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Every December I write about peace. It’s an appropriate topic because as Christians we celebrate the birth of the “Prince of Peace.” Since the end of WWII our world has not experienced peace in any form. I recall a college professor of mine had a poster on her wall that read: “It will be a great day when our schools get all the money they need and the air force has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber.” I agree whole heartily with the sentiments behind that statement. Thus far in my lifetime the world has yet to experience a season of peace! The world was at peace when the angels heralded the birth of Christ; however, it was The “Pax Romana” which literally means "Roman peace.” The peace of Rome was by military force! History records that peace by force never lasts.
For better or worse eating is an American pastime. Anyone who has travel outside of the U.S. quickly realizes America is the land of the all-you-can-eat buffet! And most Americans get their money’s worth at these eateries because latest statistics indicate over 69% of Americans are overweight! America is overweight because America is a prosperous nation. Finding enough “daily bread” is not a problem for most Americans.
Many of us grew up in the days of family television. Shows like “Ozzie and Harriet,” “The Donna Reed Show,” ”The Andy Griffith Show,” and “Leave It To Beaver” were popular family television programs. Not only were these programs entertaining, episodes usually centered on themes of duty, trust, honesty, commitment, respect, country and so forth. These shows reinforced and taught the morals and values of American Society. Can you recall any TV program when a child was ever whipped or severely chastised? Wally told Beaver many times that “boy, dad’s gonna clobber you,” but Wally or Beaver were never ever clobbered on the show. Where was the crime in Mayberry? Andy once remarked that the preacher was long winded because he had a lot of sin to preach about! But where was all this sin in Mayberry? Even Otis the town drunk was portrayed as a respectable town drunk! Andy was a widower not a divorcee. And wasn’t it refreshing to see how all their problems were solved in 30 minutes?
Nothing can stir the heart like a good hymn or song. Most soul stirring songs are born of experience; usually as the writer is passing through the “valley of theshadow of death.” Inspiration is drawn from hardships. Such is the story of Horatio Gates Spafford.
Spafford was a well-to-do Chicago lawyer and a friend of evangelist Dwight Moody. Chicago was booming in the 1870s and much of his wealth was tied up in real estate. His first heartbreak occurred in 1870 when his son died. His next tragedy occurred on October 10th, 1871, when the great Chicago fire reduced the city to ashes. He lost a great deal of wealth to the fire yet Spafford used some of his remaining wealth to help the people of the city get back on their feet. For two years Spafford assisted the impoverished and grief-stricken homeless. In 1873 Spafford and his family decided to take a vacation. They would join Moody and Ira Sankey on one of his evangelistic crusades in England and then travel throughout Europe. Spafford was delayed by some business, but sent his family ahead. He would catch up with them on the other side of the Atlantic.
When was the last time you heard about Satan or the devil? No one thinks much about the Devil anymore. Some people refer to Satan as a medieval invention used to scare people into the church. Satan is portrayed as somehow comic and harmless (the red guy with pointy years and a pitchfork). Music even praises him as the song "Sympathy for the Devil," by The Rolling Stones written in 1968, is praised by Rolling Stone magazine as #32 in their list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
He was born Raymund Kolbe on January 8 1894 in Zduńska Wola, in the Kingdom of Poland, which was a part of the Russian Empire, the second son of Julius Kolbe and Maria Dabrowska. His father and mother were common people; and like multitudes of common people, except for the hand of providence the world might never have heard of Raymund.
His journey to fame began in 1907 when Kolbe and his elder brother Francis decided to join the Conventual Franciscans who named him Maximilian. In 1918, Kolbe was ordained a priest. In 1919, he returned to the newly independent Poland, founding and supervising the monastery of Niepokalanów near Warsaw, a seminary, a radio station, and several other organizations and publications. After the outbreak of World War II, Kolbe provided shelter to refugees from Greater Poland in his friary in Niepokalanów. On February 17 1941, he was arrested by the German Gestapo and imprisoned in the Pawiak prison. On May 28, he was transferred to Auschwitz as prisoner #16670.
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