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               In my book My Problems God’s Solutions, I describe in Chapter 11 a good friend of mine who created and performed a one-man play on the life of William Tyndale. Tyndale, born in England 1484, risked his life when he translated the Holy Bible from Hebrew into English. For this “crime”  Tyndale was hunted down by agents of King Henry VII and Cardinal Wolsey, and killed by first strangling and then being burnt at the stake in1536.

             I first met Jack Caulfield at one of his performances at a Christian Campground near Keene, New Hampshire. I came away from his presentation in period costume with a new respect for Willliam Tyndale and also for the acting talents of Jack Caulfield. The experience led me to a greater appreciation of I Peter 4:19 which reads, “Let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good”. Tyndale, an ordained priest, wanted to make the Holy Scriptures available to the English ploughman in his own language and for this he gave up his life. Jack Caulfield ended up making a somewhat similar sacrifice with his performances even after he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. When first informed of his condition in May, 2003, Jack canceled performances scheduled to be delivered at churches and church sponsored events all over the country. He underwent numerous treatments for pancreatic cancer and I found myself experiencing the ups and downs that he would describe to me in great detail. We prayed together and rejoiced when  the tests were encouraging. The usual prognosis for pancreatic cancer is only a few months of life, but Jack survived for almost three years. He was even able to resume his performances in New England which delighted him in spite of his pain and knowledge that his future was in doubt. At one of the last times he performed I realized I was seeing a miracle that demonstrated God’s love for Jack and for the audience of adults and children who were able to understand the life and contributions of William Tyndale centuries before.

        Jack moved on to his heavenly home on February 7, 2006 while we were living in Florida at our winter home. We were unable to attend his funeral services, but we knew where Jack was at the time. I am certain that one of his first contacts in heaven would be William Tyndale. For that I can rejoice and praise God for the gift of His son  in whom Jack believed with all his heart and soul. My prayers for Jack Caulfield were finally answered in God’s way and in His time.

  In my role as acting principal at Trinity Christian School , I occasionaly was faced with a disciplinary situation. A teacher would bring into my office one of her students who was giving her a hard time and invite me in no uncertain terms to “straighten this kid out”.  Since it was a Christian school, I considered each such situation a special opportunity to apply the age-old question, “What would Jesus do if was sitting in this principal’s chair”?

   Chapter 12 in my book, My Problems God’s Solutions,  describes one such situation. The fifth grade teacher and the music teacher both agreed that Mike was a troubled  (and troubling) student who needed some attention by the principal. They admitted that they had neither the time nor the talent to handle Mike in their classes. He arrived in my office angry at having been sent to the principal’s office when in his opinion there was not reason for such a referral. I asked him first to explain why he seemed to be having troubles at school. In five minutes he had outlined problems not only in the classroom, music class, gym, and playground  but also at home where a dysfunctional family lived. I began to understand after I took the time to listen to him. 

         I decided to invite Mike to spend a weekend with my wife and I and he agreed. Our school did not have a psychologist on the staff nor a social worker. I was all that was available!  I contacted his mother and she was delighted. So on the next Friday after school, Mike  left school with me and we drove to my home only about a mile away. At dinner that night Mike described his home situation including conflict between his parents, how he was punished for his behavior and some actually frightening situations that involved both his health and safety. He told me how much he enjoyed and learned from his computer, and how much he resented it when his punishment was expressed as “no more computer for you for three days”. He loved to read too and when he listed some of the most recent books on his reading list, I realized he was way ahead of his fifth grade classmates.  In effect he was bored stiff with much of his school curriculum. I began to understand why Mike was a “troubled” student.

   During the weekend we worked together at our new school clearing out stones in anticipation of creating a soccer field. He also helped me plant bulbs and flowering plants in a garden area I was creating. After dinner on Saturday, we attended a baseball game where the Keene Swamp Bats, one of ten teams in a statewide league call the New England College Baseball League, was playing at the Keene High school ball field. We had hot dogs and hamburgers for supper at the game where he met and socialized with some of his schoool classmates who were also at the game. On Sunday we attended church services at which the school students sang several number and he joined that activity with no problems. He was returned to his own home on Sunday evening.

     From that time on until Mike’s family moved to another state, Mike was not a problem at school. His teachers understood him better and used his skills and leadership ability for the benefit of the class. I am not really sure how much the weekend at our home impacted on Mike and his teachers, but I know that he was a different student from that time forward. Perhaps listening to a fifth grade student express his feelings, frustrations and ambitions in a private non-threatening environment can really pay dividends. I will welcome comments from readers.

    In my book entitled, My Problems God’s Solutions, I devote three chapters to the subject of illness and death. Over a period of 50 years during which I was collecting information for this little book, I have had many occasions to be with family and friends who were ill and knew that their next adventure, death, was on the immediate horizon. It has been my practice to record in writing my feelings, and those of my loved ones facing death, and looking back on those experiences has been a real blessing for me. One such friend was Norm. I would refer the reader to my book for more details on how Norm influenced me and many others over his 80 years here on earth.

   I met Norm in Florida where he and I had winter homes that we visited each winter in our retirement years. Woodlands Lutheran Camp in Montverde, Florida, was the site where we each a had small manufactured home within a few minutes walk.  He was a retired high school teacher and later a professor at a church-related university in the midwest and I was a retired special educator and principal at a Christian elemetary school in New England. We had a lot to talk about before camp fires on warm summer-like evenings, at frequent pot luck suppers and after  weekly Bible studies that we all attended. We became fast friends and had no hesitation to discuss what God had planned for our future through the death and resurrection of His son,Jesus Christ.  I well remember one occasion when we discussed at length our deep personal feelings after reading James 1:12 which says, “Blessed is the man who perserveres under trial; because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him”. Norm taught an adult Bible class at Woodlkands for several years and shared his vision of the future as the Lord had revealed it to him in over sixty years of marriage and in guiding young people toward careers of service both in the church and in secular areas.

      In late 2002 Norm was told he had health problems that were not going to go away. He needed a number of blood transfusions, sometimes in the middle of the night when the campground gates were locked and he had some difficulties in getting to the neraby clinic.  I soon learned more than I ever really needed, or even wanted, to know about blood counts, and the effects of imbalance within the blood system of the human body. I began to feel I was experiencing what he was experiencing and I did not feel comfortable. On February 26, 2003 after an eight hour transfusion Norm’s blood count rose from seven to nine. He said it was encouraging and we got on our knees and praised God for this news.  I suggested to him that we call the elders of our Lutheran Church at Woodlands to visit and lay hands on him as described in the Book of James, but he refused and said he had supreme confidence in the Lord and did not want to bother the elders.

      Norm eventually flew to his home to Illinois to be with his wife Ginny and their large family when the Lord called him to his heavenly home. On April 5, 2003, we received a phone call that Norm had indeed moved on  peacefully to the place he believed God had prepared for him through the death of Jesus Christ. We were totally convinced that Norm’s prayers and those of his family and friends were answered when we received the news. Norm’s whole life, including the last few years that included pain and discomfort, were a testimony of how God can use a man to serve both Him and his family, students and associates and be instrumental in bringing others to a saving grace through our Savior, Jesus Christ.  We praise God for bringing us into contact wih Norm and we look forward to renewing that contact when we meet him again at the feet of Jesus. If you want to learn more on our experiences with Norm and other friends, read my book, My Problems God’s Solutions. I will welcome your comments too. My God bless you and keep you in then palm of His hands IS 49:15.

 

       Everyone is familiar with Biblical guidance from a loving God on the subject of forgiveness. For example in the gospel of St Matthew (Matt 18:21-22), Peter asks Jesus, ” Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” “No not seven times” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven”. And again in Hebrews 8:12, St Paul writes to Jews who have accepted Christ as the Messiah that God has promised, “I will forget their wickedness and I will never again remember their sins”.

    There is a difference between forgiving and forgetting. The following is a modern anecdote that I heard years ago probably in a sermon. Thought I cannot remember the exact source, the message impressed me enough that I have never lost sight the difference between forgiving and forgetting.

   A young girl worked every day in the fields picking vegetables. Each morning she would attend a brief service at her church before leaving for her job. One day she mentioned to the pastor that she had seen Jesus and spoken to him the previous day while she was at her work. The pastor acknowledged her comment and passed it off as as an illusion perhaps caused by the hot sun.  Day after day, however, the girl reported to him the same experience. Finally the pastor decided it would be best for him to help the young lady recognize her experiences as dreams and stop bothering him. He gave her a simple assignment that he thought would straigthen her out.

     “The next time you meet Jesus and talk with him, ask him to tell you what sins I confessed that morning in my daily prayers. Only Jesus and I will know what I said that morning”. The girl promised to do as he requested and left for work.  The next morning as she was leaving church for her work, the pastor confronted her to see if she had follwed his suggestion. “Did you see Jesus and ask him what sins I confessed yesterday morning?’ The girl smiled and answered, “Yes, Pastor I did just what you told me to do and he answered me”.

      The pastor smiled too and said, “OK what sins did I confess to him?”  The girl replied, ” Jesus just said,  “I forgot!”

             I have written a small book entitled My Problems God’s Solutions which is a selective review of over 50 years experience in writing down my problems, large and small, on a small white card and placing these cards in my personal Bible where I refer to them daily.  When the circumstances of my life reveal God’s solution to a problem that I have described, I turn over the card, date it and write down the solution. Then I file it away in a metal box with a prayer of praise and thanksgiving. I highly recommend this simple procedure. Most of these cards help me to remember the concern and fears I may have had at some time in the past and how God came through just at his right time and in his own special way. However, there are some problems, particularly controversities involving loved ones, that I really should not remember and should forget as Jesus and St Paul recommended. I tend to destroy these cards in order to help me forget an unpleasantness and truly forgive and forget. Have you had such experiences? If so, I would love to hear from you.

     There may be times when you place an issue in God’s hands through prayer and meditation and ask for a solution that just doesn’t come immediately.  I have done that many times over the past 50 years that I have been using My Problem Cards. I even have at least one card that outlined a problem for which I desparately needed help and the end of my written description of what I needed, I added the question: “God, are you listening to me?”  I had to smile recently when I discovered this card in my file box of Mt Problem Cards  and recalled that indeed He had answered my request for help, but according to His schedule not mine. 

     This event reminded me of a song that was created for the broadway play “1776”. We saw the play on Broadway in New York City sometime back around 1980 I believe. The date isn’t important. The play centered on the American Revolution and in particular on the attitudes and actions of the Continental Congress during the progress of the fight for liberty against England. George Washington was not in Philadelphia with the other founding fathers, but was off at the battle fields leading a rag tag group of farmers, business men, and young untrained patriots who were being pitted against the British army known througout the world as one of the best, if not the best trained and outfitted army, in the whole world.

   George Washington had lead his so-called army from New England where it had been mauled by the British to Valley Forge, Pennsylvania where it would stay for the cold winter months of 1777-1778. The troops were ill prepared to spend the winter in unheated tents, with little food and even lacking shoes and coats. To make matters worse for the troops as well as their commanding general, the Contenental Congress had not been forwarding them their pay so some soldiers were threatening to desert the army and return to their homes. General Washington had pleaded with Congress to give attention to the needs of his troops and had not even gotten the courtesy of a reply from Philadelphia much less the clothing. ammunition, food and money he needed to keep his army together through the winter.  

   The authors of the play created a song the title of which is “Is anybody there? Does anybody care?” This was the essence of the message that Washington sent to Congress.  He wanted to know if anyone really cared about him and his men. Washington was a Christian according to researchers who have studied his life and beliefs. He must have been familier with with the 10th chapter of the Gospel according to St. Matthew where Jesus assures his followers  that in God’s eyes they were worth much more than two sparrows that were sold for a farthing.  Also, that every hair on their heads was numbered by God who would never forget them.

   Eventually, of course, the Continental Congress did come through. Washington crossed the icy Delaware River on Christmas eve and soundly defeated the Hessian troops quartered in Trenton. Congress provide needed suppies and paid their bills to the troops. Washington saw vividly how a loving father in heaven had not forgotten his people, how He was “there” and he indeed did “care” for for them. Praise God we all have this blessed assurance. My book, My Problems God’s Solutions conntains many examples that God is there and he does care about all His children. If you haven’t seen a copy you can order one now. I would love to hear of your experiences that are similar to those of General Washington in 1776 and an 85 year old retired educator in 2010.

    Our pastor is a football fan and more particularly, a Green Bay Packers supporter. He often uses experiences associated with football to bring his Christian message to the congregation. The fact that I can remember this story after many years confirms that his approach is indeed successful. I cannot confirm that it is a true story, only that true or fictional, I got the point!

    Pastor was watching a Packers game on TV and was getting more disgusted every minute. The packers had fumbled twice, had three interceptions and were losing by three touchdownsa at half time. He finally leaped out of his chair, pressed the “off button” and shouted to family members, “This is terrible. I can’t take anymore. I refuse to watch the second half of this game”. He stormed outside to mow the grass or perform some other chores that would bring him more enjoyment than watching his team lose the game. He never bothered to even check to see learn the final score.

    Next day he met a friend who asked him how he liked the Packers game the previous day. Pastor replied, “I cut it off at half time as I was so disgusted at their performance” .  His friend screamed back,” You cut it off? Don’t you know what happened in the second half?. The Packers came back to life, played brilliantly in the second half and  and finally won the game by two touchdowns”. He said he had video taped the whole game and would loan to our Pastor.

   Pastor sat down to look at the last half as well as the first half and what a difference! Now he knew the final score. He discovered he had an entirely different attitude as he watched all the fumbles, intereceptions and other errors his team had experienced in the first half of the game. Knowing the final score made all the difference in the world as he watched the entire four quarters. He found that he could accept, and even laugh at,  some of the mistakes becuae he knew in the end his team was going to win.

     After telling this story to his congregation, Pastor compared it to the experiences all human beings have over a lifetime here on earth. We have problems that are painful to ourselves and our loved ones, and we wonder if they will ever be resolved. We consider various alternative solutions to our problems and wonder which ones mught be successful and which might fail. We may get get disgusted with our family and friends, and, yes, even ourselves,  who fail to live up to our expectations  and wonder if they will ever get straightened out. But when we know the “final score” as revealed in God’s Holy Word, we can handle the ups and downs of a lifetime here on earth because we are assured that in the end,  He will welcome us to our heavenly home where we will spend eternity with loved ones who will be awaiting  our arrival.  John 3:16 says it all; “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have evertlasting life”.

    My book, My Problems God’s Solutions, reveals selected examples of  episodes in my 85- year life where I didn’t know the final score at the time, but eventually could see evidence of God at work to provide solutions to my problems. If you have had such experiences I would be happy to hear from you.  By sharing with others, we will all be blessed.

Faith at Work

There is a difference between reading about how God has worked in the lives of Biblical characters centuries ago and actually meeting with someone who has had a recent experience with God working in their lives. Certainly reading Paul’s letter to the Hebrews  Chapter 11 refreshes and strengthens our belief that “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”. Paul proceeds through this chapter with example after example of incidents in which God intervened in the affairs of men and women beginning with Cain and Abel and on through the  development of the Jewish nation and the early Christian church.

Faith at Work is a phrase currently used to describe how God continues His interest in the affairs of us sinful humans  and in His own time and in his own ways provides answers to problems that face us. There are a number of organizations that one can find on the internet that describe examples of how faith in God influences activities in the workplace, but the group to which I belong in Keene, New Hampshire, is not limited to God in the workplace, but includes God in the home, in the school, on the highway, at sports events and at leisure.

Our Faith at Work discussion group meets at 8 AM. The hour session is unstructured which means that after opening prayer, we invite participants to share an experience they have had or one that they know has happened to family and friends.  What follows is a condensed summary of some of the situations that have been disclosed recently in our group.

Bill reported on his flight to Germany from an airport in Maryland. Shortly after take off the pilot announced some of his controls were not working, possibly due to a lightning strike while taxing across the runway. He said the flight would have to turn back to Baltimore, but first he had to circle over the ocean and drop all the fuel in the wing tanks. While performing this task for about an hour, the flight attendants directed the passengers on what to do before the plane landed at the airport; empty all the overhead storage bins, pile pillows around your head, put your head down between your knees, leave nothing free that might damage another passenger. One thing they did not say was, “Pray”. Bill said he had almost two hours to review his life with his wife and three children, think about what their family life would be if the plane crashed and burned and he was killed. But the plane landed safely and he praised God publicly sand loudly for God’s answer to this unexpected problem.

Mary spoke of a head-on collision on a rural road near Keene. Her husband had neglected to secure his seat belt and was thrown from the car. Both cars were totally destroyed.  When the smoke cleared and the ambulances arrived, she was amazed that not one of the eight adults and children involved had suffered anything more than light scratches. Years later, she still marveled at God’s protection in a situation that could have been an utter disaster.

Gary revealed that one of his daughters had been born deaf 56 years earlier. He and his wife had to learn techniques for teaching language and speech to a little girl who had never heard the sound of her own voice even with a powerful hearing aid. The family prayed that someday a device or technique might be invented that would restore their daughter’s ability to hear normally. For years this prayer request was repeated while the daughter  attended school with special tutors and struggled with the social problems that accompany such a disability. Long after the daughter married and had two children of her own, both with a hearing disability,  researchers announced the development of the cochlear implant, a device that in essence can restore almost normal hearing to an adult or a young child. God answered their prayers, but not in time to help their daughter in her growing years.

My book entitled My Problems God’s Solutions describes many other episodes in which the hand of God directly impacted on me and my friends. Readers have reported a strengthening of their confidence in God’s love after reading this book. Faith has indeed been at work over the centuries and is still being evidenced in the lives of His followers.

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