AN OLDER BROTHER………….I hope your older brother treated you well growing up.  Maybe you didn’t have one, I certainly didn’t–wish I did.  Someone recently listed some of the advantages of having an older brother, do you agree?

  1. He teaches you how to be patient.
  2. He shows you how to be tough.
  3. He introduces you to sports.
  4. He teaches you how to be competitive.
  5. He teaches you how to keep your emotions in check.
  6. He teaches you chivalry.
  7. He always protects you.
  8. He is there to help you financially.
  9. He teaches you to laugh at yourself and be silly.
  10. He is a shoulder to cry on.

Older brothers SHOULD act this way, but they don’t always.  Jesus relates the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15.  This parable is as much about the older brother as it is the prodigal (prodigal means wasteful) son.  The older brother SHOULD have celebrated when his younger brother returned, instead he was angry. Perhaps he felt slighted because of all of the extra chores that he had to do.  Perhaps he was angered by his father’s joyous reaction to his brother’s return.

The father says to the older brother, “You are always with me”.  In other words, the father was saying, “Be happy with our relationship and welcome your brother back!”

We are older brothers!  God has always been with us–how can we avoid bitterness and welcome those who have wandered away?  Be ready for some older brother conversation this Sunday as we discuss Jesus’ timeless parable.  Everyone needs a true older brother!

MEN’S BREAKFAST.………The men are meeting for breakfast this Saturday at 8:30 am in the fellowship hall.  This is a special time set aside to check in and sharpen one another in our walk with the Lord.  Be sure to contact Oscar if you plan on attending!

WE CARE…………This past Sunday, Bob Loewen, shared about the ministries of We Care.  We Care provides one-time financial assistance to residents of Benton County in emergency situations when no other help is available.  Peace is looking for one person who could be in intentional contact with We Care, better strengthening our on-going partnership.  The idea would be to simply attend We Care’s meetings two to four times a year and report back to the Peace family.  Let Pastor know if you are interested!

WIRED WORD…………Check out the subject below.  We will be discussing it for adult Sunday School.  We’ll begin as we always do at 9:45.  See you then!

In the News

Gemma Botelho, age 4, is alive, breathing on her own and able to speak to her parents.

That’s news, because, on December 17, in the ER of Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami, she went into cardiac arrest and nearly died because of the flu. In fact, after she flatlined, doctors and nurses performed CPR on her for 45 minutes. Finally, pediatric heart surgeon Dr. Robert Hannan performed a life-support operation, connecting Gemma to a machine to sustain her because her heart wasn’t functioning.

Fearing that she would need a heart transplant, a procedure not available at Nicklaus, the staff then had her helicoptered 250 miles to All Children’s Hospital Johns Hopkins Medicine in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Gemma’s parents knew about the flu vaccine, but hadn’t had Gemma or themselves inoculated. Gemma’s mother Lejla Szabo explained, “I thought the flu — you have a cough and cold and you stay home for two days. It didn’t cross my mind it could lead to something this serious.”

Gemma’s first flu symptoms appeared several days earlier and were so mild that with medication and rest, she recovered enough to participate in her school’s Christmas play. But two days later she became sick again — enough so that her parents, who first considered taking her to the pediatrician’s office, decided to take her to Nicklaus’ emergency room instead.

That decision saved Gemma’s life, for the doctor’s office would not have had the equipment to sustain Gemma when her heart stopped.

After being flown to All Children’s, Gemma had to stay on the machine, as her heart quivered but did not function. On the Sunday before Christmas, Gemma’s father, Alex Botelho, who is from Hungary, and her mother, who is from Brazil, asked for prayers on their daughter’s behalf at Catholic masses in their home countries, as well as from family and friends in Argentina, Italy, Miami and Boston.

That night, Gemma’s heart began beating on its own.

Two days later, her pediatric heart surgeon, Dr. Jeffrey Jacobs, decided it was doing well enough that he had the life support equipment disconnected. But he said he couldn’t explain why Gemma’s heart started again.

Gemma’s mom and dad attribute it to the excellent and timely care their daughter received at Nicklaus and All Children’s — and to the prayers.

The parents are now advocating flu shots for all children. “That feeling of losing your child right in front of you — I don’t want to feel that way again — or anyone else,” Szabo said. (EDITOR’S NOTE: We recognize that some people believe there is significant risk from the vaccine itself. Most medical research does not support this, however. Flu and pneumonia combined consistently rank among the top 10 causes of death in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The two illnesses together ranked eighth in 2011, the most recent year for which figures are available.)

As of this writing, Gemma is still hospitalized. But Dr. Jacobs said, “I think she’s going to make a great recovery. A month from now, this is going to be a little bump on the road.”

Dr. Hannan, the surgeon who put Gemma on life support at Nicklaus, agreed. “I’m so grateful for the care she received at All Children’s and the power of prayer and family,” he said.

More on this story can be found at these links:

Girl Awake After Nearly Deadly Flu Case. CNN 
Key Facts About Seasonal Flu Vaccine. CDC

Applying the News Story

Because there is not a ready medical explanation for why Gemma’s heart started beating again, her recovery may bring to mind the word “miracle” and the expression “answer to prayer.” We recognize that those who don’t believe miracles happen or prayers change anything can offer other explanations, ranging from “coincidence” to “limitation of current medical understandings.” It will probably be that way as long as humankind exists.

But, of course, that points us to the nature of faith. Faith is only faith when its subject cannot be objectively proven. And when objective proof is not available, belief is, ultimately, a choice.

In Gemma’s case, it seems beyond question that without medical intervention, she would have died. But there’s also room to recognize that in God’s providence, both medicine and prayer played significant roles in her recovery.

The Big Questions

  1. What do you think is the mainreason for Gemma’s recovery? Why? Has there been a similar healing in your circle of family or friends that defied medical explanation? How did you and yours define it?
  2. Do you think that Gemma would not have recovered if she’d received the same medical care but no one was praying for her? Why?
  3. Regardless of how you answered questions 1 and 2 regarding Gemma’s recovery, do you think miracles happen today? Why or why not?
  4. Are answers to prayer an essentialcomponent of a life lived with faith in Christ? Why or why not? To what extent do you think God expects us to be partners in healing?
  5. When we decline to take advantage of medical protection such as a flu shot, are we failing to cooperate with God’s present-day provisions for us? Why or why not? What medical procedures have you or yours refused? Why?