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Dark Friday

I wrote this piece a few years ago and thought it appropriate to post every year on Dark Friday.

Take Me, Break Me
(a prayer)
by Steve Laube

Take my eyes Lord.

Strike me blind.

* * *

Then heal me Lord
That I may see with Your eyes.

 

Take my hands Lord.
Crush every bone.

* * *

Then heal me Lord
That I may touch with Your tenderness.

Stories in Hiding Places

by Dan Balow

The Hiding Place

Since I blog on Tuesdays and the next April 15 to fall on a Tuesday is not for another eleven years, I felt like I couldn’t pass up this opportunity.

Corrie ten Boom was born on this date in 1892 and died on this date in 1983.  If Evangelicals were in the habit of naming saints, she would among them.

For those unaware of this great Christian woman, she and her family helped many Jews escape the Nazis during World War Two in occupied Holland.  The classic book, The Hiding Place (Chosen Books, 1971) and movie (1975) by the same name chronicled this dramatic story.

Seventy years ago, in early 1944, an informant told German soldiers about a secret room in the ten Booms family home in Haarlem, Holland used for hiding Jews so they would not be sent to concentration camps. (The picture above is the entrance to that secret room, now preserved)

The Nazi’s raided the house and arrested the entire family.  After a stop in a nearby prison camp, Corrie and her sister Betsie were eventually transferred to Ravensbruck concentration camp in Germany, about 50 miles north of Berlin. 

Shortly before she died in December 1944, Betsie told Corrie, “There is no pit so deep that He (God) is not deeper still.”  They would become words burned into Corrie’s soul and the souls of people who heard Corrie speak in the 70’s after The Hiding Place released and became an international bestseller.

Twelve days after Betsie died, Corrie was unexpectedly released from the camp in what was discovered later as a “clerical error” on the part of the Germans.

During my freshman year at Wheaton College (IL), Corrie came to campus to speak at a mandatory 10:30 am chapel for students on November 12, 1974. Forty years later I can still see the little 82 year-old woman speaking quietly to 2,000 wide and teary-eyed college students and faculty…giving testimony to God’s love, grace, forgiveness, faithfulness and mercy.  And for a brief moment, self-absorbed college students got a taste for what it meant to completely surrender to Jesus Christ.

John and Elizabeth Sherrill wrote The Hiding Place, but according to some accounts, they came to hear about Corrie in the mid-1960’s while researching another book, God’s Smuggler, the story of another Dutchman, Andrew van der Bijl (Brother Andrew) which was published in 1967.  Brother Andrew and Corrie travelled for ministry together.

I started out wanting to write about Corrie ten Boom on the date she was born and died, because she is a Christian hero in our definition of the word, but undoubtedly, in God’s as well. (Sometimes those two definitions are not the same)

But once I had a chance to revisit her life and consider her impact on the Christian publishing world, as well as that of John and Elizabeth Sherrill, I was reminded that the greatest stories are those where God is involved throughout a journey and often unseen. Sometimes the plot and characters are unexpected and the outcome is even more surprising. 

God is in the process of writing our stories every day and giving those of you who write, new material, often from unexpected places.

Corrie ten Boom once commented on how we should trust God’s faithfulness and work in our lives through all circumstances when she said, “When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away your ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer.”

Be still, and know that I am God.  (Psalm 46:10)

What Will You Give Up for Lent?

by Karen Ball

Lent

Believe it or not, Easter is just around the corner. Which means something else is almost upon us:

Lent.

I love the idea of a 40-day preparation for Easter, of refocusing our hearts and minds to spend more time in prayer and contemplation of what Christ has done for us. And I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of “giving up” something for those 40 days. Even more intriguing—and sometimes amusing–is what people choose to surrender. For example:

Watching TV
Playing computer games
Chocolate (now there’s a sacrifice!)
Going online
Sugar
Caffeine (just shoot me now!)
Wearing shoes

And on and on it goes. (In fact, check out the websites at the end of this blog that share the multitudes of things folks give up for this season.) But I want to suggest something a bit different for those of us who make our living in publishing. How about giving up something really tough? How about giving up something like:

Handling Disappointment

by Steve Laube

Businessman looking at his laptop

I do not like to experience disappointment. I do not like rejection, even when it isn’t my personal project being turned down. I do not like to be the bearer of bad news.

And yet I do experience disappointment, rejection, and the telling of bad news…every week. That is the nature of the arts.

The arts (meaning music, writing, dance, and painting) is comprised of thousands of hours of practice; long days of solitude; truckloads of self-doubt; in a world where everyone is a critic.

Let the LIGHT In!

by Karen Ball

colorful sunset

People being gunned down.

Government shutdowns.

Families in financial crisis.

Politicians calling each other names.

Increasing assaults on religious freedoms.

All of this and more overflow us. On the news. Over the Internet. In our conversations. It would be so easy to think these ugly things are all there is of life nowadays. To feel sad and angry and hopeless…

Which is why you are so important to the world! Writers, we need you! We’re desperate for clear, bold voices that speak truth and hope into the chaos. Whether through blogs or articles, books or letters, Tweets or Puns, shares or posts…whatever you use to share God’s message of love and hope, know–KNOW–that it makes a difference.

Editing the Bible

by Dan Balow

Jesus  removes sin

I always thought it was interesting that Christian publishers employed Bible editors.  Of course, they are not there to edit the Bible text, but to work on the extra-Bible notes and additional material that might end up in a study or devotional Bible.

It got me thinking that there is a lot of stuff in the Bible that is just downright disturbing if you want to maintain a simplistic easy-to-accept view of God.  So, if I set out to edit the Bible text, what material could I personally do without?  Here are some things I would rather not have in the Bible: (There are others, but these just come to mind)

  • Cain killing Abel episode in Genesis 4
  • Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19
  • Numbers 14:26-33 – Moses and Aaron are not allowed to enter the promised land.
  • Isaiah 55:8 – My thoughts are not your thoughts…
  • Matthew 6:12, Matthew 6:14-15 – If you don’t forgive others, then I won’t forgive you.
  • Matthew 7 – Judge not
  • Luke 12: 49-53 – Jesus causes division.
  • Acts 5 – Ananias and Sapphira
  • If you do all things well, but not love, the truth is not in you (1 Cor. 13:1-3)
  • And the toughest passage in the Bible…”I never knew you” in Matthew 7:23

Of course, this is tongue-in-cheek, but I have always felt that one of the facts that validate the authenticity of Scripture is that it contains real life.  Let’s face it, most of Scripture is the story of sinful people doing sinful things and God responding, with the ultimate response (so far) in the atoning work of Jesus Christ.

Sunday Worship – September 29, 2013

Listen and be blessed.

The Painful Side of Publishing

by Karen Ball

Ache

We’ll get back to focus next week, but something has been weighing heavy on my heart and I want to share it with you.

We all know that publishing is a tough gig. It was proven yet again by what happened last week with the B&H Publishing Group’s fiction division (see Steve’s blog about it). It’s easy to commiserate with the authors impacted by this sudden change, to pray for them and encourage them. But I saw something happening in a number of blogs and author loops, and I confess it troubles me. What I saw was people making caustic comments about the publisher and about the people who work at the publishing house. Even to the point of questioning their faith. As in “How can they call themselves a Christian publisher and do something like this?”

Gray Saturday

I wrote this many years ago and read it every Easter weekend as a reminder. May it speak to you in some small way.

Gray Saturday
by Steve Laube

Holy weekend is such a study in contrasts.

Friday is dark. Somber. Frightening in its hopelessness and pain.
I do not like Dark Fridays.
The nails bury themselves deep into my soul.
They become a singular stake through the heart of this sinner.
Piercing. Rending. Bloody.
Vanquishing this creature of the night who dares to follow his own way.
Christ’s death becomes mine.
The death I deserve.

Miracle

by Tamela Hancock Murray

crown of thorns, cross and nail

This time of year, Christians contemplate the marvel that is the resurrection of Christ. Such an event seems magical, though God is never a genie, ready to grant our every wish. Even Jesus was not granted His plea in the Garden of Gethsemane as He asked the Father to take the cup of death from Him. But was there any other way? No, there was not. How else could have the miracle of the resurrection have taken place? How else would we Christians today be washed in His blood? As he chastened the disciples for their inability to stay awake even an hour, I think of how short I fall in my efforts to follow Him.

What Jesus did for us was nothing magical. Love is not magical, but the emotions we feel knowing we are loved are, well, magical. Little children can nibble chocolate bunnies to mark the awesome day that is Easter and then, as they mature, come to the realization and understanding about Jesus’ resurrection, and what He really means to us.

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