this crowd with my friend Houssam, but you can't see us.

He said he never would have believed it unless he saw it with his own eyes.  He said that he feels very differently about who the average Christian is because so many people spontaneously had a reaction to show support for our neighbors.

While Houssam was far from being a Muslim terrorist (unless you consider a software guy to be scary), it might be true to say that if this type of positive interaction between cultures happened more often, I would venture that there would be less animosity between the cultures throughout the world, and perhaps less desire to hurt each other.

One Christian's reaction to Osama Bin Laden's death

Bob is a Christian man in his 70's who was in the army as a young man.  He learned how to efficiently and quickly kill a man with a gun.
When Osama Bin Laden was recently killed by Navy Seal Team 6, Bob heard on the news that some people were loudly celebrating.  Bob said that in the spirit of Jesus' way, he had a hard time feeling celebrative, because he cannot feel happy about anybody being killed.  Bob told me that when he first heard the news, he immediately stopped what he was doing and prayed for the forgiveness of Bin Laden's soul.

But here's an interesting twist:  Bob also added that he was not blind to the great harm Bin Laden had done and may still have been doing.  He said that if he were still in the army, Bob would have had no problem following orders to pull the trigger on Bin Laden.  But his reaction would not have been glee.  It would have been the resignation that this is what was necessary to stop further murders.

See ABC World News video about the Navy Seals who killed Bin Laden:

Christ helps man accept outsourcing of jobs from America

My friend Charlie (not his real name - he may not want to admit he ever had these feelings) confided in me that after the American recession following Sept 11, 2001, his former willingness to be friends with and learn about the culture and food of people from India started to fade and turn into resentment because he felt that the American jobs were being outsourced, mainly to India, and that it made it harder for him to retain good work here.  He said he had a hard time feeling friendly towards Indians during that time, and stayed upset for a few years.

But then he was studying the book of Matthew 20 in the Bible.  In it, Jesus tells the parable of a landowner hiring men in the early morning to work in his vineyard for the standard wage for a full day's work.  Throughout the day, even until the last hour, he hired others as well.  At the end of the day, he paid each man the same wage: a full day's pay.  The men who worked the whole day complained that it was not fair.  The landowner answered, "Why should you be envious because I am generous?"

Charlie got to thinking, and changed his perspective about the good jobs also going to the Indians after the Americans were able to land the good jobs for over 100 years.  He realized that in God's eyes, the Indians are being treated as Charlie himself would like to be treated.  He is now no longer resentful, but thankful to God for the many years of generousity.

Christ can change people's hearts for the better.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Forgive the 9/11 Terrorists?

It would be a rare human who could forgive terrorists who hated the U.S. so powerfully that they were willing to kill 3,000 people at one stroke.  What would be more normal than to hate them in return?  When a person does forgive an enemy, it is so shocking (and uplifting!) that it attracts attention. 

We easily remember Nelson Mandela leading the effort in South Africa to forgive the very people who sent him to jail for 27 years, and caught the attention of the world and brought peace and stability to South Africa for the first time in many decades. 

Nelson Mandela

Those of us who live in the U.S. remember the unbelievable act of forgiveness offered by the Amish community in Lancaster Pennsylvania in the fall of 2006 after a gunman shot 10 young girls in a schoolhouse, killing 5, then committing suicide.  Blogger Steven Greydanus writes, "Within hours of the shooting, the Amish reached out to the gunman's widow, assuring her of their forgiveness to her husband and their lack of ill will for her.  When the gunman was buried, dozens of Amish were in attendance. 
(Read more:

Mourning Amish Girls in Lancaster

What motivates Christians to behave in such a selfless manner?  They understand from the two scriptures below that Jesus has a larger plan for humanity than just helping us each achieve a personal sense of fairness in life. He wants us to be willing to let go of our goal of fairness in the name of attracting people to the much larger objective of demonstrating love of enemies.

Forgive seven times seventy times      Matthew 18:21-22
Man forgiven a huge debt                  Matthew 18:23-35

These, by the way, are the official readings for the Catholic Church for Sept. 11, 2011, the ten-year anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Woman inside collapsing 9/11 North Tower Survived

Josephine Harris was inside the North Tower of the World Trade Center at the moment it collapsed, and survived.  There was only one small pocket of Stairway B between the second and fourth floors of the building that did not get destroyed despite the fact that entire mass of the building above her just came rumbling down. 

Here's how it happened:  Josephine worked on the 73rd floor as a bookkeeper, and after the terrorist plane hit the North Tower, she started down the long stairwell, and had made it to the 15th floor and was exhausted. Above her, six firefighters from Ladder Company 6 had decided to leave the building as fast as possible and were quickly descending the same stairs.  They found her on the 15th floor and decided to slow down to her pace so that she could get some help making it the rest of the way.

Firefighter Bill Butler supported her weight, but Ms. Harris collapsed around the fourth floor and "was yelling at us to leave her," Chief John Jonas explained.   "We weren't going to leave her".  So they stayed with her.  A short while later, while they stayed put, the entire building collapsed above and below them, but they were saved.

Chief Jonas said, “You cannot say that something that happened to you is a miracle. But we had the courage to do what we did, and you can say that if she was not there for us to save her, we probably would not have made it.”  (They later gave her a t-shirt with the phrase "guardian angel")

Josephine Harris with Firefighter Bill Butler 

They survived this

Fire Commissioner Salvatore J. Cassano said “On a day that will always be recalled for its inconceivable devastation and unimaginable loss, the story of Josephine and the firefighters of Ladder 6 was nothing short of miraculous. One hundred floors of a high-rise building came down on them, and, huddled together, they managed to survive.”

Can we know for sure that God played a hand in this unusual coincidence?  Impossible to know for sure.                   
See video of this story here: