This was the moment when Before
Turned into After, and the future's
Uninvented timekeepers presented arms.
This was the moment when nothing
Happened. Only dull peace
Sprawled boringly over the earth.
This was the moment when even energetic Romans
Could find nothing better to do
Than counting heads in remote provinces.
And this was the moment
When a few farm workers and three
Members of an obscure Persian sect
Walked haphazard by starlight straight
Into the Kingdom of Heaven.
submitted by Tony (TONY7308@aol.com)
There was once a man who didn't believe in the incarnation or the spiritual meaning of Christmas, and was skeptical about God. He and his family lived in a farm community. His wife was a devout believer and diligently raised her children in her faith. He sometimes gave her a hard time about her faith and mocked her religious observance of Christmas.
One snowy Christmas eve she was taking the kids to the Christmas eve
service at church. She pleaded with him to come, but he firmly
refused. He ridiculed the idea of the incarnation of Christ and
dismissed it as nonsense.
"Why would God lower himself and become a human like us? It's such a ridiculous story!" he said.
So she and the children left for church while he stayed home. After they left, the winds grew stronger and the snow turned into a blizzard. As he looked out the window, all he saw was a blinding snowstorm. He sat down to relax before the fire for the evening. Then he heard a loud thump, something hitting against the window. And another thump. He looked outside but couldn't see. So he ventured outside to see. In the field near his house he saw, of all the strangest things, a flock of geese! They were apparently flying to look for a warmer area down south, but got caught in the snow storm. The snow had became too blinding and violent for the geese to fly or see their way. They were lost and stranded on his farm, with no food or shelter. They just fluttered their wings and flew around in circles around the field blindly and aimlessly. He had compassion for them and wanted to help them. He thought to himself, "The barn would be a great place for them to stay! It's warm and safe; surely they could spend the night and wait out the storm." So he walked over to the barn and opened the barn doors for them. He waited, watching them, hoping they would notice the open barn and go inside. But they just fluttered around aimlessly and didn't notice the barn or realize what it could mean for them. He moved closer toward them to get their attention, but they just moved away from him out of fear. He went into the house and came back out with some bread, broke it up, and made a bread trail leading to the barn. They still didn't catch on. Starting to get frustrated, he went over and tried to shoo them, run after them, and chase them toward the barn. They only got scared and scattered into every direction except toward the barn. Nothing he did could get them to go into the barn where there was warmth, safety, and shelter.
frustrated, he exclaimed, "Why don't they follow me! Can't they see
this is the only place where they can survive the storm! How can I
possibly get them into the one place to save them!" He thought for a
moment and realized that they just won't follow a human. He said to
"How can I possibly save them? The only way would be for me to become like those geese. If only I could become like one of them! Then I could save them! They would follow me and I would lead them to safety."
He stood silently for a moment as the words that he just said reverberated back to himself in his mind: "If only I could become like one of them -- then I could save them." He thought about his words, and remembered what he said to his wife: "Why would God want to be like us? That's so ridiculous!" Something clicked in his mind as he put these two together. It was like a revelation, and he began to understand the incarnation.
We were like the geese -- blind, gone astray, perishing. God became like us so He could show us the way and make a way available to save us. That is the meaning of Christmas, he realized.
I see the countless Christmas trees
around the world below
With tiny lights, like Heaven's stars,
reflecting on the snow
The sight is so spectacular,
please wipe away the tear
For I am spending Christmas
with Jesus Christ this year.
I hear the many Christmas songs
that people hold so dear
But the sounds of music can't compare
with the Christmas choir up here.
I have no words to tell you,
the joy their voices bring,
For it is beyond description,
to hear the angels sing.
I know how much you miss me,
I see the pain inside your heart.
But I am not so far away,
We really aren't apart.
So be happy for me, dear ones,
You know I hold you dear.
And be glad I'm spending Christmas
with Jesus Christ this year.
I sent you each a special gift,
from my heavenly home above.
I sent you each a memory
of my undying love.
After all, love is a gift
more precious than pure gold.
It was always most important
in the stories Jesus told.
Please love and keep each other,
as my Father said to do.
For I can't count the blessing or love
he has for each of you.
So have a Merry Christmas and
wipe away that tear.
Remember, I am spending Christmas
with Jesus Christ this year.
This poem was written by a 13 year old boy who died of a brain tumor that he had battled for four years. He died on December 14, 1997. He gave this to his mom before he died. His name was Ben.
Snowflakes softly falling
Upon your window pane,
Your blankets snug around you,
into sleep you drift away.
I bend to gently kiss you,
when I see that on the floor
There's a letter, neatly written,
I wonder who it's for.
I quietly unfold it
making sure you're still asleep,
It's a Christmas list for Santa--
one my heart will always keep.
It started just as always
with the toys seen on TV,
A new watch for your father
and a winter coat for me.
But as my eyes read on
I could see that deep inside
There were many things you wished for
that your loving heart would hide.
You asked if your friend Molly
could have another dad;
It seems her father hits her
and it makes you very sad.
Then you asked dear Santa
if the neighbors down the street
Could find a job, that he might have
some food, and clothes, and heat.
You saw a family on the news
whose house had blown away;
"Dear Santa, send them just one thing:
a place where they can stay."
"And Santa, those four cookies
that I left you for a treat,
Could you take them to the children
who have nothing else to eat?"
"Do you know that little bear I have--
the one I love so dear?
I'm leaving it for you to take
to Africa this year."
"And as you fly your reindeer
on this night of Jesus' birth,
Could your magic bring to everyone
goodwill and peace on earth?"
"There's one last thing before you go--
so grateful I would be--
If you'd smile at Baby Jesus
in the manger by our tree."
I pulled the letter close to me;
I felt it melt my heart.
Those tiny hands had written
what no other could impart.
"And a little child shall lead them,"
was whispered in my ear
As I watched you sleep on Christmas Eve
while Santa Claus was here.
City of New York, on a cold day in December...
A little boy about 10 years old was standing before a shoe store on Broadway, barefooted, peering through the window, and shivering with cold. A lady approached the boy and said, "My little fellow, why are you looking so earnestly in that window?" "I was asking God to give me a pair of shoes," was the boys reply. The lady took him by the hand and went into the store, and asked the clerk to get half a dozen pairs of socks for the boy. She then asked if he could give her a basin of water and a towel, and he replied: "Certainly," and quickly brought them to her.
She took the little fellow to the back part of the store and, removing her gloves, knelt down, washed his little feet and dried them with a towel. By this time the clerk had returned with the socks. Placing a pair upon the boy's feet, she purchased him a pair of shoes, and tying up the remaining pairs of socks, gave them to him. She patted him on the head and said, "No doubt, my little fellow, you feel more comfortable now?"
As she turned to go, the astonished lad caught her by the hand, and looking up in her face, with tears in his eyes, answered the question with these words, "Are you God's Wife?"
I HAD COME DOWN THE CHIMNEY WITH PRESENTS TO GIVE, AND TO SEE JUST WHO IN THIS HOME DID LIVE.
I LOOKED ALL ABOUT, A STRANGE SIGHT I DID SEE, NO TINSEL, NO PRESENTS, NOT EVEN A TREE.
NO STOCKING BY MANTLE, JUST BOOTS FILLED WITH SAND, ON THE WALL HUNG PICTURES OF FAR DISTANT LANDS.
WITH MEDALS AND BADGES, AWARDS OF ALL KINDS, A SOBER THOUGHT CAME THROUGH MY MIND.
FOR THIS HOUSE WAS DIFFERENT, IT WAS DARK AND DREARY, I FOUND THE HOME OF A SOLDIER, ONCE I COULD SEE CLEARLY.
THE SOLDIER LAY SLEEPING, SILENT, ALONE, CURLED UP ON THE FLOOR IN THIS ONE BEDROOM HOME.
THE FACE WAS SO GENTLE, THE ROOM IN SUCH DISORDER, NOT HOW I PICTURED A UNITED STATES SOLDIER.
WAS THIS THE HERO OF WHOM I'D JUST READ? CURLED UP ON A PONCHO, THE FLOOR FOR A BED?
I REALIZED THE FAMILIES THAT I SAW THIS NIGHT, OWED THEIR LIVES TO THESE SOLDIERS WHO WERE WILLING TO FIGHT.
SOON ROUND THE WORLD, THE CHILDREN WOULD PLAY, AND GROWNUPS WOULD CELEBRATE A BRIGHT CHRISTMAS DAY.
THEY ALL ENJOYED FREEDOM EACH MONTH OF THE YEAR, BECAUSE OF THE SOLDIERS, LIKE THE ONE LYING HERE.
I COULDN'T HELP WONDER HOW MANY LAY ALONE, ON A COLD CHRISTMAS EVE IN A LAND FAR FROM HOME.
THE VERY THOUGHT BROUGHT A TEAR TO MY EYE, I DROPPED TO MY KNEES AND STARTED TO CRY.
THE SOLDIER AWAKENED AND I HEARD A ROUGH VOICE, "SANTA DON'T CRY, THIS LIFE IS MY CHOICE;
I FIGHT FOR FREEDOM, I DON'T ASK FOR MORE, MY LIFE IS MY GOD, MY COUNTRY, MY CORPS."
THE SOLDIER ROLLED OVER AND DRIFTED TO SLEEP, I COULDN'T CONTROL IT, I CONTINUED TO WEEP.
I KEPT WATCH FOR HOURS, SO SILENT AND STILL AND WE BOTH SHIVERED FROM THE COLD NIGHT'S CHILL.
I DIDN'T WANT TO LEAVE ON THAT COLD, DARK, NIGHT, THIS GUARDIAN OF HONOR SO WILLING TO FIGHT.
THEN THE SOLDIER ROLLED OVER, WITH A VOICE SOFT AND PURE, WHISPERED, "CARRY ON SANTA, IT'S CHRISTMAS DAY, ALL IS SECURE."
ONE LOOK AT MY WATCH, AND I KNEW HE WAS RIGHT, MERRY CHRISTMAS MY FRIEND, AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT.
BY: MAJOR BRUCE LOVELY, ADOPTED FROM A SIMILAR POEM
It was nearing the holiday season, 1994, time for our orphans to hear
for the first time, the traditional story of Christmas. We told them
about Mary and Joseph arriving in Bethlehem. Finding no room in the
inn, the couple went to a stable, where the baby Jesus was born and
placed in a manger. Throughout the story, the children and orphanage
staff sat in amazement as they listened. Some sat on the edges of their
stools, trying to grasp every word. Completing the story, we gave the
children three small pieces of cardboard to make a crude manger. Each child
was given a small paper square, cut from yellow napkins I had brought
with me. No colored paper was available in the city.
Following instructions, the children tore the paper and carefully laid strips in the manger for straw. Small squares of flannel, cut from a worn-out nightgown an American lady was throwing away as she left Russia, were used for the baby's blanket. A doll-like baby was cut from tan felt we had brought from the United States. The orphans were busy assembling their manger as I walked among them to see if they needed any help.
All went well until I got to one table where little Misha sat. He looked to be about 6 years old and had finished his project. As I looked at the little boy's manger, I was startled to see not one, but two babies in the manger.
Quickly, I called for the translator to ask the lad why there were two babies in the manger. Crossing his arms in front of him and looking at this completed manger scene, the child began to repeat the story very seriously. For such a young boy, who had only heard the Christmas story once, he related the happenings accurately-until he came to the part where Mary put the baby Jesus in the manger.
Then Misha started to ad-lib. He made up his own ending to the story
as he said,
"And when Maria laid the baby in the manger, Jesus looked at me and asked me if I had a place to stay. I told him I have no mamma and I have no papa, so I don't have any place to stay. Then Jesus told me I could stay with him.
But I told him I couldn't, because I didn't have a gift to give him like everybody else did. But I wanted to stay with Jesus so much, so I thought about what I had that maybe I could use for a gift. I thought maybe if I kept him warm, that would be a good gift. So I asked Jesus,
"If I keep you warm, will that be a good enough gift?" And Jesus told me,
"If you keep me warm, that will be the best gift anybody ever gave me."
"So I got into the manger, and then Jesus looked at me and he told me I could stay with him---for always."
As little Misha finished his story, his eyes brimmed full of tears that splashed down his little cheeks. Putting his hand over his face, his head dropped to the table and his shoulders shook as he sobbed and sobbed.
The little orphan had found someone who would never abandon nor abuse him, someone who would stay with him-FOR ALWAYS.
I've learned that it's not what you have in your life, but who you have in your life that counts.
by Robert Layton
I was holding a notice from my 13-year-old son's school announcing a meeting to preview the new course in sexuality. Parents could examine the curriculum and take part in an actual lesson presented exactly as it would be given to the students.
When I arrived at the school, I was surprised to discover only about a dozen parents there. As we waited for the presentation, I thumbed through page after page of instructions in the prevention of pregnancy or disease. I found abstinence mentioned only in passing.
When the teacher arrived with the school nurse, she asked if there were any questions. I asked why abstinence did not play a noticeable part in the material. What happened next was shocking.
There was a great deal of laughter, and someone suggested that if I thought abstinence had any merit, I should go back to burying my head in the sand. The teacher and the nurse said nothing as I drowned in a sea of embarrassment. My mind had gone blank, and I could think of nothing to say. The teacher explained to me that the job of the school was to teach "facts" and the home was responsible for moral training. I sat in silence for the next 20 minutes as the course was explained. The other parents seemed to give their unqualified support to the materials.
"Donuts at the back," announced the teacher during the break. "I'd like you to put on the name tags we have prepared. They're right by the donuts and mingle with the other parents." Everyone moved to the back of the room. As I watched them affixing their name tags and shaking hands, I sat deep in thought. I was ashamed that I had not been able to convince them to include a serious discussion of abstinence in the materials.
I uttered a silent prayer for guidance. My thoughts were interrupted by the teacher's hand on my shoulder. "Won't you join the others, Mr. Layton?" The nurse smiled sweetly at me. "The donuts are good." "Thank you, no," I replied. "Well, then, how about a name tag? I'm sure the others would like to meet you." "Somehow I doubt that," I replied. "Won't you please join them?" she coaxed. Then I heard a still, small voice whisper, "Don't go." The instruction was unmistakable. "Don't go!" "I'll just wait here," I said.
When the class was called back to order, the teacher looked around the long table and thanked everyone for putting on name tags. She ignored me. Then she said, "Now we're going to give you the same lesson we'll be giving your children.
Everyone please peel off your name tags." I watched in silence as the tags came off. "Now, then, on the back of one of the tags, I drew a tiny flower. Who has it, please?" The gentleman across from me held it up. "Here it is!" "All right," she said. "The flower represents disease. Do you recall with whom you shook hands?" He pointed to a couple of people. "Very good," she replied. "The handshake in this case is intimacy. So the two people you had contact with now have the disease."
There was laughter and joking among the parents. The teacher continued, "And with whom did the two of YOU shake hands? "The point was well taken, and she explained how this lesson would show students how quickly disease is spread. "Since we all shook hands, we all have the disease"
It was then that I heard the still, small voice again. "Speak now," it said, "but be humble." I noted wryly the latter admonition, then rose from my chair. I apologized for any upset I might have caused earlier, congratulated the teacher on an excellent lesson that would impress the youth, and concluded by saying I had only one small point I wished to make.
"Not all of us were infected," I said. "One of us ABSTAINED"
Once there was a man who dared God to speak:
Burn the bush like you did for Moses, God. And I will follow.
Collapse the wall like you did for Joshua, God. And I will fight.
Still the waves like you did on Galilee, God. And I will listen.
And so the man sat by a bush, near a wall, close to the sea and waited for God to speak.
And God heard the man, so God answered.
He sent fire, not for a bush, but for a church.
He brought down a wall, not of brick, but of sin.
He stilled a storm, not of sea , but of soul.
And God waited for the man to respond.
And He waited...
And He waited...
And He waited...
But because the man was looking at bushes, not hearts; bricks and not lives; sea and not souls, he decided that God had done nothing.
Finally he looked to God and asked, Have you lost your power?
And God looked at him and said, Have you lost your hearing?
Angel of God,
my Guardian dear,
to whom His love
commits me here,
ever this day (or night)
be at my side,
to light and guard,
to rule and guide.
A Mother's Prayer to the Guardian Angels of her children
I humbly salute you, O you faithful, heavenly Friends of my children! I give
you heartfelt thanks for all the love and goodness you show them. At some
future day I shall, with thanks more worthy than I can now give, repay your
care for them, and before the whole heavenly court acknowledge their
indebtedness to your guidance and protection. Continue to watch over them.
Provide for all their needs of body and soul. Pray, likewise, for me, for my
husband, and my whole family, that we may all one day rejoice in your
Prayer to Our Holy Guardian Angels
Heavenly Father, Your infinite love for us has chosen a blessed angel in
heaven and appointed him our guide during this earthly pilgrimage. Accept
our thanks for so great ablessing. Grant that we may experience the
assistance of our holy protector in all our necessities. And you, holy,
loving angel and guide, watch over us with all the tenderness of your
angelic heart. Keep us always on the way that leads to heaven, and cease not
to pray for us until we have attained our final destiny, eternal salvation.
Then we shall love you for all eternity. We shall praise and glorify you
unceasingly for all the good you have done for us while here on earth.
Especially be a faithful and watchful protector of our children. Take our
place, and supply what may be wanting to us through human frailty,
short-sightedness, or sinful neglect. Lighten, O you perfect servants of
God, our heavy task. Guide our children, that they may become like unto
Jesus, may imitate Him faithfully, and persevere till they attain eternal
Another Prayer to the Guardian Angels
My good Angel, Thou comest from heaven; God has sent thee to take care of
me. Oh, shelter me under thy wings. Lighten my path, direct my steps. Do not
leave me, stay quite near me and defend me against the spirit of evil. But
above all come to my help in the last struggle of my life. Deliver my soul
so that with thee it may praise, love and contemplate the goodness of God
forever and ever.
Thank thee for this pile of dirty, stinky laundry, We have plenty of nice clothes to wear.
And I would like to thank thee, Lord, for those unmade beds in there, They were so warm and so comfortable last night. I know that many have no bed.
My thanks to thee, Lord, for this bathroom, complete with all the splattered mirrors, soggy, grimy towels and dirty lavatory. They are so convenient.
Thank thee 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 thee 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 thee, 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 thou hast richly blessed my family. I shall do them all cheerfully and I shall do them gratefully.
The last class I had to take was Sociology. The teacher was absolutely inspiring with the qualities that I wish every human being had been graced with. Her last project of the term was called "Smile." The class was asked to go out and smile at three people and document their reaction. I am a very friendly person and always smile at everyone and say hello anyway...so, I thought, this would be a piece of cake.
Soon after we were assigned the project, my husband, youngest son, and I went out to McDonalds, one crisp March morning. It was just our way of sharing special play time with our son. We were standing in line, waiting to be served, when all of a sudden everyone around us began to back away, and then even my husband did. I did not move an inch...an overwhelming feeling of panic welled up inside of me as I turned to see why they had moved.
As I turned around I smelled a horrible "dirty body" smell, and there standing behind me were two poor homeless men. As I looked down at the short gentleman close to me, he was "smiling". His beautiful eyes were searching for acceptance.
He said, "Good day" as he counted the few coins he had been clutching. The second man fumbled with his hands as he stood behind his friend. I realized the second man was mentally deficient and this gentleman was his salvation. I held my tears as I stood there with them.
The young lady at the counter asked him what they wanted. He said, "Coffee is all Miss" because that was all they could afford (to sit in the restaurant and warm up they had to buy something...they just wanted to be warm).
Then I really felt it...the compulsion was so great I almost reached out and embraced the little man with the gentle eyes. That is when I noticed all eyes in the restaurant were set on me, judging my every action.
I smiled and asked the young lady behind the counter to give me two more breakfast meals on a separate tray. I then walked around the corner to the table that the men had chosen as a resting spot.
I put the tray on the table and laid my hand on the gentleman's cold hand. He looked up at me, with tears in his eyes, and said, "Thank you." I leaned over, began to pat his hand and said, "I did not do this for you...God is here working through me to give you hope."
I started to cry as I walked away to join my husband and son. When I sat down, my husband smiled at me and said, "That is why God gave you to me, honey....to give me hope."
I returned to college, on the last evening of class, with this story in hand. I turned in "my project" and the instructor read it...then she looked up at me and said, "Can I share this?" I slowly nodded as she got the attention of the class. She began to read and that is when I knew that we, as human beings, all share this need to heal.
In my own way I had touched the people at McDonalds, my husband, son, Instructor, and every soul that shared the classroom on the last night I spent as a college student. I graduated with one of the biggest lessons I would ever learn...about unconditional acceptance.
A woman was waiting at an airport one night,
With several long hours before her flight.
She hunted for a book in the airport shop,
Bought a bag of cookies and found a place to drop.
She was engrossed in her book, but happened to see
That the man beside her, as bold as could be,
Grabbed a cookie or two from the bag between,
Which she tried to ignore, to avoid a scene.
She read, munched cookies and watched the clock,
As the gutsy "cookie thief " diminished her stock.
She was getting more irritated as the minutes ticked by,
Thinking "If I wasn't so nice, I'd blacken his eye!"
With each cookie she took, he took one, too.
When only one was left, she wondered what he'd do.
With a smile on his face and a nervous laugh,
He took the last cookie and broke it in half.
He offered her half, as he ate the other.
She snatched it from him and thought, "Oh brother,
This guy has some nerve, and he's also rude.
Why, he didn't even show any gratitude!"
She had never known when she had been so galled,
And sighed with relief when her flight was called.
She gathered her belongings and headed for the gate,
Refusing to look back at the "thieving ingrate."
She boarded the plane and sank in her seat,
Then sought her book, which was almost complete.
As she reached in her baggage, she gasped with surprise.
There was her bag of cookies in front of her eyes!...
"If mine are here," she moaned with despair,
"Then the others were his and he tried to share!"
Too late to apologize, she realized with grief
That she was the rude one, the ingrate, the thief!
"For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly
Father will also forgive you."
When his car had slowed to 10 miles an hour, Jack pulled over, but only partially. Let the cop worry about the potential traffic hazard. Maybe some other car will tweak his backside with a mirror.
He slumped into his seat, the collar of his trench coat covering his ears. He tapped the steering wheel, doing his best to look bored, his eyes on the mirror. The cop was stepping out of his car, the big pad in hand.
Bob? Bob from church? Jack sunk farther into his trench coat. This was worse than the coming ticket. A Christian cop catching a guy from his own church. A guy who happened to be a little eager to get home after a long day at the office. A guy he was about to play golf with tomorrow.
Jack was tempted to leave the window shut long enough to gain the psychological edge but decided on a different tack. Jumping out of the car, he approached a man he saw every Sunday, a man he'd never seen in uniform.
"Hi, Bob. Fancy meeting you like this."
"Hello, Jack." No smile.
"Guess you caught me red-handed in a rush to see my wife and kids."
"Yeah, I guess." Bob seemed uncertain. Good.
"I've seen some long days at the office lately. I'm afraid I bent the rules a bit-just this once."
Jack toed at a pebble on the pavement.
"Diane said something about roast beef and potatoes tonight. Know what I mean?"
"I know what you mean. I also know that you have a reputation in our precinct."
Ouch. This was not going in the right direction. Time to change tactics.
"What'd you clock me at?"
"Seventy-one. Would you sit back in your car, please?"
"Now wait a minute here, Bob. I checked as soon as I saw you. I was barely nudging 65."
The lie seemed to come easier with every ticket.
"Please, Jack, in the car."
Flustered, Jack hunched himself through the still-open door. Slamming it shut, he stared at the dashboard. He was in no rush to open the window.
The minutes ticked by. Bob scribbled away on the pad. Why hadn't he asked for a driver's license? Whatever the reason, it would be a month of Sundays before Jack ever sat near this cop again.
A tap on the door jerked his head to the left. There was Bob, a folded paper in hand. Jack rolled down the window a mere two inches, just enough room for Bob to pass him the slip.
"Thanks." Jack could not quite keep the sneer out of his voice.
Bob returned to his car without a word. Jack watched his retreat in the mirror, bottom teeth scratching his upper lip. When Bob vanished inside his car, jack unfolded the sheet of paper. How much was this one going to cost?
Wait a minute. What was this? Some kind of joke? Certainly not a ticket. Jack began to read:
Once upon a time I had a daughter. She was six when killed by a car. You guessed it-a speeding driver. A fine and three months in jail, and the man was free. Free to hug his daughters. All three of them.
I only had one, and I'm going to have to wait until heaven before I can ever hug her again.
A thousand times I've tried to forgive that man.
A thousand times I thought I had. Maybe I did, but I need to do it again.
Even now. Pray for me. And be careful. My son is all I have left.
Jack shifted uncomfortably in his trench coat. Then he twisted around in time to see Bob's car pull away and head down the road. Jack watched until it disappeared.
A full 15 minutes later, he, too, pulled away and drove slowly home, praying for forgiveness , and hugging a surprised wife and kids when he arrived.
John R. Thomas, Police Officer
Village of Pinecrest Police Department
11555 South Dixie Highway
Miami, Florida 33156
(305) 234-2100 (305) 234-2132 fax
I asked God to take away my pride.
God said, "No, it is not for me to take away, but for you to give it up."
I asked God to make my handicapped child whole.
God said, "No, her spirit is whole, her body only temporary."
I asked God to grant me patience.
God said, "No, patience is a by-product of tribulations;it isn't granted, it is earned."
I asked God to give me happiness.
God said, "No, I give you blessings, happiness is up to you."
I asked God to spare me pain.
God said, "No, suffering draws you apart from worldly cares and brings you closer to me."
I asked God to make my spirit grow.
God said, "No, you must grow on your own, but I will prune you to make you fruitful.
I asked God for all things that I may enjoy life.
God said, "No, I will give you life so that you may enjoy all things."
I ask God to help me LOVE others, as much as God loves me.
God said, "Ahhhh.........finally you have the idea!"
A story is told about a soldier who was finally coming home after having fought in Vietnam. He called his parents from San Francisco. "Mom and Dad, I'm coming home, but I've a favor to ask. I have a friend I'd like to bring home with me." "Sure," they replied, "we'd love to meet him."
"There's something you should know." the son continued, "he was hurt pretty badly in the fighting. He stepped on a land mind and lost an arm and a leg. He has nowhere else to go, and I want him to come live with us."
"I'm sorry to hear that, son. Maybe we can help him find somewhere to live." "No, Mom and Dad, I want him to live with us." "Son," said the father, "you don't know what you're asking. Someone with such a handicap would be a terrible burden on us. We have our own lives to live, and we can't let something like this interfere with our lives. I think you should just come home and forget about this guy. He'll find a way to live on his own."
At that point, the son hung up the phone. The parents heard nothing more from him. A few days later, however, they received a call from the San Francisco police. Their son had died after falling from a building, they were told. The police believed it was suicide. The grief-stricken parents flew to San Francisco and were taken to the city morgue to identify the body of their son. They recognized him, but to their horror they also discovered something they didn't know, their son had only one arm and one leg.
The parents in this story are like many of us. We find it easy to love those who are good-looking or fun to have around, but we don't like people who inconvenience us or make us feel uncomfortable. We would rather stay away from people who aren't as healthy, beautiful, or smart as we are.
Thankfully, there's someone who won't treat us that way. Someone who loves us with an unconditional love that welcomes us into the forever family, regardless of how messed up we are.
Tonight, before you tuck yourself in for the night, say a little prayer that God will give you the strength you need to accept people as they are, and to help us all be more understanding of those who are different from us!!!
There's a miracle called Friendship
That dwells in the heart
You don't know how it happens
Or when it gets started
But you know the special lift
It always brings
And you realize that Friendship
Is God's most precious gift!
Friends are a very rare jewel, indeed.
They make you smile and encourage you to succeed
They lend an ear, they share a word of praise, and they always want to open their hearts to us.
Show your friends how much you care....
A man fell into a pit and couldn't get himself out.
A subjective person came along and said, "I feel for you down there."
An objective person walked by and said, "It's logical that someone would fall down there."
A Pharisee said, "Only bad people fall into pits."
A mathematician calculated how he fell into the pit.
A news reporter wanted the exclusive story on the pit.
An IRS agent asked if he was paying taxes on the pit.
A self-pitying person said, "You haven't seen anything until you've seem my pit."
A fire-and-brimstone preacher said, "You deserve your pit."
A Christian Scientist observed, "The pit is just in your mind."
A psychologist noted, "Your mother and father are to blame for your being in that pit."
A self-esteem therapist said, "Believe in yourself and you can get out of that pit."
An optimist said, "Things could be worse."
A pessimist claimed, "Things will get worse."
Jesus, seeing the man, took him by the hand and lifted him out of the pit.
When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guidebooks and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum, Michelangelo's David, the gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting!
After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You packyour bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."
"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean, Holland? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy! All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy!"
But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland,and there you must stay.
The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible,disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.
So you must go out and buy new guidebooks. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.
It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around, and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills, Holland has tulips, Holland even has Rembrandts.
But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy, and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say, "Yes That's what I had planned." The pain of that will never, ever, ever go away, because the loss of that dream is a very significant loss.
But if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things about Holland.
At the University of Chicago Divinity School each year they have what
is called "Baptist Day". It is a day when all the Baptists in the area
are invited to the school because they want the Baptist dollars to
keep coming in.
On this day each one is to bring a lunch to be eaten outdoors in a grassy picnic area. Every "Baptist Day" the school would invite one of the greatest minds to lecture in the theological education center. One year they invited Dr. Paul Tillich. Dr. Tillich spoke for two and one-half hours proving that the resurrection of Jesus was false. He quoted scholar after scholar and book after book. He concluded that since there was no such thing as the historical resurrection the religious tradition of the church was groundless, emotional mumbo-jumbo, because it was based on a relationship with a risen Jesus, who, in fact, never rose from the dead in any literal sense. He then asked if there were any questions.
After about 30 seconds, an old, dark skinned preacher with a head of
short-cropped, woolly white hair stood up in the back of the
"Docta Tillich, I got one question," he said as all eyes turned toward him. He reached into his sack lunch and pulled out an apple and began eating it.
"Docta Tillich ..." CRUNCH, MUNCH ... "My question is a simple question," CRUNCH, MUNCH ..."Now I ain't never read them books you read ... " CRUNCH, MUNCH ... "and I can't recite the Scriptures in the original Greek ..." CRUNCH, MUNCH ... "I don't know nothin' about Niebuhr and Heidegger ..." CRUNCH, MUNCH ... He finished the apple.
"All I wanna know is: This apple I just ate -- was it bitter or sweet?"
Dr. Tillich paused for a moment and answered in exemplary scholarly fashion, "I cannot possibly answer that question, for I haven't tasted your apple."
The white-haired preacher dropped the core of his apple into his crumpled paper bag, looked up at Dr. Tillich and said calmly,
"Neither have you tasted my Jesus."
The 1,000 plus in attendance could not contain themselves. The auditorium erupted with applause and cheers. Dr. Tillich thanked his audience and promptly left the platform.
Psalm 34:8 reads: "Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him." When you've tasted God's joy, it is always there for you to get back in touch with. That's what rejoicing is!
From: Bill Brown (firstname.lastname@example.org)
On the table side by side
The Holy Bible and the T.V. Guide
One is well worn but cherished with pride,
But that one is not the Bible, it's the T.V. Guide.
One is used daily to help folks decide,
No! it isn't the Bible, it's the T.V. Guide.
As the pages are turned what shall they see?
Oh! it doesn't matter, just turn on the T.V.
Then confusion is started, for they can't all agree
On what they shall watch on the old T.V.
So they refer to the book in which they all confide
But it isn't the Bible, it's the T.V. Guide.
The Word of God is seldom read.
Maybe a verse before they fall into bed.
Exhausted and sleepy and tired as can be,
Not from reading the Bible, but from watching T.V.
Then back to the table side by side,
The Holy Bible and the T.V. Guide.
No time for prayer, No time for the Word.
The plan of salvation is seldom heard.
Forgiveness of sin so full and free
We find in the Bible and not on T.V.!
From: "BEVERLY WILSON" (bwilson@Chairdom.dom.uab.edu)
Subject: Another Lesson in Life (from Cursillo list)
A while back I was reading about an expert on subject of time management. One day this expert was speaking to a group of business students and, to drive home a point, used an illustration those students will never forget.
As this man stood in front of the group of high-powered over-achievers he said, "Okay, time for a quiz." Then he pulled out a one-gallon, wide-mouthed mason jar and set it on a table in front of him. Then he 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 said, "Yes." Then he said, "Really?" He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. Then he dumped some gravel in and shook the jar causing pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the spaces between the big rocks.
Then he asked the group once more, "Is the jar full?" By this time the class was onto 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 and it went into all 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 up 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 into 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? A project that YOU want to accomplish? Time with your loved ones? Your faith, your education, your finances? A cause? Teaching or mentoring others?
Remember to put these BIG ROCKS in first, or you'll never get them in at all.
From: "dennisjr" (email@example.com)
A young man was getting ready to graduate from college. For many months he had admired a beautiful sports car in a dealer's showroom, and knowing his father could well afford it, he told him that was all he wanted.
As Graduation Day approached, the young man awaited signs that his father had purchased the car. Finally, on the morning of his graduation, his father called him into his private study. His father told him how proud he was to have such a fine son, and told him how much he loved him. He handed his son a beautifully wrapped gift box.
Curious, and somewhat disappointed, the young man opened the box and found a lovely, leather-bound Bible, with the young man's name embossed in gold. Angry, he rose his voice to his father and said "with all your money you give me a Bible?" and stormed out of the house.
Many years passed and the young man was very successful in business. He had a beautiful home and wonderful family, but realized his father was very old, and thought perhaps he should go to him. He had not seen him since that graduation day. Before he could make arrangements, he received a telegram telling him his father had passed away, and willed all of his possessions to his son. He needed to come home immediately and take care of things.
When he arrived at his father's house, sudden sadness and regret filled his heart. He began to search through his father's important papers and saw the still new Bible, just as he had left it years ago. With tears, he opened the Bible and began to turn the pages. His father had carefully underlined a verse, Matt.7:11, "And if ye, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Heavenly Father which is in Heaven, give to those who ask Him?"
As he read those words, a car key dropped from the back of the Bible. It had a tag with the dealer's name, the same dealer who had the sports car he had desired. On the tag was the date of his graduation, and the words PAID IN FULL.
How many times do we miss God's blessings because they are not packaged as we expected?
Three monkeys sat in a coconut tree
Discussing things as they're said to be.
Said one to the others, "Now listen you two,
There's a certain rumor that can't be true.
That man descended from our noble race.
The very idea! It's a dire disgrace.
No monkey ever deserted his wife,
Starved his baby and ruined her life.
And you've never known a mother monk,
To leave her baby with others to bunk,
Or pass them on from one to the other,
Till they hardly know who is their mother.
And another thing you'll never see
A monk build a fence around a coconut tree,
And let the coconuts go to waste,
Forbidding all other monks a taste.
Why, if I put a fence around this tree,
Starvation would force you to steal from me.
Here's another thing a monk won't do,
Go out at night and get on a stew.
Or use a gun or club or knife,
To take some other Monkey's life.
Yes! Man descended, the ornery cuss,
But, brother, he didn't descend from us!!!
A member of a certain church, who previously had been attending services regularly, stopped going. After a few weeks, the pastor decided to visit him. It was a chilly evening. The pastor found the man at home alone, sitting before a blazing fire. Guessing the reason for his pastor's visit, the man welcomed him, led him to a big chair near the fireplace and waited. The pastor made himself comfortable but said nothing. In grave silence, he contemplated the play of the flames around the burning logs. After some minutes, the pastor took the fire tongs, carefully picked up a brightly burning ember and placed it to one side of the hearth all alone. Then he sat back in his chair, still silent. The host watched all this in quiet fascination. As the one lone ember's flame diminished, there was a momentary glow and then its fire was no more. Soon it was cold and "dead as a doornail." Not a word had been spoken since the initial greeting.
Just before the pastor was ready to leave, he picked up the cold, dead ember and placed it back in the middle of the fire. Immediately it began to glow once more with the light and warmth of the burning coals around it. As the pastor reached the door to leave, his host said, "Thank you so much for the visit and especially for the fiery sermon. I shall be back in church next Sunday."
Subject: Happy Father's Day to all you dad's
A friend sent this to me and I thought it would be appropriate for father's day.
4 Years Old -My Daddy can do anything.
5 Years Old -My Daddy knows a whole lot.
6 Years Old -My Daddy is smarter than your Dad.
8 Years Old -My dad doesn't know exactly everything.
10 Years Old - In the olden days when my Dad grew up, things were different.
12 Years Old - Oh well, naturally, Father doesn't know anything about that. He is too old to remember his childhood.
14 Years Old - Don't pay any attention to my Father. He is so old fashioned.
21 Years Old - Him? Lord, he's so hopelessly out of date.
25 Years Old - Dad knows a little about it, but then he should, because he's been around so long.
30 Years Old - Maybe we should ask Dad what he thinks. After all, he's had a lot of experience.
35 Years Old - I'm not going to do a single thing until I talk to Dad.
40 Years Old - I wonder how Dad would have handled it. He was so wise and had a world of experience.
50 Years Old - I'd give anything if Dad were here now so I could talk this over with him.
Too bad I didn't appreciate how smart he was.
Like any good mother, when Karen found out that another baby was on the way, she did what she could to help her 3-year-old son, Michael, prepare for a new sibling. They find out that the new baby is going to be a girl, and day after day, night after night, Michael sings to his sister in Mommy's tummy. The pregnancy progresses normally for Karen, an active member of the Panther Creek United Methodist Church in Morristown, Tennessee. Then the labor pains come. Every five minutes..every minute. But complications arise during delivery. Hours of labor. Would a C-section be required? Finally, Michael's little sister is born. But she is in serious condition. With siren howling in the night, the ambulance rushes the infant to the neonatal intensive care unit at St. Mary's Hospital, Knoxville, Tennessee.
The days inch by. The little girl gets worse. The pediatric specialist tells the parents, "There is very little hope. Be prepared for the worst." Karen and her husband contact a local cemetery about a burial plot. They have fixed up a special room in their home for the new baby, now they plan a funeral. Michael, keeps begging his parents to let him see his sister, "I want to sing to her," he says. Week two in intensive care. It looks as if a funeral will come before the week is over. Michael keeps nagging about singing to his sister, but kids are never allowed in Intensive Care. Karen makes up her mind. She will take Michael whether they like it or not. If he doesn't see his sister now, he may never see her alive.
She dresses him in an oversized scrub suit and marches him into ICU. He looks like a walking laundry basket, but the head nurse recognizes him as a child and bellows, "Get that kid out of here now! No children are allowed in ICU." The mother rises up strong in Karen, and the usually mild-mannered lady glares steel-eyed into the head nurse's face, her lips a firm line. "He is not leaving until he sings to his sister!" Karen tows Michael to his sister's bedside. He gazes at the tiny infant losing the battle to live. And he begins to sing. In the pure hearted voice of a 3-year-old, Michael sings: "You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy when skies are gray --- "Instantly the baby girl responds. The pulse rate becomes calm and steady. Keep on singing, Michael. "You never know, dear, how much I love you, Please don't take my sunshine away---" The ragged, strained breathing becomes as smooth as a kitten's purr. Keep on singing, Michael. "The other night, dear, as I lay sleeping, I dreamed I held you in my arms... "Michael's little sister relaxes as rest, healing rest, seems to sweep over her. Tears conquer the face of the bossy head nurse. Karen glows. "You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. Please don't, take my sunshine away."
The girl is well enough to go home!
Woman's Day magazine called it "The miracle of a brother's song." The
medical staff just called it a miracle. Karen called it a miracle of
God's love. A few weeks later, Michael's little sister was baptized at
the Panther Creek Church.
from the Emmaus mail list, author unknown (sigh...)
A little boy was spending his Saturday morning playing in his sandbox. He had with him his box of cars and trucks, his plastic pail, and a shiny, red plastic shovel. In the process of creating roads and tunnels in the soft sand, he discovered a large rock in the middle of the sandbox. The lad dug around the rock, managing to dislodge it from the dirt. With a bit of struggle, he pushed and nudged the rock across the sandbox by using his feet. (He was a very small boy and the rock was very huge.) When the boy got the rock to the edge of the sandbox, however, he found that he couldn't roll it up and over the little wall. Determined, the little boy shoved, pushed, and pried, but every time he thought he had made some progress, the rock tipped and then fell back into the sandbox. The little boy grunted, struggled, pushed, shoved--but his only reward was to have the rock roll back, smashing his chubby fingers. Finally he burst into tears of frustration.
All this time the boy's father watched from his living room window as the drama unfolded. At the moment the tears fell, a large shadow fell across the boy and the sandbox. It was the boy's father. Gently but firmly he said, "Son, why didn't you use all the strength that you had available?" Defeated, the boy sobbed back, "But I did, Daddy, I did! I used all the strength that I had!" "No, son," corrected the father kindly. "You didn't use all the strength you had. You didn't ask me." With that the father reached down, picked up the rock, and removed it from the sandbox.
Do you have "rocks" in your life that need to be removed?
Are you discovering that you don't have what it takes to lift them?
There is One who is always available to us and willing to give us the strength we need.
'ALL WE HAVE TO DO IS ASK'
author unknown (sigh...)
submitted by Gizzymo1@aol.com
Our house was directly across the street from the clinic entrance of John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. We lived downstairs and rented the upstairs rooms to out patients at the clinic.
One summer evening as I was fixing supper, there was a knock at the door. I opened it to see a truly awful looking man. "Why, he's hardly taller than my eight-year-old," I thought as I stared at the stooped, shrivelled body. But the appalling thing was his face -- lopsided from swelling, red and raw.
Yet his voice was pleasant as he said, "Good evening. I've come to see if you've a room for just one night. I came for a treatment this morning from the eastern shore, and there's no bus till morning." He told me he'd been hunting for a room since noon but with no success, no one seemed to have a room. "I guess it's my face... I know it looks terrible, but my doctor says with a few more treatments . . ."
For a moment I hesitated, but his next words convinced me: "I could sleep in this rocking chair on the porch. My bus leaves early in the morning."
I told him we would find him a bed, but to rest on the porch. I went inside and finished getting supper. When we were ready, I asked the old man if he would join us. "No thank you. I have plenty." And he held up a brown paper bag.
When I had finished the dishes, I went out on the porch to talk with him a few minutes. It didn't take long time to see that this old man had an oversized heart crowded into that tiny body. He told me he fished for a living to support his daughter, her five children, and her husband, who was hopelessly crippled from a back injury. He didn't tell it by way of complaint; in fact, every other sentence was preface with a thanks to God for a blessing.
He was grateful that no pain accompanied his disease, which was apparently a form of skin cancer. He thanked God for giving him the strength to keep going. At bedtime, we put a camp cot in the children's room for him. When I got up in the morning, the bed linens were neatly folded and the little man was out on the porch. He refused breakfast, but just before he left for his bus, haltingly, as if asking a great favour, he said, "Could I please come back and stay the next time I have a treatment? I won't put you out a bit. I can sleep fine in a chair." He pause a moment and then added, "Your children made me feel at home. Grownups are bothered by my face, but children don't seem to mind."
I told him he was welcome to come again. And on his next trip he arrived a little after seven in the morning. As a gift, he brought a big fish and a quart of the largest oysters I had ever seen. He said he had shucked them that morning before he left so that they'd be nice and fresh I knew his bus left at 4:00 a.m. and I wondered what time he had to get up in order to do this for us.
In the years he came to stay overnight with us there was never a time that he did not bring us fish or oysters or vegetables from his garden. Other times we received packages in the mail, always by special delivery; fish and oysters packed in a box of fresh young spinach or kale, every leaf carefully washed. Knowing that he must walk three miles to mail these, and knowing how little money he had made the gifts doubly precious. When I received these little remembrances, I often thought of a comment our next-door neighbour made after he left that first morning. "Did you keep that awful looking man last night? I turned him away! You can lose roomers by putting up such people!" Maybe we did lose roomers once or twice. But oh! If only they could have known him, perhaps their illnesses would have been easier to bear. I know our family always will be grateful to have known him; from him we learned what it was to accept the bad without complaint and the good with gratitude to God.
Recently I was visiting a friend who has a greenhouse, As she showed me her flowers, we came to the most beautiful one of all, a golden chrysanthemum, bursting with blooms. But to my great surprise, it was growing in an old dented, rusty bucket. I thought to myself, "If this were my plant, I'd put it in the loveliest container I had!" My friend changed my mind. "I ran short of pots," she explained, "and knowing how beautiful this one would be, I thought it wouldn't mind starting out in this old pail. It's just for a little while,till I can put it out in the garden."
She must have wondered why I laughed so delightedly, but I was imagining just such a scene in heaven. "Here's an especially beautiful one," God might have said when he came to the soul of the sweet old fisherman. "He won't mind starting in this small body."
All this happened long ago -- and now, in God's garden, how tall this lovely soul must stand.
Source of article could not be traced
Memorial Day was over now,
All had left and I was alone.
I began to read the names and dates
Chiseled there on every stone.
The dates which showed whether it
was Mom or Dad or daughter or baby son.
The dates were different but the amount the same,
There were two on every one.
It was then I noticed something,
It was but a simple line;
It was the dash between the dates
Placed there it stood for time.
All at once it dawned on me
How important that little line.
The dates placed there belonged to God
But that line is yours and mine.
It's God who gives this precious life
And God who takes away;
But that line He gives to us
To do with what we may.
We know God's written the first date down
Of each and every one,
And we know those hands will write again,
For the last date has to come.
We know He'll write the last date down,
And soon, we know, for some,
But upon the line between my dates
I hope He'll write "Well done!".
by Lucille Britt
A minister passing through his church in the middle of the day, Decided to pause by the altar and see who had come to pray. Just then the back door opened, a man came down the aisle, The minister frowned as he saw the man hadn't shaved in awhile. His shirt was kinda' shabby and his coat was worn and frayed. The man knelt, he bowed his head, then rose and walked away. In the days that followed, each noon time came this chap, Each time he knelt just for a moment, a lunch pail in his lap. Well, the minister's suspicions grew, with robbery a main fear, He decided to stop the man and ask him, "Watcha' doin' here?" The old man, he worked down the road. Lunch was half an hour. Lunchtime was his prayer time, for finding strength and power. "I stay only moments, see, 'cause the factory is so far away; As I kneel here talking' to the Lord, this is kinda' what I say:
"I JUST CAME AGAIN TO TELL YOU, LORD, HOW HAPPY I'VE BEEN, SINCE WE FOUND EACH OTHER'S FRIENDSHIP AND YOU TOOK AWAY MY SIN. I DON'T KNOW MUCH OF HOW TO PRAY, BUT I THINK ABOUT YOU EVERYDAY. SO, JESUS, THIS IS JIM CHECKIN' IN."
The minister feeling foolish, told Jim, that was fine. He told the man he was welcome to come and pray just anytime. Time to go, Jim smiled, said "Thanks." He hurried to the door. The minister knelt at the altar, he'd never done it before. His cold heart melted, warmed with love, met with Jesus there. As the tears flowed, in his heart, he repeated old Jim's prayer:
"I JUST CAME AGAIN TO TELL YOU, LORD, HOW HAPPY I'VE BEEN, SINCE WE FOUND EACH OTHER'S FRIENDSHIP AND YOU TOOK AWAY MY SIN. I DON'T KNOW MUCH OF HOW TO PRAY, BUT I THINK ABOUT YOU EVERYDAY. SO, JESUS, THIS IS ME CHECKIN' IN."
Past noon one day, the minister noticed that old Jim hadn't come. As more days passed with out Jim, he began to worry some. At the factory, he asked about him, learning he was ill. The hospital staff was worried, but he'd given them a thrill. The week that Jim was with them, brought changes in the ward. His smiles, a joy contagious. Changed people, his reward. The head nurse couldn't understand why Jim was so glad, When no flowers, calls or cards came, not a visitor he had. The minister stayed by his bed, he voiced the nurse's concern: No friends came to show they cared. He had nowhere to turn. Looking surprised, old Jim spoke up and with a winsome smile; "The nurse is wrong, she couldn't know, that all the while Everyday at noon He's here, a dear friend of mine, you see, He sits right down, takes my hand, leans over and says to me:
"I JUST CAME AGAIN TO TELL YOU, JIM, HOW HAPPY I HAVE BEEN, SINCE WE FOUND THIS FRIENDSHIP, AND I TOOK AWAY YOUR SIN. I ALWAYS LOVE TO HEAR YOU PRAY, I THINK ABOUT YOU EACH DAY, AND SO JIM, THIS IS JESUS CHECKIN' IN."
His name is John. He has wild hair, wears a T-shirt with holes in it, jeans and no shoes. This was literally his wardrobe for his entire four years of college. He is brilliant. Kinda esoteric and very, very bright. He became a Christian while attending college.
Across the street from the campus is a well-dressed, very conservative church. They want to develop a ministry to the students, but are not sure how to go about it. One day John decides to go there. He walks in with no shoes, jeans, his T-shirt, and wild hair. The service has already started and so John starts down the aisle looking for a seat. The church is completely packed and he can't find a seat. By now people are looking a bit uncomfortable, but no one says anything. John gets closer and closer and closer to the pulpit and when he realizes there are no seats, he just squats down right on the carpet. (Although perfectly acceptable behavior at a college fellowship, trust me, this had never happened in this church before!) By now the people are really uptight, and the tension in the air is thick.
About this time, the minister realizes that from way at the back of the church, a deacon is slowly making his way toward John. Now the deacon is in his eighties, has silver-gray hair, a three-piece suit, and a pocket watch. A godly man, very elegant, very dignified, very courtly. He walks with a cane and as he starts walking toward this boy, everyone is saying to themselves, "You can't blame him for what he's going to do. How can you expect a man of his age and of his background to understand some college kid on the floor?"
It takes a long time for the man to reach the boy. The church is utterly silent except for the clicking of the man's cane. All eyes are focused on him. You can't even hear anyone breathing. The people are thinking, "The minister can't even preach the sermon until the deacon does what he has to do." And now they see this elderly man drop his cane on the floor. With great difficulty he lowers himself and sits down next to John and worships with him so he won't be alone. Everyone chokes up with emotion. When the minister gains control he says, "What I'm about to preach, you will never remember. What you have just seen, you will never forget."
I passed a group of men in my home town,
A group of men tearing a building down.
With a heave and a ho and mighty yell,
They swung a beam and the side wall fell.
I asked the foreman "are these men skilled?
Are they the kind you'd hire if you'd want to build?"
He laughed and said "why no, indeed!
Why common labor is all I need,
For, I can tear down in a day or two,
What it took a builder ten years to do."
And I asked myself as I walked away,
"Which of these roles am I going to play?
Will I be the kind that constantly tears down,
As I make my way foolishly around.
Or will I be the kind that builds with care,
And hope my church will be glad I was there?"
Gary Utz ..."a keeper of the stream"
From: Michael Bonham (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Back in the fifteenth century, in a tiny village near Nuremberg, lived a family with eighteen children. Eighteen! In order merely to keep food on the table for this mob, the father and head of the house hold, a goldsmith by profession, worked almost eighteen hours a day at his trade and any other paying chore he could find in the neighborhood.
Despite their seemingly hopeless condition, two of Albrecht Durer the Elder's children had a dream. They both wanted to pursue their talent for art, but they knew full well that their father would never be financially able to send either of them to Nuremberg to study at the Academy.
After many long discussions at night in their crowded bed, the two boys finally worked out a pact. They would toss a coin. The loser would go down into the nearby mines and, with his earnings, support his brother while he attended the academy. Then, when that brother who won the toss completed his studies, in four years, he would support the other brother at the academy, either with sales of his artwork or, if necessary, also by laboring in the mines.
They tossed a coin on a Sunday morning after church. Albrecht Durer won the toss and went off to Nuremberg.
Albert went down into the dangerous mines and, for the next four years, financed his brother, whose work at the academy was almost an immediate sensation. Albrecht's etchings, his woodcuts, and his oils were far better than those of most of his professors, and by the time he graduated, he was beginning to earn considerable fees for his commissioned works.
When the young artist returned to his village, the Durer family held a festive dinner on their lawn to celebrate Albrecht's triumphant homecoming. After a long and memorable meal, punctuated with music and laughter, Albrecht rose from his honored position at the head of the table to drink a toast to his beloved brother for the years of sacrifice that had enabled Albrecht to fulfill his ambition. His closing words were, "And now, Albert, blessed brother of mine, now it is your turn. Now you can go to Nuremberg to pursue your dream, and I will take care of you."
All heads turned in eager expectation to the far end of the table where Albert sat, tears streaming down his pale face, shaking his lowered head from side to side while he sobbed and repeated, over and over, "No ...no ...no ...no."
Finally, Albert rose and wiped the tears from his cheeks. He glanced down the long table at the faces he loved, and then, holding his hands close to his right cheek, he said softly, "No, brother. I cannot go to Nuremberg. It is too late for me. Look ... look what four years in the mines have done to my hands! The bones in every finger have been smashed at least once, and lately I have been suffering from arthritis so badly in my right hand that I cannot even hold a glass to return your toast, much less make delicate lines on parchment or canvas with a pen or a brush. No, brother ... for me it is too late."
More than 450 years have passed. By now, Albrecht Durer's hundreds of masterful portraits, pen and silver-point sketches, watercolors, charcoals, woodcuts, and copper engravings hang in every great museum in the world, but the odds are great that you, like most people, are familiar with only one of Albrecht Durer's works. More than merely being familiar with it, you very well may have a reproduction hanging in your home or office.
One day, to pay homage to Albert for all that he had sacrificed, Albrecht Durer painstakingly drew his brother's abused hands with palms together and thin fingers stretched skyward. He called his powerful drawing simply "Hands," but the entire world almost immediately opened their hearts to his great masterpiece and renamed his tribute of love "The Praying Hands."
The next time you see a copy of that touching creation, take a second look. Let it be your reminder, if you still need one, that no one - no one - - ever makes it alone!
From: Stout, Brenda (Stoutb@Carroll.k12.ky.us)
I've learned that you can get by on charm for about 15 minutes.
After that, you'd better know something.
I've learned that you shouldn't compare yourself to the best others can do, but to the best you can do.
I've learned that it's not what happens to people that's important.
It's what they do about it.
I've learned that you can do something in an instant that will give you a heartache for life.
I've learned that no matter how thin you slice it, there are always two sides.
I've learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you miss them terribly after they die.
I've learned that it's taking me a long time to become the person I want to be.
I've learned that it's a lot easier to react than it is to think.
I've learned that you should always leave loved ones with loving words.
It may be the last time you see them.
I've learned that you can keep going long after you think you can't.
I've learned that we are responsible for what we do, no matter how we feel.
I've learned that either you control your attitude or it controls you.
I've learned that regardless of how hot and steamy a relationship is at first, the passion fades and there had better be something else to take its place.
I've learned that heroes are the people who do what has to be done when it needs to be done, regardless of the consequences.
I've learned that when the light turns green, you had better look both ways before proceeding.
I've learned that you can love someone and still not like him very much.
I've learned that there are people who love you dearly, but just don't know how to show it.
I've learned that my best friend and I can do anything or nothing and have the best time.
I've learned that sometimes the people you expect to kick you when you're down will be the ones to help you get back up.
I've learned that I'm getting more and more like my mom, and I'm kinda happy about it.
I've learned that sometimes when I'm angry I have the right to be angry, but that doesn't give me the right to be cruel.
I've learned that true friendship continues to grow, even over the longest distance.
I've learned that just because someone doesn't love you the way you want them to doesn't mean they don't love you with all they have.
I've learned that no matter how much I care, some people just don't care back.
I've learned that you should never tell a child his dreams are unlikely
Few things are more humiliating, and what a tragedy it would be if he believed it.
I've learned that your family won't always be there for you.
It may seem funny, but people you aren't related to can take care of you and love you and teach you to trust people again.
Families aren't biological.
I've learned that no matter how good a friend someone is, they're going to hurt you every once in a while and you must forgive them for that.
I've learned that it isn't always enough to be forgiven by others.
Sometimes you have to learn to forgive yourself.
I've learned that no matter how bad your heart is broken, the world doesn't stop for your grief.
I've learned that our background and circumstances may have influenced who we are, but we are responsible for who we become.
I've learned that sometimes when my friends fight, I'm forced to choose sides even when I don't want to.
I've learned that just because two people argue, it doesn't mean they don't love each other.
I've learned that sometimes you have to put the individual ahead of their actions.
I've learned that it takes years to build up trust, and only seconds to destroy it.
I've learned that we don't have to change friends if we understand that friends change.
I've learned that if you don't want to forget something, stick it in your underwear drawer.
I've learned that you shouldn't be so eager to find out a secret.
It could change your life forever.
I've learned that it's not what you have in your life but whom you have in your life that counts.
I've learned that two people can look at the exact same thing and see something totally different.
I've learned that a good friend is better than a therapist.
I've learned that you cannot make someone love you.
All you can do is be someone who can be loved.
The rest is up to them.
I've learned that it's hard to determine where to draw the line between being nice and not hurting people's feelings and standing up for what you believe
I've learned it's not what you have, but what you give away.
submitted by Pastor Dennis Hankins (email@example.com)
The Titanic was a cruise ship that was impossible to sink, or so they
said. On a tragic night in 1912 the ship struck an iceberg and sank.
1600 people died in that cold Atlantic Ocean. The scene outside the
White Star office in Liverpool beggared description. A great crowd of
relatives of those who had taken passage on that ill-fated vessel
thronged the street. On either side of the main entrance a large
board had been placed.
Above one was printed, KNOWN TO BE SAVED.
Above the other, KNOWN TO BE LOST.
Every now and then, a man would appear from the office bearing a large piece of cardboard on which was written the name of one of the passengers. As he held up the name, a deathly stillness swept over the crowd; it watched to see to which of the boards he would pin the name.
You see there were only two categories there - the saved and the lost, just as there are in the Scripture.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Stephanie L Garwood)
John Blanchard stood up from the bench, straightened his Army uniform and studied the crowd of people making their way through Grand Central Station. He looked for the girl whose heart he knew, but whose face he didn't, the girl with the rose. His interest in her had begun thirteen months before in a Florida library. Taking a book off the shelf he found himself intrigued, not with the words of the book, but with the notes penciled in the margin. The soft handwriting reflected a thoughtful soul and insightful mind. In the front of the book, he discovered the previous owner's name, Miss Hollis Maynell. With time and effort, he located her address. She lived in New York City. He wrote her a letter introducing himself and inviting her to correspond. The next day he was shipped overseas for service in World War II. During the next year and one month the two grew to know each other through the mail. Each letter was a seed falling on a fertile heart. A romance was budding. Blanchard requested a photograph, but she refused. She felt that if he really cared, it wouldn't matter what she looked like. When the day finally came for him to return from Europe, they scheduled their first meeting--7:00 p.m. at the Grand Central in New York. "You'll recognize me," she wrote, "by the red rose I'll be wearing on my lapel." So at 7:00 he was in the station looking for a girl whose heart he loved, but whose face he'd never seen. I'll let Mr. Blanchard tell you what happened...
A young woman was coming toward me, her figure long and slim. Her blond
hair lay back in curls from her delicate ears; her eyes were as blue as
flowers. Her lips and chin had a gentle firmness, and in her pale green
suit she was like springtime come alive. I started toward her, entirely
forgetting to notice that she was not wearing a rose. As I moved, a small
provocative smile turned her lips, "Going my way, sailor?" she murmured.
Almost uncontrollably I made one more step closer to her, and then I saw
Hollis Maynell. She was standing almost directly behind the girl. A woman
well past 40, she had graying hair tucked under a worn hat. She was more
than plump, her thick-ankled feet thrust into low-heeled shoes. The girl
in the green suit was quickly walking away. I felt as though I was split
in two. So keen was my desire to follow her, and yet so deep was my
longing for the woman whose spirit had truly companioned and upheld mine.
And there she stood. Her pale, plump face was gentle and sensible, her
gray eyes had a warm and kindly twinkle. I did not hesitate. My fingers
gripped the small worn blue leather copy of the book that was to identify
me to her. This would not be love, but it would be something precious,
something perhaps even better than love, a friendship for which I had
been and must ever be grateful. I squared my shoulders and saluted and
held out the book to the woman, even though while I spoke I felt choked
by the bitterness of my disappointment.
"I'm Lieutenant John Blanchard, and you must be Miss Maynell. I am so glad you could meet me. May I take you to dinner?
"The woman's face broadened into a tolerant smile. "I don't know what this is about, son," she answered, "but the young lady in the green suit who just went by, she begged me to wear this rose on my coat. And she said if you were to ask me out to dinner, I should go and tell you that she is waiting for you in the big restaurant across the street. She said it was some kind of test!"
Max Lucado, Stories from the Heart
(Sisters, Oregon: Multnomah books,1996), pp. 123-125
From: "Koci, Daniel T" (email@example.com)
Lord help me to relax about insignificant details....
....beginning tomorrow at 7:41:23 am eastern standard time..
God help me to consider people's feelings,
even if most of them ARE hypersensitive.
God help me to take responsibility for my own actions,
even though they're usually NOT my fault.
God, help me to not try to RUN everything.
But, if You need some help, please feel free to ASK me!
Lord, help me to be more laid back,
and help me to do it EXACTLY right.
God help me to take things more seriously,
especially laughter, parties, and dancing.
God give me patience,
and I mean right NOW!
Lord help me not be a perfectionist.
(Did I spell that correctly?)
God, help me to finish everything I sta
God, help me to keep my mind on one th -- Look, a bird -- ing at a time.
God help me to do only what I can, and trust you for the rest.
And would you mind putting that in writing?
Lord keep me open to others' ideas,
WRONG though they may be.
Lord help me be less independent,
but let me do it my way.
Lord help me follow established procedures today.
On second thought, I'll settle for a few minutes.
Lord, help me slow down
Note: this story was originally sent to me as "author unknown" but now
we've been sent the following information.
From: Kathy Kothmann (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I remembered seeing this story published in hardcopy, did some searching, and found it as the cover story in the July/August 1998 issue of Positive Living, an inspirational bimonthly periodical published by Guideposts. The author of the article is given as Mary Sherman Hilbert, and it indicates that it was reprinted from Reader's Digest. An introduction preceeds the story: "Several years ago, a neighbor related to me an experience that happened to her on a beach in Washington State. The incident stuck in my mind and I took note of what she said. Later, the conversation came back to me and I felt I had to set it down. Here is her story, as haunting to me now as when I first heard it:"
So evidently Ruth Peterson is the neighbor who had the experience - which
was written down by Mary Sherman Hilbert.
She was six years old when I first met her on the beach near where I live. I drive to this beach, a distance of three or four miles, whenever the world begins to close in on me.
She was building a sand castle or something and looked up, her eyes blue
as the sea.
"Hello," she said.
I answered with a nod, not really in the mood to bother with a small child.
"I'm building," she said.
"I see that. What is it?" I asked, not caring.
"Oh I don't know, I just like the feel of the sand."
That sounds good, I thought, and slipped off my shoes. A sandpiper glided by.
"That's a joy," the child said.
"It's what?" I asked, uncaring.
"It's a joy! My mama says sandpipers come to bring us joy."
The bird went gliding down the beach. "Good-bye joy," I muttered to myself, "Hello, pain..." and turned to walk on. I was depressed; my life seemed completely out of balance.
"What's your name?" She wouldn't give up.
"Ruth," I answered. "I'm Ruth Peterson."
"Mine's Wendy,... and I'm six."
"Hi, Wendy." I offered.
She giggled. "You're funny," she said. In spite of my gloom I laughed too and walked on. Her musical giggle followed me. "Come again, Mrs. P," she called. "We'll have another happy day."
The days and weeks that followed belonged to others: a group of unruly
Boy Scouts, PTA meetings, an ailing mother. The sun was shining one
morning as I took my hands out of the dishwater.
"I need a sandpiper," I said to myself, gathering up my coat.
The never-changing balm of the seashore awaited me. The breeze was chilly, but I strode along, trying to recapture the serenity I needed. I had forgotten the child and was startled when she appeared.
"Hello, Mrs. P," she said. "Do you want to play?"
"What did you have in mind?" I asked, with a twinge of annoyance.
"I don't know. You say."
"How about charades?" I asked sarcastically.
The tinkling laughter burst forth again. "I don't know what that is."
"Then let's just walk." Looking at her, I noticed the delicate fairness of her face. "Where do you live?" I asked.
"Over there." She pointed toward a row of summer cottages. Strange, I thought, in winter.
"Where do you go to school?"
"I don't go to school. Mommy says we're on vacation."
She chattered little girl talk as we strolled up the beach, but my mind was on other things. "When I left for home," Wendy said, "it had been a happy day."
Feeling surprisingly better, I smiled at her and agreed.
Three weeks later, I rushed to my beach in a state of near panic. I was
in no mood to greet even Wendy. I thought I saw her mother on the porch
and felt like demanding she keep her child at home.
"Look, if you don't mind," I said crossly when Wendy caught up with me, "I'd rather be alone today." She seemed unusually pale and out of breath.
"Why?" she asked.
I turned on her and shouted, "Because my mother died!"-and thought, my God, why was I saying this to a little child?
"Oh," she said quietly, "then this is a bad day."
"Yes, and yesterday and the day before that and-oh, go away!"
"Did it hurt?"
"Did what hurt?" I was exasperated with her, with myself.
"When she died?"
"Of course it hurt!" I snapped, misunderstanding, wrapped up in myself. I strode off.
A month or so after that, when I next went to the beach, she wasn't
Feeling guilty, ashamed and admitting to myself I missed her, I went up to the cottage after my walk and knocked at the door. A drawn-looking young woman with honey-colored hair opened the door.
"Hello," I said. "I'm Ruth Peterson. I missed your little girl today and wondered where she was."
"Oh yes, Mrs. Peterson, please come in."
"Wendy talked of you so much. I'm afraid I allowed her to bother you. If she was a nuisance, please accept my apologies."
"Not at all-she's a delightful child," I said, suddenly realizing that I meant it. "Where is she?"
"Wendy died last week, Mrs. Peterson. She had leukemia. Maybe she didn't tell you."
Struck dumb, I groped for a chair. My breath caught.
"She loved this beach; so when she asked to come, we couldn't say no."
She seemed so much better here and had a lot of what she called happy days. But the last few weeks, she declined rapidly...." Her voice faltered.
"She left something for you...if only I can find it. Could you wait a moment while I look?"
I nodded stupidly, my mind racing for something, anything, to say to this lovely young woman.
She handed me a smeared envelope, with MRS. P printed in bold, childish letters. Inside was a drawing in bright crayon hues-a yellow beach, a blue sea, a brown bird. Underneath was carefully printed: A SANDPIPER TO BRING YOU JOY
Tears welled up in my eyes, and a heart that had almost forgotten how to love opened wide. I took Wendy's mother in my arms. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry," I muttered over and over, and we wept together.
The precious little picture is framed now and hangs in my study. Six words-one for each year of her life-that speak to me of inner harmony, courage, undemanding love. A gift from a child with sea-blue eyes and hair the color of sand-who taught me the gift of love.
as told to Ruth Peterson
Robert De Vincenzo, the great Argentine golfer, once won a tournament and, after receiving the check and smiling for the cameras, he went to the clubhouse and prepared to leave. Some time later, he walked alone to his car in the parking lot and was approached by a young woman. She congratulated him on his victory and then told him that her child was seriously ill and near death. She did not know how she could pay the doctor's bills and hospital expenses.
De Vincenzo was touched by her story, and he took out a pen and endorsed his winning check for payment to the woman. "Make some good days for the baby," he said as he pressed the check into her hand.
The next week he was having lunch in a country club when a Professional Golf Association official came to his table. "Some of the boys in the parking lot last week told me you met a young woman there after you won that tournament." De Vincenzo nodded.
"Well," said the official, "I have news for you. She's a phony. She has no sick baby. She's not even married. She fleeced you, my friend."
"You mean there is no baby who is dying?" said De Vincenzo.
"That's right," said the official.
"That's the best news I've heard all week." De Vincenzo said.
By The Best of Bits & Pieces from Condensed Chicken Soup for the Soul
Copyright 1996 by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen & Patty Hansen
You can sign up for a daily dose of Chicken Soup for the Soul in your mailbox each day by visiting http://www.chickensoup.com
As we prepare to attack Iraq I think I should share with you some of the prose of Mark Twain from his "War Prayer". It's a short piece, but longer than I will key in. The setting of a country about to head off to battle is painted in prose typical of Twain at his best. The scene switches to a church where a minister is leading his congregation in prayer. In walks an aged stranger who walks up to the lectern and interrupts the preacher. This is where I pick it up.
"I come from the Throne--bearing a message from Almighty God!" The words smote the house with a shock; if the stranger perceived it he gave no attention. "He has heard the prayer of His servant your shepherd and will grant it if such be your desire after I, His messenger, shall have explained to you it's import--that is to say, it's full import. For it is like unto many of the prayers of men, in that it asks for more than he who utters it is aware of--except he pause and think.
"God's servant and yours has prayed his prayer. Has he paused and taken thought? Is it one prayer? No, it is two--one uttered, the other not. Both have reached the ear of Him Who heareth all supplications, the spoken and the unspoken. Ponder this--keep it in mind. If you would beseech a blessing upon yourself, beware! Lest without intent you invoke a curse upon a neighbor at the same time. If you pray for a blessing of rain upon your crop which needs it, by that act you are possibly praying for a curse upon some neighbor's crop which may not need rain and can be injured by it.
"You have heard your servant's prayer--the uttered part of it. I am commissioned of God to put into words the other part of it--that part which the pastor, and also you in your hearts, fervently prayed silently. And ignorantly and unthinkingly? God grant that it was so! You heard these words: 'Grant us the victory, O Lord our God!' That is sufficient. The whole of the uttered prayer is compact into those pregnant words.
Elaborations were not necessary. When you have prayed for victory you have prayed for many unmentioned results which follow victory--must follow it, cannot help but follow it. Upon the listening spirit of God the Father fell the unspoken part of the prayer. He commandeth me to put it into words. Listen!
"O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts,
go forth to battle--be Thou near them! With them, in spirit, we also
go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the
foe. O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds
with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale
forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of guns with
the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste
their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the
hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us turn
them out roofless with their little children to wander unfriended the
wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports
of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in
spirit, worn in travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave
and denied it--for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes,
blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgramage, make heavy their
steps, water their way with tears, stain the white snow with the blood
of their wounded feet. We ask it in the spirit of love, of Him Who is
the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend
that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts.
(after a pause) "Ye have prayed it; if ye still desire it speak! The messenger of the Most High waits."
It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said.
- "I want to know God's thoughts; the rest are details."
- "The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax."
- "I am convinced that He (God) does not play dice."
- "The eternal mystery of the world is its comprehensibility."
- "Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character."
- "Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind."
- "Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding."
- "The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is comprehensible."
- "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe."
- "Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods."
- "I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones."
- "In order to form an immaculate member of a flock of sheep one must, above all, be a sheep."
- "Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts." (Sign hanging in Einstein's office at Princeton)
This is a true story of something that happened just a few years ago at USC. There was a professor of philosophy there who was a deeply committed atheist. His primary goal for one required class was to spend the entire semester attempting to prove that God couldn't exist. His students were always afraid to argue with him because of his impeccable logic. For twenty years he had taught this class and NO ONE had ever had the courage to go against him. Sure, some had argued in class at times, but no one had ever *really gone against him* (you'll see what I mean later). Nobody would go against him because he had a reputation.
At the end of every semester, on the last day, he would say to the class of 300 students, "If there is anyone here who still believes in God, stand up!" In twenty years, nobody ever stood up. They knew what he was going to do next. He would say, "Because anyone who believes in God is a fool. If God existed, he could stop this piece of chalk from hitting the ground and breaking. Such a simple task to prove he is God, and yet he can't do it." And every year he would drop the chalk onto the tile floor of the classroom and it would shatter into a hundred pieces. All of the students could do nothing but stop and stare. Most of the students were convinced that God couldn't exist. Certainly, a number of Christians had slipped through, but for 20 years they had been too afraid to stand up.
Well, a few years ago there was a freshman who happened to enroll in the class. He was a Christian, and had heard the stories about this professor. He had to take the class because it was one of the required classes for his major. And he was afraid. But for three months that semester, he prayed every morning that he would have the courage to stand up no matter what the professor said or what the class thought. Nothing they said or did could ever shatter his faith, he hoped. Finally, the day came.
The professor said, "If
there is anyone here who still believes in God, stand up!"
The professor, and the class of 300 people looked at him, shocked, as he stood up at the back of the room.
The professor shouted, "YOU FOOL! If nothing I have said all semester has convinced you that God doesn't exist, then you are a fool! If God existed, he could keep this piece of chalk from breaking when it hit the ground!"
He proceeded to drop the chalk, but as he did, it slipped out of his fingers, off his shirt cuff, onto the pleats of his pants, down his leg, and off his shoe. And as it hit the ground, it simply rolled away, UNBROKEN.
The professor's jaw dropped as he stared at the chalk. He looked up at the young man and then ran out of the lecture hall. The young man who had stood up proceeded to walk to the front of the room and share his faith in Jesus for the next half hour. 300 students stayed and listened as he told of God's love for them and of his power through Jesus.
Wrap yourself in the armor of prayer.
Forget yourself for others and others will not forget you-
Reporters and city officials gathered at a Chicago railroad station one afternoon in 1953. The person they were meeting was the 1952 Nobel Peace Prize winner. A few minutes after the train came to a stop, a giant of a man -six-feet-four- with bushy hair and a large mustache stepped from the train. Cameras flashed. City officials approached him with hands outstretched. Various ones began telling him how honored they were to meet him.
The man politely thanked them and then, looking over their heads, he asked if he could be excused for a moment. He quickly walked through the crowd until he reached the side of an elderly black women who was struggling with two large suitcases. He picked up the bags and with a smile, escorted the women to a bus. After helping her aboard, he wished her a safe journey. Returning to the greeting party he apologized, "Sorry to have kept you waiting."
The man was Dr. Albert Schweitzer, the famous missionary doctor who had spent his life helping the poor in Africa. In response to Schweitzer's action, one member of the reception committee said with great admiration to the reporter standing next to him, "That's the first time I ever saw a sermon walking."
-God's little devotional book
This teenager lived alone with his father, and the two of them had a very special relationship. Even though the son was always on the bench, his father was always in the stands cheering. He never missed a game.
This young man was still the smallest of the class when he entered high school. But his father continued to encourage him but also made it very clear that he did not have to play football if he didn't want to. But the young man loved football and decided to hang in there. He was determined to try his best at every practice, and perhaps he'd get to play when he became a senior. All through high school he never missed a practice nor a game but remained a bench-warmer all four years. His faithful father was always in the stands, always with words of encouragement for him.
When the young man went to college, he decided to try out for the football team as a "walk-in." Everyone was sure he could never make the cut, but he did. The coach admitted that he kept him on the roster because he always puts his heart and soul to every practice, and at the same time, provided the other members with the spirit and hustle they badly needed.
The news that he had survived the cut thrilled him so much that he rushed to the nearest phone and called his father. His father shared his excitement and was sent season tickets for all the college games.
This persistent young athlete never missed practice during his four years at college, but he never got to play in a game. It was the end of his senior football season, and as he trotted onto the practice field shortly before the big playoff game, the coach met him with a telegram. The young man read the telegram and he became deathly silent. Swallowing hard, he mumbled to the coach, "My father died this morning. Is it all right if I miss practice today?" The coach put his arm gently around his shoulder and said, "Take the rest of the week off, son. And don't even plan to come back to the game on Saturday."
Saturday arrived, and the game was not going well. In the third quarter, when the team was ten points behind, a silent young man quietly slipped into the empty locker room and put on his football gear. As he ran onto the sidelines, the coach and his players were astounded to see their faithful teammate back so soon.
"Coach, please let me play. I've just got to play today," said the young man. The coach pretended not to hear him. There was no way he wanted his worst player in this close playoff game. But the young man persisted, and finally feeling sorry for the kid, the coach gave in. "All right," he said. "You can go in."
Before long, the coach, the players and everyone in the stands could not believe their eyes. This little unknown, who had never played before was doing everything right. The opposing team could not stop him. He ran, he passed, blocked, and tackled like a star. His team began to triumph. The score was soon tied. In the closing seconds of the game, this kid intercepted a pass and ran all the way for the winning touchdown.
The fans broke loose. His teammates hoisted him onto their shoulders. Such cheering you never heard. Finally, after the stands had emptied and the team had showered and left the locker room, the coach noticed that this young man was sitting quietly in the corner all alone. The coach came to him and said, "Kid, I can't believe it. You were fantastic! Tell me what got into you? How did you do it?"
He looked at the coach, with tears in his eyes, and said, "Well, you knew my dad died, but did you know that my dad was blind?" The young man swallowed hard and forced a smile, "Dad came to all my games, but today was the first time he could see me play, and I wanted to show him I could do it!"
Like the athlete's father, God is always there cheering for us. He's always reminding us to go on. He's even offering us His hand for He knows what is best, and is willing to give us what we need and not simply what we want. God has never missed a single game. What a joy to know that life is meaningful if lived for the Highest. Live for HIM for He's watching us in the game of life!
Not everything I send is funny. I found this story comforting; a gentle reminder that "friends are friends forever." Maybe, just maybe, if we listen closely, we can hear those we've loved singing.
When I was quite young, my father had one of the first telephones in our neighborhood. I remember well the polished old case fastened to the wall and the shiny receiver hung on the side of the box. I discovered that somewhere inside the wonderful device lived an amazing person - her name was Information Please and there was nothing she did not know! Information Please could supply anybody.
My first personal experience with this genie-in-the-bottle came one day while
my mother was visiting a neighbor. Amusing myself at the tool bench in the
basement, I whacked my finger with a hammer. A click or two and a small clear
voice spoke into my ear.
"I hurt my finger. . ." I wailed into the phone. The tears came readily enough now that I had an audience.
"Isn't your mother home?" came the question.
"Nobody's home but me." I blubbered.
"Are you bleeding?"
"No," I replied. "I hit my finger with the hammer and it hurts."
"Can you open your icebox?" she asked. I said I could.
"Then chip off a little piece of ice and hold it to your finger."
After that I called Information Please for everything. I asked her for help with
my geography and she told me where Philadelphia was. She helped me with my math,
and she told me what to feed my pet chipmunk.
And there was the time that Petey, our pet canary died. I called Information
Please and told her the sad story. She listened, then said the usual things
grown-ups say to soothe a child, but I was not consoled. Why is it that birds should sing so beautifully and bring
joy to all families, only to end up as a heap of feathers, feet up, on the bottom
of a cage? She must have sensed my deep concern, for she said quietly,
"Paul, always remember that there are other worlds to sing in."
Somehow I felt better. Another day I was on the telephone, "Information Please."
"Information," said the now familiar voice.
"How do you spell fix?" I asked.
All this took place in a small town in the pacific Northwest. Then when I was 9
years old, we moved across the country to Boston. I missed my friend very much.
Information Please belonged in that old phone in our old house. A few years later,
on my way west to college, my plane put down in Seattle. I had about half an hour
or so between planes, and I had planned to spend 15 minutes or so on the phone
with my sister who lived there. Now Miraculously, I heard again the small, clear
voice I knew so well,
I hadn't planned this but I heard myself saying, "Could you tell me please how to spell fix?"
There was a long pause. Then came the soft spoken answer, "I guess that your finger must have healed by now.
I laughed, "So it's really still you," I said. "I wonder if you have any idea how much you meant to me during that time."
"I wonder," she said, "if you know how much your calls meant to me. I never had any children, and I used to look forward to your calls."
I told her how often I had thought of her over the years and I asked if I could call her again when I came back to visit my sister. "Please do, just ask for Sally."
Just three months later I was back in Seattle... A different voice answered
Information and I asked for Sally.
"Are you a friend?"
"Yes, a very old friend."
"Then I'm sorry to have to tell you. Sally has been working part-time the last few years because she was sick. She died five weeks ago."
But before I could hang up she said, "Wait a minute. Did you ask her how to spell fix?"
"Well, Sally left a message for you. She wrote it down. Here it is, I'll read it, 'Tell him I still say there are other worlds to sing in. He'll know what I mean'".
I thanked her and hung up. I did know what Sally meant.