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Two amazing stories of resilience

Credit: ABC NewsThis morning's ABC News headline caught my eye: "Dog Swims Over 6 Miles to Reunite With Family After Falling Off Boat in Lake Michigan." The ten-month-old puppy fell overboard, swam to shore, then walked over twelve miles to a campground where she was reunited with her family the next day.

Now consider another story of resilience. Humans have long aspired to go to Mars, but six months of travel and life in claustrophobic conditions make the psychological part of the expedition as daunting as the physical. ICE environments (isolated, confined, and extreme) have long challenged explorers.

That's why six astronauts spent twelve months in isolation on a simulated Martian plain. The three-woman, three-man crew lived in a dome-shaped habitat on a lava plain on the flank of Mauna Loa in Hawaii. They worked in conditions as close to Martian as science could make them. And they proved that humans are often as resilient as we need to be.

To many Christians, our culture feels more Martian by the day. As a recent article noted, "Many conservative Christians just don't feel welcome in their own country. They say they are either mocked or erased in popular culture." One pastor asked, "When was the last time you saw an evangelical or conservative Christian character portrayed positively on TV?"

But God promises, "In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us" (Romans 8:37). Scripture enjoins us: "Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up" (Galatians 6:9).

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2 reasons why I disagree with Colin Kaepernick

Credit: Jack Dempsey via APSan Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is generating headlines with his refusal to stand during the national anthem at football games. He explained his decision to reporters: "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color."

He later added: "This is because I'm seeing things happen to people that don't have a voice, people that don't have a platform to talk and have their voices heard and effect change. So I'm in the position where I can do that and I'm going to do that for people that can't." Response from NFL players and fans has been as varied as you'd expect, some voicing support for his position and others protesting vehemently.

Let's begin with the obvious: Kaepernick has the right to stand or sit when the national anthem is played. He also has the right to express his views on our national challenges regarding racism, violence, and poverty. And it's tragically clear that America has not yet achieved the racial and economic equality we should all seek for our country.

However, I disagree with the way Kaepernick has expressed his convictions, for two reasons.

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Newborn baby rescued at sea

Credit: Emilio Morenatti via APThe front page of this morning's Wall Street Journal has a poignant photo: a woman is holding a newborn baby surrounded by life jackets and chaos on a ship. They are among more than 700 migrants rescued yesterday from seven boats in the Mediterranean Sea and transferred to the Italian coast guard.

CNN reports today on another harrowing escape over the weekend. Southwest Airlines Flight 3472, en route from New Orleans to Orlando, was diverted to Pensacola, Florida, after an engine exploded. "It was thanks to that pilot that we're all alive," a passenger said after the plane landed safely.

One more story of resilience: according to CNN, a couple was married yesterday amid the rubble of the deadly earthquake in Italy. They had planned to be married in the town church, but part of the building crumbled in the quake that killed at least 291 people. So they moved their wedding to the village square and made a memory the world is sharing today.

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ISIS martyr Kayla Mueller's amazing faith

Credit: Ross D. Franklin via AP"She was always considerate of others, even though she herself was in a very difficult situation. She was always concerned for other prisoners. She never stopped being concerned for the Syrian population living through just horrible things in this war and still are. She never stopped caring for others."

This is how a former ISIS hostage describes Kayla Mueller in a remarkable story on this morning's ABC News website. Four former hostages will tell about their shared ordeal on tonight's "20/20" broadcast.

We knew that Mueller was tortured and assaulted sexually by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of ISIS. But we are only now hearing remarkable accounts of her unfailing Christian commitment and character. Former hostages describe her sense of humor and unwavering faith. They testify that she defended her Christian commitment to "Jihadi John," the infamous ISIS executioner, and inspired them all with her courage.

At one point she refused a chance to escape so that some teenage girls with her would have a better chance at freedom. "I am an American. If I escape with you, they will do everything to find us again," she explained. One girl who escaped said Mueller "was praying for us to escape, to survive. I will never forget this sacrifice. She was very good to us. I will never forget."

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The most powerful way to unclutter your life

"When you have peace and quiet and you're not concerned with people trying to get your attention, you're dramatically more effective and can get important work done." This is how psychologist Josh Davis describes the advantages of starting your day at 4 a.m. He notes that people booby-trap their offices with distractions: desk clutter, email pop-ups, cellphone, Facebook, other social media. However, "by waking up at 4 a.m., they've essentially wiped a lot of those distractions off their plate."

You may not decide to get up at 4 a.m. tomorrow, but you can still choose to live a less cluttered life. Here's how.

God's word teaches us to "take every thought captive to obey Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5). One way to do this is to cultivate a soul that listens to God. David testified, "For God alone my soul waits in silence" (Psalm 62:1). As a result, he could say, "Once God has spoken; twice I have heard this: that power belongs to God, and to you, O Lord, belongs steadfast love" (vs. 11–12).

"God said" appears forty-six times in the Bible. We find this statement first in the third verse of the Bible (Genesis 1:3). The next-to-last verse of Scripture also quotes a direct statement of God (Revelation 22:20). Since neither human nor divine nature have changed, does it seem reasonable that the God who spoke so often in the biblical era would be silent today?

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