VIDEO The quiet hero of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’

As we approach the 71st anniversary of Frank Capra’s perennial Christmas classic “It’s A Wonderful Life,” I think it’s time to reexamine the film’s heroes. The result might surprise you.

As a child, I assumed the hero was Jimmy Stewart’s wholesome hometown character, George Bailey. The American Film Institute agreed, listing George as the ninth greatest screen hero of all time. After all, the whole point of the movie is to show us what life in Bedford Falls would be like without George.

We quickly discover it would be pretty grim – a dark and foreboding shantytown owned by an evil millionaire named Henry F. Potter, a miserly character played perfectly by Lionel Barrymore. The film revolves around George, the congenial and affable everyman who bravely stands up to Mr. Potter’s greed. The hero had to be George, or so I thought.

In my teens and twenties, when my faith became my own and I began studying more closely the mysterious and spiritual side of life, I thought the hero had to be Henry Travers’ character, Clarence Odbody, Angel Second Class.

When George, stressed over the missing $8,000 now owed to Mr. Potter, rages red-hot and hurls insults in every direction on Christmas Eve, it’s Mary who keeps her cool.

It’s Clarence who saves George – so that George can continue to help save everybody else. Though theologically questionable, the thought of a guardian angel is comforting. Plus, it’s Christmas and angels play a significant part in the Yuletide story. For years, Clarence had my vote.

But now that I’m in my forties, and as a husband and father, I’ve come to realize that the biggest hero of the movie isn’t George or Clarence.

The biggest hero is actually a heroine, Mary Hatch Bailey, played by Donna Reed. She’s George’s poised and unflappable wife and the mother of their four children, Janie, Pete, Tommy and Zuzu.

Here’s why:

Mary is patient:  George and Mary are about to head off on their honeymoon just as there’s a run on the Bailey Building and Loan. George abruptly cancels the romantic trip to New York City and Bermuda, instead spending their savings to keep the business solvent. His bride doesn’t complain. She pledged to be his wife for “richer or poorer” – and Mary quickly keeps her sacred vow.

Mary is long-suffering: The newlywed couple moves into a dilapidated and drafty old house. Does Mary want more? She never lets on but instead gets to work making the rickety house a home. Later, when George foregoes a big payout by declining an offer to sell the business to Mr. Potter, Mary doesn’t criticize her husband’s idealism. Instead, Mary throws herself into the care and nurturing of the children. She’s content.

Mary is responsible:   With World War II raging and her husband deferred from military service due to his poor hearing, Mary eagerly volunteers to do her part for the country. Despite being a busy mother of four, we see Mary running a local branch of the USO.

Mary is a woman of prayer: When George, stressed over the missing $8,000 now owed to Mr. Potter, rages red-hot and hurls insults in every direction on Christmas Eve, it’s Mary who keeps her cool. After George storms out of the house, Mary urges the children to pray for their father. She prays, too, and she also gets to work.

Mary is a woman of quiet action: It would be easy to sulk and sour in the midst of the family’s traumatic day, but after urging the children to pray, Mary immediately picks up the phone and rallies the help of their family and friends. When George returns with a new and improved outlook, Mary doesn’t lace into him or even question where he’s been. “You have no idea what happened to me!” George cries. To which a smiling Mary, about to welcome in an adoring and jubilant crowd of friends, responds, “You have no idea what’s happened.”

At a time in history when popular culture is being reminded again about the importance of respecting women, the many positive attributes of Donna Reed’s seven-decades-old character affirm anew what William Ross Wallace first wrote in 1865: “The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.”

Heroism manifests itself in many forms in the overlooked or understated people of this world, most especially spouses who sit outside the spotlight and mothers who sacrifice on a daily basis for their children.

Christmas is a wonderful time to remember that greatness often comes quietly, as it did in the form of a helpless baby to another quiet woman named Mary.

Paul J. Batura is vice-president of communications at Focus on the Family. His latest book is, Chosen For Greatness: How Adoption Changes the World (Regnery Faith, 2016). He can be reached at


By Paul J. Batura

What on Earth?

My God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19

When Andrew Cheatle lost his cell phone at the beach, he thought it was gone forever. About a week later, however, fisherman Glen Kerley called him. He had pulled Cheatle’s phone, still functional after it dried, out of a 25-pound cod.

Life is full of odd stories, and we find more than a few of them in the Bible. One day tax collectors came to Peter demanding to know, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?” (Matt. 17:24). Jesus turned the situation into a teaching moment. He wanted Peter to understand His role as king. Taxes weren’t collected from the children of the king, and the Lord made it clear that neither He nor His children owed any temple tax (vv. 25–26).

Lord, thank you that You provide everything we need.

Yet Jesus wanted to be careful not to “cause offense” (v. 27), so He told Peter to go fishing. (This is the odd part of the story.) Peter found a coin in the mouth of the first fish he caught.

What on earth is Jesus doing here? A better question is, “What in God’s kingdom is Jesus doing?” He is the rightful King—even when many do not recognize Him as such. When we accept His role as Lord in our lives, we become His children.

Life will still throw its various demands at us, but Jesus will provide for us. As former pastor David Pompo put it, “When we’re fishing for our Father, we can depend on Him for all we need.”

Lord, teach us to bask in the wonderful realization that You provide everything we need.

We are children of the King!

By Tim Gustafson 


People in Jesus’s day worried over the basic necessities of food, clothing, and shelter just as we do. But Jesus assures us of God’s care and provision by pointing us to His constant providential care for all the earth. Because we are more precious to God than all of creation (Matt. 6:25–30), Jesus reminds us, “Do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ . . . Your heavenly Father knows that you need [these things]” (vv. 31–32). Because we have a heavenly Father who loves and cares for us deeply, we can ask Him to give us what we need (7:9–11; 1 Peter 5:7). Paul encourages us to replace our anxieties with expectant trust and grateful prayer. The peace of God is the inner calm or tranquility that comes from a confident trust in God who hears our cries (Phil. 4:6–7).

In what ways has God provided for you this week?

Sim Kay Tee

What’s Jesus Doing Now?

Hebrews 1:1-3

The New Testament tells us what Jesus did while He was on earth, but what is He doing now that He has ascended to the Father in heaven? His physical absence does not mean that He has abandoned us. Though we cannot presently see Him, His Word assures us that He is always acting on our behalf, to empower, lead, and complete us.

He gives us abundant life (John 10:10). Christ enables us to live with peace and joy as well as the strength and determination to persist in accomplishing whatever He calls us to do.

The Lord makes intercession for us (Rom. 8:34). Jesus hears our every prayer and is seated at His Father’s right hand, presenting our requests to Him.

Christ reveals the Father (Col. 1:15). Through the Son, we understand that God is our loving heavenly Father, who is personally interested in every aspect of our life. Scripture invites us to follow Jesus’ example of ongoing intimate conversation with God.

He’s preparing a place for us (John 14:2-3). One day He will come to take us home to heaven so we can be with Him forever

The Lord Jesus is also preparing for His return (Revelation 11:15). Christ will come back to rule and reign on earth as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

“Out of sight, out of mind” is definitely not a phrase that describes Christ’s relationship with us. He never forgets us and is continually working to complete His plans for believers’ lives as well as for the entire world. His constant care should motivate us to make sure that He’s not out of our sight and mind.

Never Ashamed

“For the Scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.” (Romans 10:11)

Just where does the Scripture say this? Paul is apparently quoting here from Isaiah 28:16, which is the following: “Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.”

The question is: Why did Paul change the Hebrew word for “make haste” to the Greek word for “be ashamed”? He did the same thing in Romans 9:33. “As it is written, Behold, I lay in Zion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed.” This verse makes the question even more involved because here Paul combines the quote with Isaiah 8:14: “And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence.” Note also 1 Peter 2:6-8, which combines both verses with Psalm 118:22: “The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.”

The Greek Septuagint translation apparently rendered “make haste” (which is the correct meaning of the Hebrew word, as confirmed by all its other uses in the Old Testament) by a Greek word meaning something like “put to shame.” More importantly, however, these passages illustrate the truth that the Holy Spirit (the real Author of the Bible) has a perfect right to interpret His writing however He will. And He interpreted “make haste” to mean “be ashamed.”

That is, when we believe on Christ, we never need to flee in haste from His enemies, for we can never be put to shame when anchored on this sure foundation. As the Lord said in another passage: “They shall not be ashamed that wait for me” (Isaiah 49:23). HMM

Unite my heart to fear Thy name

Hosea 10

Hosea 10:1

If all that we do is for ourselves and to serve our sins, we are worse than fruitless, yet many very active and busy persons deserve no better description. They work for self, and toil for sin.

Hosea 10:2, 3

For a time Israel had no king. Jeroboam the Second was dead, and his son was kept from the throne by civil strife. A king was necessary to keep the land in order, but without God the best human arrangements are useless.

Hosea 10:4

They made a covenant with Shalmaneser in the days of king Hoshea, and broke it basely; their justice was no better than a poisonous weed, it was rank villainy.

Hosea 10:5

The inhabitants of Samaria shall fear because of the calves of Beth-aven:

or the cow-calf of the house of vanity, a contemptuous description of the calf of Bethel:

Hosea 10:6

king Jareb or the strifeful king

Hosea 10:7

He floated aloft like a bubble, and was destroyed as readily.

Hosea 10:8

The mountains which they selected for their confidence shall be called upon by themselves to overwhelm them, and hide them from the armies of the terrible king of Assyria.

Hosea 10:9

Once they fought for God against Benjamin, but from that day and onward they had been found upon the side of evil. On which side are we?

Hosea 10:10

Though they unite like two oxen which tread the furrows, when yoked together, they shall be unable to escape.

Hosea 10:11

to ride or to carry. They had been luxuriously employed like oxen in treading out the corn, but a yoke shall be put upon them, and they shall be burdened

Hosea 10:13, 14

Shalman or Shalmaneser

Hosea 10:13, 14

The fierce Assyrian king appears to have made a terrible example of a certain city, and in such a manner would he deal with all the land of Israel if they continued in their sin.

Hosea 10:15

Speedily would their idolatrous calf be the ruin both of themselves and their king. All this was fulfilled when the Assyrian devastated the land, carried away their king, Hoshea, imprisoned him till he died, and put a final end to the very existence of the kingdom of the ten tribes. Thus will the Lord deal out justice to those who sin against him; let us cry to him for mercy, and turn from every evil way.


The Power of Teamwork

1 Corinthians 12:12

Although it may be possible to run a church, business, or organization single-handedly, it is certainly not the most efficient or effective method of operation. Nevertheless, countless people have tried to do so with minimal success. Inevitably, however, these same people eventually get so tired that they just can’t run the whole show anymore. After a while, even the most stalwart become weary of carrying never-ending responsibility alone.

Doing things alone is a course of action that guarantees your venture will never be large. You may do a top-quality job that touches a very small market, but your lack of a team limits your ability to touch very many people at one time. You can run the operation single-handedly on a small scale, but you won’t be able to build a larger church, business, or organization without the manpower needed to touch and serve many people. The philosophy of doing it all single-handedly limits the growth of any organization—not to mention the fact that it can physically wear you out and make you old at an early age!

In First Corinthians 12:12, the apostle Paul compared the Church to the human body, with different parts that are equipped to perform different functions. He says, “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.”

Paul uses the word “many” to describe the various parts of the body. This word is translated from the Greek word polus, which describes a huge quantity. But the word polus not only accentuates the fact that there are many members; it also presents the idea that there is great variety among the members.

I like how The Message Bible says it:

You can easily enough see how this kind of thing works by looking no further than your own body. Your body has many parts—limbs, organs, cells—but no matter how many parts you can name, you’re still one body. It is exactly the same with Christ. By means of his one Spirit, we all said goodbye to our partial and piecemeal lives. We each used to independently call our own shots, but then we entered into a large and integrated life in which he has the final say in everything.

As believers, we must say goodbye to our old, independent way of thinking and learn how to be integrated into a greater whole. We need each other, for without each other’s input and gifts, we are incomplete.

When God’s people come together as a team to achieve a common goal, their unified effort brings divine power and world-transforming moves of God to the earth! Doctrine, culture, language, and creeds will never bring unity to the Church. But when we become single-focused, working together as a team to win the world to Jesus Christ, that is when genuine unity will come to the Church. And unity is such a powerful force!

For some, unity is a vague, dream-like wish for a day when Christians sweetly smile at each other and sing in harmony; disagreements are resolved and eliminated; and we all say, think, and do the same identical things. But the Bible never promises that a day will come when we all agree about everything! This is a false concept of unity. It’s a fantasy that will never be reached on this earth.

So what is unity? Unity occurs when people are united in action and in passion for a common cause. Their shared goal is so strong that it removes hostilities, puts away disagreements, and gives previously divided people a reason to take their place alongside each other. When this occurs, different gifts, talents, and anointings become connected together, and the result is an amazing river of divine power that achieves the supernatural and accomplishes the impossible.

I can tell you that in our own ministry organization, our leadership team is very gifted, very diverse, and from many different denominational and cultural backgrounds; yet we are extremely united as a ministry. But it is not our culture, language, or doctrine that unites us—it is our common goal to get the Gospel to as many people as we can by God’s grace. This single purpose pulls our whole diverse staff together in phenomenal unity, which is one of the reasons we have had such powerful results. We may be many in number and diverse in gifts and talents, but we are one in purpose.

It is simply a fact that phenomenal results are reaped when concentrated attention is given to building this kind of teamwork. People who become cemented together by a common goal produce unity. And when this kind of chemistry is at work among your team members in your church, ministry, business, or organization, that team becomes a mighty force that helps you reach the goals and visions God has placed in your heart.

So don’t try to fulfill your dream or run your church, ministry, business, or organization single-handedly. If you do, you’ll only serve to physically, mentally, and spiritually exhaust yourself. Why don’t you instead allow God to bring other team members to you who can help you fulfill your task? Don’t settle for accomplishing your goal single-handedly on a small scale. Develop the manpower to build a larger church, business, or organization with enough hands to touch and serve many people!

As other members join your team and begin to use their gifts and talents to press toward the common goal, you’ll find that their help greatly enhances both your effectiveness and your ability to impact this world for God. So why don’t you ask God today to bring you the individuals you need to help you fulfill your God-given assignment?


Lord, I want to thank You in advance for bringing me the team members I need to fulfill the vision You have put in my heart. I don’t want to run this race by myself. I realize that even though I can do part of my assigned task alone, the greatest results can only be achieved with a team. Help me adjust my thinking so that I can think like a team member. Lead my team and me into a true sense of unity so that maximum power can be released through us to a world that desperately needs Jesus.

I pray this in Jesus’ name!


I confess that God has made me a part of an awesome team. Every day we are becoming better and better, and as a result of the unity that exists between us, we are achieving more than we ever dreamed. So much power is released as we strive together to reach the common purpose God has given us. In fact, the impossible is possible, and the supernatural seems natural! With the help of the Holy Spirit, strife is removed and harmony is at work as we all reach toward our common, God-given goal!

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!


  1. Have you ever tried to run everything single-handedly and discovered that this was a very difficult way to operate the business, ministry, or department over which the Lord has placed you?
  2. When you look around, can you see the gifted, talented people whom God has brought to help you fulfill your God-given dream? Are you allowing them to use their gifts to their full potential? Are you giving them the freedom to use the ideas, insights, and abilities God has given to them? If not, why aren’t you tapping into the treasures God has placed within these important people in your life?
  3. What is the single most important goal for your church, ministry, business, or organization? Do you have unity on your team regarding that goal? Does everyone on the team know it is your primary objective so they can rally around it?


Overcoming Addiction

Recently a close friend’s marriage crumbled. Actually, it had been in the process of disintegration for years, but the crisis was carefully masked from public view. Needless to say, I and many others were shocked. Shocked because for years Bert had been intensely involved in investing his life into others. But something just didn’t add up. Over the years I remember thinking, “Hes doing all the right stuff , but something is wrong at the core.


The problem? Chemical addiction.


The greater tragedy is not the addiction, however, but Bert’s refusal to come forth, acknowledge his problem, and make himself available for help and accountability. His friends would have gone to the ends of the earth to help him.


When it comes to addictions (sexual, chemical, etc.), two ingredients are essential in breaking the cycle of defeat, anguish, repentance, indulgence, despair, etc., etc.:


1. Acknowledgment of the problem:


To yourself. To God. To those closest to you.


You can (and should) repent, pray, memorize Scripture, attend church, etc., etc., but it is axiomatic that you will not break the cycle of addiction without confessing it to another.


Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed… ” (James 5:16a)


2. Accountability to another person (or persons):


You need someone walking with you who will compassionately hold your hand, while firmly holding your feet to the fire in helping you follow through on the necessary behavioral changes,


Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him upBetter is open rebuke than hidden love.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9, 10; Proverbs 27:5, 6a)


QUESTION: Do you suffer from an addiction? Do you want deliverance?


If your answers are “yes” and “yes,” then today, confess the problem to a caring fellow-believer and choose to become accountable to an individual or group, as you work toward change. Over the long haul, victory, as demonstrated by behavioral change, will not transpire without acknowledgement and accountability. Are you up to the challenge?



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