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From the Editor-
Corinne Smelker
A Word In Season
Featured Article
By Corinne Smelker

I had heard so many good things about the movie, "Bruce Almighty," that my husband and I decided to rent it a while back. Now, it has very little theological value to it, but one thing that I found both funny and profound was the scene where Bruce tries to answer all the prayers that he hears.

He canít handle all the voices in his head, so he decides to download the requests to his email account. One million prayers later and he is overwhelmed! At first, he tries to read each one and give a heartfelt response, but eventually, he hits the "Reply All" button and types in "YES"!

His thinking is this: "Iíll just give people what they want, then theyíll be happy and stay off my back!" The only hassle ó people werenít! Rioting started, fights broke out and mayhem was the order of the day.

When Bruce sees God again he said, "I thought I was doing the right thing, giving them what they wanted."

God replies, "But thatís the problem, people really donít know what they want!"

C.S. Lewis says something similar in his book "The Problem of Pain." He claims many people, when they think of love, think of a person who says, "as long as everyone is content and has had a good time, then I am happy." They are in effect looking for a kindly grandfather.

But is love and kindness truly the concept that our happiness is all that matters and is at stake? Remember the common line, "If you loved me you wouldÖ" Is that truly love? If not, then what is it?

In Scripture, God makes it clear that it is the son, the one who is to carry on the family traditions, who is disciplined. "If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons." (Hebrews 12:8 NIV)

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By Karen Treharne

Itís easy for me to be appreciative when I see the green trees rising high above me on both sides of the highway, looking over my shoulders like guardian angels; Iím filled with awe at the beauty and magnitude of our Holy Fatherís creation.

It takes no effort to feel gratitude for the precious gift of my children as I enjoy their laughter at play. Prayer and thankfulness for good health, a secure job, a comfortable home and food comes without any exertion.

Being part of a church family brings immediate joy to my heart, as does the privilege to freely study Godís Word. And it is difficult to take for granted the love and support of a Christian mate that has been provided to me by our Lordís gracious hand.

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Seeing the World Through Godís Eyes
By Al Boyce

In a recent visit to the ophthalmologist I confessed that as I have gotten older, and my contact lens prescription stronger, I find it difficult to read with contacts in.
I expected the doctor to say, "Well, thatís what you get for being an old fogey," or maybe "Hereís a couple of Coke bottles you can hold up to your eyes when the print is less than 36 point." Instead, her response surprised me.

"Just take out the left contact lens," she advised.

"Just when Iím reading?" I asked, picturing myself with the Sunday Times spread on my lap and my left contact lens balanced deftly on the index finger of one hand.

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Word of GodOur Father: Day Three
By Brian Thompson

"Your Kingdom Come, your will be done!"

Sometimes the detail is important. Sometimes the little things God does for us matter most, because they show the attentiveness of God. But sometimes we need to pray for something really, really big! Now this is such a prayer. What am I asking for? Everything! I am asking for the earth and everything in it. For my street, my county, my nation and my generation. I am asking for every nation, for all who live and breathe on this darkening planet!

How can it possibly happen? We should not be overwhelmed, God is not like us. He does not build for prestige and he does not need to impress. He is not afraid to start small. So the kingdom of God is built one act of God at a time. Jesus said the kingdom of Heaven was like a mustard seed when planted Ė smaller than all the seeds. But when it grew Ö what a tree! (1) And everything hinges on the will of God being done. The kingdom comes when the will of God is done; and where the kingdom comes, the will of God will be done. It is the beginning and ending of it all. Godís plan is for this planet to be filled with complete, perfect and comprehensive obedience to the will of God. He says more. This will of God cannot be lip service, cold custom, show or form. It is to be done in the same way it is done in Heaven.

How is it done in Heaven? Quickly! Enthusiastically! Unreservedly! It is not the scale of obedience which matters to God, it is its quality. Daniel refused to stop praying. His friends refused to bow. Peter left his job; the leper went back to the priest. To some Jesus said ĎGo home and tell your friends what God has doneí to others he said ĎLeave everything behind and come with meí. To God, the beauty of obedience lies not in the thing that we do, but in the fact that we do it. Its value to him is not defined by the scale of what we do, but by the speed with which we run to do it. It is not the heroic nature which builds the kingdom but the obedient spirit. We say that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. In Godís kingdom, the shortest distance is an act of obedience.

King Saul found, to his immense regret, you cannot replace obedience with anything else. You cannot bring gifts or make sacrifices in its place. One unreservedly obedient act will tell God more about my true feelings for Him than a lifetime of affirmation and a multitude of prayers. There is no substitute. When it comes to obedience, nothing else will do.

I canít command my country. I might petition a representative but I canít sway a government. I may lobby my local authority to raise its standards on seedy shops and tacky advertising but I canít insist that they behave better than they want to. This is perhaps as well, or even with the best of intentions we might all become tyrants. I canít be responsible for someone elseís obedience, only my own.

But this is exactly where the Kingdom Of God begins. With one obedient act! When we pray ĎMay your will be done in Earth in just the same way that it is done in Heavení, we could add...ídone here...done now...done in meí. I am made of the same clay as every other person on this planet. ĎYour will be done in me!í And the next time I see where obedience lies Ė act or attitude, word or intention Ė then this prayer can be fulfilled Ö and one seemingly insignificant act creates on Earth the rule of Heaven.

Should we dare a second? Who knows how it might spread!

(1) Matthew 13:31-32 NIV
Brian Thompson is married and lives in Kent ('garden of England') with Vi, his wife, who is a teacher. They are the proud parents of three children. Brian works as an IFA by day and is in the process of finishing up a musical and a book! You can write to Brian care of the Letters page of this magazine.