Archive for the ‘Stories’ Category

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Today’s post and podcast are the real Christmas story from a biblical account of the events surrounding the birth of Jesus. It’s paraphrased from the New Testament books of Matthew and Luke.

Mary, a virgin, was living in Galilee of Nazareth and was engaged to be married to Joseph, a Jewish carpenter. An angel visited her and explained to her that she would conceive a son by the power of the Holy Spirit. She would carry and give birth to this child and she would name him Jesus.

At first Mary was afraid and troubled by the angel’s words. Being a virgin, Mary questioned the angel, “How will this be?” The angel explained that the child would be God’s own Son and, therefore, “nothing is impossible with God.” Humbled and in awe, Mary believed the angel of the Lord and rejoiced in God her Savior.

Mary most likely reflected on the words found in Isaiah 7:14 foretelling this event, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”

While Mary was still engaged to Joseph, she miraculously became pregnant through the Holy Spirit, as foretold to her by the angel.  When Mary told Joseph she was pregnant, he had every right to feel disgraced. He knew the child was not his own, and Mary’s apparent unfaithfulness carried a grave social stigma. Joseph not only had the right to divorce Mary, under Jewish law she could be put to death by stoning.

Although Joseph’s initial reaction was to break the engagement, the appropriate thing for a righteous man to do, he treated Mary with extreme kindness. He did not want to cause her further shame, so he decided to act quietly. But God sent an angel to Joseph in a dream to verify Mary’s story and reassure him that his marriage to her was God’s will. The angel explained that the child within Mary was conceived by the Holy Spirit, that his name would be Jesus and that he was the Messiah, God with us.

When Joseph woke from his dream, he willingly obeyed God and took Mary home to be his wife, in spite of the public humiliation he would face. Perhaps this noble quality is one of the reasons God chose him to be the Messiah’s earthly father.

Joseph too must have wondered as he remembered the words found in Isaiah 7:14, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”

At that time, Caesar Augustus decreed that a census be taken, and every person in the entire Roman world had to go to his own town to register. Joseph, being of the line of David, was required to go to Bethlehem to register with Mary. While in Bethlehem, Mary gave birth to Jesus.  Probably due to the census, the inn was too crowded, and Mary gave birth in a crude stable. She wrapped the baby in cloths and placed him in a manger.

Out in the fields, an angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds who were tending their flocks of sheep by night. The angel announced that the Savior had been born in the town of David. Suddenly a great host of heavenly beings appeared with the angels and began singing praises to God. As the angelic beings departed, the shepherds decided to travel to Bethlehem and see the Christ-child.

There they found Mary, Joseph and the baby, in the stable. After their visit, they began to spread the word about this amazing child and everything the angel had said about him. They went on their way still praising and glorifying God. But Mary kept quiet, treasuring their words and pondering them in her heart. It must have been beyond her ability to grasp, that sleeping in her arms—the tender child she had just borne—was the Savior of the world.

After Jesus’ birth, Herod was king of Judea. At this time wise men (Magi) from the east saw a star, they came in search, knowing the star signified the birth of the king of the Jews. The wise men came to the Jewish rulers in Jerusalem and asked where the Christ was to be born. The rulers explained, “In Bethlehem in Judea,” referring to Micah 5:2. Herod secretly met with the Magi and asked them to report back after they had found the child. Herod told the Magi that he too wanted to go and worship the babe. But secretly Herod was plotting to kill the child.

So the wise men continued to follow the star in search of the new born king and found Jesus with his mother in Bethlehem. (Most likely Jesus was already two years of age by this time.) They bowed and worshipped him, offering treasures of gold, incense, and myrrh. When they left, they did not return to Herod. They had been warned in a dream of his plot to destroy the child.

For me no story of Christmas or Christ would be complete if the following was not included.

After Jesus was crucified, His body was placed in a tomb. A large stone covered the entrance and soldiers guarded the sealed tomb.  On the third day, a Sunday, several women went to the tomb at dawn to anoint the body of Jesus.

A violent earthquake took place as an angel from heaven rolled back the stone. The guards shook in fear as the angel, dressed in bright white, sat upon the stone. The angel announced to the women that Jesus who was crucified was no longer in the tomb, “He is risen, just as he said.” Then he instructed the women to inspect the tomb and see for themselves. Next he told them to go inform the disciples.

With a mixture of fear and joy they ran to obey the angel’s command, but suddenly Jesus met them on their way.  They fell at his feet and worshiped him.  Jesus then said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee. There they will see me.”

When the guards reported what had happened to the chief priests, they bribed the soldiers with a large sum of money, telling them to lie and say that the disciples had stolen the body in the night.

After his resurrection, Jesus appeared to the women near the tomb and later at least twice to the disciples while they were gathered at a house in prayer. He visited two of the disciples on the road to Emmaus and he also appeared at the Sea of Galilee while several of the disciples were fishing.

In closing… before Jesus ascended into heaven he gave the Great Commission, telling his followers to go and make disciples of all nations.

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Let me start by saying that today’s post is more jolly than it is holy. I’m going to begin with a few Christmas sentiments shared by famous people.

Calvin Coolidge said, “Christmas  is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill,  to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of  Christmas.”

Bernard manning said, “I once bought my kids a set of batteries for Christmas with a note on it saying, toys not included.”

Dale Evans said, “Christmas, my child, is love in action. Every time we love, every time we give, it’s  Christmas.”

Bing Crosby said, “Unless we make Christmas an occasion to share our blessings, all the snow in Alaska won’t make it ‘white’.”

Bob Hope said, “If  you haven’t got any charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart  trouble.”

Now PLEASE, don’t get your feathers rustled with today’s posts or podcasts, as i will share the real story of Christmas on Monday.

A Visit From St Nicholas… or better know as The Night Before Christmas is the classic Christmas reading. It has the most colorful history. We know when it was first published, but there is some controversy about who actually wrote it. That said, the poem reshaped the nation’s view of St.Nicholas, and even helped the celebration of Christmas, at a time when the holiday had been drifting into neglect and even disrepute.

By the time that the Troy Sentinel first published this poem anonymously in 1823, Christmas celebrations were in some decline. In some circles, year-end parties had become so promiscuous that Christmas was no longer really a “family” holiday. In other, more religious circles, some wanted to wipe out, not only the promiscuous year-end celebrations, but also Christmas itself, which was “guilty by association.” Even poor St. Nicholas was not the cheerful, red-robed, chubby soul that we imagine today – rather he often dressed in brown or green, was relatively slender, and was as likely to dole out punishment as gifts.

The poem’s clever verse and fresh view of “St. Nick” were well-received. “A Visit from St. Nicholas” was republished anonymously several more times before 1937, when it was first published under the name of Clement Clarke Moore, a well-known clergyman.

In the meantime, another prominent family, the Livingstons had always understood that their father and grandfather, Major Henry Livingstone had written the poem. After learning that Moore had claimed credit for the poem, several generations of Livingston’s heirs tried to “set the record straight.”

There is no controversy about the success of the poem. Many believe that the poem eventually changed the way Americans thought about St. Nicholas, and even about Christmas. From the first publication, the poem’s refreshing approach, cheerful imagery, and memorable lines caught the imagination of young and old. Within a generation, the American public’s image of “St.Nick” had begun to evolve toward something like the plump, reindeer-driving, red-gowned, universally cheerful icon we know as Santa Claus. And Christmas had begun to be something more like the family oriented holiday we think of today.

The poem is still fresh; except for references to shutters and other things we don’t use so much anymore, “A Visit from St. Nicholas” could have been written in my lifetime, instead of nearly two centuries ago. In fact, Dr. Suess used the same rythm in much of his poetry, including “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”

A Visit From St. Nicholas

by Clement Clarke Moore

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;

And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap, had just settled down for a long winter’s nap,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash, tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,

With a little old driver, so lively and quick, I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came, and he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

“Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now, Prancer and Vixen! On, Comet! On Cupid! On, Donder and Blitzen!

To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!

Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly, when they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,

So up to the house-top the coursers they flew, with the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof, the prancing and pawing of each little hoof.

As I drew in my hand, and was turning around, down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot, and his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;

A bundle of toys he had flung on his back, and he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes — how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!

His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow, and the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, and the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;

He had a broad face and a little round belly, that shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf, and I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head, soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work, and filled all the stockings;

Then turned with a jerk, and laying his finger aside of his nose, and giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle, and away they all flew like the down of a thistle.

But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,

“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night.”

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imagesCAMW6J44Can you believe that Thanksgiving is only two days  away?  It feels like this year has just zipped by. Thinking about Thanksgiving reminded me of a story that i had read some time ago. It’s a great story. This will also be my last post until next Monday at which time I will be sharing about what I call “Impression Management.”

A customer named, Jenny, stopped in a local florist shop to buy an arrangement for thanksgiving. She had no idea what she wanted and she really did not feel like celebrating thanksgiving as there were so many tragedies in her life lately that being thankful was the furthest thing on her mind.  In the fourth month of her second pregnancy, a minor automobile accident stole her ease. During this Thanksgiving week she would have delivered a son. She grieved over her loss. As if that weren’t enough, her husband’s company threatened a transfer. Then her sister, whose holiday visit she coveted, called saying she could not come. What’s worse, Sandra’s friend infuriated her by suggesting her grief was a God-given path to maturity that would allow her to empathize with others who suffer. “Had she lost a child? No – she has no idea what I’m feeling,” Sandra shuddered. Thanksgiving? “Thankful for what?” she wondered. For a careless driver whose truck was hardly scratched when he rear-ended her? For an airbag that saved her life but took that of her child?

“Good afternoon, can I help you?” The flower shop clerk’s approach startled her. “Sorry,” said Jenny, “I just didn’t want you to think I was ignoring you.” “I . . . . I need an arrangement.” “For Thanksgiving?” Sandra nodded. “Do you want beautiful but ordinary, or would you like to challenge the day with a customer favorite I call the ‘Thanksgiving Special’?” Jenny saw Sandra’s curiosity and continued. “I’m convinced that flowers tell stories, that each arrangement insinuates a particular feeling. Are you looking for something that conveys gratitude this Thanksgiving?” “Not exactly!” Sandra blurted. “Sorry, but in the last five months, everything that could go wrong has.”

Sandra regretted her outburst but was surprised when Jenny said, “I have the perfect arrangement for you.” The door’s small bell suddenly rang. “Barbara, hi!” Jenny said. She politely excused herself from Sandra and walked toward a small workroom. She quickly reappeared carrying a massive arrangement of green bows, and long-stemmed thorny roses. Only, the ends of the rose stems were neatly snipped, no flowers. “Want this in a box?” Jenny asked. Sandra watched for Barbara’s response. Was this a joke? Who would want rose stems and no flowers! She waited for laughter, for someone to notice the absence of flowers atop the thorny stems, but neither woman did. “Yes, please. It’s exquisite.” said Barbara. “You’d think after three years of getting the special, I’d not be so moved by its significance, but it’s happening again. My family will love this one. Thanks.”

As the customer left Jenny asked the florist about the significance of that particular arrangement. The florist explained that that was the Thanksgiving special. Jenny could not believe anyone would pay for that. “Well,” she continued, “Barbara came into the shop three years ago feeling very much like you feel today. She thought she had very little to be thankful for. She had lost her father to cancer, the family business was failing, her son was into drugs, and she faced major surgery.” “Ouch!” said Sandra. “That same year, I lost my husband. I assumed complete responsibility for the shop and for the first time, spent the holidays alone. I had no children, no husband, no family nearby, and too great a debt to allow any travel.” “What did you do?” “I learned to be thankful for thorns.” Sandra’s eyebrows lifted. “Thorns?”

“I’m a Christian, Sandra. I’ve always thanked God for good things in life and I never thought to ask Him why good things happened to me. But, when bad stuff hit, did I ever ask! It took time to learn that dark times are important. I always enjoyed the flowers of life but it took thorns to show me the beauty of God’s comfort. You know, the Bible says that God comforts us when we’re afflicted and from His consolation we learn to comfort others.” Sandra gasped. “A friend read that passage to me and I was furious! I guess the truth is, I don’t want comfort. I’ve lost a baby and I’m angry with God.”

With that Jenny ordered her own  Thanksgiving Thorn Bouquet with a pledge to work on healing her heart. With that the florist encouraged her and said the first years arrangement is always free.

What a great story! It portrays so many things that i can be thankful for because it all makes me who I am today.

-Author Unknown

Before i close i have to share a personal experience from yesterday. As i arrived at the Onething Campus i prayed and said that i would be happy if just one of the churches would have paid there rent early. It’s actually due on Wednesday but things are a little tight. As i unlocked the drop box i saw a check folded up on the bottom of the box.  i was so delighted! Thank you God!! i reached in with great anticipation and unfolded it, literally, thanking God again as i did. i looked at the check… (pause) and i thought really…? The check was from our smallest renter. i was looking for a much bigger check than this one. In fact this one does not help at all. i realized that suddenly i wasn’t quite as thankful. Got what I asked for but not what i intended. my bad!

In closing 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says,“ed, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” It is my plan to purchase my own bouquet of thorns and put them in a prominent place where i will be reminded to give thanks in all circumstances.

Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, but only saps today of its strength.

There are times when others have better words than i do for where i am at any given moment. This is one of them. Perspective makes a difference. i owe David Ryser a debt of gratitude for the words that follow. While this is not new being reminded is always beneficial.

THE QUESTION that CHANGED MY LIFE  – by David Ryser.
A number of years ago, I had the privilege of teaching at a school of ministry. My students were hungry for God, and I was constantly searching for ways to challenge them to fall more in love with Jesus and to become voices for revival in the Church. I came across a quote attributed most often to Rev. Sam Pascoe.

It is a short version of the history of Christianity, and it goes like this: Christianity started in Palestine as a fellowship; it moved to Greece and became a philosophy; it moved to Italy and became an institution; it moved to Europe and became a culture; it came to America and became an enterprise. Some of the students were only 18 or 19 years old–barely out of diapers–and I wanted them to understand and appreciate the import of the last line, so I clarified it by adding, “An enterprise. That’s a business.” After a few moments Martha, the youngest student in the class, raised her hand. I could not imagine what her question might be. I thought the little vignette was self-explanatory, and that I had performed it brilliantly. Nevertheless, I acknowledged Martha’s raised hand, “Yes, Martha.” She asked such a simple question, “A business? But isn’t it supposed to be a body?” I could not envision where this line of questioning was going, and the only response I could think of was, “Yes.” She continued, “But when a body becomes a business, isn’t that a prostitute?”

The room went dead silent. For several seconds no one moved or spoke. We were stunned, afraid to make a sound because the presence of God had flooded into the room, and we knew we were on holy ground. All I could think in those sacred moments was, “Wow, I wish I’d thought of that.” I didn’t dare express that thought aloud. God had taken over the class.

Martha’s question changed my life. For six months, I thought about her question at least once every day. “When a body becomes a business, isn’t that a prostitute?” There is only one answer to her question. The answer is “Yes.” The American Church, tragically, is heavily populated by people who do not love God. How can we love Him? We don’t even know Him; and I mean really know Him.

… I stand by my statement that most American Christians do not know God–much less love Him. The root of this condition originates in how we came to God. Most of us came to Him because of what we were told He would do for us. We were promised that He would bless us in life and take us to heaven after death. We married Him for His money, and we don’t care if He lives or dies as long as we can get His stuff. We have made the Kingdom of God into a business, merchandising His anointing. This should not be. We are commanded to love God, and are called to be the Bride of Christ–that’s pretty intimate stuff. We are supposed to be His lovers. How can we love someone we don’t even know? And even if we do know someone, is that a guarantee that we truly love them? Are we lovers or prostitutes?

I was pondering Martha’s question again one day, and considered the question, “What’s the difference between a lover and a prostitute?” I realized that both do many of the same things, but a lover does what she does because she loves. A prostitute pretends to love, but only as long as you pay. Then I asked the question, “What would happen if God stopped paying me?”

For the next several months, I allowed God to search me to uncover my motives for loving and serving Him. Was I really a true lover of God? What would happen if He stopped blessing me? What if He never did another thing for me? Would I still love Him? Please understand, I believe in the promises and blessings of God. The issue here is not whether God blesses His children; the issue is the condition of my heart. Why do I serve Him? Are His blessings in my life the gifts of a loving Father, or are they a wage that I have earned or a bribe/payment to love Him? Do I love God without any conditions? It took several months to work through these questions.

Even now I wonder if my desire to love God is always matched by my attitude and behavior. I still catch myself being disappointed with God and angry that He has not met some perceived need in my life. I suspect this is something which is never fully resolved, but I want more than anything else to be a true lover of God. (DITTO)

In closing i ask myself, what is it going to be? Which am i, lover or prostitute? There are no prostitutes in heaven, or in the Kingdom of God for that matter, but there are plenty of former prostitutes in both places. Take it from a recovering prostitute when i say there is no substitute or unconditional, intimate relationship with God. i must choose.

A Little Rowboat…

Posted: February 6, 2012 in Stories

i have been thinking about the Onething Life tag line which is INTENTIONAL LIVING. i am not so sure that the word INTENTIONAL is sufficient. It has helped that i was intentional last week in not blaming people or things. It helped to be intentional about my words. It has provided great peace in being intentional about not doing something just because i feel like i have to. But… was my being intentional enough, or was there more?

Let me see if the following story helps to clear things up. A man was rowing a boat against a river’s strong current. He was working very hard to advance against the flow of the water… very difficult but doable.

Other boats, bigger and luxurious boats containing parties of people steadily passed him flowing downstream. The people were laughing, drinking, having what appeared to be a great time and looking like they were at ease. Evey once in a while they would look over at the man battling the current and make fun of him. The man in the rowboat just kept fighting for every inch of progress while the people did very little to absolutely nothing to get theirs.

After a while the man got tired of pressing against the current. Tired and very discouraged, he put up the oars. For a few moments he continued to drift upstream from the momentum, but soon he came to a stop. Then something very sad and terrible happened, though still pointed upstream, his rowboat began to drift down stream with the current.

Soon the man noticed that he passed another party boat, only this was different from the previous one. This party boat was like his own boat as it was pointed upstream, and like his boat it was flowing down stream with the current. This boat also had a lot of people who were laughing, socializing and just enjoying the ride. Since it was pointed upstream just as his boat was he decided to hop on board and join them. They became a close group. Unlike the other party boat that faced and traveled downstream, this boat remained pointed upstream. The sad part of the story is that all the while it was pointed upstream, it continued flowing downstream with the current.

The river is the world, the rowboat is our human body that enables us to live and function in the world. The man in the rowboat is a believer, and the oars are God’s unmerited grace. The party boats represent those who are joined in one purpose. Again the river’s current represents the flow of this world, which is under the direction of the enemy. The man started strong… but how did he finish? i am starting 2012 strong, but the question remains, how will i finish?

Friday’s Green Pasture from our Onething Life Gathering gave me a very important “Take Away.” People don’t plan on their wedding day to get divorced, we don’t open a business with a plan for failure, we don’t go to work everyday planning to live from pay check to pay check, so… why do those things happen? We start strong and finish weak if we finish at all. We don’t plan to stay married, to succeed, to not live from pay check to pay check.

More to come…

A Sign Of The Times

Posted: January 24, 2012 in Stories

i am sure i have read this before but as technology continues to become a larger part of my life, this serves as a reminder that relationship is not found on television. Technology is to stir the heart to find one on one relationships that will bring life into those that participate. i was made to do life together with live, in person relationships.

A SIGN OF THE TIMES
They lie on the table, side by side The Holy Bible and the TV Guide.
One is well worn, but cherished with pride (Not the Bible, but the TV Guide)
One is used daily to help folks decide. (Not the Bible: it’s the TV Guide.)
As the pages are turned, what shall they see Oh, what does it matter?…turn  on the TV.
Then confusion reigns, they can’t all agree on what they shall watch on the  old TV.
So they open the book in which they confide (No, not the Bible…..it’s the  TV Guide.)
The Word of God is seldom read. Maybe a verse e’er they fall into bed.
Exhausted and sleepy and tired as can be… not from reading the Bible-from watching TV.
So then back to the table, side by side, lay the Holy Bible and the TV Guide.
No time for prayer….no time for the Word. The plan of salvation is seldom  heard.
But forgiveness of sin so full and free is found in the Bible…..NOT on TV!

The Son, The Son,

Posted: January 23, 2012 in Stories

A wealthy man and his son loved to collect rare works of art. They had Everything in their collection, from Picasso to Raphael. They would often sit together and admire the great works of art.

When the Viet Nam conflict broke out, the son went to war. He was very courageous and died in battle while rescuing another soldier. The father was notified and grieved deeply for his only son. About a month later, just before Christmas, there was a knock at the door. A young man stood at the door with a large package in his hands. He said, “Sir, you don’t know me, but I am the soldier for whom your son gave his life. He saved many lives that day, and he was carrying me to safety when a bullet struck him in the heart and he died instantly. He often talked about you, and your love for art.” The young man held out his package. “I know this isn’t much. I’m not really a great artist, but I think your son would have wanted you to have this.” The father opened the package. It was a portrait of his son, painted by the young man. He stared in awe at the way the soldier had captured the personality of his son in the painting. The father was so drawn to the eyes that his own eyes welled up with tears. He thanked the young man and offered to pay him for the portrait. “Oh, no sir, I could never repay what your son did for me. It’s a gift.”

The father hung the portrait over his mantle. Every time visitors came to his home he took them to see the portrait of his son before he showed them any of the other great works he had collected. The man died a few months later. There was to be a great auction of his paintings. Many influential people gathered, excited over seeing the great paintings and having an opportunity to purchase one for their collection. On the platform sat the painting of the son. The auctioneer pounded his gavel. “We will start the bidding with this portrait of the son. Who will bid for this painting?” There was silence. Then a voice in the back of the room shouted. “We want to see the famous paintings. Skip this one.” But the auctioneer persisted. “Will someone bid for this painting? Who will start the bidding? $100, $200?” Another voice shouted angrily. “We didn’t come to see this painting. We came to see the Van Goghs, the Rembrandts. Get on with the real bids!” But still the auctioneer continued. “The son! The son! Who’ll take the son?”

Finally, a voice came from the very back of the room. It was the long-time gardener of the man and his son. “I’ll give $10 for the painting.” Being a poor man, it was all he could afford. “We have $10, who will bid $20?” “Give it to him for $10. Let’s see the masters.” “$10 is the bid, won’t someone bid $20?”
The crowd was becoming angry. They didn’t want the painting of the son. They wanted the more worthy investments for their collections. The auctioneer pounded the gavel. “Going once, twice, SOLD for $10!”  A man sitting on the second row shouted. “Now let’s get on with the collection!”

The auctioneer laid down his gavel. “I’m sorry, the auction is over. When I was called to conduct this auction, I was told of a secret stipulation in the will. I was not allowed to reveal that stipulation until this time. Only the painting of the son would be auctioned. Whoever bought that painting would inherit the entire estate, including the paintings. The man who took the son gets everything!” God gave his son 2,000 years ago to die on a cruel cross. Much like the auctioneer, His message today is, “The son, the son, who’ll take the son?”

My take away from this story is that i may not know just how close i am in some relationships as well as what do i value? i will take the Son!

ABC’s

Posted: January 21, 2012 in Stories

The Alphabet Prayer

Every child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged with man. Now the story goes, a little shepherd boy was watching his sheep one Sunday morning and he heard the bells of the church ringing. And watching the people walk along the pasture where he was, he happened to think to himself, “I would like to communicate with God! But, what can I say to God?”

He had never learned a prayer. So, on bended knee, he began to recite the alphabet. Repeating this prayer several times, a man passing by, heard the boy’s voice and peaked through the bushes. He saw the young boy kneeling with folded hands, eyes closed, repeating the alphabet.

He interrupted the boy. “What are you doing, my little one?” he asked. The boy replied, “I was praying sir.” The man seemed surprised and said, “But why are you reciting the alphabet?” The boy explained, “I don’t know any prayers, sir. But I want God to take care of me, and to help me care for my sheep. And so I thought, if I said all I knew, He could put the letters together into words, and He would know all that I want and should say!”

The man smiled and said, “Bless your heart, God will!” And he went on to church knowing full well that he had heard the finest sermon he could possibly hear that day.

Maybe if i thought like a little child and let God put together the letters, what i should want, and what i should say, things would probably work out a lot better than i planned!!!

Less is More!

Handle With Care…

Posted: January 19, 2012 in Stories

Jack took a long look at his speedometer before slowing down: 73 in a 55 zone. Fourth time in as many months. How could a guy get caught so often?
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.

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 anxious to get home after a long day at the office. A guy he was about to play golf with tomorrow. 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. 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:

“Dear Jack,   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. Bob”

Jack…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.

Life is precious. Handle with care. Today is a reminder of things i know and apply in most cases but i say most when it should be reflected in all. It is appropriate for me to personalize the following words.

1 Peter 2:10-17 But ed you are chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy person, God’s instruments to do His work and speak out -for Him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.

ed, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourself cozy in it. Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they’ll be won over to God’s side and be there to join in the celebration when he arrives.

Make the Master proud of you by being a good citizen. Respect the authorities, whatever their level; they are God’s emissaries for keeping order. It is God’s will that by doing good ed, you might cure the ignorance of the fools who think you’re a danger to society. Exercise your freedom by serving God, not by breaking the rules. ed treat everyone you meet with dignity. Love your spiritual family. Revere God. Respect the government.

Philippians 1:27 The only thing that matters is that you continue to live as good citizens in a manner worthy of the gospel of the Messiah. Then, whether I come to see you or whether I stay away, I may hear all about you-that you are standing firm in one spirit, struggling with one mind for the faith of the gospel,

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A Shadow

Posted: January 18, 2012 in Stories

A young man who had been raised as an atheist was training to be an Olympic diver. The only religious influence in his life came from his outspoken Christian friend. The young diver never really paid much attention to his friend’s sermons, but he heard them often.

One night the diver went to the indoor pool at the college he attended. The lights were all off, but as the pool had big skylights and the moon was bright, there was plenty of light to practice by. The young man climbed up to the highest diving board and as he turned his back to the pool on the edge of the board and extended his arms out, he saw his shadow on the wall. The shadow of his body in the shape of a cross. Instead of diving, he knelt down and asked God to come into his life. As the young man stood, a maintenance man walked in and turned the lights on. The pool had been drained for repairs.

i am reminded that God is always present and watching over me… when i allow Him to act on my behalf, things go better.