Thursday, May 28, 2009


Today's BBB (Barnabas Brief Blog) is given with a little tongue in cheek related to the last two days of activity around our house. I do have a point, so wade through the rest with me and I will get to it as I close.

Yesterday and today were "honey do" list days at our house. One project was the securing and installation of a new porch swing. I had planned on building one because what I had seen was either too expensive or not quite the right color and design. Day before yesterday as I was traveling back from a trip to the Passion Play grounds at Eureka Springs, AR, with my Broco (Brother Cousin) I spotted a road side shop where a man was displaying several items made of cedar, including several swings. We stopped and found one exactly the right size, price, color and design, so we loaded it into the van and I brought it home. Immediately, the honey do list inceased by one project in the #1 position of priority.

After much very technical computation, and the application of hand saw, level, electric drill, tape measure, more leveling and a great deal of applied "sweat" to grease the swing, here is the result:

Today the list required another town visit to pick up potting soil, mulch and 440 pounds of decorative cement border blocks (40 of them). I picked up each one a total of probably 8 times from the stack at Home Depot to their final resting place around a new flower bed. (NOTE TO SELF: Muscles in arms need to be carefully watched for major expansion.) Arriving home, I took a quick nap and began the process of developing another piece of technical computation - how to build a flower bed border with rounded corners and use exactly the right number of bricks without piecing the last brick. My supervisor's keen eye (supervisor, i.e. the "honey" of the "do" list) gave several suggestions to which I was the willing "sweat-ee" in, again, lifting the blocks a few more times. Seriously, the suggestions were correct! Well, you can see the results in this picture of an 8 by 12 oblong flower bed.

Now, to quote from my vast french repertoire, I arrive at the "creme de la creme" or the "piece de resistance" of my day.

I don't know why the French say "piece de resistance" when I felt no RESISTANCE at all!

Yes, I take the WORD seriously when it says, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28

Take a big HINT from this BLOG - regardless of what you do as far as physical, emotional or spiritual labor that wears you down, find a SWING if you can, but ALWAYS RESPOND TO HE WHO CAN TRULY GIVE YOU REST! Be encouraged!

Monday, May 25, 2009


Of all the things that man can do,
There’s really nothing that is new.
He copies all of what he sees
Of what’s been done that he perceives.
Invention, discov’ries, are not from “thin air”
For they come to past from what has been there.
There’s only been One Creator of new,
And He is the One Who made me and made you.
~jb, 5-25-2009

I like the joke I was told at church yesterday. I had been sharing a doctrinal message on the subject of man’s creation, making reference to him being God’s crowning creative work, and as such the goal of God’s creation of the world and all of its life. Obviously, this is not the same conclusion theorized by much of the scientific community, who see man as merely an evolutionary product of nature’s billion year developmental ooze. I question the age – Did they find a date written on something? – And the “ooze” – What nothingness did that come from anyway?

Ah, yes, the joke! Well, it seems that the scientists contacted preachers from all of the major denominations. They invited them to a special meeting and told them that they had discovered that God was no longer needed, that they had been able to create a man and would demonstrate their discovery for them. The preachers invited God to attend the meeting with them, and He and they were at the appointment. The scientists began to prepare their demonstration by filling a bucket with dirt, which they poured out on the floor of the lab. Then, before they could do anything else, God stepped forward and blew the dirt away. He then told them, “GET YOUR OWN DIRT!”

I am so amazed at the utter audacity of those who theorize (theory is not fact) that there is no God involved in the existence of the universe and all that is within it, and to arrive at their conclusions, they depend upon what God has provided as a resource of tools for their discoveries. They say all started with a big bang, but they never answer the question of what exploded in the first place. I wrote a little verse several years ago that illustrates this bit of theory.

If the universe expanded
From a small but weighty ball,
By whose pow’r was it compacted,
And whose hand was then retracted,
To fufil a goal protracted,
Giving reason for us all?
~jb, 3-2-1991

The standard come-back from those who deny the existence of God is that they believe only “what they can see” or perceive with their senses, or are able to understand. They never seem to take into account the very nature of what the term GOD implies. If He were able to be understood completely, He would not be GOD, who by definition is so superior to man’s highest thoughts that man cannot attain to Him, unless that door of access be opened by GOD Himself. And of course, that is exactly what He has done in giving the Bible as a revelation of Himself.

Another rational expressed by those who would deny a greater and more supreme intellect than their own is the similarity between the material makeup of man and his animal/organic environment. They propose that the shared micro and physiological structure of both indicates an evolutionary development of one into the other. Well, duht! It is a wise Creator, indeed, Who insures all of the resources of life in complimentary availability are in place before the man is “moved” into his new home. Because I can eat a carrot and glean nourishment from it does not mean I used to be a carrot!

And, as I have often said to those who pose why God didn’t create His crowning work, man, first; what would man breath, or eat, or where would he stand? God made him as His finished work, adaptable to and as caretaker of the rest of creation, along with personhood to receive and return God’s greatest gift and trait, His love.

Invariably, the question of sin then enters the mix. Why did God allow sin in such a perfect environment, if He truly purposed man to be the recipient of His love and care, and capable of returning it in kind? Evolution of a developmental “ooze” can never explain the presence of man’s complex self-awareness and conscious ability to love and live sacrificially by choice. Even the presence of instinctive sacrifice in the animal world cannot reach its measure. Man alone has the capacity to choose, to self determine his actions, good or bad. Such knowledge and choice is not within the animal’s prerogative.

Herein lies an answer to the question of sin’s entrance. Had God’s purpose been to merely create a garden with a perfect caretaker who could only act out a programmed set of “farming” instructions, sin would not even be discussed, and even this writing ever conceived. But because God’s purpose was to have a created object of His love nature, and one with whom He could intimately fellowship in “give and take” relations, He gave man a free will with capacity to choose to love or not to love, to obey or disobey, to do right or to sin.

Then knowing in His infinitely omniscient mind how that free will would exercise an imperfect choice and sin, He pre-arranged for man’s redemption before creation’s beginning. Then, in its beginning, He put His plan into action, a plan culminating in the birth and human life, then death and resurrection of His own Son, Jesus Christ, as payment for man’s sin and restoration to full fellowship with God for eternity.

So, worldly wise, here’s your paradoxical challenge. Try to prove my God doesn’t exist, but in doing so, be honest. “GET YOUR OWN DIRT!”

Genesis 1:27-28 “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”

Genesis 2:7 “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”

Genesis 3:1-24 records the story of man’s choice and sin’s entrance.

John 3:16-18 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

Dear friends and believers in Christ, be encouraged today. This is my prayer.

Saturday, May 23, 2009


Our journey in life is a daily climb,
From earthly-bound realms to that called sublime.
So also in Christ, we live t'ward new heights,
With experiences rich in blessed delights.

But lest we should falter in our upward climb,
And lose depth of knowing this One who's Divine,
We'll respond to His call to "come up...and see"
And there find revealed all He wants us to be.
~jb, 3-17-07

During the time of our missionary service in Asia, we had the opportunity to spend some time in northern India, in the Himalayan foothills. On a clear day, at 7000 feet where we stayed, the scene was beautiful. We loved to hike the many trails that covered the ridge where we were lodging, and at times I would be in the lead, urging my wife and two daughters to keep up as we moved up to the crest of the ridge. As I arrived the first time I found myself uttering the words, "come up and see", for before us we were able to see the snow-capped range toward Mt. Everest, a sight that caused the lower scenes to pale in comparison. Since that time almost twenty-five years ago, my mind has often retraced that journey with a longing to somehow recapture the experience we had.

When John was given the Revelation he recorded, and that door in heaven was opened for his eyes to behold the throne and He who sat upon it in all His glory, how he must have recalled another high place and the vision of Christ transfigured before him. It was a foretaste of the glory to be revealed.

The Christian journey, too, has levels which we are called to "come up..." and see. As we live daily the very highest and best that we know, God will ever call us up higher, to experience the relationship with Him that is even more beautiful.

As He calls you to this, respond immediately and begin applying yourself to live in the new heights. If He has revealed it, it is within your ability to reach and you will not be disappointed in the new vision it gives.

As the vision of Christ transfigured gave the disciples new intimacy for living and ministry in the valley, so our climb and focus on Christ will strengthen us to be all that Christ wants us to be. But hesitation may bring a cloud that blocks the light that would have revealed it and granted you the vision and relationship He desired that you would share. So don't hesitate, but "come up...and see".

Revelation 4:1 "Come up here, and I will show you..."

Matthew 17:1-2, 8 "And after six days, Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, and was transfigured before them...and when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only."

Be encouraged in your journey climb today, and see only Jesus!

Thursday, May 21, 2009


Lord, I oft' cry, it's heavy, how can I go on?
With the weight of this burden my strength is all gone.
Lord, help me to shoulder this weight given me,
That my journey's high purpose would glorify Thee.

Lord, thank You for bearing my greatest life load,
As You did for my sin, freeing me on life's road.
And now, Lord, I'm ready to bear life with no other,
For I've found its weight easy with You, my Elder Brother.
~jb, 4-13-2005

I am reminded of the story of the motto for Boy's Town, an organization that traditionally cares for wayward youth. It grew out of a drawing of a young man walking down a road, carrying a younger boy on his back, because the child was obviously unable to do so on his own. A kind-hearted motorist pulled over to give them a ride to their destination, and as he stopped, he asked this question, "Isn't he a heavy load, son?" The reply was full of meaning but simply stated. "Sir, he ain't heavy, he's my brother."

We are often the weary "in well doing" because we have either incorrectly assumed a burden whose purpose only slows us down and wearies our journey, or we have failed to recognize our traveling Partner, Who would shoulder the greater part of the weight that bears down upon us. The young man's perspective made the difference between a wearying task and a weight measured and borne in love.

Christ is the Great Burden-Giver and Burden-Sharer, as well. On the cross where He bore all the weight of sin on Himself, Christ echoed the young man's sentiments, "Heavy? Yes, but they are My brothers!" Some burdens He'd not have us carry at all. Sin and doubt are such, already borne by Him to death, and no longer to be borne by His children at all. Still others are allowed, but with a significant difference. They come as the parcels of life itself, born out of purpose in a world where the road is not smooth nor down-hill. In these, the key is perspective and yoked-partnership with our strong-shouldered Saviour and Lord. An old chorus shares this sentiment, "rolled away, every burden of my heart rolled away."

Psalm 55:22 "Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain thee."

Matthew 11:28-30 "Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

Perhaps added meaning may be applied to us as we reflect the "burden-bearing" of the Saviour for us. Are we not commissioned to, in like manner, "bear one another's burdens?" Imagine how it would change our perspective, and subsequently, our neighbors, both near and far.

Yes, imagine that and be encouraged today, my brothers and sisters!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


I'm pressed with a burden, I often complain.

It's hard to live daily the strain of His name.

"Oh, God," I oft' pray. "Please take it away,

And give in its place an easier day."

But the answer He gives I cannot refute,

The burden is needed lest His strength I dilute.

The press that is given, it comes from His hand,

And its purpose is squeezing-forth wine that is grand.

And this wine is the fruit of my link to the Vine,

The joy of His strength with roots all Divine.

"So, Lord, give me burdens, Your strength to complete,

That the wine I produce will be heavenly sweet."

~jb, 4-14-2004

One of the pictures of harvesting the fruit of the land that conveys a difficult spiritual truth is that of the grape. Many, of course, find their way "whole" into the marketplace, but much of this fruit must be put through a lot of pressure to squeeze out its essence. If the grape were able to feel and express its pain during this process, it would be a story of great suffering.

The Christian life is bound for such a press! As Jesus was in His life on earth, so will we be as we identify with Him. We are to be harnessed with Him to produce that which is the best. In truth, the burden is the pressure He provides that presses the grapes of our life to produce the wine of joy. And those whose lives have this joy in evidence seem to have no burdens at all. Oswald Chambers says we must lift the veil from our eyes to the see the burden press that gives off peace, light, and the joy of God. If, however, we complain under the strain, we'll miss the pleasure of pressure and the wine of His strength will spoil on the vine.

Oh, child of God, be encouraged with the strength God gives within such burden born of His Spirit. Such power is invincible in this world. When you are pressed of Him, what shall be the produce, a whine or wine?

Matthew 11:29, "Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me..."

Isaiah 40:29, " those who have no might He increases strength."

Nehemiah 8:10, "...the joy of the Lord is your strength."

Be encouraged today, Christian friend, and be as Sweet as He!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Did you rise, dear Brother and Sister today,
And go to the garden with Jesus to pray?
Amid preparations to face the Lord's task,
Did you walk with the Lord,
For His strength did you ask?

How easy to dress and groom ourselves so,
Then nourish our bodies with food on the go,
And then in the lateness of time to oft' say,
"It won't hurt this one time if I do not pray."

Oh, Brother and Sister, it does hurt indeed.
You've said, "Lord, today Your help I don't need."
You have gone out prepared in all but your heart,
And this is the place where your hurts will all start.

But if you rise daily, and with the Lord talk,
He'll prepare you for meeting the needs of your walk.
And you He will strengthen to show in His care
That this kind of living comes only by prayer.
~jb, 6-6-94

Have you ever faced a day that brought on unexpected experiences that tried you to the breaking point? You were faced with situations and people you were just not prepared to confront and you found yourself struggling to cope, to have the right answers, or strength to endure that and what you began to fear might be a continued struggle all day long. Been there, done that?

Well, I have, and on reflection I recognize that daily living becomes such a habitual activity that I find myself preparing for it quite unconsciously. There are certain ways that I have of moving through the necessities of that period before leaving for work, and they become second nature to me. There are times, I confess, that amid a busy schedule, I have found it too easy to arise late, rush through all of my preparations except the most important of all. I begin that day without conscious acknowledgement and submission to the Lord's will and strength to accomplish what may face me.

How much better to rise and immediately "enter my closet" with the Lord, allow Him to choose my spiritual "clothing" that is fit for the day He alone knows, and go out in the strength He alone can provide.

Jesus gave us the answer in Matthew 6:6 "But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut the door, pray to the Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly."

Today, my Brothers and Sisters, be encouraged to start your day with that which is necessary to meet all of the unexpected experiences of life.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Did you ever hear or said it so,
That you don’t think when you watch a show?
You want to just relax and “veg”
And not always “sit on the edge”?
I know that I’ve been told I get
So into what I’m viewing, and yet,
I’m looking for those plots behind
The action that so many don’t find.
Why do I like the shows like Monk?
The Mentalist and Sherlock Holmes ain’t junk!
Well, here’s the reason why it’s so,
That I like to think deep when I watch a show.
I seek for that which redeems the plot,
For today there’s many whose plot does not!
I pit my mind against the stars
Who have the script without the scars.
They don’t require the thought it took
To really apprehend the crook.
But they help me stretch my mind
To second guess and best their find.
But overall my drive for thought
I do believe has higher ought!
If I just veg and forget what’s shown
When I have finished that time is gone.
But if my mind’s had exercise
My mind’s turned on and grown in size.
When matching wits of daring do
My mind’s creative juices flew,
And when I’ve finished and solved the plot,
The time I’ve used is wasted, not!
So, next time try one that makes you think,
Perhaps, with these thoughts, it won’t stink!

Yesterday morning I woke from a very vivid dream sequence in which I was part of a group of television producers who were discussing how to improve the image of the latest “Sherlock Holmes” series. (To my knowledge, no such series is in process though a lot of old films are being remade so…who knows) In the group was the star of the show, whom I recognized as a very talented person in the role. As I recall from the discussion around the table, many were of the opinion that what was needed was some kind of toy that would be representative of the Holmes character. I countered with my argument that the popularity of the show was and is determined by its main character’s uncanny ability to see clues where others cannot. The sense of mystery that surrounds the plot excites the imagination and draws the viewers into the story in their attempts to figure out the climax before it actually is revealed at the end. My thought was that a toy would diminish the creative interaction of the viewers with the ongoing plot of the show. It would cheapen its value, which indeed does more in exercising the mind’s ability to think through complex problems.

Now before you ask the question, “where is this blog going?” Let me explain that the night before, my wife and I had had this discussion regarding how involved I become in the plot of “edge of the seat” shows, and I had attempted to explain my approach and how I am continually examining movies for their redeeming value, resulting in often becoming very involved in the ongoing plots. I suppose it is the way I am “wired” in looking at the stories being played out on TV or in movies, or even as I used to do as a youngster, in becoming absorbed in a story from a book. I know I would become so involved in the book I was reading that my mother’s call to do my chores went on deaf ears. As I have grown, though “selective hearing” seems onset, I have attempted to be responsive to “important calls” to other duties. I confess that I do so with some degrees of disappointment when the story’s climax is missed. If I know of other priorities in the making, I’d rather not even begin to watch an unfolding drama. I would imagine most feel the same way in this regard.

Have you been there? I am sure that many have the same kind of responses. There are others who have different approaches that do not become so intensely involved in the mental gymnastics. They prefer to watch a movie that allows them to be affirmed and feel good or inspired without the interaction with characters and plot. They are not wrong, they simple enter the area of this entertainment medium with a different purpose, and can, as a result, leave the action in process without as many hanging questions. Others require a kind of closure that comes from a clean conclusion with no unresolved mysteries.

Specifically, I enjoy series such as “Monk” and “The Mentalist” because they are written with a great deal of attention to the Holmes kind of investigation and pursuit. When the old Sherlock Holmes character said, “The game’s afoot” and began his pursuit of clues, I was always hot on his heels with his partner Dr. Watson coming in third.

If you’re still puzzling over my intent in this blog, perhaps a simple explanation is that it is some personal diary-like notes that may help someone else verbalize their own “wiring” or, perhaps just to help you understand a little more about mine. In any case, I do want to draw from this what I consider to be related spiritual truth.

On the subject of the mind and its ability to assimilate and process information, I am always struck by some writing by Paul to the Philippian Christians. He sets forth an important principle when he writes, “Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind…let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:2, 5) When I think of the mind of Christ, I can see intensity of focus on discovery of God’s will, and making it the primary watchword for daily processing and action. So it should be with all believers, determining the Father’s will and, given their own particular gifted purpose in it, respond to follow its leading. Paul also wrote to the Roman Christians some related principles about the mind’s processing. “…be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Romans 12:2) Herein is the bit of “detective” work of the believer defined. It is a continued search for God’s perfectly good will, and is a pursuit of an active mind.

On this note, I am reminded of those who profess a different philosophy of mental gymnastics in their attempts to unlock the mysteries of the spiritual realm. They are told they must clear their minds of thought, and thus let the mind rise to higher realms. The quote, “Idle mind is the devil’s workshop”, comes to mind. Like the natural force of gravity, the mind which is emptied of active discovery and pursuit of God’s mind, will “fall” down and not up!

So, my friend, take a page from my self-disclosure, and the whole Book from God’s, THINK AND BE ENCOURAGED TODAY!

Saturday, May 9, 2009


The memories come flooding in as I recall what I can of the 65 years I had the privilege of knowing my mother. There were a lot of moves and changes in my early life, but the one unchanging and strong stay was mom. I learned not only a mother’s care and love, but lessons which would serve me well throughout my life with its own varied experiences.

· When her marriage failed, she did not, but worked hard to provide for my sister and me. She did not cast blame but taught us dad was still dad in spite of their failure. Her loss of two other daughters, one older and one younger than me, was hard but she persevered.

· When she married my stepdad, she became mother to two others, my new stepbrothers, and did not fail to provide equal love and care for us all.

· She taught me manners, good behavior, and clean speech through her own lifestyle, with a little help from an elm tree switch and the promised bar of Lava soap that fortunately I never had to experience first hand, er, mouth.

· She filled my life with stories of extended family that gave me a respect for my roots and a desire to be the best I can be for those who follow me.

· She was the “glue” that held all of the extended family together, both her siblings and all of their children. And even their children all knew and loved their “nanny” as she was known.

· She praised my early discoveries of skill and talent and thus encouraged me to pursue a lot of avenues of excellence in all my endeavors.

· When I came to discover that I was a sinner before God, then finally to respond to His love’s call, she was the one to whom I went for counsel, and limited though she was as one without Christ herself, she directed my path toward Him. Then realizing her own need, responded, and together with my sister and I, was baptized.

· When I joined the navy and was gone for four years from home, home and mom were kept close through her letters in beautiful penmanship. Did I tell you that my own she was careful to encourage early on?

· When I realized God’s call to ministry and began preaching, she would often go with me to my first appointments.

· When I married, she drew my wife into the family circle with equal love and care for her needs, and because she was a member of the same small congregation, reached out to my new in-laws with encompassing care.

· When my wife and I left our hometown to study and serve in other states, she was always on hand to drive, often along with with my mother-in-law, to wherever we were, be it one of our children’s birth, our son’s death, our graduations from college and seminary, or just simply to say, “I love you, you’re not alone.”

· When we went as missionaries on the other side of the world, she saved her money, and traveled to that land to visit us, discover for herself our work, and return home to be a special missionary, come home to tell others about the work in Asia.

· As we worked overseas, she took on the task of our “at home” business manager, paying our credit card bills and managing our bank account at home. A sharp mom, she kept us on the “black” side of the ledger.

· When our oldest daughter graduated from high school in Bangkok, Thailand, and came home for college, mom became her special “mom” while we were still overseas.

· When our work returned us stateside and only a few hours from her, again she traveled to be with us and the girls, whether just for a visit, to attend their weddings, or to be on hand to hold new great grands.

· She was on hand with compassion when my wife’s parents passed away, and stepped in to fill the role of surrogate.

· When her own failing health brought her to the close of her earthly task just two years ago last month, on my 65th birthday, not a week away from her final journey, she sang me a solo of “Happy Birthday” from the bed she would never leave in this life.

Before I leave this narrative of praise, let me include these “moms”, as well.

· My wife’s mother, too, was a gracious and caring mom to me and she is greatly missed by all who knew her.

· My children’s mother, too, is special in many of the ways my own was. And though she often questions why I call her “mom”, the name I picked up from our girls, I think its just comfortable, and perhaps I see the character of my own mom in her, too.

· My grandchildren’s moms, my two daughters. You know, my own mother’s compassionate care, love and wisdom I see more and more in them, too.


And why not? The book of wisdom, Proverbs tells us why:
“Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies…She…worketh willingly with her hands…She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household…She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy…Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. Her children arise up, and call her blessed.” (Verses 10, 13, 15, 20, 25-28)

Dear MOMs, wherever and whoever you are, be encouraged for your work is not in vain.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


Recently I came across a quote that was attributed to Mark Twain. Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.

Oh, the images that this conjured up in my mind. One came from a movie I remember from the late nineties entitled “What Dreams May Come” with actor Robin Williams playing the lead. While the theology of the plot is questionable, it did portray some real emotions which do impact people, and perhaps invade their dreams at times.

The plot is a story of a family’s loss of a child, which drives the mother to suicide, and the father into his own private depression. In a dream-like pursuit to rescue his wife from the grips of judgment, one believed to have been given her because she took her own life, he makes a guided descent into the very depths of hell.

The images that brought the movie to mind grew out of the wife’s impressionistic paintings, where she had captured their first meeting on a beautiful hillside of flowers growing above a lake. It had become their emotional retreat of peace, and was the ideal final rest he hoped she’d ultimately find. His entrance into the dream sequence was through her painting, with the result that he “walked” through fields of painted flowers. Hence, my use of the picture with paint covering his clothes, and the imagery that Mark Twain’s quote brought to mind.

Interestingly enough, the character’s ultimate confrontation with his wife dealt with issues of forgiveness, compassion, and even self-sacrifice for the love of another. These gave the movie redeeming value, even in the midst of its faltering theology.

So, what about this idea of forgiveness…the fragrance of the violet on the heel that has crushed it? Mark Twain’s quote denotes a very basic Christian virtue. The willingness to bless the very ones who bruise us is basic to the very nature of the Christian faith. Jesus, Himself, from the cross of Calvary, uttered the watchwords of this virtue when He said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)

Yet, for all of this, forgiveness remains an unfilled character trait, even for those who claim Christ’s forgiveness for their own sins and even failure to forgive others. Quite a paradox is this and addressed by Christ this way following His Lord’s Prayer instruction: “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:14-15)

People who harbor unforgiveness make the usual excuses to justify their actions, but taking Christ’s words to heart, in addition to His example, their path seems a dangerous one to tread. On the other hand, if we would take the path of forgiveness we would find it not as difficult as it seems. The key is to send out love’s “violet fragrance” when we are ground under the heel of others. Unselfish sacrifice to love beyond another’s abusive behavior is to put on the garment Jesus wears. The result is a perfume of life that can bless us as well as the “heel” that crushes.

Toward his wife’s forgiveness, Williams’ character echoed Paul’s love and desire that his people Israel might come to the truth. In Romans 9:3 he writes, “For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren…” He would give up his own claim to eternity’s peace for them to gain it. What a fragrance that gives!

Do you realize that it is only when a flower is crushed that it releases an abundance of its essence into the air?

Dear friends, I pray that your perfume of crushing is of such compassionate sweetness, that you and others will be encouraged today.