5 Year Old Dies After Being Forced to Drink Liters of Soda and Water; Parents Charged With Murder BY SAMI K. MARTIN , CHRISTIAN POST REPORTER

A 5-year-old girl is dead after drinking 2 liters of grape soda and an unknown amount of water in a two-hour time frame. Her parents have been formally charged with first-degree murder, two counts of aggravated child neglect, and aggravated child abuse, given that the excessive fluid was an extreme punishment for “stealing” the mother’s drink.

Randall Lee and Mary Lavonne Vaughn forced 5-year-old Alexa Linboom to drink a great deal of soda and water after she reportedly took some of Mary Lavonne’s soda.

“They also failed to take care of the child once she was injured,” Tennessee Attorney General Berkeley Bell told the Times-News. “Our position is it was a matter of several hours after the child started exhibiting serious symptoms, after the child was screaming out in pain, went into a paralyzed state, and became unconscious.”

They finally brought the girl to the Hawkins County Memorial Hospital after Alexa went unconscious. By that time, there was very little that doctors could do. She died two days after the incident, and an autopsy determined that the official cause of death was acute fluid intoxication causing hyonatremic encephalopathy.

“Allegedly the child, as a form of punishment, was forced to drink grape drinks, as well as a great deal of water, to the point that her body became water intoxicated. That led to her brain swelling and all of her systems shutting down, and to her eventual brain death. The punishment was allegedly for stealing a grape drink. I don’t know how much liquid she drank, but there was 4.5 12-ounce drinks plus water in-between,” Bell added.

So far the attorney has not said whether he will seek the death penalty for the Vaughns. They are currently being held on $500,000 bond each and are scheduled to appear in court today.

“They treated this child so cruelly that it caused the child to die,” Bell said. “I don’t know if their intent was to kill the child, but their intent certainly was to harm the child.”


Does God Expect Me to Be Perfect? BY DAN DELZELL, SPECIAL TO CP

Nobody is perfect. So why even try to be? It is a hopeless pursuit, right? Yes and no. Here are a few thoughts about perfection which might surprise you, or at least give you a new perspective on yourself and God.

God is the ultimate “perfectionist.” Until you understand that fact, you might not see the beauty of the Gospel message, as well as the beauty of God’s perfect Law.

When we think of a perfectionist, we imagine someone who is so obsessed with perfection that he micromanages other people and every situation. Such a person obviously misses the big picture in life. God approaches it differently. God never misses the big picture, and He has given us the free will to manage our own thought life and our own decisions.

God’s Law is perfect. And His standards are completely righteous. So what is God to do with man, who comes along and brings his imperfections into the equation? How is God supposed to respond to these flaws in man?

God responds the only way a perfect and holy God can respond. He addresses man’s imperfections in a manner which is perfect in justice. This calls for punishment. Otherwise, God would not be perfect. He would condone imperfection. This would make God far less than perfect.

Here is where Jesus comes into the picture. He literally bore the punishment you and I deserve to pay. (see Isaiah 53:5) That is what the cross accomplished. But there was more than justice going on at the cross. There was also deep and abiding love. (see John 3:16) The righteous One taking the punishment of the imperfect ones. Love and justice. Mercy and punishment. Sin and grace. The innocent Lamb being sacrificed on the “altar” of the cross

In order to get into God’s family, not to mention heaven as well, one must indeed be perfect in God’s eyes. This can only happen by having God look at you through the “lens of Jesus” so to speak. This occurs when a person trusts Jesus as Savior. When you accept the fact that Jesus bore the sentence you deserve to be given, your sin is completely washed away. Without that washing away of sin, no one is even close to perfect in God’s eyes.

So are you completely perfect in the Father’s eyes today, or completely sinful? Those are the only two options.

But then we move into the Christian life, and this question comes up again. “Does God expect me as a Christian to live perfectly?” The Word of God tells believers, “Aim for perfection.” (2 Cor. 13:11) So how in the world am I supposed to do that without becoming a perfectionist, and without constantly getting weighed down with guilt and feelings of inadequacy?

The only way to properly “aim for perfection” as a Christian is to forget about yourself. It’s not about you. When you fall short, which you will, simply recognize that you are not perfect but God still loves you just the same. His love for you is not based on your performance. Instead, His unconditional love for you was demonstrated in the death of His Son. This transformational truth can liberate your heart, soul and mind to “aim for perfection” without “beating yourself up” every time you miss the mark. The Christian life is not about criticizing yourself or praising yourself. Both of those distractions will mess with your mind and upset your peace in Christ.

Aiming for perfection involves keeping our eyes on Jesus, and remaining under the constant waterfall of God’s grace. As we continually flow in the love which He has for us, we are motivated to “aim high” and to “find out what pleases the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:10) That’s what you do when you love someone. You want to do things which please that person. The more we love Christ, the higher we will aim.

Likewise, the more I love myself, the harder it will be for me to “aim high.” Self-love is a major threat to holy living. It is only love for Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit which sets us free to aim high, while also pressing on even when we have failed to be all that we can be for our Lord.

So does God expect me to be perfect? Or is God willing to “lower the bar” in my case, especially since He already knows how difficult it is for me to live at a high level of Christian discipleship? Here is what God knows. None of us have an ounce of power on our own to “be like Jesus.” It is only “Jesus in us” which produces a Christlike life. This begins to happen the moment a person is converted. “Self” gets dethroned. Jesus becomes the King of your heart and life. And His attributes begin to show up in your life.

“But I am not perfect. And I never will be.” True. So you might as well embrace that fact as you celebrate the good news that the perfect One died for you and even lives in you. That is, if you have received Christ as your Savior. Well, have you? Or are you still living under the delusion that you are good enough on your own merits to get into God’s family, and even into heaven? That is the biggest lie Satan ever told, and millions of people still buy it hook, line and sinker.

In contrast, God has never told a lie. His words are always perfect. So is it possible as a Christian to “aim for perfection” without becoming a perfectionist? Not only is it possible, but there are actually millions of believers “livin’ the dream” right now. That is to say, they are not only “at peace with God,” (see Romans 5:1) but they are also at peace in knowing their “high aim” is not the basis of God’s acceptance of them.

Instead, they aim high because they are flowing in a mighty stream of God’s living water. They are compelled to aim high by the power of God. And if you have not yet experienced the power of that mighty river, you can begin asking God everyday to keep you not only “in the know,” but also “in the flow.”

Why do you think a former persecutor of Christians like the apostle Paul would constantly aim so high in his Christian life? It wasn’t because of a renewed self-image. Nor was it because he was guilt-driven. Just the opposite. Paul was compelled by God’s love for him in the Person of Jesus Christ. The sacrifice Jesus made for us on the cross is what led Paul to do everything possible for Christ. It was love, pure and simple. And as long as we don’t complicate it with our human tendency to prop up “self,” we just might discover the secret which the apostle Paul learned from experience.

Paul wrote, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.” (Philippians 4:12) And every time Paul fell short, (see Romans 7:14-25) he nevertheless pressed on. Paul wasn’t bogged down by a self-induced pressure to maintain a healthy self-image. For Paul, it was all about Christ. He wrote, “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal.” (Phil. 3: 13,14) This is how Paul continually aimed high and kept his eye on the prize. It was God’s grace in Paul’s life which spurred on this holy pursuit.

Many Christians over the centuries have learned Paul’s “secret.” Would you like to learn it as well? This is a new day for you believer. This is a new moment. So go for it.

Jesus sure went for it. And the Perfect One inspires His imperfect followers to “find out what pleases the Lord.” (Eph. 5:10)


Atheist pilot mocked God, until he ran out of fuel in a snowstorm By Mark Ellis

Mark standing next to his planeRaised in the secular Seventies, completely un-churched, he had no room for God until he ran out of fuel in an Alaskan storm, miles from his destination.

“I was a God mocker,” says Mark Rose, founder of Genesis Alive, and the author ofLast of the Long Hunters, a story of the pilots who fly the Alaskan Arctic.


Rose learned to fly at 16, and by age 22 had become a bush pilot who helped to take care of a fleet of helicopters that worked on the Alaska pipeline. “My ego meter was on 101,” he admits.

One day he flew some hunters to the upper part of a large river on the Arctic. But on his return flight, carrying one passenger, several things went wrong. First, herds of caribou had moved in, covering his first and second choices for a landing spot. Then he began to run low on fuel, so he called ahead for a weather check at the small airport near Kotzebue, on the Baldwin Peninsula.

“Come on in, the weather’s fine,” the FAA flight service operator told him.

Kotzebue from the air

Kotzebue from the air

He decided to take the chance his fuel would hold out, but then weather conditions changed dramatically. “I ran into a snowstorm at night, and I couldn’t see the terrain, so I had to follow the gray ribbon of river below.” In the days before satellite weather imaging, the man had given him bad advice.

“All my options were evaporating as fast as I could fly.”

Rose had several friends – fellow pilots – who perished in similar flying conditions. There must be a way out, he thought. I don’t want to die at 22I won’t get to experience marriage…

He had been flying on empty for 30 minutes. Then the engine started missing. “I was just waiting for silence and to have to crash at night.”

His mind turned to his very last option – God. Rose had never prayed before, but in desperation, he lifted up a silent prayer. If there is a God, I need your help now.

Then a voice spoke to him that was crystal clear. Son, you said the right thing. After he heard the voiceRose also experienced the sensation of “a light bulb” that came on in his mind.

Immediately after his prayer, the plane popped out of the snowstorm! “Before me were the beautiful lights of Kotzebue – it might as well have been the lights of heaven,” he recalls.

There was only one problem – he still had to fly another 20 miles over the Kotzebue Sound, a broad expanse of salt water north of the Bering Sea.

“That was a breath-holder,” he says. When he landed safely at Kotzebue Airport, his humanist worldview collapsed. There was no earthly reason his plane should have traveled such a distance with no fuel.

Rose believes God added an hour of fuel to his tanks to save his life. “When I landed I was a different boy. I was not a Christian, but I was a believer in God.”

He thought about his grandmother, the only Christian in his family. So gramma was right; there is something out there, he thought.

Rose started to date a Christian woman who challenged him to read the Bible for the first time. As he read the pages of Scripture, something surprising happened. “I fell in love with the God of the Bible – his reasonableness, his forgiveness, his justice,” he recounts.

But his stubborn heart was still not ready to make Jesus his Savior and Lord.

Then he had another brush with death in a helicopter that crashed, which completely flattened the seat he rode in.

About the same time, he missed a flight with some of the lead contractors for the Alaskan pipeline due to a

Rose with helicopter

Rose with helicopter

schedule conflict. Shortly after the plane took off, it crashed, killing everyone aboard.

Later, on a flight to Fairbanks on a bush aircraft, he began to reflect on his life. I’m not happy. This whole thing is not working, he admitted to himself.

Everything I read in the Bible is either a lie or its true. It’s all or nothing. From reading the Bible I understand God is my creator. If Jesus can raise someone from the dead and forgive my sins, that’s exactly what God has for me.

At that moment, Rose surrendered his life to Jesus Christ. “When I landed in Fairbanks I was a different boy, once again.”



Genesis 41:1-36

Seven fat cows

Joseph had been in prison for a long time when the king of Egypt had a dream. The king dreamed he was standing at the Nile River when he saw seven thin cows eat up seven fat cows; but the thin cows stayed thin.

When the king woke up, he remembered the dream and called his wise men and magicians, hoping that they could explain the dream to him. But no one could!

One of the king’s servants, who had been in prison with Joseph, remembered that Joseph had told him the meaning of his dream. He told the king about Joseph. So the king sent for him.

Joseph said to the king, “I cannot tell you the meaning of your dream, but God can. This is what it means. There will be seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine. You must store up food during the seven good years so that you will have enough during the seven years of famine.”

Will God give me the right words to say?

Do you think Joseph was nervous when he stood in front of the king? What if he couldn’t figure out the king’s dream either? Thoughts of staying in prison for life, or even being killed, wouldn’t be helpful when everyone’s eyes were on him.

But Joseph remembered how—through a dream—God had showed him what would happen in his life. He told the king that God alone could give him the meaning of his dream, and God did!

If you honor God as Joseph did, He will also give you the right words to say as you trust Him to guide your thoughts.

Verse for today

“Do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say” Luke 12:11b-12.


A Wife For Isaac

A Wife for Isaac

(Genesis 24)

Abraham was a rich man.

God blessed Abraham in every way. He blessed him with great herds of sheep and cattle, camels and donkeys; tents filled with treasures of silver and gold, and servants to take care of it all.

But it wasn’t all that stuff that made Abraham rich.

Abraham knew that everything he had was a blessing from God.

When Abraham woke up each morning, he remembered that God was with him, and that God loved him so much.

That’s what made Abraham truly rich.

What a blessing it is to know that God loves you!

But Abraham was getting old.

His son Isaac was getting older too. And so one day Abraham sent for his most trusted servant.

“Make an oath with me,” Abraham said to his servant, “Promise me that you will find a wife for my son Isaac. But you must not find her here. Promise me that you will go to the land where I was born and find a wife for my son Isaac there.”

But Abraham’s servant said, “What if she won’t come with me? Shall I take Isaac back to live with her there?”

“No,” Abraham said, “God brought me from my father’s house and gave me this land. God will send his angel to help you find a wife for Isaac from among our people, but you must not take my son Isaac back there.”

And so Abraham’s servant took ten camels and piled them high with treasures from Abraham’s house. When all was ready he took his men and set out for the land where Abraham was born.

It was getting towards evening when he came to the town of Nahor.

There was a well outside the town, and Abraham’s servant made his camels kneel there, beside the well.

Then he prayed, “God of my master Abraham, be kind to my master today! Help me find a wife for his son Isaac. Look, the daughters of the townspeople are coming to get water. I will ask one of them for a drink. If she says, ‘Please, drink, and I will water your camels too,’ then I will know that she is the one you have chosen.”

Before he had even finished praying, Rebekah came out to the well with a large clay jar on her shoulder. She was very beautiful.

Rebekah went down to the spring and filled her jar with water.

Abraham’s servant hurried to meet her. He said to her, “Please give me a little water from your jar.”

“Drink, my lord,” Rebekah said, and quickly she lowered the jar to her hands and gave him a drink.

And then she said, “I will draw water for your camels too.” So she quickly emptied her jar into the trough, ran back to the well to draw more water, and drew enough for all his camels. Abraham’s servant watched her without saying a word.

Was this the one God had chosen to be Isaac’s wife?

When the camels had finished drinking, Abraham’s servant asked, “Whose daughter are you? Please tell me, is there room in your father’s house for us to spend the night?”

Rebekah answered, “I am the daughter of Bethuel, the son of Nahor.” Nahor was Abraham’s brother! She was one of Abraham’s own people, just as Abraham had asked. “We have plenty of straw and fodder, as well as room for you to spend the night,” she said.

Abraham’s servant bowed down to the ground and worshiped the LORD. “Praise be to the LORD, the God of my master Abraham! He has smiled on my servant Abraham this day. He has guided me on my journey and led me to the house of my master’s relatives.”

And then he gave Rebekah heavy gold bracelets for her arms and a golden ring for her nose.

Rebekah ran back to her mother’s house.

When Rebekah’s brother Laban heard Rebekah’s story, and saw the gold ring and the golden bracelets, he ran out to the stranger at the well.

“Why are you waiting out here!” Laban said. “Come to my father’s house, you who are blessed by the Lord! I have prepared a place for you, and for your camels too.”

The camels were unloaded and straw was brought for them to eat. Laban brought water for Abraham’ servant and his men to wash their feet. And then he brought a delicious meal and set it before them.

“I cannot eat until I tell you why I am here.” Abraham’s servant said.

“Please, tell us,” Laban said.

Abraham’s servant told Laban and his family the whole story.

“Before I finished praying in my heart, Rebekah came out, with her jar on her shoulder. She gave me water to drink, just as I had prayed. So, please, tell me, is she the one for my master’s son Isaac?”

Rebekah’s father answered, “This is from the LORD! Here is my daughter; take her with you, and let her become the wife of your master’s son.”

When Abraham’s servant heard this, he bowed down to the ground before the LORD. Then he brought out more gold and silver jewelry and other costly gifts and gave them to Rebekah. And he gave treasures to her brother and to her mother also.

The next morning Rebekah’s father asked her, “Will you go with this man?”

“I will go,” she said.

And so they sent Rebekah on her way. They blessed her and said to her,

“Our sister, may you increase
to thousands upon thousands;
may your offspring possess
the gates of their enemies.” 

One evening some time later, Isaac was out in the field meditating when he heard the sound of camels approaching.

He looked up. At that moment Rebekah also looked up, and their eyes met.

“Who is that man in the field coming to meet us?” Rebekah asked Abraham’s servant.

“He is my master,” the servant answered.

Isaac ran up to the travelers, and Abraham’s servant told him all that had happened.

Isaac took Rebekah by the hand, and soon after she became his wife.

God had brought the two together, and they loved each other deeply.


Are True Christians Persecuted in America?

You better believe it!

Sure, if you only equate persecution with those who are burned alive inside churches like Islamists do to Christians in Nigeria, then we are not.

If you mean persecution only applies to those who are beheaded with a dull-edge sword as Islamists do to Christians in Syria, then again, no.

If you mean it is only about crucifying people alive as Islamists do to Christians in Pakistan and elsewhere, then that doesn’t apply either.

The subtler persecution of Christians in America, which began mildly with the media mocking Jimmy Carter’s “born again” claim, has escalated rapidly in the last five years.

If Christians in a social gathering, or on the Piers Morgan show, say they believe that Jesus is the only Savior and Lord, they will incite the most venomous verbal attack. If Christians speak out against Islamism or the celebration of homosexuality, they will be attacked with labels such as “Islamophobe” or “homophobe”—words manufactured by two groups that would normally hate each other, but join forces for the purposes of eliminating the true Christian point of view.

Our nation once rejoiced to send loving Christian missionaries to alleviate suffering and bring the good news of the Gospel to a world filled with darkness and unbelief. Now, our leaders refuse to condemn the genocide taking place against Christians around the world, while condemning nations for enacting moral laws against the act of homosexuality.

A nation once admired for the peaceful missions of its Peace Corps, now exports the most violent and immoral movies—so much so that America is now synonymous with violence, pornography, and immorality in general.

America once stood up for the suffering and persecuted. Today, however, if you ask any non-Islamist Egyptian (most of the country), they will tell you that the Obama Administration would rather side with terrorists than true freedom-loving citizens.

How could this have happened to a great nation in such a short period of time?

I have communicated with thousands of Twitter and Facebook followers about this, as well as with others in face-to-face settings. It is safe to say that committed and nominal Christians alike are bewildered.

People who have not been involved in politics are becoming more politically-minded, wanting to ensure through future elections that we choose leaders who share America’s founding values.

And many who are spiritually inclined are beginning to focus their prayers on America—that God may save her from a path that leads to an inevitable abyss.

Either way, we know something is drastically wrong. And as some believe, it may take a major crisis to return us from the consequences of such political and social arrogance. In that way, we may be humbled enough to repent and return to God.


Everyday Christians by Kimberly Coyle

So then, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you may do, do all for the honor and glory of God.

When you grow up as the child of a pastor, there’s a certain expectation you will either become wild and wicked, landing yourself on the church prayer list every week, or you will follow in your parent’s footsteps and do something “extremely important” for God. I grew up and chose to do neither.

My parents suggested, in a heartfelt and slightly misguided attempt at career counseling, that I consider nursing. Because I was young and insecure in my natural gifts, I took their advice on the basis that if I didn’t work directly for God, perhaps I might help heal people.

During my nursing years, I attended a church where the pastor often spoke about “Sunday Christians.” He encouraged us to live for Jesus every day of the week, not just the one day we showed up at the church doors. Each time he said this, I sat in the congregation feeling smug. Every day, my job as a nurse gave me obvious opportunities to act like a Christian. I obeyed God’s word when I gave out a cup of water or a pill or a bedpan in Jesus’ name. I thought I had the pattern for Christian living cut out and stitched up. However, beneath the perfunctory tasks, I disliked my job. I complained about most of my patients, and counted the minutes until I scrubbed every remnant of my shift from my mind and body.

While nursing felt like holy work in many ways, after six years and seven job changes, I finally admitted it didn’t fit the shape of my soul. Relief flooded through me, when my husband agreed I should quit my job to stay home and care for our daughter. I learned early on that parenting a toddler felt far less holy and impactful, and a lot more like repetition and hard work. I struggled to see how my everyday work of running a home and caring for a little person prone to sleepless nights and toddler tantrums impacted God’s Kingdom.

It’s in 1 Corinthians 10:31, that my pastor helped me see the truth. In these words, I discovered my job title doesn’t matter. God doesn’t show any more concern and care for the missionary or pastor than He does for the car mechanic or the businessman or the piano teacher down the street. Honoring God with our daily work begins with the state of our heart, which in turn trickles down to inform the actions of our hands and feet.

Whether I changed diapers on big people or little ones, whether I administered pills or hugs, whether I wrote nursing notes or blog posts, if I did them with great love and right motives, I brought honor to God. Regardless of your current job title, every day this week, you too have the opportunity to eat, to drink, to work, to love—all for God’s glory.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Do you live like a “Sunday Christian”? Do you question the impact your job has on God’s Kingdom? Are you frustrated by the “ordinary” work of your everyday life? How can you view your daily work as an opportunity to honor God? How can our churches support us in our Monday through Friday roles?

PRAYER: Dear Lord, thank you for giving each of us the opportunity to serve you in myriad ways. Thank you for the gift of another day in which we have the opportunity to glorify You. Let the work of our hands and our hearts be pleasing to you. Lead us by Your Spirit, giving us eyes to see how You are working in our every day. Amen.