“Lord, now I can die in peace! As you promised me, I have seen the Savior you have given to all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!” (Luke 2:29-32)
These are the words of a man named Simeon who was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue His people. The Holy Spirit had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. He got his wish.
The Holy Spirit led Simeon to the temple the very same day that Jesus was dedicated to the Lord. How wonderful! God had fulfilled His promise to Simeon.
Simeon was overjoyed when he saw the Infant Savior. How his heart must have leapt with joy as he held Jesus in his arms and gazed down into that tiny face. He blessed Joseph and Mary. He said to Mary, “This Child will be rejected by many in Israel, and it will be their undoing. But he will be the greatest joy to many others.”
For many of us, Jesus is the greatest joy. He brought us hope, love, peace and the promise of eternal life. Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, proclaimed, “Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, because He has visited His people and redeemed them. He has sent us a mighty Savior from the royal line of His servant David, just as He promised through His holy prophets long ago” (Luke 1:68-70).
What a wonderful promise! During the Christmas season, imagine what it must have been like for Simeon to see the Lord face to face and to realize that the Lord had kept him alive for just that moment. Simeon had seen salvation. He had seen the promise of eternal life before he died. God had promised His people salvation and then He fulfilled that promise through His Son, Jesus.
Retired officer Patrick Miller was sweeping his yard when he thought he heard what sounded like a baby crying. He stopped and listened. It was a baby crying and the sound was coming from the green dumpster. Dropping the broom, he rushed over and threw open the top to peer inside. The naked infant was inside of a garbage bag.
Patrick called for his wife who ran out to see what the commotion was. She was shocked to see him inside of the dumpster. “What on earth are you doing in there?” she exclaimed.
“There’s a baby in here. Bring a blanket to wrap him in. Then, call 911.”
She raced into the house, got the blanket and when he handed the child to her, she wrapped him snugly. When he climbed out of the dumpster, she handed the child to him then rushed off to phone 911.
As they waited for the police to get there, she, being a nurse, examined the infant. “He’s suffering from hypothermia but once he gets to the hospital, he should be fine. Poor little thing. Who would abandon a baby?”
“You’d be surprised,” Patrick said. “It happens more often than you think.”
This story was inspired by a true story of a baby who was found in a dumpster with his umbilical cord still attached. His mother had left him there and it turned that the man who found him was his biological father. He didn’t even know that his girlfriend was pregnant.
This was written for Sunday Photo Fiction hosted by Susan Spaulding. For more details visit Here. To read other stories based on this week’s prompt, visit Here.
I have heard of Talisman before but couldn’t remember what it was until I searched its meaning on the Internet. It is an object which people believe holds magical properties that bring good luck to the possessor, or that protect the possessor from evil or harm. It can be wore around the neck or wrist.
Jewish amulets were made up of texts, using either letters or graphic symbols which were inscribed various types of materials such as plant matter or precious stones. The amulet was used to ease childbirth, facilitate recovery from illness and improve one’s livelihood. It was also used to protect a mother and her newborn child from the dangers of Lilith, a female demon who was believed to pursue and kill mother and infant. An example of the text found on a amulet used for this purpose is:
I command you, holy and pure angels Sanoi, Sansanoi, Semanglaf, Semanglon, to keep all spirits and demons and all evil misfortunes and all Liline and all Liltine away from this newly delivered mother and from this newborn babe; and from the day on which this amulet, on which are inscribed your names, will be placed in this house in which is to be found the newborn, from this day forward remove Lilith and all her followers and all her servants from this newborn and from this house to the farthest reaches. Let her and all the demons with her flee, that she and her followers may never be able to harm this child for ever and ever.
And the amulet for childbirth would sometimes simply say, “Adam, Eve; Lilith out.”
The belief that amulets have hidden powers was widespread among both Jews and non-Jews in Eastern Europe and across all levels of society. However, there were some Jews who opposed the use of amulets and prominent among them was Maimonides who wrote vehemently against them. The maskilim in Eastern Europe openly mocked the use of amulets and considered them to be profane and harmful. The fact of the Jews believing in amulets may be a result of the apostasy of the Israelites when they adopted many of the beliefs and practices of the pagan nations around them such as worshipping foreign gods and child sacrifice.
Talismans were not only worn by the common people but by kings as well. Charlemagne, the former king of the Franks wore one.
Charlemagne’s wife had sorcerers from the Court of Haroun el Raschid, Emperor of the East, make his talisman for him. It had two large cabochon sapphires, one was oval and the other was square. They were set into a remnant of the wood from the Holy Cross (the Cross of Jesus) and a small piece of the Virgin’s hair. It was to make their love constant. One would assume that it worked since he never stopped loving her. This was the talisman which was buried with him at Aix-la-Chapelle, in 814 and re-discovered when the tomb was opened by Otto III in 1000. The talisman was preserved in the treasury of the Cathedral until it was given, by the canons, to Empress Josephine in 1804, to wear at her coronation.
Wearing a talisman created by sorcerers seems at odds with the Charlemagne who “submitted to no one but God”.
I was surprised to learn that there are Christian Talismans. Ancient Coptic Talismans like this one came from the Oromo people of Ethiopia and were traditionally worn to protect the wearer from evil spirits and bring good luck. They contain scrolls usually made of vellum and were inscribed with prayers and stories from Coptic Christian bibles or manuscripts by priests, religious scribes or unordained clerics known as ‘dabtaras’ and then sewn inside their leather pouch. The writing on the scroll was done with special black and red ink and written in Ge’ez, a currently unspoken language used for religious purposes. These Coptic talismans, like the Coptic crosses, were made a long time ago and it is hard to determine their age. Some were made as early as the late 19th century but these talismans have been made, worn and worshipped for over 1600 years.
Should Christians be wearing talismans? There are two types which are used as symbols of the Christian faith–the Cross and the fish. The first symbolizes Jesus and what He did for mankind and the second symbolizes those His followers who are to be “fishers of men”.
The cross The cross of Christianity was a symbol of the faith. It was previously considered a pagan symbol, with several early church fathers objecting to its use. The cross represents Christ’s victory over death and sin, since it is believed that through His death he conquered death itself.
Fish The fish’s first known use as a Christian religious symbol was sometime within the first three centuries AD. Christians began using the Greek word for “fish” as an acronym for “Jesus Christ God’s Son, Savior”. Followers of Christianity were called Pisciculi; the root of this Latin word is “fish”.
When I did a search on the Fish symbol, I discovered that there are three–the one of the fish only, the one with Jesus’ name in the middle and the one of the cross in the middle.
Christians wear crucifixes or have them hanging in their homes or dangling from the rear view mirror of their automobiles. I have seen stickers of the fish symbol on the back of some cars. Should Christians be part of what has become popular today? Well, many don’t think they should. And they use the following Bible verses to defend their stance:
“They are full of superstitions from the East; they practice divination like the Philistines and clasp hands with pagans” (Isaiah 2:6, NIV).
“In that day, the Lord will take away the beauty of their anklets, headbands, crescent ornaments, dangling earrings, bracelets, veils, headdresses, ankle chains, sashes, perfume boxes [and] amulets” (Isaiah 3:18-20, NAS).
“Moreover, Josiah removed the mediums and the spirits and the teraphim and the idols and all the abominations that were seen in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, that he might confirm the words of the law which were written in the book” (2 Kings 23:24, NAS). The teraphim was the name used for idols or images reverenced by the ancient Hebrewsandkindredpeoples,apparentlyas householdgods.
There is the argument that instead of putting on talismans for protection for evil and demonic powers, put on the whole armor of God “that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11).
“There are concerns that people allow objects such as crosses, crucifixes, figurines, rosaries, bumper stickers, etc., to take the place of the true change that should take place in our hearts. The things we wear, carry, or put on our cars are not what make us Christians. God is not concerned with what we wear as long as we do not dress in a way that would cause anyone to stumble in his or her walk with God (Romans 14:20) and we are not absorbed with our looks or our possessions.
On the other hand, “Many Christians wear crosses as a proud expression of their love, respect, and service to Christ, along with a remembrance of what He did for us.”
Choosing to wear Christian Talismans or not, is up to the individual. I personally don’t wear religious jewelry or jewelry of any kind but that was me following my own conscience and what I believed was what God wanted for me. If people feel safer on their person, in their vehicles or in their homes, then, they have to do what their consciences dictate, as long as these things never take the place of God Himself who is our one, true Source of protection against the evil one.
The Bible has told us that we are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. In fact, Jesus said that one day He will say to those who helped those in need, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me’ (Matthew 25:34-36).
It is hard to go to a place like India and see a woman on the streets, begging with a child in tow and not do something about it. She is dressed shabbily, perhaps bare feet, her face dirty and in her arms is a sleeping infant or a toddler with a dirty face, runny nose and big eyes looking at you as his mother holds out a thin, dirty hand for money. Your heart melts and you reach into your handbag or your money belt to take out some money to give her. It’s impossible for you not to help this mother and her child. You give her the money and she takes it and goes way. Your heart feels light. You have done a great thing.
It’s a common sight in India to see a dirty looking woman carrying a child in her arms. If you are driving, you see them at the traffic light and when you stop, they come to your car and bang on the window. Sometimes it’s a little boy with a runny nose. You will find them in the railway stations, metro stations, tourist attractions, in temples and in areas where there are crowds. People who see them are moved to give them money. Sometimes they shoo them away.
It is perfectly normal for people to beg in a country where there is so much poverty. In fact, begging has become one of the most serious social issues in India in spite of rapid economic growth. This has led to the growth of beggars in the country. Most of them come from Bangladesh and some are from India. The problem is that not all of the beggars are legitimate. The few who are real are those who are handicapped because they are unable to work, they are old or blind or they need money for basic needs. Many live far below the poverty line and have been forced to beg in order to survive.
There are entire families who are begging on the streets and in temples because their income is not enough. The children are unable to go to school. Poverty is very real in India and begging is the only way the people can earn their livelihood. Unfortunately, begging has become a big scam in India. Travel India Smart warns people who plan to visit India that if they are approached by a women carrying a baby and begging for money not to give her any money. These women make the babies look pathetic to appeal to the public’s sympathy.
In an article, Travel India Smart says that when one woman takes a rest, she hands the baby over to other women who continue to walk the streets in the hot sun, carrying the baby. Babies are rented out from beggar to beggar. As a mother, I can’t imagine how a mother could allow her baby to be used like this. Maps of India says that sometimes the babies are drugged for the entire day so that they look sick and can be easily carried from one area to another by the young women beggars.
These beggars want money. One beggar said that the baby she was carrying had just been fed and she would prefer money. In Mumbai, a child or a woman beggar approaches a visitor, wanting some powdered milk to feed a baby. The woman would take the visitor to a nearby stall or shop which happens to sell tins or boxes of the milk. The milk is pricey and if the tourist hands over the money for it, the shopkeeper and the beggar split the proceeds between them. The beggars rent babies from their mothers to make them look credible and they carry these sedated babies who are draped limply in their arms and claim that they don’t have any money to feed them.
When confronted by a woman beggar and a child, what do we do? In an article written in Go India, Sharell Cook, suggests that it is best to ignore the beggars. It may sound harsh but by not giving them what they want, you are taking the necessary step toward abolishing beggary. It is something that has become a menace to society. It is exploiting the compassion of those who want to help those in need. It is making it difficult for the real beggars. Babies and children are being exploited. And gangs are profitting from begging. Some beggars have gone as far as deliberately maiming and disfiguring themselves just to get more money.
Something has to be done to stop this epidemic. One suggestion is that charitable organizations use their clout with governments to ban beggars from using babies. Another suggestion is that the Indian government continues with its measures to alleviate poverty. For our part, people can help to stop this problem by not giving money to these beggars. Instead, they are encouraged to visit a temple and give alms to the beggars there.
Tips for giving to Beggars are:
If you really want to give to beggars, give only 10-20 rupees at a time and give them when leaving a place not when you arrive or you will be mobbed.
• Try to give to those who perform a service, such as small children who dance or sing
• Give to those who are elderly or crippled.
God wants us to show compassion to those who are in need but He doesn’t expect us to help those who would take advantage of our charity and exploit others for their greedy gains.
Avoid giving to women with babies because the babies are usually not theirs. The best thing you can do is to not give anything to the beggars. If everyone were to stop giving, then these gangs and all those who are profitting from begging will be put out of business. They will have no choice to work and earn an honest living. And visitors can enjoy a hassle free vacation.
How many women can claim to be the wife of one Prime Minister and the mother of another? On Monday, October 19, 2015, Margaret Trudeau watched as the results came in announcing her son Justin Trudeau as Canada’s next Prime Minister. She watched as her son and his party went from being third in the long race to head the race and then make history as they won, garnering 184 seats, exceeding the majority of 170 seats. According to Michael Den Tandt:
Justin Trudeau, the eldest son of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, has resurrected his party, confounded his critics, defied the naysayers and trolls, overcome his own mistakes and resoundingly defeated two tough, smart, determined opponents who cannot have imagined anything like this outcome.
A minority was presaged by many polls. A majority, and a broad one at that, is beyond the Liberals’ wildest hopes.
In pulling this off, Trudeau, 43, has made history. Canada has its first political dynasty.
I can just imagine the pride that filled Margaret and no doubt, she thought of her former husband, Pierre and how proud he would have been of their son. When she held the infant Justin in her arms, did she ever imagine that he would one day follow in his father’s footsteps?
As I watched her with her daughter-in-law, son and grandchildren in their hotel room watching the results, I wondered who this woman was. What was her story?
Margaret was born in Vancouver to Doris Kathleen and James Sinclair, a former Liberal member of the Parliament of Canada and the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. She attended Simon Fraser University where she studied English Literature.
At the age of 18, when vacationing in Tahiti, she met Pierre Trudeau, then Minister of Justice. It seemed like she was destined to be in the world of politics. Interestingly enough, Margaret didn’t recognize Pierre and thought little of their encounter. However, he was captivated by this carefree “flower child”. She was thirty years his junior but that didn’t stop him from pursuing her.
When he became Prime Minister in 1968, Pierre was still a bachelor. After keeping their relationship private, he stunned the country by marrying 22 year old Margaret in 1971 at a private ceremony in West Vancouver. Not surprisingly, the age difference raised some eyebrows among Canadians but this behaviour was typical of the Prime Minister who “prided himself on his progressive views and youthful vigour”.
Pierre Trudeau was a Catholic so Margaret converted to his religion. When asked about her role in her marriage to the Prime Minister, she said, “I want to be more than a rose in my husband’s lapel.”
Life as the wife of a Prime Minister was not easy. It took some adjusting for Margaret. She wrote in her memoirs, “a glass panel was gently lowered into place around me, like a patient in a mental hospital who is no longer considered able to make decisions and who cannot be exposed to a harsh light.” They had three children, Justin being the eldest. They appeared to have a very close and loving relationship but the marriage soon began to fall apart. Margaret resented her husband’s frequent work-related absences. She was forced to raise their sons on her own. What a change this must have been for the woman who was once described as “carefree”.
Her publicity didn’t come solely from her high-profile position, unfortunately. She made headlines when she smuggled drugs in her husband’s luggage, made scantily clad appearances at Studio 54 and ripped apart a tapestry in the Prime Minister’s official residence in Ottawa because it celebrated “reason over passion”.
The marriage disintegrated. This led to an affair with U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy. She associated with Ronnie Wood and Mick Jagger, members of the Rolling Stones. She suffered from stress and bouts of bipolar depression. In 1977, she separated from her husband. She became a jet-setter and gave many “tell-all” interviews to Canadian and American magazines. She even appeared in two motion pictures. Pierre Trudeau won custody of the children and did not pay spousal support. Margaret had a difficult time earning a learning after her marriage. She wrote Beyond Reason, a book about her marriage. On the eve of 1979 Pierre’s party lost the majority of seats in the House of Commons. At the same time, Margaret was at Studio 54 in New York. A photo of her was featured on many front pages across Canada.
The Trudeaus divorced in 1984. Not long after, Margaret married Fried Kemper, Ottawa real-estate developer. They had two children. Unlike her first marriage, Margaret was able to disappear from the public eye. In 1998, Margaret experienced a devastating tragedy. Michel, her youngest son with Pierre, was killed in an avalanche. This led to another major depressive episode which ended her second marriage.
In 2000, when Pierre died Margaret was at his bedside with their sons, Justin and Alexandre.
Just because our marriage ended didn’t mean the love stopped – Margaret speaking of Trudeau.
What is Margaret up these days? She is the honorary president of WaterAid Canada, an organization in Ottawa, dedicated to helping the poorest communities in developing countries to have access to safe water, improved hygiene and sanitation. She has written the book, The Time of Your Life: Choosing A Vibrant Joyful Future in which she offers insights into how women can live healthy, happy lives and provides stories about her own life..
Notes to Women would like to commend Margaret for the work she has been doing since she announced in 2006 that she had been suffering from bipolar disorder. Through speaking engagements across North America, she has advocated for reducing the social stigma of mental illness, particularly bipolar disorder. She is an honorary patron of the Canadian Mental Health Association. She wrote about her personal experience with bipolar disorder in Changing My Mind.
She now resides in Montreal so she can be closer to her sons Justin and Alexandre. She was there in person to celebrate Justin’s historic win with him. Margaret Trudeau is not just the wife of Pierre Trudeau or the mother of Justin Trudeau. She is the voice of those who suffer from mental illness. She is an inspiration for women who have battled and are battling mood swings. She has shown that with the right doctors and right treatment, women who suffer from mental illness can rebuild their lives.
If you or someone you know would like to learn more about bipolar disorder, visit this link.
World Water Day is Saturday, March 22, 2014. It is held annually on March 22nd to raise awareness of the importance of freshwater and the sustainable management of freshwater resources. Water is essential. People, animals, plants need it.
I live in a country where I have access to clean water. I can drink filtered water, bottled water or boiled water. When my five year old son is thirsty, I can give him filtered water from our fridge. I grew up in Guyana, South America and there were times when we had to draw water from the tap in the yard in order to bath but it had fluoride or chlorine to kill impurities. “The amount of chlorine is carefully measured to be the lowest possible amount needed to keep the water free of germs. In some places fluoride is also added. It has been found to help prevent tooth decay. Some natural water sources already contain fluoride so this step is not always included” (Water Purification, Guyana Water Incorporated).
Imagine living in a community where there is no clean water for you to drink, cook, wash or bath with. Your only two options are to die of thirst or to get sick or die from dirty water. These are the grim choices that men, women and children are forced to make in Asia. They don’t have the privilege we do of having clean tap water. As a result illnesses caused by dirty water kill more people each year than war and violence. One of nine people worldwide don’t have access to clean water and many of them live in South Asia.
Gospel for Asia has combated this problem of clean water by digging Jesus Wells and providing BioSand Water filters to people across South Asia who have no access to clean, fresh water. This simple act of providing wells for people who are starving for clean water that there is a Savior who loves them and wants them to be healthy and safe. Many are putting their trust and faith in Him.
It was this faith in Christ that brought upon Chandrabhan and his family intense persecution from their community. They were blocked from drawing water at the public well. This all began when Chandrabhan’s daughter decided that like her parents, she wanted to follow Christ much to her husband’s chagrin. Furious Nadir recruited religious fanatics to storm into his in-laws’ house to remove his infant son from his mother’s care. He had decided that he didn’t want his wife to return home with him after all. He just wanted their son.
The group of men who accompanied Nadir beat the family and demanded that they renounce Jesus Christ. Chandrabhan sustained a serious blow to the head as his son-in-law forcibly removed his son from the house. Nadir’s wife Laghuvi watched as the ambulance took her family away while the welfare of her son weighed heavily on her mind.
Chandrabhan came home with 12 stitches but his troubles were just beginning. When word spread in the village of what had happened, the victims became the villains. The villagers accused him and his wife of placing their religion above the well being of their daughter, Laghuvi who had filed for a divorce. Some wondered, “What is there in Jesus more than an son-in-law? Don’t they care about their daughter’s life?”
In spite of the persecution and their neighbors’ opinion that their actions were foolish and even cruel, Chandrabhan and his family continued to trust God. This led to friends cutting their ties, declaring, “If they don’t want to compromise with their daughter’s life, we will not have fellowship with them.” Through it all, the Friend who sticks closer than a brother was there for the family.
Not satisfied with isolating them, the community took their vendetta a step further by blocking them from the pubic well. If any family member approached, they were met with scolds. The closet place they could go to for water was at a school over half a mile away and they couldn’t draw enough for themselves and their livestock. This was their punishment for receiving the Living Water.
“And the LORD shall help them, and deliver them: he shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust in him” (Psalm 37:40). In the midst of this turmoil, the Holy Spirit impressed upon Chandrabhan’s heart to ask his pastor about getting a well that would be open to everyone. After the pastor talked this over with his leaders, a year later, a well was drilled behind Chandrabhan’s house.
The Jesus Well turned things around for this family who had suffered for their faith. They were no longer condemned by their community but appreciated and respected. The family welcome their neighbors to the well and more than 30 families use it regularly. And at the Jesus Well, over buckets of water, some people have come to know about Christ and His unfailing love just by talking to the man they once saw as a villain.
In the wake of persecution, isolation, condemnation, Chandrabhan and his family reflected the love of Christ which dwelt in their hearts by wanting to share their well with others. They shared their faith with those who had not yet received the Living Water. The Jesus Well not only restored the family’s reputation but it changed lives forever.
Sadly, Laghuvi still hasn’t seen her son or her ex-husband but the Lord has come through for her by blessing her with a new husband who shares her faith. With Jesus at the center of her life, she will experience indescribable joy.
Do you want to see God transform lives in hostile villages as He did in Chandrabhan’s village? You can by providing a Jesus Well to an entire community for $1,000. You can donate to Jesus Wells. People are thirsty. In the village of Chaitaly, a woman whose illness of 12 years baffled doctors, the local well was running low and the people were dying from dehydration and waterborne illnesses. They were desperately searching for a fresh source of water and rationing the little they could find. Read how the Lord brought healing to Chaitaly and miraculously provided clean water for these villagers. You can demonstrate the love of Christ through the Jesus Well so that not only will people draw water from the well but they will draw near to the One who provides it.
A Jesus Well provides pure water for an entire village full of thirsty people for only $1000. With clean water, the health of the people improves significantly. Through the provision of clean water, villagers are open to hearing about the God who loves them and provides for their needs.
Join Gospel for Asia in this wise investment of drilling a well for only $1000. Help the people of Asia who are living without clean water and dying from water related diseases. Help save children under five in the world from deaths caused by diarrhea. Save the women around the globe who spend millions of hours a day collecting water. You can make a difference. With your help, Gospel for Asia can continue to deliver clean, disease free water to families across South Asia. Help open people’s eyes to a God who has not forsaken them but is revealing His love, power and provision through Jesus Wells.