These stories and thoughts below, were in emails sent to me in 1998-1999. Very encouraging to read, and definitely makes you think!
One day, a man went to visit a church. He arrived early, parked his car, and got out. Another car pulled up near him, and the driver told him, "I always park there. You took my place!"
The visitor went inside for Sunday School, found an empty seat, and sat down. A young lady from the church approached him and stated, "That's my seat! You took my place!"
The visitor was somewhat distressed by this rude welcome, but said nothing.
After Sunday School, the visitor went into the church sanctuary and sat down. Another member walked up to him and said, "That's where I always sit. You took my place!"
The visitor was even more troubled by this treatment, but still said nothing.
Later, as the congregation was praying for Christ to dwell among them, the visitor stood, and his appearance began to change.
Horrible scars became visible on his hands and on his sandaled feet. Someone from the congregation noticed him and called out, "What happened to you?"
The visitor replied, "I took your place."
- Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. --1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
- But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.-- 2 Corinthians 12:9
Interview with God
I asked : "What's the one thing that surprises you most about mankind?"
He answered: "That they get bored of being children, are in a rush to grow up, and then long to be children again.
That they lose their health to make money and then lose their money to restore their health.
That by thinking anxiously about the future, they forget the present, such that they live neither for the present nor the future.
That they live as if they will never die, and they die as if they had never lived..."
His hands took mine and we were silent.
After a long period, I said, "May I ask you another question?"
He replied with a smile.
"As a Father, what would you ask your children to do for the new year?"
"To learn that what is most valuable is not what they have in their lives, but who they have in their lives.
To learn that a rich person is not one who has the most, but is one who needs the least.
To learn that they should control their attitudes, otherwise their attitudes will control them.
To learn that it only takes a few seconds to open profound wounds in persons we love, and that it takes many years to heal them.
To learn to forgive by practicing forgiveness.
To learn that there are persons that love them dearly, but simply do not know how to show their feelings.
To learn that money can buy everything but happiness.
To learn that while at times they may be entitled to be upset, that does not give them the right to upset those around them.
To learn that great reams do not require great wings, but a landing gear, to achieve.
To learn that true friends are scarce; he/she who has found one has found a true treasure.
To learn that it is not always enough that they be forgiven by others, but that they forgive themselves.
To learn that they are masters of what they keep to themselves and slaves of what they say.
To learn that they shall reap what they plant; if they plant gossip they will harvest intrigues; if they plant love they will harvest happiness.
To learn that true happiness is not to achieve their goals, but to learn to be satisfied with what they already achieved.
To learn that happiness is a decision. They decide to be happy with what they are and have, or die from envy and jealousy of what they lack.
To learn that two people can look at the same thing and see something totally different.
To learn that those who are honest with themselves without considering the consequences go far in life.
To learn that even though they may think they have nothing to give, when a friend cries with them, they find the strength to appease the pain.
To learn that by trying to hold on to loved ones, they very quickly push them away; and by letting go of those they love, they will be side by side forever.
To learn that even though the word "love" has many different meanings, it loses value when it is overstated.
To learn that they can never do something extraordinary for Me to love them; I simply do.
To learn that the shortest distance they could be from Me is the distance of a prayer." God bless.
It was a cold winter's day that Sunday. The parking lot to the church was filling up quickly. I noticed as I got out of my car that fellow church members were whispering among themselves as they walked to the church.
As I got closer I saw a man leaned up against the wall outside the church. He was almost laying down as if he was asleep. He had on a long trench coat that was almost in shreds and a hat topped his head, pulled down so you could not see his face.
He wore shoes that looked 30 years old, too small for his feet with holes all over them, his toes stuck out.
I assumed this man was homeless, and asleep, so I walked on by through the doors of the church. We all fellowshipped for a few minutes, and someone brought up the man laying outside.
People snickered and gossiped but no one bothered to ask him to come in, including me.
A few moments later church began. We all waited for the Preacher to take his place and to give us the Word, when the doors to the church opened. In came the homeless man walking down the aisle with his head down. People gasped and whispered and made faces. He made his way down the aisle and up onto the pulpit he took off his hat and coat.
My heart sank.
There stood our preacher...he was the "homeless man." No one said a word. The preacher took his Bible and laid it on the stand.
"Folks, I don't think I have to tell you what I am preaching about today,"
Then he started singing the words to this song. "If I can help somebody as I pass along. If I can cheer somebody with a word or song. If I can show somebody that he's traveling wrong. Then my living shall not be in vain."
"IS YOUR LIVING IN VAIN?"
Just something to think about....
One day, an expert in time management was speaking to a group of business students and, to drive home a point, used an illustration those students will never forget.
As he stood in front of the group of high-powered overachievers he said, "Okay, time for a quiz" and he pulled out a one-gallon, wide-mouth Mason jar and set it on the table in front of him.
He also produced about a dozen fist-sized rocks and carefully placed them, one at a time, into the jar. When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, "Is this jar full?"
Everyone in the class yelled, "Yes."
The time management expert replied, "Really?"
He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. He dumped some gravel in and shook the jar causing pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the spaces between the big rocks.
He then asked the group once more, "Is the jar full?"
By this time the class was on to him.
"Probably not," one of them answered.
"Good!" he replied. He reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand in the jar and it went into all of the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel.
Once more he asked the question, "Is this jar full?"
"No!" the class shouted. Once again he said, "Good."
Then he grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar was filled to the brim. Then he looked at the class and asked,
"What is the point of this illustration?"
One eager beaver raised his hand and said,
"The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard you can always fit some more things in it!"
"No," the speaker replied, "that's not the point.
The truth this illustration teaches us is if you don't put the big rocks in first, you'll never get them in at all.
- What are the 'big rocks' in your life??? Time with your loved ones, your faith, your education, your dreams, a worthy cause, teaching, or complimenting others? Remember to put these BIG ROCKS in first or you'll never get them in at all. So, tonight, or in the morning, when you are reflecting on this short story, ask yourself this question: What are the 'big rocks' in my life? Then, put those in your jar first.
I am God. Today I will be handling all of your problems.
Please remember that I do not need your help.
If the devil happens to deliver a situation to you that you cannot handle, DO NOT attempt to resolve it. Kindly put it in the SFJTD (something for Jesus to do) Box. It will be addressed in MY time, not yours.
Once the matter is placed into the box, do not hold on to it or attempt to remove it. Holding on or removal will delay the resolution of your problem.
If it is a situation that you think you are capable of handling, please consult me in prayer to be sure that it is the proper resolution.
Because I do not sleep nor do I slumber, there is no need for you to lose any sleep.
Rest my child. If you need to contact me, I am only a prayer away.
With all the gangs and the increasing violence in our schools, what in the world is happening with our kids today?
Let's see...I think it started when Madeline Murray O'Hare complained that she didn't want any prayer in our schools, and we said OK.
Then someone said you had better not read the Bible in school -- the Bible that says thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbor as yourself. And we said, OK.
Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn't spank our children when they misbehave because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem. And we said, an expert should know what he's talking about so we won't spank them anymore.
Then someone said that teachers and principals better not discipline our children when they misbehave. And the school administrators said no faculty member in this school better touch a student when they misbehave because we don't want any bad publicity, and we surely don'twant to be sued. And we accepted their reasoning.
Then someone said, let's let our daughters have abortions if they want, and they won't even have to tell their parents. And we said, that's a grand idea.
Then some wise school board member said, since boys will be boys and they're going to "do it" anyway, let's give our sons all the condoms they want, so they can have all the "fun" they desire, and we won't have to tell their parents they got them at school. And we said, that's another great idea.
And then some of our top elected officials said that it doesn't matter what we do in private as long as we do our jobs. And agreeing with them, we said it doesn't matter to me what anyone, including thePresident, does in private as long as I have a job and the economy is good.
And then someone said let's print magazines with pictures of nude women and call it wholesome down-to-earth appreciation for the beauty of the female body. And we said we have no problem with that.
And someone else took that appreciation a step further and published pictures of nude children and then stepped further still by making them available on the internet. And we said they're entitled to their free speech.
And the entertainment industry said, let's make TV shows and movies that promote profanity, violence, and illicit sex. And let's record music that encourages homosexuality, rape, drugs, murder, suicide,and satanic themes.
And we said it's just entertainment, it has no adverse effect, and nobody takes it seriously anyway, so go right ahead.
Therefore, now we're asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don't know right from wrong, and why it doesn't bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves.
Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out. I think it has a great deal to do with... "we reap what we sow."
(This was passed on by a man named Clarence Schultz, who wrote down some of his thoughts. He is a minister and retired Navy chaplain - lots to think about! Pass it on if you think it has merit)
Two Traveling Angels
Two traveling angels stopped to spend the night in the home of a wealthy family. The family was rude and refused to let the angels stay in the mansion's guest room.
Instead the angels were given a space in the cold basement. As they made their bed on the hard floor, the older angel saw a hole in the wall and repaired it. When the younger angel asked why, the older angel replied... Things aren't always what they seem.
The next night the pair came to rest at the house of a very poor, but very hospitable farmer and his wife. After sharing what little food they had the couple let the angels sleep in their bed where they could have a good night's rest. When the sun came up the next morning the angels found the farmer and his wife in tears. Their only cow, whose milk had been their sole income, lay dead in the field.
The younger angel was infuriated and asked the older angel how could you have let this happen! The first man had everything, yet you helped him. The second family had little but was willing to share everything, and you let their cow die. Things aren't always what they seem," the older angel replied.
When we stayed in the basement of the mansion, I noticed there was gold stored in that hole in the wall. Since the owner was so obsessed with greed and unwilling to share his good fortune, I sealed the wall so he wouldn't find it. Then last night as we slept in the farmer's bed, the angel of death came for his wife. I told him to take the cow instead. Things aren't always what they seem.
Sometimes this is exactly what happens when things don't turn out the way we think they should. If you have faith in God, just trust that every outcome is always to your advantage. You might not realize it until much later.
One of the most effective tricks of Satan is to make us think that just a little talk with Jesus makes it right. It simply is not true. There must be some big talks with Jesus. Long talks and regular talks too. And He must talk with us if we are to become mature and strong. Do you ever wonder if your prayers are doing any good? It's time to realize the power of prayer
, the delight in a strong prayer life, and the benefits to you and to the Kingdom when you do pray. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, then you will ask for anything you wish and you shall have it (John 15:7).
Why Christians should pray:
* Because prayer defeats Satan. There is a powerful, cunning, deceptive, determined, and vicious devil. He is after you personally. The first step in dealing with the devil is prayer. And lots of it. * Because prayer puts you at God's disposal. It makes you as clay in the hands of the potter. It enables you to say, Thy will be done. It brings you to the place of full surrender. Then, with Isaiah, you can say sincerely, Here am I, send me (Is. 6:8). * Because prayer puts God at your disposal. This is not blasphemy. It is a blessed truth.
Of course, God is not an errand boy to jump every time you make a request in prayer. But He has yielded to us the keys of the Kingdom. The power He has is available to those He can trust with it. Notice what Jesus said: Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it and it will be yours (Mark 11:24). If you remain in me, and my words remain in you, then you will ask for anything you wish and you shall have it (John 15:7). And James declared, The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective (James 5:16).
When you stay on your knees before God long enough and often enough, you will lay hold of the power of God. * Because of what prayer accomplished. Much gets done when much time is spent in prayer. There is growth in grace. There are blessings like showers upon the parched land. There is Christlikeness. And there are revivals in your life. Just spend enough time on your knees so that you may walk tall and strong for Him and through Him.
When I say. . .
When I say . . . I am a Christian I'm not shouting "I am saved." I'm whispering "I get lost" That is why I chose this way.
When I say . . . I am a Christian I don't speak of this with pride. I'm confessing that I stumble and need someone to be my guide. When I say . . . I am a Christian I'm not trying to be strong. I'm professing that I am weak and pray for strength to carry on.
When I say . . . I am a Christian I'm not bragging of success. I'm admitting I have failed and cannot ever pay the debt
When I say . . . I am a Christian I'm not claiming to be perfect. My flaws are too visible but God believes I'm worth it.
When I say . . . I am a Christian I still feel the sting of pain. I have my share of heartaches which is why I seek HIS name.
When I say . . . I am a Christian I do not wish to judge. I have no authority I only know I'm loved. - Unknown
I said, "God, I hurt." And God said, "I know."
I said, "God, I cry a lot." And God said, "That is why I gave you tears."
I said, "God, I am so depressed." And God said, "That is why I gave you Sunshine."
I said, "God, life is so hard." And God said, "That is why I gave you loved ones."
I said, "God, my loved one died." And God said, "So did mine."
I said, "God, it is such a loss." And God said, "I saw mine nailed to a cross."
I said, "God, but your loved one lives." And God said, "So does yours."
I said, "God, where are they now?" And God said, "Mine is on My right and yours is in the Light."
I said, "God, it hurts." And God said, "I know."
JESUS IN THE HOUSE
Once there was this very wealthy young man. He lived in a great, elaborate house with dozens of rooms. Each room was more comfortable and more beautiful than the one before it. There were paintings and sculptures. Crystal chandeliers, golden, ornate railings on the stairs. More beauty Than most have ever seen.
One day he decided to invite the Lord to come home and stay with him. When the Lord arrived, this young man offered him the very best room in the house. The room was upstairs and at the end of the hall. "This room is yours, Jesus! Stay as long as you like and you can do whatever you want to in this room, remember Jesus, its all yours."
That evening after he had retired for the night there came a loud knocking at the front door. The young man pulled on his robe and made his way downstairs. When he opened the door he found that the devil had sent three of his demons to attack the man. He quickly tried to close the door but one of the demons kept sticking his foot in.
Sometime later, after a great struggle, he managed to slam the door shut and returned to his room totally exhausted. "Can you believe that," the man thought. "Jesus is upstairs in my very best room sleeping while I am down here battling demons. Oh, well, maybe he just didn't hear." He slept fitfully that night.
The next day thing went along as normal and, being tired as he was, the young man retired early that evening. Along about midnight, there came such a terrible ruckus at the front door that the young man was sure that whatever it was would tear the door down. He stumbled down the stairs once again and opened the door to find that were dozens of demons now trying to get into his beautiful home.
For more than three hours he fought and struggled against the demons from hell and finally overtook them enough to shut the door against their attack. All energy seemed to fail him. He really didn't understand this at all. "Why won't the Lord come to my rescue? Why does he allow me to fight all by myself? I feel so alone." Troubled, he found his way to the sofa and fell into a restless sleep.
The next morning he decided to inquire of the Lord about the happenings of the last two evenings. Quietly he made his way to the elegant bedroom where he had left Jesus. "Jesus," he called as he tapped at the door. "Lord, I don't understand what is happening. For the last two nights I have had to fight the demons away from my door while you laid up here sleeping. Don't you care about me? Did I not give you the very best room in the house?"
He could see the tears building in Jesus' eyes but continued on, "I just don't understand, I really thought that once I invited you in to live with me that you would take care of me and I gave you the best room in my house and everything. What more can I do?" "My precious child," Jesus spoke so softly. "I do love and care for you. I protect all that you have released into my care. But when you invited me to come here and stay, you brought me to this lovely room and you shut the door to the rest of your house.
I am Lord of this room but I am not Master of this house. I have protected this room and no demon may enter here." "Oh, Lord, please forgive me. Take all of my house-it is yours. I am so sorry that I never offered you all to begin with. I want you to have control of everything." With this he flung open the bedroom door and knelt at Jesus' feet. "Please forgive me Lord for being so selfish." Jesus smiled and told him that He had already forgiven him and that He would take care of things from now on.
That night as the young man prepared for bed he thought, "I wonder if those demons will return, I am so tired of fighting them each and every night." But he knew that Jesus said that he would take care of things from now on. Along about midnight the banging on the door was frightening. The young man slipped out of his room in time to see Jesus going down the stairs. He watched in awe as Jesus swung open the door, no need to be afraid. Satan stood at the door this time demanding to be let in. "What do you want, Satan?" the Lord asked. The devil bowed low in the presence of the Lord, "So sorry, I seem to have gotten the wrong address." And with that, He and the demons all ran away.
There is a moral to this tale. Jesus wants all of you, not just a part. He will take all that you give Him but nothing more. How much of your heart have you given to the Lord? Are you keeping a portion of it away from Him? Perhaps the attacks are coming more and more each day. Why not let the Lord fight the battles for you? He is always victorious. I have found that God made man simple, all of man's complexities are of his own devising.
Even though I clutch my blanket and growl when the alarm rings, thank you, Lord, that I can hear. There are many who are deaf.
Even though I keep my eyes closed against the morning light as long as possible, thank you, Lord, that I can see. Many are blind.
Even though I huddle in my bed and put off rising, thank you Lord, that I have the strength to rise. There are many who are bedridden.
Even though the first hour of my day is hectic, when socks are lost, toast is burned and tempers are short, my children are so loud thank you, Lord, for my family. There are many who are lonely.
Even though our breakfast table never looks like the pictures in magazines and the menu is at times balanced, thank you, Lord, for the food we have. There are many who are hungry.
Even though the routine of my job is often monotonous, thank you, Lord, for the opportunity to work. There are many who have no job.
Even though I grumble and bemoan my fate from day to day and wish my circumstances were not so modest, thank you, Lord, for life.
Why I smile... :)
GOD IS.... God is Lord Almighty, Omnipotent King, Lion of Judah, Rock of Ages, Prince of Peace, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Provider, Protector, Paternal,Leader, Ruling Lord, and Reigning King of all the universe.
He is Father, He is Helper, He is Guardian, and He is God. He is the First and Last, the Beginning and the End. He is the keeper of Creation and the Creator of all He keeps. The Architect of the universe and the Manager of all times.
He always was, He always is, and He always will be. Unmoved, Unchanged, Undefeated, and never Undone. He was bruised and bought healing. He was pierced and eased pain. He was persecuted and bought freedom. He was dead and bought life. He is risen and brings power. He reigns and brings Peace.
The world can't understand him, the armies can't defeat Him, the schools can't explain Him, and the leaders can't ignore Him. Herod couldn't kill Him, the Pharisees couldn't confuse Him, the people couldn't hold Him! Nero couldn't crush Him, Hitler couldn't silence Him, the New Age can't replace Him, and Donahue can't explain Him away! He is light, love, longevity, and Lord.
He is goodness, Kindness, Gentleness, and God. He is Holy, Righteous, mighty, powerful, and pure. His ways are right, His word is eternal, His will is unchanging, and His mind is on me! His is my redeemer, He is my savior, He is my guide, He is my peace. He is my Joy, He is my comfort, He is my Lord and He rules my life.
I serve Him because His bond is love, His burden is light, and His goal for me is abundant life. I follow Him because He is the wisdom of the wise, the power of the powerful, the ancient of days, the ruler of rulers, the leader of leaders, the overseer of the overcomers, and the sovereign Lord of all that was and is and is to come.
And if that seems impressive to you, try this for size. His goal is a relationship with ME! He will never leave me, never forsake me, never mislead me, never forget me, never overlook me, and never cancel my appointment in His appointment book!
When I fall, He lifts me up. When I fail, He forgives. When I am weak, He is strong. When I am lost, He is the way. When I am afraid, He is my courage. When I stumble, He steadies me. When I am hurt, He heals me. When I am broken, He mends me. When I am blind, He leads me. When I am hungry, He feeds me. When I face trails, He is with me. When I face persecution, He steels me. When I face problems, He comforts me. When I face loss, He provides for me. When I face Death, He carries me Home!
He is everything for everybody, everywhere, every time, and every way. He is God, He is faithful, I am His, and He is mine. My Father in heaven can whip the father of this world, and so, if you're wondering why I feel so secure, Understand this :
He said it, I believe it, and that settles it. God is in control, I am on His side, and that means all is well with my soul. Everyday is a blessing!
Suppose that tomorrow morning your phone rings and the operator informs you that you have a call from Buckingham Palace, London, England. The person in England comes on the line, identifies himself as an administrator in charge of the education of the children of the king of England.
He proceeds to tell you that he has had observers around the United States looking for the perfect tutor for the king's children. After many months of evaluation, he has determined that you are the one best qualified to tutor the royal offspring. Would you please fly to England at your earliest convenience to discuss assuming these responsibilities? Now, as a matter of fact, you just happen to have some ideas about raising children and you are excited and eager to take the job.
You fly to England and sign a contract. But before you begin your job, the administrator says you are going to have to take two weeks of intensive study to learn the finer points of raising the king's children.
During this time, you learn that children of royalty adhere to a different curriculum than most other children. They must not only learn to read and write, gain maturity and be proficient in many fields of academic endeavor. They must also be familiar with the history of their country and of western civilization. They must learn how to function in the royal court. They must know how to treat their subjects with consideration and tact. They must learn to relate to the heads-of-state of other countries. They must learn about political amenities and that their time is not always their own. They may not get to play in the street with other children. They will not be exposed to crudity or vulgarity. They will learn to be moral, true, honest, gracious, kind, gentle, and yet strong in their convictions.
When the two weeks are completed, you begin a successful career of raising the children of the king. In later years, you are honored for having attained your goals. The king commends you and his children commend you for your devotion and hard work.
A fanciful story, you may say. But let me suggest this: if you have children in your home, you have already received a call to raise royal offspring. The call did not come from Buckingham Palace, it has come from the throne of Almighty God. You do not have to go to London to do your tutoring, you can do it in your own home with the children God gave you to raise.
Your children may not serve in English courts, but they have the potential to serve in the kingdom of God as sons of God. When your children accept Jesus Christ as Savior, they become members of the Kingdom of God. There is no higher ranking in all the world. You may not live in a palace on earth, but you children can live in palaces in heaven if you do your job right.
Give your children the very special training God's children ought to have. Teach them to obey, to be gentle and kind, but powerful for righteousness and morality. Teach them the Bible, teach them how to pray, teach them to put others before themselves as Jesus did. Teach them to obey God's commands and to have a perfect heart before God.
Keep them away from worldly influences, train them to be men and women of spiritual power in God's kingdom. Make it your goal to have your Master someday say to you, "Well done, good and faithful servant, you have raised my children properly" (Matt. 25:21). Seek the reward of the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31, whose children rise up and call her blessed (Prov. 31:28). Or set your heart on the reward of the grandfather whose children's children are his crown (Prov. 17:6)
To Remember Me
The day will come when my body will lie upon a white sheet neatly tucked under four corners of a mattress located in a hospital busily occupied with the living and the dying. At a certain moment a doctor will determine that my brain has ceased to function and that, for all intents and purposes, my life has stopped. When that happens, do not attempt to instill artificial life into my body by the use of a machine. And don't call this my deathbed. Let it be called the Bed of Life, and let my body be taken from it to help others lead fuller lives.
Give my sight to the man who has never seen a sunrise, a baby's face or love in the eyes of a woman. Give my heart to a person whose own heart has caused nothing but endless days of pain. Give my blood to the teenager who was pulled from the wreckage of his car, so that he might live to see his grandchildren play. Give my kidneys to one who depends on a machine to exist from week to week. Take my bones, every muscle, every fiber and nerve in my body and find a way to make a crippled child walk. Explore every corner of my brain. Take my cells, if necessary, and let them grow so that someday, a speechless boy will shout at the crack of a bat and a deaf girl will hear the sound of rain against her window.
Burn what is left of me and scatter the ashes to the winds to help the flowers grow. If you must bury something, let it be my faults, my weaknesses and all prejudice against my fellow man. Give my sins to the devil. Give my soul to God. If, by chance, you wish to remember me, do it with a kind deed or word to someone who needs you. If you do all I have asked, I will live forever. By Robert N. Test
We cannot merely pray to You, O God
We cannot merely pray to You, O God, to end war; for we know that You have made the world in such a way that we must find our own path to peace within ourselves and with our neighbor.
We cannot merely pray to You O God, to end starvation; for You have alread given us the resources with which to feed the entire world, if we would only use them wisely.
We cannot merely pray to You, O God, to root out prejudice; for You have already given us eyes whith which to see the good in all, if we would only use them rightly.
We cannot merely pray to You, O God, to end despair; for You have already given us the power to clear away slums and to give hope, if we would only use our power justly. We cannot merely pray to You, O God, to end disease; for You have already given us great minds with which to search out cures and healings, if we would only use them constructively.
Therefore we pray to You instead, O God, for strength, determination, and will power, to do instead of just to pray, to become instead of merely to wish, for Your sake and ours, speedily and soon, that our land may be safe, and that our lives may be blessed. from Light of Shabbat,
published by Congregation of Ami, Lafayetter Hill, PA, 1992
Someone has said that the three keys to real peace are: fret not, faint not, fear not.
1. Fret not--because God loves you (1 Jn. 4:16).
2. Faint not--because God holds you (Ps. 139:10).
3. Fear not--because God keeps you (Ps. 121:5).
Philosophical Discussion of Christianity (Excellent!) This is a fictional discussion between a philosophy teacher and two of his Christian students...
"LET ME EXPLAIN THE problem science has with Jesus Christ." The atheist professor of philosophy pauses before his class and then asks one of his new students to stand.
"You're a Christian, aren't you, son?"
"So you believe in God?"
"Is God good?"
"Sure! God's good."
"Is God all-powerful? Can God do anything?"
"Are you good or evil?"
"The Bible says I'm evil."
The professor grins knowingly. "Ahh! THE BIBLE!" He considers for a moment. "Here's one for you. Let's say there's a sick person over here and you can cure him. You can do it. Would you help them? "Would you try?" "Yes sir, I would." "So you're good...!" "I wouldn't say that." "Why not say that? You would help a sick and maimed person if you could... in fact most of us would if we could...God doesn't." [No answer.] "He doesn't, does he? My brother was a Christian who died of cancer even though he prayed to Jesus to heal him. How is this Jesus good? Hmmm? Can you answer that one?" [No answer] The elderly man is sympathetic. "No, you can't, can you?" He takes a sip of water from a glass on his desk to give the student time to relax. In philosophy, you have to go easy with the new ones. "Let's start again, young fella."
"Is God good?"
"Is Satan good?"
"Where does Satan come from?"
The student falters. "From... God..."
"That's right. God made Satan, didn't he?"
The elderly man runs his bony fingers through his thinning hair and turns to the smirking, student audience. "I think we're going to have a lot of fun this semester, ladies and gentlemen." He turns back to the Christian. "Tell me, son. Is there evil in this world?" "Yes, sir." "Evil's everywhere, isn't it? Did God make everything?" "Yes." "Who created evil? [No answer] "Is there sickness in this world? Immorality? Hatred? Ugliness? All the terrible things - do they exist in this world? " The student squirms on his feet. "Yes." "Who created them? " [No answer] The professor suddenly shouts at his student. "WHO CREATED THEM? TELL ME, PLEASE!" The professor closes in for the kill and climbs into the Christian's face. In a still small voice: "God created all evil, didn't He, son?" [No answer]
The student tries to hold the steady, experienced gaze and fails. Suddenly the lecturer breaks away to pace the front of the classroom like an aging panther. The class is mesmerized. "Tell me," he continues, "How is it that this God is good if He created all evil throughout all time?" The professor swishes his arms around to encompass the wickedness of the world. "All the hatred, the brutality, all the pain, all the torture, all the death and ugliness and all the suffering created by this good God is all over the world, isn't it, young man?" [No answer] "Don't you see it all over the place? Huh?" Pause. "Don't you?" The professor leans into the student's face again and whispers, "Is God good?" [No answer] "Do you believe in Jesus Christ, son?" The student's voice betrays him and cracks. "Yes, professor. I do."
The old man shakes his head sadly. "Science says you have five senses you use to identify and observe the world around you. Have you seen Jesus?"
"No, sir. I've never seen Him."
"Then tell us if you've ever heard your Jesus?"
"No, sir. I have not."
"Have you ever felt your Jesus, tasted your Jesus or smelt your Jesus...in fact, do you have any sensory perception of your God whatsoever?"
"Answer me, please."
"No, sir, I'm afraid I haven't."
"You're AFRAID... you haven't?"
"Yet you still believe in him?"
"That takes FAITH!"
The professor smiles sagely at the underling. "According to the rules of empirical, testable, demonstrable protocol, science says your God doesn't exist. What do you say to that, son? Where is your God now?" [The student doesn't answer] "Sit down, please."
The Christian sits...Defeated.
Another Christian raises his hand. "Professor, may I address the class?"
The professor turns and smiles. "Ah, another Christian in the vanguard! Come, come, young man. Speak some proper wisdom to the gathering." The Christian looks around the room. "Some interesting points you are making, sir. Now I've got a question for you.
Is there such thing as heat?"
"Yes," the professor replies. "There's heat."
"Is there such a thing as cold?"
"Yes, son, there's cold too."
"No, sir, there isn't."
The professor's grin freezes. The room suddenly goes very cold. The second Christian continues. "You can have lots of heat, even more heat, super-heat, mega-heat, white heat, a little heat or no heat but we don't have anything called 'cold'. We can hit 458 degrees below zero, which is no heat, but we can't go any further after that. There is no such thing as cold, otherwise we would be able to go colder than 458. You see, sir, cold is only a word we use to describe the absence of heat. We cannot measure cold. Heat we can measure in thermal units because heat is energy. Cold is not the opposite of heat, sir, just the absence of it."
A pin drops somewhere in the classroom.
"Is there such a thing as darkness, professor?"
"That's a dumb question, son. What is night if it isn't darkness?
What are you getting at...?"
"So you say there is such a thing as darkness?"
"You're wrong again, sir. Darkness is not something, it is the absence of something. You can have low light, normal light, bright light, flashing light but if you have no light constantly you have nothing and it's called darkness, isn't it? That's the meaning we use to define the word.
In reality, Darkness isn't. If it were, you would be able to make darkness darker and give me a jar of it. Can you...give me a jar of darker darkness, professor?" Despite himself, the professor smiles at the young effrontery before him. This will indeed be a good semester. "Would you mind telling us what your point is, young man?" "Yes, professor. My point is, your philosophical premise is flawed to start with and so your conclusion must be in error...." The professor goes toxic.
"Flawed...? How dare you...!"
"Sir, may I explain what I mean?"
The class is all ears. "Explain... oh, explain..." The professor makes an admirable effort to regain control. Suddenly he is affability itself. He waves his hand to silence the class, for the student to continue. "You are working on the premise of duality," the Christian explains. "That for example there is life and then there's death; a good God and a bad God. You are viewing the concept of God as something finite, something we can measure. Sir, science cannot even explain a thought. It uses electricity and magnetism but has never seen, much less fully understood them.
To view death as the opposite of life is to be ignorant of the fact that death cannot exist as a substantive thing. Death is not the opposite of life, merely the absence of it."
The young man holds up a newspaper he takes from the desk of a neighbor who has been reading it. "Here is one of the most disgusting tabloids this country hosts, professor. Is there such a thing as immorality?" "Of course there is, now look..." "Wrong again, sir. You see, immorality is merely the absence of morality. Is there such thing as injustice? No. Injustice is the absence of justice. Is there such a thing as evil?" The Christian pauses. "Isn't evil the absence of good?"
The professor's face has turned an alarming color. He is so angry he is temporarily speechless. The Christian continues. "If there is evil in the world, professor, and we all agree there is, then God, if he exists, must be accomplishing a work through the agency of evil. What is that work, God is accomplishing?
The Bible tells us it is to see if each one of us will, of our own free will, choose good over evil." The professor bridles. "As a philosophical scientist, I don't view this matter as having anything to do with any choice; as a realist, I absolutely do not recognize the concept of God or any other theological factor as being part of the world equation because God is not observable." "I would have thought that the absence of God's moral code in this world is probably one of the most observable phenomena going," the Christian replies. "Newspapers make billions of dollars reporting it every week!
Tell me, professor. Do you teach your students that they evolved from a monkey?" "If you are referring to the natural evolutionary process, young man, yes, of course I do." "Have you ever observed evolution with your own eyes, sir?" The professor makes a sucking sound with his teeth and gives his student a silent, stony stare. "Professor, since no-one has ever observed the process of evolution at work and cannot even prove that this process is an on-going endeavor, are you not teaching your opinion, sir? Are you now not a scientist, but a priest?"
"I'll overlook your impudence in the light of our philosophical discussion. Now, have you quite finished?" the professor hisses.
"So you don't accept God's moral code to do what is righteous?"
"I believe in what is - that's science!"
"Ahh! SCIENCE!" the student's face splits into a grin. "Sir, you rightly state that science is the study of observed phenomena. Science too is a premise which is flawed..."
"SCIENCE IS FLAWED..?" the professor splutters. The class is in uproar. The Christian remains standing until the commotion has subsided.
"To continue the point you were making earlier to the other student, may I give you an example of what I mean?" The professor wisely keeps silent.
The Christian looks around the room. "Is there anyone in the class who has ever seen the professor's brain?" The class breaks out in laughter. The Christian points towards his elderly, crumbling tutor. "Is there anyone here who has ever heard the professor's brain... felt the professor's brain, touched or smelt the professor's brain?" No one appears to have done so. The Christian shakes his head sadly. "It appears no-one here has had any sensory perception of the professor's brain whatsoever.
Well, according to the rules of empirical, stable, demonstrable protocol, science, I ..DECLARE that the professor has no brain." The class is in chaos. The Christian sits... Because that is what a chair is for....
What Will God Ask?
God won't ask what kind of fancy car you drove.
He will ask how many people you took to church who didn't have transportation.
God won't ask the square footage of your house.
He will ask how many people you helped who didn't have a house.
God won't ask how many fancy clothes you had in your closet.
He will ask how many of those clothes you gave away to the poor.
God won't ask what social class you were in.
He will ask what kind of "class" you displayed.
God won't ask how many material possessions you had.
He will ask whether those material possessions dictated your life.
God won't ask you what your highest salary was.
He will ask if you trampled over any people to obtain that salary.
God won't ask how much overtime you worked.
He will ask if you worked overtime for your family.
God won't ask how many promotions you received. He will ask what you did to promote others.
God won't ask what your job title was.
He will ask if you performed your job to the best of your ability.
God won't ask how many promotions you took to chase a dollar bill.
He will ask how many promotions you refused to advance your family's quality of life.
God won't ask how many times you didn't run around on your spouse.
He will ask how many times you did.
God won't ask how many degrees you had.
He will ask how many people you thanked for helping you get those degrees.
God won't ask what your parents did to help you.
He will ask what you did to help your parents.
God won't ask what you did to help yourself.
He will ask what you did to help others.
God won't ask how many friends you had.
He will ask how many people you were a friend to.
God won't ask what you did to protect your rights.
He will ask you what you did to protect the rights of others.
God won't ask what neighborhood you lived in.
He will ask how many other neighborhoods you visited.
God won't ask how many times you told the truth.
He will ask how many times you told a lie.
God won't ask about the color of your skin.
He will ask about the color of your heart.
God won't ask how many times your deeds matched your words.
He will ask how many times they didn't.
Why Are You Crying?
"Why are you crying?" he asked his mom. "Because I'm a mother," she told him. "I don't understand," he said. His mom just hugged him and said, "You never will!" Later the little boy asked his father why Mother seemed to cry for no reason. "All mothers cry for no reason," was all his dad could say.
The little boy grew up and became a man, still wondering why mothers cry. So he finally put in a call to God and when God got on the phone the man said, "God, why do mothers cry so easily?" God said, "You see son, when I made mothers they had to be special. I made their shoulders strong enough to carry the weight of the world, yet gentle enough to give comfort. I gave them an inner strength to endure childbirth and the rejection that many times come from their children. "I gave them a hardiness that allows them to keep going when everyone else gives up, and to take care of their families through sickness and fatigue without complaining.
"I gave them the sensitivity to love their children under all circumstances, even when their child has hurt them very badly. This same sensitivity helps them to make a child's boo-boo feel better and helps them share a teenager's anxieties and fears. "I gave them a tear to shed. It's theirs exclusively to use whenever it's needed. It's their only weakness. It's a tear for mankind."
THEY WON'T LET ME IN
It was a beautiful Sunday morning. People were filling the church to its fullest capacity! As they entered, each were given a bulletin filled with announcements, topic of today's sermon, what songs they would sing and who to pray for.
At the end of the line stood an older man. His clothes were filthy and you could tell that he had not bathed in days. His face was covered in whiskers where he had not shaved for a very long time. When he reached the usher, he removed his tattered old brown hat in respect. His hair was a long, dirty, tangled mess. He had no shoes on his feet, and wore only soiled, black socks.
The usher put his fingers to his nose and glared at the old man and said, "Uh,I'm sorry sir, but I'm afraid we can't let you in. You will distract the congregation and we don't allow anyone to disrupt our service. I'm afraid you'll have to leave."
The old man looked down at himself and with a puzzled look on his face, he placed his old brown hat back upon his head and turned to leave. He was sad as he loved to hear the choir sing praises to the Lord. He loved to watch the little children get up in front of the church to sing their little songs. He carried in his pocket a small worn out Bible and loved to see if the minister preached a passage from the Bible that the old man had underlined.
He was respectful enough and didn't want to cause any commotion, so he hung down his head and walked back down the steps of the big brick church. He sat down on the brick wall near the edge of the church yard and strained to listen through closed doors and windows to the singing going on in the church. Oh how he wished he could be inside with all the others.
A few minutes had passed by when all of a sudden a younger man came up behind him and sat down near him. He asked the old man what he was doing. He answered, "I was going to go to church today, but they thought I was filthy and my clothes are old and worn, and they were afraid I would disrupt their service. Sorry, I didn't introduce myself. My name is George."
The two gentlemen shook hands and George couldn't help but notice that this man had long hair like his. He wore a piece of cloth draped over his body tied with a royal purple sash. He had sandals upon his feet, now covered with dust and dirt.
The stranger reached out to touch George's shoulder and said, "Hello, George, don't feel bad because they won't let you in. My name is Jesus, and I've been trying to get into this same church for years, and they won't let me in either." Unknown
One of the few television shows I watch is called The Pretender. This show revolves around Jared, a genius with an IQ two or three times that of a normal person. Jared is so smart that he can easily impersonate any type of professional.
In each episode, he poses as a lawyer, pilot, racing driver, or some other interesting person, all in his quest to help the oppressed and mistreated. As the theme music begins each week, five words are heard: "There are pretenders among us." And while the show is fictional, that statement is true. There have always been pretenders in the world, people who invest tremendous time and energy pretending to be someone they are not. These people have gone by many names: fakes or frauds, imposters or impersonators, pretenders or posers.
Most of us have run into people like this; Jesus did too. And Jesus had a different name for these pretenders. He called them "hypocrites." Hypocrite literally means "actor," or one who tries to deceive. In a spiritual context, it refers to "pretenders" who are more concerned with impressing men than with truly living for God. The saddest part is that most of us, at some point in our lives, fall prey to this beautiful delusion. We convince ourselves that as long as the people around us believe we are right with God, that will be enough. We decide to "play Christian." We become pretenders.
Later in the title sequence of The Pretender, an elderly woman is lying in a hospital bed. She turns to Jared, who is standing beside her wearing a white coat and holding a clipboard. Innocently, she asks him, "Are you a doctor?" With a smile, Jared looks at her and says, "I am today." "Are you a Christian?" The question hangs there in the air, demanding a response. We nervously adjust our WWJD bracelets, stand up a little straighter, smile, and boldly say, "I am today." And that answer satisfies the person who is asking. But will it satisfy the Lord who really matters? "There are pretenders among us." There always have been. There always will be. Be sure you aren't one of them. By Mark Phillips
God Will Take Care Of You
He Himself Has Said, I will Not In Any Way Fail You Nor Give You Up, Nor Leave You Without Support Hebrews13:5
May your troubled heart find peace and comfort in the knowledge that you are never alone. May God's presence ease your trembling spirit and give you rest. He knows how you feel. He is ever aware of your circumstances and ready to be you strength, your grace and your peace. He is there to cast sunlight into all of your darkened shadows, to send encouragment through the love of friends and family and to replace your weariness with new hope.
God is you stronghold. And with Him as your guide you need never be afraid. No circumstances can block His love. No grief is to hard for Hlim to bear. No task is to difficult for Him to complete. When what you are feeling is simply to deep for words and nothing anyone does or says can provide you with the relief you need God understands. He is your provider. Today, tomorrow and always. And He loves you. Cast all you cares on Him and believe.
More thoughts from the road....
The midway point of the Mini-Marathon lies on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, home of the Indianapolis 500. In fact just yesterday, several men traveled more than 225 miles-an-hour around that track. But three weeks ago, as we jogged slowly down the backstretch, I thought to myself, "Never have so many gone so slowly for so long."
Security at the track was tighter than anywhere else in the race. Many places, a spectator could have just jumped in and started running. But as we entered the Speedway, a dozen or more people were standing guard, all looking for one thing: a number tag. Anyone without a number tag was stopped and taken off the track. Your number was your ticket in, and if you didn't have it, you were going to be stuck outside.
In the race of life, anyone can run. Some are serious, some are sinful, some aren't completely sure why they're here. As long as the race goes on, everybody can run. But at the end of the race, we will all come to the best place of all....and somebody will be checking i.d.'s. He won't be looking at your bank balance, or the length of your resume, or the color of your skin. Only one piece of i.d. will get you in that door: the blood of the lamb. Only those who are covered in it will enter. Two words of advice......
Don't trust your eternal fate to some "fake i.d." that looks good here but won't do the job there. Only the real thing will do. And don't forget whose blood you are wearing. Someone paid a high price to buy your admission.
LORD, THANK YOU
Lord, thank you for this sink of dirty dishes; we have plenty of food to eat.
Thank you for this pile of dirty, stinky laundry; we have plenty of nice clothes to wear.
And I would like to thank you, Lord, for those unmade beds; they were so warm and comfortable last night. I know that many have no bed.
My thanks to you, Lord, for this bathroom, complete with all the splattered mirrors, soggy, grimy towels and dirty lavatory; they are so convenient.
Thank you for this finger-smudged refrigerator that needs defrosting so badly; It has served us faithfully for many years. It is full of cold drinks and enough leftovers for two or three meals.
Thank you, Lord, for this oven that absolutely must be cleaned today; It has baked so many things over the years.
The whole family is grateful for that tall grass that needs mowing, the lawn that needs raking; we all enjoy the yard.
Thank you, Lord, even for that slamming screen door.
My kids are healthy and able to run and play.
Lord, the presence of all these chores awaiting me says You have richly blessed my family.
I shall do them cheerfully and I shall do them gratefully.
And all God's people say....Amen!
3 Old Men
A woman came out of her house and saw 3 old men with long white beards sitting in her front yard...
She did not recognize them...
She said "I don't think I know you, but you must be hungry...
Please come in and have something to eat"...
"Is the man of the house home?", they asked."No", she said. "He's out"...
"Then we cannot come in", they replied...
In the evening when her husband came home, she told him what had happened..
Go tell them I am home and invite them in...
The woman went out and invited the men in...
"We don't go into a house together", they replied...
"Why is that?" she wanted to know..
One of the old men explained: "His name is Wealth...
he said pointing to one of his friends...
and said pointing to another one, "He is Success and I am Love"..
Then he added, "Now go in and discuss with your husband which one of us you want in your home."
The woman went in and told her husband what was said...
Her husband was overjoyed...
"How nice", he said!!...
"Since that is the case, let us invite Wealth...
Let him come and fill our home with wealth"....
His wife disagreed...
"My dear, why don't we invite Success"?.....
Their daughter-in-law was listening from the other corner of the house..
She jumped in with her own suggestion:"Would it not be better to invite Love...
Our home will be filled with love"...
"Let us heed our daughter-in-law's advice," said the husband to his wife...
"Go out and invite Love to be our guest."
The woman went out and asked the 3 old men, "Which one of you is Love?
Please come in and be our guest."
Love got up and started walking toward the house..
The other 2 also got up and followed him...
Surprised, the lady asked Wealth and Success:
"I only invited Love, why are you coming in?"
The old men replied together:
"If you had invited Wealth or Success the other two of us would've stayed out..
but since you invited Love, wherever he goes, we go with him..
Wherever there is Love there is also wealth and success!!!!!!
Father, I ask you to bless my friend reading this right now! Lord, show them a new revelation of Your love and power. Holy Spirit, I ask You to minister to their spirit at this very moment. Where there is pain, give them Your peace & mercy. Where there is self-doubting, release a renewed confidence in Your ability to work through them. Where there is tiredness, or exhaustion, I ask You to give them understanding, patience, & strength as they learn submission to Your leading. Where there is spiritual stagnation, I ask You to renew them by revealing Your nearness, and by drawing them into greater intimacy with You. Where there is fear, reveal Your love, and release to them Your courage. Where there is a sin blocking them, reveal it, and break its hold over my friend's life. Bless their finances, give them greater vision, and raise up leaders, and friends to support, and encourage them. Give each of them discernment to recognize the demonic forces around them, and reveal to them the power they have in You to defeat it. I ask You to do these things in Jesus' name! In Christian love, Your friend in Jesus Passing this on to anyone you consider a friend, as I have done here, will bless you both. Passing this on to one not considered a friend is something I know Christ would do.
GOD'S GIFT OF LOVE Luke 15:11-24
By grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God. - Ephesians 2:8 (NRSV) hrWHEN my youngest son, Jonathan, was four years old, he said with the joy of new understanding, "Dad, you love me even when you yell at me, don't you?"
"Yes, Jonathan," I replied. "Nothing you do can stop me from loving you."
Just as my love for my son cannot be shaken, God's love for us never wavers.
When we get into trouble, we tend to put distance between ourselves and God. When we especially need God's help, we hide our failure and our hurt (as if we could hide from God!).
Because we are embarrassed and angry with ourselves, we assume that God is angry with us too. God's love does not depend on us, on our good behavior or our right decisions. God simply loves us. We are God's creation and God's children, and we are loved - no matter what. Prayer: God, help us to accept your love as a wonderful gift. Amen.
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: God loves us - no matter what.
You say: "It's impossible" God says: All things are possible (Luke 18:27)
You say: "I'm too tired" God says: I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28-30)
You say: "Nobody really loves me" God says: I love you (John 3:16 & John 13:34)
You say: "I can't go on" God says: My grace is sufficient (II Corinthians 12:9 & Psalm 91:15)
You say: "I can't figure things out" God says: I will direct your steps (Proverbs 3:5-6)
You say: "I can't do it" God says: You can do all things (Philippians 4:13)
You say: "I'm not able" God says: I am able (II Corinthians 9:8)
You say: "It's not worth it" God says: It will be worth it (Roman 8:28)
You say: "I can't forgive myself" God says: I FORGIVE YOU (I John 1:9 & Romans 8:1) this one's my favorite! :)
You say: "I can't manage" God says: I will supply all your needs (Philippians 4:19)
You say: "I'm afraid" God says: I have not given you a spirit of fear (II Timothy 1:7)
You say: "I'm always worried and frustrated" God says: Cast all your cares on ME (I Peter 5:7)
You say: "I don't have enough faith" God says: I've given everyone a measure of faith (Romans 12:3)
You say: "I'm not smart enough" God says: I give you wisdom (I Corinthians 1:30)
You say: "I feel all alone" God says: I will never leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5)
Pass this on, you never know whose life maybe in need of this today!
Three Wise Women?
Do you know what would have happened if it had been Three Wise Women, instead of three Wise Men? They would have asked directions, arrived on time, helped deliver the baby, cleaned the stable, made a casserole and brought practical gifts. Pass it on to the wise women in your life!!
THINGS THAT MAKE YOU SAY HMMM
"To the world you might be one person, but to one person you might be the world."
Going to church does not make you a Christian anymore than going to McDonald's makes you a hamburger."
"Real friends are those who, when you feel you've made a fool of yourself, don't feel you've done a permanent job."
A coincidence is when God performs a miracle, and decides to remain anonymous."
"Sometimes the majority only means that all the fools are on the same side."
"I don't have to attend every argument I'm invited to."
"Lead your life so you won't be ashamed to sell the family parrot to the town gossip."
"People gather bundles of sticks to build bridges they never cross."
"Life is 10% of what happens to you, and 90% of how you respond to it."
"Did it ever occur to you that nothing occurs to God?"
"Life is like an onion; you peel off one layer at a time and sometimes you weep."
"Learn from the mistakes of others. You can't live long enough to make them all yourself."
"There are two things I've learned: There is a God. And, I'm not Him."
"Following the path of least resistance is what makes rivers and men crooked."
"Your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God's grace. And your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God's grace."
"When it comes time to die...make sure all you got to do is die."