Tell Her You Love Her

Long-time readers of this blog will know that Rusty Wright has contributed many articles to it over the years. Some have been co-written by his wife Meg Korpi. I was very sad to learn that Meg has passed away after suffering with cancer for the last few years. Today’s post is a tribute to her, written by Rusty, and shared with permission.
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Meg Korpi 1953-2016 Wonderful wife, committed partner, faithful friend

Meg Korpi 1953-2016 Wonderful wife, committed partner, faithful friend


Recently, when my wife, Meg Korpi, was dying of cancer, a longtime friend offered some advice I’m really glad I heeded.

“Hutch” Hutchins told me I should write a tribute, expressing what she’s meant to me and how much I love her. I should frame it, give it to her, and read it to her personally.

Meg was on home hospice care after a three-and-a-half-year struggle with ovarian cancer. I was her primary caregiver – a demanding, 24/7 responsibility – and was reeling with exhaustion. But his advice clicked. I read the tribute to her on May 21, our 16th anniversary.

It had a very positive effect…calming, soothing. She seemed at peace, contented, with brightened spirits. It was one of her last lucid days before dying a month later.

Tribute to a rare jewel

Meg was a rare jewel. In her wedding vows, she had said she wanted me to feel like “the most blessed man alive to be married to” her. I did. In this tribute, I told her that in her, God gave me:

• A gorgeous bundle of fun, adventure, character, and faith

• A godly woman who walks closely with Him

• A faithful friend – my very best friend – and companion

• A keen mind to help me think through life’s sometimes perplexing issues

• A wise counselor with sound advice at crucial junctures

• A determined spirit to prompt me to reconsider my course when needed

• A sweet lover (Whew!)

• A fun woman, whose sense of humor brings delight. I love to laugh with you!

Thank you so, so much for loving me unconditionally; for honoring and respecting me; for caring and encouraging; for listening to my heart; for sharing my joys and hurts; for looking out for my interests; for being there through good times and bad; for facing life with me as long as we both shall live.

I love you very much, and am eternally grateful to be your husband.

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Lots of laughter

We loved to laugh. As world travelers, sometimes we laughed about language translation complexities.

60 Minutes television veteran Mike Wallace, speaking through an interpreter, once asked former Russian president Boris Yeltsin if he weren’t being a bit “thin skinned” in his sensitivity to media criticism. The interpreter goofed, telling Yeltsin that Wallace had said, “You are a thick-skinned hippopotamus.”

Shortly after we married, a speaker at a Miami meeting I attended told of efforts to translate a biblical love poem into the language of a Kenyan tribe. The phrase, “Your beauty is like that of the lily,” did not connect with the rural East Africans, for whom lilies were mere cattle fodder. Their culture highly esteemed the cow, not the flower. On the advice of tribesmen, the translators rendered the romantic phrase: “You are a black cow in a herd of spotted cattle.”

The speaker relating this tale suggested I use that compliment on my new bride, without explanation. Since Meg was returning to California from Philadelphia that evening, I left the cryptic greeting on our home answering machine. A few hours later, my Miami phone rang. Her first words: “And you are a thick-skinned hippopotamus!”

Most important lesson

At her memorial celebration, I presented all this, then briefly noted a conviction we shared deeply, the most important thing I’ve ever learned. I’m indebted in many ways to my Jewish friends and their heritage for it.

One ancient Hebrew book describes Job, who, despite his slew of troubles, affirmed, “I know that my Redeemer lives.” (Job 19:25) That gave him hope.

A skeptic in my youth, I didn’t believe my Redeemer lived. I thought it was a fairy tale. Then, my first year at Duke, I heard a lecture about Jesus’ Resurrection evidences, given by Bob Prall, who later became my mentor. Jesus was executed and declared dead, wrapped like a mummy, placed in a tomb. A huge stone covered the tomb’s entrance, which Roman soldiers guarded. Most of his disciples fled in fear.

Sunday morning, the stone was rolled away, the tomb was empty, but the grave clothes were still in place. Jesus appeared alive. Frightened disciples became martyrs because they believed he had risen.

Attempts to explain this away didn’t work for me. The guard was too powerful, the stone too heavy, the disciples too timid. I realized it was true. Jesus had successfully predicted his own Resurrection. If I could trust him in areas like this where I could test him, I had grounds for trusting him in areas where I couldn’t test him, such as eternal life and how to obtain it. He said, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.” (John 11:25)

Comforting? True?

Is it comforting to me that I’ll see Meg again and spend eternity with God? Absolutely. But it’s only comforting because I believe the evidence indicates it’s also true. If it weren’t true, it wouldn’t be comforting.

I realize this is a controversial subject, and you may not agree. If you’ve not examined the Resurrection evidences, may Meg and I gently and politely encourage you to take a look? Lots of good books and websites present them. Our own site – which Meg designed and built – also presents them. RustyWright.com

We know our Redeemer lives. We hope you can as well.

And…I love you, Sweetheart.

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You can visit Lasting Memories for more on this remarkable woman, including a lovely 5½ – minute memorial presentation of Meg’s life (images and music; put together by several family members).

Rusty Wright is an author and lecturer who has spoken on six continents. He holds Bachelor of Science (psychology) and Master of Theology degrees from Duke and Oxford universities, respectively. www.RustyWright.com

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Luke 9:22 A.D. TV series: The Bible continues … in prime time

Today’s post was written by and shared with permission from Rusty Wright.
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Hollywood’s Bible Power Couple is back – with a flourish – this time on prime-time network television.

They really take this spiritual stuff seriously. In 2012, my wife and I attended a dinner in Washington, DC, where actress Roma Downey (Touched by an Angel) announced that she and producer-husband Mark Burnett (Survivor, Shark Tank, The Voice) planned to devote the rest of their careers to creating works that honor God.

They were heading to Morocco to film a series on the Bible for the History Channel. After dinner, Burnett enthusiastically described his vision to present Jesus “as strong—powerful, impressive.” 2013′s The Bible series drew 100 million viewers. The couple’s 2014 Son of God feature film garnered significant box-office success.

Angst and adventure

Now in 2015, they’re bringing the story of Jesus’ first followers to television. Their dramatic 12-part series, A.D. The Bible Continues, captures the personal angst and adventure of those tumultuous early years. It premieres Easter Sunday on NBC.

Episode 1, “The Tomb Is Open,” is apt Easter fare. It begins with Peter, Jesus’ disciple, breathlessly running to watch Jesus’ appearance before Caiaphas, the high priest, who accuses Jesus of blasphemy deserving of death for claiming to be the Messiah. A woman says she recognizes Peter as one of the Nazarene’s followers. Peter denies it vehemently, and realizes he’s failed the leader he’d pledged to support.

The drama conveys conflicts – internal and external – well known to aficionados of the classic accounts, leavened with some speculative dialogue to develop the story for the screen. Peter struggles with the guilt of his denial, as does Judas with his betrayal. Roman governor Pontius Pilate and his wife argue over the wisdom of crucifying Jesus.

After the crucifixion and burial, Jesus’ grieving followers wrestle among themselves with whether they should believe Jesus’ prediction of his resurrection. He had told them, “The Son of Man must suffer many things … and be killed and be raised up on the third day.” (Luke 9:22)

Resurrection hoax?

The high priest appeals to Pilate to seal and guard the tomb, lest the disciples steal the body and perpetrate a resurrection hoax. Pilate remarks that “Roman crucifixion really doesn’t allow for [resurrections].” The screenwriters’ deadpan worked for me.

The un-narrated presentation assumes a basic familiarity with the characters and story. A quick read of a biblical account before watching could enhance the viewing experience. For Episodes 1 and 2, I recommend the final three chapters of either, Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. And as you view Episode 1, watch for the angel. Way cool.

Episodes 3 through 12 portray stories from the first ten chapters of Acts. Viewer guides exist for those wanting to learn more.

As with their earlier biblical projects, Burnett and Downey and their team sought to be faithful to the spirit of the Bible. They take typical filmmaking liberties – combining events and condensing timelines – to represent the gist of the story without changing its basic message.

Racial and ethnic diversity

Producers took pains to involve a racially and ethnically diverse cast. “Christianity is among the most diverse movements in history,” notes Downey, “so … it was important to us to find a cast as diverse and beautiful as the church is around the world. … We hope that people see themselves [in the performances].”

Cast members hail from ten nations. For example, Juan Pablo di Pace (Argentina) plays Jesus; Babou Ceesay (Gambia) is John; Chipo Chung (Zimbabwe) is Mary Magdalene.

Nothing and everything

Foreshadowing much to anticipate in the rest of the series, Episode 2 (“The Body Is Gone”) highlights a key point. When Peter and John emerge from Jesus’ empty tomb on Sunday morning, Mary Magdalene asks, “What did you find?”

“Nothing,” John replies. “We found nothing. And everything.”

Burnett, Downey, et al. are bringing timeless, inspiring stories about the “and everything” to millions of homes and hearts. May their tribe increase.
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www.NBC.com/AD-The-Bible-Continues Series premieres Easter Sunday, April 5, 9 PM/8 PM Central on NBC-TV and runs for 12 consecutive Sundays.
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Rusty Wright is an author and lecturer who has spoken on six continents. He holds Bachelor of Science (psychology) and Master of Theology degrees from Duke and Oxford universities, respectively. www.RustyWright.com

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Getting More From Lent

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. Traditionally people give things up for the forty days before Easter, but I want you to get something instead. I want you to get closer to Jesus, to become more familiar with God’s Word, to feel more of his love. (Coincidentally, that is the purpose of fasting too. Every time you refrain from indulging in the luxury that you usually have, it makes you think of why you are doing it, and makes you thankful for Christ’s sacrifice for you.)

In previous posts, I have talked about reading plans, and how following them can bog us down and make us feel guilty when we don’t keep up. This is especially true if your goal is to start in Genesis and read through the Bible in one year. A lot of people never make it through Leviticus. However, I have also constantly said–and it’s the whole reason this blog post exists–that we need to read more of God’s Word. We don’t have to do it in a particular order, or at a particular rate, we just have to do it more.

What I am proposing to you today is kind of a compromise between those two options. Today I received an e-mail from Margaret Feinberg. She and a few others have joined together to do the #LentChallenge. The challenge is to read the four gospels–Matthew, Mark, Luke and John–during Lent. That’s 89 chapters in 40 days (Sundays aren’t counted in the fasting schedule), so just over two chapters a day. If you think that’s more than you can do, aim to read through one of the gospels. Pick whichever one you like best, for whatever reason. Just spend some time reading about, thinking about, praying about the life of Jesus. Once you understand his purpose for coming to Earth, and his reason for going to the cross, you will be overwhelmed by how much he loves you. If you do this, Easter will become more meaningful than you’ve ever imagined.

Margaret has a reading plan that she’ll send you if you sign up for the RSS feed at her site. Or, if you have the YouVersion app, you can search for a plan that suits you, using the keyword “Lent” or “gospels”. YouVersion has a plan that will take you through all four gospels in 30 days, so you will have a few days of grace if you choose that one, and the app makes it easy to catch up. I am currently using YouVersion’s chronological plan for reading the Bible through in a year (no I didn’t start in January), and I just happened to reach the beginning of the gospels yesterday. (It’s day 274.) Since it’s chronological, I’ll be alternating between the gospels as I go, but I should arrive at the same destination just at the right time. Whatever plan you use, my challenge to you is to make reading the gospels during Lent your goal. If you would like to share with others who are doing the same, use the hashtag #LentChallenge.

May you be filled with God’s unfathomable love this Easter season.

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II Corinthians 5:17 Old Fashioned movie: 50 shades of nice

Today’s post was written by Rusty Wright.
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Want an alluring love story for your Valentine’s Day movie date? US filmgoers have distinct options this season.

Much-discussed Fifty Shades of Grey is based on the erotic novel that’s drawn countless bookclubbers into lip-biting, toe-curling ecstasy. Trailers promise mystery, pleasure, bondage, and pain.

Old Fashioned takes, shall we say, a somewhat different approach. Boy meets girl. Attraction is mutual, but they focus on romance with respect, even chivalry. Both have painful pasts that influence their feelings and decisions. Each struggles to know the other and to discover whether they should forge a future together.

“Girls Gone Wild”

In Old Fashioned, writer/director Rik Swartzwelder plays Clay, a former party animal who produced “Girls Gone Wild”-style videos, but eventually wearied of empty and broken relationships. He’s determined to treat women with respect and honor, patiently wait, focus on head and heart before body. A nice guy who occasionally hides behind sometimes quirky relationship rules to protect himself from vulnerability and pain.

Enter Amber (Elizabeth Ann Roberts), a free spirit who rents the apartment above Clay’s antique shop, then creates repair needs as excuses to spend time with her cute landlord/handyman. Surprised and puzzled by his platonic convictions, she longs to explore his mind and heart, but meets resistance. Her persistence plus a friend’s intervention start them courting.

Navigating relationship complexities

The film traces two wounded souls navigating relationship complexities. Turns out Clay’s profligate-to-platonic transformation involved a Bible, a gift from a former love interest. Amber asks about his favorite parts of the book. Clay refers to an assertion about life change: “Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (II Corinthians 5:17)

“Don’t…tell me you found Jesus?” asks a skeptical Amber on another occasion. “More like he found me,” explains Clay.

Sex, of course, is a powerful drive, as Fifty Shades‘ popularity attests. But so is love. Who doesn’t want to be accepted, understood, cherished, affirmed? Old Fashioned touches these deep human desires and presents realistic portrayals of people with whom you might identify, seeking – and finding – genuine fulfillment. And its precepts offer sound counsel.

Sound counsel

“When did treating women with respect become the joke?” asks Clay in the film. He values building his own character over happy hunting.

I’ll second that. Certainly evaluating prospective mates is important. But often people focus more on finding the right person than on becoming the right person. A good question for singles seeking a meaningful relationship: “How can I become the kind of person that the kind of person I want to marry…would want to marry?”

Unusual behavior?

In the run-up to both films’ Valentine’s weekend openings, Old Fashioned promoters played off the contrast with Fifty Shades. The latter received an “R” rating for several elements including “some unusual behavior.” A clever OF trailer invites moviegoers to “leave the door open as two souls take the time to discover…[not] manipulation [but] healing” in “a love story that most only dream of.”

“The wheels of Old Fashioned were in motion long before the Fifty Shades book got to Hollywood,” Swartzwelder explains. “We didn’t create our film in response to any other specific book or film, at all … but the decision to hold-off on our release so it could open alongside Fifty Shades? Yes, that was indeed deliberate.” He sees his film as remedy: “Think of a young woman you care about … which love story would you wish for her?”

As the OF tagline reads, “Love is…patient, love is…kind, love is…old fashioned.” Yes. And very, very nice.
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Rated PG-13 (USA) “for some thematic material”.

Opens February 13. www.OldFashionedMovie.com
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Rusty Wright is an author and lecturer who has spoken on six continents. He holds Bachelor of Science (psychology) and Master of Theology degrees from Duke and Oxford universities, respectively. www.RustyWright.com

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A Note To My Readers

Hello everyone!

I know it has been a long time since I’ve posted an article here. I wanted to let you know that I haven’t forgotten you; I’ve just been busy with other things. Unlike some bloggers, this is just a hobby for me, and not part of my full time occupation. Each post I write involves a couple of days of reading and research before I start to put my thoughts into sentences. This fall, I have not had the time to do that as I have been taking a couple of courses that keep me very busy. By the time I do the reading and studying required for the courses, I don’t have what it takes to do some more. I haven’t quit though. I plan to be back early in the new year, ready to share some more thoughts with you. I hope you will be back then too.

In the meantime, I wish you all a very Blessed Christmas–a time of peace, joy and refreshing.

Here’s a bonus for my Twitter followers:
One of the courses I am taking is an online class on the lands of the Bible. In one lesson, our prof asked us how we would tweet about the events we had just discussed. One of my fellow students took up the challenge admirably, and because he received such positive feedback, he started a Twitter account to continue with other Bible events. I thought they were fun, and thought you might think so too. Check him out at @Laceduplutheran. If you like what he posts, give him a follow.

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Jeremiah 29:11-14 The Identical movie: Elvis-esque, secret past, conflicting dreams

Today’s post was written by and shared with the permission of Rusty Wright.
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Ever have trouble getting people you love to embrace your life dreams? You’ll likely identify with Ryan Wade in The Identical.

Music is in his soul. He has the looks, voice and moves of Elvis, and drives audiences wild. But his preacher father has different dreams for him, setting up a monumental collision.

What unfolds is a fun Rock ‘n’ Roll parable with an upbeat, inspiring, message about finding purpose, revealing secrets, and experiencing redemption. Tunes to get you swaying and romantic odes touch your heart as they depict young love, discovering identity, and learning what really matters.

Conflicting dreams

This fictional story spans four decades from the 1930′s Great Depression to the 1970′s. We see early Rock evolve as Ryan (Blake Rayne) seeks to find his way. He loves to sing, but his father (Ray Liotta; Goodfellas, Field of Dreams) wants him in the ministry. His mother (Ashley Judd; Divergent, High Crimes) quietly observes their interaction without choosing sides.

Ryan memorizes Bible verses as a child and attends Bible college as a young man. But African-American R&B captivates his heart. When Drexel Hemsley – the film’s Elvis-esque figure – tops the music charts, the mesmerized Ryan feels he knows what Drexel “The Dream” is thinking. The two are dead ringers (Rayne plays both parts); Ryan insists to inquirers they’re not related.

Secret past

But we know they are, identical twins separated at birth. Their impoverished parents, amid mutual anguish, invited the Wades – childless after multiple miscarriages – to adopt one boy. Pledged to secrecy, the Wades raised Ryan as their own.

Ryan pursues a music career – eventually as “The Identical,” a Drexel Hemsley impersonator – triggering painful family explosions. His mom accepts reality first, advising Ryan, “The love of God seeks us in every situation and desires our good. If He is in your dreams, nothing can stand against them.”

Ryan explains to his disappointed father: “I’m just trying to be what He made me to be, and not something else.” Biblical statements his dad had him memorize as a kid foreshadow his journey:

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.’”

Ryan is ever the consummate gentleman in dating, marriage, and with adoring fans. In the end, all this confusion and conflict comes to … well, I won’t spoil it for you. But I’ll wrap with some fun facts, plus a personal reflection.

Fun facts; personal reflection

It’s not surprising that an Elvis-esque story includes twins and spiritual themes. The real Elvis Presley’s twin brother, Jessie, was stillborn. Elvis often experienced survivor guilt and a desire to know him. Elvis’ only Grammy Award for a single came for his 1974 recording of “How Great Thou Art,” a famous hymn. The lyrics, which likely reflected his own spiritual roots, point to hope beyond human accomplishment.

I can identify with a son whose dreams conflict with those of his parents – which is probably the reason this film resonates with me. After finding faith during university, I sought a career with a Christian nonprofit, much to my parents’ dismay. My mother enlisted an attorney friend to try to convince me to attend law school. But my heart was set on helping spread worldwide the faith that had transformed me. Eventually, my folks accepted the inevitable.

Fifteen years later, my father told me he thought what I was doing was extremely worthwhile, a deeply validating affirmation. “If He is in your dreams, nothing can stand against them,” counseled Ashley Judd’s character in the movie. She was right.
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www.TheIdenticalMovie.com Opens September 5.

Rated PG (USA) for “thematic material and smoking”.
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Rusty Wright is an author and lecturer who has spoken on six continents. He holds Bachelor of Science (psychology) and Master of Theology degrees from Duke and Oxford universities, respectively. www.RustyWright.com

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Matthew 25:14-30 New Football Movie: Character trumps winning

Today’s post was written by and used with permission from Rusty Wright.
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Could a football coach who teaches his players that character trumps winning…win games? Consistently?

It’s happened – and quite dramatically – inspiring the film When the Game Stands Tall, opening August 22.

Coach Bob Ladouceur led a struggling, obscure, Catholic California high school team to record-shattering national prominence by helping his players mature toward adulthood.

Ladouceur’s (pronounced “LAD-a-sir”) De La Salle Spartans won 151 straight games, a record for football at any level. (To compare, Oklahoma University won 47 straight; the NFL’s New England Patriots 21 straight.) Rating services crowned them National High School Football Champions at least eight times.

Winning: doable; teaching life: hard

This inspiring film (Sony/TriStar) features Jim Caviezel (The Passion of the Christ, CBS-TV’s Person of Interest), Alexander Ludwig (The Hunger Games), Laura Dern (The Fault in Our Stars, Jurassic Park), and Michael Chiklis (TV’s Vegas, The Shield).

“Winning a lot of football games is doable,” explains Ladouceur (Caviezel) in the film. “Teaching kids there’s more to life? That’s hard.”

The film focuses on how players and coaches cope with The Streak’s end, plus a former teammate’s murder and the coach’s heart attack. “It’s not how hard you fall,” reads the tagline, “it’s how you get back up.”

In this gritty story, a coach struggles to help his players make sense out of loss and tragedy while grappling with his own confusion and doubt. We see many contrasts: dreams shattered and fulfilled, family joys and conflict, selfish pettiness and stirring nobility.

An All-Madden tale

Legendary NFL coach and commentator John Madden called the Ladouceur/De La Salle saga “one of the greatest football stories ever told. There’s a lot more to it than X’s and O’s. [It has] life lessons…for everyone…about commitment, dedication, responsibility, friendship, brotherhood. And what you learn from those lessons is much bigger and more important than The Streak. …It’s about community…religious beliefs…everything that’s important in life.”

Coach “Lad” (now retired) focused on accountability, preparation, bonding and hard work. Players set personal goals – for conditioning, practice, game performance, etc. – then held each other accountable, so each could thrive.

The Bellevue, Washington, team that finally snapped The Streak emulated their opponent’s methods. “Credit De La Salle for the things that changed in our program,” explained that coach.

Spartans’ secrets

Ladouceur, also a religion teacher, fondly quotes inspirational figures like Bobby Kennedy, Jesuit philosopher Teilhard de Chardin, and Jesus. He noted:

“The most important component of Spartan tradition is our commitment to create a brotherhood among ourselves. This task is bigger, tougher, and more elusive than any opponent we ever face. …Individual egos must die in order for a team to live.”

“…We win because our players love each other. They are not afraid to say it or embrace each other as a sign of that affection.”

He likes Jesus’ Parable of the Talents in which an employer gives each of three servants a sum of money to manage – “each according to his own ability” – then observes the results.

“God not only gave us some sort of ability,” notes Ladouceur, “but also…placed us in an environment to develop those talents. And for what purpose?” Service, is Ladouceur’s answer.

Of course, definitions of exemplary character differ, and Ladouceur willingly admits he’s imperfect. “I have a lot of regrets,” he confesses.

A winning film

I don’t generally follow high school football, preferring the university and professional games. When I first heard about this movie, I wondered what its appeal could be. Now I understand.

There’s plenty of gridiron action for fans, but also poignant lessons about preparing for life, growing up, community, handling defeat, and more. The ending is somewhat perplexing (“seems contrived,” says my wife). But overall, it’s a great story for athletes and coaches, teams and fans, students and educators, families and friends.
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Rated PG (USA) “for thematic material, a scene of violence, and brief smoking.”

www.WhenTheGameStandsTall.com Opens August 22 in USA & Canada.
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Rusty Wright is an author and lecturer who has spoken on six continents. He holds Bachelor of Science (psychology) and Master of Theology degrees from Duke and Oxford universities, respectively. www.RustyWright.com

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Proverbs 31:8-9 Speak Up for the Silenced

My post today will have some specific Canadian content. I know that many of my readers live in the United States and other parts of the world. This post will still be relevant to you, because the issue crosses all borders, and because the lessons we can learn from the Word of God apply to all of us. So, please keep reading.
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I don’t usually get involved in political discussions. Most issues in politics don’t have a right or wrong answer. They just have my opinion and your opinion answers. This issue is, in Canada right now, a political matter, but it is above all a matter of justice. The issue is human trafficking, and specifically human trafficking for the purposes of prostitution.

This week, Bill C-36 was adopted by the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. It still has a couple of steps to go through before it will be passed; these will take place after Parliament resumes in September.

This Bill is only the beginning of dealing with the issue of sex trafficking in Canada, but it puts us steps ahead of most places in the world. As citizens who believe in justice, you really need to take time to be informed about it. Many have said that prostitution should be legalized, and that people should be able to make their own choices about what they do to earn a living. The problem is that more than 90% of the people who are offering sexual services for money are being forced to do it either because they are in debt to someone, or because they are being threatened by someone. And there are others who do it, yes by choice, but only because they are desperate for money to feed their family or pay their bills. Is a last resort really a choice? If prostitution is legalized, the legal authorities no longer have the same degree of power to protect those who are being exploited. Research some of the places that have tried it—The Netherlands, Germany—and you will see that it didn’t really work out as well as they had hoped. Criminal activity increased rather than decreased.

In Proverbs 31:1-9, King Lemuel’s mother is giving him some advice on how to be a good and effective ruler. In Proverbs 31:8-9, her advice is to speak up for those who can’t speak for themselves. Literally this means to speak for those who don’t have the physical capacity to speak, but it is a figure of speech known as hypocatastasis. It implies a comparison. In other words, if we are to promote justice as we are required to do according to Micah 6:8, then the ruler, the judge, needs to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves whatever the reason may be. In our democratic society today, we are actually the rulers; it is our votes that choose our representatives. We need to speak up for those who are being oppressed, who are being silenced by threats, who don’t have any power to stand up and speak for themselves. We need to let our voices be heard by those who hold the political power, and who make the laws that govern our land. What kind of society do you want for your children?
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Please, get informed about this issue, and then let your Member of Parliament (or other political representative) know how you feel.

In Canada, you can find contact information for your Member of Parliament, by entering your postal code here.

To help get you started on finding out more, here are some links that might be helpful:

Hope For The Sold

MP Joy Smith’s website and specifically a list of news reports regarding human trafficking

Facebook Page: Support Bill C-36

When you are ready to get involved to make a difference, check out Marilyn Luinstra’s blog.

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I Peter 3:15-16 Be Ready

In my post of June 19, 2014, I began to look at I Peter 3:15, for insight into how to respond to the persecution we receive because of our faith. Depending where we are in the world, and who is doing the persecuting, the challenges we face because of our faith can vary widely, but our response should always be the same. In my last post, I discussed the first and most important part of that response which is to turn to God. No matter what we face, we should always turn to God first for the answers.

The second half of I Peter 3:15, along with I Peter 3:16 give us the second part of our action plan. I’m afraid that many of us don’t do this part very well either, and I pray that as you read this you will really consider how to implement it in your own situations. The instruction in the rest of the passage is to always be ready to explain why we believe as we do, and to do it with courtesy and respect so that there is no basis for any accusations against us.

Let’s break it down piece by piece.

Always be ready to give an answer:
Be prepared. Think about it now, so that when you are asked, you have the words to express what you really want to express. Why do you believe as you do? Anticipate the questions that someone might ask, and have your answer ready.

To anyone who asks:
Do you understand the implication of this phrase? We should be living in a way that makes others realize that we are different, and makes them wonder why. When they wonder, eventually, when they feel comfortable in their relationship with us, they will ask. Why do you do this? Why don’t you do that? Why don’t you get angry? Why don’t you get revenge? The things that you do or don’t do that are different from the way the world does them, that’s what you need to prepare your answers about.

About the hope you possess:
Ultimately, the reason for your specific actions and reactions is the hope that you have in God, the confident expectation we have that God will fulfill His promises to us. We need to be ready to explain Christianity in general, but specifically the assurance we have that Christ is able and willing to return and to provide us with eternal life.

Yet do it with courtesy and respect:
It is not our job to bully the bullies. We should not yell and scream nor be rude, sarcastic or offensive. We certainly shouldn’t be physically attacking anyone. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live at peace with all people. (Romans 12:18) It is not our job to change their minds about God, only to give an answer for why we believe. It is the Holy Spirit who will change their hearts when the time is right. Look at what happened to Saul, the persecutor, in Acts 9:1-9. God has the power to redeem.

Keeping a good conscience, so that those who slander your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame when they accuse you:
In Romans 12:17, just before the verse about doing everything you can to live at peace with everyone, Paul tells us not to repay evil for evil. No matter what someone else does, it is your responsibility to make sure that your actions are right. In the end we will all have to answer to God. We want to be righteous as we stand before Him on the day of judgement. (II Peter 2:9)

I do not want to discourage you from taking up the fight against injustice or the persecution of our brothers and sisters in Christ. In fact, I want to encourage you to do so. But please, be careful of your words and your actions. Rely on Christ, put Him first in your life, and always strive to please Him. The best way to do that is to love Him and to love others. (Matthew 22:37-39)

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I Peter 3:15 Overcoming The Fear

In my post of May 28, 2014, I discussed I Peter 3:13-14, with the conclusion that we should not be afraid of those who would persecute us. I had said that persecution could take varied forms, from verbal to physical to deadly. Those are difficult things not to be afraid of. How can we do it? If we continue reading through I Peter 3:15, we will find the answer.

I Peter 3:15 starts with the instruction to set apart Christ as Lord. If we give Christ control of our hearts and lives, and we fear—reverence—Him, if we know that He has ultimate control over what happens in the world, if we know that nothing that happens to us is unknown to Him, then we will be much less likely to fear what man—humans—can do to us. If, however, we are more concerned about what people think, what they can and might do, if we don’t believe that God can keep us from ultimate harm, then we are likely to spend our lives living in fear.

As humans, it is only natural for fear to rise within us in certain circumstances, and sometimes fear is a very good thing; it keeps us from putting ourselves into unnecessary danger. But what is our first reaction when we feel fear? Do we become anxious, worrying about every negative possibility that may or may not ever occur? Or do we turn immediately to God to ask for help, protection, mercy, a way out? What Peter is saying here is very similar to the promise given by the Lord to Solomon in II Chronicles 7:14. If God’s people will be humble and turn to Him, something that the Israelites had real difficulty with, He would hear and answer their prayers, forgive them and heal their land. If we would humble ourselves and turn to God, something that we have real difficulty with, He will answer our prayers too. The answers might not always come in ways we expect, but we can be confident knowing that God cares for us, knows what we are going through, and wants only the best for us.

In my next post, I will look at the rest of the instructions in I Peter 3:15-16.

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